Friday, September 30, 2011

The Cupcake Quest - Part 2

On July 8th surrounded by friends, family, mini and normal sized cupcakes, I wed my favorite taste-tester. I knew he was a keeper from the time he told me my demonic farm animal cupcakes were “adorable” and that the time I totally messed up champagne cupcakes and they tasted like medicine, he wolfed them down and asked for seconds. He is as much a necessity to my baking as my new KitchenAid mixer (but of course he is way cuter!).

As I'm sure you know, planning a wedding requires a lot of detailed organization, and while my wedding was a budge one that did some unorthodox things like RSVPs online, skipping Save the Dates all together, and registering on a site called the HoneyFund (where people can contribute money for certain activities on your honeymoon), there were a couple of things I felt strongly about. One was my cupcakes.

I had it in my mind from day one that cupcakes would be involved in dessert, perhaps in replacement of a traditional cake. Then I found Kara’s Cupcakes had an option perfect for the cupcake lover – they offered a tiered scenario of cupcakes with a small 6-inch cake on top to give it a wedding cake feel and something for the Bride and Groom to cut. You could pick and choose as many different flavors of cupcakes as you want. The only little catch is that you had to keep their frosting and cake pairs (unless you paid extra for a special order). But you know what?! Kara’s knows best! Their flavor pairings are AMAZING.

For dessert, I decided to go with a
6-inch chocolate cake and white icing on top, with cupcake flavors of: Sweet Vanilla (white cake, white icing), Chocolate Coconut (chocolate cake with white coconut icing), Smore (chocolate cake with marshmallow frosting), Chocolate Velvet (Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting), and Mocha Java. Each cupcake had a light pink daisy adorning the top (no extra charge!). It turned out SO cute...

My little brother, a Smore expert was underwhelmed by the flavor, but nonetheless ate two. He really loved the Sweet Vanilla, as many guests did. Like I mentioned previously, the chocolate and vanilla frosting pairing is EPIC and an instant favorite. The chocolate velvet was delicious but very rich in flavor.

Then came the question of the display tier. Kara’s does offer a rental of a porcelain tier for $75, which is totally reasonable BUT they require insurance of a credit card, and if you or your venue breaks it, they can charge you $500! To me, that was SO not worth the stress. So I hopped online and found a $25 Styrofoam one on ebay – not the sturdiest, but certainly got the job done.

But was this enough cupcakes?? NEVER! After I confirmed my dessert choice, I moved on to other wedding details like place cards that display guest names and their table numbers. I found lots of cute crafty ideas on Etsy, but decided that for $1.25, I could do so much more… I ordered a few dozen mini Sweet Vanilla cupcakes and then constructed the “place cards” by printing their names and table numbers on a round label and sticking two together on the top of a toothpick.

On the day of the event, the staff placed my creations popping out of the cupcakes for each guest to sample on their way to the seat. The result?? Well, you know that little brother of mine who ate two Smore cupcakes?? He ate 8 mini cupcakes that he poached from absent guests!

Overall, the cupcakes were a smash hit and really helped my personality shine through. My husband, though an avid taste-tester of my cupcakes, prefers ice cream. So mid-evening, when people were working up a dancing sweat, we put out an ice cream bar for guests to refresh. Now both of us had our sugar fixes!

It truly was a sugary sweet evening that I will remember forever with the best cupcakes I’ve ever had!!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Cupcake Quest - Part 1

After a rather epic hiatus, I’m back with a two parter about the Ultimate Cupcake Quest! You can’t be mad at me because I was having the ultimate cupcake tasting experience – planning my wedding!

The quest for the wedding cupcakes that were to meet of the high standards of Cupcakin’ It Up! was an ambitious one. It started with a wide Yelp search for wedding cake bakeries that would deliver to Sausalito, California, where my reception would take place, at a minimal fee. The first place had an impressive background in making gorgeous fondant flowers to cover the cake in; however, the taste of the cake was mild and not very memorable. The next place was a full on bakery that had promise in its variety but poor and dry in its execution. No, no, none of this would do!

Distraught, I roamed the streets of San Francisco. I meandered my way to Ghirardelli Square - a place of comfort, warmth, and chocolate to console my affronted taste-buds and revitalize my quest for a cupcake fit for a princess. And there, as I reached the top of the steps, my eye was caught by the soft pink glow emanating from a shop window. I moved closer to discover the holy grail of sugar – Kara’s Cupcakes!

Their set up was a more girlie version of Sprinkles, and honestly, their reviews on their San Jose location were not promising. However, Yelp could not have been more wrong. I tried my favorite chocolate cupcake with vanilla and coconut icing and it was HEAVEN. The cake was perfectly moist and the icing was creamy but not too sweet or Crisco-y. Perfection. My mother and sister, prophets in the art of chocolate, agreed. These were the cupcakes I wanted to serve at my wedding...