Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fluffer-Oreo Cupcakes from Picky Palate

Oreo cupcakes are one of the most popular cupcake recipes I come across. Picky Palate recently posted her version of Oreo cupcakes called Fluffer-Oreo Birthday Boy Cupcakes. I like her recipe because all it involves is a yellow cake mix, cream cheese, vanilla pudding, marshmallow cream, and of course Oreos. The trick is to layer the batter, Oreos, and marshmallow cream. You can find the full recipe on Picky Palate's website here.

Photos: Picky Palate

Monday, August 30, 2010

Featured: Double D Cupcakes

My friend Ashley told me about a cupcake shop in Lancaster called Double "D" Cupcakes. I seriously love the name, especially with taglines like:

"The perkiest cupcakes in town!"

"Yes! They are all natural!"

"Go ahead! Grab two. You know you want to!"

Although, they say that the double "D" actually stands for D-elicious and D-elightful. Clever play on words if you ask me.

Their cupcakes are available in two sizes: baby D and double D. There are 22 flavors listed on their website. My first choice would be the Hawaiian Hummingbird. Banana-pineapple cake topped with pineapple cream cheese frosting and toasted pecans. Yum!

The Rock Star cupcake is available in two different flavors: vanilla cake infused with bourbon (Rock Star by Day) or chocolate cake infused with Grand Marnier (Rock Star by Night). Both are topped with Rocker Pink caramel frosting, Belgium dark chocolate drizzle, hand poured chocolate star, and edible 23k gold flake embellishment.

And of course, it's totally appropriate to have a cupcake that benefits the fight against breast cancer. They will donate $5 to Ride for the Pink for every "Ride for the Pink" dozen sold.

Double "D" Cupcakes
620 West Avenue L, Suite #103
Lancaster, CA 93534
Twitter: @DDCupcakes

Friday, August 27, 2010

Toyota Ad Features Young Pastry Chef

"Toyota asked documentary filmmaker Jessica Sanders to tell the story of Erica -- a pastry chef/entrepreneur who was saving up to buy a reliable 2010 Corolla to help her business grow. What happened next, Erica never expected. Every Toyota has a story, are you an owner?"

Thursday, August 26, 2010

"How Pupcakes Are Made" Art

"Cups, pups and frosting! You really can't get much sweeter than this! Featuring the whimsical and humorous art of She's SO Creative, 'How PupCakes Are Made' art print is perfect for dog lovers, cupcake lovers, bakers, and everyone in between!"

Love this card from Stephanie Orma, She's So Creative. Available for purchase on etsy.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Serious Eats Offers Tips for Better Cupcakes

I love to bake, but I'm just not great at it. If you're a baker who could use a little extra help (like me), Serious Eats offers 10 tips to making better cupcakes. Check out the full article here.

I'm taking note of Tip #5-use an ice cream scooper. I've seen bakers use them on Cupcake Wars, but have never tried it myself. Sounds like an excuse to make cupcakes!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Neopolitan Mini Cheesecakes

These Neopolitan Mini Cheesecakes from Bakers Royale are just adorable! And the fact that they are made with no-bake cheesecake makes them even better. She hasn't posted the recipe yet, but has promised it will be soon.

Bakers Royale is a new find of mine. She has posted pictures and recipes for lots of delicious looking (and I'm sure tasting) desserts. My taste buds are going crazy for some Salted Caramel Cheesecake Cups or these Banana Caramel Cupcakes or maybe Croquembouche Cupcakes (I'm not even sure what these are, but I want to try!).

Monday, August 23, 2010

Review: Sweet Revenge in NYC

I've always wanted to go to New York City! I want to run through Central Park, take a boat ride to see the Statue of Liberty, have a romantic rendezvous at the top of the Empire State Building, and of course EAT CUPCAKES!

My lucky husband was in New York City for a business trip earlier this month. All I asked was that he bring me home a cupcake. I don't know New York cupcakes, so any cupcake would do. Well, my husband did good, he did real good. On his last day in New York City, he searched for the closest cupcake shop to his location. Sweet Revenge was the lucky winner.

Sweet Revenge is New York City's only cupcake, wine, and beer bar. They remind me a lot of American Cupcake, a restaurant in San Francisco that I featured a few weeks ago.

The day that my husband visited Sweet Revenge, there was a TV crew in the shop filming for a segment of the Cooking Channel's "Unique Eats." (Not sure when the episode will air, but I'll keep you posted.)

The cupcakes survived the airplane trip home, where I was anxiously awaiting their arrival. I won't say that I was more excited to see the cupcakes than my husband, but it might be true.

My husband brought me Sweet Revenge's four signature flavors: Sweet Revenge, Pure, Dirty, and Crimson & Cream. I couldn't have picked four better cupcakes myself! I had a hard time waiting to eat the cupcakes before taking a few pictures.

