Sunday, September 25, 2011

Apple Shaped Cake Pops

Well its that time of year again.  The kids are heading back to school and to after school sporting activities and back on a full weekly schedule.  Some Moms cry happy tears because they finally get a relief from summer entertaining while some other moms cry tears of sadness because they miss their babies. I am the mom that BAKES! I will bake for teachers, the football team, the cheerleading team, anybody that wants or needs sweets. I am the mom for that.  This year my baby is starting high school and knowing she loves my cupcake pops I told her I was going to be making apple cupcake pops to pass out to her teachers.  If you have a teenager, you can imagine the horrific look on my daughters face when I said that.  Because she is my baby, I already knew what her reaction was going to be.  I did get my laugh for the day.  I made the apple cupcake pops  but instead of passing them out to her teachers we gave them to the cheerleaders.  

These pops were so easy to make. The only hard part was finding the leaves to place on top. We eventually decided to use green Mike and Ikes.  I thought they worked pretty well.

1 box of cake mix - any flavor (I used vanilla.  I wanted it to look like the inside of an apple)
¾ tub of ready made frosting - any flavor (I used vanilla)
24 lollipop sticks
1 bag of red candy melts
Styrofoam block or 2x4 with holes drilled in it to hold the dipped cake balls
24 chocolate dipped pretzel sticks
24 green Mike and Ike

  1. Make and bake cake according to box directions.  
  2. When cake is completely cooled crumble the entire cake into a bowl.  
  3. Mix ¾ tub of ready made frosting into the crumbled cake (you might just have to roll your sleeves up and dig in with your hands)Most recipes call for the entire tub, but I think it is too moist.    
  4. When cake and frosting is moist and mixed, shape into 1 inch balls.  
  5. Place cake balls on a greased cookie sheet. 
  6. Put a lollipop stick in each cake ball and place in refrigerator until firm.  
  7. Once cake balls are firm, lightly pinch the bottom of the cake ball where the stick is attached to form the shape of an apple.   
  8. Indent the top of the ball to form the shape of where the stem will be going.  
  9. If cake balls have gotten soft, place back in refrigerator until firm again. 
  10. Melt the candy melts in a double boiler.  
  11. When the cake balls are firm dip them in the melted candy melts.  
  12. Shake excess off and place in the Styrofoam or wooden holder.  
  13. Take a chocolate dipped pretzel and place in the top indention.  
  14. Take a Mike and Ike and place it crooked next to the pretzel stick on the top of the apple. 
  15. Stand back and Say “AWWWW”. 
  16. Repeat dipping process until all the cake balls are dipped and decorated.  
  17. I had a stem and leaf helper during the dipping process because it can get pretty messy.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Waldorf-Astoria Red Cake Recipe
A friend of mine recently baked me some red velvet cupcakes.  I was told it was a recipe their mother made and that she was a VERY good cook. I thought the cupcakes were delicious! The recipe they used was a Waldorf-Astoria recipe.  What I find most interesting about the original Waldorf-Astoria recipe is that it does not include the most popular cream cheese frosting that everyone so often uses, but a cooked creamy custard-like frosting. HEAVEN! Had I not tasted this frosting I would have just skimmed over any frosting recipes that ever said the word "cook" and/or the word "flour".

The true origin of the Red Velvet cake is a mystery. One of the more popular stories involving this chocolate cake was believed to be around 1959, when a woman dining at the elegant Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City was served the dessert. She was so pleased with this early Red Velvet Cake that she asked for the recipe. The kitchen obliged to her request, but she found out later she was charged $100 (or $200, depending on the version of the story) for the recipe itself. To get her revenge on the NYC Hotel, she shared the kitchen’s Red Velvet Cake recipe in the form of chain letters, which she sent to hundreds of individuals, therefore exposing the “secret” and exploding the popularity of and demand for the Red Velvet Cake as a birthday cake and elegant dessert.

James Beard's 1972 reference American Cookery describes three red velvet cakes varying in the amounts of shortening and butter. All use red food coloring, but the reaction of acidic vinegar and buttermilk tends to better reveal the red anthocyanin in the cocoa. Before more alkaline "Dutch Processed" cocoa was widely available, the red color would have been more pronounced. This natural tinting may have been the source for the name "Red Velvet" as well as "Devil's Food" and similar names for chocolate cakes While foods were rationed during World War II, bakers used boiled beets to enhance the color of their cakes. Boiled grated beets or beet baby food are found in some red velvet cake recipes, where they also serve to retain moisture.

In Canada the cake was a well-known dessert in the restaurants and bakeries of the Eaton's department store chain in the 1940s and 1950s. Promoted as an exclusive Eaton's recipe, with employees who knew the recipe sworn to silence, many mistakenly believed the cake to be the invention of the department store matriarch, Lady Eaton.

