Saturday, 28 November 2009

Sweet treats on a rather sh*tty day

After a grotty morning at work due to vile work colleagues, I escaped at lunchtime and happened to pass a branch of Book Warehouse when I spotted a really cute cupcake diary in the window and as we know if you can't have a cupcake to cheer you up, then cupcake shopping is second best. The diary was £3.99 and they knocked off 50p because the matching pen was missing (it was the last in the shop and I couldn't be bothered to wait for the man to climb into the window, and I thought the queue forming behind me might lynch me - city folks can be vicious at lunchtimes!) and I also picked up this cute little gift bag for £1.

Cupcakes with 20% off ...

Johnny Cupcakes online store has 20% off until 11.59 November 30th (remember the site is base in the US for timezones!). I spotted a couple of cute new tote bags at $19.99 each and I may get myself another tshirt but am deciding which one. I was going to get "make cupcakes not war" but I'm now undecided. I'm thinking maybe the Halloween orange Johnny Cupcakes x-bones logo or the glow in the dark day of the dead inspired one, which kinda reminds me of the old school tattoos I love. Decisions, decisions. If it wasn't for our stupid shipping taxes I'd get both.

All pics copyright Johnny Cupcakes.

Primrose Bakery Chocolate cupcakes = home baked heaven

Firstly, I apologise for the pics, the light and my camera were working against me.

So last weekend, I finally got round to making the chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting from my Primrose Bakery book that I'd been planning since October.

Making the base used pretty much every bowl in my house -there was chocolate to melt, egg yolks to beat, sugar and butter to cream, egg whites to peak - then there was sifting, mixing and folding - all of which took ages. But once they were in the oven all my hard work seemed to be paying off as the smell of chocolate wafting through my house was making my mouth water. The frosting was also a first for me - when I've made chocolate frosting before it's called for cocoa powder, however this recipe called for lashings of freshly melted dark chocolate, which I had to stop Manny from drinking out of the pyrex jug I'd melted it in!

I could barely get them frosted quickly enough for Manny who was hovering round the kitchen waiting to lick the frosting bowl clean. No Maison Cupcake left-over frosting issues in my kitchen! I could use Manny standing eagerly waiting for me to finish as an excuse for my slap-dash approach to cupcake decorating but I really prefer them to look home-made rather than fancy, which is just as well as my attempts at fancy haven't really worked! Next time though I'd just leave them plain without sprinkles or use the chocolate sprinkles as I think the colour sprinkles look a bit odd on the chocolate frosting! The silver balls are for Manny as he loves them for some reason - I find they just hurt my teeth!

So, the important part - how did they taste? Firstly I'm not a fan of chocolate frosting (much to Manny's horror) and I found this frosting to be one of the nicest I've ever tasted. It was almost like a thick chocolate mousse and not too sweet (maybe due to the dark chocolate in it?). The base was really soft and very chocolaty - the denseness of the chocolate reminded me of a chocolate brownie, but the sponge was lighter. All in all one of the nicest cupcakes I've ever baked. If you're a fan of chocolate cupcakes, or know someone who is, I highly recommend the Primrose recipe - these would be perfect to give to friends or neighbours as a gift - especially if your decorating skills are better than mine!

Oh and I also highly recommend the Squires cupcake cases I bought some time ago - this is the second time I used them and they are by far the best.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Hinting for cupcakes pays off :)

You may recall a couple of days ago I posted that I must try the Crumbs and Doilies flavour of the month before the end of Nov as its on of my favourites, Red Velvet - my lovely hubby took note of my hint and popped along to the Covent Garden Food Market* in his lunch-hour and picked up a box of absolutely gorgeous cupcakes. Luckily my afternoon trip to the dentist sorted out my toothache and I was able to scoff mine :)

I had a red velvet and a vanilla - both moist, full of flavour and with absolutely yummy frosting. Manny had a green tea and a chocolate (of course) which he was very happy with - he was particularly chuffed that the chocolate one was very thickly frosted - he was also gifted a mini red velvet which he scoffed for his lunch by the lovely girl at C&D.

