Tag Archives: cupcakes

Sprinkles Cupcake ATM Machine

Hello, again. Wondering where we’ve been all this time? Or why I haven’t blogged about this year’s Cannes Film Festival even once this whole month when it ends in like, four days? Well, the answer, amigos, is twofold.

Part one of the reason I’ve been away is that I’ve been working (a lot) on a couple of writing projects that actually, you know, pay. So, sadly, that leaves little time for blogging here. Sorry…

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And the other reason we’ve been away for so long is that we’ve spending entirely too much time thinking about the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM Machine. Actually, we’ve been doing a lot more than “thinking about it”, we’ve cheated on our diet exactly three times to get our hands on some tasty Sprinkles Cupcakes, and every time has been better than the last.

Seriously, our last visit at 1:30AM might have been the best yet…or maybe that was the pumpkin cupcake talking. Either way, this freaking cupcake ATM is a revelation. The way it works is pretty simple, step up to the touch-screen monitor, scroll through the cupcakes pictured till you find one you like, click on the image and then swipe your credit card. And $4.00 later your selection appears in a cute little Sprinkles box. Just like a real ATM, only sweeter!

There’s always a line (even at 3:30AM!) but it moves quickly and everyone is so happy to be there that the camaraderie only adds to the whole cupcake-to-go experience. The funniest thing we noticed lately is how many straight single men are in line for this thing. Women, tourists and city-savvy gays you’d expect, but burly straight dudes on their way home from a bar or the gym? Wow…I guess cupcakes really are the great equalizer.

Anyway, back to my daydreaming about that sweet-ass pumpkin cupcake. Happy ATM-ing everyone!

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Happy Halloween, amigos!

With a pre-Halloween party last weekend, tons of candy-giving-out on tap for this weekend and Christine gearing up to make some of her traditionally-badass Halloween cupcakes, this week has pretty much flown by. So, in case I miss the opportunity to tell you all on the actual date…Happy Halloween, amigos!

And in honor of Greta’s first Halloween on the planet I decided to share this hilarious video I shot of her a couple weeks back at our local Target.

Though she laughed and smiled at most of the ghoulie stuff on display, as you can see, the poor thing did not know what to make of that creepy witch. Yikes…I hope she fares better with those spooky laughing Santas come Christmas!

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Lunch at San Francisco’s Ferry Building

Christine and I usually visit San Francisco at least once a year for her work and every time we go, one of the first places we hit is the super cool Ferry Building Marketplace at the end of Market Street.

Housed inside the beautiful shell of the historic Ferry Building (which opened it’s doors in 1898), the marketplace can best be described as a gigantic indoor farmer’s market. With offices upstairs, the bustling lower level is home to some of the tastiest gourmet grub in the city.

The Ferry Building, San Francisco

Little girl (not Greta!) at Miette

Miette's collection of cool goodies!

Artisanal cheeses, chocolates, meats, tea, coffee, breads…there is nothing you can’t find at this place and if you are lucky enough to come on a Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday between the hours of 10:00AM and 2:00PM, you’ll find a real life farmer’s market camped outside the building as well. And, man alive, is that place amazing!

But even if you can’t make it for the outdoor farmer’s market, the permanent storefronts inside the Ferry Building will more than satisfy you. We’ve eaten at almost every joint in there and aside from the bland, totally overpriced Mexican food at Mijita, everything we’ve eaten there has been excellent.

That said, we are total creatures of habit and almost always eat at the same two places. First stop is usually Charlie Phan’s Out The Door. Located directly behind Phan’s already-legendary The Slanted Door, Out The Door has some of the best Vietnamese “street food” I’ve ever had. Soups, salads, spring rolls, out-of-this-world Vietnamese coffee, this place is probably one of my favorite restaurants of all time. Seriously good food!

Miette @ the Ferry Building!

Miette pastry table at the Ferry Building!

The amazing chocolate pots @ Miette!

And the meal we had the one time we actually managed to score a dinner reservation at The Slanted Door — which is usually booked months in advance — will go down in the record books as one of the finest meals I’ve ever had. I  kid you not, amigos, I have actually had dreams about their world-famous Chicken Claypot with caramel sauce, chilies and fresh ginger. DELICIOUS!

Our second favorite spot in the Ferry Building is Miette Patisserie home of awesome cookies, pastries and the second-best cupcakes in the city (right behind my all-time favorite, Kara’s Cupcakes!). But cookies and other baked yumminess aside, the thing that keeps Christine and I coming back year after year are Miette’s incredibly tasty Chocolate Pots de Creme. Holy crap, these things will totally change your life!

Served in a tiny glass jar (which you get to keep!) the chocolate pot is like the best pudding you ever had topped with a healthy dollop of dreamy, melt-in-your-mouth, creme fraiche. Yum!

Boccalone sandwich board sign @ the Ferry Building!