A resurgence in the popularity of this cake is partly attributed to the 1989 film Steel Magnolias in which the groom's cake (a southern tradition) is a red velvet cake made in the shape of an armadillo.

1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 ounces red food coloring
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar (DC cupcakes uses cider vinegar)
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon baking soda
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.Cream together the shortening, sugar, and eggs.

2.Make a paste with food coloring and cocoa. Add to shortening mixture.

3.Add salt and buttermilk to mixture.

4.Next add flour, vanilla, vinegar, and baking soda in that order. Mix.

5.Bake for 30 mins. at 350 degrees in two 8" rnd greased cake pans. Let cool.

6.Frosting: Cook 5 tablespoons flour and 1 cup milk until thick, and then cool.

7.Cream together 1 cup confect. sugar, 1 cup butter and 1 tsp. vanilla 'til fluffy. Add to flour mixture.

8.Cut layers of cake in half lengthwise. Spread frosting on each half layer. Stack and frost over all.

Nutritional Information
Amount Per Serving Calories: 287   Total Fat: 15.4g    Cholesterol: 47mg 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Almost Heaven Desserts Review

I couldn't find any cupcake shops on my google search but a few bakeries popped up. I chose Almost Heaven Desserts for my review.   If it wasn't for wanting to put West Virginia on my blog map, I probably wouldn't have stopped here.  I called this bakery and asked if they had any cupcakes. They said they did. I then asked what flavors they had? They said chocolate and vanilla. I was looking for something more exotic but hey a cupcake is a cupcake!

The shop is on the corner in downtown Bridgeport, WV. They mostly specialize in cheese cakes. We ordered one of each flavor.

The vanilla cupcake had a raspberry filling and a light whipped cream frosting with sprinkles. Great frosting! Great filling! Terrible dry flavorless cupcake!

The chocolate cupcake was filled with a chocolate ganache. Again, great frosting, great filling. Terrible, dry and flavorless cupcake.

I was happy to have finally taste a cupcake frosted with a light whipped cream frosting for a change rather than the creamy sugar frosting that I have been tasting lately at.

If you are passing through Bridgeport, WV you should definately stop at Almost Heaven Desserts and  try their cheesecake and coffee. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Cupcake Collection Review

Midway through our trip and our cupcake stops we were racing the clock, traffic, and a massive storm which was fast approaching to get to The Cupcake Collection Store before they closed at 5:30pm.  We arrived about 5:10pm.  We found this place on a quiet side street.  This shop was a cute little house.  There were two smiling boys working behind the counter.  There was one person in front of us ordering, which gave us plenty of time to pick a cupcake  we wanted.  By the time we finished our order there was a line of customers leading out the door.  Not because the counter boys were slow, but because everyone was making the mad dash to get their cupcake fix before the storm hits.  We chose a strawberry cheesecake, wedding cake, and sweet potato cupcake.

Strawberry Cheesecake A super moist, fresh and flavorful cupcake with the perfect amount of frosting to make a perfect light and refreshing treat.

Wedding Cake Not a favorite with me.  The cake seemed dry and crumbly and the frosting was super sweet and just not pleasant

Sweet Potato: My absolute favorite! I am not a carrot cake or spice cake fan but this cupcake was WOW! Very good with the just the right amount of frosting to top it off. I would highly reccommend this cupcake to anyone that visits this place!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Gigi's Cupcake Review

Gigi's Cupcakes was not origionally on my cupcake sailing list, but the origional cupcake shop Muddy's Bake Shop was closed today.  After screaming with Tammy (Our GPS voice.  It was decited that we are changing the voice of Tammy to Army Sargent for the duration of our trip) for the last hour while driving through the city, I had to make our stop in Memphis, TN worth while. 

I think I read somewhere that Gigi's cupcakes is a chain cupcake shop.  In any case, this shop was bright and inviting and the cupcakes had enourmous mounds of frosting on the cupcakes.  There were about 10 different flavors to choose from.  All flavors looked delicious!

We ordered a Strawberry Shortcake, an Orange Dreamsicle, and a Texas Chocolate cupcake.
Strawberry Shortcake was by far the best tasting cupcake out of the trio.  This cupcake had a nice strawberry flavor and was very moist.  The frosting was a whipped sugar buttercream (there was way too much frosting on the cupcake).  I was surprised that there wasn't a real strawberry on top but rather just a piped one. At $3.00 a cupcake, I think a fresh strawberry would have been more appropriate.

Orange Dreamsicle was suggested by the girl behind the counter as a favorite to try because it tasted like the dream pop ice cream.  This cupcake was light fluffy and fresh.  It had a hint of orange flavor in the cake as well as the enourmous mound of sugar buttercream frosting on top.  Unfortunately the cupcake just didn't quite have the bursting flavor of the dreamsicle.   