Sweet Revenge: Peanut butter cake, ganache filling with peanut butter fudge frosting. I loved the taste of this cupcake...so much peanut butter goodness! The peanut butter fudge frosting was exactly how I like it: thick. There was only a tiny bit of chocolate ganache in the center, which makes my only suggested improvement more ganache. My husband liked this one best because it wasn't too sweet.

Pure: Mexican vanilla cake with Mexican vanilla buttercream. This was the best vanilla cupcake I've ever had. The Mexican vanilla bean gives you an actual taste of vanilla, instead of just being a neutral flavor. The buttercream was thick and rich. Delicious!

Dirty: Valrhona chocolate cake with dark chocolate truffle. The truffle frosting was very rich, almost too rich to eat more than a few bites. The frosting was dusted with bitter chocolate, similar to those chocolate truffles from Trader Joe's.

Crimson & Cream: Raspberry red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. This was the second raspberry red velvet I've tried (the first being from Two Parts Sugar). The cupcake had a raspberry flavor in the cake as well as a raspberry drizzle on top. The frosting was tangy and had a hint of cinnamon in it. The cake was dense and real red velvet (not vanilla with a little cocoa powder).

There's no doubt that Sweet Revenge has some of the best cupcakes I've ever tasted! Their cupcakes are sophisticated and exactly how cupcakes should taste. Although I didn't think the cupcakes had enough frosting, the frosting definitely stole the show. One day I will make it to New York City and Sweet Revenge will be my first stop.

Sweet Revenge
62 Carmine St.
New York city, NY 10014

Friday, August 20, 2010

Betty Crocker Introduces Gluten-Free Baking Mixes

I can't imagine how sad my life would be without gluten. But that's just me and that fact that I could eat bread products all day long.

I have several friends who avoid all gluten when possible because of allergies. But now they can enjoy eating cupcakes and other desserts more often! Betty Crocker has introduced a line of gluten-free baking mixes. Their website showcases four gluten-free mixes:

Along with their cake mixes, Betty Crocker also provides recipes for gluten-free desserts. Gluten-free Banana Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Frosting, anyone?

Photos: Betty Crocker

Thursday, August 19, 2010

OC Cupcake Classic: The Winners

The OC Cupcake Classic was split into three categories: professional, amateur, and youth. Since there were over 70 cupcakes entered in the competition, the judges split the task of sampling all of the cupcakes. I was privileged to try the professional and youth categories. The other three judges split the amateur category into three groups.

I judged the youth cupcakes on the Danish scoring system. Each entry received an award -- either blue, red, or white. After I finished, the other judges and I picked a cupcake to win "Best in Show" from the cupcakes that received a blue ribbon. We unanimously chose Andrew English's lime and coconut cupcake. A close second place was Kathryn Arblaster's sweet potato cupcake (it was my first time trying a sweet potato cupcake and I really enjoyed it). Congrats Andrew!

The judges of the amateur category each picked their favorites from their group of cupcakes. The top cupcake from each group was then sampled by all of the judges to pick the "Best in Show." The winner of the amateur category was Desiree Moser with her lemon cupcake. This cupcake surprised me as I am not a lemon fan at all. The frosting was silky and delicious. Her cupcake was also beautiful. I loved the yellow, orange, and pink colors that adorned it. Congrats!

Since there were only three entries in the professional category, each cupcake received an award. First place and "Best in Show" was awarded to Vista Miller for the beautifully-decorated chocolate cupcake.

The OC Fair's Cupcake Classic was such a fun event! I've always enjoyed going to the fair and seeing the culinary awards. I feel honored to be a part of that this year. Thank you for everyone who participated in the event. Judging by the number of entries and the large audience, I think the OC Cupcake Classic will be back next year. Keep baking, Orange County! See you next year!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

OC Cupcake Classic: The Cupcakes

A cupcake competition is not only about taste, it's about looks. A cupcake needs to look pretty enough that someone would want to taste it. At the OC Cupcake Classic, we judged the cupcakes based on taste, originality, and creativity.

I've already explained about the event and introduced the judges, so let's get to the good part: the eye candy.

When I walked into the room, I immediately started salivating. So many cupcakes up on the stage! Several people told me that they were jealous that I got to try all of the cupcakes. Yeah, I have a good job.

I was extremely amazed by how beautiful the cupcakes looked! There are some very talented bakers and decorators in Orange County.

Surprisingly, there were only three entries in the professional category, but that doesn't mean they wowed me any less. So much detail went into these cupcakes, I had a hard time breaking them apart to eat them.

As I mentioned yesterday, I got to judge the professional and youth categories. I was so surprised at how creative the kids were in decorating their entries. They did a great job!

This OC Fair-themed cupcake was part of the amateur category. Great idea to decorate with the theme of the event!

So many cupcakes, but only a few of them can come out of top. Tomorrow I will reveal the winners of the first OC Cupcake Classic.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

OC Cupcake Classic: The Event

The OC Fair's OC Cupcake Classic was the second cupcake competition I've judged this month, but both events were completely different from one another.

