Monday, June 30, 2008
I picked out a Vanilla Cupcake with Vanilla Buttercream (top right), Chocolate Cupcake with Peanut Buttercream (bottom right), Chocolate Cupcake with Toffee Buttercream (top left), and Chocolate Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting & Coconut Topping (bottom left). Like the cupcakes at Heidelberg, Best Buns’ were huge too!
Friday, June 27, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Okay back to the cupcakes. We'll start with the Carrot Cake. Hello Cupcake's Carrot Cake still reigns King, but this Carrot Cake was pretty good. I don't like raisin's so I wish they weren't baked in, but it was moist and flavorful with lots of spices. The cream cheese icing was my only complaint...it was too thick and almost tasted a little sour. Most icings should change consistency when they hit your taste buds, but this one didnt...it stayed a thick blob. Unfortunately, they used the same cream cheese icing on the Red Velvet. I just cut it off the top and tried the cake part, and wow, it was REALLY good. Moist, crumbly, rich and velvety...I loved it. Quite possibly my favorite Red Velvet so far. If I were to order any of these in the future though, I would probably ask them to hold the icing and just put on some of my own homemade cream cheese icing... Last up, the Chocolate Truffle. If you're a chocolate lover, you will love this cupcake. VERY rich, and the chocolate truffle in the middle is a great addition. All of the cupcakes I tried were Jumbo size, but they do have regular size chocolate and vanilla cupcakes. Some of the other Jumbo flavors include Yellow Cake with a Caramel topping and Chocolate Cake with a Raspberry frosting. There are some little bistro tables inside for you to sit down and enjoy whatever dessert you end up choosing. If you've never been to the Heidelberg, I highly recommend it!
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
(Picture by Cheryl Porro of Cupcake Bakeshop)
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
Cupcake interview with Danielle Buckley, DC/Metro Area Cupcake Meetup Organizer
Name: Danielle Buckley
Location: Rockville, MD
Occupation: Government Contracts Administrator by day, Cupcake Blogger and Aspiring Entrepreneur by night.
Why did you start your blog and how did you get interested in cupcakes?
I love traveling around DC area bakeries trying all sorts of cupcakes; I thought it would be fun to have a place to talk about my finds and post the pictures.
I remember being interested in cupcakes way back in elementary school. I’d always look forward to my classmate’s birthdays because their parents would bring in cupcakes for everyone!
Which are your favorite DC cupcakes that you’ve tried so far?
I had the privilege of sampling 5 different flavors of cupcakes from Hello Cupcake, set to open later this summer in Dupont. Definitely the best cupcakes I’ve had. Just talking about it is putting me in a state of cupcake euphoria. How do you think the DC cupcake scene compares to cities like New York and LA? Is there anything that’s missing from the DC bakeries you’d like to see them offer?
I think DC has definitely been a late bloomer in the cupcake craze, but now that we’re catching up, it’s full steam ahead! NY and LA definitely have more cupcake-only bakeries, while DC mostly has a lot of great bakeries that offer cupcakes. One thing about the DC bakeries I’d like to see more of is room for sitting down and enjoying your cupcake!
You’re about to launch the DC/Metro Area Cupcake Meetup. Why did you start the group and what do you have planned for it? What are you most looking forward to?
I’m so excited about this! I started the group because I knew there had to be other DC locals just as excited about cupcakes as I am, and I wanted to give everyone the opportunity to meetup and enjoy them together. I want to take advantage of this summer weather and have an outdoor social, and of course we’ll be meeting at local bakeries. I’d say I’m most looking forward to meeting new people and trying new cupcakes!
You criticized CakeLove for having bland flavors. What can bakeries do to stand out from the pack?
To make yourself stand out, I think you need to have great presentation (both with the cupcakes and your brand) as well as great taste. The cutest frosting patterns, colors, and decorations aren’t going to mask bad flavor. I think you also need to have something that is uniquely yours. Like an innovative flavor of cupcake or a special way of presenting them. Small touches like that help make customers both remember and recommend you.
What do you think makes for the perfect cupcake?
I’ve met a lot of people who try to say it’s either the cake or the frosting that make the perfect cupcake, but I think it’s both. The cake has to be great on its own and so does the frosting. Also, a nice presentation doesn’t hurt.
And now for some personal questions… How often do you eat cupcakes?
Too often! Probably once a week on average? I lost some weight on Weight Watchers so I’m always watching what I eat, but cupcakes are the one exception.
What's the best thing about eating cupcakes?
The happy feeling they give you and how they’re perfectly portioned just for me!
What's your favorite type of cupcake?
Carrot Cake, definitely. But I’ll also never pass up a good, classic vanilla.
