Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Out of Towners - Indianapolis' Flying Cupcake

I was in Indianapolis over the weekend and thought it'd be fun to pay a visit to their only cupcakery (as far as I know) - The Flying Cupcake.

They have an adorable storefront, and the inside is really cute and quaint, with some seating both inside and out for cupcake lovers to sit down and enjoy their treats. I picked up three flavors - Pretty In Pink, What's Up Doc, and Red Velvet Elvis. I'm not quite sure what the involvement of Elvis is with Red Velvet. DC's Hello Cupcake has a Velvet Elvis - Banana cake with Peanut Butter frosting - which is a play on the King's favorite sandwich.

Anyway, Mike (my other half) dove into What's Up Doc before I had a chance to snap a picture of it, but take a look:

I was baffled - how do you have a carrot cake with no carrots? Maybe they processed them, but you couldn't taste it either way. There was also a shortage on the spices...usually in carrot cake you expect to taste a lot of cinnamon, nutmeg, sometimes even a bit of ginger and clove, but there was none of that here. Really, I can't even pinpoint a flavor to compare this cake to - it was very bland. To top it off, they stuffed it full of raisens, which I despise. One of the worst carrot cakes we've ever had, we threw this in the trash.
Pretty in Pink, the strawberry cupcake, was very sugary and sweet. The cream cheese frosting is packed with little bits of real strawberries. While the frosting was absolutely delicious, the cake missed the mark. It had the consistency and flavor of a boxed mix, which was really disappointing because they could have done so much more with it. How about putting real strawberry chunks in the cake itself? Or maybe a strawberry filling would have helped. Mike ate the frosting off this one and threw the rest away.

After two big disappointments I was pleasantly surprised to bite into the Red Velvet Elvis and find something I've never seen anyone else do in Red Velvet - big chunks of chocolate chips! And it was GREAT! It doesn't sound like that novel of an idea - putting chocolate chips in cake - but in the dozens of Red Velvet cupcakes I've tasted I've never come across a bakery willing to put a spin on the classic. The cake was deep and rich, and the big chocolate chips were the perfect extra touch that made this cupcake impossible to set down. I wish I could have brought a box of them home to let you Red Velvet lovers try! Fantastic.
The Flying Cupcake has many other flavors that I'd like to try, like The Cheesecake Blues (blueberry cheesecake cupcake on a sugar cookie crust) and Pineapple Right Side Up (It's pineapple upside down (cup)cake, only smaller and flipped right-side up); next time I'm out there I'll have to drop by again. My recommendation? Next time any of you Washingtonian's have a business trip to Indy, venture to the outskirts of the city and pick up a Red Velvet Elvis from The Flying Cupcake!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Death by Cupcake - DC's 1st Cupcake Contest

At first thought, being a Judge in DC's 1st Annual Cupcake Contest may sound like fun and glitz and glamour, but ohhhh no my friend. For myself and the other 4 Judges, it was quite the gluttonous debauch. Covered in frosting and crumbs, we taste tested 27 different cupcakes from 9 different bakers in order to determine who would get bragging rights for being the winner of DC's 1st Annual Cupcake Contest.
The contest was held in the beautiful Patterson Mansion at 15 Dupont Circle, which is owned by the Washington Club. I arrived a little early to take pictures of the contestants setting up their tables:

The ladies representing 52 Cupcakes set up their table

Mollie of Molliecakes.com making her cupcakes pretty!

Baking in the Amateur category, Yours Truly, Cupcake, sets up their cupcakes

Also baking in the Amateur category, Sarah Burton and her husband frost some cupcakes.
As attendees begin to arrive, the Judges and I headed back to our separate judging room and began the sugar overload! Here's a look at some of the cupcakes we tasted:

