Saturday, February 20, 2016

Kisses With and Without Sugar

With the Valentine's frenzy at the dessert shops, we had to try something. And so Gigi's Cupcakes it was...

Top left is Hot Kiss, top middle is Creme Brulee and top right is Wedding Cake. Bottom middle another Creme Brulee and bottom right is Red Velvet.

My order also included a sugar-free White Magic, but there was a mistake, so they substituted four mini sugar-free White Magic cupcakes.

Since I feared a bland taste that would need to be followed up with sugar, my first taste was the sugar-free White Magic. It's sugar-free yellow cake with sugar-free white chocolate frosting, topped with sugar-free chocolate chips, drizzled with sugar-free chocolate ganache. Gigi’s sugar free cupcakes are sweetened with SPLENDA and topped with frosting sweetened with sugar substitute Malitol.

Thinking it would be like the difference between regular and diet soda, I was quite surprised at how good it tasted.

Next, I had Cream Brulee, which was creme brulee cake with vanilla bean cream cheese frosting. Both cake and frosting filled with vanilla pudding, sprinkled with a mixture of turbinado raw sugar and crystal sugar and topped with a fondant heart.

It wasn't how I expected it to taste. Not quite like creme brulee and the cake was kind of dry.

To avoid sugar overload, I decided to postpone Hot Kiss to the following day. It's Devil’s food cake topped with hot pink buttercream frosting, dipped in ganache, sprinkled with mixture of crystal sugar and mini heart sprinkles.

The cake was also dry; although I'm not sure if it was due to eating it a day later. The frosting was very tasty though.

After this experience, I'll be on the lookout for more sugar-free desserts to try in the future.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Long Time No See

One Monday, I got a wild hair (I won't finish the sentence for obvious reasons) to return to Celebrity Cupcakes and try a few flavors I never had before.

Starting with Bananas Foster: organic banana cake filled with brown sugar caramel and topped with rum buttercream. A delightful balance of banana and frosting. And you could definitely taste the rum...woo, I'm getting tipsy just typing this!

Next up, Pina Colada: vanilla and pineapple cake with rum buttercream. No, I don't like getting caught in the rain... Anyway, this one was OK. I don't care much for pineapple in a cupcake.

And last, Lemon Blueberry Pie: lemon cake studded with blueberries, graham cracker crust, topped with cream cheese frosting. It was certainly pie-like with the graham cracker crust at the bottom. Another OK cupcake (probably a bit better than the pina colada); not typically a top flavor preference of mine, but I wanted to try it.

As an added bonus to this spectacular blog entry, but unrelated to Celebrity Cupcakes, I made more cookies from a jar of ingredients bought at Target. This was a Valentine's sugar cookie mix with white chocolate chips and red heart sprinkles. As always, it called for your usual egg and butter add-ins.

So, here is how they turned out...

If you like a softer cookie, these were best eaten the same day. Over the next two days, they progressively became drier even in a sealed container.

Stay tuned for more ya'll!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Sending Out an SOS

Or should I say, "sending out an SAS?" Shipped cupcakes? Yup, apparently it's possible. My husband brought home some cupcakes that were sent to his office from SAS Cupcakes (Sweet-N-Sassy) in North Carolina.

Their process is freshly bake and frost the cupcakes, flash freeze, package them with ice packs and send via UPS 2-day.

And the price for these frosted flyers? $49.95 for a dozen cupcakes and $30 to ship. Yes, that means $80 for a dozen cupcakes.

Here are the flavors I tried (they only look squashed because my husband transported them in a plastic container)...

Starting with red velvet, which was light red velvet cake topped with a tangy cream cheese frosting; adorned with a mini red sugar flower. I liked the frosting, but the cake was dry.

Next, was vanilla/vanilla. Moist buttery vanilla cake topped with sweet vanilla buttercream, adorned with a red sugar flower. The description of "moist" was not accurate as this one was also dry and crumbly. The frosting had a good vanilla bean flavor.

