Monday, October 6, 2008

Cupcake Review, Part 1- Pittsburgh

So, in my travels, I visited CoCo's Cupcakes in Pittsburgh, Pa (
It's located in a cute area, with lots of art galleries. There's ample seating both indoors and out, and the staff was very pleasant. We arrived in the later afternoon, and selected 6 cupcakes to sample.

The packaging is cute and simple, and there was tons of adorable cupcake art on the walls.

Since I am interested in having my own cupcakery, I asked to see the kitchen, and they were nice enough to oblige. The staff answered all of my questions and were very helpful. I can't thank them enough for giving me a peek at a working cupcake kitchen.
Anyhoo, the main event! We immediately went home and tore into the cupcakes. Overall, they were really great. Even my dad, who doesn't usually care for sweets, enjoyed a bite or two.

So, from left to right, top to bottom, they are: vanilla-vanilla, orange-kahlua, orange-chocolate ganache, vanilla chocolate ganache, chocolate-vanilla, and vegan margarita. First of all, I looooooove the way they piped the vanilla frostings! it's so pretty. Also, they use an italian buttercream, which is very light and not too sweet, tastes almost like whipped cream. The orange cakes were great, but then again, I love that flavor. The Kahlua buttercream was good, but didn't really taste like Kahlua. I liked the margarita the best, and if I hadn't known, I never would have guessed it was vegan.
So, overall, excellent cupcakes, definitely opened my eyes to a few new tricks (I gotta try that frosting!) There are other cupcakeries in Pittsburgh, but I didn't have time to visit them all. Next time!
Next up, Charleston, SC.

Friday, October 3, 2008

I'm back!

Just got back from a long vacay to see the family. First stop, Pittsburgh. Moved on to Charlotte, then to Litchfield SC for some relaxing time at the beach. I went to 3 different cupcake shops and sampled what they had to offer. I'll post on each one in detail. I was inspired by the fresh seasonal food in the South. How about sweet potato cupcakes? Or pecan cupcakes? These are definitely flavors I have to try out. And on a semi-related note, I had perhaps the best biscuits I have ever had before at a cute little place called the Flying Biscuit. I am dying for the recipe, so let's hope the internet has it for me. Stay tuned, more details to come!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Traveling Home

So, tomorrow I leave for an extended vacation to Pittsburgh to visit my parents, then down to Charlotte to see my sister, and then to the beach and back! Having grown up in Charlotte, it will be nice to return after being away for over 3 years. So in celebration, I made Tar Heel cupcakes! North Carolina is the Tar Heel state, and that's also the team for my alma mater, UNC-Chapel Hill. So I decorated the cupcakes with the university's team logo. Yummy!
I also plan on visiting a few cupcakes places in each city, so I'll definitely report back on that too.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Strawberry Shake

I just love using fresh fruit in cupcakes. These are strawberry cupcakes, which my husband compares to a strawberry shake. I used real pureed fresh strawberries in both the frosting and batter. I didn't even have to use any food coloring, this is the natural color! They smell fantastic and taste even better! You can adjust the recipe for any fruit, raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, almost any fruit that can be pureed. It's fun to try new variations.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Orange Creamsicle

A classic summertime flavor, orange and vanilla are great for cupcakes too! This batch uses orange juice as well as orange zest in both the cake and the frosting. You can even see the little flecks of zest, so you know it's all natural. It's slightly refreshing and comforting too. It makes me think of summers as a kid, waiting for the ice cream truck to come by, and getting a Push-up pop. Mmmmmmmmm!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Blog crossover

So, I check other cupcake blogs on a daily basis. This morning, I was on and noticed a post about Arizona cupcakes. It was a picture of my car! I have a red Mini Cooper, and the license plate says CUPCKES. I figured, I love cupcakes, it's a little car, cupcakes are little too, it's perfect! :) I get lots of comments on it, and whenever I zoom around town, all my friends know it's me. Thanks to the bloggers at All Things Cupcake for the shout out!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

super Red Velvet

So, ask anyone, and more than likely they will love red velvet cupcakes. I'm not sure what the allure is, other than the color, but everyone seems to like them. I've tried red velvet at a few different cupcake places in town, and I've made them multiple times myself. It's easy to just take a regular cupcake and tint it red, but that's not a red velvet. There's a hint of chocolate, they're super moist and cakey, and the cream cheese frosting is the only appropriate topping. I finally found a good recipe, so I made them the other day for a corporate birthday party. In my opinion, the redder the better, so I made these super bright red. They turned out great!