The OC Cupcake Classic took place at the Exhibitor Promenade Stage at the OC Fairgrounds. I was surprised to see a large crowd of people waiting to watch the event. I didn't realize it would be so crowd-friendly.

The tables on the stage were lined with cupcakes. I was definitely ready to begin partaking of the cupcake deliciousness.

After we introduced ourselves to the audience, the judges took their seats on stage. Since there were so many cupcakes to try, each judge had a group of cupcakes to taste. My only regret of the event was that I didn't get to try ALL of the cupcakes!

I was given the opportunity to judge the professional category and the youth category. The other three judges split the amateur category, since that's where the majority of the cupcakes were entered.

I have been asked many times if I have a special technique for tasting cupcakes. I do. The most important part is cutting the cupcake in half first. You don't want to miss out on some hidden filling! The event organizers provided water, fresh lemons, and saltine crackers for cleansing our palettes.

There was a video camera on stage which displayed a feed to the audience. I've never been watched so closely when judging cupcakes before. I was careful not to make any weird facial expressions, although Monica and I were having a great time chatting too.

Most of the entrants were in the audience, as they had to drop off their cupcakes a few hours before the event. It was so fun to see how excited the entrants were to have us taste their cupcakes. After each cupcake was sampled for judging, the event organizers walked the plate of not-eaten cupcakes around the room so the audience could get a closer look.

Tomorrow: a close up view of the cupcakes!

Monday, August 16, 2010

OC Cupcake Classic: The Judges

It's definitely cupcake season! During the past month, I have eaten cupcakes at some kind of event every weekend. Good thing my I've upped my triathlon training or I would be gaining some serious pounds.

A few months ago I was asked to be a judge at the OC Fair's OC Cupcake Classic. Of course I was thrilled because I LOVE the food. So much good food in one place! Saturday was the big event. Unfortunately my husband was out of town, but my brothers and friend were there to support me and take pictures.

The OC Cupcake Classic is a cupcake competition that is open to everyone. There are three categories to enter: Professional, Amateur, and Youth.

You can't have a cupcake competition without some judges. So I'll start my coverage of the event with the introduction of the judges:

First: me, the Cupcake Activist. You all know me.

Next, one of my favorite Orange County cupcake bakers, Monica Serratos. Monica is the owner of Two Parts Sugar, but you might recognize her from the hit Food Network show "Cupcake Wars." Monica was a contestant on the pilot episode that aired in December. I know Monica from all of the cupcake events we've attended together. Not only is she super sweet, but she makes a delicious raspberry red velvet!

Another well-known judge was Nancy Luna, writer of the Fast Food Maven blog for the OC Register. Nancy's column reports on restaurant trends, culture, and trends. I've been featured in her column several times. Although we've corresponded many times, this was my first time meeting her.

The last judge was Babette Pepaj, founder of Bake Space, a social network for foodies. Bakers can swap recipes on the website and build friendships, based on their shared love of food.

I had a great time getting to know these ladies and sharing our love of cupcakes. I felt honored to be judging with such big names in the food world. More details about the event coming tomorrow...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Red Velvet Fried Chicken

The words "red velvet fried chicken" sound like a mash-up of my husband's and my favorite foods. I love sweet foods, like red velvet cupcakes, and my husband loves fried chicken. Who would have thought to combine the two?

I wrote about American Cupcake a few weeks ago. American Cupcake is a restaurant in San Francisco that has cupcake and wine pairings, as well as nachos, mac & cheese, cotton candy, fried oreos, and a menu devoted to just PBJ. I like to call this place heaven.

American Cupcake has expanded their wonderful menu to include Red Velvet Fried Chicken. I got the heads up on this creation from Food Frenzy and it's all I can think about. Time for a quick weekend trip to San Francisco!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

I Survived the OC Fair Cupcake Classic

I did it! I survived another cupcake competition!

Stayed tuned this week for coverage of the OC Fair's Cupcake Classic.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The OC Fair and Cupcakes

I have a love affair with the Orange County Fair. I'm not interested in the giant slides, ferris wheel, games, or Weird Al's Brain. I just want fried food.

My first experience with cupcakes at the OC Fair began two years ago when I discovered the deep-fried cupcake. Although surprisingly delicious, it has yet to reappear at the fair again.

The next year, after finding out that the deep-fried cupcake was not back, I found CB's Cupcakes. They sold pretty typical cupcakes, except that you got to build the cupcake yourself. You pick the cake, frosting, and topping. Not a bad idea, but makes for a longer line.

So the OC Fair ends on Sunday and I have yet to go! My husband has been traveling a lot for work and we just haven't had the time to eat lots of fried food! Fortunately, I will be attending the fair this Saturday to judge the OC Cupcake Classic. Come stop by the Promenade Stage between 1p-3p and say hi.

Since I haven't had the chance to scope out the food this year yet, my mom let me know that CB's Cupcakes is back and selling cupcakes again. Thanks Mom!


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