It’s incredible to look back on the past couple of years and see how much the cupcake has really infiltrated our lives.
The cupcakes shop Sprinkles is everywhere. Cupcake birthday cakes. Cupcake wedding cakes. Cupcakes on a lonely Friday night. Cupcakes after a full day of shopping. Cupcakes on a rainy day.
But take this for a spin: imagine getting a scrumptious box of cupcakes delivered to your door by a princess.
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. 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