Monday, April 21, 2014

Cupcake Wars Champion Cupcake Review

Another cupcake review?! Yep. Don't worry, I haven't turned into a cupcake review only blog.  April being my birth-month I'm on a cupcake kick.  I've been meaning to try all these places out and what better time than April.
In researching cupcake shops in my area I came across one that the owner had been on Cupcake Wars.  Well of course I HAD to check out this shop.  Located in Lake Oswego, Kyra's is a 100% gluten -free bakery and was the only gluten-free three time winner on Cupcake Wars.  So exciting! You can read about Kyra's story of why she opened a gluten-free bakery here
When I walked into Kyra's the place was busy.  Everyone there that morning wanted the cinnamon rolls.  The smell of the cinnamon rolls filled the air and it was such a wonderful smell. I was tempted to get a cinnamon roll but I was there for cupcakes. I'll definitely be going back for a cinnamon roll. 
I picked up three cupcakes. One for my husband and two for me :) Bunny Hop for my husband and Birthday Cake and Raspberry Lemonade for me.
Jasper wanted to help with the taste testing.
I got the Bunny Hop for my husband because he likes carrot cake. The Bunny Hop is carrot spice cake with cream cheese frosting.  He liked the cupcake and said there was real chunks of carrot in it. A pleasant surprise. I didn't tell him it was gluten free.   As for the frosting, he said it was too much.  Keep in mind my husband is not much of a frosting guy.
I thought the Birthday Cake cupcake was fitting since it's my birth-month.  The cake had a mild vanilla flavor and had a little bit of a mealy texture.  I'm assuming this is because it's gluten-free.  The cake was lighter than the other bakery where I tried gluten-free cupcakes. The frosting was very smooth but a little bland in flavor.  Vanilla cupcakes have never been my favorite because I've always found them a little lacking in flavor. However, if you're a vanilla cupcake lover I think you would like these cupcakes.
I saved the Raspberry Lemonade cupcake for last.  I thought this one would be more flavorful than the Birthday Cake one and I was right.  The texture of this one was mealy too but had a nice lemon flavor.  The mealy texture didn't take away from the lightness of the cake and the flavor.  The frosting on this one was smooth and bursting with flavor.  I really liked this cupcake.
There are so many other great sounding flavors on their menu that I'd like to try. I think this Saturday  I'll stop into Kyra's for some cinnamon rolls and bring them over to the garage sale I'm participating in with my family. See if they taste as  good as they smell.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Vegan Cupcake Review

Can a sugar lover like vegan cupcakes?
When you walk into Petunia's Pies and Pastries a sweet little piggy greets you on the wall. Petunia's is located in Portland, Oregon and is a vegan and gluten free bakery.  
The cakes on display look delicious but vegan and gluten free! I'm skeptical about how they taste.  I'm a total gluten sugar egg loving dessert eater.
Not only can you get baked goods at Petunia's, you can order lunch and get a cocktail too.
On all the tables are Drink and Dessert pairing menu's.  One more reason to  meet friends at Petunia's and spend a lazy afternoon enjoying dessert and a drink.
 I treated myself to two cupcakes and really hoped they tasted good because they were my birthday cupcakes. Yes I know, I already had cake at my birthday party but that was last weekend. I celebrate all month :) Everyone should. It's fabulous!

The first cupcake I tried was the Yum-oha. I was told it was like a Samoa Girl Scout cookie. I tried the cake first and was pleasantly surprised.  The cake was very moist and had a nice rich flavor. The cake is heavier than that of non-vegan non-gluten free cupcakes. The icing tasted like a candy bar. mmm. When I tried the icing with the cake it was a little too much. I scraped part of the icing off and it was much better.
The next cupcake I tried was a coconut raspberry.  This cake was also  moist and rich just like the Yum-oha. When I tried the icing on this cupcake it crumbled off. The icing was stiff and very sweet. Now I like sweet but this was overly sweet. The coconut flavor was very mild. When I attempted to eat the cake with the icing, the icing just crumbled off and it was just too much.  I scraped off most of the icing and the cupcake was much better after that.
As you can see from the cut away view there is a lot of icing. I normally love icing but not the one on the coconut raspberry. The filling was a nice surprise in the cupcake.
Did Petunia's convert me to a vegan gluten free cupcake eater?  Not really.  I did enjoy both cupcakes, will be  trying more flavors and will recommend the bakery to others.  I also felt like I was sneaking in some veggies I don't eat enough of.  But my heart belongs to sugar, gluten and egg cupcakes :)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Cupcake Review

