Monday, February 28, 2011

Banana Cream Mini Pies

I've read on many websites that PIE is expected to be the biggest food trend of 2011. Although some have predicted that it will replace cupcakes, cupcakes aren't a trend. They're here to stay. But I don't mind if pies are popular this year because my stomach has plenty of room for other desserts too. I welcome the pie.

Bakers Royale posted a recipe for Individual Banana Cream Pies. These pies are made with cupcakes liners and baked in a cupcake pan. I also like the sound of a coconut and pecan graham cracker crust. I've always been a big fan of banana desserts, especially banana bread recipes. Yum!

banana bread recipe

Friday, February 25, 2011

Bake You Happy is Open for Business

Also posted on Cupcakes Take the Cake

Last month Castaic-based cupcake company Bake You Happy was crowned champion of the Food Network's Cupcake Wars. In my interview with them, they told me they planned on using the prize money to open a cupcake shop in Valencia, CA.

Good news! The store is open and the cupcakes are selling like hotcakes! A good friend stopped by their new shop to take a few photos and grab a few cupcakes. I love the look of their shop, especially the colors!

I added two more cupcakes to the list that I've tasted from Bake You Happy. Both the Peanut Butter Cup and Snickerdoodle were divine.

Bake You Happy
23628 Valencia Blvd.
Valencia, CA 91355
Open Tuesday-Saturday 11:30 am-7:00 pm

(All photos courtesy of Carrie)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Review: DIY Cupcake Kit from Dollhouse Bake Shoppe

Also posted on Cupcakes Take the Cake

Despite being the Cupcake Activist and loving cupcakes, I'm not the best baker. So when I got the opportunity to try out Dollhouse Bake Shoppe's new DIY Cupcake Kits, I jumped at the chance to test my baking skills.

Dollhouse Bake Shoppe is a "one-stop-online-shoppe for all of your baking & decorating needs." They specialize in their original line of Gourmet Cupcake Kits.

I love getting packages! When I saw it sitting on my front porch, I rushed in the house to rip open the box. Inside I found my Confetti Cupcake Kit.

My Gourmet Baking Kit included:
  • all-natural, gourmet vanilla cupcake/cake mix
  • all-natural, gourmet frosting mix
  • package of Belgian cocoa
  • rainbow sprinkles packet
  • decorating bag
  • baking instructions

My Gourmet Cupcake Kit said it contained "everthing" I needed to create cupcakes "quickly, easily, and affordably." Although I expected to provide milk, eggs, butter, and water myself, I didn't expect to need cupcake liners. Luckily I keep a stock of those in my kitchen for cupcake emergencies.

I baked the cupcakes exactly how the instructions asked me to. When it came time to scoop into the cupcake liners, I used a technique I picked up on Cupcake Wars: an ice cream scoop. So much easier!

My Gourmet Cupcake Kit yielded 12 cupcakes, about 1/2 the quantity of a normal box mix.

The cupcakes came out of the oven and looked perfect. I had already made the frosting, but I learned from Cupcake Wars that you never frost a hot cupcake. After they cooled, I used the decorating bag to pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes. I have to admit that this was my first time using a decorating bag too.

Verdict: Delicious! My husband especially liked these cupcakes. He said they even tasted gourmet. I thought he was just saying that to make me happy, but the cupcakes kept disappearing one by one. But he was right: Dollhouse Bake Shoppe's Gourmet Baking Kits uses high quality natural ingredients, yet contain NO artificial flavor, preservatives, trans fat, or hydrogenated oils. You can even use their substitute suggestions to make your cupcakes egg, soy, and dairy free.

The Confetti Cupcake/Cake Kit I used sells for $17.95 and yielded 12 cupcakes, but the kit could also yield 24 mini cupcakes or a single layer 8" cake. I provided 1/2 cup milk, two eggs, 2 sticks of butter, and 12 cupcake liners. The kit I received did not contain cupcake liners, but the Holiday/Seasonal and Themed Cupcake Kits do provide them for you. The cupcakes are gourmet, so they taste dramatically better than your average box mix cupcakes.