All entrants submitted one chocolate cupcake with white frosting, one yellow cupcake with chocolate frosting, and a wildcard. The wildcard really was wild - one cupcake had a goat cheese frosting and pine nuts! While there were a lot of great chocolate and wild card submissions, I've got to be honest and say that I wasn't impressed by any of the yellow cupcakes. A lot of them were very dry, and many of the chocolate frosting's bordered on tasting like Duncan Hines.
The cupcakes were brought to us one group at a time. We were not told who the cupcakes were from to make sure everything was kept fair. We would each have three cupcakes to taste from that entrant, evaluate the cupcakes on a number of factors (decoration was not taken into consideration), and then record our scores for each cupcake on a scale of 1-10. We would add up the three scores for each cupcake, and that would be the entrant's final score. After almost an hour of scoring and taste testing all of this:

we had two clear winners! One for the Amateur category and one for the Professional category.
Amateur Category Winner: Mollie Ohlhaut. My favorite one of Mollie's submissions was her deep rich chocolate cake with a chocolate pudding center. If I didn't have to eat 26 other cupcakes, I would have taken down this whole thing. It was topped with chopped nuts and bits of chocolate...so good! I wasn't crazy about her yellow cake, but I will say that the frosting was delicious. The wild card was a Chocolate cupcake with raspberry filling. It was flavorful and rich, just like the other chocolate submission, and the raspberry filling was great.

Professional Category Winner: Sharon White of Nostalgia Cupcakes (opening in Annapolis later this year). Sharon entered a great Chocolate cupcake with creamy sweet vanilla frosting, and her wildcard was one of the favorites - a Rollo Cupcake...you know, like the candy!

In terms of my own scoring, the highest score I awarded for a wildcard actually went to Tiffany Rose Goodyear for her Carrot Cake Cupcake. It was spicy - chock full of nutmeg and other spices. The frosting was also very good.
The highest score I gave for a Yellow Cupcake went to 52 Cupcakes. It was the lightest and sweetest of all the yellow cupcakes submitted, which in my mind is just how a yellow cake should taste.
And lastly, the highest score I gave for a Chocolate Cupcake was to the Amateur category winner, Mollie Ohlhaut.
I hope everyone who went had a good time! Aside from feeling like I was in a sugar coma, it was lots of fun and I really enjoyed having the opportunity to take part in this fun event, meeting loads of great cupcake lovers, and meeting a lot of the blog readers!!

Friday, September 26, 2008

1-800-Flowers Cupcake Collection!

I'm reallyyyyy bummed out right now because I was invited to this fabulous cupcake tasting party being hosted by 1-800-FLOWERS.com in NYC this afternoon, but cannot attend! It's an exclusive sneak peek for a select group of people in celebration of the launch of their new "Everything Cupcake" collection. This collection includes a new line of delicious cupcakes in addition to their first-ever "floral" cupcake!

Julie Mulligan, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM floral lifestyle expert, and representatives from Cheryl & Co., the talented bakers behind the new cupcakes, will be at the party discussing the new collection.
Anyway, I'm sure a lot of you have ordered through 1-800-Flowers before and would like to know about this! Here's some more details on the cupcake collection:

1-800-FLOWERS® Cupcake in Bloom™
(A) fabulous floral cupcake-shaped arrangement of fresh white carnations. Designed by our florists in a cupcake cup, complete with a candle and a "Celebrate!" flag, our Everything Cupcake™ floral gift is perfect for every occasion! Floral colors and varieties may vary. Arrangement measures approx. 5"H x 6.5"D.
$24.99 eachAvailable in participating areas only

Everything Cupcake™ - Birthday Cupcakes
Our latest dessert sensation is Everything Cupcake™! These mouthwatering buttercream frosted cupcakes, created by the experts at Cheryl&Co.®, arrive in our exclusive packaging to make any celebration special! Fresh-baked chocolate and vanilla cakes are topped with luscious frosting, a candy drop and decorative sprinkles--a yummy combination no sweet tooth can resist!
Birthday Cupcakes Set of 12 $49.95, Set of 6 $29.95

The floral cupcake will be available on the 1800flowers.com site beginning Oct. 1!

The Cupcake Contest

While I am working on the actual post for this, I wanted to give you guys a little preview of the sugar shock I went through to judge this competition last night.

Yup, had to taste all of those....and that's not even all of them!!!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Michelle Miller Cupcake Stands

Through Cupcakes Take The Cake, I found out about these adorable Cupcake Stands made by Michelle Miller.

Michelle takes orders through a PayPal invoice; just contact her through her email address available on her website. And coming soon you can purchase them through her Etsy website!

