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Archive for May, 2011

Eating cupcakes is one of my favorite things to do. But, there’s more to it than just eating cupcakes. There’s a whole experience behind the cupcake craze, and visiting the bake shop is an important element. Every shop is different – the atmosphere, ambiance, cupcake selection, people, design, etc, etc. I believe eating cupcakes at the original shop is similar to enjoying a culinary experience at a prized restaurant.

You can imagine my joy for my first trip to a Sprinkles Cupcakes shop. For those who have read some of my past posts, you can recall my first Sprinkles experience. It was nothing short of amazing. So, the top item on my agenda in my weekend getaway was to visit the new Sprinkles store in Georgetown.

Taste
Cake
The madagascar bourbon vanilla cupcake burst with pure, homemade vanilla flavor. It was moist and had that “melt-in-your-mouth” magic. However, in the very center, it was a bit chewy and undercooked.

Frosting
The “creamy vanilla frosting” as they advertised was exactly what I got. The buttercream was creamy, silky, and extremely smooth. It was similar to having a velvet sheet of frosting dancing across my tongue.

Presentation
This cupcake was covered in white sprinkles. Although it looked elegant, it took away from the best part of the cupcake. The sprinkles were yummy (the thin, crunchy, sweet kind), but I would prefer the signature single sprinkle placed in the center. Also, the frosting was spread uneven on top. It looked sloppy.

Sweet Endings
The cupcake was a wonderful combination, and the store experience exceeded my expectations. Not only does Sprinkles bake unique, delicious cupcakes, but they’ve established a strong, lasting brand. I’ve been so impressed by how well they pay attention to the small details. Once you walk into the store until you walk out, you know you are enjoying Sprinkles Cupcakes.

My complete Sprinkles experience was one that I won’t forget. If only they would open up a store in Kansas City, I could enjoy them more frequently!

Sprinkles Cupcakes
www.sprinkles.com

Finally, we meet!

Inside Sprinkles!

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It has been my philosophy that everyone deserves a cake for their birthday. When I was a child, I remember getting to pick out the theme and design of my birthday cake. Every year, I got so excited to look through the book of cakes at our local grocery store. I was enamored by all the choices and how pretty and delicious they looked. Picking out my birthday cake is a cherished memory of mine, and to this day, selecting my cake is my favorite part of my special day.

Times have changed and I can’t possibly eat a whole cake to myself. So, I happily opted for cupcakes. Lucky for me, a sister’s getaway weekend was planned the same weekend as my birthday. I would be picking up my sisters in DC, which meant one important thing – I could get cupcakes from Crumbs Bake Shop from their new location in Arlington.

In honor of my big day, I choose the Happy Birthday cupcake.

Taste
Cake
This cake was a vanilla cake with rainbow sprinkles mixed inside. Their cakes are baked perfectly – moist, fluffy, flavorful, and a balanced consistency. I enjoyed the rainbow sprinkles confetti for that festive touch!

Frosting
I was fortunate to have both types of frosting on my cupcake. On top was cream cheese frosting that was thick and exceptionally smooth. The edge was frosting with rainbow sprinkles that added a fun celebration, which surprisingly the texture didn’t distract from the cake itself. A dollop of vanilla buttercream was filled in the center. Just a little bit of extra happiness!!

Presentation
If you haven’t stepped inside a Crumbs shop before, you are missing out on some of the best cupcake art I’ve seen. Each cupcake is decorated to the max, and my birthday cupcake was no exception. The rainbow sprinkle edge plus the yellow rosette in the center was delightful! When seeing a cupcake this beautiful it’s just too pretty to eat! (don’t worry, that didn’t stop me for long!)

All the beautiful cupcake art!


Sweet Endings
The best part of my cupcake is it came with a birthday candle. They place it in the center, so once you’re ready to sing “happy birthday”, the candle is secured and hidden. I used to carry birthday candles in my purse. You never knew when you might have to celebrate a birthday! But, this is an ingenious idea.