How do cupcakes compare/contrast to other baked goods for you?
Honestly, with the exception of cupcakes, I’m not a big sweets eater. I do like brownies though; I make an excellent chunky toffee brownie that everyone just goes crazy for.
Is there any innovation you'd like to see made to the cupcake that would improve it for you?
I’d definitely like seeing more cupcakes with surprises baked into them…like delicious fillings or layers.
Do you bake your own cupcakes? Or (even better) have someone who bakes them for you?
All the time! My favorite thing is trying new flavors and of course the decorating. I’ve become the go-to girl for cupcakes among my friends and family. Unfortunately, nobody bakes them for me!
What's your first cupcake-related memory?
When I was little, my mom used to make cakes for children’s birthday parties. My twin sister and I wanted to be in the kitchen with her, so she’d prep a bowl of icing for us and let us decorate a batch of cupcakes while she worked. We always made a mess!
What's the most fun you've ever had with a cupcake?
One night my boyfriend was having a guy’s poker night, and along with the usual chips and dips I decided to bake a batch of Carrot Cake Cupcakes (his favorite) for all of them. The cupcakes practically disappeared! All of his friends were raving about how delicious they were and asked if I could make them for every poker night!
Monday, June 23, 2008
Now you can have cupcakes in the tub! Urban Outfitters is selling these cupcake shaped bath fizzers in either Cherry or Mint Chip. They're topped with floating soap icing, and apparently they smell pretty good! They measure 3.25"w x 2.75"h and go for $6 each.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Out of all of the cupcakes we tried, I think our overall favorite was the Carrot Cake with the Strawberry coming in a close 2nd. For me, the only disappointment was the Red Velvet, as it didn’t taste anything like Red Velvet. All of the cupcakes were very thick, but this isn’t a bad thing. They were moist and rich, with the exception of the Vanilla cupcake which was actually pretty dry. I would definitely recommend Baked & Wired though. It’s in a great location, good coffee, friendly employees, tasty cupcakes, and lots of other great desserts (I heard the “Phig Newtons” are pretty good!)
If you have any recommendations about future meetup locations, feel free to post them! And if you'd like to join our meetup group (there's 70 of us so far!), visit the group page by clicking here. It was great meeting everyone, and I’m already looking forward to next time!
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Penny Karas, Owner & Executive Pastry Chef of the much anticipated Hello Cupcake (set to open later this summer in Dupont), graciously offered me a sneak preview of her treats before the shop’s Grand Opening. With original flavors like the Velvet Elvis and Maya Favorite Cupcake, I was SUPER excited to make my way over to Penny’s place and put my taste buds to work. And work I did! After tasting 5 different flavors, I can safely say that Hello Cupcake's cupcakes are the best I have had in this area!
With charming little touches like both indoor and outdoor seating, recycled pink packing, a flashy pink chandelier, and the perfectly crafted cupcakes themselves, Hello Cupcake is all about the details. And you can taste Penny's attention to detail in each and every bite. I think it's this special attention that is going to make Hello Cupcake so successful. Here are my reviews:
Gluten Free Carrot Cake - Oh.My.God. GLUTEN FREE?!?! I’ve died and gone to cupcake heaven. The cream cheese icing was SO delicious it’s hard to put into words! The mixture of cinnamon, real carrots, walnuts, and pineapple was perfect. When you go to Hello Cupcake, you have GOT to try this masterpiece.
Vanilla Gorilla - A light and fluffy banana bread with an anything but average vanilla frosting. I gave one to a friend who is a banana bread connoisseur, and her eyes about bulged out of her head when she took her first bite. “This is AMAZING!!” I would have to agree. I've never really liked bananas, but I LOVED this cupcake.
Vegan German Chocolate - I tried this one both room temperature and warmed up. I think I prefer the warmed up version as it makes the caramel topping a little creamier. This combined with chocolate cake was a great combination.
Triple Coconut - My taste buds had a field day with this one. The Triple Coconut is exactly how a cupcake should taste: sweet, light, and moist. Normally I avoid coconut as I’m not a big fan, but this was just divine.
Peanut Butter Blossom - WOW. The peanut butter frosting on this cupcake is so creamy and delicious you must try it for yourself. Unlike many other peanut butter frostings I’ve had, this one is not at all oily or overpowering. It’s perfect. The chocolate cake was smooth and rich. Put them together and you’ve got one amazing combination.
