Sunday, May 31, 2009

Cupcake Bouquet

Lisa of Smiley's Sweets and Creations posted pictures of a cupcake bouquet that she recently created. I love seeing different ways that cupcakes can be presented. Even though Mother's Day was earlier this month, I think this would be a gift for a mom. My mom would love it for sure! She's the one that gave me my sweet tooth.

NOTE: I'm flying back home tomorrow. Can't wait to share my cupcake adventures in Italy with you!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My Friends Know Me Well

At the beginning of the month I raced in my first Xterra Triathlon in Las Vegas. I have competed in quite a few triathlons in the past few years but, an Xterra Triathlon is bit different. Substitute mountain biking for road biking and trail running for "normal" running and you have an Xterra Triathlon.

After the race we met up with some friends in Henderson for dinner. My dear friend Jill surprised me with a box of cupcakes from The Cupcakery. I reviewed The Cupcakery last year, but was excited to try a few flavors I missed.

I didn't get to try Pamela's Pina Colada before, but I found that I should never let that happen again. Pina Colada was easily my favorite cupcake of the group. Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup was my second favorite. Again, it's hard to mess up such a killer combination.

The Cupcakery has two locations in the Las Vegas area. I go to the one off Eastern in Henderson. Their cupcakes sell for $3.00. Next time you are in the Vegas area, definitely try these cupcakes. Thank you, thank you, thank you Jill for knowing that I would want a cupcake after my race.

NOTE: I'm still in Italy and should be getting to Rome today.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Ciao from Florence

Hello cupcake lovers! I am in Florence, surviving the heat wave in Italy. Having a great time! Tomorrow I will be going to Siena and then on to Rome! Thanks for all of your comments and suggestions! Ciao!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Wedding Season is Here

I have seen plenty wedding cupcakes before, but one item about this cupcakes popped out at me more than any other. The bride and groom cupcakes on top add the perfect touch to a wedding cupcake tower. These cupcakes come from Frosting Forever, a Costa Mesa-based company. The cupcakes start at $2.75. Frosting Forever's website is in the process of getting set up. You can contact Jennifer Porres at frostingforever at for more information.

NOTE: I'm probably around Tuscany about now. Hopefully I've found some good gelato!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Costco Cupcakes

My niece celebrated her 11th birthday with a pool party. Instead of a birthday cake, her mom bought these cupcakes from Costco. There were 20 cupcakes in the box and they cost $16.99. Not a bad value (less than $1 each), plus the cupcakes were huge! Quality?...about what you would expect from an average cupcake. The cake wasn't bad, but the frosting was the cheap whipped-cream kind. The kids seemed to enjoy them, but the cupcakes were a little too big (that doesn't happen to often!).

NOTE: Hello! I'm probably loving life in Italy right now. I've scheduled some posts for the blog so that you can enjoy cupcake info while I'm gone. Ciao!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Italy, Here I Come!

My search for cupcakes will be expanding to Europe. My husband and I leave for Italy on Saturday! Neither one of us have been to Europe before, so this should be quite the adventure. And when I say adventure, I really mean it.

Our journey will start in Venice, where we will stay for one night. Then, we will be on our way to Rome via road bikes. Yes, we are riding bikes across Italy! Biking by day, camping by night, and lots of Italian food in between.

I've been doing a little googling about cupcakes in Italy. Josephine's Bakery seems to be the place I'll be stopping by in Rome. Maybe I'll find some other hidden gems along the way.


I'll be checking in as often as I can while I'm gone. Wish me luck! Ciao!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Review: Crumbs Bakery Shop

After realizing that Crumbs Bake Shop did not only exist in New York, I was determined to stop by one of their shops the next time I was in LA. A few weeks ago I was in Korea Town for my husband's co-worker's birthday party. Korean BBQ and karaoke were the activities of the night. In between, I convinced my husband to take me to Crumbs, which was only two miles away.

Heaven. I'm in heaven. The first thing I noticed was how big the cupcakes were. Bigger than Sprinkles Cupcakes? Possibly! I had already determined which flavors I wanted before I even stepped in the shop....Baba Booey and Caramel Apple. Unfortunately, the time of day prevented me from getting either one of those.

As much as I wanted to try red velvet, I just wasn't in the mood for one. I went with the unstoppable combination....peanut butter and chocolate (Peanut Butter Cup). And WOW!! I was not disappointed! It was chocolate cake with peanut butter cream cheese frosting covered with peanuts and chocolate chips. There was also a sweet treat inside, some kind of peanut butter filling. It was different than the frosting and so sweet. I loved it!