Crumbs has exploded as a company! Their expanding shop locations, e-commerce business, and debut on the stock market, this company will be one to watch closely in the upcoming years. I blew out my candle in a wish to them!

Crumbs Bake Shop
www.crumbs.com

Birthday time! I'm the big 2-5!


The sisters with our cupcakes!

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Cupcake shops can be found all across the world. A few months ago on my trip to Spain, I took my search for cupcakes to new lengths.

I was disappointed by the lack of bakeries that served cupcakes. With a cupcake shop almost on every corner in the States, I was expecting to get my fill of cupcakes. Now, don’t get me wrong – there were PLENTY of other delicious treats to be tasted. But, cupcakes were rare. Walking around the streets of Granada, in the Andalucia region of Spain, I stumbled across a cupcake. Stopping dead in my tracks, with my gelato in hand, I shrieked with joy. At last, I finally found what I’ve been searching for!

Walking in, we were greeted by a cute, young Spanish woman. I started looking at all the cupcake choices, and she soon realized that I wasn’t Spanish and spoke very little. She pointed over to a huge box that had lots of cupcakes to choose from. This box was brought in by a local baker, making her rounds around the city.

After discussing the choices with the young women, I chose a little vanilla cake with buttercream frosting.

Taste
Cake
The cake had a vanilla and almond flavor. The cupcake resembled a little bundt cake. Golden brown edges, crisp edges, and sprinkled with a little bit of sugar during baking.

Frosting
This was extremely sugary! It had a very grainy texture, and was too sweet for my tastes!

Presentation
This was a simply decorated cupcake. The frosting was colored to a pale green color and embellished with a few sprinkles. They also use cute cupcake wrappers for an added touch.

Sweet Endings
After getting a cupcake from that store, we walked by another bakery that had cupcakes. Investigating further, these cupcakes looked very familiar. I soon realized that all the cupcakes are made by a local baker and then distributed to several stores across the city. I truly believe that my cupcake came fresh out of a local’s oven and into my hands. This is homemade at its best!

It’s apparent that the cupcake craze has not hit Spain. I was just so ecstatic to find a place! But, who knows, next time I visit Spain (and yes, there will be a next time!), I might be greeted with many cupcake shops!

Here are a few of my favorite photos from Granada!

The Alhambra

Me and Katie with the Alhambra

The historical neighborhood of Albayzín

For more information on Granada, visit www.andalucia.com

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Some of you might be thinking that I’m a Gigi’s Cupcakes stalker, and I very well may be! This past weekend, I got to try my third Gigi’s cupcake since Gigi’s opened a franchise in Overland Park recently. Considering the last cupcake I had from on her franchises I wasn’t impressed with, I was eager to try another location.

Upon walking in the store, I was again in frosting heaven. The three-inch frosting standard graced the top of every little cupcake. With so many beautiful cakes, my choice was difficult to make.

After much deliberation, I chose the Gluten-Free White Velvet Cupcake.


Taste
Cake
This was my first real gluten-free cupcake and I was unsure what to expect, but I was so excited to try! The cake tasted earthy, and a little grainy, and its texture was chewy and crumbly. However, after I scraped some of the frosting off, I could see a major dip in the center. That could have been caused by the weight of the frosting, however it looked more to be the shape of the original cupcake. I’ve never attempted gluten-free baked goods, so that may be a feature due to lack of typically baking agents.

Frosting
Of course, I had WAY more frosting than I needed. And, that’s saying a lot from a person who eats frosting by the spoonful! The white chocolate frosting was creamy and delectable! It wasn’t too sweet, too buttery, or too thick—it was a flawless blend of frosting.

See? I could frost at least two other cupcakes with all that frosting!

Presentation
I still get overwhelmed with the height of this cupcake! Next time, I’ll have to physically measure its height. For this cupcake, less really was more… just a little dusting of powdered sugar with a white chocolate piece adorned on top.

