Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween Cupcakes: Fat Apple's Restaurant & Bakery

The Fat Apples Restaurant and Bakery in El Cerrito, CA, is a staple for many area residents. They're known for both their fantastic breakfasts, and also their bakery. Two huge bakery cases line the entry way into the restaurant, so you're forced to drool over their signature olallieberry pies and gorgeous, mountain-high apple pie. They always have other treats too, like cookies, pastries, and cupcakes.

This day, the day before Halloween, they had a lovely assortment of Halloween-theme topped chocolate and vanilla cupcakes. My whippersnapper immediately wanted one and in the name of cupcakes in the world, I had to consent to try one. Fat Apples is, after all, a great bakery.
He chose a vanilla cupcake with a skull on top.

After a filling and delicious breakfast of pumpkin pancakes with a sunny side up egg and bacon, we procured the skull cupcake and took it home for proper documenting and tasting.

The frosting
The frosting was unlike any I'd tasted. That is, it was so light, and so whippy that my husband (who has immersed himself in the Cupcake Quest with gusto) thought it was buttercream. "It's like a wedding cake," he said. But in fact I tasted cream cheese. Only, it was the lightest, fluffiest cream cheese frosting ever. Five stars to Fat Apples for getting cream cheese frosting right.

The cake
Moist, like cake should be, and delicious. The cake was a fine accompaniment to the light frosting.

The verdict
Fat Apples makes a fine cupcake. It's light and it's sweet, but nothing too sweet as to gag you. Overall, a delicious cupcake as an afternoon snack.

And how was the skull treat? "Delicious and crunchy," the whippersnapper reported, in between mouthfuls.

Fat Apples Restaurant and Bakery
7525 Fairmount Ave
El Cerrito, CA 94530

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Crumbs: How Chuck Norris Got Me Cupcakes

I recently won six cupcakes from Crumbs, a national cupcake store that has beautiful marketing and design, and a really awesome web site. How did I win these six cupcakes? You’ll have to go here to read the full story, but trust me when I say that it was all due to Chuck Norris.

Crumbs is definitely a gourmet, high-end cupcakery. The six pack I received came in an insulated cooler with dry ice, and the packaging was beautiful. I ordered the following:

  • Grasshopper
  • Pumpkin
  • Half-baked
  • S’mores
  • Apple Cobbler
  • Cookies and Cream
The only thing was that after unpacking the box from the shipping container and dry ice, I had to let them sit for four hours. This was a very painful time in life for me.

But finally there they were, all six in their glorious packaging, waiting to be eaten. I did my best to plow through them all weekend.

The Cake
The cake for each cupcake was good, very good, but not as soft and exceptional as other cupcakes like, say, Berkeley’s Love at First Bite, or even the Bay Area’s TeaCake Bakeshop. But there was nothing wrong with the cake either—just tasted like cake.

The pumpkin was great, as was the minty chocolate grasshopper. The s’mores was excellent, better than the cookies and cream. The best one by far was the apple cobbler, because it had a wonderful apple filling inside the cake, making it really fabulous to bite into. Also, because the cakes are so big, it’s not possible to gobble six of them in one sitting (I mean, it’s not like I didn’t want to). So the cake tends to dry a bit with each day that goes by, and the apple filling helps keep it moist, so that was the clear winner.

The Frosting
The real win of the Crumbs cupcakes was in their inventive and inspiring toppings. Each cupcake was absolutely ginormous and the toppings were huge to match. This meant that when you cut a slice of the cupcake (because you kind of had to), the experience was in fact like eating a slice of cake, complete with a pile of frosting on top. There is nothing wrong with this! I just happen to prefer a slightly smaller scale for my cupcakes. But Crumbs keeps with the tradition that cupcakes are just that—miniature cakes. So the toppings were so good that if the frosting was cream cheese based or otherwise, I didn’t even notice. That’s where Crumbs really scores.

Four stars for the overall presentation. You get a huge cake with fabulous, humongous topping, and you get really nice packaging with good marketing. I was so impressed by the experience of receiving six humongous cupcakes on my doorstep that I immediately sent six to my best friend for her birthday. They’re good that way—meant to be shared, meant to be presented to others.