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Sprinkles update

Better late than never…..Maple bacon (Sept 2013) & Lemon meringue (July 2013)

See how they rate

bacon

More new Sprinkles cupcakes

Just when I thought I had made my last trip to Sprinkles this year they released a new flavor… margarita! Sounds good right…wrong. Some things shouldn’t be messed with.

Also, following in the footsteps of In-N-Out, Sprinkles decided to introduce secret off the menu flavors. First on the list – Neapolitan: vanilla cake with strawberry frosting dipped in chocolate.

See how they ranked here

round21

*these cupcakes are from May 2013…better late than never…

Irish Soda Bread with Cranberries

DSC01830

Around St. Patty’s day I decided to make a sweet Irish soda bread. I followed the recipe below but added a heaping 1/2 cup of cranberries and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Next time I’ll add a bit more sugar. Turned out super tasty. Tell me that doesn’t look good…

Recipe link

Recipe w/caraway seeds

DSC01832

 

New Sprinkles cupcake flavors!

Last weekend we made a trip to Sprinkles to try the new Cuban coffee cupcake. While there I also picked up a vegan red velvet (this was recommended by a reader) and a triple cinnamon. I don’t know how this (triple cinnamon) slipped by me but it must be relatively new because they don’t list it on the menu posted on the wall in the store and it’s available 7 days a week!

Check out how they ranked here

round20

*Cuban is gone April 28th,2013

5 year Blogaversary! Chocolate-Stout Brownies

beerbrownie

Something sweet for this special occasion. This was deliciously dense, chocolaty and moist. You won’t be able to eat more than a tiny square. Soooo rich! More like fudge than a brownie.

brownies

Note: hit the foil with some cooking spray to ease the removal.

Recipe link
Bon Appetit Magazine / February 2012

Belated 4 year Blogaversary


Yesterday marked the 4 year anniversary of Bay Area Foodie. I meant to do something special like go get a Jumbaco (j/k) then completely forgot. So on my way home from work today I stopped by a new cupcake shop in Campbell called Frost Cupcake Factory.

Luckily it was Mini Monday so I could get a bunch of flavors to try. I chose the following…

Mocha Java – stay away from anything with meringue butter cream frosting…has an unpleasant greasy/waxy consistency.

Salt ‘n sweet – should be called super salty! Probably better in the large size.

Frostfetti – frosting was overly sweet.

Maui coconut dream – good flavors but it has the dreaded meringue frosting.

Rose velvet – supposed to taste like red velvet but didn’t.

Snowball – THIS WAS THE BEST! Chocolate cake with marshmallow frosting and covered in coconut. WINNER!

The snowball will have me coming back for more.

Website: http://www.frostcupcakefactory.com/

Coconut Macaroons


For holiday gifts this year I chose to make the 2011 Food & Wine magazine coconut macaroons because I thought it was going to be quick and easy. I was wrong. My first batch was a disaster. I tried to half the recipe because it said it made 40 and I only needed 20. What resulted was a bunch of coconut pancake-like cookies.

Round 1 = EPIC FAIL

I tried again and made the full amount because it was obvious I didn’t have enough coconut. Whoever “tested and perfected” this recipe at F&W mag didn’t do a good job.

Reason 1 – The recipe doesn’t come close to making 40 macaroons as stated, it was more like 25.
Reason 2 -Don’t bake for 25 minutes! If you don’t want badly burnt cookies watch them carefully once they hit 10 minutes in the oven …anything over 15 and you are in trouble.
Reason 3 – There was no mention that the macaroons may run during baking so if you want them to look like what you see in a store (round balls) then you will have to trim the edges.
Reason 4 – They say to stick the finished product in the fridge for about 5 minutes for the chocolate to set. It takes a good 20 min.

In the end they still tasted killer but in order to not have to doctor them up to look presentable they need either more coconut or less sweetened condensed milk.