Sweet Endings
Surprisingly enough, I really enjoyed the gluten-free cupcake. As contradictory as it may sound, I almost preferred its grainy texture than to some gluten-loaded cupcake. It boasted a unique flavor that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Also, I was extremely impressed with this Gigi’s location. Not only did I enjoy their cupcakes, I noticed that they served The Roasterie coffee. It was refreshing to see a local influence in their store.

Third time is definitely the charm. I hope I can continue to visit other Gigi’s franchises throughout the country!

Gigi’s Cupcakes of Overland Park, Kansas
6780 W. 135th Street
Overland Park, Kansas 66223
Ph: 913-814-3883

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Yes, I know… April is over. And boy, was it a busy month for me. But, that doesn’t mean I didn’t taste any new cupcakes! The Sweet Tooth, a specialty bakery in Blue Springs offered me a set of their cupcakes to try. How dare I even think about saying no! Little did I know, I was getting a April Fool’s Day treat!

Trevor, one of the owners behind The Sweet Tooth, was let into the kitchen to do some baking. Some of his creations weren’t the typical cupcake flavor combinations. Here is what he came up with:

Red Velvet Cupcake with Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting
Apple Cinnamon Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Fresh Chopped Strawberry Cupcake with Whipped Cream Frosting
Lemon Cupcake with Cherry Cream Cheese Frosting

Let’s see how they turned out…

Red Velvet with Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting
Chocolate buttercream? Really? At first glance, this doesn’t add up. Cream cheese frosting is always on a red velvet cupcake. But, as Trevor pointed out to me, why not use chocolate buttercream to complement the cocoa in the cake. Surprisingly, the frosting worked. The hint of cocoa in the cake was enhanced by the chocolate frosting. The frosting itself was a little grainy. But it was the type of buttercream that tickles the tongue.

Apple Cinnamon Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting
I personally didn’t think there was anything abnormal about this flavor combination! Little pieces of real apple graced the cupcake with enough cinnamon for flavor without overpowering. The cream cheese frosting was smooth, creamy and featured a great flavor. I loved this combination! I could eat this everyday as a breakfast cupcake!

Fresh Chopped Strawberry Cupcake with Whipped Cream Frosting
This was my least favorite cupcake. Whipped cream frosting is not for me. Although, I’m sure it’s a healthier alternative, it’s not my favorite. The cake featured fresh chopped strawberries which created an extra-moist cake. Also, the strawberry flavor in the frosting was a bit off. Overall, I didn’t care for this cupcake.

Lemon Cupcake with Cherry Cream Cheese Frosting
This cupcake was the one I held the most skepticism. I don’t like cherries… Cherry flavoring? Yes! Real big cherries? No. Just one bite into this cupcake was all it took – I fell in love! The cream cheese frosting was smooth, creamy and had a perfect balance of cherry flavor. The lemon cake was moist with a bursting lemon flavor. My mom makes the best homemade cheesecake. She adds lemon rind for a special twist. I never put the cherries on top, but I’ll add the goup for a bit of cherry flavor. This cupcake was just like eating a piece of that cheesecake. Yummy!

The Sweet Endings
From most to least favorite, here is my picks:

1. Lemon Cupcake with Cherry Cream Cheese Frosting (no competition!)
2. Apple Cinnamon Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting
3. Red Velvet Cupcake with Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting
4. Fresh Chopped Strawberry Cupcake with Whipped Cream Frosting

I believe that not all of these combinations was an April Fool’s joke. Unfortunately, the flavors were only available for a limited time. Hopefully, they receive positive feedback and will make these part of their regular (or at least seasonal) line.

The Sweet Tooth is currently a home-based bakery. However, plans are in the works to open a store. I would definitely make the trip over to Blue Springs to eat more of their cupcakes. I was very impressed by the quality taste and the presentation of each cupcake!

To read more about the April Fool’s cupcakes, check out The Sweet Tooth’s blog.

The Sweet Tooth
www.sweettoothkc.com

Here are two of my roommates enjoying the yummy cupcakes! (I couldn’t eat them all by myself!)

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