Friday, November 7th, 2008 • 2 Comments on Cupcakes Come to Virginia!
I love to bake and cupcakes are one of my favorite treats. They’re easy, but so decadent. I love the way they look piled on a plate and I love sharing them. Who doesn’t love cupcakes? In the past several years, cupcakes have hit the scene as being the “it” dessert. One of my fabulous editors, Rachel Kramer Bussel—in addition to being a writer, blogger and editor—also uncovers all the best of the cupcake world at the wildly popular Cupcakes Take the Cake. CTTC is my source for all things cupcake and the photos (food porn!) alone are worth a visit to the site, whether you bake or not.
I have often lamented that Virginia—at least my part of Virginia—is not exactly cupcake-friendly. The cupcake craze seems to be a mostly urban phenomenon—New York, San Francisco and Chicago are just filled with delicious cupcake bakeries. Bakeries dedicated entirely to cupcakes! Oh, the wonder! Imagine my delight when I discovered the Carolina Cupcakery just a few short minutes from my house (in a direction I never travel, which explains why I didn’t know they existed). Despite the name, Carolina Cupcakery is most definitely located in Virginia. Happy me!
Jay and I stumbled on the Carolina Cupcakery quite by accident yesterday. I was willing to come back another time (we hadn’t eaten lunch yet and it seemed irresponsible to be indulging in cupcakes as a meal), but Jay insisted we should go inside. I’m so glad we did! The smell was heaven and the selection is truly eclectic.
The Cupcakery rotates their cupcake flavors and offers a schedule so customers will know what days their favorites are available. We were in on a Thursday when such flavors as Kahlua and Cream, Espresso Royale, Seriously Southern Red Velvet and Fluffer Nutter are fresh from the oven. Jay ordered a Chocolate Chipster (yellow cake with a rich, chocolate chip-laden butter cream frosting) and I chose the HoHo Heaven (a Hostess-style chocolate cupcake with chocolate ganache and vanilla cream filling). Oh. My. God.
In September, Sheri brought me a lovely, luscious cupcake from More Cupcakes in Chicago. It was a similar Hostess-styled cupcake and I was curious to compare the “big city” version to my newfound Virginia cupcake bakery. I have to say, the More cupcake was delicious, but the cake was a little on the dry side and there wasn’t much vanilla cream filling. Yummy, to be sure, and the dryness might be due to traveling from Chicago. The Carolina Cupcakery’s version was a little more decadent (and perhaps a little larger?), the cake moist and rich, the chocolate ganache generous, the vanilla cream practically bursting. I love my chocolate and I love it rich, so this was perfect for me. (However, when I offered Jay a bite he said, “That’s so sweet it hurts my teeth!”)
I asked the owner (unfortunately, I didn’t think to ask her name, but I believe it’s Dawn Eskins, according to their website) if she knew about Cupcakes Take the Cake. She did—and she said she was listed on the site! Sure enough, when I checked CTTC, Carolina Cupcakery was there. I’m not sure how I missed it, but it was a sweet treat to find this little cupcake bakery amidst the wilderness of suburbia! (And they’re green!) Ms. Eskins gave me a day-old carrot cake cupcake (day-old cupcakes are half-price, which I think is a great way to let customers try flavors they might not otherwise order) to take home with me. I devoured it last night—I couldn’t resist—and though the cake was a little dry from being a day old, it was otherwise delicious. I’ll be back for a fresh-baked one.
I can’t wait to take Sheri there later this month. It’ll be a good excuse to try several more flavors. As if I need an excuse to eat cupcakes, right?
Tuesday, September 30th, 2008 • 1 Comment on Life Is Uncertain, Eat Dessert First
Recently, a website called Very Good Taste started something of an internet fire with a list called “The Omnivore’s Hundred”, which listed 100 foods which “every good omnivore should have tried at least once in their life.” We liked the idea, and inspired by the vegan variation on Hannah Kaminsky’s site, we thought—why not make our own Sweet 100!? Like the original, our list includes “fine food, strange food, everyday food and even some pretty bad food”—but in our universe, it’s all sweet! (In case any of them are foreign to you, links to pictures and recipes are included; also, for any vegans, feel free to go through the list assuming it’s a vegan counterpart). How many have you tried?
I’ve had a lot of different desserts in my life, thanks to working in a bakery in high school and growing up in an internationally diverse community. Plus, I really, really like dessert. See my list below.
