The holidays are here! What are you getting your favorite dessert lover? Here are some suggestions from our resident Dessert Obsessee:
For the dedicated baker: Beanilla 2-fold Vanilla extract. Every from scratch baker will appreciate some 2-fold vanilla extract. This extract has twice as much vanilla bean in it than regular vanilla extract! So you only need to use half the amount of vanilla extract called for in the recipe, or use just as much and get a more aromatic vanilla flavor. ($11.99 for 8-oz. bottle)
For the beginning baker: Sprinkles Gourmet Cupcake Mixes. Create Sprinkles famous gourmet cupcakes in your own kitchen! The cupcake mixes are just as easy to put together as any Betty Crocker mix, and include a frosting recipe and the Sprinkles modern dot to create their trademark look. ($14.00)
For the decorator: What’s New, Cupcake? by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson. The authors of Hello, Cupcake are back with new, easy-to-create, cupcake decorating ideas. This whimsical book offers a wide selection of innovative cupcake decorating ideas and instructions, such as sand castle cupcakes, rock star cupcakes, and cupcakes for the holidays. Just take ready made cupcakes and decorate! It’s amazing what you can do with a jar of frosting and some food coloring! ($16.95)
For the candy lover: Dylan’s Candy Bar: Unwrap your Sweet Life, by Dylan Lauren. This gorgeous coffee table book features full color photos of whimsical candies and Dylan’s sweet candy filled memories. The book also has a few recipes and fun candy facts and even craft ideas. ($35.00)
For every dessert lover: Chocolate. Chocolate is the perfect gift for every dessert lover! Its fantastic for both baking and eating! For baking, I recommend high quality chocolates, such as Valrhona, and cocoa powders with a high fat content.
Have you ever met someone whose primary diet consists of carrot cake and banana nut muffins and ice cream? Whose sweet face belies her even sweeter tooth? Meet Dorothy, our resident Dessert Tourist. Dorothy will be Audrey’s resident Dessert Tourist, zipping in and out of bake shops and dessert cafes and ovens to share with us some of life’s sweetest.
I have a love/hate relationship with rainy days. They are so cold, gloomy, dreary and wet. I hate leaving the house on rainy days, but I can’t stand being stuck inside the house either. They make me fat because I usually spend rainy days snuggled up in bed with a big bowl of macaroni and cheese, catching up on reading. So this week of crazy rainstorms in Southern California has not been good for me. But I also love rainy days. They’re so warm and comforting; since I spend all of mine snuggled up indoors. And the world smells fantastic after a rain washes the air of pollution and impurities. But most of all? I love rainy days because they are the perfect days to make bread pudding. I decided to tackle Aarti Sequeira’s Huggy Buggy Bread Pudding this time. (Aarti also happens to be in the latest issue of Audrey magazine. Check it out!)
Aarti calls this dessert “Huggy Buggy” because it hugs you from the inside out. This is a bread pudding with an Indian twist, as it is infused with coconut and spices, and filled with figs. Coconut-ty, moist, fragrant, and absolutely fantastic with a scoop of vanilla bean ice-cream, this bread pudding really does warm you up from the inside out.
Not only is it delicious, this dessert is also a cinch to make. The liquid ingredients come together in one bowl, and are then tossed with the dry ingredients. The entire process takes about 7 minutes (but let the pudding soak for at least 15 minutes before it goes into the oven).
Perfect for that rainy day.
Huggy Buggy Bread Pudding (adapted from Aarti Sequeira)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Pour the melted butter into a 9 by 13-inch baking dish and use a pastry brush to make sure the dish is well coated. Alternately, spray the pan very, very, very well with baking spray.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together, then add the coconut milk, the whole milk, the spices and a pinch of salt. Add bread, figs, and the coconut milk the figs were soaking in, and toss. Let soak for at least 15 minutes.
Pour the mixture into the prepped baking dish and sprinkle with the cashews. Bake until the pudding pulls away from the sides of the dish, about 35 minutes.
Remove the pudding from the oven and serve with ice cream.
*If your baguette is not stale, cut it into chunks and toast the chunks for 15 minutes to dry the bread out.
Have you ever met someone whose primary diet consists of carrot cake and banana nut muffins and ice cream? Whose sweet face belies her even sweeter tooth? Meet Dorothy, our resident Dessert Tourist. Dorothy will be Audrey’s resident Dessert Tourist, zipping in and out of bake shops and dessert cafes to share with us some of LA’s sweetest. Today’s stop: Cupcakes & Co.