Recipe link
Food & Wine magazine, Dec. 2011

Strawberry Blintz Ebelskivers


The ebelskivers are back and better than ever! Imagine a blintz and a pancake all rolled into one. These were over the top good. We again saved a little time by using the Williams Sonoma mix. The recipe suggests using 1 tsp. of filling but use close to 2 …you’ll thank me.


Recipe link

Ebelskivers from the past…
Chocolate Ebelskivers
Cinnamon-Bun Ebelskiver

Strawberry and Rhubarb Crumble


For the first time we received a few stalks of rhubarb in our CSA. I had never cooked it before so went on a search for a recipe. There was a trend to use it in a compote or baked good (pie/cake) and almost always with strawberries. I decided to go with the easiest and fastest …. a crumble.

It turned out really tasty and super sweet. Rhubarb looks like red celery and I didn’t taste it raw but it’s supposed to be tart, so to compensate the recipe used a lot of sugar. With a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream (we tried both) it makes for the perfect summer dessert.

Modifications we made: we used walnuts and added a little corn starch to the filling to keep it from getting runny per the comments others made.

Recipe link
Bon Appétit  | May 2010

5 Minute Focaccia Mix


Mike’s childhood friend, Claudia Pruett, dropped off samples of her new product called 5 Minute Focaccia Mix. We received all 4 flavors (original,rosemary,raisin,choc chip) but decided to go with rosemary for our first time.

only 3 ingredients needed: mix,sparkling water,oil

Here is a video of us making the fragrant and yummy rosemary bread.

The process was fast & easy but the end result although tasty was a little thinner than expected. Along with the mix Claudia gave us some focaccia she had prepared and it was wonderfully thick and spongy. We are attributing the difference to the rising time because she said she lets the dough rise overnight and we only let it sit for 4.5 hours. It probably needs 7-10.

Focaccia can result in a very oily texture. We wanted to try and make it a little less so we used half the amount of oil called for. The dough did soak up a lot of the oil so next time we will probably use a little more than half.

Buy the A Tavola Together 5 minute focaccia mix  here! If you’re local I’ve also seen it at the Los Gatos NapaStyle store.

Check out her cookbook too!

Website: http://www.atavolatogether.com/

Mrs. DeLish’s Cupcake Boutique


A friend (Thanks Julie!) brought Mike and I a sampling of cupcakes from Mrs. Delish’s cupcake boutique. She felt they were better than Sprinkles….

Here is what we got:


Red Velvet
– good frosting & cake but tasted like a cupcake I could make at home.
Coconut/Coconut – best of the bunch..loved the toasted coconut on top. I’d even say better than Sprinkles.
Espresso – ok flavor but I wouldn’t pay to have it again.
Cherry Bomb – really didn’t taste like anything at all except peanuts which coated the top. (I chose this flavor because I liked the name. I had just seen the Joan Jett movie “The Runaways” – As we ate this you could here me chant ch ch ch ch ch cherry bomb!)

Overall better than Sprinkles…not a chance.

Website: http://www.mrsdelishs.com/

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies


Whoopie! Mike gave me this Red Velvet whoopie pie mix for xmas. We decided to wait and make them for a party we were attending because I didn’t want to be tempted to eat them all… which I would have easily done.


The directions were easy to follow and they turned out like expected (although a bit stingy with the filling mixture – I could have used a tad more). They were a hit at the party.

You can pick up a batch at Sur la table

S’more Pie

We had an end of the summer BBQ and needed a dessert. S’more pie immediately came to mind. I had seen a couple versions online and I ultimately went with Smitten Kitchen’s take. I was limited in time so I did get some help from the Keebler elves for the pie crust (which I wouldn’t recommend because it was too thin and you could barely taste it). The marshmallow topping was grand but took much longer than the 5 minutes written in the recipe –more like 15. I almost gave up after the majority of the hot sugar got stuck to the side of my mixer but I just let it beat on and it turned out perfect, but maybe a little less sweet due to the loss of sugar on the bowl. I was amazed at the outcome.


The pie was a hit at the party although next time I would use a milk chocolate to get a more campfire Hersey like feel… this was rather dark in flavor.

