Friday, July 30, 2010

Ganache Frosting Made with Cheese?

I've never made my own ganache before, but I certainly never would have thought to use cheese!

Cupcake Project swears that the complexity of this ganache will cause you to lick the bowl clean. She posted her recipe for Cheesy Chocolate Ganache and says that any soft cheese would work. Do you dare make this? I'm very intrigued.

Photos: Cupcake Project

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ice Cream Cookie Cups

Anything that resembles a cupcake always catches my eye. The blog Ice Cream Before Dinner (love the name) posted a recipe for Ice Cream Cookie Cups and I fell in love. I'm usually not much of an ice cream girl, but add chocolate chip cookies and I'm in. The recipe is similar to the Cookie Cups I posted about a few years ago, except that Stephanie uses ice cream instead of frosting. And now that I think about it, these Ice Cream Cookie Cups are the mini version of a Pizookie from BJ's Restaurant.

Pretty simple. Bake cookies in a cupcake tin. The middle will sink. Add a scoop of ice cream. Top with caramel syrup or whatever you usually serve on ice cream. Yum!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cupcake Camp OC

Orange County is having it's first Cupcake Camp!

What exactly is Cupcake Camp? It is a gathering of cupcake lovers to share and eat cupcakes. It first started in San Francisco, but has been hosted in cities all around the world, including Buenos Aires, Montreal, Paris, Wellington, Bombay, and many cities in the USA.

Cupcake Camp OC
takes place this Sunday, August 1 at the Atrium Hotel in Irvine (near the John Wayne airport) from 3p-6p. The event is free, but a donation of $10 will be greatly accepted. The donations will be given to El Pozo, an organization that works toward ending human trafficking and slavery in Mexico.

There will be a cupcake competition for professionals and amateurs. Registration is closed for entering cupcakes in the competition, but eaters are still needed. All of your favorite Orange County cupcakes will be there and someone needs to eat them! What could be better than spending an afternoon eating cupcakes?

Come join us for a sugar rush this Sunday. Hope to see you there!

More info available on Just Spotted.

Featured: American Cupcake

I found out about American Cupcake through a fellow runner's blog. She was in San Francisco to run a half marathon, heard about American Cupcake, and had to go there. Sounds just like me!

American Cupcake is a shop/restaurant/bar that pairs cupcakes with wine. But that's not all they sell. They have six menus:

Savory Suite: Nachos, mac & cheese, popcorn...oh my!

Sweet Menu: Cupcakes ($3), cotton candy, fried oreos, red velvet bread pudding.

PBJ Menu: Just a menu for peanut butter and jelly?! Wow.

Beer and Wine

Candy Cocktails: Fun names such as the drunken ballerina, the hot guy, and the sunburned.

Cupcake Flights and Pairings: The cupcake flights ($16) come with three mini cupcakes and three tastes of wine.

American Cupcake sounds like a pretty cool restaurant that fits the San Francisco scene well. Since I haven't been here, I checked in with the reviewers at Yelp to see their comments. They said exactly what I thought, American Cupcake has a great idea, but the cupcakes could use some help. And with so many great cupcake shops in San Francisco, they will have to fight for their cupcake rights. I'm still willing to give them a try the next time I'm in town.

American Cupcake
1919 Union Street
San Francisco, CA 94123

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sprinkles Expands to Chicago

Photo: Sprinkles

I am lucky enough to live within 20 miles of a Sprinkles store. And now the people of Chicago are fortune to have access to Sprinkles cupcakes too. Sprinkles Cupcake opened their newest location in Chicago yesterday. In honor of the new location, Sprinkles is donating $25,000 to Hope Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House. That's pretty cool of them.

When I spoke with Candace Nelson, owner of Sprinkles, a few months ago, she said Sprinkles will be opening five locations by the end of the year. Where do you want Sprinkles to open next?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Cupcake Wars and DC Cupcakes

Cupcakes are all over my TV right now. With the premiere of two shows this summer, cupcakes are proving to be the most-watched food as opposed to just the most-popular dessert.