And I always love to top them off with red sprinkles, so everyone knows exactly what they're getting. Mmmmm, I could go for one right now!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Sugar Rush cupcakes

So, my husband is a programmer, and recently he and his team have been working all kinds of crazy hours trying to hit a deadline. So, I decided to help them out and make some cupcakes sure to keep them energized all nite. So I made Red Bull cupcakes with Mountain Dew frosting. Wow! these were by far the sweetest cupcakes ever! I even used sugar free Red Bull, since it's so sugary already. They did the trick, but had to be enjoyed with a nice tall glass of milk. I don't think I'll try this one again. It's a perfect example of a good idea on paper. Hey, but now I know!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Travelling with Cupcakes

So, one of my biggest challenges is trying to get cupcakes to my friends and family who live far away. This past weekend, I went out of town and wanted to bring a few cupcakes with me. I used the individual cupcake holders called cup-a-cakes. They have little prongs inside to hold the cupcake in place so the frosting doesn't get smushed. I packed up my cupcakes and put the containers in my suitcase, nestled among socks to prevent them from moving too much. When I arrived and unpacked, the cupcakes were upside down inside the containers! Although they were intact, the frosting did get smushed against the plastic container, so they weren't as pretty. So although these are great for taking cupcakes to school in a lunchbox, they're not so great for cross country travel. The search for a better transportation system for cupcakes continues.....

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Faux-stess cupcakes

Remember those great chocolate cupcakes with the white filling you had as a kid? I know that at my school, when it was lunchtime, you simply were not cool if you didn't have one in your lunchbox. Well, now that we're all grown up, I realize how many preservatives and aritifical flavorings there are in those cupcakes. So I decided to make my own, using only all fresh, natural ingredients. Kind of like the grown up version. So I made moist chocolate cake, with a chocolate ganache topping, and filled them with vanilla buttercream, ending up with the signature swirl on top. Although they could haved used more filling, overall they were a great success. I even had a few people break their no-carb diets to try one :) Doesn't that just take you back?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Chocolate Dirt and Worms

These are great for kids' parties, or just for fun! They're chocolate cupcakes with a thin layer of chocolate frosting, topped with chocolate graham cracker crumbs, with a squirmy gummy worm on top. It's amazing how the crumbs really look like dirt! You can also use crushed up chocolate cookies for the same effect. These were a big hit, especially with the younger tasters. Who doesn't love gummy worms? :)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Cupcake Sampler

When my sister was visiting, we made a huge batch of cupcakes, my top 6 flavors of all time. We baked them all together, and then she helped to decorate them. From left to right, they are: vanilla chai, cookies n cream, red velvet, and strawberry. The other two flavors, not pictured, are chocolate and vanilla of course. Then we split them into sampler boxes of a dozen, 2 of each flavor.

All boxed up, they are from top to bottom, left to right: vanilla chai, cookies n cream, red velvet, strawberry, chocolate and vanilla. The chocolate and vanilla we swapped frostings on so there was one of each combination.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Tasty Planet

Sometimes cupcakes are a great way to spread a message. I made Earth cupcakes to remind everyone to be kind to our planet and take little steps to improve our lives here. Although the continents are not topographically perfect, you get the idea. Plus, they were chocolate!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Soda Fountain Treats!

So, as a special request, I made fun soda fountain cupcakes for Max's first birthday! The theme colors were blue, green, and orange, so I made orange Fanta and Mountain Dew cupcakes! (Don't worry, Max only had a few bites of the Fantas).