Dollhouse Bake Shoppe
Facebook: Dollhouse Bake Shoppe
Twitter: @DBS_LA
Phone: 323-863-6553

New Cupcake Shop: Lil Red's Cupcakery

Spotted: new cupcake shop in Orange County. A friend gave me the inside scoop that Lil Red's Cupcakery just opened in Huntington Beach last week. The new shop is located at The Strand, off PCH and 5th. I've received many inquiries about a cupcake shop in the Huntington Beach area, but before now, there were none.

I don't have any other info, except for these photos from their Facebook page. Can't wait to stop by soon!

Lil Red's Cupcakery
120 5th St.
Huntington Beach, CA 92648

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tonight's Episode of Cupcake Wars: Walk of Fame

Four creative cupcake bakers compete for a chance to have their cupcakes take center stage at an event for the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Casey's Cupcakes (Riverside and Laguna Beach, CA): They just opened a new location in Laguna Beach. I must try her cupcakes soon!

Soup Cups (Los Angeles, CA): Another LA online cupcake company. I can't believe how many there are!

Lucky Cupcake Company
(Pipersville, PA): I would definitely like to try Aunt Carol's Kahula Brownie cupcake.

Le Petit Bakery (Brooklyn, NY): Finally, a New York cupcake bakery! There are so many cupcake shops in New York, I wonder why there haven't been many on Cupcake Wars.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Birdcage Cupcake Display

After seeing all the different displays at the LA Cupcake Challenge, I've been taking note of them more often. A few weeks ago Cupcakes and Corsets put together a post about creative cupcakes displays. I especially liked this birdcage display.

Friday, February 18, 2011

4 Ingredient Nutella Cupcakes

It's hard to believe that a cupcake can be made with only four ingredients. And technically, these cupcakes can be made with only three ingredients (if you don't add the chopped hazelnuts on top).

Cake or Death
posted this recipe for Four-Ingredient Nutella Cupcakes using Nutella, an egg, flour, and hazelnuts. I have all of these ingredients. I could make these right now. But then I'd have to eat them all. Darn.

Four-Ingredient Nutella Cupcakes
yields 9 mini cupcakes

1 cup Nutella spread

1 large egg

5 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons chopped hazelnuts

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 9 cups of a mini muffin pan with paper or foil liners.

2. Put 1/2 cup of the Nutella and egg in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth and well blended. Add the flour and whisk until blended.

3. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins (about 3/4 full) and bake until a pick comes out with wet, gooey crumbs, 11 to 12 minutes. Don't overbake!

4. Set on a rack to cool completely. Once cool, warm the remaining 1/2 cup of Nutella in a small bowl in the microwave just until warm and fluid, about 15-25 seconds. Dip the tops of each cupcake in the Nutella, so that it's completely coated. (You will have extra Nutella left over. I trust you can find something to do with this.) Sprinkle the tops of the cupcakes with the chopped hazelnuts. These keep for up to 3-4 days in an airtight container at room temperature.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Review: Sweet Jill's

Also posted on Cupcakes Take the Cake

Sometimes my husband gets cravings. I do too, but I'm glad I'm not the only one. On this particular night, it was pizza. Not just any pizza, but New York style pizza.

Our search led us to A Slice of New York in Seal Beach. This place was legit. We ate a whole pizza by ourselves. What can I say?...we just love food!

But the night didn't end there. Across the street I spotted Sweet Jill's. My nose told me I needed to go in. From the window I could see cupcakes, cinnamon rolls, cookies, cakes, and brownies. Yes!

I went in. Just the perfect combination of everything I love. Thank you, Sweet Jill's. This small little bakery overloaded my senses. I came out with a Red Velvet cupcake, a fudge cookie cup, and a sugar cookie. Why I didn't get a cinnamon roll still baffles me.