Cupcakes are all the rage, but Asian inspired cupcakes? Most likely not even available in Asia. However, you can find cupcakes inspired by Asian tastes and flavors everyday at Cupcakes & Co. in downtown Burbank.
Cupcakes & Co., created by Asian American Maryanne Tongka, is a unique bakery offering all-American desserts with a fusion of Asian and European influences. All of their cupcakes are lighter than their traditional counterparts, a characteristic of cakes found in Asia. This lightness is due mostly to the light, whipped, frosting used. Instead of traditional American buttercream, Cupcakes and Co. uses Italian Meringue Buttercream, which is amazingly silky and not as sweet as American buttercream. I myself have always preferred Italian Meringue Buttercream over American buttercream. But beware: because of the lightness of these cakes, you can easily eat two or three of these in one sitting (and these are jumbo sized cupcakes).
They start out with 9 flavors each day (call ahead for the day’s flavors), but offer 30 unique flavors in total. Every flavor is available every day – the girls are more than happy to bake you a fresh cupcake on the spot. You might have to wait to get your cake, but it’ll be worth it. They will even create a cupcake based on your palate, with your preferred cake and frosting flavors. Just let them know what you like, and they will whip it right up. How’s that for good customer service?
Cupcakes inspired by Tongka’s Asian heritage include De Luscious, a cupcake celebrating juicy Philippine mangoes, and Violet Ube, a purple yam cupcake with ube cream. The Zen cupcake is a true fusion cupcake – green tea cake, a distinctly Asian flavor, is paired with the very Western cream cheese frosting. They also offer a Cheese Cupcake, which resembles one of those “cheesecakes” found in a cute little café in Japan or Korea. This unfrosted cake has the texture of a soufflé that’s been mixed with a muffin. A true treat for the taste buds!
Chocolate with Italian Meringue Buttercream: This is my favorite cupcake from Cupcakes and Co. Incredibly rich, moist, devil’s food cake with super silky Italian Meringue Buttercream. The chocolate flavor is fantastically rich and deep in this cupcake. Its obvious that its made with very high quality chocolate. Maryanne quickly whipped up this cupcake for me when I told I adored Italian Meringue Buttercream (this cupcake is usually paired with chocolate ganache and chocolate buttercream). She even frosted it as a cute puppy to match Downtown Burbank’s Halloween mascot.
Wicked: Chocolate cupcake with a cream cheese topping, dipped in chocolate ganache, and rolled in chocolate and white chocolate curls. The chocolate here is not quite as rich and dark as the Chocolate
cupcake mentioned above, but its still incredibly flavorful and moist. This lighter chocolate works to the cupcake’s advantage, as the cupcake is already quite rich with the cream cheese topping and chocolate ganache. The cream cheese topping is reminiscent of cheesecake, but much lighter.
Banana Caramel: Light, fluffy cake with great banana flavor and whipped cream cheese frosting. My favorite part? The generous caramel buried underneath the whipped cream cheese frosting, right between where the frosting meets the cake.
Red Velvet: Love the cream cheese frosting – light, tangy, and not too sweet. Its more of a cocoa-based red velvet as opposed to a tangy buttermilk red velvet. The cake itself was a tad dry for my taste.
Pumpkin: Great spicy pumpkin flavor, with whipped cream cheese frosting. Frosted like a pumpkin, which I found adorable.
Cupcakes and Co. sums it all up in their motto: “inherently international, uniquely traditional, amazingly
wonderful cupcakes!” These cupcakes are definitely recommended for those that prefer lighter desserts, Asian desserts, or anyone who wants to try something different.
Plenty of street parking right in front of the store, and a parking structure down the street.
Cupcakes and Co.
130 E Magnolia Blvd
Burbank, CA 91506
Phone: (818) 843-2340
Have you ever met someone whose primary diet consists of carrot cake and banana nut muffins and ice cream? Whose sweet face belies her even sweeter tooth? Meet Dorothy, our resident Dessert Tourist. Dorothy will be Audrey’s resident Dessert Tourist, zipping in and out of bake shops and dessert cafes to share with us some of LA’s sweetest. Her first stop? Frosted Cupcakery.