Cupcake Wars on The Food Network is a show about cupcake bakers competing to win $10,000 and the title of Cupcake Wars champion. There are eight episodes, with two remaining. The Food Network has already picked up Cupcake Wars for a second season and I've seen lots of bakeries tweeting about auditions.

My favorite part about Cupcake Wars is the exposure that all of the cupcake shops are getting. I like learning about different shops around the country. That way, if I've ever in, let's say, Gilbert, AZ, I will know The Coffee Shop will be the place to go.

One cool thing The Food Network is doing is publishing the recipes for some of the cupcakes featured on Cupcake Wars. Look no further for the recipe for Cinnamon Swirl Sour Cream, Maple Cream Cheese, Strawberry, and Bacon Breakfast Cupcake.

The second show that premiered this summer is DC Cupcakes on TLC. The show follows two sisters who own a popular cupcake shop in Washington, D.C. called Georgetown Cupcake. Their cupcake shop sells 5,000 cupcakes a day! Holy cow!

Although this show may not be that interesting to some people, I'm really interested in learning about how a cupcake shop is run. I also like seeing that even though they are a successful business, they still have small, everyday problems that most stores have to.

DC Cupcakes premiered July 16, but I'm unsure how many episodes there will be. My suggestion to TLC is to follow a different cupcake shop each season, if they plan on extending the show.

Friday, July 23, 2010

OC Fair Cupcake Contest

The OC Fair has officially started!

With that in mind, just a reminder that the OC Cupcake Classic, which takes place at the OC Fair on August 14, is still open to competitors. Whether you are a professional or just like to bake, this is your chance to enter Orange County's first cupcake competition.

You can find out more info here and on the OC Fair's website (page 18).

Hope to see you there (I'm one of the judges!).

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Review: Kauai Ono Kuki

So have I mentioned how wonderful my vacation to Kauai was yet?! Besides the beautiful beaches part, I managed to find some cupcakes too!

But I'm not just a cupcakes gal, my sweet tooth likes all kinds of treats. Just a few doors down from Icing on the Cake I found Kauai Ono Kuki. I poked my head inside to see if they had any cupcakes, but instead I found a case full of cookies and pastries.

I inquired about what was in the middle of one of the cookies, expecting the owner to say some kind of caramel or fruit, but instead found out that it was a whole Reess's Peanut Butter Cup. Yes please.

We grabbed enough cookies for everyone in my family, which was a lot because there were 11 of us! Half of the cookies I bought were the Reese's ones and the other half were chocolate chip macadamia nut, although everyone wanted the Reese's one. I don't blame them, who wouldn't want it?!

The cookie was everything I would want a cookie to be except for that it wasn't just out of the oven. I should have had a glass of milk nearby, but otherwise this cookie was amazing!

After I visited Kauai Ono Kuki, I began to notice that their cookies were being sold in other stores around the island. These are a must when you visit Kauai!

Kauai Ono Kuki
4-356 Kuhio Hwy.
Kapaa, Kauai, HI 96746
Sunday 5p-8p
Tuesday 6a-2p
Wednesday-Saturday 6a-2p, 5p-8p

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Laguna Beach Star Opens Cupcake Shop

You might recognize Casey Reinhardt from the MTV "reality show" Laguna Beach. You might recognize her as the sister of Doug Reinhardt, the guy who dated Paris Hilton. But Casey Reinhardt is making a name for herself. She has recently opened a cupcake shop in Riverside.

Casey's Cupcakes and Cappuccinos is located in the Mission Inn Hotel and Spa in Riverside. The shop offers flavors such as Rockin' Red Velvet, Marvelous Milk Chocolate, Caribbean Coconut, and Scrumptious Cinnamon Sugar. Casey's Cupcakes has received mixed reviews on Yelp, but it seems that people are more likely to comment when they have a bad experience. Her cupcakes sell for $3.50, which is one of the highest prices I've seen for cupcakes. They better be great cupcakes for that price.

