Monday, December 29, 2008

An Army of Snowmen

Happy Holidays! I hope everyone had a great Christmas...I sure did! My husband and I just got back from Mammoth last night (hence the lack of posts over the past few days) and are preparing to leave for Utah tomorrow night. We can't seem to get enough snowboarding!

I made these snowmen cupcakes about a week ago. They were very simple to make. I used a yellow cake mix and vanilla frosting. For the snowmen bodies I used jumbo marshmallows. I put a little frosting between the marshmallows to hold them together. I wanted to use mini M&Ms for the eyes but I couldn't find any at my grocery store. Instead, I used mini chocolate chips for the eyes and orange tic-tacs for the noses. Next time I think I will use those straight pretzels for arms.

I researched a few cupcake shops in Utah to possibly stop by when we are there. I hope to come back with some great reviews! See you in 2009!

Friday, December 26, 2008

I'm a Winner!

I recently entered a cookie giveaway on Cakespy's website. And I won! Today I received my cookie gift from My Kids' Cookies and I will be receiving some fabulous Cakespy notecards. If I wasn't so into cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies would be my obsession. Thank you to both My Kids' Cookies and Cakespy!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

On the Day before Christmas, I went to THE PERFECT CIRCLE

It's a Christmas miracle! Sunday night I drove by my future local cupcake shop and was surprised to see people inside and a sign informing of an Open Social that night at 5:00pm. I grabbed my camera and headed over there. I could barley contain my excitement!

Presenting THE PERFECT CIRCLE! I first noticed a sign for this cupcake shop back in April of this year. Since I live close to the Orange Circle, I was thrilled that a cupcake shop would be so close to my house. It inspired me to start this blog.

The Perfect Circle's decor is blue and brown, with pictures of Audrey Hepburn and the Eiffel Towel adorning their walls. I love the feel of the shop.

While there, I got to try two flavors of cupcakes. The first was Ginger Spice. It was a ginger cake with cream cheese frosting. I love the sugar sprinkles that coated the edges. The cupcake was divine! Next, I tried their Chocolate Peppermint. It was a chocolate cake with peppermint buttercream. Again, amazing! It is like they knew exactly what my dream cupcake tastes like!

I am so excited to try all of the flavors at The Perfect Circle! I don't think they have officially opened yet, but I am guessing that one day this weekend will be the big day. They are located at the north wing of the Orange Circle. And again, thank you to The Perfect Circle for making the perfect cupcakes! Well worth the wait!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

On the 2nd Day before Christmas, I thought about WHERE ELSE TO GET CUPCAKES

Orange County is a special place! I was born and raised here and I love it. It seems to have everything, including a plethora of places to find cupcakes. Since I only had 12 days to write about some of the places, here are a couple that I didn't get a chance to mention:

Rockwells Bakery - I will be reviewing this place soon, as I have yet to try a cupcake from there. They are located in Villa Park. They are famous for their cakes, which I have eaten on several occasions (not whole cakes of course, but parts of them).

Wonderland Bakery - My friend brought me a red velvet from Wonderland a few months ago, but I have never been to their store. The cupcake was ok, the frosting was too sugary for me. I guess I need to take a trip there to see what else they offer. They are located in Newport Beach, right off the 73.

Zov's Cafe Bakery - Zov's has two locations, one in Newport and one in Tustin. I hear they have the priciest cupcakes in Orange County, at a price of almost $4 for each one! I need to see if they are worth that kind of money. Look for a review of them soon.

Beverly's Best Bakery - Beverly's is also a great place to go for specialty cakes (I got my wedding cake from here). They are located in Brea, off Brea Blvd. Their cupcakes are the economical kind, cheaper ($1.25 each) and not as tasty. But if you are looking for a good cupcake for the money, this is the place to go.

Although my list of the 12 Days of Cupcakes in Orange County was not in any particular order, I saved my favorite for last. Check back tomorrow to see the surprising number one cupcakery on my list!

Monday, December 22, 2008

So Excited!!!

Check back soon to see why I am so excited! I can't wait to post about it!

On the 3rd Day before Christmas, I went to SPRINKLES CUPCAKES

You want a great cupcake? Go to Sprinkles Cupcakes! They are one of my favorite cupcake shops of all time. Actually, my first visit to a cupcake shop was Sprinkles. They helped inspire me to start this cupcake blog.