I also sprinkled the tops with Sour Nerds. Talk about sugar overload! They were a big hit with the parents too :) I love how they're so colorful! Sprinkles really make every cupcake a celebration.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Another great flavor combination that everyone loves is chocolate and raspberry. My friend Emily especially loves this, and has wanted me to make these cupcakes for a while. So when I did, I made sure that she got some :) These are just chocolate cupcakes, with raspberry puree mixed in, topped with a raspberry buttercream. I find that whenever I make buttercream with fresh fruit puree, it's a lot softer and runnier, so I have to adjust my recipes to make sure the icing is stiff enough for piping. Although I did add food coloring to achieve the bright pink color, the raspberries alone give a very nice rosy tint. Plus, I just love how the icing looks like a rose when you pipe it like this. It makes the cupcakes even more special!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Chocolate and Orange

One of my favorite flavor combinations is chocolate and orange. Remember those orange-shaped chocolates that you can get around the Holidays? You whack it and the chocolate slices come apart? I always looked forward to that each Christmas. So I decided tot urn that into a cupcake! I made a few varieties to see what tasted the best: chocolate, vanilla, chocolate-orange, and vanilla-orange. Then I mixed and matched the frostings so each flavor of cake had a different flavor of frosting. The vanilla orange tastes a bit like a creamsicle :) And the way they smelled when coming out of the oven was just heavenly.
So, the ones with the orange sprinkles on them are the orange flavored frostings. The flavor is super intense, since I used orange juice, orange zest, and orange extract. I personally prefer the double chocolate orange combo.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Cup-tails, part 2

So in keeping with the cupcakes inspired by cocktails theme, I found a fantastic recipe for margarita cupcakes. And the best part is, they are 100% vegan! I've made vegan varieties before, and they often require some odd ingredients, but these were super easy. And yes, there is real tequila in them! I even added a sugar & salt rim, using course kosher salt and green sanding sugar. They were tart and delicious! Perfect for a summertime party.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Cup-tails, part 1

What could be yummier than cupcakes inspired by cocktails? In honor of the Sex and the City movie, I made cosmopolitan cupcakes. The cakes are cranberry, with dried cranberries mixed in, with a Cointreau-lime frosting, topped with a cranberry jelly candy. These were a huge hit! They are tart and refreshing, and make you want to drink a real cosmo at the same time.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Summery Treats

Since it's a scalding 105 degrees outside, I figured a refreshing cupcake would be perfect. So I made mint-chocolate chip cupcakes! They are chocolate-mint cupcakes, with a minty buttercream with chocolate chips. This just happens to be my husband's favorite milkshake flavor, so I figured it would make a great cupcake too! What is it about the combination of chocolate and mint that's so great? I think it's because of the difference in flavors, chocolate being so rich, and mint so fresh.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Classic Red Velvet

So I have never been a big fan of red velvet, finding the cake usually tasteless and dry, but everyone loooooves the cream cheese frosting. So I finally found a recipe that was moist and flavorful! It's from the Martha Stewart Wedding Cakes book. It differs from other recipes only slightly, but apparently those small changes make a big difference in taste.

I had recently bought a giant cupcake pan which I was dying to use! It's a 2 part pan, top and bottom. I hollowed out the bottom a bit and filled it with cream cheese frosting, then swirled the entire top. You can also make an ice cream cake with the pan!

Well, I had batter left over, so I made some cupcakes too. Can't be wasteful! Although I rarely eat my finished product, I did have a cupcake and it was amazing! And super red too ! Definitely a classic done right. Now if I can only make an armadillo ;)

Friday, August 1, 2008


One of my favorite desserts is Tiramisu. Coming from an Italian family, I've had some pretty amazing homemade versions in my life. So I decided to try a tiramisu cupcake. I started with a sponge cake, poked holes in it and soaked it in a sweetened espresso syrup, then topped with with a mascarpone cheese frosting, sprinkled with cocoa powder on top.