My only disappointment (besides not having the flavors I wanted) was that I only got one cupcake! What was I thinking? I had a triathlon the next weekend so I knew I couldn't overindulge. Triathlons...lame excuse, except that they allow me to eat unhealthy foods and not feel so bad.

Crumbs cupcakes are definitely a good bang for your buck. Each cupcake is $3.75, which is slightly more than most places, but worth it because of their size and quality. I plan on going back to Crumbs very soon so I can try out some different flavors.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Who cares how they look? It's how they taste that matters!

I came across an article a few weeks ago that gave me something to think about. The author relates how she bought a red velvet cupcake at a chain bookstore because of how appetizing it looked. She tragically found out that looks can be deceiving. This begs the questions, why are bakeries more concerned with how a cupcake looks than how it tastes? Sales. A pretty cupcake most likely will be purchased, or at least more than an average-looking cupcake.

Example. A new favorite blog of mine is Easy Cupcakes. It shows simple decorating techniques for cupcakes. I am not a creative genius so this is perfect for me. I would rather spend more time working on the flavor than the presentation of the cupcakes.


When I was planning my wedding four years ago, I found a picture of the cutest wedding cake in Martha Stewart Weddings magazine. I brought my cut-out magazine photo to the bakery and was informed that the cake would have to be completely covered in rolled fondant. Fondant? What's that? I found out it was a coating made out of almonds. I tasted it and it was gross. Maybe fondants can have different tastes, but there was no way my wedding cake was going to taste bad. I got buttercream frosting and was not disappointed. (By the way, I also had a cupcake tower at my reception. I was way ahead of my time and destined to become the Cupcake Activist!)

Many bakeries use fondant to decorate their cupcakes. The decorators are so talented and can make some beautiful-looking cupcakes. How they taste is independent of how they look. This Cheshire Cat cupcake looks like a lot of time went into decorating it (do you like that I used cat cupcakes in both of my examples?). I have no idea how it tastes. Hopefully it is as amazing as it looks.


So while you can decorate cupcakes to look beautiful, is it worth it? Moral of the story: make good-tasting cupcakes and customers will come back.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

South County Gets All the Luck!

I got a tip from Scott Mindeaux of Foodie in Disguise that a possible new cupcakery is opening in Lake Forest. The only information I have is a picture of a sign that says "Frostings: Coming Soon" and that it is next door to Lee's Sandwiches. I will post more info as I hear it and if anyone has some of the inside scoop, let me know!

But I must confess that I am a little jealous of south Orange County. Divine Desserts opened two months ago in Laguna Niguel and now Lake Forest. North and central Orange County are really hurting for some cupcakeries.

23624 El Toro Road
Suite #D
Lake Forest, CA 92630

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

I know it may not seem possible (because of my light skin, blonde hair, and green eyes), but I am 1/4 Mexican. So today should be a day to celebrate my Mexican heritage. Unfortunately, I was not raised that way. I can't even roll my "R's" when I attempt to speak Spanish. --Sigh-- To redeem myself, I must admit that Mexican food is my favorite type of food. It's the saltiness that does it for me.

Anyways, let's celebrate Cinco de Mayo with a few holiday cupcakes. First, let's talk about Sprinkles. They have a special cupcake for every holiday during the year. For Cinco de Mayo they have a Choco Loco Cupcake. It is a Belgian dark chocolate cupcake with a bittersweet chocolate and Mexican cinnmaon frosting. I have yet to try a Mexican-themed cupcake. Maybe I will be so lucky tonight!

I found a recipe for Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes on Cupcake Rehab's website. The recipe is for cinnamon vanilla cupcakes and Mexican hot chocolate buttercream frosting. So many people have raved about Mexican cupcakes, but I am a little hesitant of the chili powder and cayenne powder. I guess I shouldn't judge before I try. Green eggs and ham, right? Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Malted Milk Ball Cupcakes

I am always on the look-out for unique and delicious cupcake recipes. I found a recipe for Malted Milk Ball Cupcakes on Sweetnicks. Malt balls remind me of Easter because I love those mini Robin Eggs (and have you ever tried peanut butter malt balls?! Yum!). The recipe is originally from Anne Byrn's book Cupcakes!. The only item I wouldn't have on hand is sour cream, which supposedly makes the cake super moist, but other than that this recipe is quick and easy to make.