According to the Orange County Register, Casey has plans to expand into Orange County. I'll keep you posted on when that happens.

Magnolia Bakery opens in LA

The cupcake shop that supposedly started the whole cupcake craze has finally made it to LA! Magnolia Bakery opened their doors to their first west coast store last Saturday. But will it survive?

As much as I wished I could have been there for opening day, from the sounds of it, maybe it was a good thing I wasn't. Yelp already has 12 reviews about Magnolia Bakery and they aren't off to a great start. The complaints range from long lines (well, that's expected on opening day...duh!) to no parking.

But what about the cupcakes? Plenty of complaints about those too. Too dry, too sweet, and vanilla frosting on red velvet is a bad idea ("felt like I was eating a sponge"). Ouch!

"Ugh......just waited in line for the worst red velvet cupcake I have ever tasted.... I wont even go into the rest of the stuff I tasted, no flavor." --Tony S.

"I've been to this bakery in NYC and was excited to visit the one in Los Angeles. I went on opening day and was quite impressed. The cupcakes are very good... not the best I've ever had, but better than others."--Laurie W.

Photo: LA Times

Can a cupcake shop survive on it's "famous" reputation alone? Probably not, but I'm guessing that Magnolia Bakery still has a few tweaks to work out before we see who they really are. But with lots of great cupcake shops in the LA area, only the amazing ones will survive.

Magnolia Bakery
8389 W. 3rd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cupcakes on Seabirds Food Truck

Food trucks keep popping up like crazy! I'm definitely not complaining, I love having lots of options for dinner when I don't feel like cooking.

Seabirds is Orange County's original veggie truck. Their menu offers food such as beer battered avocado tacos, organic veggie burritos, mango burgers, and sweet potato fries.

So why am I bringing them up? Well, I just read on Seabirds' blog that they are now serving cupcakes made by Luscious Organic Desserts. Luscious cupcakes are vegan and free of hydrogenated oils, refined sugars, and bleached flours.

I don't have any info on flavors or pricing yet, but Seabirds blog does say they've tried the strawberry, pumpkin, chocolate, and gluten-free chocolate. I'm always happy to see more cupcakes being sold in Orange County. Hopefully I will get my hands on one soon.

You can find Seabirds' schedule here.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Hobart Classic Woody Wagon Mixer

Photo: Uncrate

How awesome is this Hobart mixer that I found on Uncrate?! This would be the perfect complement to a bake shop that has a restored Woody Wagon as their delivery truck.

And speaking of bakery trucks, just a reminder that Oh For Sweets Sake is up and running around Orange County selling cupcakes. Morsels Baking Company will be hitting the streets on July 19, as they are just finishing up the inspection process. Can't wait to try them both!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Cupcake Flavor-Strips in Birthday Card

First glance, this looks like a cute cupcake birthday card. Nothing more. But I'm so wrong.

American Greetings has introduced a new concept for greeting cards. Tasties, as they are called, come with a dissolvable flavor-strip sealed inside the card. Each card has a different flavor-strip that corresponds with the card. The flavors range from donuts to margaritas. This birthday card encourages the recipient to eat cake and the flavor-strip included tastes like a vanilla cupcake.

Fun idea! The greeting card industry is definitely in need of something to persuade people to buy greeting cards again. This might do the trick.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Review: Icing on the Cake

Ahhh.....Kauai! What a beautiful place! My family and I recently spent seven glorious days in Kauai. We had a blast surfing, kayaking, hiking, swimming, biking, running, and just laying on the beach.

Before we left, as I do with every trip, I researched cupcakes in the area. Sadly, my searches were pulling up nothing. Did cupcakes exist in Kauai?