Recipe link

Momofuku Crack Pie


Everyone under the sun has swooned over the “crack pie” from Momofuku Milk Bar in New York. When I saw the recipe in Bon Appetit I thought I better make it since I have no plans to visit NYC in the near future. I gotta say I was a bit worried about the lack of ingredients. All it really called for was butter, eggs, sugar, oats and cream. How could that be a pie? It sounded more like a cookie so I looked around the web to see how other people’s pies turned out. The only thing I found was a bunch of inconsistencies. There are many recipes on the net and none are the same. Baking times & temp to ingredients differ. I think pastry chef Christina Tosi doesn’t really want us all to know how to make her addictive pie! But in the end it turned out fabulous. It smelled and tasted like a gooey buttery caramel oat bar.

Tip: I read that some people complained that the pie was a runny pool of butter. You have to cook it for at least 30 minutes AND let the pie rest 2 hours then sit in the fridge preferably overnight. Don’t be impatient…it’s worth the wait!

Also, the BA recipe said to bake for a total of 50 minutes. I did it for 45 because the online comments said it was a bit overcooked. Next time I’ll probably bake for 35 (25 min on 350° & 10 min on 325°) just for a tad more gooeyness.

Recipe link
Bon Appetit Magazine / September 2010

Lemon Cake


Mike adores anything lemon. So when we needed to use up 10 lemons from our new burgeoning lemon tree I decided to make Ina Garten’s lemon cake. I had bookmarked the recipe eons ago due to its stellar reviews. The cake turned out delicious. It’s a cross between cake and pound cake. It was tangy and sweet. Most of the cakes zip came from the glaze so if you want to tone down the tartness use less lemon juice in the glaze or omit it all together.

Tip: Don’t make this too far ahead of when you want to serve because it did dry out after a day.

Recipe link
Food Network, Barefoot Contessa / 2001

The Kupcake Factory

kupcakes

banana on top

Would I pass up trying a gourmet cupcake shop? Hell, no! The Kupcake factory is a chain in New Orleans and they just happen to have a location down the street from Cochon. By the look of the place I really wasn’t expecting much. The decor/presentation was lacking.

We bought 2 cupcakes: banana and hummingbird (banana, pineapple and walnut cake with cream cheese frosting). I was pleasantly surprised with the banana. It was the first time that I’d had a cupcake that is cut in half and frosting is layered in the middle. This made the cake a little messy to eat but worth the trouble. The banana flavor was on point. The hummingbird, although it had a cute name, didn’t taste like anything at all. Conclusion… I wasn’t blown away but, I’d come back to try some more.

Website: http://www.thekupcakefactory.com/

Kupcake Factory Gourmet Cupcakes on Urbanspoon

Sprinkles Rankings update – Summer Cherry

Cherry cupcakes… Good idea or bad? See here

round 11

Corn-Bacon Spoon Bread

spoonbread
We served this up as a side dish at our 4th of July Fried Chicken dinner. This is not your typical corn bread, it’s light and airy more like a frittata because you use a lot of beaten eggs. It’s also not sweet. I think I would have liked it a tad more sweet so I will add more sugar next time. Nice alternative to the norm.

Recipe link

Sprinkles update…Cinco de Mayo

It’s that time again! My thoughts…. here.

round-8

Chocolate Bouchons

chocbouchons

OMG! These are just like the real deal. I didn’t think Chef Keller would put his name on a product of poor quality. He teamed up with Williams- Sonoma to produce the iconic chocolate Bouchon mix and mold. The mix easily made 24 sensational corks.

bouchonmoldbouchonmold2

Tasty tip: If you want big Bouchons fill the molds to the top, if not fill them just a tad under the lip. The mold works great and the little bad boys slide right out.

Kara’s vs. Sprinkles — Cupcake Throwdown

sprinkvskara

Sprinkles (left) vs. Kara's (right)

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View from the Top

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Check out that cake to frosting ratio

The biggest cupcake rivalry that exists in Silicon Valley is Kara’s vs. Sprinkles!

