Archive for the 'cupcakes' Category

02
May
12

Los angeles dessert haikus

A bit of wisdom served up on Santa Monica Pier.

We’ve been on blog break because we were eating our way through LA, trying sweets from various restaurants and bakeries. While we had some good ones (the coconut bavarois from Red Medicine is now a fond memory), most were unspectacular. We also tried one patisserie (Jin in Venice) that made us all-the-more grateful for Bethesda’s Tout de Sweet. As much as I wanted to like Jin–Asian owner, picturesque outdoor seating, tempting selection of lunch options–the goods just didn’t deliver.

A rundown of the sugar tour:

 

Red Medicine:

Coconut dessert

In a tropical ant farm

Reluctant to share

Bitter chocolate

Ruined by string of butter

Pastry chef misstep

 

Gjelina:

Famous pot de creme

JELL-O pudding on steroids

It’s salty! It’s sweet!

Strawberry rhubarb

A crisp more like a pot pie

Overly soupy

 Jin Patisserie:

Macarons and cake

A feast for the eyes, not mouth

Post-dessert remorse

Lavender-almond

Sesame-peanut cookies

Jin redeems itself?

 

Tender Greens:

Caramel cupcake

Like midget banana bread

Icing overload

 

Cake Monkey:

Two kinds of cookies

Both chocolatey sandwiches

Unmemorable

Advertisements
17
Jan
12

Pie Vs. Cupcake: Pie Sisters comes to Georgetown

When Sprinkles opened in DC last year, it seemed like Georgetown had reached dessert saturation point. Or at least, cupcake saturation point.

Personally, my cupcake fatigue set in last summer. Maybe I’d partook of too many free cupcakes (thank you, Sprinkles and Georgetown Cupcake*). Maybe I’d overstocked them in my freezer—I’ve still got some Baked & Wired ones from Ms. Pie’s wedding last August. But now I just don’t get that jonesin’ for them anymore. I can actually walk past a cupcake place without getting the shakes. Not that I’m defecting to Team Pie. Yet.

But apart from Baked & Wired, there’s a lack of places in Georgetown to grab a great pie. Until last week, that is. Pie Sisters just opened at the edge of Georgetown, by the Key Bridge before you get to the Exorcist steps. Their story is similar to the owners of Georgetown Cupcake: sisters who gave up their careers to pursue their dream, family tradition of baking, that kind of stuff.

The cuppies ($4, including tax) is Pie Sisters’ answer to the cupcake. They’re individually sized and hard to resist, even though you probably get more bang for your buck ordering by the slice. The nice thing about the menu is the pies come in both sweet and savory flavors. I love that I could just have an entire meal there made up of cuppies. Even though I’m mildly embarrassed to order anything called a “cuppie,” because it sounds like something you pad your bra with.

This key lime and coconut cream cuppie were surprisingly intact after being schlepped all over Georgetown. And they tasted as good as they look. The crust is really thick, with a nice crunch. It’s not your typical flaky lard/shortening/butter crust. That’s actually a good thing because it’s not a bit soggy. If anything, it could’ve used just a touch more salt to play off of the sweet fillings.

Lots of key lime pies are maddeningly sweet. This one was pleasantly tart. I prefer puckeringly tart, but that’s challenging to achieve since excess acid can prevent your filling from setting (as I’ve learned in previous baking fiascos). The coconut cream was also good, thick with toasted coconut in the filling.

Pies may not be any healthier a fixation than cupcakes, but it’s nice to know there’s another option in Georgetown for getting your sugar fix.

*Georgetown Cupcake gives away 100 free/day per location. Sprinkles gives away 50/day. See their Twitter feeds for the secret flavor or phrase of the day.