Texas Chocolate I honestly don't know why I had to try another chocolate cupcake.  I already had my fill of sugar sweet chocolate from the last cupcake shop.  I just did not like the frosting on this cupcake, it reminded me of the whipped frosting you can buy at the grocery store.  The actual cupcake itself was freash and chocolatey and moist.  This cupcake did not give me the big Texas taste that I was hoping for. 

Now on to Nashville!

Cupcakes on Kavanaugh Review

Cupcakes on Kavanaugh in Little Rock, AR was our first stop along our roadtrip.

 A very cute shop with only 6 different flavors to choose from. I asked the counter girl what the daily special was and she responded. "We are open today that is what is special". I wasn't quite sure how to take that. We arrived about a half hour after they opened so I knew we were going to get fresh cupcakes.

We ordered a Red Velvet, A salted Caramel, and a Chocolate Chocolate Cupcake.
Red Velvet: Super moist cake not as chocolatey as I had hoped but it still had a good taste. The frosting was so sweet you could barely taste the cream cheese in it. I like sweet but this was too sweet.

Salted Caramel: This cupcake is probably the best salted caramel cupcake I have tasted so far. Very moist and flavorful. Again, the frosting was too super sweet for me, but you could at least taste the caramel and the salt. Would have been perfect if the frosting was more buttercream than sugarcream.

Chocolate Chocolate: Super rich chocolate tasting and super moist cupcake. A very good cupcake. The chocolate buttercream frosting was just too sweet as with all the other cupcakes.

If you are one that loves super sweet frosting on your cupcakes this would be the perfect cupcake shop for you.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Driving vs. Flying Cupcake Adventure Reviews

My motto is why drive when I can fly!

1. Its free (for airline employees)
2. It's faster (if you don't get bumped because flights are full).

However, there are some things in life that cannot be left to chance. Wedding's and births are two of them. They do not wait for your flight to arrive (well maybe if you are the one getting married they might but definitely not babies). Because of the definites and indefinites, we are trekking 26 hours from West Texas through Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, and onto Clarksburg, WV for a family wedding. I did not agree to this trip without kicking and screaming as the driver of this trip is a certified road conqueror. If the last trip to Clarksburg, WV took 27.2 hours he is on a mission to conquer the trip in 26.5 hours (I think he may even bought some adult diapers for us). So to appease this road trip whiner, the driver offered me some kryptonite. He proposed I pick out some cupcake places along the way for my cupcake reviews. Hot diggity dog! I strategically planned the road trip to stop at 5 cupcake places. Trust me, if time permitted I would have picked many more! So many cupcake shops, so little time!

1.  Cupcakes on Kavanaugh, Little Rock, AK
2.  Muddy's Bake Shop, Memphis, TN
3.  Cupcake Collection, Nashville, TN
4.  Gigi's Cupcakes, Bowling Green, KY
5.  Baby Cakes, Lexington, KY

So if you have been to any of these places I would love to get your advice on what is their best cupcake!

Keep an eye out for my reviews!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Key Lime and Coconut Cupcake Recipe

This 4th of july I found myself away from friends and family so what better way to comfort myself than to bake cupcakes! Since I was also away from my kitchen, I decided to try and bake in a non-bakers kitchen (the only kitchen that was available). This was a kitchen with 1 bowl, 1 cupcake tin, and 1 wooden spoon. Seriously! Off to the market I went for the basics to bake my little masterpieces. I realized when I got back that there wasn't even an electric mixer in this kitchen, not even a hand held electric mixer! I was up for the challenge of hand mixing my little creations. I mean how hard can it be right? Wrong! This kitchen will be getting an electric mixer for Christmas!

I decided to bake a Key Lime and Coconut cupcake with a Coconut Cream Cheese frosting. I found the recipe from the food network website.  I bought fresh key limes instead of the juice. I was raised fresh is best. I had to hand squeeze about a billion little key limes to make the 2/3 cup full. Key limes are about half the size of a regular lime but packed with twice the pucker power.

The recipe warned that the key lime juice will curdle the batter. But with continued mixing, the batter becomes thick with a creamy texture. Just like the recipe said the batter curdled and then became thick and creamy. By this time my arm was getting a good workout and I haven't even started the cream cheese frosting!

The cupcakes were cooled. The frosting was whipped. My arms were now rubber. It was now time to frost my little pretties. Being the queen of innovation, I was again creative with how I was going to frost them. Remember this kitchen doesn't have a baker. It did, however, have many useful items. I am not a big fan of slathering frosting on with a knife so I looked around for items that had a similar opening as a frosting tip. I found a 12oz plastic water bottle with a hole a little bigger then the frosting tip I usually use I cut about 2 inches off the top of the water bottle and I also found plastic baggies so I cut a corner off the plastic bag. I put my water bottle top tip snuggly in the newly cut corner of the plastic baggie (it was sandwich sized) and filled with frosting. Worked like a charm!

