Saturday, August 29, 2009

Cupcake Companions!

So you've made a delicious batch of cupcakes that you want to share with the world! Do you use your super-specific individual cupcake holder and your snap-on-snap-off carrying case?! Ok, or perhaps you're not a tupperware fanatic such as myself who spends 30 minutes in the tupperware isle at the grocery store trying to rationalize the purchase of more tupperware and who has an entire shelf in her tiny kitchen for just tupperware.... I mean, who needs plates or cups?!

Well it's as easy as a stop at the local grocery store or Target for some Ziploc! I've found their sauce container to be the perfect size for an average cupcake or their salad size has room for two cupcakes. You can get four for under $4, and plus, they're also reusable for holding salad dressings or mini chicken wontons. Rationalized for practically sake! You're welcome - rationalizing the purchase of tupperware is what I do!!

Additionally, you can take a cue from Dots and throw the cupcakes into a random box and surround them with festive tissue paper to keep them from tipping over. If you really want to take it to the next level, you can pick up a four pack of these cute cupcake boxes from Michaels - big enough for five cupcakes or one-two jumbo cupcakes. This really makes cupcakes as a birthday present extra special.

Whatever option works for you - enjoy! Oh, sweet cupcakes containers, how I love thee!!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Cupcakes, Cocktails, and Cosmetics - My First Yelp Event!

I had a very Sex and the City circa Season 5 evening with the ladies at Yelp! The Cocktails, Cupcakes, and Cosmetics event at the Benefit Boutique on 3rd Street celebrated Margaret Rose Lester's new book The Cocktail Hours with a fantastic mixture of makeovers and mini cupcakes from Buttercake Bakery.

The cupcakes added a sweet finish to this girlie event, and they provided an elegant assortment of chocolate or yellow cake complete with pink frosting and sprinkles. They seemed to have an endless supply of the cupcakes that could be devoured from counter top displays, table centerpieces, and a circulating platter. YUM! Can we say dinner??

The icing on the cupcakes was divine - some of the best I've had and comparable to Crumbs, which I consider a solid benchmark. The chocolate cake was rich, though not super moist; however, this only served to accentuate the icing overall. Upon further research on Buttercream Bakery, I'm excited to report their selection of flavors rivals Crumbs and their prices are competitive as well - $.75 for a mini and $2.75 for a cupcake. Now that's more like it!

Although I have yet to visit the actual store on Sunset (though believe me, I will make that a priority!), I can say that my scientific sampling at this Yelp event is certainly encouraging. They also offer the cutesy cupcakes that I so appreciate, themed for birthday parties and special events.

In the backdrop of the Benefit Boutique decorated in pink cupcakes that could be washed down with pink Starlet martinis, well, it doesn't get any more girlie than that!

Check out more photos!

Christyn from Bead Up! and Amy, one of the awesome Benefit artists!

The sweeeeet window display... note the missing cupcakes - I may or may not be partially responsible for that ;-)

More cool Benefit decor!

Christyn and I outside the Benefit Event post-make over on a sugar high. HOTTT haha ;)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dots of Cupcake Love - a lesson in branding!

Located in the fun and fashionable Old Town Pasadena, Dots is a tasty variation to the ice cream and fro yo shops that cluster on the infamous Colorado Street. My fellow cupcake companion, Christyn from Bead Up! brought me some to try - in the name of science!

The packaging was adorable - complete with colorful tissue paper to keep the cupcakes from tipping over. Although this was new to me at the time, I have come to find this technique at more than one shop. It's a really cute and convenient way to practically package these delicacies while still carrying the brand through to every aspect of the product. And plus, it's prettttty!

