Sunday, 29 March 2009

Holy Cow Cupcakes

I was reading an article via Google news on Whoopie Pies (aka cupcakes evil cousin), which led me to Holy Cow Cupcakes' website. I just loved the name and had to check them out! I love their little blurb on their site:

Naturally every item that leaves our kitchen contains our secret ingredient: love. Because a cupcake made without love really isn't a cupcake at all.

Call me an old sap but that's how I think of cupcakes (and cooking in general I have to say!), which is why I don't get some of the sour faces in London cupcakerys sometimes..I'd love to work every day surrounded by cupcakes. Nothing makes me feel happier than baking..except maybe a hug (sorry my hangovers making me soppy!)

Btw, we saw whoopie pies in New York and Manny had said he wanted to try one but we just never got round to it as we were constantly full or trying to keep room for a cupcake!

Thanks to Erin for the pic of the Erin cupcake from Holy Cow!

Cupcakes must be stopped

Utter piffle from the Telegraph (nothing new there!)

Every so often, as the privileged occupier of a newspaper column, it falls to me to sound a warning note on a matter of the utmost national importance, and now we face a threat that must be tackled if in future we are all to sleep easier in our beds. I refer, of course, to the invasion of the American cupcake.

The cupcake, a mound of greasy sponge sagging under a grossly overweight hat of buttercream frosting, is an abomination. I fell for it once, or at least I was briefly seduced by the idea of it. I had watched the girls on Sex and the City tucking into cupcakes at New York's Magnolia bakery, and when I was in New York with my husband some years ago we went straight there and ordered the specialty. But even I couldn't manage to make it through the topping: it was so glutinously thick and sweet it made my teeth ache.

Now those very cupcakes are proliferating in fashionable bakeries right across Britain, sweating and stiffening in numerous shop windows. I wouldn't object, particularly, except that they appear to be driving out our own British native, the fairy cake, a thing of delicate glory. Where a third of the cupcake's body weight is composed of bulky frosting, the smaller fairy cake boasts only a thin, hard layer of icing atop its sponge: when married to a large cup of hot tea, it is as near to perfection as a small cake can come.

The cupcake is the culinary equivalent of the chunky, aggressive grey squirrel, pushing out its frailer rival: if we don't act now, fairy cakes will soon only be found in obscure, out-of-the-way tea-shops in the Outer Hebrides or the Isle of Wight. The cupcake is over-iced, overpriced and over here. It must be stopped.

again I say PIFFLE! As for greasy sponge??? I don't recall ever having a proper cupcake that tasted greasy - only the horrid "healthy" ones from Whole Foods which were full of oil. You can get fairy cakes in every supermarket in the UK - mass produced, full of additives to keep them in date for a month and tasting of nothing but sugar and more sugar in the royal icing. Cupcakes however are full of fresh ingredients, no additives and taste better...end of!

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Eat dessert first!

These tea towels seem to have been made just for me!

From Primark -which I generally only ever pop into on the off chance they have new cupcake items! All my tea towels are from there and all covered in cupcakes!

Punks love the pink cupcakes!

They look quite similar to the last lot and tasted just as good - although I think my frosting was even nicer this time - I whipped it for 8mins rather than 5 so it was even fluffier! Nothing better after a bad week at work than licking the frosting bowl!

Currently winging their way down to Plymouth with Terminal Decline and Dirty Love in a pink transit van!

The next lot will be a different colour I promise!

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Eating cupcakes in Hell's Kitchen

Tuesday was kinda deemed to be Manny's day as we were going to visit the USS Intrepid - something which I was kinda dreading, but it was ok...for the first few hours.

After many hours of wandering around looking at planes, helicopters, space shuttles, boats, Concorde's etc we took a wander around Hell's Kitchen to look for Amy's Bread as I knew they had a branch in HK.

Thankfully for our aching feet it didn't take long to find it (I was a whiz with the block system by then if I did say so myself!) - a really busy little store with lots of yummy goodies, both sweet and savoury, inside. Unfortunately it was too busy to get a seat, so we took away a couple of cupcakes to have with a coffee back at the B&C*. I got a yellow cake with pink frosting and Manny got a devils food cupcake with decadent chocolate silk're in Hell so you may as well be decadent!