As mentioned in the past I work in walking distance to Santana row. Kara’s cupcakes opened in October. I was actually kinda excited because I currently have to travel 25 minutes to get my cupcake fix from Sprinkles. When I arrived I was surprised to find a shop the size of a bread box. There is a counter and the door. You can fit maybe two people inside comfortably. I was all jazzed to try their java and banana cakes but the employee working told me that since the store is minuscule they can only make 1/2 of the flavors you will find at other locations. I guess they don’t get the concept of making different flavors each day. I had to settle for lemon, vanilla (pictured above), coconut, fleur de sel and peanut butter.

So how did they measure up to my beloved Sprinkles? There really was no comparison between the two. Sprinkles trounced Kara’s in flavor, variety and size. Kara’s cupcakes tasted like they were straight out of a grocery store bakery (and that’s not a good thing). The cake was dry, almost flavorless and the frosting tasted like a GIANT glob of shortening. The best of the bunch was the coconut.

I really wanted the tiny cakes to be good so I could fulfill my cravings on a more regular basis but I just can’t stomach them. So sad…

Note: An in-depth Sprinkles review can be found here

Irish White Soda Bread w/ Caraway Seeds

irishsodabread1
sodabreadThis has to be the easiest bread recipe in the world. It contains 5 ingredients and no yeast and no waiting for rising. From start to finish it took 35 minutes. I have to be honest I had doubts that this would be edible. I was envisioning a big solid rock emerging from the oven. To my surprise it did turn out. It was dense but still soft and chewy on the inside and tasted just like rye bread. I truly enjoyed it.

Tasty Tip: we used reduced fat buttermilk (2 cups) and it was all good.

Recipe link

Nothing Bundt Cakes

bundt-sign
What will be the next food fad after cupcakes? Bundt Cakes! There is a relatively new store in Los Gatos that only sells bundt cakes. They have 10 different flavors and each is topped with their signature cream cheese frosting. After much deliberation, we chose to take home 3 single serving bundtlets: lemon, carrot and marble. I was flabbergasted at the price. A bundtlet is only $3.99 which is cheaper than what most upscale bakeries charge for a cupcake and this is a tad larger.

bundtlet

Bundtlets are cute, but the larger version is a bit scary looking (when you see them you will know what I mean)

So how did they taste? The bundts were moist and flavorful. My favorite was the marble. I’ve admired marble cake since I was a child. My mom would make one every year for my birthday. Mike liked the carrot best. I was very happy to find out their carrot doesn’t contain nuts or raisins (those are the two reasons I never buy carrot anything). The lemon came in a tasty third. I’m not sure if bundt is better than regular cake but I’ll go back to try some more. I’m a bundt-liever!

Address: 421 N. Santa Cruz

Website: http://www.nothingbundtcakes.com/

Our Holiday Feast

Christmas dinner was at our house this year. Here was the menu:

Filet mignon with port sauce and horseradish cream, radish apple and onion salad, sherry vinegar and molasses glazed carrots, potato mushroom gratin and caramel banana bread pudding. It was a meal to remember!

Pics…

shroom-gratin

carrots

bread-pudding

Everything turned out fantastic. I would make any one of these recipes again and again and again…

Tyler’s Ultimate Caramelized Pears with Rum Raisin Mascarpone

ultimatepear
This is a fancy looking dessert without much work. The crumbled amaretto cookie was the ingredient that brought the WoW factor. Delish!

Tasty Tip: Next time I would add some vanilla to the marscapone to sweeten it up a bit.

Recipe link

Dutch Apple Pie

dutchapplepie

Mike made this all by himself… the Liberty apples from our produce delivery worked wonderfully. Serve with a big dollop of ice cream!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING WEEKEND!

applepie dutchpie

Recipe link

Tasty Tip: Mike used this pie crust mix from Williams-Sonoma. It worked perfect.
crust

Sprinkles Cupcake Challenge & Rankings

You’ve heard me discuss my Sprinkles obsession in the past. Now I’m taking it to a whole new level. There are 23 regularly featured Sprinkles cupcakes plus 17 seasonal and I am on a mission to try them all! My plan is to go once a month to the Palo Alto store and buy no more than 6 flavors at a time. By my calculation it will take me 12 months to accomplish the task of eating all 40. Are you up for the challenge? Join me! MISSION COMPLETED SEPT 2009 but when new flavors are introduced I add them to the list.