Cupcake Contest TONIGHT!!!

Just a reminder to all those interested, DC's 1st Annual Cupcake Contest is being held tonight at 6:30pm at the Washington Club in Dupont. Yours truly will be one of the official Judges for the contest - so make sure you stop by, say hi, and eat some cupcakes!

Picture from Londonist.com
It's $5 to get in and there will be a cash bar and plenty of cupcake mini's for you to feast on! Jenni over at Blonde's-I-View, who is heading the Cupcake Contest, reminds attendee's to please respect the Washington Club's dress code of professional attire.
Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Girl Gourmet Cupcake Maker

One of my readers, Natalie of CraftyNatalie.com, was watching Nickelodeon with her kids when she saw a commercial for this AWESOME cupcake maker! If you have kids, or are interested in re-living your Easy Bake Oven days, then you have got to check out the Girl Gourmet Cupcake Maker.

As the commercial explains, kids just "pour, mix, and bake in your microwave!" It cooks in 30 seconds. Then of course you just frost it and eat it! I mean, let's be serious, we're not talking about actual gourmet cupcakes here...that sort of thing takes wayyyy more than 30 seconds, and there are certainly no microwaves involved (and batter becoming a cupcake in a mere 30 seconds kind of weirds me out) - but this seems like a great alternative for the kids who like to bake!
You can find the Girl Gourmet Cupcake Maker at your local Sam's Club, Target, Walmart, Kmart, Costco, and Toys-R-Us. You can even look in the One Stop Cupcake Shop toward the top left of the page, in the Toys section, for the Girl Gourmet Cupcake Maker, refills and other supplies!

Cupcake Wars - Week III

Are we really halfway through the Cupcake Wars already??? When I opened the Food & Dining section of the Washington Post this morning, I was super excited because this week Yonan and his team broke down two of my favorites, Georgetown's Baked & Wired and Alexandria's Lavender Moon.

Photograph by James M. Thresher for the Washington Post
Baked & Wired's Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcake

Baked & Wired is a favorite spot because of all the flavors I've tried, there were only two I didn't like (Red Velvet - just because it didn't taste like Red Velvet - and Vanilla, because it was dry). The rest of the flavors more than make up for these two, like Carrot Cake and Strawberry, which are good enough to make you seriously consider eating two in a row. Their cupcakes are rich and moist and their staff is cheerful and nice. This is where our DC/Metro Cupcake Group had our first meetup!
Lavender Moon is one of the newest cupcake spots to hit the DC cupcake scene; I just visited for the first time about two weekends ago. I thought the flavors were really original and tasty, especially the Peach Meringue Pie which I proceeded to take down like Kobayashi in a Hot Dog eating contest. Yonan and his team didn't agree with my take on Lavender Moon, giving it a lower score than Buzz Bakery! Take a look at what Yonan had to say on Lavender Moon:
"These were too much, and not in a good way: too much (messy) frosting, too much going on generally (the peach has a bottom crust, cake, filling and frosting) and too many off-putting flavors. The suntan lotion we thought of when tasting the coconut and the perfumed sachet brought to mind by the chocolate-lavender caused us to break our silence-during-tasting rule by gasping and groaning uncontrollably."

Photograph by James M. Thresher for the Washington Post
The "Suntan Lotion" cupcake from Lavender Moon
It's interesting they were overwhelmed by the lavender in the Chocolate Lavender flavor, because when I tried this flavor a couple weeks ago, I commented in my posting that I didn't even taste the lavender! Yonan and his team thought the Triple Callebaut Chocolate "with its soft cake and airy, whipped frosting" was the "Best of the Bunch." You can see a picture of it below. In the end, they gave Lavender Moon a lowly 5.3 out of 10. Last week Buzz Bakery landed a 5.8! I have been in total agreement with Yonan's and his teams reviews thus far, but I don't agree in the least that Buzz is better than Lavender Moon.