My cupcake was one of the best I tried in NY, very soft flavoursome base with lots of really tasty, vanilla frosting. Manny's cake barely touched the sides so I know he enjoyed it ;)

Amy's Bread, Hells Kitchen, 672 Ninth Avenue, (Between 46th & 47th Streets)

*I keep mentioning our B&C in posts - this is because where we stayed was called the East Village Bed and Coffee - you can visit their website here, and read all about Mango the dog who I wanted to adopt - I've included a pic of him in this post as he was desperately trying to snaffle a lick of my Amy's cupcake! If you're ever visiting NY I cannot recommend this place highly enough - when we go back, hopefully for Halloween 2010 I know this is where I'll be staying!

Mango was a rescue dog and you can read all about his journey to NY from Culebra, Puerto Rico here. I hearted Mango and Miss Blanquita his little friend :)

Ciao for Now..and Barbie's giant cupcake

So I've nearly finished with my round up of New York cupcakes we ate, and, mostly, loved!

On the Monday we went to Times Square and visited Sephora, Sanrio and some other stores and , best of all, rode on the Toys R Us ferris wheel, in the My Little Pony carriage (There is pictorial evidence of this on my myspace page). We also saw the huge T-Rex there and it was Barbie's birthday so the entrance to her house had a giant cupcake outside :)

After all that shopping I needed a coffee, and a cupcake so on the way back to the B&C we popped into Ciao For Now, another cupcake cafe totally near where we were staying! It was a really quaint little cafe, with lots of quirky furniture, including a fish tank made from an ancient tv set.

We ordered the usual, a vanilla and a chocolate and a couple of coffees (again good coffee - do you get bad coffee in NY?). The cupcakes were ok if a little tasteless - the frosting tasted nice, but the base was a bit tasteless with the merest hint of vanilla. Manny's chocolate cupcake was very soft with lots of frosting and very chocolaty - just how he likes it.

Ciao for Now, 523 East 12th St, between Ave A and B

Monday, 23 March 2009

Batch...finally we try the bacon cupcake

On Sunday we were both feeling a bit hungover due to excess alcohol consumption at the Double Down Saloon (moto: you puke you so we decided to make good use of the sunshine and warmer climate to check out Shack Shack in Madison Square Park as this was one place I really didn't want to miss off our eating list! Not to go on about non-cupcake stuff too much but if you're in NY and you like burgers and milkshakes all I can say is go there! Its fab! And a great way to cure a hangover -their vanilla milkshake was so thick and creamy and scrumptious!

One of the cupcake shops I definitely wanted to try was Batch so we wandered around, looking in stores, including Williams Sonoma, sooooo overpriced but nice, and then popped into Batch to get some cupcakes for back at the B&C later. The store was really little and cute, with room for a few people to eat in and a really great range of cupcakes to choose from - I was restrained and only ordered 3 - a vanilla bean for me, a dragon devil's food for Manny and a caramel bacon cupcake to share. Yes, with real bacon!

The vanilla cupcake was really REALLY good. There were lots of specks of vanilla throughout the cake and frosting which I really like to see - its the sign of a good cupcake! Manny loved his devils food cupcake - even I was nearly swayed to have one as it looked simply gorgeous! The bacon however was a different story - I tried a small bit (with a bit of bacon sprinkle) and good god it was AWFUL, really salty and, well, bacony! The caramel was salted caramel, I think, or it may just have been the salitness of the bacon...and I hate salt caramel..yuk! Just WRONG. Manny, the human garbage can, ate it, but said afterwards he wouldn't eat another. I think bacon is best left to sandwiches with ketchup!

Just a thought - this should perhaps be renamed BLURGH ..finally we try the bacon cupcake!

Penny Licks - Williamsburg

So I'm finally getting round to nearly finishing off the cupcakes in New York blog!