I adore these cupcakes but all are not created equal. Here is how I rank them…

  1. Red Velvet – super moist, the light chocolate cake and cream cheese frosting are perfect complements
  2. Banana – very moist, bananalicious!
  3. Brown Sugar Praline* –  best seasonal cake, fantastically crunchy and sweet, should be a regular flavor
  4. S’more* – simply genius… the graham cracker bottom is divine & the gooey marshmallow finger lickin’ good, pls make it a regular flavor!
  5. “The King” (banana cake/peanut butter frosting)* – I’m all shook up… the peanut butter was like skippy, needs to be a regular flavor
  6. Strawberry – hint o’ strawberry is lovely
  7. Peanut butter chocolate – soft chips, moist cake, flavors remind me of a See’s Milk chocolate Bordeaux candy
  8. Maple bacon* – they didn’t skimp on the bacon and it’s real not that fake bac-0 bits stuff
  9. Lemon – yummy light lemon flavor, dense cake
  10. Lemon meringue* – like S’more subtract chocolate add lemon
  11. Pumpkin – awesome cinnamon frosting
  12. Eggnog spice* – eggnog frosting rocks
  13. Cuban coffee* – just enough spice and great coffee flavor
  14. Salty caramel* – good caramel flavor frosting, salt on top is nice
  15. Lemon blueberry* – think blueberry muffin w/ lemon frosting – another good morning treat
  16. Triple cinnamon – advertised as a cinnamon roll, tasted more like a snickerdoodle cookie
  17. Almond dark chocolate* – flavor of a poppyseed muffin minus the seeds. I wish it didn’t have sliced almonds in it.
  18. Vanilla milk chocolate – a classic cupcake
  19. Cinnamon sugar – a cupcake with NO frosting, great for breakfast
  20. Green tea* – very flavorful NEW
  21. German chocolate* – cool chunky frosting, wish it tasted more coco-nutty
  22. Flourless chocolate*- dense yet moist, similar to a super rich chocolate brownie
  23. Orange – similar to lemon but with orange flavor
  24. Vanilla peppermint* – great combo,very festive
  25. Peanut butter chip – creamy cake, like a mouthful of peanut butter
  26. Key Lime* – very subtle lime flavor initially but has a zesty finish
  27. Orange cranberry* – tasty combo
  28. Raspberry* – solid cupcake, nice raspberry flavor
  29. Milk chocolate – not overly chocolaty
  30. Dark chocolate – didn’t think I was going to like this since I prefer milk chocolate but it was good w/ a glass of milk
  31. Caramel apple* – didn’t get any real caramel apple flavors, just spice
  32. Gingerbread* – tis the season  NEW
  33. Irish Chocolate* – wish the frosting had more Baileys flavor
  34. Vanilla hazelnut chocolate* – if you think this is going to taste like nutella…you’re wrong
  35. Chocolate marshmallow – like a ding dong but needs more marshmallow
  36. Sprinkle – for 10 yrs I expected more.  NEW
  37. Vegan red velvet – if u want a coconut cupcake get this- if u want red velvet …don’t 
  38. Pistachio* – bland NEW
  39. Coconut – great coconut frosting, cake a bit dry though
  40. Raspberry chocolate chip* – nice combo but cake was dry
  41. Vanilla- sprinkles on top were too sweet
  42. Ginger maple* – nice frosting, too much ginger
  43. Chai latte – herbal flavor with spice frosting
  44. Chocolate coconut- dry cake, didn’t like dark chocolate frosting
  45. Carrot- if you like carrot cake, you’ll like this (I’m not a fan)
  46. Ginger lemon – good on their own but a weird combo
  47. Mocha – had high hopes for this – very good mocha flavor but with the choc cake was just bla
  48. Apple cinnamon* – apple chunks…no bueno NEW
  49. Banana chocolate – the chocolate frosting masks the banana cake
  50. Neapolitan* – just tastes like chocolate  
  51. Lemon coconut – dry,dry,dry
  52. Chocolate peppermint* – too much chocolate
  53. Choco loco* – cinnamon and chocolate is not my favorite combo
  54. Black & White – really bland
  55. Margarita* – tasted like salt
  56. Summer Cherry* – tasted like cough syrup
  57. Red Hot Velvet* – frosting tasted/smelled like Dentyne gum (which I despise) & overpowered the cake