The cupcake was gigantic! A cupcake this big is never good, right? Wrong. One of the moistest cupcakes I've ever eaten. And it was a dark red color, so I knew it was a true red velvet. The cream cheese had just the right amount of cream cheesiness. My only suggestion is making it a bit smaller. When a cupcake is too big, you lose the perfect cake to frosting ratio.

"I'm glad this isn't on my new no-eat list because I'm going to eat this every day!"
That's what my husband said about the fudge cookie cup. (By the way, what he's referring to is his New Year's resolution of not eating any fried foods this year.) Chocolate chip cookies are a weakness for me, and when you bake them as a cookie cup, the texture is just perfect. The dollop of fudge on top was just the right amount too.

The butterfly sugar cookie was a random item for me to buy. I don't usually buy sugar cookies, but this one just looked delicious. Instead of frosting on top, this cookie had icing. Normally just a drizzle of icing on a cookie is a no-no (for me), but this icing was thick so it had plenty of sweetness. Although this cookie was decorated cute, it had a professional taste and was delicious.

Pumpkin happened to be with us on this outing. She looks sad because she was sad. Wouldn't you be sad if you missed out on eating the best New York style pizza and desserts?

After talking to a friend who lives in Seal Beach, I learned that Sweet Jill's is famous for their cinnamon rolls. Oh darn it. Guess I'll just have to go back to try them.

Sweet Jill's
123 Main St.
Seal Beach, CA 90740

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bundt Cakes Coming to So Cal to Replace Cupcakes?

It will never stop. Donuts. Pies. Macaroons. Now Bundt Cakes. Cupcakes aren't going away, but that doesn't mean there's not room to share.

The Fast Food Maven is reporting that Nothing Bundt Cakes is expanding to Orange County. Three stores are scheduled to open in Tustin, Costa Mesa, and Mission Viejo.

I have no problem with bundt cakes because of their similarities to cupcakes. I can't wait to try one when they get here.

What do you think? Will cupcakes ever be replaced? If so, what will replace them?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What does Martha Stewart Think About Cupcakes?

Martha Stewart recently premiered a new show on the Hallmark Channel called Martha Bakes. Brittania from Endless Simmer got the chance to interview Martha about her new show. One of her questions involved cupcakes:

Brittania: Do you think macaroons are the new cupcake?

Martha: No. I don’t think they’re really replacing the cupcake. I don’t think they’re satisfying enough. I don’t, you know, you might want to eat 24 of them and they might, they might fill you, but they certainly don’t satisfy you like a cupcake.

And there you have it. Nothing has replaced the cupcake yet and hopefully never will. Thanks for the confidence booster, Martha.

Tonight's Episode of Cupcake Wars: Cirque du Soleil

Tonight on Cupcake Wars: four bakers compete to have their cupcakes displayed at a release party for one of Vegas' favorites. The contestants are:

House of Cupcakes (Princeton, NJ) -Yum! Lots of peanut butter and chocolate flavor in this Peanut Butter Cup cupcake.

Sugar on Top (State College, PA) -The cupcakes on their website look homemade. I hope they have the accompanying homemade taste to go with them.

Cupcakes Couture (Manhattan Beach, FL (I think they mean CA)) -I got to try Cupcakes Couture at the LA Cupcake Challenge in 2010. Their cupcakes were decorated so beautifully.

Leyna's Kitchen (Los Angeles, CA) -Flavor I want to try: Mint Avocado. I recently tried an Avocado pie and it was surprisingly delicious. I think this flavor would be similar.

How exciting to have two more Southern California cupcake bakeries on Cupcake Wars. Good luck to all of the contestants!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Chocolate Fondue with Cupcakes

A few weeks ago I wrote about a cupcake fondue tutorial from Bake It Pretty. But cupcake fondue is nothing new. Two years ago Cupcake Project gave us this same great idea for Valentine's Day -- cupcake fondue. But this one is a little different, as it uses a chocolate dip -- perfect for Valentine's Day.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Running and Cupcakes - They Go Together, Right?