The day I left for Kauai I posted about my trip and Shanna from A Cup Full of Cake left a comment about Kauai Ono Kuki and Icing on the Cake. When she got married in Kauai in 2007 she got her wedding cake from Icing on the Cake. She said they also sell cupcakes. I got super excited until I looked up the directions and saw that Icing on the Cake was almost an hour away from where we were staying. Maybe we would get there and maybe not.

A few days later we went kayaking down the Wailua River. Walking to the meeting spot in Kapa'a, a shop caught my was Icing on the Cake! What luck! I walked inside and was greeted by a plate of cupcakes. Yes!

I only had a few dollars, so I could only grab one cupcake (the cupcakes were $3 each). I chose a chocolate chocolate cupcake. The cake was super moist (expected since Kauai is the wettest island in Hawaii, ha!) and the frosting was very good. The frosting wasn't as thick as I normally like, but I thought it complemented the cupcake very well. I devoured the cupcake in less than a minute, it was delicious!

The two other flavors available were raspberry and vanilla. There weren't any exotic flavors or cute decorations, just cupcakes in raw form. It was nice to see that I can travel almost anywhere and find cupcakes.

Icing on the Cake
4-356 Kuhio Hwy.
Kapa'a, Kauai, HI 96746

P.S. Review of Kauai Bakery coming soon. My sweet tooth was in full force.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Featuring: Earth and Sugar

As far as I know, I haven't tasted an organic cupcake. It's not that I don't want to try one, but I just haven't had the opportunity.

earthandsugar is a bakery that "offers all natural and organic baked goods free of preservatives and refined or processed ingredients. Our homemade treats are made with ingredients such as local organic fresh fruit, organic Madagascar Bourbon vanilla, Green & Black's organic cocoa powder, and many more quality and free trade products." They also carry a line of vegan and gluten-free cupcakes.

earthandsugar is located in Boynton Beach, FL and does custom orders for cupcakes, cookies, and teacake slices. They also sell their items in cafes around their area.

The big news for earthandsugar is that they are preparing to ship their cookies nationwide, which is good for people like me who would love to try their treats, but live as far away from Florida as possible.

earthandsugar is having a Fan Summer Giveaway where you can win one dozen of their organic cookies or vegan and gluten-free cookies (available in chocolate chip, double chocolate chip, and oatmeal raisin)!! Four lucky people will win this prize. One winner will also receive their natural canvas tote printed with a green living expression.

How can you win? Easy...just become a fan of earthandsugar on Facebook between now and August 31, 2010. That's it. I've already entered, so I probably shouldn't be writing about this because it lowers my chances, but oh well.

earthandsugar also informed me that they will soon be offering shipping for their cupcakes. I'm excited to give them a try. I'll keep you updated when that happens.

Photo Credit: PS Photography

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

DC Cupcakes Premieres Friday

With Cupcake Wars on The Food Network becoming so popular, it's no surprise that the TLC network will be premiering a new cupcake-themed show called DC Cupcakes this Friday. What's the show about? Cupcakes, of course!:

TLC's summer slate just got sweeter with the arrival of DC CUPCAKES, the latest trend in the network's growing menu of food-themed programming....[T]he six-part series follows sisters and business partners Sohpie LaMontagne and Katherine Kallinis as they run Georgetown Cupcake, a small cupcakery they've transformed into a sweeping success.
The sisters opened Georgetown Cupcake in Washington DC in 2008 and they now sell over 5,000 cupcakes a day!

The show premieres on TLC this Friday, July 17 at 10p ET. It will definitely be on my DVR.