Boccalone at the Ferry Building!

And while we were a little sad to learn that they no longer uses the Miette logo glassware for the pots (which make rad tea light holders back home), as long as the chocolate keeps tasting this good, who really cares what it comes in?

Our two favorite stops aside, this past visit we decided to try something different for lunch. So, at the urging of Grandma Wendy, the four of us jumped into the long line outside Boccalone Salumeria to try their Food-Network-famous mortadella hot dogs. And, lemme tell ya, the sign out front, “tasty salted pig parts”, doesn’t even begin to describe how good this fancy hot dog was.

The sight, the smell, even the sound as it popped in your mouth when you bit into it, this was truly a weiner for the ages…delicious!

Boccalone delivery bicycle!

Mortadella hot dog @ Boccalone!

My only complaint about the Ferry Building Marketplace is the lack of parking. This was our first time driving to SF with Greta (we’re saving her first airplane trip till January!) and the parking really sucked. The dedicated lot they do have is very small and street parking is a nightmare. And when you do find street parking, it’s metered up the wazoo, so, bring your quarters!

Oh, and one more cool thing. The Ferry Building Marketplace has free WiFi, so, bring your laptop and sit a spell at one of the giant wooden tables facing the bay…the view is incredible!

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Birthday cupcakes for Elvis!

Yesterday was Elvis Presley’s birthday, and keeping with a tradition we started last year, Christine and I celebrated what would have been The King’s 74th birthday with some sweet Yummy Cupcakes! Yee-haw!

Cupcakes for Elvis #1

Last year, we were kind of bummed that Yummy Cupcakes didn’t feature their rocking Elvis cupcake on his actual birthday — they missed it by like, two or three days — and we told them so. Well, I guess the power’s that be made note of his actual birthday this year, because, lo and behold, guess which special cupcake they featured yesterday afternoon? You got it, the Elvis cupcake!

A sugar coma-inducing blend of peanut butter cake and chocolate/banana buttercream frosting, this cupcake was so sweet, and so totally Elvis that we were both kind of blown away. It was so rich, in fact, that we actually had to cut the sweetness with vanilla ice cream, something I’m sure Mr. Presley would have heartily approved of.

I think he also would have dug the other two cupcakes we purchased in his honor…a very tasty Chocolate Raspberry number with chocolate frosting and a raspberry filling and our old standby — and my Stepmom Wendy’s favorite! — the Peanut Butter Cup cupcake! If you haven’t tried it yet, get thee to Yummy, amigos, because this cupcake rocks!

Elvis cupcakes at Yummy Cupcakes, Burbank!

Elvis cupcakes @ Yummy, Burbank!

The Peanut Butter Cup cupcake consists of chocolate cake topped with vanilla frosting, chocolate and peanut butter sprinkles and a wedge of an actual peanut butter cup on top…but the secret to it’s success is a dollop of peanut butter filling inside the cake itself. Man alive, Elvis would have loved that shit…amazing!

So, as we blow out our Graceland “Forever Elvis” candle one more time…we wish the King nothing but love on his big day. Happy Birthday, dude, we’re already counting the days till your 75th…

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Halloween Cupcakes: 2008 Edition

Farmer’s Daughter Bean here. I know it’s been awhile…but it’s too hot to bake during the summers in LA, so I haven’t spent much time in the kitchen. But now, with the harvest season in full swing, I figured it was time to make some goodies, and since my husband likes to say that Halloween wouldn’t be complete without my cupcakes…cupcakes it was!

First, I looked up some tasty recipes in one of my favorite cookbooks, Cupcakes! by Elinor Klivans and came upon the Spiced Pumpkin recipe. Once I saw the pictures inside, I knew that I had to try these out! The batter looked so good I was dying to try some, but in my current state, I wisely resisted the temptation.

Tomás and my sister-in-law Laura — who were playing “Star Wars: The Force Unleashed” all night while I baked — said the batter on the beaters was “delish”, so, I kept baking. Trust me, it took a lot of willpower to wait for the final product with Cream Cheese Frosting and cinnamon frosting spiderwebs, but it was definitely worth the wait.

The cake was very light and had just the perfect amount of pumpkin spice. I did switch it up a bit by omitting the crystallized ginger from the recipe, partly because I didn’t have any on hand, but mostly because I just kind of needed immediate satisfaction at that point. But the cupcakes still tasted great.

The other cupcakes I made that night didn’t turn out as cute. For that batch I used the Butter Cupcake recipe and the Cream Cheese Frosting from Cupcakes! again. They were supposed to look like little pumpkins, but the Tootsie Roll stems didn’t really turn out as well as I had envisioned them.

They still tasted good though, but Tomás and Laura (and later Ryan!) raved about the pumpkin spice…so, I’ll definitely make those again.

