Monday, April 19, 2010

Road Trip Cupcake Review

I've been meaning to try some of the local cupcake places and decided my weekly roadtrip up to Albany for work was as good a place as any to give one a try. I stopped at Petite Cafe, Home of the Stuffed Cupcakes. I quickly snabbed four and picked up my coworker at the train station and off we went.

Here are my choices:

Red Velvet: Delicious moist cake, I'd give the cake part 5 stars. The cream cheese icing was 99% cream cheese and could use a bit more powdered sugar to cut 5% more of the tart cheese taste.

Chocolate Caramel: Not too caramel-y and quite tasty. Solid cupcake.

Peanut Butter Blast: Both mine and my coworker's favorite cupcake by far. Nice moist cake, delish icing. Not too peanut-buttery dry either.

Banana Chocolate: Tasted like a muffin I would get from Starbucks, not even close to a cupcake. Dry and way to dense. Not a favorite and wouldn't order again.

My coworker and I weren't the only one's to enjoy roadtrip cupcakes! Portobello was given a little taste of peanut butter cupcake. I can tell you it didn't last long.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Good, the Bad and the absolutely adorable

On Friday April 9th, I ventured out to Cupcake Camp 2010. This was the first time I’ve ever baked something that wasn’t specifically for friends and family. It was a hectic crazy Friday with things blowing up at work like crazy, as usual. I also had my friend’s “I finally quit” happy hour to attend before the event.

I arrived with a friend and about 100 miniature fluffernutter cupcakes around 8pm (an hour late). The line wrapped around the corner. I muttered a quick “Thank God I baked” to my friend and we strolled in like VIPs, completely skipping the line. Phew. I was in the nick of time to enter the contest and dropped off a Chinese food container of 8 beautiful miniature cakes.

On the to the bar we went passing a few tables of authors chatting with fans and signing books. Once we got to the bar, we scoped out the scene and I opened up another container of cupcakes to share with those around me. Holy Macaroni! Within seconds I had hands attacking me left and right to snag a cupcake. Apparently since the event was advertised on all sorts of free NYC websites with the statement “You don't have to bake, remember for every dozen baked they need 11 more people to eat them, but bakers are always welcome.” There were probably more like 200 people for every baker and all the cupcakes had been snagged prior to 8pm. (I’m not knocking anyone for attending and am a huge proponent for trying new free events myself, that’s why I went, I just happen to love to bake too.) I passed out around 25 cupcakes, grabbed a beer and then decided to go attempt to try some other bakers goods.

Here’s where we get to the good and bad of it all. Typical NY: Uptown (Upstairs) was filled with people too good for the rest. I walked up to a table of people sitting with two boxes filled with at least a dozen cupcakes each and asked if they’d like to try one of mine if I could have one of theirs and got the following response “Oh I had one of your at the bar, they were good, but I already tried it so no thanks.” To which I replied – “I baked but didn’t get to try anyone else’s and was hoping you’d be willing to share” and was met with “I guess you should have gotten here earlier” Seriously? So I meandered to another table with a woman with three absolutely beautiful cupcakes and asked the same question and got the following response – “Oh these, they’re just for show, but I’ll take one of yours” At this point, I stopped sharing and was about to B-line for the door when my friend reminded me I had a full beer and downstairs was less crowded. Again typical NY: Downtown (downstairs) was filled with chill people just wanting to have a good time. We ended up sitting with the most awesome group of women (at least 3 of which baked) and had one of each of the cupcakes and we all had a huge tasting. We ended up laughing, eating, drinking and sharing with anyone who wanted a taste. The bitterness rolled off my shoulders and I ended up having a great time. When we were ready to go I had one container left of cupcakes – and over my dead body was I leaving it upstairs for the vultures, so I packed it away and decided to take it with me.

My friend and I headed back to midtown for one more brewski with our friend moving on to bigger and better in the corporate world and then I took the nice stroll to Penn Station to head back to the dirty Jerz. Along the way I passed out the remaining 8 cupcakes to 4 homeless men on the street who were extremely appreciative and so I ended the night on a high note and with a minor buzz. Not too shabby.

One other note to the organizers of cupcake camp: So many people made regular size cupcakes and there was sooo much waste scattered around the event. The cupcakes may have gone further if people were encouraged to bake mini's. I hate baking mini's, they're evil, but it makes sense for an event like this.

If you’d like to try baking these cupcakes yourself, please see the recipe below:

Fluffernutter Cupcakes
Since baking isn’t my day job – I love short cuts and used one with this recipe and it turned out great. Someone even said – “Mmm you can tell this isn’t box mix” Haha, fooled ya!

1 Yellow Cake Box mix and associated ingredients (eggs/water)

Bake as directed on box except substitute the oil for the same amount of peanut butter. I prefer organic but I’m sure it would turn out fine either way.

Fluffernutter Icing:
1 Cup Fluff
½ Cup Peanut Butter
1/3 Cup Butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1.5 cups Confectioner Sugar
3 Tbsp Milk

Combine Fluff, Peanut Butter and Butter in a mixer on medium. Beat in vanilla, confectioner sugar and milk slowly – mixing in between each addition. Add just enough milk to make frosting smooth and easy to spread.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Mini's

Small, cute and easy to pop in your mouth. On Friday I went out and bought my first mini-cupcake pans. On Saturday morning I learned to curse those little mini-pans. It seemed like never ending batter was filling those little devil pans. Eventually I gave up after making 120 little cakes and made three massive cupcakes to finish up the batter. Despite my frustration, they came out super delicious and cute as a button. See below. I used a white chocolate butter cream from food & wine mag to top vanilla, chocolate and swirl cupcakes.

White Chocolate Buttercream
SERVINGS: makes 2 3/4 cups

2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
12 ounces white chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy. Beat in the melted white chocolate. Add the confectioners' sugar and vanilla and beat at low speed, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl, until light and fluffy.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Here comes Peter Cotton Tail

So i'm responsible for bringing dessert for Easter. I'm very excited and think I am going to make a variety of mini-cupcakes. My husband has me on this fluff icing kick too, some i'm sure that will be involved.
Also, very exciting news. On April 9th in NYC is Cupcake Boot Camp. Its a gathering at a bar to eat cupcakes! FREE! You can bake or not bake. I submitted to bring Fluffernutter cupcakes. Right now the recipe is only in my head. Peanut butter cupcakes with a white choc fluff icing, and peanut butter chips on top. I'll post pics here if they materialize!
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