13
Nov
11

Pumpkin things I’ve tasted, including a 1-year-old pie

One of the many great perks about this season is the proliferation of pumpkin sweets everywhere you turn:

  • Pies, traditional and whoopee (the latter being more cake-like, but that’s a debate for another time)
  • Cakes/cheesecakes/cupcakes
  • Cookies
  • Pumpkin bread, which borders on health food
  • Seasonal coffee drinks

This time of year must be a bane for pumpkin-haters. Personally, I’m in heaven. It’s not so much the flavor of pumpkin itself–which on its own doesn’t really taste like much–but more about the spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice (which sounds like something you’d find in a 1970s cupboard, next to the box of lard).

Below, a rundown of a few pumpkin sweets that have crossed my plate lately:

1)      Trader Joe’s pumpkin cheesecake (pictured above w/creme fraiche, also from Trader Joe’s): At $6.99, that’s less than the price of one slice at the Cheesecake Factory. I had high hopes, but they should’ve called this “pumpkin-ish cheesecake.” The flavors are pretty muted, while the all-important crust lies in a purgatory between pastry and graham cracker. Half of this cheesecake is still in the freezer. I’m not anticipating defrosting it anytime soon.


2)      Mrs. Smith’s classic pumpkin pie: Speaking of not defrosting things soon, I got this pie for $2 from Giant during the 2010 holiday season. It’s been taking up precious real estate in the freezer ever since. Given that it’s nearly a year old, I wasn’t sure whether to bake it or toss it. Upon inspection, it had just a tiny layer of freezer burn that scraped off easily. So into the oven it went. The pie actually came out perfectly—the crust even stayed crusty. Not sure what kind of industrial chemicals that takes, but someone who eats a year-old pie probably shouldn’t be quibbling.

3)       Red Velvet pumpkin-sage cupcake (above, right): This is one of the November flavors-of-the-month at Rabbit, a Clarendon salad/grill place that serves Red Velvet cupcakes (same owners). I liked the sugared sage leaf, but the strong sage taste in the frosting threw me off. My brain couldn’t help thinking I was eating stuffing. The cupcake part was decently moist–overall, it’s a good cupcake. I was probably just too full after my amazing meal there to fully appreciate this.

27
Jun
11

Rehoboth series, part 1 of 3: Cake Break’s Guinness cupcake

We hit 3 places at Rehoboth Beach last weekend to get a sampling of the sweets scene: Cake Break, The Ice Cream Store, and Annie’s Banannies. In case you’re wondering, the famed Candy Kitchen was not one of these, because (1) I’ve got way too many fillings to be eating stuff like taffy (2) fudge is one of the worst bastardizations of chocolate I’ve ever encountered, and (3) the place is a madhouse swarming with kids who could spontaneously combust from sugar overload at any moment.

Cake Break came to our attention in Washingtonian magazine: we were intrigued by the mention of beer cupcakes, in particular. The cupcakes are $3 each, the going rate for “boutique” (non-Safeway) cupcakes these days.

Sitting in their glass counter, the cupcakes reminded me of beachgoers on a 90 degree day. The cakes looked sticky-sweaty, their icing nearly wilting in the heat. Since it was closing time, we hastily ordered a Guinness cupcake. I was expecting some hint of stout somewhere. Alas, there was none to be found. Was it because they had to make it kid-friendly? This just tasted like a chocolate cupcake with sweet buttercream icing. I was “bitterly” disappointed (wah wah). Having said that, though, it does look like a fun place to take your kids for some interactive dessert-ing.

31
May
11

Sweetbites, a magical truck that dispenses cupcakes and more

How could you not be drawn to a truck that looks like this? (Yes, that’s a cupcake display in the window.)

It was a thousand degrees outside when I caught up with the truck in Farragut Square last week. I kept my haul modest so it wouldn’t be destroyed in the heat: a salted caramel cupcake and chocolate banana bread.

Salted caramel frosting can be overwhelming, but this one nicely balanced the creamy, salty, and sweet. However, the cake could’ve used a bit more moisture. Same went for the banana bread. A layer of chocolate icing helped drive home the flavor, but the bread needed more bananas, more oil, more something to make it less crumbly.

Follow the Sweetbites Truck here or here.