Sweet Celebrations in Long Beach, Washington
Last spring my friend and I went to Long Beach, Washington to get out of town and enjoy the beach.  Walking along the main street through town I saw a sign for cupcakes. Of course I had to go check it out.  The shop is located down an ally off the main street. Not the best location because unless you really look for the shop it's easy to walk right by it. 
The lady behind the counter, who I believe was the owner was very helpful and friendly.
I'm not sure how long Sweet Celebrations had been open when my friend and I visited. I have a feeling the shop was fairly new. As a cupcake lover and party thrower I approached the shop with possibly a different eye than most.  The cupcakes in the trays didn't make for a professional display in my opinion. It had a bake sale look to it.  The flavors of the cupcakes were written on a dry erase board that the cupcakes were sitting on. Pretty little signs would have made a big difference.
Another thing that caught my eye right away was how the cupcakes had a very homemade-y look to them.  As you can see in the photo below where the arrows are pointing, cupcake batter is slopped over the wrappers. As a bakery owner I would not have put these out for sale.  Both my friend and I were a bit turned off by how the cupcakes were displayed and how they looked.
I decided to try two cupcakes anyway.  My friend passed. She said the look of the display case and how the cupcakes looked turned her off.  I wondered how many other people thought the same as my friend.
I went with the maple bacon and orange cream and went out into the sun to sample them.
A Yelp reviewer said she liked the maple bacon cupcakes so much she went back for seconds and the shop is not to be missed.  I was curious to see if I would have the same thought. The orange cream was good. The cake was moist and the frosting smooth with a nice orange flavor.  For the maple bacon I have to disagree with the Yelp reviewer.  I found there to be too much bacon on the top.  A lot of the pieces fell off as I bit into it and the bacon flavor overwhelmed the cupcake. The maple of the frosting was very sweet. I took two bites and couldn't finish it.
I haven't been up to Long Beach, Washington in awhile so I don't know if any changes have been made to the shop or the cupcakes.  Next time I go up I'll stop into Sweet Celebrations and sample the cupcakes again. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Road Trip Birthday Party

 Every year I throw myself a birthday party.  Sometimes they're big and sometimes they're small and they always have a theme, of sorts. One year I did an ice cream party. I really need to get that one posted on here.  One of the most popular and fun was the Breakfast at Tiffany's party.  This year the theme was Road Trip.  I love road trips. I'd prefer to drive to my vacation destination than fly.  You get to see so much when you're on the road.

My guests were greeted by a banner and the classic air freshner tree's.  I'm not sure how people can stand to have those in their car.  The scent is so strong. I could smell them through the door.
Road Trip Birthday Party by Fizzy Party
I created the backdrop using a map and photo's of vacations I've been on.  I also marked places on the map that I had been.
Road Trip Birthday Party by Fizzy Party

Road Trip Birthday Party by Fizzy Party

Road Trip Birthday Party by Fizzy Party
Stopping for donuts is common on road trips.  You won't find these mini donuts in any shop on the road. They were made by EZ Favor Lollipop Shop.
Road Trip Birthday Party by Fizzy Party

Road Trip Birthday Party by Fizzy Party
Since the air freshner tree's have such a strong scent I didn't want to use them for the garland on the table.  Swishprintables did a great job of creating the air freshners in print.
Road Trip Birthday Party by Fizzy Party

Road Trip Birthday Party by Fizzy Party
Auntie Bea's Bakery helped with the snack stop in Arizona with cactus cookies. 
Road Trip Birthday Party by Fizzy Party

Road Trip Birthday Party by Fizzy Party
I treated myself this year to a bakery cake.  Devils food cake layered with chocolate ganche and raspberry buttercream and iced in raspberry buttercream. 
Road Trip Birthday Party by Fizzy Party
4 Kids Cakes created road signs to add some fun to the cake. I love how she distressed them so they look like they've been on the side of the road for years.
Road Trip Birthday Party by Fizzy Party