For those of you who have never baked from scratch, you must try it. And with the holidays approaching, there is no better time to crack open your favorite cookbook and give it a whirl. It takes a little longer, but if you like to bake, the results are totally worth it. Just ask the nerdy gamers in my living room!

Happy Halloween, everyone!

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Kara’s Cupcakes, San Francisco

Some folks swear by Sprinkles, and Yummy Cupcakes in Burbank is always great in a pinch, but our favorite cupcakes on God’s green earth come from the crazy good Kara’s Cupcakes in San Francisco.

Christine and I first discovered Kara’s while making our regular pilgrimage to Ghirardelli Square to buy some of their yummy Ghirardelli Drinking Chocolate.

If you haven’t tried this stuff, then you have not had truly incredible hot cocoa, amigos. It’s delicious…and since we first tried it a couple years back, Ghirardelli Drinking Chocolate has become one of the staples of our kitchen: salsa, eggs, tortillas, and Drinking Chocolate. Not necessarily in that order…but, I digress. Back to the cupcakes!

Kara’s has two locations in San Francisco, the one mentioned above at Ghirardelli Square and another storefront in the city’s happening Marina District just off of Chesnut Street. And though we usually frequent the one at Ghirardelli just out of convenience, I gotta say that the Kara’s in the Marina has a much bigger menu to choose from.

And what a menu it is! Even the most basic-sounding cupcake here is out-of-this-world incredible, but we have two favorites that actually start me drooling just thinking about them. Christine’s favorite is Kara’s dark chocolate Fleur de Sel, which is basically a chocolate cupcake with caramel filling, ganache frosting and fleur de sel sprinkled on top.

I’m not kidding, that cupcake is the most perfect union of chocolate and sea salt outside of those dreamy little morsels we had at Todos Santos in Santa Fe. Just incredible! And best of all, it travels well. You know, in case I pick one up for her while she’s busy shopping the Gift Show downtown.

But my favorite is, and always will be, the outrageously-good Banana Caramel. Now, I know not everyone loves bananas like I do, but wow…this banana cupcake with caramel filling and silky cream cheese frosting will change your life, baby! I have never had a cupcake as good as that one…and trust me, I’ve had a lot of cupcakes in my life, yo. This one is cupcake heaven!

Also good are the Coconut and Kara’s Karrot cupcakes, but if you only have time (or money!) for one $3.25 cupcake, I’d say go with the Fleur de Sel or the Banana Caramel. And if you are a true lover of cupcakes, then you have to stop what you’re doing right now and head on up to Kara’s…seriously, you’ll die!

Oh yeah, and I just saw on their website that they recently opened another Kara’s in Palo Alto…so, that’s even less of a drive from L.A.! Yay!

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Almond Butter Cupcake Disaster

Hey again, Farmer’s Daughter Bean here with another “make” post. Only this time, what I ended up making was a bit of a disaster.

Earlier this week, Tom came up with the brilliant idea of making some “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” cupcakes. I would make the cupcakes, he would make tiny crystal skulls out of marzipan to put on top and we would have “Indy 4” cupcakes to enjoy while waiting in line to see the movie. It all sounded so fun…in theory. The reality was something much worse.

To start with, I have given up sugar and white flour, so I needed to come up with an alternative. Sounds easy, right? Plenty of people substitute agave nectar for sugar, so I picked some up at Trader Joe’s and got to work. I figured the white flour shouldn’t be too hard to replace either, so I used some oat bran and almond meal instead. That doesn’t sound too bad, does it?

Oh yeah, and did I mention that the cupcakes were supposed to be Peanut Butter? But since I’m not eating that either, I just switched it out for some tasty Trader Joe’s Almond Butter instead. So far, so good. Everything went smoothly and even Tom agreed that the batter tasted really good. Sorry I didn’t take pictures of the process, but I was too wrapped up in everything to even think about bringing a camera into the mix.

Coming out of the oven, they didn’t look half bad. I’ll admit the tops were a bit sunken in, but they still looked like cupcakes. So, I let them cool and decided to taste one before frosting them. They didn’t taste bad, but the spongy texture was kind of strange. Tom said they tasted like “hippie” and something tells me that was not a compliment.

To me, they had more of the texture of a bran muffin than a cupcake. In hindsight, I think oat bran is just way too course of a substitute for white flour. Sadly, instead of Peanut Butter Cupcakes, I ended up with “hippie” Almond Butter Muffins, and weird one’s at that.

I did make some frosting too but that was an even bigger disaster, so I won’t even get into that. Tom called it “chocolate soup” and even I had to admit that’s kind of what it looked like. It tasted great, but when you coupled it with my sunken cupcakes, it was not a pretty sight.

As you can probably imagine, Tom never did get around to making those crystal skulls either (sorry, Indy). As for me, I think I’ll skip the substitutions in my cupcake recipes and stick to dark chocolate and fruit when I’m craving something sweet. Or better yet, I’ll just make proper oat bran muffins next time out!

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