    *seasonal/ limited edition flavors / secret menu

How about you? Which flavors make you drool? Leave a comment or two…
Continue reading

Sprinkles, Sprinkles, Sprinkles

It’s been exactly 2 years and 7 months since I had my first Sprinkles cupcake in Beverly Hills. The event was life changing. Ever since I have been waiting for a store to open in the Bay Area. That day has come. On October 4th I woke Mike up at the crack of dawn and we made the trek to the new Palo Alto store. It had been open for 2 weeks and I was hoping the novelty would have worn off for the newbies. We rolled into the parking lot at 9am just as the doors were opening and there were already 20 people in line (by the way it was cold and drizzling). My reasoning for going this early was to avoid the 45 minute wait that had been reported on Yelp the past few days, and to make sure my cupcakes were fresh and in-stock. The cakes are made daily and when they are gone, they’re gone. The store layout is similar to LA. Although this is larger they still only allow ~ 6 people inside at once to order, the rest are kicked to the curb (at least they have a bench here). So it’s pretty much a guarantee that there will be people waiting outside when you arrive –pretty good marketing scheme. We were in and out in 20 minutes. We picked out 6 cupcakes ($3.25 each) and 2 dog cupcakes ($2.50 each). They have certain cupcake flavors each day so check the schedule before you go to make sure they have what you are craving. Well, was it worth the wait? You Betcha! I’m not going to go into any details on how things tasted here because in an upcoming ongoing post I will rate all the cupcakes in order of my preference. I invite you to give your opinions on the subject. 6 down 31 to go — I am determined to try them all!

I will leave you with this Warning: Do not attempt to eat the dots on top of the cupcakes. THEY ARE DECORATION and solid as a rock so if you don’t want to break a tooth…lick them and then dispose.

See you in line…

Hours: M-Sat 9-7pm, Sun 10-6pm
Address: 393 Stanford Shopping Center

Dog cupcakes

While standing at the check out counter at Summer Winds Garden Center I saw a small display of Ma snax organic dog cake mix. It was a weird location to sell dog treats, but I thought I’d give them a try. I wasn’t about to bake a big cake for Edison (our 105 pound black lab mix) as he would make a total mess, so instead I made carob-peanut cupcakes with peanut butter frosting.

I tried taking a picture of Edison as he ate a cupcake but as soon as we gave it to him it was devoured, so I decided to make my first video blog. Here is Mr. Ed chowing down. He loves these little dense cupcakes!

Website: www.masnax.com

Cake Wrecks

I usually keep the content on this blog to restaurant reviews and recipes but when I stumbled on to this site called Cake Wrecks I had to share. The name says it all…it’s a blog about really bad/crazy/weird cake designs. It’s pretty hilarious especially the commentary. Keep in mind these baked goodies are NOT homemade; someone actually paid cold hard cash for these beautiful disasters. Here is a sample:

I have a feeling when the people ordering this cake said "Write Welcome on it" this is not what they meant.

Check out one of the worst cakes. I hope it doesn’t make you lose your appetite!

Red Velvet cupcakes

The Sprinkles cupcake shop is still not open in Palo Alto so I had to bake up a batch myself to hold me over. I picked up the red velvet mix from Williams-Sonoma. They turned out terrific… If I say so myself!

Get yourself some!

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