Key Lime Coconut Cupcake Recipe
For the cake:
2 sticks (16 tbsp.) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups natural sugar
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
2 tsp. coconut extract
2/3 cup key lime juice, either from real key limes or bottled. .

For the icing:
2 sticks (16 tbsp.) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups (16 oz.) cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp. coconut extract

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line muffin pans with paper liners.
Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed, until light and fluffy. On medium speed, add the eggs, 2 at a time, then add the sour cream and vanilla. Scrape down the sides then add the key lime juice. Beat for another minute. Stop the mixer.

Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda in a bowl. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until just combined. Add coconut. Mix until combined.  Fill the cupcake liners to 
the 2/3-level with batter. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes for full-size They’re done when a toothpick comes out clean or spongy to the touch. Cool to room temperature.

While the cakes cool, make the icing. Mix the butter, cream cheese, sugar, and coconut extract on low speed until the sugar incorporates, then whip for about 3 minutes. Pipe frosting on each cupcake and garnish. 

I can't say that this Key Lime and Coconut cupcake Recipe is a blue ribbon recipe, but they were very flavorful. They had a different texture. A cross between a cheese cake and a cupcake. But definitely reminds you of the awesome key lime pies that are so popular in Florida. You have not tasted the ultimate key lime pie until you have tasted it in Florida!

I know I am critical on some of my cupcake shop reviews.  Know that I am also critical of my own fresh baked cupcakes.  Nothing upsets me more than a cupcake shop charging gourmet prices for a cut corners cost saving cupcake. I know that the ultimate goal of a cupcake shop is to maximize profits but some shops go too far.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Abby Girl Sweets Cupcake Review

If you googled best cupcakes in Cincinnati, Abby Girl Sweets should be the first name on the search!

A friend of mine knew I was going to be in the cincinnati area  and knew I wanted to do a cupcake review so they brought me a cupcake from this cupcake shop.

From the moment I opened the cupcake box and picked up the cupcake, I knew I was in for a real treat!

First, it was a chocolate peanut butter cup cupcake (MY FAVORITE)!
Second, just by the touch of the cupcake I knew it was very fresh and very moist.

I was totally blown away by how awesome this cupcake tasted. Everything about this chocolate peanut butter cup cupcake was exactly what I look for in a cupcake. It was moist and not crumbly. You could taste the chocolate in the cupcake. You had the full peanutty taste of peanut butter in the frosting.  The sugar in the frosting enhanced the peanut butter flavor rather than over bear the peanut butter flavor.

It has been a long, long time since I was blown away by the flavor of a cupcake. I think the last time was the Mexican Vanilla cupcake at Suzy Beez in Houston, Tx. I went back to Suzy Beez's cupcake shop 3 times over the course of a year trying to get that cupcake again and they never had it available.

I would definitely recommend Abby Girl Sweets to anyone I know in search of awesome cupcakes in the Cincinnate area!
I cannot wait to go back to Cincinnati to visit the store myself and have a cupcake tasting party!

Abby Girl Sweets on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Manna Cafe Cupcake Review

I decided to share my love of cupcakes with my longtime friend and her family on a recent visit to Cincinnati, Ohio.  To do our Cincinnnati cupcake review, we chose a cupcake cafe close to my friend's house.  Manna Cupcake Cafe is about 40 minutes outside the City of Cincinnati. It is located in a cute country town right next to a train station.

Manna Cafe Cupcakes had seven different cupcake varieties and three different sizes. The flavors were; vanilla raspberry filled, bon bon chocolate filled with chocolate ganache, monkey cinnamon, red velvet, chocolate and vanilla their special cupcake of the day was a key lime.  Because we wanted to try one of each we opted for all minis except for the key lime which wasn't offeren in a mini size.

Everyone agreed all the mini cupcakes were on very dry side.

We all liked the key lime and the raspberry so much we decided to try the medium size in hopes that the cupcake was a little more moist. Much to our taste bud's delight the medium size cupcake in several flavors were more moist than the minis of the same flavor. The frosting on most of the cupcakes were on the sweeter side but not so bad that you felt like you were eating a spoonful of sugar sweet.

Out of all 8 of us cupcake tasters we all decided that the 2 best cupcakes for our cupcake review from Mannas Cupcake Cafe were:

The Raspberry Filled Cupcake 
 The sugared raspberry on top tasted perfect

The Key Lime Cupcake
Just the right tart and sweet combination

Both of the frostings on these two cupcakes were very light and fluffy and not nearly as sugary as the other cupcakes.

The owner of Mannas was very friendly and informative on all her cupcake.