Last, was chocolate/vanilla (not pictured because it basically looked the same as the others). It was rich dark chocolate cake topped with sweet vanilla buttercream, adorned with a red sugar flower. This one was probably the least dry of all of them, but still dry. The frosting was the same as the vanilla cupcake.

With all three cupcakes being dry, I'm not sure whether it was due to the freezing process and shipping; that they just weren't fresh anymore after two days in transport; or how they were kept at my husband's office throughout the day (or all the above). Either way, they were NOT worth the $80. We have so many fantastic cupcakeries locally that deliver fresh and less expensively, that having them shipped seems unnecessary.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Spice Spice Baby

Alright stop, collaborate and listen. Spice is back with a brand new invention.

OK, sorry, I know that was cheesy, but I couldn't help myself. Anyway, I tried a few fall "spice" cookie mixes over the last few weeks, which I have mixed reviews on.

First, was a pumpkin spice mix from Williams-Sonoma.

The instructions were a bit odd where it said to refrigerate the mixed dough for at least several hours before baking. I ignored that and they turned out fine. However, since I'm not really a pumpkin fan, I thought these cookies were just OK. After doctoring them up with frosting and sugar crystals, they were much better.

Then, from Target, next up is a caramel spice cookie mix.

It was pretty simple; no unusual ingredients or baking instructions. And they turned out very delish. I liked them better and they were cheaper than the pumpkin spice cookies.

Here's wishing you a delicious holiday!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

New for Fall, but That's Not All

Nothing like using your Groupon on the last day...we did that with Gigi's Cupcakes this weekend. I'll just cut to the chase.

Starting with white chocolate raspberry. It was white cake with fresh raspberries baked in, swirled with raspberry buttercream and cream cheese frosting and topped with raspberry pie filling, sugar crystals and sprinkles.

Quite tasty; especially if you like raspberry, but it wasn't overpowering. Also had good moisture consistency.

Next was the apple pie, which was apple cake filled with apple pie filling, topped with a cinnamon cream cheese frosting and another dollop of pie filling.

Let me start by saying that I am not really an apple pie fan. I know, I know...I must not be American. Anyway, this cupcake wasn't bad for a non-apple pie eater. It was moist, but I think I could have done without the apple pie chunks in the middle.

Last, was chocolate covered strawberry. It's devil’s food cake with strawberry frosting and dipped in ganache.

Also very moist and overall, a good balance of strawberry and chocolate flavor.

New flavors to review are getting harder to come by. But don't lose hope on me! I will continue the crusade!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Sugar Ain't Always Sweet

Last weekend was another at-home baking experiment; a vanilla sugar cookie mix from Williams-Sonoma.

As usual, it called for your typical ingredients, but after all the mixing, it said to roll the dough into a log shape and keep it in the fridge for at least three hours! At the time I was baking this, I didn't want to wait the three hours, so I skipped those steps altogether. Instead, I took golf ball-sized pieces of dough, rolled them into a ball and patted them on the baking sheet.

They emerged from the oven like this...

Eh, they were OK; not as sweet as I expected with the big bag of sugar in the kit. Adding frosting and sugar crystals turned them into this...

Mucho better. I'm not sure whether skipping the log rolling and refrigerating made any difference, but at about $10, I don't think I'd buy this kit again.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Rainbow Brite and Something Like Sprite

A few weeks ago, I conducted an experiment with another mix from famed pastry chef, Duff Goldman. This one was Confetti Bites. It called for the usual suspects (ingredients).
And ta-da...

The bars were moist, but the taste wasn't as gourmet as I expected. It was just a tad bit better than your run-of-the-mill rainbow chip cake mix.

And then last weekend, we visited Ooh La La Sweets. My husband opted for their flavor of the month, Lemon Lime, which I taste tested. It was lemon and lime cake swirled together, topped with lemon and lime buttercream frosting, lime green and yellow sugar sprinkles.

Wow, the lime flavor was very dominant in this cupcake. Not bad, but also not one of my favorites.