Photograph by James M. Thresher for the Washington Post
Lavender Moon's Triple Callebaut Chocolate

On a more positive note, Baked and Wired finally pleased the team, scoring a whopping 8.6 out of 10. This I agree with. Delighted with finally finding some cupcakes worth eating, Yonan exclaims "Hallelujah, these are cupcakes! We love the folded parchment liners, which make these easier to unwrap. And then we love what's inside: buttery, mostly moist cakes with good, simple flavors and a nice, thick layer of not-too-sweet, fresh-tasting frosting. The vanilla cakes tended to be a tad dry, perhaps from overbaking, but all in all, it was a selection we'd be happy to tuck into again."

Photograph by James M. Thresher for the Washington Post
Baked & Wired's Vanilla Cupcake, which looks good but tastes dry
So it seems Yonan and I are on the same page with B&W's Vanilla. I would like to put it out there that Vanilla is a very hard flavor to get right. As a matter of fact, I have yet to try a Vanilla cake in all of DC that is not thick and a tad on the dry side. Anyway, the favorite for Yonan's team was the "nearly perfect chocolate peanut butter, which one taster described as "Snickers as a cupcake -- and what's wrong with that?" You can see the Chocolate Peanut Butter cupcake pictured at the top of this posting.

Here's a look at the Cupcake Wars results after 3 weeks of taste testing:

Baked & Wired - 8.6
Buzz – 5.5
Lavender Moon Cupcakery - 5.3
Pastries by Randolph – 3.5
Cakelove – 2.8
Sticky Fingers – 2.1
What are your thoughts on Yonan's reviews of B&W and Lavender Moon?

Cupcakes Cupcakes Cupcakes

Cupcakes have taken over the newspapers today, in both the Express and in the Washington Post. I'll get to the third week of the Cupcake Wars in the next posting; this post is in regards to "The Lion of the Dessert" article in the Express this morning.

It seems that Fiona Zublin, whose articles I've blogged about before, took a cue from the Post Food Editor Joe Yonan and conducted a cupcake taste test of her own. Zublin and a team of taste testers scooped up some cupcakes from Cakelove, Georgetown Cupcake, and Hello Cupcake to pit them against eachother in a battle of the tastiest. And no surprise here, Hello Cupcake came out on top. Here's what Zublin had to say:
"The beloved D.C. stalwart did not fare well with testers. The frosting (even peanut butter frosting, which generally has the same consistency as, well, peanut butter) was runny, and the cake - particularly the vanilla cake - was dry and too crumbly."
"This was D.C.'s first all-cupcakes, all-the-time joint, and the store has gotton less crowded than it once was. Its selection is still lovely, though, with rich, thick cake and a tasty, gooey frosting. The carrot cake was the best of the bunch (if you like carrot cake, that is)."
"This is the newest addition to D.C.'s cupcake cavalcade, but it has appeal in more than just novelty: These are the best cupcakes around. Their flavors are creative, and the cake bits are moist and tasty. But the real triumph in these cupcakes is the frosting - it's intensely flavorful and rich without making you feel ill. It never overpowers the rest of the cupcake, which is unexpected, because each cake comes topped with a mound of frosting the size of K2."
Zublin's reviews reaffirm the general consensus of the three shops, don't you think? Speaking of Georgetown Cupcake, I have heard they've got a new seasonal flavor, Caramel Apple, which is supposed to be pretty sweet and tasty. Anyone tried it yet? While you know I'm more of a Hello Cupcake than Georgetown Cupcake girl, I will be on the lookout for Gtown's Gingerbread cupcake this December!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

NEW Cupcakery! Chateau Gateau

Photo - Picasa Web Albums, Jeremy DC

Northern Virginians are really getting spoiled with all these new cupcake places popping up left and right!

Cupcake lovers can now add Chateau Gateau to their list of local cupcakeries. Beginning on October 4, Sarina Luangkhot - lifetime baker and cupcake lover - will be selling her tasty treats every Saturday morning at the Old Town Alexandria Farmers Market. The Farmers Market, located at 301 King Street in Old Town (the Market Square at Alexandria City Hall) is open from 5:30-10:30am.

The flavors available the weekend of 10/4 are:
Ya Mon - Coconut cake with double cream frosting and a dusting of coconut.
Pucker Up - Lemon curd cake with lemon zest frosting.
Peter Peter - Pumpkin chocolate chip cake with chocolate ganache.
What's Up Doc? - Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.
PMS Rx - Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and sprinkles.