Manna Cupcake Cafe on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cupcakes, Charleston, SC Review
I found this cute cupcake shop on my way back to the bus stop after my downtown charleston excursion.  When I entered the shop, it reminded me of an ice cream parlor, pretty pastel colors painted the shop. I especially loved the big selection of cute cupcake T-shirt and other cupcake items like coffee mugs and pink spatulas.  Their display had about 9 different flavors.  They also had signs advertising mini and mega cupcakes, but I didn't see any. I didn't read up on this shop's reviews so I asked the cupcake counter girl what was her favorite.  She said as everyone says.."Red Velvet is the most popular, and the orange cremecicle is very good."  I ordered a orange cremecicle and a cinnamon swirl to change things up.  The cupcakes we're just over $3 a piece. My first taste went to the orange cremecicle as I had made my own batch once and they we're so yummy.  I tasted the frosting first. The frosting was an overpowering thick sweet sugar frosting with a hint of orange flavoring.  One small taste was all I needed.  The cupcake tasted like a dry  poundcake with a barely recognizable orange flavor.  I then tried the cinna$on swirl, this time I tried the cupcake first.  This cupcake was definitely more moist, but it tasted exactly like the orange poundcake cupcake but with a hint of cinnamon and the frosting tasted exactly like the orange sugar sweet frosting except with a hint of cinnamon.  I know many people love sugar sweet frosting especially southerners they have, as we all know,  perfected sweet tea.  I just prefer a light fluffy frosting. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Baked House Bakery Review

Today I had a layover in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina. With a few hours to kill I decided to put Charleston on my map of Cupcake Shop Reviews. When I google mapped "cupcakes" Baked House Bakery showed up on the map. When I arrived at Baked House Bakery, the bakery was very warm and welcoming. There were several cakes on display as well as various other baked goods. There were only 3 flavors of cupcakes to choose from and 1 flavor was in the refrigerated display case. I ordered a salted caramel which was at room temperature and a lemon cupcake which was in the refrigerated display. I wanted to eat dinner before I ate my cupcakes so I took them to go. The cupcakes were priced around $3.00 each. I walked for about 15 minutes. The temperature outside was near 90. When I finally got a chance to taste the cupcakes, the frosting on the salted caramel had melted. The lemon cupcake was still intact. The salted caramel cupcake was moist and although the frosting was a watery mess it still tasted pretty good. Not sure if I would classify it as a salted caramel but it was very tasty. The lemon cupcake frosting was light, fluffy and just the perfect amount of sweetness. Unfortunately the cupcake itself was very dry. I do not think this cupcake was fresh. I do believe that had this cupcake been fresh it would have been quite tastey.

Bake House Charleston on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

4th of July Cupcakes!

4th of July Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting topped with a Marshmallow Fondant Star
 The 4th of July is right around the corner! Today is my last day off before I begin my commute back to Virginia to start a 6 day trip.  My son was quite upset he was not allowed to chow on the Chocolate Whiskey cupcakes I made the other day, so to make it up to him, I made his favorite Red Velvet cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting. 

You would never know from the looks of the landscape (flat as a pancake) here in west Texas that this is a high altitude area.  We are 3700 ft above sea level.    I have never had to bake in a high altitude kitchen before.  The last few batches I have made have been crumbly and never "popped" out of the tin.  I did some reading and found out that when you are baking in high altitude places you need to make a few minor adjustments.   has a chart of adjustments. I really didn't think minor adjustments would make that big of a deal but seeing is believing!
Popped Red Velvet Cupcakes
This is the Red Velvet recipe I followed (makes 1 dozen):
For the Cupcake:
1 ¼ Flour
¾ c sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 T cocoa powder
¾ cup oil
½ c buttermilk
1 large egg
2 T red food coloring
½ tsp cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line pans with cupcake papers.
In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder.
In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with electric mixer. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet a little at a time and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled (I just used 1 full ice cream scoop per regular sized cupcake and its perfect). Bake in oven for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through.  Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

For the Frosting:
8oz cream cheese (room temperature)
1 stick butter (room temperature)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 c confectionery sugar
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth.
Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated.
Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.

I made a batch of marshmallow fondant about a year ago.  I remember that although it was extremely messy it was fairly easy. Marshmallow fondant tastes like those orange circus peanuts we used to eat as a kid.  This was the recipe I followed:

I knew what I wanted my cupcakes to look like but for the life of me I couldn't find a single small star out of the over 200 cookie cutters I had.  My son and I went off to the local Walmart in search of a small single star cookie cutter.  Unfortunately where we live the local Walmart has a very limited selection of anything you might need.  So as any great baker, I improvised! I went to the toy section in search of maybe a play-doh cutter.  No luck with that BUT I did find another alternative! Worked like a charm.

