SpiderMonkey’s Jamie Mack Loves her Cobbler

Jamie "SpiderMonkey" Mack fries her famous beignets.
Jamie “SpiderMonkey” Mack fries her famous beignets. Photo by Debbie Cunningham

From custom cakes to beignets, a Sacramento pastry star answers our searing questions.

Owner of SpiderMonkey ’s Dessert Studio and award-winning pastry chef Jamie Mack knows her way around a cake. The Sacramento native has decorated thousands of them. She started as a teen, decorating ice cream cakes at Baskin-Robbins in Greenhaven. She went on to work as a production decorator for all Nugget Market stores. “I loved it,” she says. “That’s where I honed my skill set for decorating.” 

In 2010, Mack took a break to spend more time with her daughter, but customers wouldn’t let her put down her pastry bag. They sought her out with special requests, such as a cake that looked like a slot machine, and SpiderMonkey’s Dessert Studio was born. 

Mack's Baketopia trophy.
Mack’s Baketopia trophy. Photo by Debbie Cunningham

A win on HBO’s “Baketopia” elevated Mack to sugary stardom, and she opened a brick-and-mortar bakery and “dessert studio” in Arden Fair. Its specialty: beignets, the fried pastry staple of New Orleans. But what does she really love to eat on a chilly fall evening? Cobbler — especially with an extra thick crust. We sat down with the creative cake maker and cobbler enthusiast to learn more.

Q: What’s in the name SpiderMonkey?

JM: It’s a nickname from my uncle. As a baby, I just climbed up on everybody like a monkey. It stuck.

Mack preparing beignet dough.
Mack preparing beignet dough. Photo by Debbie Cunningham

Q: Why beignets?

JM: After [“Baketopia” in 2021], I wanted to discontinue custom cakes. I wanted to do something I could teach other people to do, so my business didn’t live and die only with me. I started with cream cakes. Then, a friend of a friend who loved New Orleans and beignets, asked if I could make some. I said yes, but I didn’t know for sure if it was right. Next week, my sister and I flew to New Orleans, and I ate as many beignets as I could. I incorporated all the things I liked into one — fluffy on the inside, crispy on the edges, different flavors. I feel I got it to my satisfaction. Then we started making them for food festivals and events. 

Sugar dusting freshly made beignets.
Sugar dusting freshly made beignets. Photo by Debbie Cunningham

Q: What makes yours different? 

JM: All the elements that people love about beignets — texture, slightly crispy, fluffy inside. Most people just fry dough and call it a beignet. Ours is truly a beignet. It’s our recipe and definitely different. The flavor is our own blend of spice mix.

Freshly made and sugar dusted beignets.
Freshly made and sugar dusted beignets. Photo by Debbie Cunningham

Q: What would you choose: pie or cobbler?

JM: If I have to make it, I choose cobbler. If I’m dining out, and at Real Pie Co., it’s definitely pie. I don’t like making pies; cake is my thing, and I stay in my lane. At home, I do a really great cobbler — I love apple cobbler. I’m a crust girl, and pies just don’t have enough crust. I like big crust. Cobbler crust is my favorite; it has body. I eat [cobbler] warm. I’m a purist — just plain, no ice cream. 

Overhead view of three pies - Pecan, Apple and Pumpkin.

Q: What’s your favorite kitchen gadget or tool?

JM: I have two. First is my veggie chopper, my choppy thingy. It’s a rectangle with a grid of blades; you push the fruit through it. My chef friends hate it. I went to culinary school, so I have knife skills, but most of the chopping I do is just diced. With my choppy thingy, I can fly through any fruit. It’s so fast and a perfect dice. Second is my immersion blender. It saves my life, I love it so much. I use it for all my sauces. It’s my secret ingredient for sweet potato pie. It gets the strings out — puréed, they come out silky smooth. 

Jamie Mack's favorite gadget is used to shop strawberries.
Jamie Mack’s favorite gadget is used to shop strawberries. Photo by Debbie Cunningham

Q: Do you have a favorite fall ingredient?

JM: My spice mix. It brings a warmth to anything you put it in. It’s like a perfect fall ingredient no matter what you’re making. It’s well balanced — cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. 

Top view of dry spices: allspice, nutmeg, star anise, cinnamon sticks, dried ginger and clove.

Q: And your favorite fall beverage?

JM: Eggnog with Skrewball [whiskey] is my favorite during the holidays, and I only drink it during the holidays. 

Q: What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever tried to make?

JM: In custom cakes, anything shaped like a car. People asked me to sculpt cars all the time — it’s so difficult. It never looks like the car. 

Homemade Apple Cobbler Dessert with Ice Cream

Mack shared with Edible Sacramento her spiced apple cobbler recipe. It’s the thick, satisfying crust (made with grated frozen butter) that makes it special and extra yummy.