You can almost never go wrong with a flavor pick at Sprinkles. I have yet to try one I didn't like. They also have a good cake-to-frosting ratio. It's no wonder they are such a popular place.

One thing I really like about Sprinkles is their holiday flavors. For almost every holiday in the year, they sell one or more special cupcakes. For the fall season, they were selling Ginger Maple and Orange Cranberry, along with a few other special flavors. They are not disappointing for the Christmas season. Right now you can get the Chocolate Peppermint, Vanilla Peppermint, Coconut Peppermint, and Eggnog Spice.

Sprinkles Cupcakes is located in Newport Beach, near Fashion Island. They are open until 7:00pm Monday-Saturday and until 6:00pm on Sunday. Their cupcakes sell for $3.25, which is a bargain considering how great they taste! Check them out and see why they are one of my favorites!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

On the 4th Day before Christmas, I went to BRISTOL FARMS

Bristol Farms is no ordinary grocery store, they are a specialty store. And accordingly, their cupcakes are no ordinary cupcakes. Bristol Farms sells some of the best cupcakes in Orange County. My favorite flavor cupcake from Bristol Farms is their Chocolate Coconut. The only downfall to this cupcake (if you can call it a downfall) is the amount of frosting. There is more frosting than cake! No one needs that much frosting. Despite that, their cupcakes are delicious. Especially the frosting. I love my heavy buttercream frosting!

Bristol Farms is located in Newport Beach, in the same shopping center as Sprinkles. They are open until 10:00pm every night, which is good when you have a late night cupcake craving. (Cupcake shops need to realize that this happens more often than not!) Their cupcakes are $2.99 each.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

On the 5th Day before Christmas, I went to FRESH & EASY

My plan for today was to try some cupcakes from Rockwell's Bakery in Villa Park. I had eaten their cakes at several weddings and they were great. But when I arrived, I was informed that they were out of cupcakes until Monday. I guess I will have to try them another time.

Since I didn't have enough time to drive to another cupcake shop, I decided to stop by my local Fresh & Easy. Sometimes cupcake urges come at times where you are not close to a cupcake shop, so reviewing cupcakes at restaurants and grocery stores is also important. I have been eyeing Fresh & Easy's desserts in the bakery section since I first started shopping here almost a year ago. Surprisingly, I hadn't tried their cupcakes before. Now was a good enough time as any.

I bought the two-pack of Princess Cupcakes. They are white cake cupcakes with pink icing. My first impression was that the cake was very spongy. Also, they were topped with icing, not frosting. Icing is too sugary and light for me. I like the heavy buttercream. My husband, on the other hand, loved his.

Fresh & Easy also carries cakes, cream puffs, cheesecakes, and brownies.  I have tried the tiramisu and it is wonderful. Give them a try. They are located all throughout Orange County and they are open until 10:00pm daily. 

Friday, December 19, 2008

On the 6th Day before Christmas, I went to CLAIM JUMPER

I know what you are thinking? Claim Jumper?! Cupcakes? That's what I thought too. But I have had quite a few people ask me to try the cupcakes from Claim Jumper. Well, I finally got around to it.

I ordered the red velvet to-go, but it looked a little smashed by the time I got home. First problem, the ratio of cake to frosting. There was not nearly enough frosting, or maybe there was too much cake. Either way, I only ate the top half of the cake. Second, my first impression of the frosting was that it tasted like the center of a Cadbury Creme Egg, partially due to the chunk of milk chocolate on top of the frosting. I enjoyed the frosting by itself, but it didn't seem to match with the cupcake. The frosting was too creamy and gummy. Third, the cake didn't taste like red velvet. Maybe it was chocolate cake dyed red. Overall, this wasn't a bad cupcake, but compared to cupcake shops that specialize in baking cupcakes, this cupcake was below par.

Claim Jumper has locations everywhere. Check their website for the closest one near you. And although I wouldn't recommend Claim Jumper as a place to go for cupcakes, they do have so many delicious alternatives. My favorite is the Chocolate Chip Calzone. Trust's amazing!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

On the 7th Day before Christmas, I went to SUSIECAKES

must be doing something right, because they are my favorite place to buy cupcakes! They have a large selection of cupcake flavors, their cupcakes are great, and they offer other baked goods. What more could you ask for?!