 This baking session worked out great! Happy holiday baking!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Cupcake Prescription: Chocolate Whiskey Cupcake topped with Whiskey Buttercream Frosting

I have a kindle.  I absolutely love my kindle.  I do not leave home without my kindle. My kindle is my best friend.   While waiting in Denver for my flight home after an extremely rough week at work, I was experimenting with all the gadgets that my kindle offered.  I decided to do a search on cupcake blogs.  I found a cupcake blog called Sugar Loco.  Sugar Loco was talking about a unique cupcake called Biramisu created by a Chef Tony Mantuano from Downtown Disney.  It is like a Tiramisu dessert but made with beer.  I decided the first time I looked at the recipe that this was a cupcake challenge for me.  My only problem was I could not find a single can of beer for the recipe.  I loathe Guiness beer and the only way to buy beer in this city is by the 6 pack.  I guess I am too cheap to buy a 6 pack for just one beer that was needed for the recipe. So I did some research and found another recipe for a Chocolate Whiskey Cupcake topped with a Whiskey Buttercream Frosting.  HELLO! Sounded like the perfect backup cupcake to me!
Chocolate Whiskey Cupcake topped with a Whiskey Buttercream Frosting

for the cupcake
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup strong coffee
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs

For the whiskey simple syrup
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 T whiskey

For the Frosting
1/2 cup butter
2 cup powder sugar
3 T whiskey
8 oz cream cheese

to make cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350.  Line two cupcake pans with paper liners.  Combine the cocoa powder and strong coffee in a small bowl whisk until mixture is smooth.  Set aside and let cool to room temperature.  Once cool, whisk the sour cream and vanilla extract.

Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.  Stir together wit a fork to combine: set aside

In the bowl, combine the butter and sugar.  Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes).  Beat in the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the bowl as needed. 
With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients and cocoa mixture.  begin and end with dry ingredients.  Beach each addition just until incorporated.  Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cupcake liners.  Bake 18-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the simple syrup, combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan.  Heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixtrue is warm and  the sugar has dissolved.  Remove from the heat and stir in the whiskey.  Set aside and let cool until ready to use.

To make frosting, combine butter, sugar, whiskey and cream cheese until light and fluffy.

Once cupcakes are cooked and cooled, poke holes in each cupcake (10 each).  Brush each cupcake with the whiskey simple syrup and then top with the whiskey buttercream frosting.  Dust with cocoa powder.

These cupcakes taste better the longer they sit and the whiskey is absorbed into the cupcake.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


I don't even know where to begin! I can't believe it has been almost 6 months since my last post.  I am definately back and back to blogging with a vengance about my cupcake adventures!

Just recently Tony and I went to London (for the weekend).  It was awesome.  First class will definately spoil you!  During our visit we found a cupcake shop called Hummingbird Bakery that I had read about in a travel magazine.  Unfortunately the shop was closed.  We did taste some cupcakes across the street at a coffee shop, but they were not even worthy of a blog mention.

Last week the temperature in West Texas reached triple digits for the 3rd week in a row.  With the help of my daughter we put up our little above ground pool to cool off.  When the pool was filled and ready to go, we invited another friend over for some summertime fun! Lizzie and Baily were foolin around and flipped the George Washington hair doos! Now who hasn't done that back in the day!!! Which reminded me of other nostalgic things during my summers as a kid.

Summertime George Washingtons!
How about the endless commercials of Bill Cosby and his pudding pops (do they even make them anymore?).  How about the summer picinics with Jello Poke Cakes? That memory inspired me to make my first cupcake in about 6 months.  A vanilla cupcake poked with strawberry jello!
Vanilla Cupcake poked with Strawberry Jello topped with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
I baked a basic Vanilla Cream Cupcake Cake:
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 T vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 325.  Mix sugar, oil, and sour cream.  Add eggs one at at time beating till mixed before adding next one.  Add vanilla.   In seperate bowl add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, whisk until mixed.  Slowly add dry ingredients to the wet  mixture.  Bake at 325 for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

While the cupcakes are baking make a batch of Jello Strawberry jello according to package directions.
After the cupcakes are done and cooled, poke holes in the cupcakes with a toothpick (around 10 holes per cupcake).  Using a pastry brush, brush the tops of the cupcakes with the jello mixture.  Saturating each cupcake with jello.  Place cupcakes in refrigerator until cold.  Top cupcakes with favorite buttercream frosting and add garnishes.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Polka Dot Cupcakes Review

Tony and I took my son to Austin to the popular Oasis Restaurant for lunch.  After a beautiful lunch we visited the city of Austin where Tony went to the University of Texas.  We found this very, very small cupcake shop.  The picture on the website must be in some panoramic view because this shop was VERY small.  There were 4 people in the store and I think it reached it's capacity. They had about 6 cupcake flavors to choose from.I ordered a chocolate peanut butter, honey chai (tasted like gingerbread w/cream cheese), chocolate strawberry and red velvet...I thought the cupcakes had good flavor but tony complained of a funny after taste..most likely from either too much baking soda or baking powder.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