Road Trip Birthday Party by Fizzy Party

Road Trip Birthday Party by Fizzy Party

Road Trip Birthday Party by Fizzy Party
No trip is complete without a stop for munchies.
Road Trip Birthday Party by Fizzy Party

Road Trip Birthday Party by Fizzy Party

Road Trip Birthday Party by Fizzy Party
I always liked to get the little bags of nuts or gummy candy when we stopped for munchies.
Do you recognize that gummy bunny? Marshmallow Oreo cookies and  buttery crackers. 
Road Trip Birthday Party by Fizzy Party
Thank you for joining me on my road trip.
Printables-Swish Printables
Fondant Road Signs- 4 Kids Cakes
Road Washi Tape- Pretty Tape
Buttery Crackers- Fancy and Fold
Favor Box's, Nut Tubes, Thank You Tags, Napkins and Twine- Fancy That Shop
Map Paper and Letters - Joann's
Cars, Dice and Tires- Dollar Tree

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Easter Candy

Homemade Gummy Easter Candy
When I saw this pin on Pinterest I had to go to the Hungry Happenings blog and check it out.  I'm a sugar girl. Don't fill my Easter basket with chocolate candies and chocolate bunnies. Fill it with  gummies, licorice and Peeps!
I was excited to try my hand at homemade candy.  Especially sour gummies. After picking up my supplies I was ready to get started.  Hungry Happenings has a great tutorial so I won't be posting one here.  I didn't have time to take pictures anyway. I was too busy watching boiling pots of hot liquid. Of course just as I was about to pour one hot liquid into the other my cat came up beside me and wanted to see what I was doing. Why is it our cats and dogs always get right under our feet while we're cooking with hot liquids?
Making the homemade gummy candy was pretty easy.  Of course the first time is always the hardest because you're trying to read directions and cook/bake at the same time.  The next time I make them will be easier.

 Look at all those bunny gummies, so cute! Hungry Happenings went with an apple flavor and I chose cherry.   
Homemade Gummy Easter Candy
You can leave these as plain gummy candy or you can add citric acid powder to make them sour. I like sour candies so I made mine sour. Next time I'll add more citric acid and make them more sour. Give them more pucker factor.
Homemade Gummy Easter Candy
My husband said the cherry flavor was ok but he thought watermelon would be better.  I'll have to try that next time.
Homemade Gummy Easter Candy

Surprise your friends with some homemade gummy or sour gummy candies. Pick up some fun Easter Eggs and candy bags. Fill the candy bags with some gummies, put them in the eggs  and give to your friends.
Homemade Gummy Easter Candy
These little bunnies are on their way to Montana. An Easter surprise for a friend.
Homemade Gummy Easter Candy
Recipe, a supply list and a link to buy the supplies can be found on Hungry Happenings 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Dessert Review

The Dessert Tray Review

While out shopping for supplies for my upcoming birthday party I decided to stop for a treat.  I've driven by The Dessert Tray numerous times but have never stopped. Too busy on the way to somewhere.  Today I took the time to stop. When I walked in I was greeted with a smile and told of the specials.  That days special was cookies, buy one get one.  A good deal but I was there for the cupcakes. 

There were a lot of cakes to choose from and some you could buy by the slice.  The only cupcakes available were red velvet.  Which was fine with me because I enjoy a good red velvet.   I also picked up a slice of Lemon-Raspberry Poppy seed cake.

I took a small taste of the red velvet cupcake before letting my husband have it. I had the slice of cake.  I found the cake to be dry and an odd taste. Not a bad taste. Just not a red velvet taste.  The frosting was not what I was expecting either. It tasted a bit like brown sugar. Not the smooth cream cheese taste I'm use to with red velvet.  My husband's first question was "is the frosting bad? it looks brownish".  When he bit into the cupcake the frosting fell right off onto the floor. He ate the cake but said it wasn't good at all.  
Update: The Dessert Tray tells me the frosting was salted buttercream. Which explains the brownish look and odd flavor. I was expecting cream cheese. Not being a fan of salt, that also explains why I didn't care for the frosting. 
The Dessert Tray review, Red Velvet Cupcake and Poppyseed Cake
The slice of Lemon-Raspberry Poppy seed cake I had was good. The Dessert Tray's website says "The cake has been brushed with lemon simple syrup and filled with lemon and raspberry cream cheese.  The icing is a raspberry poppy seed butter cream".   I'm not a fan of poppy seed or lemon but this cake was good.  The cake was tender, the fillings had light hints of lemon and raspberry and the icing had a buttery melt in your mouth texture.
The Dessert Tray, Red Velvet Cupcake, Poppyseed Cake Review