You can find these and over 15 other flavors on Hello Cupcake's menu. Speaking of which, I asked Penny if we could be expecting any new flavors once the shop opens, to which she replied "Oh definitely! Coming up with new flavors is the best part." For more on what Penny had to say about her cupcakes and her shop, check out our conversation below:
(In regards to the Vegan German Chocolate Cupcake)
Penny: “The caramel topping doesn’t have the butter in it to make it really gooey, so it hardens almost into a caramel fudge, it’s awesome. If you wanted to have the gooeyness, I would recommend just warming it up. Pop it in the microwave for about 10 seconds and it goo’s right up.
Penny: And then this is Gluten Free Carrot Cake.
Danielle: OH those are my favorite!
Penny: Oh good! This is really good even if you’re not eating gluten free, so I think you’ll enjoy it but the real stuff is also amazing
Danielle: I love the way you do your icing. I was checking out the website and everything is so cute, people are loving it! You know you’ve got so many good reviews already and you haven’t even opened. Everyone is just like, “I love the way they look!”
Penny: It kind of validates the whole idea of really going for a high end brand look too. I mean, I think the products are number one, and they’re really good, so that’s a good thing, but I also think that just having the brand appeal has really attracted people.
Danielle: People really go for presentation.
Penny: I think that’s true; and I wanted the shop itself to have a modern aesthetic. The whole idea behind the shop is that when you walk in it feels more like you’re walking into a little boutique.
Danielle: Yea, I read about your pink chandelier!
Penny: Hahaha Yea!
(Back to cupcakes)
Penny: This is Peanut Butter Blossom which is my basic Scharfenberger chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting, which is addictive. [This is] Vanilla Gorilla, which is banana cake and has real bananas, not just banana flavoring, and vanilla cream cheese frosting. It’s a really nice moist cake because of the Banana.
Danielle: Speaking of the Banana, your Velvet Elvis cracks me up.
Penny: Isn’t that great? I didn’t know if people would get the reference! There is another one called Lucy, “the sassy red head.” A friend of mine who is like 10 years younger than me said “are you sure younger people are going to get this reference?
Danielle: Oh, I definitely think so.
What I like most about the cupcakes from Hello Cupcake is that not only are the cake and frosting delicious on their own, but when you bite into them together, it's the perfect combination. They look great, they're moist, the flavors are rich but aren't overpowering; they’re absolutely delicious.
Penny was shocked that I came all the way from Bethesda to her corner of DC to try the cupcakes. Are you kidding?? People are going to be coming from all over to try these cupcakes! Keep your eyes and ears peeled for the Grand Opening later this summer, Hello Cupcake is going to be a huge hit.
Friday, June 20, 2008
A friend of mine clipped these articles out of the June issue of Ladies Home Journal. How adorable! These cupcakes would make excellent desserts for your kid's next birthday party, or maybe just for fun at an upcoming BBQ! The issue shows how to make the Panda's shown above, as well as...
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Now if Tiffany's were selling these precious charms back in the Hepburn's heyday, you know Holly Golightly would have been wearing one! Available in either 18k Gold with multi-colored gemstones or Sterling Silver with pink enamel, you can buy the Tiffany's Cupcake Charm on a chain, link clasp necklace, link clasp bracelet, or simply all by itself. Options range from as much as $4,050 to as little as $150. Click here to see all your choices!
This week's Recipe of The Week comes from Bon Appétit Magazine. With reviews like "Delicious!" "Divine!" "Rich!" and "The Best!," I thought these flourless chocolate cupcakes were definitely worth trying. INGREDIENTS
1 cup blanched almonds
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
4 large eggs, separated
1 cup sugar, divided
2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream PREPARATION
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place almonds in processor. Using on/off turns, blend until nuts are coarsely ground. (Really, make sure they're ground enough so the cupcakes aren't crunchy). Line 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. Microwave chocolate and butter in small bowl on high 30 seconds; stir. Microwave until almost melted, about 30 seconds longer. Stir to combine. Cool chocolate mixture until barely lukewarm but still liquid, about 5 minutes. Whisk egg yolks and 3/4 cup sugar in large bowl until blended. Mix in orange peel, ground almonds, and chocolate mixture. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in another large bowl until mixture is thick and glossy and peaks form. Fold egg-white mixture into chocolate mixture in 3 additions. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups (about 1/3 cup batter in each). Bake until edges are firm and tops are cracked all over, about 16 minutes for very soft cake or about 22 minutes for firmer cake. (Delleicious Note: Reviews say you should cook for 22-23 minutes, any less and they're too runny). Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream. Click here to access the reviews and recipe through Bon Appetit's sister site, Epicurious.com. Have a cupcake recipe you think should be the next Recipe of the Week? Send it my way! Danielle12484@gmail.com
Monday, June 16, 2008
All my posts on Cupcake goodies thus far have been rather pricey (5K purses, 1K necklaces), so I thought I would fill you in on some adorable cupcake stuff more in the average gal's price range! And seriously, how darling are these little dessert dishes???