On the Saturday after a seriously yummy breakfast from Ess a Bagel (pic included even though its not a cupcake I had to share!), we hopped on the Subway to Williamsburg, the capital of hipsters in NY. After a wander round Williamsburg we chanced upon Penny Licks. Oh ok I was deliberately looking for it but I had the perfect excuse for needing a cupcake - a bird had plopped on me on the way to breakfast so I was distressed!

Penny Licks is an ultra cute little vegan store - it sells ice cream and other vegan treats. It also sells non vegan stuff and being the doofus I am I forgot to check whether our cupcakes were vegan or not.

We had a couple of (really nice) coffees and the usual 2 cupcakes - vanilla for me, chocolate for Manny - to be fair that was pretty much the only choice for cupcakes anyhow! My base was really nice and moist, however the frosting was a bit too creamy/oily, which makes me think it was vegan and had oil in the frosting or something similar. Manny as usual enjoyed his chocolate cupcake - it was creamy and chocolaty!

We went back into Penny Licks (no website) after a visit to the Brooklyn Brewery and to Mugs Ale House extreme beer fest and bought two HUGE cookies (our dinner that night)! The star were really friendly, asking us about the UK and how much things cost there, and the cookies were much nicer than the cupcakes - I don't have any pics though as I was a bit "merry" by that point!

Penny Licks, 158 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Saturday, 21 March 2009

I am a master baker

Well not quite but I did manage to make some exceptionally yummy cupcakes tonight following the recipe from my gorgeous Hummingbird Bakery cookbook.

I think that perhaps the cupcake cafes of London should be worrying about the downturn in their profits following my discovery that I can bake 12 yummy cupcakes for the price of a couple, although if I continue to home bake, and eat, then any money I save on cupcakes will be spent in the clothes shops of London as my girth

I highly recommend the book -the cake is very moist and melt in the mouth -and the frosting is simply divine!!! And it's not just me blowing my own trumpet honest...I'd be the first to admit if they tasted ropey!

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Baked by Melissa...dissapointment by Anne

The NY cupcakes continue...

After a trip to the Ugg store (It was my birthday I needed insoles for my Uggs as the amount we were walking in NY wore mine out - and I may have treated myself to a new pair of boots at the same time!) we were dragging ourselves to E Houston to jump in a cab back to our B&C when I spotted a teeny tiny hole in the wall with cupcakes on offer. I was totally excited to see they were Baked by Melissa cupcakes as I wanted to try them after blogging about them previously.

We got a box with 6 flavours - cookies and cream, tie dye, red velvet, smores, cookie dough, peanut butter cup - they're mini (about a mouthful each so in reality this amounted to about 2 cupcakes). Unfortunately the cupcakes got smooshed on the way home - there was a breaking Ugg boot bag incident and everything kinda fell...however even the smooshyness of the cakes wasn't going to put me off, I had a cup of tea and wanted a cupcake... I tried the tie dye one and immediately had a sugar rush, and not in a good way. They just tasted of pure sugar, no distinguishable flavour, just sugar and maybe some oil thrown in...pah. Manny tried the red velvet and the cookies and cream (I think..they were v.squished) and even though his tolerance for sugar is greater than mine he couldn't' manage to eat them.

Cute idea but not tasty! kinda like the pig candy which I've included a pic of just so you can see it really exists!

Baked by Melissa, 529 Broadway, NY 10012

Sweet Sugar Sunshine...NY blogging continues

I have been meaning to continue my NY cupcake update, however the "a" key fell off my laptop and I had to wait to get a new keyboard so I could type properly again!

Back to the cupcakes -on the Friday (my birthday) after brunch at the infamous Katz Deli (where Harry met Sally..yes, yes, YES!!) we had a wander through Essex St Market, via Ronnie Sue's for some Pig Candy for Manny (yuk) and then we went to Sweet Sugar Sunshine to get me a birthday cupcake - I was still officially stuffed following my corned beef sandwich but I always manage to find room for a cupcake!