The Dessert Tray, Red Velvet Cupcake, Poppyseed Cake Review
Although the cupcake was disappointing, the cake was good. I wouldn't order a red velvet cake from them but I would consider ordering the Lemon-Raspberry Poppy seed.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Gum Paste 101

This last weekend my friend and I took a Basic Gum Paste class at Blake's Decorette ShopThe class is taught by Mary and she did a great job of instructing us.  Our class was filled with everyone making cakes for upcoming birthdays or weddings.  Except Debbie and I, we were there just to learn a new skill.  The class is 4 hours and you learn to make small flowers, a Stephanotis, a leaf and a rose. Mary packs a lot into the class without it feeling over whelming.
We were all given a blob of gum paste and told to knead it until it became soft and pliable.  Next, we took our wires and made little hooks. The hooks would keep the gum paste on the wire more securely
Gum Paste Class, Fizzy Party
With our gum paste we made candy corn  looking shapes and pushed them onto the wire.  This would be the rose bud.  
Gum Paste Class, Fizzy Party
To make flowers we took a small amount of gum paste, it's amazing how little you actually need, and rolled it really thin. You want to be able to see your board underneath.  Thank goodness Debbie brought some Christmas box lids because I forgot my Silpat at home. The Christmas box lids worked but we had to use shortening  on the box lid in order for the gum paste not to stick to it.
Gum Paste Class, Fizzy Party
Just like making cookies, you roll out the gum paste and cut.  Some people in the class had trouble rolling out the gum paste. I thought this step was easy because it was just like rolling pie dough out for a crust.
Gum Paste Class, Fizzy Party
Once the flowers are cut out, we pulled away the gum paste and added it back to our original piece.  Just like making cookies.  We covered the flowers we weren't working with because gum paste dries out.  Using the ball tool we thinned out the edges and then curled up the petals.
Gum Paste Class, Fizzy Party
My first gum paste flower!  I did it!!
Gum Paste Class, Fizzy Party
Poke a little hole in the middle, add a stamen and you have a flower ready to add to a cake or cupcake.  We didn't colour the gum paste because this was an introductory class. 
Gum Paste Class, Fizzy Party
The beginnings of a rose. We cut a few petals and added them to our rose bud. I didn't think mine was looking very good but my class mates said it looked really good :) Not bad for a first attempt.
Gum Paste Class, Fizzy Party
While we waited for the first layer of rose pedals to dry and adhere to the bud we made a Stephanotis.  I didn't have time to take pictures of the steps.
Gum Paste Class, Fizzy Party
More rose petals added and I think it's looking like a real flower.
Gum Paste Class, Fizzy Party
Time to make the leaves, the Calyx for the rose and the bottom of the Stephanotis flower.
Gum Paste Class, Fizzy Party
The leaf was easy.  Roll out gum paste, cut, place in a mold, squish and done.
Gum Paste Class, Fizzy Party
Finished Stephanotis. I need to practice on this flower.
Gum Paste Class, Fizzy Party
Finished rose with all the petals added.  I was surprised how well it turned out. With some practice and some color I could make a beautiful bouquet of flowers :) 
Gum Paste Class, Fizzy Party
At the beginning of the class I wasn't sure if I would like working with gum paste. I've never been a sculpture.  After class I changed my mind. Mary was a great instructor and working with gum paste is very forgiving.  I'm looking forward to taking the advanced class and learning how to colour the flowers.  Will I ever make figures out of gum paste? Probably not. I've never been good  at making faces in any medium.  I will however be making flowers and adding them to my cupcakes to give them the WOW factor.