Archive for the 'Reviews' Category

ATC Review: From Scratch: A Business Story

By on Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

From Scratch: A Business Story is the story of Crave Cookies and Cupcakes.  Two sisters started Crave Cookies and Cupcakes in 2004 after years of making cookies for family and friends.  The From Scratch: A Business story details the sister’s journey from using an old pizza oven and two kitchen aid mixers in their original Calgary, Canada location through their expansion to seven storefront locations.

ATC was sent a copy of the 60-page story to review.  I thought the tale of the two sisters business adventure was well written.  As I read about their shop and cupcakes I could picture what the inside of the store looked like and see them inside their kitchen baking cupcakes.  I love that Crave has stuck with their philosophy of baking from scratch.  The story is not just for the cupcake lover or the business entrepreneur; it’s able to appeal to multiple audiences, as it is also a story about family and following a dream when others doubt you. Read the rest of this entry »

ATC Review: Cupcakes, Cookies, & Pie, Oh My!

By on Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Hello, Cupcake! is a cupcake cookbook by the creative food stylist Karen Tack and coauthor Alan Richardson.  The original book in the series came out in 2008, followed by What’s New, Cupcake? and the most recent book, Cupcakes, Cookies, & Pie, Oh My! was released just last month.  Over the years we have shared with you many recipes from the books and from the Hello, Cupcake What’s Newsletter.  We here at ATC were sent the latest book to review.

Cupcakes, Cookies, and Pie, Oh My! Goes beyond cupcakes to include cakes, cookies, pies, rice crispy cereal bars and more!  When I first flipped through the book I was impressed by all the new ideas.  Since I have Hello, Cupcake! and What’s New, Cupcake? I initially wondered how many more unique cupcake ideas could there be?  The answer was lot! I actually had a hard time deciding which recipe to test.  For every occasion you’ll find a new quirky and cute idea. Read the rest of this entry »

The Sugar Shack of Lansing, Michigan

By on Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

I just paid my first (apparently overdue) visit to the Sugar Shack of Lansing, Michigan. Think cupcakes are a fad? This bakery has been a family business for forty years!

Sugar Shack offers a wide and impressive variety of creative cupcakes with a rotating menu. And should someone grow tired of the menu, which would be completely impossible, the menu is completely wiped out and recreated every June 1st. So, though I’ve only paid one visit to the Sugar Shack (so far), I’m confident that no two visits could be the same.

Offerings included the “White Trash Cupcake,” a cupcake packed full of pecans, pretzels, and marshmallows, and iced with fudge frosting, then topped with more pecans, pretzels, and marshmallows, then topped with chocolate and caramel sauce. The cupcake of the day was the Menage a Trois, a cupcake with layers of strawberry and chocolate cake, topped with vanilla frosting and fresh coconut. My co-cupcaker enjoyed the Confetti Cupcake–a bubblegum flavored confetti cake. I was sorry to miss the Root Beer Float Cupcake and the Chocolate Turtle, but am grateful for a reason to go back to Lansing.

Of course, the traditional flavors were there, and I enjoyed a Mint Cookies and Cream cupcake straight from heaven: rich dark chocolate cake topped with perfect mint frosting.

While I was there, I heard another customer ask the baker what his favorite cupcake was, to which he responded, “That’s like me asking you which of your kids is your favorite.”

Seriously, I usually leave a new cupcakery happy and ready to discover the next one. But leaving this cupcakery, I just couldn’t wait until my next visit! These are cupcakes at their best!

Simply Cupcakes of Traverse City

By on Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

I just made my first visit to Northern Michigan’s first and only cupcakery: Simply Cupcakes of Traverse City. What a lovely little spot in downtown Traverse!

An impressively wide selection of offerings included Banana Cream, Peanut Butter Cup, Hint of Mint, and Lemon Love, and while we sampled many, the winner was clearly the (pictured) Bumpy Cupcake: A rich dark chocolate cake stuffed with buttercream (which tasted more like mousse), and topped with homemade chocolate ganache and more buttercream, then dipped in chocolate ganache and finished with a few sprinkles. Holy wow! That cupcake was a meal.

I was impressed with how substantial the cupcakes were. They weren’t dense, but there was certainly something to them! And the frostings were non-traditional and left me wondering about their secret recipe.

The cupcakery itself is also a tantalizing hangout, with a “cupcake room” one can book for special events. Cupcake art hung on the wall, including the beauty below, which could be yours for $3000!

If you’re in the area, Simply Cupcakes is a must-stop for the cupcake-lover!

Casabella Baking Cups

By on Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Happy New Year!

To kick 2012 off right, I just purchased myself my first set of silicone baking cups at a nearby health food store. (You can get Casabella silicone muffin cups on Amazon too.)

I am quite impressed! A set of 6 reusable cups will run you about $8.99, but the way we go through cupcake wrappers around here, they’ll likely pay for themselves soon. I’ve already broken them in, and they worked beautifully. My cupcakes took a little bit longer to cook, so be prepared to be flexible, but the cupcakes were cooked evenly, and the silicone cups peeled away from them beautifully.

In the end, these baking cups are a great idea, and I look forward to trying to wear them out. They are also super easy to clean, especially if you have a dishwasher! And they come in jumbo size too!

Holiday Time Mini Cupcake Maker

By on Saturday, December 31st, 2011

My daughter got me this mini cupcake maker for Christmas. It was my first contraption of the sort. A tiny thing, it “bakes” seven mini cupcakes at a time.

It’s awesome in that it only takes a few minutes to warm up. At first, I was a little annoyed that, cooking 7 minis at a time, it would take me all night to get through a batch of batter, but then I read the manual–turns out, the mini cupcake maker came with a whole bunch of neat little recipes that make a perfect size batch of batter for 7 mini cupcakes. So, this cupcake maker would be ideal for a person or small family who just wanted to make a quick treat. As for me, I plugged my way through the whole first batch, and it took a while. Next time, I will be sure to start small!

In the end, it was a great gift to get from my junior baker, and I was grateful for an easy cleanup. And I’m sure we’ll have lots of fun with it in the future. (Oh, and you might want to toss the first batch–they tasted like freshly cooked metal.)

Cupcakes at Healthy Living

By on Thursday, December 8th, 2011

So, I was recently shopping for yummy vegetables at Healthy Living in Burlington, Vermont, and of course, I was magnetically attracted to the cupcakes. The “Hummingbird Cupcake,” a heavenly combination of cream cheese frosting, chocolate, banana, and pecans, was AMAZING! You might not think of Healthy Living as a cupcake destination, but it is! While you are exploring Healthy Living, check out their recipe for Gluten-Free Chocolate Zuccini Cupcakes. Maybe a little bit healthy and a lot delicious? I’ll let you know!