These hand-painted plates come in a set of 4, are dishwasher safe, and packaged in a cute little gift box to boot! The best part? Only $19.95! Pick yours up at one of the three Sur-La-Table locations in our area: their DC store on Wisconsin Avenue, their Arlington store in Pentagon Row, or on the 2nd floor of Tysons Galleria, across from the Juicy Couture boutique. Not close to any of these locations? Save money on gas and simply click here to buy them online!
Remember those $830 Cupcake Necklaces I mentioned a few days ago? You thought that was expensive? Well my dears, feast your eyes upon the purse everyone is talking about: The Limited Edition Leiber Strawberry Cupcake Clutch.
While browsing Neiman Marcus’ website tonight, I came across this little gem and thought, where have I seen this before? After a little research, I found out it was one of the purses seen in the Sex & The City Movie.
This handcrafted work of art is fully beaded with Rose and Light Pink Austrian Crystals. It can be carried by its chain shoulder strap, or you can tuck the chain in and carry it as a clutch. The purse is a tiny treasure, measuring 4"L x 3"W x 4"H; with a 7" drop handle.
If you’ve got $4,295 to spend, you can pre-order your own through Neiman Marcus or Bergdorf Goodman. However, for my savvy shoppers out there, you can add yourself to the waitlist at Bag Borrow or Steal (which has also gained a lot of publicity from the SATC movie) by clicking here. Bag Borrow or Steal allows you to rent the purse for $136/week or $400/month.
And for those of us who cannot afford to buy, bag, borrow, or steal this fabulous piece of eye candy…just think about how many cupcakes we can buy instead.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Did you realize that there's absolutely nowhere to get a good cupcake in Ocean City (hint hint, aspiring cupcake entrepreneurs)??? I went into one of the thousands of Candy Kitchens that overrun the town, but nope, nothing.
I did remember however that Maggie Moo's recently jumped in on the cupcake craze and came out with their own line of Ice Cream Cupcakes, and what do you know, there so happened to be a Maggie Moo's in West Ocean City. So after a long day of roasting in the sun at Seacrets, my girlfriends and I ventured onto Route 50 and dropped by the Maggie Moo's. For $8.95, we picked up a 4 pack: 2 "Sprinkles" (Vanilla Ice Cream with Yellow Cake) and 2 "Chocolate Heaven" (Chocolate Ice Cream & Chocolate Cake). We sat down with our spoons and dug in.
We all preferred the Sprinkles flavor over Chocolate Heaven, but both made for really good ice cream cupcakes. As you would expect, they taste exactly like a piece of Ice Cream Cake, just in cute little cupcake form. These would be an adorable alternative to a plain old Ice Cream Cake for a kid's birthday party. They've got a couple other flavors, like Better Batter Cookie Heaven, Cotton Candy Carnival, and their award winning Dark Chocolate ice cream on top of chocolate cake, a marshmallow filling, and topped with real chocolate ganache...mmm! You can even request a custom creation! To get more info on Maggie Moo's Ice Cream Cupcakes, or to find a Maggie's Moo's near you, click here
Two of my girlfriends about to dig in!
Click here to read the shout out at the Cupcakes Take the Cake blog: DC Cupcake Meetup Group
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
How much do you love the little Cup-a-Cake Containers? These adorable little things are so cute and convenient, you've got to own at least one. They're available at Linens N Things, The Container Store, Williams Sonoma, Crate & Barrel, and Kitchen & Company in Bel Air, Maryland. I'll let you in on a little secret though...just go directly to the Cup-a-Cake website (http://www.cupacake.com/) to get the best deal. Those big name retailers sell only select colors, and for $2.99 each, while Cupacake.com sells all the colors (White, Pink, Green, Yellow, and Blue) in sets of 4 for $9.99.
How about the Cupcake Courier? Genius! This amazing portable device holds 3 stackable cupcake trays, with each tray holding 12 cupcakes. There really is no better way to get those cupcakes to your next party or gathering unharmed! They come in Petal Pink, Lemon Grass, Saffron Yellow, and Soft Blue Sky. Though currently out of stock on http://www.cupcakecourier.com/, you can find them at Target, Dillards, Bed Bath & Beyond, Bloomingdales, and on Amazon.com.