The only improvement I would make, is to more thoroughly soak the cake in espresso syrup so the flavor is more evenly distributed. The frosting wa amazing, though. almost like a cream cheese frosting, but better! Tiramisu means pick me up in Italian, and that's certainly what these did!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

My most popular request

So, the cupcakes that most people love, and that I get the most requests for, are chocolate stout cupcakes. I make them with an Oatmeal Stout from a local brewery, Four Peaks, and the stout and chocolate flavors are so perfect together. Plus, they smell amazing while baking! Although I've made them many times, I most recently made them for a birthday party, by special request. I used a Bailey's buttercream frosting to top them off. And because it's a party, chocolate sprinkles! In my opinion, it's not a real party without sprinkles :)

Every time I make a new recipe, I send it with my husband to his office to get opinions from his coworkers. Now, he works with mostly guys, so the stout cupcakes were the hand down favorite. Even now, when I send another recipe with him, as soon as he enters the door with cupcakes, everyone asks, are they beer cupcakes?? And although they always love whatever I make, these are by far their #1 favorite. Boys and beer, who figured?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Maple Syrup

So on a recent trip to Canada to visit relatives, we took a drive on a small island near Quebec City. We stopped at a farm stand on the side of the country road, and bought some edible souvenirs to take home. I got a can of dark grade B Maple Syrup, as well as hard maple sugar.
So as soon as I returned home, I of course made cupcakes with both the maple syrup and maple sugar. The sugar came in a hard block, and in order to use it I had to grate it, and it resembled brown sugar. The cupcakes were so moist and tasty, with a light maple flavor.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Independence Day

For the 4th of July, I made red white and blue cupcakes, of course! I arranged them like a flag and decorated them accordingly.

Here are the cupcakes before frosting. Red=raspberry, Blue=blueberry, and White=vanilla.

Then, after adding frosting and sprinkles, the final result!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Mini cupcakes

I recently made these cute mini cupcakes for a bridal shower. They're simple, just vanilla with vanilla or chocolate frosting, with little hearts sprinkles. Simple and Sweet! They didn't last long :) Who knew that you could tame a Bridezilla with cupcakes?

Then I had some left over, so I used red white and blue sprinkles for a patriotic spin on the same cupcakes. Just as tasty!

Sunday, July 27, 2008


So, last nite I went to Max's 1st birthday party, and I'll post pics of my cake and cupcake creations soon.
But for now, here are some fun cupcakes I did with my friend Emily before she moved away! They're just vanilla with pink vanilla frosting, but we went kinda berserk on the decorations, and raided my sprinkles cabinet. Yes, I have an entire cabinet of sprinkles. The rainbow nonpareils are my favorite.
On a side note, I think it's weird, but my husband doesn't like sprinkles on top of cupcakes. He doesn't like the crunchy texture mixed with the softness of the cupcakes. I think it adds some excitement, making each bite different. Any opinions on this controversial subject?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Jason's birthday cupcakes

For my husband's birthday, I made his favorite, peanut butter and jelly cupcakes.

They are moist peanut butter cupcakes, filled with his favorite grape jelly, topped with peanut butter frosting. I added purple sugar on top to indicate the flavor of the filling.

I tried these once before, with grape and strawberry, and although they were tasty, they were not as pretty. I've come a long way in six months!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Batman and Joker cupcakes

To honor the new film, The Dark Knight, (which I saw twice in 2 days), I made Batman and Joker cupcakes. The Batmans are triple dark chocolate with double dark chocolate frosting. I made a stencil from parchment paper and decorated with black sugar. The Joker cupcakes are neon green Mountain Dew! Filled with purple Mountain Dew frosting, topped with green Mountain Dew frosting. Designed to keep you bouncing off the walls for hours :) They were a big hit!

Thursday, July 24, 2008


So, a little bit about me. My name is Tania, I live in Phoenix, Arizona. In the past year, I have become enamored with cupcakes. I bake at least once a week, trying new flavors, having friends be my testers. I have recently started to consider cupcakes as a career. Hopefully this will be a forum for my trials and errors. I live with my husband and two cats, who are always appreciative of my efforts. My goal is to post pictures and descriptions of my work, hopefully to get some feedback and buzz going so I can make cupcakes my full time job. Not only do I love to make cupcakes, but I also love anything cupcake related! Hopefully I can help bring a love of cupcakes into more people's lives.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Having been inspired by a phrase from an Eddie Izzard standup, finally I have created a blog! I am obsessed with everything cupcake, from baking to merchandise to pop culture references, and hope to share my obsessions with everyone. Please to enjoy!