Photos: TLC

Monday, July 12, 2010

Cupcake Proposal

Two weeks ago I received the following email from a reader:
"I'm trying to help my brother find a great cupcake bakery-we live in Yorba Linda. He wants to propose to his girlfriend this week after work, so he wants to find a good cupcake and put the ring on top. She loves Sprinkles, but it would be too far to go after work. Any ideas for places around Yorba Linda or within a 20 minute drive?" - Joanna
I recommended The Perfect Circle Cupcakery in the Orange Circle for a couple of reasons. First, they are the closest cupcake shop to Yorba Linda. Second, their shop has a cute atmosphere, perfect for a proposal. And of course, I love their cupcakes.

A few days ago I got the scoop:
"She said yes! My brother proposed with this (see photo below), based on your recommendation at the store in old Orange, along with a dozen red roses. He told me she was surprised when she opened the box."

So cute! Reminds me of when my husband proposed to me. Just replace The Perfect Circle with Miguel's Mexican Restaurant, cupcakes with mexican food, and the dozen roses with my husband singing "I Want to Grow Old with You." Congrats to Joanna's brother and his new fiance.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Wonderland Bakery to Bake Treats for MLB All-Star Party

Wonderland Bakery, a local bakery that bakes cupcakes and other treats, has been chosen to provide signature cookies for the MLB All-Star Game post-game party at Angels Stadium on July 13. There are about 1,000 expected at this event.

These special cookies are also available for purchase on their website. But you will have to fork over $8.25 for each cookie, along with a 12 cookie minimum order. That's steep.

This is not the first time Wonderland Bakery has baked special cookies for a big event. They also provided 6,000 cookies for the last presidential inauguration, and were chosen by President Obama himself. Those must be some great-tasting cookies! Maybe they are worth the $8.25 price. Anyone know?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Review: Lily Jane's Cupcakes

I know I just got back from Kauai, but I have a little backtracking to do. Last month I was in Boise to race the Boise Ironman 70.3. I had a great time (despite having an awful race), and even managed to squeeze in a little cupcake research. The only cupcake shop I could find was Lily Jane's Cupcakes in Eagle, Idaho.

I didn't expect much since my sister-in-law said she heard through the grapevine that the cupcakes weren't great. I wasn't going to let that stop me, as this was the only cupcake shop around!

The store's atmosphere was about the same as most places. The cupcakes were located behind a glass display. There were regular-size and mini cupcakes to choose from. Since I wanted to try several flavors, I chose three minis.

My flavor choices: Black & White, Strawberry, and Caramel Apple.

Black & White: The chocolate cake was moist, but the frosting had sort of a gummy texture. I felt like I was chewing the frosting.

Strawberry Fields: The frosting had the same sort of gummy texture. Also, there wasn't much of a strawberry flavor in either the frosting or the cake.

Caramel Apple: The apple cake was delicious! It was topped with a brown sugar glaze and cream cheese frosting. The cream cheese frosting was way better than the buttercream frostings. This was my favorite cupcake by far and I would definitely buy it again.

Lily Jane's Cupcakes sells their regular-sized cupcakes for $2.95 and the minis for $1.50. I feel this is a bit pricey, as their cupcakes are average and this is Idaho. But if you are far from home in the Boise area and you are craving a cupcake (maybe because you just raced in a Half-Ironman), then Lily Jane's will hold you over. My advice would be to stick with the cupcakes with the cream cheese frosting.

Lily Jane's Cupcakes
664 S. Rivershore Lane, Suite 164
Eagle, Idaho 83616
Open Monday-Saturday 9a-6p

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cupcake News

Cupcakes Takes the Cake was full of cupcake news yesterday.

First up, the Food Network is holding a casting call for Season 2 of Cupcake Wars. Looks like the show is a hit! I've really enjoyed watching Cupcake Wars and learning about cupcake shops from around the country. It's also fun to see people pull recipes out of thin air. Last night they had to make cupcakes using ingredients that an elephant or giraffe would eat. Pretty cool. If you're interested in auditioning for the show, see the info below.

Second bit of exciting cupcake news: Cupcake Showdown 2010. Ten of the best cupcake makers will come together to compete for title of best cupcake in LA.