I decided to sample their holiday special, the ginger spice cupcake. The cake was gingerbread and the frosting was cream cheese. Wow! This cupcake was amazing! I figured it would be similar to a pumpkin cupcake with cream cheese frosting, but the gingerbread flavor made it better! I am sad that this is only a seasonal flavor, as it is my new favorite!

I also bought a chocolate chip cookie. SusieCakes sells some of the best chocolate chip cookies around. Definitely worth trying!

SusieCakes is located in Newport Beach off Westcliff Dr (aka 17th Street). They also have locations in Brentwood and Calabasas. They are open Monday-Saturday from 10:00am-7:00pm. Their cupcakes sell for $3 each. Several people have mentioned that getting a cupcake from SusieCakes and a coffee from Kean Coffee next door is the perfect combination. A cupcake with anything is perfect for me!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

On the 8th Day before Christmas, I went to POUL'S BAKERY

Poul's Bakery is a special bakery to me because it is just down the street from my house in Orange. Currently, it is the closest place I can get a cupcake (the cupcakery that is supposed to open in the Orange Circle is lagging BIG time). Poul's Bakery is a small Danish-American bakery that sells many tasty baked goods.

Not only does Poul's Bakery sell cupcakes, but they sell cupcakes at a bargain price! I bought two cupcakes when I stopped by. The red velvet cupcake was $1.25 and the carrot cake was $1.00! Holy cow! This is the cheapest place to buy cupcakes in Orange County. And with this economy, I might need to go here more often! But, as you would expect, a cheaper cupcake usually means a lower quality cupcake. These cupcakes are no gourmet cupcakes, but they are still tasty.

Poul's Bakery is located off Tustin and Collins in Orange. It is open Monday-Saturday until 6:00pm and is now open on Sundays until 1:00pm.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

On the 9th Day before Christmas, I went to PACIFIC WHEY CAFE

Pacific Whey Cafe was one of the locations chosen in the OC Register's Cupcake Challenge earlier this year. I had never even heard of this restaurant, but they sell cupcakes, so I had to check it out. Pacific Whey Cafe is located on the Crystal Court side of South Coast Plaza.

They offered two flavors of cupcakes--vanilla and chocolate. I chose the Chocolate Chocolate Buttercream. The cake was moist, but the frosting was different than any kind of frosting I have ever had on a cupcake. The frosting was very silky, almost like melted chocolate. It was similar to a drizzle that you would put on a chocolate cake. I am glad I had milk to complement this cupcake. It was richer than I expected.

Pacific Whey Cafe is located in Santa Ana at South Coast Plaza. They have the same hours as the mall. The cupcakes sell for $3.25. Their cupcakes are good for a quick fix, but not the kind that I crave.

Monday, December 15, 2008

On the 10th Day before Christmas, I went to FRENCH'S CUPCAKE BAKERY

For the past 15 years in a row, French's Cupcake Bakery has been voted Best Bakery in the Best of Orange County survey. And yet this was my first visit to French's. I was very happy with the quantity of flavors available. They had flavors ranging from Key Lime to Toll House.

I asked for the most popular flavor, which turned out to be Lemon Blueberry. I am not a huge fruit-cupcake fan, but this cupcake was quite tasty. The cake was very similar to a blueberry muffin and the frosting was a lemon buttercream.

Despite what the name implies, French's Cupcake Bakery doesn't sell just cupcakes. They also have a wide selection of cookies, pastries, and cakes. French's is definitely worth checking out for any kind of baked good.

French's Cupcake Bakery is located off 17th Street in Costa Mesa. They close at 6:00pm during the week and 5:00pm on Saturday. They are also closed on Sundays. My cupcake was only $2.00 and their other baked goods seemed reasonably priced.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

On the 11th Day before Christmas, I went to MRS. BEASLEY'S

This is the second time I have been to Mrs. Beasley's at South Coast Plaza. The one thing I like about their store is that they have a variety of flavors. Oh!...and I also like that they sell "poppers" (mini cupcakes).

I tried the Chocolate cupcake with cream cheese frosting (it's my new love since being introduced to it at SweetSpot) in the popper size. The cake was good, but the cream cheese frosting wasn't up to par. It wasn't cream cheesy enough. I had a similar experience the first time I visited Mrs. Beasley's. Their butter cream frosting is a whipped, light frosting...not my favorite kind. But if you are craving cupcakes while shopping at South Coast Plaza, this is a good place to stop for a mini cupcake.

