Friday, March 27, 2015

Sugardarlings - Lutz, Florida

I have to say I'm pretty lucky that I have so many different cupcake bakeries really close to me. Some of them even deliver to places of business. A friend of mine works at St. Joseph's Hospital here in Tampa and found out that a local bakery, Sugardarlings, delivers to their cafeteria. I was instantly on the hunt.

I finally was able to secure a red velvet, unfortunately summer weather in Florida doesn't always work with cupcake frosting. By the time I got the cupcake home, the frosting had melted.

Sad and melted
I instantly put the cupcake in the fridge to let the frosting harden, hoping it would be saved. When I took the cupcake back out of the fridge, the frosting was more creamy than liquid so I decided to give the cupcake a try. 

I was disappointed with the frosting. It may have been because it was melted then refrigerated, but I did not taste any cream cheese flavoring. The cake, however, was amazing. It had the perfect amount of chocolate flavoring and the texture was perfect. It was moist, but also light and airy. It wasn't too dense but not dry at all. I was really impressed.

Overall I have to admit I'll probably have to give this bakery another chance. I want to try the frosting when it's fresh, not melted and refrigerated. We'll see how that works out. For now, however, I'm still on the hunt!

Price $1.75/each
Cake: moist, airy, perfect chocolate flavor
Icing: smooth, creamy, no cream cheese flavor
Decorations: simple sprinkles
Overall Rating: 9/10
Website: Sugardarlings

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Alessi Bakery - Tampa, Florida

I've been trying to hit all the cupcake bakeries in Tampa recently, but I've found myself truly overwhelmed. There are a great deal more bakeries than I ever expected.

Recently I got to taste a red velvet cupcake from Alessi Bakery in south Tampa. I've had their carrot cake before and had to admit, even though I'm not a huge carrot cake fan, I was impressed! I was excited to finally taste the red velvet, and it did not disappoint.

The cupcake itself was moist and light. The cake was very airy and had a light chocolate flavor I like in a traditional red velvet cupcake. I would have liked more of a cocoa flavor though. The cream cheese frosting was smooth and creamy and delicious! I was so happy.

The cupcake looked like it had been through a bit, the decorations were smudged and the frosting was a little mushed but that didn't take away from the flavor.

On to the next bakery in Tampa!

Price $1.95/each
Cake: moist, airy, light chocolate flavor
Icing: smooth, creamy, cream cheese flavor
Decorations: simple sprinkles
Overall Rating: 8/10
Website: Alessi Bakery

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Valhalla Bakery - Orlando, Florida

I finally got a chance to try the red velvet goodies from Valhalla Bakery in Orlando, Florida. I found out about the bakery through a friend who had Valhalla Bakery do her wedding cake. Valhalla Bakery just recently purchased a storefront which should open soon. Valhalla is otherwise found at local markets in Orlando as well as foodie events.

I had to have Valhalla send me their goodies because we could never seem to link up in Orlando. I always ended up missing them for one reason or another. However, I will say this, the wait was worth it!

Red Velvet Cupcakes & Brownie
I tried the brownie first, it seemed the easiest thing to tackle right away. It tasted amazing! The ingredients include red velvet Oreo cookies and let me tell you, you can taste every bite. That plus the red of the brownie ingredients make this brownie top notch, and that's saying a lot coming from a non-brownie person.

The cupcakes were also delicious. The cake had the perfect amount of chocolate flavoring. The cake was moist, light, but also had the spongey quality you generally want in a cake. The frosting was creamy and sweet, however I didn't taste the cream cheese flavor. I really enjoyed the cupcake in a cup idea, I think all the places that has used this idea has been a win in my book.

Overall I really enjoyed Valhalla's red velvet treats. The only issue I had was the amount of frosting to cake ratio. I would have liked more cake in the cup. I can't wait to see what other red velvet treats Valhalla Bakery has in store for me. They mentioned a red velvet pie and I can not wait to try it! And to think, they're all vegan.

Let the journey continue...

Price: $6 per double down cupcake; $4 per brownie
Cake: light, fluffy, moist, chocolatey
Icing: creamy, cream cheese based
Decorations: simple
Overall Rating: 8/10
Website: Valhalla Bakery

Addendum: So the fine bakers at Valhalla Bakery explained to me that since the cupcakes are vegan, the taste won't be exactly the same. They had to use vegan substitutes or completely remove traditional flavors because they weren't vegan friendly. I think this really explains the setbacks I found in the cupcakes. I imagine if I were used to a vegan diet I may be more satiated by the flavors. Hopefully this helps you all in your Valhalla Bakery indulgence!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Sprinkles Cupcakes pt. 2

I recently visited Las Vegas for a weekend and had the chance to visit the Sprinkles Cupcakes on the strip. I have been to the Sprinkles Cupcakes in La Jolla, California, and have had cupcakes brought to me from the Los Angeles location. I have to admit I wasn't impressed with their red velvet cupcake. Their other varieties were very good, but I felt the red velvet was lacking (see previous post: Sprinkles Cupcakes)

Sprinkles Cupcakes & Ice Cream - Las Vegas, NV
As you can see, the store is a great addition to the strip, full of color and life, it fits it quite well. I decided, in addition to getting my usual red velvet cupcake, I would try the red velvet ice cream with the red velvet waffle cone as well as explore the Cupcake ATM!

The red velvet ice cream was very good, especially compared to the store versions I've tried in the past. I think it helps that its a vanilla based ice cream with red velvet cake and cream cheese frosting mixed into it. That not only blends the flavors really well, but also allows each flavor to be picked out of the mix.

Cupcake ATM at Sprinkles Cupcakes in Las Vegas
I was so excited to be able to check out the Cupcake ATM, FINALLY! I had hopes of trying it out in Atlanta the last time I was there, but unfortunately that didn't happen. Either way, I got to experience it now. I have to say, it's much cooler than I anticipated. It's also really user friendly. From the beginning, the screen uses images as well as labels to identify the cupcakes or cookies you'd like to purchase. Then all you have to do is swipe your credit or debit card and behind the door your treat awaits. The fact that this is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week makes it a cupcake or cookie lover's dream come true!

Honestly, I've had my issues with Sprinkles Cupcakes, as I've had with most other national chains, but I have to say they've been really innovative in the things they've come up with. Not only were they the first bakery exclusively dedicated to cupcakes, but they've been able to expand their market to cookies and ice cream and excel at it! Props to you, Candace Nelson, for coming up with something that'll be with us for many years to come.

Red Velvet's Star on the Strip