The Farmer's Market prices for Chateau Gateau cupcakes are $2.00 each, or 6 for $10.00. Chateau Gateau also caters, so check their website for more pricing and details!

If you're in the area or looking for something to do on a Saturday morning, give Chateau Gateau a try and let us know what you think! I plan on dropping by myself, so I'll keep you posted too!

Bittersweet Bakery...Bleh

While I was in Alexandria over the weekend, I fought the urge to head back into Lavender Moon for the delleiciousness that is their cupcakes, and instead headed over to Bittersweet Catering Cafe & Bakery. I figured it's been a while since I was last there and I've yet to do an official review for the blog. Always looking out for you guys!

I picked up a Pistachio Cupcake and a Spice Cupcake. I sat down at one of their many tables and with my plastic fork, and as I pulled the cupcakes out of the bag I could feel that they were kept really cold. Ugh - refrigerating cupcakes always ruins the flavor. I thought I'd try a bite anyway, but when an attempt to fork into the Pistachio cupcake proved to be a little too hard, I packed them back so they'd have a chance to get to room temperature.

Flash forward an hour - irritated that I couldn't have my cupcakes when I wanted them, I sat at my kitchen table and opened the Pistachio Cupcake back up. Gross! The cake portion looked soggy; like it had wilted skin from being in the water too long or something. I cut the cupcake in half and forked off a piece from the middle. Just as I suspected. Dry. Refrigeration tends to do that. Aside from being unpleasantly dry, the flavor was really odd. While there were bits of pistachio thrown in here and there, the cupcake didn't taste like other pistachio cupcakes I've had. The frosting was way too creamy and greasy, I'm pretty sure they used Crisco, and way too much. After eating one bite of this cupcake I felt oily and like I needed a shower.

Moving on, the Spice Cupcake. The outside of this cupcake was soggy looking, just like the Pistachio. Trying to get past that, I can say that the blend of spices was good; the flavor was mild and not too heavy. You could definitely taste some ginger and nutmeg in there. But even still, the cake didn't taste like anything special - just a very generic cake. The frosting here was made with butter and had a better consistency than that of the Pistachio, but it wasn't anything to write home about. I closed the plastic top and threw it in the trash can, right next to the Pistachio.

Why anyone would ever buy a cupcake from Bittersweet when Lavender Moon is a 5 minute walk down King Street is beyond me. Yes, the cupcakes are bigger and cheaper, but they're awful!! Please do yourselves and Lavender Moon a favor and walk right past Bittersweet, down towards the water, and make a right onto South Royal. Your taste buds will thank you.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Meetup No. 4 - Hello Cupcake

Our DC/Metro Cupcake Group is having another meetup! This one will be held at Hello Cupcake in early October. If you've been thinking about joining the group and coming out to a meetup, here's your chance!

Click here to check out the Meetup page and to join the group; while you're there, take a look at the Hello Cupcake Meetup details and see if you can make it!

DC's First Annual Cupcake Contest

Attention Cupcake Lovers! There is a fabulous event taking place this week - DC's First Annual Cupcake Contest! A couple months in the making, the contest is being held at the Washington Club at 15 Dupont Circle this Thursday, September 25, 2008 from 6:30 - 8:30pm.

Some of the entrants include Baked & Wired, Nostalgia Cupcakes (opening later this year in Annapolis), fellow blogger 52 Cupcakes, The Baltimore Cupcake Company, Delaware's own Sweet N Sassy Cupcakes, and many many more!

Just a little background on the contest: There are 3 categories for entry - Professional, Amateur, and Out of Town - and each baker will enter a Chocolate Cupcake with White Icing, a Yellow Cupcake with Chocolate Icing, and a Wildcard (ooooo exciting!). The Cupcakes will be judged on flavor, taste and texture, not on decorating. While standard sized cupcakes are only being made for the judges, most all entrants will be providing mini's for the public to sample.