I had a sunshine - a yellow cake with pink frosting (if there's a choice I generally choose pink) and Manny opted for an ooey gooey - a chocolate cupcake with a chocolate almond frosting. SSS was busy but we managed to bag a table at the window of the cute little cafe and had a coffee to go with our cupcakes. The cupcakes were as good as they looked - mine had a gorgeous soft melt in the mouth base and the frosting was really yummy, nice and thick and gooey! Manny's cake was really nice and tasted of marzipan (that'll be the almond - I think there was a layer of almond jam in the frosting but I'm not sure as I only had a teeny bit!). He said they were his second favourite after Butter Lane.

And I just HAD to include a picture of Manny's pastrami sandwich from Katz's - I know its not a cupcake so please forgive my food porn moment!

Sweet Sugar Sunshine, 126 Rivington Street, NY 10002

Katz Deli, 205 E Houston St, NY 10002

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Guiness cupcakes

There seems to be no better day than today to share Petra from Choc Star's Guiness cupcake recipe! We had these last year and they're fab!

These cakes always attract a lot of attention on the countertop – and cries of amazement that they actually have Guinness in them.

250ml Guinness
250g slightly salted butter
80g cocoa
400g caster sugar
1 x 142ml pot sour cream
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
270g plain flour
21⁄2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

300g cream cheese
150g icing sugar
150ml double cream

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Line 2 X 12 hole muffin tins with large muffin cases.
Pour the Guinness into a large saucepan, add the butter in small pieces and heat until it all melts together. Turn off the heat but leave the pot on the pan.
Whisk in the cocoa and sugar. Beat together the sour cream, eggs and vanilla extract then mix into to the pan. Finally whisk in the flour and bicarbonate of soda. Do this little by little so you avoid lumps of flour in the batter.
Now divide the mixture between the muffin tins – I use a piping bag because the mix is pretty wet. If no bag then a jug works fine.
Place tins in the oven and bake for 18-20 mins, or until they are nicely puffed up and a skewer comes out clean (not looking like it's dragging half the mix with it).
Cool on racks and remove the cakes from the tins when they're firm/cool.
For the icing put the cream cheese, icing sugar and cream into a bowl. Mix together slightly so the icing sugar doesn't blow all over the place when whisking. Whisk with an electric whisk until you get a good, thick consistency and there's no danger of the icing dripping over the sides of the cupcakes.
Ice the cakes – nice big, billowing slathers to give the illusion of a small, sweet, edible Guinness.
Eat whenever you're ready but there's nothing quite like a warm cupcake topped with the cool frosting….
Thanks to Petra for the cupcakes and the pic!

More cupcake shopping

It's taken a while to load up the pics - and they're a bit pants sorry!

The mug - with the cute sprinkles inside was only £2 from Next. I can't find this particular mug online but they do a set of others with cupcakes online if you can't get to the store!

The Mother's Day card is also from Next and the pen next to it (you can just make out a cupcake on it if you look hard!) is from Paperchase - it's part of their funny food range which also includes a bag and a recipe file which I think I just have to go buy! And finally the magnets are also from Paperchase - seriously that shop is just full of cute!

Monday, 16 March 2009

Mmmm Baileys

I may try and get to Selfridges tomorrow to see if they have any of these gorgeous sounding Lola's cupcakes, but I doubt I'll make it...damn work! St Patrick's day is the PERFECT excuse to drink/eat Baileys!

If anyone tries them let me know!

March 17th is Saint Patrick's Day and Lola's has created a special cupcake to celebrate! We love this new rich chocolate cupcake filled and topped with delicious Bailey's Irish Cream icing and a Shamrock created especially for Lola's. You can also choose from any of our other flavours, which will all be decorated for St Patricks Day. Your order is hand delivered with a personal gift note. Available from the 10th to the 17th March. "For each petal on the shamrock This brings a wish your way - Good health, good luck, and happiness For today and every day. ~Author Unknown"

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Could you?

