Tuesday, September 28, 2010

DC Cupcake tastings

We recently spent a day in DC tasting cupcakes, helping our friends choose a vendor for their wedding. I love cupcakes at weddings! Since I am a bit of a cupcake expert, they asked me to lend my opinion. We tried 4 places: Hello Cupcake, Red Velvet, Georgetown Cupcakes, and Buzz. We sampled 4 different flavors from each, took them all back to the house, and had everyone dig in.

We came up with a clear winner, but first, the contenders:

Hello Cupcake was super cute in the shop, very bright and cheery.

They had some great flavor selections, although they don't offer a red velvet, because they don't use artificial ingredients, such as red food dye. That was a bit disappointing, as the bride and groom specifically wanted red velvet. There are other ways to achieve the red tint, by using red cocoa or beet juice. The cupcakes were tasty though, especially the lemon.

Next up was Red Velvet, a small storefront. No room to eat, just a counter and cupcakes. Although they do have a deal with the place next door so their customers can sit somewhere if they want.

I liked that they had customized cupcake wrappers, a nice touch.

They also had a good selection of flavors, including a special daily flavor of honey-mascarpone. yum! We got red velvet, Carrot, Mocha, and the daily flavor. Ironically enough, their red velvet cupcake wasn't great.

Of course we had to go to Georgetown Cupcakes. We were all skeptical, because of the hype, the line outside, and the "reality" TV show. After waiting only a few minutes, we got inside and ordered. There was a bouncer at the door letting people in, and handing out menus to those in line to keep things flowing and organized.

Also a very cute shop, not much room for eating, but a few tables. Although with the amount of people in there trying to order, it's not a very relaxing place to enjoy a cupcake. We got caramel apple, red velvet, lemon, and chocolate hazelnut. Their cupcakes looked the cutest and came with little decorations, such as heart toppers on the red velvets.

Last was Buzz, a cafe that serves cupcakes. Sorry, no pics of the shop.

Our friends like this place for the mocha cupcake specifically, so we got that, caramel apple, red velvet, and a cute flower cupcake.

This looked like a fun place to hang out on a Sunday, read the paper, have a coffee. It's not a cupcakery specifically.

Now, the verdict. The hands down winner was.... Georgetown Cupcakes!

The hype is justified, these were great!

Best red velvet of the bunch, the only let down was the chocolate hazelnut. They were the cutest, tastiest, and cheapest of all that we tried. They also offer bulk discounts.

We had a fun day driving around buying cupcakes, and even more fun trying them all. I can't wait to see which flavors our friends choose for their wedding!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Martha Challenge #44- Cup-cheesecakes with peach jam

Back to Martha's cupcake challenge, this time with cheesecake cupcakes!Last week I got some free peaches that were almost past their time, so I made a bunch of jam. Now, what was I to do with all this jam? I gave most o it away to friends, but saved just enough to make these cheesecake cupcakes, topped with peach jam.

There are a few deviations to the recipe. First, Martha uses chocolate wafers as the base, but I have never been able to find them, so I used graham crackers. Also, the recipe uses apricot jam, but I used peach. No biggie!

First I made the crust, which is crushed up graham crackers mixed with butter and sugar, and baked in cupcake tins until set.

Next step is to make the filling: 1 pound of cream cheese, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and sour cream. It was so smooth and pretty, and then I poured it into the cooled crusts. I had just enough for 17.
Then you bake that at a lower temperature until set. They smelled great! I'm not the biggest fan of cheesecake, but these smelled so good I wanted to eat one!

After they cool for at least 4 hours in the fridge, you top them with the jam. First I heated up the jam, then strained it. I had just enough jam to cover 16 of the cupcakes, so one was left plain.

This was a new challenge for me, and I think it turned out great. I would even leave the cheesecakes plain, they are delicious enough on their own.

I won't be blogging for a while, going on vacation to Germany! Hopefully I can check out a McCafe, where they sell McCupcakes. Not a joke, it's for real! And when I get back, I'll kick off October with a series of German-inspired cupcakes.