More Cupcakes in Chicago IL Review

If you google "best cupcakes in Chicago", More Cupcakes pops up. I visited this cupcake shop on a very cold day in Chicago. I wanted to sit in the cupcake shop with a warm cup of coffee and savor every bite of my cupcake. That was what I wanted to do, instead, I had to take my cupcake elsewhere because More cupcake has no tables to sit at. I do believe there might have been a standing bar though. This place was a nice clean neutral decorated shop very similar to Sprinkles and Craves.  The big difference was that Sprinkles and Craves have at least 5-10 people frosting and decorating their cupcakes at all hours.  More cupcakes only had the girl at the front counter who had to take orders, answer phones, and handle anything else that was thrown her way.  Through it all, the More Cupcake counter girl was a real trooper.

The inside of More Cupcakes
 I ordered the Salted Caramel cupcake (I keep hoping that I have missed the salted caramel flavor boat because I have not yet tasted anything even close to the infamous salted caramel flavor that everyone keeps raving about at any cupcake shop) and a Chocolate Caramel cupcake. I am glad I ordered two because if I would have based my review solely on the dry day old Salted Caramel cupcake (the carmel filling inside the cupcake was good) with a  tasteless frosting(I kinda think they forgot to add sugar), I most likely wouldn't have even consider a do over at More Cupcakes, but then there is the Chocolate Caramel cupcake, which was the total opposite of the Salted Caramel cupcake. The chocolate Caramel cupcake was super moist and dense (a thick stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth cupcake. My favorite!) with a gooey caramel filling. You just can't go wrong with a filled cupcake. The girl behind the counter said most of More cupcakes are filled. The frosting was smooth and rich and not too sweet. 
More Cupcake wedding tier....I'm going to make my own wedding tier...if I ever get married again!
I think next time I am home longer than 24 hours I am going set up the cupcake lab and start searching recipes for my ultimate Salted Carmel cupcake.  My only problem is, I don't know what a salted carmel cupcake is suppose to taste like! Does anyone have a place that makes a to die for Salted Carmel caupcake? I remember in the beginning of my cupcake quest thinking what is the big deal about a red velvet cupcake? I have tasted a big deal Red Velvet and can appreciate popular cupcake flavor phases. So now I am out to find the big deal Salted Carmel cupcake.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Cake Love Review

Our time in the DC area is more precious now since our jobs have taken us away from the area ( I actually enjoy the time away but miss the area's cupcakes). Today was a rare day that Tony and I were together in the DC area and what better thing to do than go sight seeing and cupcake tasting! I had read a few years ago somewhere that CakeLove won some cupcake contest beating Baked and Wired.  After tasting Baked and Wired cupcakes early on in my cupcake tasting I was skeptical. Baked and Wired cupcakes are delicious.  Tony and I arrived at the Campbell Street location around 2:00PM.  We skipped lunch to save our taste buds for serious cupcake tasting.  When we arrived at CakeLove there were about a dozen different flavors available.  Tony ordered a chocolate lemon coconut and because I read on Yelp that the salted carmel was the best, I ordered the salted caramel.  I was looking forward to sitting down in the shop with a cup of coffee and eating my cupcake.  When I looked at the coffee pots on display, I changed my mind.  The coffee looked like it hadn't been brewed since the morning and the pots looked like they hadn't been cleaned in months (a few tablesspoons of salt, a few tablespoons of lemon juice, fill pot with ice and swirl.  In a matter of seconds you have a sparkling clean coffee pot).  

Chocolate Lemon Coconut
 Salted Caramel
A bit disapointed we sat at our table and right before we opened our box of cupcakes we noticed several signs displayed around the store "eat cupcakes at room temperature". We thought the sign meant that if you took the cupcakes home and put them in the refrigerator to let them thaw first.  When we opened the box and attempted to eat the cupcakes we JUST bought, we realize that the sign really meant when you bought them "fresh" from the store.   These cupcakes were hard as a rock cold! Sort of frozen.  Who goes to a bakery and "waits" for something to thaw? We decided not to make this trip a total bust, packed up our cupcakes and headed to lunch, hoping our cupcakes will be thawed by the time we finish eating lunch.  An hour later, our cupcakes sitting at room temperature (like the sign said), they were still not thawed.  When they were thawed enough to eat, the taste and texture was disappointing.  The cupcakes were dry, I'm sure that if these cupcakes were not ever frozen or chilled, they might have been tasty.  The frosting on the chocolate coconut was not memorable and the lemon dollop on top took over the taste of the barely there coconut.  The salted caramel (I just don't get the whole salted caramel craze) was a basic vanilla cupcake with a basic vanilla butter cream with a drizzle of caramel and a few bites with a hint of salt in them.