Malted Milk Ball Cupcakes
Recipe courtesy of Cupcakes!

24 cupcake liners
1 package (18.25 oz) plain yellow cake mix
1 box (3.8 oz) instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk chocolate chips
Malted Milk Buttercream (see recipe below)
40 malted milk balls, coarsely crushed, for garnish

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350. Line 24 cupcake cups with paper liners. Set the pans aside.

Place cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, oil, water, sugar, eggs and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Blend with mixer on low speed for 30 seconds until the ingredients are well blended, then stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed. The batter should look smooth and thickened. Fold in the chocolate chips, making sure they are well distributed throughout the batter. Spoon or scoop 1/3 cup batter into each lined cupcake cup, filling it three quarters of the way full. (You will get between 22-24 cupcakes; remove the empty liners, if any.) Place the pans in the oven.

Bake the cupcakes until they spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, 18-20 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edges of the cupcake liners. Lift the cupcakes from the bottoms of the cups using the end of a knife, and pick them out of the cups carefully with your fingertips. Place them on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes before frosting.

Meanwhile, prepare the Malted Milk Buttercream. Place a heaping tablespoon of frosting on each cupcake and swirl to spread it out with a short metal spatula or a spoon, taking care to cover the tops completely. Garnish with crushed malted milk balls.

Malted Milk Buttercream

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
3-1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
5 tablespoons malted milk powder (the author of Sweetnicks used chocolate syrup instead)
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until fluffy, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and add the confectioner’s sugar, malted milk powder, milk and vanilla. Blend with the mixer on low speed until the sugar is incorporated, 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 1 minute more.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Meringue Bake Shop Sells Cupcakes Locally

Meringue Bake Shop is a made-to-order cupcake shop that serves Orange County. Meringue makes cupcakes for birthdays, weddings, engagement parties, baby showers, bridal parties, pretty much any party or special event! I have been following Meringue on their blog for a while and am impressed with the creative and yummy-looking cupcakes that they post about.

Last Friday's post detailed exciting news that Meringue Bake Shop's mini cupcakes would be sold in a store. And not just any store....Bliss Natural Frozen Yogurt in Orange! More cupcakes being sold in Orange (my home) is exciting news for me and the many other people who are looking for cupcakes in north Orange County!

By some miracle I didn't have any plans Friday after work so I made a pit stop at Bliss on my way home. The mini cupcakes had the whole display case to themselves. There were six flavors available to choose from.

Spring Break: Graham cracker cupcake topped with key lime buttercream frosting. This was my favorite cupcake of the ones I tried. It's not too often that cupcakes have a slight tart flavor. The key lime flavoring was wonderful. The aspect that I liked the most was that the frosting was an actual buttercream frosting. Sometimes mini cupcakes have that whipped cream type frosting, which makes them seem cheap. Not these cupcakes! Yummy!

Tea Time: Vanilla cupcake filled with lemon curd and topped with lemon buttercream and a raspberry. It is very unlike me to enjoy the fruit cupcakes, but I just couldn't help myself. These cupcakes looked delicious. And luckily, they tasted delicious too! I love the sugar crystals on top. They really make a cupcake look fancy and add a nice little crunch. Also, the lemon curd in the middle was tasty too. It's always fun to find filling in a cupcake.

Last, but not least, Queen of Hearts: Red velvet cupcake with cream cheese buttercream frosting. As I have been expanding my flavor pallette of cupcakes, I have gained some new favorites, but red velvet will always stay at the top of my list. Meringue's red velvet cupcake was no exception. Thank you for keeping my red velvet love alive!

The other flavors available are:
Groovy: Rainbow vanilla cupcake topped with vanilla buttercream
Java Jolt: Mocha chocolate chip cupcake filled with caramel and topped with mocha buttercream
Oh L'amore: Chocolate cupcake filled and topped with raspberry buttercream

Meringue Bake Shop's mini cupcakes are available at Bliss Natural Frozen Yogurt on Tustin Avenue, next to the Village at Orange. The mini cupcakes are $1.50 each.

Kristin of Meringue Bake Shop said that they sell regular-sized cupcakes by special order from their website, starting at $27/dozen. They also have many, many other yummy-sounding flavors on their menu. Enjoy!

NOTE: Meringue Bake Shop no longer sells their cupcakes at Bliss. Contact Kristin directly to place an order.


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