Archive for August, 2010

29
Aug
10

Pie in cupcake’s clothing: cheddar apple

This was today’s flavor of the day at Red Velvet Cupcakery. Yes, that’s grated cheese on top.

While admirable for its bold foray into pie territory (a moist apple cake topped with cheddary icing), I could stomach no more than a bite. I’m usually a fan of salty-sweet combinations, but have never been into the apple-pie-topped-with-cheese thing, even if it’s baked into the crust. On the other hand, Mr. X-sXe enjoyed the piquant cheesiness of the icing and happily polished the rest of the cupcake off.

We couldn’t actually tell whether the icing was a buttercream or a cream-cheese base. Mr. X-sXe swore it was a buttercream, although I thought it tasted like cream cheese (and logically that would make more sense).

28
Aug
10

August’s flavors at Georgetown Cupcake: ginger peach & cherry cheesecake

"Ginger" peach (L) & cherry cheesecake (R)

When I saw that ginger peach was one of the August flavors, I had to try it. It’s a cake studded with peaches topped with ginger icing. Sounds delicious, right?

But tasting this made me want to cry a la Clara Peller, “Where’s the ginger?” I was expecting a ginger bite, or at least a whisper, but the icing had less gingeriness than Ginger Ale.

The cherry cheesecake delivered more satisfaction, luckily. I was digging the thick graham-cracker bottom, which stayed crispy despite the sogginess of the mascarpone-based cheesecake (tasty but overly moist). The cream cheese icing seemed to put this one over the top, given the richness of the cake. But as they say when it comes to icing, you can always scrape some off, but you can’t put more on.

The lines at the Georgetown location have been insane since their TLC show aired. I ordered ahead online and was in and out within 3 minutes. Just tell the cupcake bouncer at that you’ve got a pickup order, go straight to the counter, and you’re done. The payment process is all done online.

22
Aug
10

Looks like boogers, but doesn’t taste like ’em

Unless boogers taste like vanilla ice cream with a caramel ribbon. This is but one of the out-there flavors currently on the menu at the Ice Cream Store in Rehoboth, DE.

The Ice Cream Store is known for offering at least a couple unusual flavors that rotate throughout the year. Luckily, no matter how unpalatable the flavor sounds, they still make it taste good.

Same can’t be said of Snow King, the ice cream place Pie and I went to years ago in Taipei. Known for their pigs’ feet ice cream, their disgusting flavors are unapologetically disgusting. We tried the sesame chicken and mustard flavors. They tasted exactly like what they were supposed to be. That was the problem. (Pie, the vegetarian, passed on the chicken. Good thing, because it left chicken in my teeth so I was eating it long after I was finished.)

PS: If you don’t know what “fluffy pork” is, ask a Chinese friend or just Google it.

Snow King menu. Via hungryintaipei.blogspot.com

15
Aug
10

Pie Quest FAIL

So Cake and I have heard (through the DC food blogger network) that the best pie in Washington, DC is at a little place called Chatman’s D’Vine Bakery and Cafe. As might be expected, we needed to test this claim IMMEDIATELY!

Cake did all the legwork to map it out – she emailed, she called, she checked the website, and we headed out on a Saturday morning (both of us having skipped breakfast!) to gorge ourselves on pie.

Here’s what we found:
pie quest ruined!
Yay! All day breakfast, right! Waffles PLUS pie!

Here’s the wide version of that shot:
pie quest ruined!

Closed. Until 3:45 pm. Despite “ALL DAY BREAKFAST.” I can barely contain my Hulk-like anger at being denied pie.

Even Cake was shattered.

pie quest ruined!

PIE QUEST FAIL
(And p.s. – in lieu of pie, we went to a local diner with an open kitchen for a passable breakfast, but the rest of the day, I smelled like FRIED MEAT. Ick. Double PIE QUEST FAIL.)

12
Aug
10

Foolproof summer recipe, small consolation for soupy DC summers

I associate summer with crappy TV programming, strangers’ gnarly exposed toes, bad-hair humidity, storm-induced power outages, weird smells on Metro, back sweat, I could go on.

But at least summer produce is decent.

The thing about buying fruits like peaches is they all seem to ripen at the same time. Soaking them in wine not only tastes good, but helps prolong their window of edibility.

Ingredients:

1. Fresh peaches or nectarines (I used white nectarines. Keep the peels on.)

2. Red wine (I used Trader Joe’s 3-buck-chuck, shiraz, but a drier red wine might work better with the sweetness of the fruit.)

Directions:

1. Slice up fruit when still firm but fragrant. You don’t want it super ripe, or it’ll fall apart. Place in shallow dish.

2. Pour wine over fruit. Let bathe at least overnight, covered.

Optional flair:

Lemon juice

Lemon or orange rind

Experimenting with spices such as a cinnamon stick, peppercorns, cardamom pods, split vanilla bean, etc.

12
Aug
10

The economics of French macaroons

Yes, these are difficult to make, supposedly quite labor intensive, but I just can’t get over how expensive they are. $1.50 each (the price of the ones below) is pretty par for the course. Yet they are small cookies. One needs at least 3 to constitute a portion. But to put it into perspective, buy 2 and you’re paying what you’d pay for a cupcake, which is a lot more satisfying considering how much air is baked into a macaroon.

Rose, lavender, and green tea macaroons from Cacao in Cleveland Park. I was trying to show how small these are, but they actually look huge next to the quarter.

While Cacao is a welcome addition to the DC dessert scene, I’ll probably try something else there next time. Apart from the lavender macaroon, the flavors weren’t distinct enough.

Enticing display of Eurogoodies from Cacao.

05
Aug
10

Mustache cupcakes for a mustachioed coworker

Anna's cupcakes for our coworker James, whose 'stache is always impeccably groomed, on his last day. Photo magic by Lewis.

Our guest blogger today is my coworker Anna, baker extraordinaire, Team Cake:

I found this recipe by simply entering “mustache cupcakes” into Google, clicking on the first result that appeared, and–voila!–I was in business. I then recruited two girlfriends, Terrell and Kristin, to help me out with the execution. Our biggest challenges in execution were two-fold: one, cutting out the mustaches, and two, mounting them onto dowels, as recommended.

The homemade fondant required multiple stints in the freezer to keep it from melting entirely; because we were using paring knives to cut out our ‘staches and were required to work quickly, we abandoned our plan for using a template to create uniform shapes. I think the unique ‘stache per cupcake is more fun, anyway.

We also decided not to mount them on dowels, and instead elected to place them on top of the cupcakes. To make them stand out more, we whipped up a quick vanilla buttercream frosting instead of the recommended chocolate glaze.

I refrigerated them overnight, rushed them to work the next morning, and circa 11 am, much merriment was had by all.

Click on the photo for how-to's via Sprinklebakes.com. Stache-tastic photo courtesy of Erin R.