I read Vice Magazine to keep up with the hipsters shennanigans (NSFW has pics of the breast milking!!), however haven't seen the latest issue and their article "Hello Titty" where they compare breast milk cupcakes with cows milk ones, so thanks to Serious Eats for posting about it.

we forced our friend Patrick to do a taste test: Breast-milk cupcakes vs. some regular old cow-milk cupcakes. He was hesitant, but we were like, “Suck it up, wimp!”

After quietly chewing for a few minutes, he whispered, “I… I can’t tell any difference at all.” But we said, “No, you have to choose one.” So he held up the cupcake in his right hand and said, “This one is vaguely tastier.” And guess what, it was the boobcake! Breast milk officially wins!

Cute overload!

Not a cupcake but I just had to share the cuteness!

Thanks to Robyn Lee for the pic and Serious Eats for sharing!!

I heart Butter Lane!

Following Big Booty and a lengthy walk (in all we walked over 100miles in 7 days!), we popped to Butter Lane for some cupcakes to have with a cup of tea in our B&C, (which if you're ever staying in NY I highly recommend -also Butter Lane and Ciao for Now are both less than 5mins walk away!)

Butter Lane's logo is "The better cupcake" and they aint lying! When you enter their cupcakery you are offered tastings of their frostings - in many flavours and in both French and American style - we sampled the coconut (yum) and strawberry (v.nice!). We opted for our usual 2 classics to test them, a vanilla for me, a chocolate for Manny, both with American frosting. And they were GOOD! In fact they would rate as one of my favourite cupcakes ever. The cake was incredibly moist with a really nice flavour and texture and as for the frosting I could've eaten it by the tub! You could see the flecks of vanilla running through it - utterly fantastic!

Butter Lane only made me want to move to the LES even more!!

Butter Lane, 123 E 7th St, NY

The New York cupcake round up begins...Big Boooty cupcakes

I heart New York even more than cupcakes. Seriously I'd give up cupcakes forever to move there and that would take a lot of willpower as there are cupcakes everywhere! While there we tried cupcakes from 9 different places - we were never going to manage to try all forty plus that I'd found and the ones we had were mostly v.good!

First up on our second day in NY was the Big Booty Bread Company. As we weren't that hungry following a hearty Ukrainian breakfast at Veselka (and to be honest I was still a bit stuffed after my banana and walnut pancakes from Clinton Street Baking Co on the Weds..the only thing I ate on the day of arrival...and even then I only ate half, Manny munched the rest!) we opted to share 2 cupcakes. According to Chowhounders Big Booty makes the best red velvet cupcake in NY. I can't say I agree...the cake itself was v.small and burnt, like it'd had shrunk in the baking and the frosting was too cheesy and sweet. Manny liked the red velvet but he has a v.sweet tooth, although he did say it wasn't one of the best he'd tried. The other flavour we shared was Dulce de leche and this was a much better cake. Base had a lovely texture and the frosting was tasty but again v.sweet, you could feel the sugar rush. I love dulce de leche but not even sure if I could've eaten a whole one of these myself!

All in all, Big Booty is a cute place to pop into if you're in the neighbourhood for a coffee and cake but not worth schlepping over town for! If I went again I'd try one of their infamous dulce de leche buns rather than their cupakes I think!

Big Booty Bread Co
261 W.23rd St, Ny

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Shopping to cheer myself up

I'm still missing New York so I went shopping to cheer myself up today, which led me to Next homestore in Tottenham Court Road and this ultra cute shelf unit! Unfortunately they didnt' have it in store so I had to order it online - well I tried but their site isn't working properly so I had to order it on the telephone which proved to be quite an ordeal (all I can say is their non-English call centre is not good!) but on Friday I shall have this lovely item delivered, and soon after (Manny's DIY skills permitting) it will be hanging in my kitchen.

Cute as a cupcake!

Next also have bedding with cupcakes on but only up to double size and we have a king (pah), I may have to get the curtains though - I got a mug there too - pics to follow!

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Mac sugarsweet collection

I'm back from NY (boo) and will be blogging about the cupcakes I ate in the next few days but thought I'd share this in the meantime...the new Mac sugarsweet collection.

Thanks to Cakespy for alerting me to it :)