Even though these cupcakes didn't make it to my mouth until 5 days after purchase, the chocolate cake part was surprisingly moist. The icing was fluffy and tasty as well. Dots strategy for freshness is an interesting one. They have set menu for evey two days. Like on Monday/Tuesday you can get a strawberry shortcake cupcake but on Wedneday/Thursday you can't, though you can have a pumpkin pie flavored cupcake. It's actually quite a long list - check it out by clicking here. It includes exotic flavors such as Madagascar Bourbon and Tahitian vanilla. Oooo fancy! But you know me, I'm a sucker for good ol' chocolate cake with white icing!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Cold Stones of Cupcake Shops

So you know at Cold Stones Creamery, the ice cream chain, where you get to pick your ice cream flavor and toppings?... Well someone has crossed this use of free will over to a whole new realm of awesome. Meet Cupcakes Cupcakes, a San Diego based cupcakery that ships their cupcakes to a little shop at the Glendale Galleria, where my sister spotted it on our preliminary holiday shopping trip. We had just spent a half hour in the Forever 21 Accessory store, which, incidentally, is a great way to work up an appetite, when we saw it.

The set up was adorable! Like a 1950's ice cream parlor decorated in pink, white, and black with pocka dots. A lot like my blog, in fact! You pick your cake type from either red velvet, chocolate, vanilla, key lime or cherry. Then you pick your icing from buttercream, cream cheese, chocolate or lime. Finally you pick your toppings from a rather wide variety: cute daisy sugar candies, rainbow sprinkles, pink sugar, oreos, M&Ms, gummy bears, or chocolate chips. YUM!

My sister and I went with two mini cupcakes, both chocolate cake (as they were sold out of their infamous red velvet) and one with buttercream icing, one with chocolate icing. And the toppings? Oreos (of course!) on the buttercream and pink sugar on the chocolate icing. At $2.25 a piece, these minis really hit the spot. Despite the fact that the cake is not made fresh every day as it is shipped from San Diego about every 2-3 days, the cake was surprisingly moist and rich. The chocolate icing was the closest I've had to my mom's-quality icing (though as always, falling short!) but the buttercream was blasé - it had the familiar crisco taste that I recognize from my own icing experiments. Overall though, it was a great mid-shopping snack!

We enjoyed them on the adorable pink cushioned stools set at a counter that overlooked the mall. The staff was friendly and eager to tell us about their business. Though the cupcakes were just average, the ambiance was excellent. I would definitely visit this place again just for the cute decor and cupcake paraphernalia on sale from t-shirts to charms!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Chocolate + Johnny Depp = Love

Nothing like Johnny Depp dipped in Chocolat to celebrate the weekend! Sweet pirate of dessert!! This millennium classic mixes the best things in life - Johnny, chocolate, France, and wily pirates with hot braided hair... sigh... but I digress. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this classic tale of romance and defiance, it's about a woman and her daughter who open a chocolate shop in a small French village and shake up the rigid morality of the community. Then, of course, Johhny Depp, the pirate captain arrives, and hot, subtle romance ensues.

Aside from the yumminess of Johnny's toned physique and well-groomed hair, I'm always amazed at how this movie sends me running to the chocolate bar or cake. The art behind the making of the chocolate is so alluring and elegant. I love how every piece of chocolate evokes a different feeling. Vianne (the main character) has a circular plate that she spins, and whatever image you see in the plate dictates a particular kind of chocolate you will like. Of course, Vianne can guess everyone's favorite at first guess except for Johnny's because he's so original and mysterious! Sigh. Curl up with this instant classic and let its goodness melt in your mouth! YUMMM!!!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Z-Hidden Treasure!

I have found the dessert mecca. Zov's Bakery of Tustin, on the opposite side of the building as it's bistro, has the most decadent selection of sweets that one could dream of! With locations in Newport and Tustin (the Tustin location conveniently 13 minutes passed Disneyland!), this gem was found in a shopping strip just off of the 22 freeway. From cookies to cupcakes to hot smore bars to cheesecakes, Zov's has something for everyone.

We went for Saturday Brunch and found the staff to be cheerful and friendly and the food to be DIVINE. They offer free samples at the bakery counter, and the day I was there, they had the hot, fluffy smore bar up for tasting. As a true dessert blogger, I felt it was my duty to try it - YUM! The moist graham cracker crust was akin to the 7-layer bar bottom (ie likely mixed with butter!) and the chocolate was semi sweet. The marshmellow oozed off of the top. Who says you can't have dessert after breakfast?