If you’d like, feel free to follow the same guidelines:
1) Copy this list into your site, including the instructions!
2) Bold all of the sweets you’ve eaten—or make them a different type color.
3) Cross out any of them that you’d never ever eat.
4) Consider anything that is not bold or crossed out your “To Do” List.
5) Optional: Post a comment here linking to your results—or just post a comment letting us know how many you’ve tried, or what you’re going to try next!
- Red Velvet Cake
- Princess Torte
- Whoopie Pie
- Apple Pie either topped or baked with sharp cheddar
- Black and white cookie
- Seven Layer Bar (also known as the Magic Bar or Hello Dolly bars)
- Fried Fruit pie (sometimes called hand pies)
- Just-fried (still hot) doughnut
- Scone with clotted cream (Oh, I miss London!)
- Betty, Grunt, Slump, Buckle or Pandowdy
- Banana pudding with nilla wafers
- Bubble tea (with tapioca “pearls”) (Sheri introduced me to bubble tea)
- Dixie Cup
- Rice Krispie treats
- Girl Scout cookies
- Moon cake
- Candy Apple
- Baked Alaska
- Brooklyn Egg Cream
- Nanaimo bar
- Baba au rhum
- King Cake
- Tres Leches Cake
- Shoofly Pie
- Key Lime Pie (made with real key lime) (I’m from Florida! Jay makes Key Slime Pie.)
- Panna Cotta
- New York Cheesecake
- Napoleon / mille-fueille
- Russian Tea Cake / Mexican Wedding Cake
- Anzac biscuits
- Malasadas (My neighbor used to make these when I was a kid. Yummy.)
- Moon Pie
- Dutch baby
- Boston Cream Pie
- Homemade chocolate chip cookies (I make awesome chocolate chip cookies!)
- Gooey butter cake
- Green tea cake or cookies
- Cupcakes from a cupcake shop
- Crème brûlée
- Some sort of deep fried fair food (twinkie, candy bar, cupcake)
- Yellow cake with chocolate frosting
- Jelly Roll (Reminds me of my high school days working in a bakery)
- Pop Tarts
- Charlotte Russe (I love the Chocolate Charlotte at Baker’s Crust)
- An “upside down” dessert (Pineapple upside down cake or Tarte Tatin)
- Hummingbird Cake
- Jell-O from a mold
- Black Forest cake
- Mock Apple Pie (Ritz Cracker Pie) (My mother made this when I was a kid. I thought it was bizarre.)
- Linzer torte
- Stollen (Another one from my bakery days, fruit stollen. Yuck.)
- Angel Food Cake
- Mincemeat pie
- Opera Cake
- Sfogliatelle / Lobster tail
- Pain au chocolat
- A piece of Gingerbread House
- Rainbow cookies
- Petits fours
- Chocolate Souffle
- Bienenstich (Bee Sting Cake)
- Homemade marshmallows
- Rigo Janci
- Pie or cake made with candy bar flavors (Snickers pie, Reeses pie, etc)
- Coke or Cola cake
- Gateau Basque
- S’mores (We’ve made S’mores in our fireplace)
- Figgy Pudding
- Bananas foster or other flaming dessert
- Joe Froggers
- Millionaire’s Shortbread
- Animal crackers
(link via RKB’s tumblr)
Monday, December 17th, 2007 • 3 Comments on I Heart Nigella
I have been thumbing through Nigella Lawson cookbooks (I have three), contemplating what to make for Christmas Eve dinner. I’m having a hard time of it, though. Not because Nigella doesn’t have many fabulous recipes—she does—but because I get caught up in reading those recipes, even when it isn’t something I would ever eat. Just reading this makes me drool:
Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova
You just cannot beat a pav in summer, and in particular this dark beauty. The crisp and chewy chocolate meringue base, rich in cocoa and beaded nuggets of chopped plain chocolate, provides a sombre, almost purple-brown layer beneath the fat whiteness of the cream and matt, glowering crimson raspberries on top: it is a killer combination.
I love cookbooks, but I love words even more… and Nigella (or her ghostwriter?) has a way with words. It doesn’t hurt that she’s hotter than her pre-heated oven, either. And did I mention her accent? Swoon.
See why I’m having problems planning my Christmas Eve dinner menu?