I have this strange lifestyle where I train like crazy and eat lots of sweets. I couldn't live without either one. I'm weird, I know. Someone else thought it was kinda weird too and wrote an article about me. Check it out.

My Picks for the 2011 LA Cupcake Challenge

It's hard to judge a cupcake competition. Do I pick a cupcake that's the most unique, one I've never tried before, my favorite traditional flavor, or one that I could eat every day for the rest of my life? There's a lot that goes into picking the winning cupcake.

The LA Cupcake Challenge was a challenge to pick the best cupcakes because there were so many great ones! Luckily I had some help from a friend and a lot of experience in eating cupcakes.

Cupcake Activist's Pick for Best Traditional
My Delight Cupcakery
Red Velvet

Even though I've eaten a lot of My delight Cupcakery's cupcakes in the last two weeks, I could never get sick of them. Their Red Velvet is a perfect classic red velvet: moist cake and silky cream cheese frosting.

Best Traditional Honorable Mention:
Cake Pop - Red Velvet
Double D Cupcake - Chocolate Zin

Cupcake Activist's Pick for Best Original
Blue Cupcake
PB and J

I am a huge peanut butter and jelly fan. (I'm actually eating a PB & J sandwich for lunch today.) Blue Cupcake treated me with another delicious cupcake this year. I think people got thrown off by having two PB & J cupcakes at the event.

Best Original Honorable Mention:
Jus Minis - Josephine
The Cake Shop - Cherry Bomb

Cupcake Activist's Pick for Best Overall
My Delight Cupcakery

Late Night Breakfast

I picked My Delight Cupcakery as my overall favorite because they had the whole package. Not just delicious cupcakes, but great presentation to go with it. They've got it all!

Although I'm sad it's over, I had a great time at Drink Eat Play's 2011 Cupcake Challenge. I can't wait until next next year. Below I've listed the links to my posts about this year's event, as well as other bloggers event recaps.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

LA Cupcake Challenge 2011: The Competitors, Part Four

I did it. I tried all of the cupcakes at the LA Cupcake Challenge. Here's the last group of competitors.

09: Mallow Delight
The only hi-hat cupcake at the event. Dipped chocolate is always good.

23: Cactus Cooler
Tasted just like a Cactus Cooler soda, which is one of my favorite sodas.

Goodie Girls
Twitter: @GoodieGirlCooks
Facebook: Goodie Girls
Los Angeles, CA

07: Salted Caramel Chocolate
One of my favorite new flavors, just average though.

22: Pineapple Upsidedown
Fruit cupcakes are not really my thing.

Double D Cupcakes
Twitter: @DDCupcakes
Facebook: Double D Cupcakes
Lancaster, CA

Double D Cupcakes won 3rd place for their Chocolate Zin cupcake and also won this week's episode of Cupcake Wars. What an exciting week for them!

04: Chocolate Zin
This cupcake was so complex with two frosting and a mousse center. I loved the different flavors that came together to make an outstanding cupcake!

18: D&D Root Beer Float
Loved the decoration.

Some of the cupcakes were sitting in this flower stand. It was so unique.

Bitter Sweet Treats
Twitter: @bittersweet3
Facebook: Bitter Sweet Treats

You might recognize Danielle as one of the finalists on Top Chef: Just Desserts. Is it weird that I wanted to take a picture with her?

01: Chocolate with Meringue
Of all of the meringue toppings I tried, this was the best of the day. My friend said this cupcake reminded her of New Zealand.

So there you have it: all of the cupcakes from the LA Cupcake Challenge. It was tough to taste all of the cupcakes, but I paced myself and drank lots of milk.

See the first group of competitors here.
See the second group of competitors here.
See the third group of competitors here.
See the results of the LA Cupcake Challenge here.

Tomorrow I'll be posting my picks. Did I agree with the public?


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