Personally, I picked up a cupcake, for research (of course!). With the elaborate design, who could resist? It was probably the priciest cupcake I've ever purchased at $5.25 - and though it was oversized and elaborately decorated, I do think any cupcake over $4 is just absurd. But in the name of science, I bought it!! I happened to go up to the counter when the chef was there, and she explained that the cupcakes are made fresh every day. I could tell too. The cake was very moist. But the icing was nothing special - it had that crisco taste that I recognized when I made the experimental icing myself. I will give them an A for icing tool use on the flower petals, though!

Next time (oh yes, there will be a next time!), I'm trying the chocolate chip cookies and will pocket a macaroon for my dad!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Little Things in Life

On a random walk through the Farmer's Market at the Grove, I discovered a little shop that sells ONLY stickers!! Naturally, my inner 11 year old cried out in joy, and I went in. Surrounded by every sticker sheet and theme that I could imagine, from Disney princess to unicorns and planets, I discovered an entire dessert section.

Cupcakes!! They called to me... so for a rather overpriced $2 w/ tax, I bought them. But for the joy they bring me, I think it was worth it! Now if only I knew what to do with them...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Just What the Doctor Ordered!

In honor of the love of my life's White Coat Ceremony to become a doctor, I decided to celebrate his success with a couple of medically themed crafts!

The first was cupcakes - I searched EVERYWHERE online for inspiration, but only came up with rather disgusting depictions of brains or arteries complete with oozing blood or boring and un-animated hospital accessories. Well, I decided to take it to the next level.

I started with the basic Red Cross design that utilized my original white icing and followed it by the prescription symbol (for pharmacy, of course!). I used sparkly red icing for the symbols.

Then, I moved on to the traditional pills of Advil and Tylenol using Wilson's food coloring - which is incredibly vibrant - a little bit goes a long way! Red, orange, and brown for the Advil and yellow and red for the Tylenol. So then I had just a couple more cupcakes left... hmmm... what was missing? Doctors to administer the pills, of course! So I made surgeons (in the green!) and internal medicine doctors (in blue!). For career options! I used a combination of yellow, orange and brown for the skin color. I then took a sharp steak knife and dipped it in the brown Wilson dye to make the eyes and eyebrows. I used the glitter red dye for the mouth. It turned out so cute! Though with the LA heat and it sitting in my car for two hours, the icing actually melted. They still tasted good!

The second craft was inspired by a trip to Target with Christyn from Bead Up! I went in knowing that I was forbidden to bring actual flowers to the ceremony and had to get creative. So, I purchased some gauze sheets and a couple of boxes of colorful, fun kids' band-aids to create this medically themed bouquet! I emptied the band-aid boxes and affixed bbq pokers to the bottom, securing it with a hot glue gun. Then, I colored the pokers green with a permanent marker, tied it with a blue bow and ultimately used an entire hot glue stick to keep it together. The result - a creative alternative to flowers!!

I'm so proud of my sweet doctor!! Congrats, Michael!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

How Much Do You Love Cupcakes?

Do you love them enough to make them part of your body? To literally forge them into your skin? After all, who doesn't, at times, after baking four dozen cupcakes feel like cupcakes are an extension of self? All that time, all that energy and concentration to create the perfect consistency of icing, precision of design, creativity of color... but is it enough? Maybe it's time to take it to the next level - if only I wasn't so mortally afraid of needles!

I find this one (above) oddly adorable!

Nice touch with the little whisk and spatula! Now that's a girl (or boy!) who really knows what goes into making cupcakes!

Perhaps this embodies the feeling of when you find that the person you just baked birthday cupcakes for doesn't like chocolate...

A sweet alternative to the usual butterfly or dolphin, perhaps?

A tattoo for the optimist!

Symbolizes the classic battle between the uneaten cupcake and the stomach!

This would match the foot one from the top well!

I'm liking the cake / icing variety - a true culinary appreciator!

What do YOU think? If you were to dedicate a life time of skin to the love of a cupcake, which one would you choose?

Monday, August 10, 2009

What's Better than a Christmas Tree??... A Cupcake Tree!!

Ok, so I desperately want... need ;-)... a cupcake tree! Help me decide:

A subtle classy heart one?

A pink princess tree, perhaps?!

A glitzy, bakery style one?

Spirally stand of wonder!

I think I like the last two the best... unless I go with festive - one that looks like a Christmas tree. Hmmm... oh the decisions!!