The Covent Garden Christmas Food Market is on Thursdays and Friday till Christmas (not sure of the last market date pre-Christmas - check here). Also - there is a mulled wine hut nearby until the 23rd of December - cupcakes and wine what more do you need!

I ♥ Cupcake

On our trip to Berlin last week for the Nuclear War Now Festival we managed to squeeze in a trip to one of my favourite cupcake cafes, Cupcake. The cupcakes were just as I remembered, moist, flavoursome, moreish and HUGE. The cafe is ultra cute, and as well as cupcakes does brownies, cheesecakes and has vegan options on cupcakes as well. Oh and they do savoury food too, including beans on toast..hurrah!

We had planned to visit again on the Sunday and pick up some cupcakes for the long wait at the airport (we were flying Easyjet so there's always a looooong wait) but after what was meant to be a quick after-show drink at the Halford bar, that turned into a very late night and us paying for an extra few hours sleep in the hotel, I wasn't even in a fit state to walk the 10mins from our hotel to Cupcake -which is a shame as I really wanted to try another flavour or two! However I am hoping we're going back to Berlin in May - and if the hotel will have us back we'll be staying within walking distance again, and this time no tequilla!

If you're in Berlin, or the surrounding area I highly recommend a visit to Cupcake, the cakes are great and Dawn and everyone in the cafe is really friendly and welcoming. Also the area is really nice (reminds me of the Lower East Side in New York) with great bars and really good food nearby and some nice stores as well. Sorry about my pics - as I said I was planning to go back and I didn't really get any good ones on my visit - we'd not slept in about 28 hours and I was shaking after having 2 large coffees in about 10mins!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Hummingbird Cupcakes new store details

I've just found out that the new Wardour Street branch of the fabulous Hummingbird Bakery is Lee Stafford's old Salon so I will be easily able to find it (used to get my hair cut there till they moved and upped their prices loads).

It's quite a little space - it did have a downstairs section as a salon, but I suppose they may use that as a kitchen? I can't wait to see what they've done to it - I know from their Twitter that their theme for the store is cupcake pop art! According to my sources it opens on the 9th December - I have a gig that night in Brixton but I'm hoping that my lovely hubby might leave work a bit early with me for a pre-gig cupcake :) Or maybe I should just take the day off and camp outside for the opening?

In other Hummingbird news Tarek will be at Heals in the Kings Road signing copies of the Hummingbird cookbook this Saturday from 1.30-3.30, and some cupcake demo's and a baking Q&A are promised. There are several cupcake outlets within walking distance of Heals if you want to make a cupcake day of it including Crumbs and Doilies, Love Bakery and Hummingbird - Buttercup is also less than 30mins walk away but after the last time I'd give it a miss. Oh and if you walk to Harrods you can have a Lola's cupcake or if you're all cupcake'd out a Laduree macaroon.

On a non-cupcake note - Paul A Young and Hope and Greenwood will also be signing their books at Heals on Saturday

Lola's Christmas Cupcakes

Are available to pre-order online now - I've mailed them to ask when they'll be available in store and will post dates as soon as I know. You can choose from the Ho, Ho, Ho box, the Snowflake box or the Giant cupcake.

Also available for November only is their rather yummy sounding Toblerone cupcake;

a limited edition delicious toblerone chocolate cupcake bursting with chewy honey-almond nougat pieces. It is finished with a heavenly white chocolate ganache and a generous chunk of toblerone.

Must get to Selfridges cupcake bar before the end of November!

Cupcake Calendars

For 2010 I think I shall get the Hello Cupcake calendar from Amazon as it would seem the page a day one is exactly the same as last years. I think the Cupcakes one, which you can also get in Paperchase, is the same brand I got last year (yes I had two cupcakes calendars) so will check in Paperchase before deciding - decisions decisions.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Cupcakes make people happy

And I'm sure this lovely calendar from ModCloth would do the same. Also from the same site is this really rather cute scarf - perfect for the long winter nights ahead as would these long cupcake socks - keep checking back will be blogging as many Christmas cupcake ideas as I can find!