Each cupcake bakery will be giving away 300 mini cupcakes. 300 minis x 10 bakeries = 3,000 free mini cupcakes!

The Cupcake Showdown takes place Thursday, July 8 at the LA Artwalk from 6p-9p. You can find more info on the event's Facebook page.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I'm Back!

I made it back from Kauai (there was always a possibility I would never come back) and I'm ready to dive back into the cupcake world! Did I find cupcakes on Kauai? You'll have to check back to find out. I will give you a hint luck was in full force (whether it was good or bad, you'll have to see)!

Don't forget to watch tonight's episode of CUPCAKE WARS on the Food Network. Tonight's contenders are:

Lulu's Cupcakes

Whodidly Cupcakes

Cupcakes & Co.


I have to add a comment about last week's episode. Although The Perfect Circle Cupcakery didn't win, I think that their cupcakes are some of the best I've ever had. The competition is about taste and presentation, which is why they didn't come out on top. I hope the show brings them plenty more business so they can stock their shop full of yummy cupcakes.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

I'm pretty sure this is the first time I'm celebrating the 4th of July outside of California. Feels kinda weird, but I don't mind enjoying the festivities while lounging on the beach. I'll be back in a few days and will have more cupcake posts to keep you drooling, including a review of a cupcake shop in Boise. Have a safe and fun holiday!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Interview with Candace Nelson, owner of Sprinkles

Photo: Sprinkles

A few weeks ago I had the amazing opportunity to participate in a conference call with Candace Nelson, owner of Sprinkles Cupcakes. I wasn't the only one, bloggers from websites such as cakespy, Cupcake Project, Pop Culture Madness, My Baking Addiction, and The Cupcake Cauldron all had a chance to ask Candace questions. The purpose of the call was to create buzz for the start of Cupcake Wars on the Food Network.

I had a few questions for Candace in mind, just in case someone else asked the same ones. Some of the people asked about the show, some about starting a cupcake business, and some about Sprinkles. Here's how it went for me:

Cupcake Activist: Hi Candace. My name is Elise and I write a blog called The Cupcake Activist. I'm based out of Orange County, but have done cupcake reviews all over the world. What do you see in the future for Sprinkles? Are you going to expand to other products ? Are you going to sell mini cupcakes? Do you see yourself changing at all or do you like where you are?

Candace Nelson: Well our philosophy to this day has been to do one thing and do it well. Right now we're really focused on expanding our locations. We're opening five new location in six or seven months, we're pretty busy doing that. But I wouldn't rule out the possibility of going into other dessert items in the future.

Sprinkles Cupcakes is currently located in 10 cities, so opening five more locations before the end of the year is a BIG deal. Congrats to them. Some people say Sprinkles Cupcakes are overrated, but I love them!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cupcake Calzones

Cupcake Project is currently my favorite blog for cupcake recipes. Stefani has lots of great ideas for creative cupcake recipes. Her latest is Cupcake Calzones. Take note, this is a savory cupcake, not a sweet one.

The idea for this cupcake is very basic. Cupcake Project: "Take pizza dough, fill it with your favorite pizza toppings, bake it a cupcake tin, and 'frost' it with tomato sauce, melted cheese, and a cherry (tomato) and you've got a calzone cupcake!"

Cupcake Project's post for Cupcake Calzones includes a recipe for pizza dough, although I'm just going to use the pre-made refrigerated pizza dough from Fresh & Easy. After all, I have very limited time to make dinner every night.

For the filling she uses zucchini, onions, corn, and garlic. My husband would not go for corn in his calzone, so I would probably use mushrooms, onions, and maybe some sausage.

For dessert, use the extra pizza dough to make more calzones. This idea is based off my favorite dessert from Claim Jumper: the chocolate chip calzone. Fill the calzone with chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, and marshmallows. Bake and enjoy. You'll thank me later.

I can't wait to make dinner when we get back from Kauai!


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