Mrs. Beasley's is located at South Coast Plaza and has the same hours as the mall. Their normal size cupcakes sell for $3.00 and their poppers are $1.25.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

On the 12th Day before Christmas, I went to WHOLE FOODS MARKET

Whole Foods Market is an amazing store! Their bakery department is no is a carb-lover's dream. Whole Foods has a small selection of cupcakes in the midst of their other tasty desserts. They offer chocolate and vanilla cupcakes for $2.99 each.

Each time I have visited Whole Foods their cupcakes are decorated differently. This time I bought a chocolate cupcake decorated with a snowman. The cake was good, but the frosting smelled a little weird. I think it was because there was a few different types of frosting used to decorate. Besides that, Whole Foods cupcakes are fairly good. And the good thing about Whole Foods is that they are open until 10:00pm.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Melting Snowmen

BoingBoing posted this picture and instructions for making melting snowmen. I love the idea!

Tomorrow is the first day of my 12 Days of Cupcakes! See if you favorite cupcakery is on the list!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cupcakes and Christmas

This month I am featuring a special called "The 12 Days of Cupcakes." On each of the 12 days leading up to Christmas, I will post about a different cupcakery from Orange County. The scary part is how fast Christmas is approaching ... my first post will be on Saturday!

SweetSpot discovers new cupcake concept!

My guest blogger day is finally here! Cupcakes Take The Cake asked me about a month ago to be a guest blogger on their blog. I look up to them as the cupcake blog of all cupcake blogs. Everything you need to know about cupcakes is on their blog. So enjoy my post for today!

One of my favorites things to do is review cupcakeries. Sure, I love talking about cupcakes, but eating them is a lot better! Orange County has its fair share of cupcakeries. Some are good, others are not, they come and they go.

Throughout all of my reviewing, I decided that there are three types of cupcakeries. First, there are the gourmet cupcakes. Second, the economical cupcakes. Third, there are the so-so cupcakes (these cupcakes are priced the same as the gourmet cupcakes, but don't taste nearly as good). This past weekend I discovered a fourth category: design-it-yourself cupcakes.

Owned by Janette Chabria and Chris Brown, SweetSpot Baker's Workshop is a new cupcakery that opened two weeks ago at the Irvine Spectrum. If you are familiar with the Spectrum, you might remember that there used to be a different cupcakery there called Sweet Lorraines. They closed a few months ago after only being open for six months. It's always disheartening when a cupcake shop closes. But when rumors of a new shop with different owners began swirling, there was hope for cupcakes again!

SweetSpot Baker's Workshop introduces a new concept that I have yet to see another cupcakery try. At SweetSpot you can buy one of their ready-to-eat cupcakes or you can "SweetCraft" it yourself. For $1.50 more you get to pick your flavors and they provide you with a cupcake, frosting, colored icing, and access to their "Wall of Sweets."

Halo, a first-time visitor to SweetSpot, helped demonstrate how to decorate a cupcake. He had a great time picking out the candy toppings and putting on the frosting himself.

I could not resist decorating a cupcake myself. I chose a white cupcake with chocolate frosting. I had a hard time deciding which toppings I would use to decorate. I guess that's just the kid in me! I ended up drawing a few swirly things with the icing, added some red sprinkles, and topped it with Runts.

In case you don't have the time to design your own, SweetSpot has cupcakes that are ready-to-eat. I was intrigued by the Chocolate Cream Cheese cupcake. I had never eaten a chocolate cupcake with cream cheese frosting. The flavor combination was so good! The cake was moist and the frosting was tasty. I definitely recommend it!

While in the store, I met Janette Chabria, who is one of the two owners. She informed me that they had this idea about decorating your own cupcake for a while, but had never come across this concept at any other cupcakery.

As a kid (and even an adult), this hands-on experience is a lot of fun! SweetSpot would be a great place for birthday parties. Besides baking great cupcakes, SweetSpot has an idea that no one else has. They have a winning combination that will do well in the cupcake world. Congratulations SweetSpot!

SweetSpot Baker's Workshop is located at the Irvine Spectrum: 83 Fortune Drive #225. They are near the ferris wheel. Their ready-to-eat cupcakes sell for $3.25 and their design-it-yourself cupcakes are $4.75.


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