Christmas is coming

and so are the Crumbs and Doilies Christmas cupcake boxes

Each box comes beautifully wrapped and features a mix of flavours, including our very special Christmas Flavour of the Month.

you can now pre-order your Christmas cupcakes for collection, or delivery by clicking here.

Oh and I MUST pop over to Covent Garden on Friday to get one of their flavour of the month - red velvet - or perhaps someone could pick me up one on Thursday as a after-dentist treat (hint hint!)

Thanks to Crumbs and Doilies for the use of their pics! The bottom pic is their red velvet - yum

Monday, 16 November 2009

Free cupcakes

From Google cupcake news;

All UGG® Australia shoppers whose birthdays fall in the month of November are invited to the Covent Garden store on its official first birthday, Saturday 28 November, to receive a complimentary birthday cupcake. One lucky shopper will find their cupcake has an additional treat – a golden ticket for a £250 UGG® Australia shopping spree. The delicious UGG® Australia cupcakes will be provided by the Primrose Bakery, cupcake maker to the stars.

So pop in, shop for Christmas and let UGG® Australia wish you a happy birthday!

T&C’s: One cupcake per person, identification must be produced to prove date of birth, the £250 shopping spree must be redeemed by the end of December 2009. The promotion is only valid during shop opening hours, 28 November 2009 until supplies run out.

Pshaw - if I was born in November I might just chance the hellish queues that seem to surround that store on occasions such as this for the chance to win a voucher so I could get my hands on (in) some Ugg Mittens or ear-muffs (I refuse to pay for them but would use a voucher for them!) and a new pair of lovely warm boots.

More cupcake gift ideas

From the Gifted Penguin. I very nearly bought the recipe file before (I have the magnetic note pad of the same design) as it's rather gorgeous but I settled for a cheaper cupcake one instead :)

Never was a truer word printed on an apron

Fabulous Christmas gift for a cake lover from the Gifted Penguin (more to come from them in a bit)

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Naughty but Nice

I saw these handwarmers in Zest, Soho last week - they're also available from Play for £5.

Cute way to keep warm in the winter!

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Christmas Pudding Cupcake

Today was the first day of the run up to Christmas proper as the Starbucks red cups were launched!

My afternoon at work was a bit blah so I popped over to get a coffee and spotted a new addition to their cakes range - well two actually - a black forest cupcake and a Christmas pudding cupcake. I had the black forest one last year so opted for the Christmas pudding one. The base was really moist and fruity and the frosting was nice but a little sweet - I managed to eat it all though which I haven't always managed lately with other cupcakes. Recommended.

Children's cooking gifts

with a couple of adult friendly ones too, all from Robert Dyas. The cookie jar and mug set are perfect for any cupcake lover, and the children friendly baking set, chef set and dining set (love the cupcake place mat) are all cute and I think the baking set is great for budding cupcake bakers!

Lots of cupcake stationery gift ideas from Hummingbird

Hummingbird Bakery make some of the best cupcakes in London (actually the world!) and their cakes are always gorgeous, as well as tasty. They are the kind of cakes that even people who don't like cupcakes (odd people) drool over. And if you, or someone you're buying a gift for is a fan there is a whole range of stationery available with their cakes on from Amazon (and from Waterstones (thanks Sarah)).

There are approx 10 items available in all but I've put a few of my faves on here for you - the full range is available here from Amazon or from the Waterstones link above. My favourite is the mini notebook and the notecards I think, but they're all just make your mouth water!

Also I noticed that a Hummingbird Cupcake Kit is available for pre-order (due out Feb 2010) which includes a cookbook and 100 cupcake cases - I'm assuming the cookbook is a edited down version of the original as it only includes 25 recipes.

And on a final Hummingbird note, don't forget their third store, in Wardour St, Soho, will be opening early December - perfect for a pre-Xmas shop treat :)