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