So if you're not busy on Thursday evening, swing by the Washington Club, sample some cupcakes, and see who's crowned with the "Best Cupcake" title! You can find more details on the contest by visiting the Blonde's I-View blog.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Lily Lane Cakes at Stacey's Coffee Parlor

Stacey's Coffee Parlor is no longer carrying Le Cupcake; but never fear northern virginians, Lily Lane Cakes is the new cupcake in town! Kathy Mingledorff, owner of Lily Lane Cakes, will be taking the slot at Stacey's Coffee Parlor. How exciting!

Alex's Chocolate Monkeycakes

You can usually find about 2-3 Lily Lane flavors available each week at Stacey's Coffee Parlor, and Kathy is sure to update her website to let customers know what will be at the coffee shop on any given day. If you check out the Lily Lane website, you can see a little preview of the flavors, like Apple Ala Mode and Alex's Chocolate Monkeycakes, as well as a gallery of custom creations.

Stay tuned to the blog for more on Kathy and Lily Lane Cakes in the very near future!

Cupcake Wars - Week II

In yesterday’s edition of the Washington Post, Food Editor Joe Yonan and his team are back, weighing in on two more of the DC/Metro area’s cupcake bakeries. And who’s next in the ring for this week's Cupcake Wars? Buzz Bakery and Pastries by Randolph!

While this week’s contestants fared better than last week’s disappointments, the scores were still nothing to be proud of. First up, Buzz Bakery of Alexandria, Virginia. Of the Buzz cupcakes, here’s what Joe had to say about his team’s taste test:

“We had high hopes, partly because Buzz should get bonus points for such a well-designed box, which protects the contents while allowing easy access. Things started off well enough, with – finally, after last week’s debacle – moist textures and the taste of fresh ingredients. But our affection diminished as we moved through the group, which turned out to be a mixed bag. The biggest mystery: the Bumble Bee cupcake, a cute concept but a muddled combination of flavors.”

Joe and his team claim Vanilla with vanilla frosting as the “best of the bunch,” and Red Velvet as the biggest Buzz loser, as it had “very little flavor” and a “slightly funky taste to the frosting.” Buzz’s score? A 5.5 out of 10. While Buzz now holds the highest score bestowed by Joe’s team upon any cupcake place in the Cupcake Wars, a 5.5 is still flunking! What do you guys think? Is 5.5 accurate?

Next to be thrown into the gauntlet – Pastries by Randolph. This bakery has been an Arlington staple for twenty years now and bakes a wide range of desserts, pastries and other tiny confections. While I’ve never tried a PBR cupcake, I have had a slice of their carrot cake. It wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, but it wasn’t bad either.

The vanilla and chocolate cupcakes at PBR go for $1.50, while their other flavors like Cappuccino and German Chocolate go for $2.75; more expensive than Buzz! Unfortunately, Joe and the team were not fans. Take a look:

“For the most part, no better than what you’d find in a grade-school cafeteria, and they seemed to have picked up (stale) flavors from the cake. The low point: lemon, which reminded us of Pledge; and orange, which tasted like an Orange Julius. (In other words, artificial).” Ouch!! A “Pledge” cupcake??? Gross.

Joe and the team did like PBR’s Red Velvet, saying that it’s “one of the most substantial cupcakes we’ve tasted so far,” but even with that Pastries by Randolph finished with a disappointing 3.5.

Here’s the Cupcake Wars results thus far:

Buzz – 5.5
Pastries by Randolph – 3.5
Cakelove – 2.8
Sticky Fingers – 2.1

While I can’t comment on Pastries by Randolph as I haven’t tried their cupcakes, I can say that I agree with Joe and the team’s scoring so far. I feel like the scores will begin to improve as they move onto other bakeries like Lavender Moon and Hello Cupcake (which I hope are on the list!) What do you guys think?

Lavender Moon Cupcakery

This past weekend I braved the freakish September heat and headed down to Alexandria for a cupcake outing. First on my list of must try places? The new Lavender Moon Cupcakery. And to say the least, I was very impressed.

Nestled in a row of stores right off King Street, you'll find Tammy and her husband Peter selling some of the area's most delicious and original cupcakes. When you walk into the store, it's like walking back into time. You can literally feel the history of Old Town Alexandria as you stand in the beautifully restored space, which is made even more gorgeous by the bold, rich colors splashed onto its walls.