I honestly do not like to leave negative reviews.  I think that any person who opens a cupcake shop rocks! I wish them all the luck in the world and I would love to give them as much positive exposure as possible.  However, if a cupcake shop is going to charge gourmet prices the cupcakes, the cupcake shop better deliver gourmet cupcakes. I am tired of spending good money on a "gourmet" cupcake that tastes like generic supermarket cupcakes. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Curbside Cupcake Review

I found this mobile cupcakery from searching "cupcake" on facebook one day.   We happened to be in DC checking out CakeLove and thought how cool would it be to track down this cupcake truck! So, I checked out their latest status on facebook.  Their status said they were at Union Station on 1st. We drove in circles for over 35 minutes trying to find the pink Curbside Cupcake truck and just when we were about to give up, we saw a flash of pink driving down a road. Guess what? They were heading our way!  We pulled over for them to pass and then we followed them all the way to their next stop which was the Navy Yard.

 I was so excited that we found Curbside Cupcake that as soon as they stopped I jumped out of my car and ran to the truck order window and waited for them to open it (I don't know why I thought they would be just as excited to see me as I was to see them).  When the window finally dropped down and opened I was greeted by sourpuss 1.  He didn't even say hello! He just looked at me like are you going to order or what? I was a little taken back but I eventually spoke up and asked for a carrot cake, a pumpkin walnut (the facebook posts said they were the best) and at the last minute I ordered a red velvet cupcake.  Sourpuss 1 took my $9.00 cash (there is a minimum of a $15.00 charge for credit cards) and said I needed to go to the next window to pick up the cupcakes.  The next window was closed so I waited for the window panel to lower down and open up.  Guess who I saw behind that window? Sourpuss 2! Again, no hello, no smile, nothing.  He pulled out a paper bag and put my "gourmet" cupcakes in the brown paper bag.  I felt like I was paying for overpriced donuts by the way they were packaged.  I have visited many cupcake shops and none of them packaged their cupcakes in a brown paper bag, even at the grocery stores, they do not package cupcakes in a plain old paper bag.  However, the gentleman behind me in line ordered a half dozen cupcakes and they were packaged in a clear plastic container.  I guess I just didn't spend enough money.
Now, for the cupcake word...WOW.  We started with the carrot cupcake.  The cupcake frosting was all messed up from the paper, but this cupcake's taste and frosting flavor was perfect. The cupcake was moist and the frosting was a great tasting cream cheese frosting.  Next, was the pumpkin walnut.  Again, the cupcake was perfect.  Moist, very flavorful but the frosting on this cupcake was less desirable.  The frosting on this cupcake was a sugary buttercream.  We took the sugary mess off the cupcake and enjoyed this perfect cupcake without any frosting. It was "yum!" This cupcake would have been dreamy if the same frosting was used on it as the carrot cupcake.  Last, but certainly not least was the red velvet topped with the same sugary mess as the pumpkin walnut.  The taste and density of this red velvet cupcake is one of my favorites.  The chocolate flavor really comes out when you savor the flavor of this cupcake.  I have to say the Curbside red velvet cupcake (cupcake only) is one of my top 3 best tasting cupcakes.  Their choice of frosting on this cupcake has got to go or tone it down.  The frosting should accent a cupcake not weigh it down. 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Magnolia Bakery Review

Tony and my adventure to New York city for New Year's Eve to see the ball drop was ALMOST a total bust.  I say almost because even though we didn't get to even get a peek at the ball, we did get a cupcake fix. When we arrived at NY Penn Station at 9pm the roads anywhere near Time Square were already blocked off.  We heard from a local that you could get a glimpse from central park and 7th Ave.  We walked 10 blocks to central park and seen a massive mob forming in front of 7th ave. We decided to bypass viewing the ball at this point and head over to Magnolias for a sweet night cap.  Once at Magnolias, there was not a big selection to choose from.  In fact, there were red velvet, carrot, and caramel.  There were brownies, bars, and other sweet treats available though.    We ordered a red velvet, a peanut butter bar, and a coconut bar.  When we got to the register the charge was $6.45.  I was like WOW for a cupcake and 2 bars? That's pretty cheap!  UNTIL I opened the box on our train ride home.  Tony and I hopped on the last train out of the city before the ball dropped.  We had the train car pretty much to ourselves.  It was a nice sweet relaxing ride.  We opened the Magnolia box and found only the red velvet cupcake and the peanut butter bar.  The coconut bar was missing.  Tony was devistated, being the good woman I am, I gave him the chocolate Rockette that was on top of the red velvet cupcake.  The red velvet cupcake itself was dry, but the frosting was very good.  The peanut butter bar was delicious fresh peanut butter tasting and not sickening sweet.  We would have loved to have tasted the coconut bar.  On our next trip we will stop by again and hopefully Magnolia's will have a bigger cupcake selection and get our order correct.
Red Velvet cupcake and Peanut Butter Bar