Before I even visited Frosted Cupcakery, I knew I was in for a treat. The two locations have about 600 reviews combined on Yelp with a solid four star rating. They were selected by as the best cupcakes in Los Angeles by myfoxla’s Hot List, and loved throughout the blogosphere. And I have to agree with the hype. These cupcakes are phenomenal.
Frosted Cupcakery has been re-inventing cupcakes since the cupcake craze hit LA. The modernly retro bakery offers simple, nostalgic flavors, executed amazingly well. They offer 17 flavors of cupcakes daily ($2.95 each, $30 for a dozen), but the majority of the cupcakes are vanilla are chocolate, with a variation on the frosting. They also boast ice-cream filled cupcakes and hi-top cupcakes (mini cupcake sandwiches), and they’ll make you a custom order of almost anything.
The ice-cream filled cupcakes ($4.95) are jumbo cupcakes filled with ice-cream and topped with frosting. The idea came about from customers asking if they carried ice-cream or any other desserts (mind you, this was before there were cupcakeries on every street corner and consumers were still shocked at the idea of a cupcake-only bakery). The owners were always big fans of ice-cream cake, and thought ice-cream cupcakes would be a great modern twist on the dessert. Frosted offers ice-cream cupcakes in four flavors, but call ahead to see what flavor they are serving that day. I went on a day when they were serving the red velvet ice-cream cupcake, but the royal white cupcake filled with pumpkin ice-cream intrigues me the most.
A hi-top ($1.45) is a cake sandwich comprised of two halves of a mini cupcake sandwiching a frosting filling. These are available in three flavors every day.
Frosted Cupcakery also hosts a mini social the first week of every month, where they offer free sampling of their cupcake of the month. Check their website for dates and times.
Here are my top picks from Frosted Cupcakery:
Royal White/Vanilla Buttercream: One of the best vanilla cupcakes I have ever had. The cake is insanely moist with a delicate crumb. Frosted manages to capture the familiar Vanilla flavor from childhood perfectly.
Royal White/Salted Caramel Hi-top: The royal white vanilla cake here is the same amazing recipe used in their vanilla cupcake. The caramel buttercream filling has a deep caramel flavor, which is complemented perfectly by the coarse sea salt.
Orange Chocolate Chip: This is a seasonal flavor (available only for the month of October!), but I wish it was available every day of the year. Delicate orange cake flecked with mini chocolate chips and frosted with chocolate buttercream. The moist cake has a light orange flavor, complemented by the chocolate.
Banana/Chocolate Buttercream: I actually let this one sit out for three days on purpose to see how moist it would stay. And it was still insanely moist on the third day (that just shows you how moist their cupcakes are to begin with!). The cake has a banana nut flavor to it, and the chocolate buttercream is delicious. Topped with chopped nuts and a salty banana chip.
Red Velvet/Cream Cheese: The red velvet is a cocoa-based recipe, and has a great, thick, tangy, cream cheese frosting. Didn’t stand out to me, but still very good.
Chocolate/Caramel Buttercream Toffee: The chocolate cupcakes are just not as amazingly moist and delicate as their vanilla counterparts. This was a slight disappointment and surprise to me as I tried the Royal White vanilla cake first and that yanked my expectations for the rest of the flavors way up. Even though texture is not as amazing, flavor is still fantastic. I found the caramel buttercream here a bit sweet (which would work well with a darker chocolate cake, but this one here is a lighter, milkier chocolate cake), but this is the same caramel buttercream in the Royal White/Salted Caramel hi-top. Its fantastic there as it pairs extremely well with the sea salt.
Red Velvet/Cream Cheese ice-cream cupcake: Cocoa-based jumbo red velvet cupcake filled with vanilla bean ice-cream. The vanilla ice-cream pairs well with the cocoa in the red velvet, and the cream cheese frosting was delicious. Definitely takes decadence to a new level.
Frosted Cupcakery has two locations, one in Hollywood and one in Belmont Shore. The Hollywood location boasts a bright blue store on the corner of Lexington/Highland. As an added bonus, there is parking!
Frosted Cupcakery has become one of my favorite cupcakeries. Be sure to visit if you’re in the area! And if you’re not, these are definitely worth the drive.
belmont shore – long beach
4817 e. 2nd street
long beach, ca. 90803
hollywood – los angeles
1200 n. highland avenue
los angeles, ca. 90083