When you make your way to the back room, you'll find that a tall glass piece is all that seperates you from some of the best cupcakes in all the DC/Metro area. Once you get a look at their menu, you may have a hard time choosing as everything sounds absolutely divine, but no worries - there is no such thing as a bad choice here. Take a look:

*Dark Chocolate, Mediterranean Sea Salt & Almonds
*Vanilla Lemon Curd
*Mexican Chocolate Pudding Stuffed Buttermilk Cupcake
*Passion Fruit Mousse Pistachio
*Peanut Butter Stuffed Devils Food Ganache
*Chocolate Lavender
*Carrot, Cashew & Cardoman
*Triple Callebaut Chocolate
*Peach Meringue Pie
*Toasted Coconut

Tell me that is not one of the most unique listing of cupcake flavors you've ever seen! They all looked and sounded so good that I wanted to get one of each, but refrained and instead went for the Dark Chocolate Mediterranean Sea Salt and Almonds, Peach Meringue Pie, and the Chocolate Lavender.

The Peach Meringue Pie was the first one I dug into. What a work of art. Underneath the toasted topping hides a slice of peach, all atop a cupcake so moist and rich it reminded me of a piece of cheesecake. There is even a graham-cracker like crust on the bottom! I tried to set it down seeing as to how I had two more to go, but I couldn't bring myself to do it...I ate the whole thing.

The Dark Chocolate Mediterranean Sea Salt and Almonds has all the flavor you'd expect to find in a dark, rich chocolate cupcake. The best part is the kick it had, as when you began chewing you could taste the hint of almond. Not often does a cupcake literally taste gourmet, but this cupcake is worth every penny of the $3 it costs.

The Chocolate Lavender, which I had to get because it's from LAVENDER Moon Cupcakery, was also a chocolate on chocolate cupcake. While I didn't really taste any hints of Lavender, the cupcake was moist and sweet with a great chocolate flavor. The frosting which was sprinkled with chocolate shavings, was rich, thick, and creamy, just as it was on the Dark Mediterranean Sea Salt.

Each flavor I tried was fantastic. I would recommend this cupcakery to anyone, any day of the week. If you have high expectations for your cupcakes, and want nothing but the best, you will surely not be disappointed with the sumptuous selections at Lavender Moon.

Lavender Moon Cupcakery is located at 116 South Royal Street in Alexandria, VA 22314. If you're on Washington Street coming from the GW Parkway, just turn left on King Street headed towards the water, and make a Right on South Royal. The shop is just a few stores down on your left. Be sure to have cash on you as they aren't set up to take credit cards yet. Also, although their store hours aren't posted, from what I understand they are closed on Mondays. And lastly, as mentioned in an old posting, Lavender Moon does not yet have a website or phone number!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Woman's World Cupcake Recipe

I was over at Safeway today picking up some Lean Cuisines (when you eat as many cupcakes as I do, you have to watch it everywhere else!) and I saw this recipe for Raspberry Swirl Cupcakes in the latest issue of Woman's World Magazine.
The recipe uses sour cream, which makes a cupcake extra moist. Sounds like these are worth trying! Here's the recipe:
1 Package (18.25oz.) White Cake Mix (or your own scratch recipe)
3 Egg Whites
1/2 Cup Sour Cream
1 tsp. Lemon Zest
6 Tbs. Seedless Raspberry Jam
1 Cup Butter
1 Cup White Chocolate Chips, Melted & Cooled
2 Cups Confectioner's Sugar
3 Tbs. Milk
1/2 Tsp. Raspberry Extract
2 Drops Liquid Red Food Coloring
1. Preheat Oven to 350 degrees. Line 18 muffin cups with liners. On medium-low speed, beat mix, 1 cup water, whites and sour cream until blended. On medium-high, beat 2 minutes. Stir in zest. Divide among liners. Bake 25 minutes or until pick inserted comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Transfer to racks, cool.
2. Pleace jam in sandwich bag; snip corner. Poke hole in center of each cupcake top and pipe in 1 tsp. jam. On medium speed, beat butter until fluffy. Beat in chips, sugar, milk, and extract. Tint 1 1/2 cups frosting with coloring. Fill another sandwich bag with pink frosting; snip corner. Repeat with white frosting. Place bags, side by side, into pastry bag fitted with rosette tip. Pipe on frosting.
And you know what's great about this recipe? They provide the nutritional information! So all you calorie counters and WW points followers out there can know exactly what you're eating :)
Nutritional Information
Servings: 18
Calories: 250
Protein: 3g
Fat: 18g (10g saturated)
Trans Fat: 0g
Chol.: 32mg
Carbs: 46mg
Sodium: 289mg.
Fiber: 0g
Sugar: 35g