Take a look:
To make these adorable desserts, you'll need
- 1 Box Salerno Cookies (or another similarly shaped brand)
- 1 Bag Regular Size Marshmallows
- Your favorite cupcake recipe
After the cupcakes have been baked, simply cut one marshmallow into a triangle by slicing a small wedge off of each side, so the top of the marshmallow is the original width but the bottom now ends in a point. Now cut off the tip and now you've got a diamond! Next, take one cookie and cut of a segment the size of the bottom of the marshmallow diamond, but be careful, the cookie breaks easily.
Frost a cupcake and press the butter cookie and marshmallow onto it as pictured above to create an "engagement ring!"
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Michael's Craft Store - Michael's offers Wilton Cake Decorating Courses at four different levels. Course I (Discover Cake Decorating) focuses on basic skills & techniques from icing prep to simple borders and roses. Course II (Flowers & Borders) teaches more intricate flowers and borders like pansies and basketweave. Course III (Fondant & Tiered Cakes) introduces rolled fondant, advanced borders and flowers, and tiered cake assembly. Lastly, there is a Fondant & Gum Paste Course that teaches you how to marbleize fondant, work with a ribbon cutter, make gum paste flowers, and more! Right now Michael's is running a special, register for a class for the month of July and you'll get 50% off your tuition, plus save an additional $10. In addition, you'll receive the 2009 Wilton Yearbook for free. Courses are anywhere from $15-$30 (before the discount offer) and usually run for 4 weeks (1 class each week). You have to contact your local Michaels for dates and times. To find a Michael's by you that offers the Wilton courses, click here http://www.wilton.com/classes/classlocator.cfm
Available through Neiman Marcus, these darling little charms have pavé diamond insets, and come in 14-karat Rose Gold, White Gold, and Yellow Gold. Oh yes, and they retail at $830.00 each. Insanely expensive? Yes. Do I want one? Of course!
Click here for the recipe: http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=1571446
Word has spread around the office that I will be out of town later this week, i.e. not here to bake my coworkers their weekly cupcakes! So to please the masses, I decided to bake some cupcakes last night to bring in today.
I've never liked public transportation, but when choosing between a 17 minute Metro commute or a hour+ drive, I think the choice is obvious. Unfortunately today the AC was broken on the Metro. With this recent heat wave we've been having in the DC Area, you can assume that the ride from Shady Grove to Bethesda was a hot & sweaty nightmare. However, the compliments on my cupcakes from complete strangers, all the way from the Shady Grove Metro platform to the elevator ride up to my office floor, made the trip a little less miserable!
So lesson of the day: if you ever feel like socializing, walk around holding a plate of cupcakes. It's a guarenteed conversation starter!
Monday, June 9, 2008
If you're going to treat yourself to a happy hour, skip the bar and head to the bakery! The Baltimore location of the Baltimore Cupcake Company offers a Cupcake Happy Hour every weekday from 5:00-6:00pm. All cupcakes are only $1! Though their flavor menu changes daily, you can find great flavors like Vanilla Vanilla, Key Lime, Coconut, Strawberry, and Cookies & Cream. Yea, Baltimore may be a little outside the realm of the DC/Metro area, but I thought this was definitely something worth knowing! The Baltimore Cupcake Company is located in Locust Point, at 1443 E Fort Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21230. Check them out at Baltimore Cupcake Company
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Our first meetup is Sunday, June 22, 2008 at 2:00pm. I thought Baked & Wired in Georgetown would be a great place to go. Realizing DC’s obsession with cupcakes, Baked & Wired went from making a “couple dozen cupcakes a week to 100 a day,” according to owner Teresa Velazquez. In addition to their increased production, Velazquez upgraded the store to include an area with leather lounge chairs for hanging out. This will be a great spot for everyone to have the opportunity to meet eachother while enjoying some delicious cupcakes!
Some of their biggest hit flavors are Strawberry, Chocolate Cake, and Birthday Cake. All cupcakes are $3.25 each.
Check out the group at http://dessert.meetup.com/13/, and check out Baked & Wired at http://www.bakedandwired.com/. Be sure to stay tuned later this month for pictures and details of the meetup! I can't wait to meet everyone!
(Photo by Erin Chrisinger)
Saturday, June 7, 2008
The Best of Party is known to attract the DC Metro Area’s fun, hip crowd. So if you’re in the mood to meet some new people and taste the best of what DC has to offer, head out to the National Building Museum for a guarenteed good time!
The $95 tickets will buy you access to ample amounts of food from all the best restaurants in the DC Metro Area, as well as open bar all night. Shelling out an additional $30 earns you VIP status; this entails a “Best of Washington” T-shirt and allows you be the first to sample food and drinks at 6pm! A little pricey, but a portion of the proceeds go to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Good cause, good food, good people, how many more reasons do you need? Click here to check out the list of restaurants, libations, and desserts, and to purchase tickets!