Monday, July 26, 2010

Pear Fair Cupcake

Last weekend we went to the Pear Fair in Courtland, CA, near Sacramento. The fair is super cute and filled with all the lovely fair food delights you might hope for, like deep-fried artichokes and asparagus, and tritip.

What I was not expected was a pear cupcake, so imagine my surprise and delight when I found a booth selling them! The booth also sold pear scones and muffins but time was not to be wasted on such trivialities. No! I immediately secured two pear cupcakes, photographed them, and then commenced the tasting.

So how was it?
Freaking delicious. The frosting tasted exactly like you might imagine pear flavored frosting to taste. Not too overwhelming, not too faint-- just right. Plus the vanilla cake was gorgeous, really heavy. The whole package weas refreshing, and just the right amount of sweet.

Of course, I shoved mine in my mouth as quickly, and then went to a drink hut. When I came back, I found the second cupcake suspiciously missing. Turns out, my whippersnapper had turned around and eaten nearly the whole thing!

Pear cupcakes = delicious. I'm sorry that I don't know who ran the booth, but you can surely visit the Pear Fair every year and hunt this elusive treasure down.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Just Desserts boxed cupcakes

I know. I KNOW. I should have been more careful. I spied this box of Just Desserts cupcakes in a local grocery store and even though I am here, and this blog is here, to prevent consumption of grocery story cupcakes, Just Desserts is a local San Francisco bakery. Local bakery with goods in stores must be good, yes? Plus, I was won over by the display table. This box of cupcakes sat alongside other pretty cookies and unique and luscious-looking desserts.

I practically HAD to buy these. Plus, they say they are all natural and "scratch baked." I thought they would be all yummy.

So how were they?
Delicious. That's what they were. The cake was tres moist and the frosting was sweet. I was inclined to say it was too sweet, but my husband, who is generally not a huge sweet fan, liked it a lot. The all-important frosting really was good, and while it was a bit light for my taste, there was nothing wrong with it at all.

I liked these a lot. Kudos, Just Desserts! They were the best packaged cupcake I've had. You could easily pass these off as bakery-fresh cupcakes and no one would be the wiser.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cupcake Dental Floss

Oh yes.

To my INTENSE DISMAY, it does not taste of frosting as the packaging purports. Absolutely devastated.

However, am willing to use whole box in case the flavor is buried deep in the roll.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Kara's Cupcakes, San Francisco

I visited the Ghirardelli Square location of Kara's Cupcakes. I was with family visiting from out of town, and I must say that as soon as I finished explaining the Cupcake Quest to them, they were all in favor of visiting Kara's, for "research."

Kara's Cupcakes, it must be said, is the most high-end cupcakery I've ever seen. It looks like a pristine jewelry shop. Kara's gets high marks for brand and marketing, right down to the logo and packaging. It needs to, because cupcakes are priced apiece at $3.75. Yikes! I mentioned that we were getting cupcakes for the blog, and that I'm on a Quest for the best cupcake, but the shop girl wasn't impressed at all (and unfortunately, no free cupcakes were forthcoming. I don't expect free ones, but I'm just saying).

How many and what
Since there were a lot of us, I felt it necessary to purchase a load of cupcakes. This was both spectacularly stupid and also brilliant. It was stupid because there was no way of telling the cupcakes would be good or not--for all I knew they could taste like used motor oil. But that's where the branding did its job--the appearance of the fancy-pants shop assured me I'd be getting a high end cupcake. But getting a lot was also brilliant because as it turned out later, my family and I had a cupcake tasting party and then rated each one. And overall, the cupcakes were good.

I got the following: a Sweet Chocolate (chocolate cupcake with a sugary sweet chocolate frosting), Meyer Lemon with lemon custard filling, Vanilla with vanilla frosting (for control group purposes), raspberry chocolate with raspberry filling, and Strawberry vanilla.

How the cupcakes fared
The chocolate frosting tasted like the dreaded grocery store version--that indescribable lard taste, and I didn't like it (I think this was called the "sugary sweet" frosting). However! My cousin said she liked it because she prefers a lighter, whipped style frosting. So it really depends on your taste. I prefer thick hunks of buttercream on mine. But there was unanimous agreement that the Meyer Lemon cupcake, with lemon filling, was absolutely scrumptious (and it had thick buttercream frosting!). The raspberry was good, as was the strawberry, but the plain vanilla was a little too sweet (and plain). In all, I think we liked the ones with the extra filling in them, but with buttercream frosting.

Perhaps best of all was the way that my family dived into the taste test portion of the Quest. We divided up all the cupcakes into equal pieces and all tried. It was a lot of fun, and a great way to conduct future tastings. So, thank you, Kara's for providing a fun evening for my family.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Love at First Bite, Berkeley

Oh, Love at First Bite. How do I love thee.

I visited this gem of a bakery in North Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto on a super hot June weekend. It's a small shop tucked away in a cute ally on Walnut street, sort of behind Chez Panisse. They sell cupcakes, cookies, and cute items.

I tried the vegan gingerbread (pictured), the cookies and cream, vanilla, and strawberry. I'm rather embarrassed to say that I ate all but the strawberry before my husband copped on to their presence in the house. And I would have gladly fought him for the strawberry, if it wouldn't have made me look entirely like a pig.

These cupcakes are divine. They use fine ingredients, including the coveted Madagascar-bourbon vanilla, and the frosting was just superb. The frosting was so good that I actually had to portion control my bites, because eating the cakes all at once would have been heartbreaking. I could see easily how I'd be addicted to these cupcakes. A Love at First Bite cupcake junkie, is what I'd be.

When the cupcakes were gone, I was extremely disappointed. I've already begun trying to plan a stop at this super cute little shop the next time I'm in North Berkeley.

This is a definite For The Win.