Thursday, September 11, 2008

More on the Cupcake Wars

Earlier this week I did a post about the six week taste test being conducted by Food Editor Joe Yonan over at the Washington Post. Click here for a link to the article than ran in yesterday's Post, which mentions Delleicious DC!

When I originally posted that blog entry, I thought it was Jim Thresher who was conducting the oh-so-tasty-test, but as I found out from yesterday's article it's Joe Yonan, who's work I've referenced before like in my post about the cupcakes at Organic to Go! Anyway, I just wanted to clarify since the Cupcake Wars are Joe's brainchild, so I thought he deserved credit :)
That being said, here's an excerpt from yesterday's article on how the six week taste test is being done - "[we're] taste-testing and scoring the range of cupcakes from two bakeries a week, choosing one from each as our favorite. (For the budget-conscious, we're also weighing them and calculating the price per ounce.) Then, after visiting a dozen places, we'll stack up the favorites in a final round of tasting and pick an overall winner: Washington's best cupcake." Click here to read the rest of the article, where Joe breaks down everything about Week 1's bakeries: Cakelove and Sticky Fingers. Through a nifty little chart, Joe fills readers in on the story behind each bakery, their range of flavors, the cupcake prices (and price per ounce), size, and taste, as well as what he thinks is the "Best of the Bunch." It doesn't get more detailed than that!
Stay tuned to the Washington Post and the blog to see what Joe and his team think of DC's hottest cupcake spots!

Creative Parties Cupcakes Merchandise

While at lunch yesterday afternoon, I strolled over to Creative Parties on Woodmont Avenue to visit a girlfriend who works there. While waiting for her, I was looking around the store and wouldn't you know it! A couple of cute cupcake items caught my eye!

The first were these little "Sweet Time" Kitchen Timers. These adorable little things come in four different colors - chocolate, vanilla, mint, and strawberry. I was trying to figure out, via a Google search, exactly how much they cost (since I forgot to look while I was there) but I couldn't find them online!

The other item I saw was this Hand Embellished Matchbox! Now you can be fashionable when lighting those birthday candles at your friends party! Is that really necessary, you ask? Yes, yes it is! Which is why I bought a box. They sell for $4.75. The company that makes them is ME Art & Design. (Forgive the pictures - I took them at night so the lighting was bad!)

Aside from carrying great cupcake-related items, Creative Parties is an invitations and event planning company. Their store on Woodmont sells a lot of great knick-knacks though, like Kate Spade stationary and cell phone holders, Rhinestone-studded wine stoppers, cherry-blossom printed sticky notes, etc. etc. Definitely wander in if you're ever in the area!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Occasionally Cake...and Cupcakes!

A few weekends ago I was lucky enough to met Sabrina and Marcia, the lovely ladies of Occasionally Cake, a cake (and cupcake!) business based out of Northern Virginia. While they don't currently have a storefront, they have plans to open one in early 2009.
I haven't had the privilege to taste their adorable cupcakes yet, but they sure know how to make them look good!! Check out these amazing pictures from their gallery:

LOVE this beachy theme

A Red Velvet cupcake for Valentines Day

Check out the detail on those flower cupcakes!
These delleicious looking cupcakes are priced individually starting at $2.25 each for basic flavors and the icing swirl on top. The specialty cupcakes, like some of the ones you see pictured above and below, start at $3.50 each. Click here to check out more on pricing both for the cupcakes, and for their cakes and cookies!
I plan to try Occasionally Cake's cupcakes in the near future, so I'll get back to you with my reviews! In the mean time, if you'd like to place an order with them, they can be reached at 703-780-3519 or you can email them by clicking here.