Monday, November 16, 2015

Cupcakes and Cocktails - Epicurean Hotel

October is one of my favorite months out of the year because of Halloween. It has always been my favorite holiday. I don't know if it's the absurd amount of candy I get to eat almost guilt-free or the awesome costumes everyone gets to dress up in, but this day is dear to my heart.

I was very excited to hear about the October edition of Cupcakes and Cocktails, because Halloween cupcakes are especially my favorite. Seeing cupcakes with brains or eyes decorated on them just makes it all the more fun!

Chef Beth came up with an amazing menu for the October class:
Hard Apple Cider Cupcakes with Whiskey Caramel Apple Filling and Whiskey Buttercream
Bourbon Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream
Brown Sugar Pumpkin Ale Cupcakes with Pumpkin Buttercream

Cupcakes with paired cocktails
Now I have to admit that at first I was a little disappointed that Chef Beth went with the stereotypical pumpkin flavor for October. With all the hype around pumpkin spiced EVERYTHING, I was hoping to get away with that. Let me tell you though, *SPOILER ALERT* she did this pumpkin flavor right! It was nothing like all those pumpkin spiced lattes and what was a delicious tribute to the pumpkin, almost like a pumpkin pie in a cupcake!

Once I got over the pumpkin judging, I was really looking forward to the cocktails. Fireball Whiskey and apple cider is my favorite combination. The cocktail (and the cupcake) did not disappoint. It was the start to a glorious trio of cocktails. The candied pecan old fashion and the bourbon spiked hot chocolate were wonderful cocktails that I fully intend on having at home when it finally gets "cold" here in Tampa.

My favorite cupcake of the night was obviously the Hard Apple Cider cupcake. It was a deliciously spiked apple pie in my mouth, without the crust. That wasn't a disappointment though. The pumpkin and chocolate cupcakes were following right behind. I decided after the initial tastes that these were cupcakes I wasn't going to share...sorry friends!

I really enjoyed the decorating part of the evening. I finally learned how to do the spider web design everyone does so well, though I apparently still need some practice. Interestingly, when I was decorating my own cupcakes, I forgot to fill the apple cupcakes with the filling (which is also the garnish), so I decided to fill the pumpkin cupcake with the spiked apple filling. It turned out to be a delicious mistake! The two flavors combined was a treat to my tongue! 

Another huge shout out to Chef Beth for a wonderful night of drinking and decorating! I can't wait to see what November and December have in store for us. You always keep me guessing on what you're going to put on the menu and I am always pleasantly surprise!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Dough - Tampa, Florida

I decided it was time for me to do some more exploring around Tampa Bay to see what bakeries I have been missing out on. There are a few around South Tampa that I have seen but have been lazy about visiting. One of them was Dough, the bakery of Datz, a Tampa staple.

The Dough website suggests that daily there are regular cupcake flavors available, including red velvet. I had visited the bakery once before and it was out of red velvet, so this time I was hoping to be pleasantly surprised. Lucky for me, I was!

Brain decorated red velvet cupcake
The cupcakes were decorated for Halloween, which I loved! The red injector contained sweet red liquid (a sugary syrup) that created the illusion of blood. It was great!

The cupcake itself was delicious! I seemed to have found a rival to Georgetown Cupcakes right here in Tampa! The cake was dense and moist and had the absolute perfect amount of chocolate flavor. The cream cheese frosting was also perfectly smooth and delicious without overpowering the cupcake's flavor!

I'm happy to know that I don't have to go far for the perfect red velvet cupcake. Now I wonder how the rest of these bakeries in Tampa will stack up!

Price $4/cupcake
Cake: moist, dense, perfect chocolate flavor
Icing: smooth, creamy, cream cheese frosting
Decorations: brain for Halloween with red sugar/sweetener to add as blood
Overall Rating:10/10
Website: Dough

Monday, November 2, 2015

Cup n Cake Café - San Francisco, California

I recently got to take a trip to California for a couple weeks. Most of the journey was me and my friend driving up the coast from San Diego then driving back down through Yosemite and Sequoia National Park. We had various stops along the way. One of the main stops was in San Francisco. We got to spend two days there, during which we explored the city as well as the surrounding areas. The focus of my vacation was to relax and get away from the stress of every day life. Finding cupcakes wasn't a large focus during the trip. 

While in San Francisco, however, I happened upon a café kiosk that was selling cupcakes. I thought, I might as well stop and see if they have any red velvet cupcakes while I'm here. Lucky for me they did...and lucky for me I chose to stop and get one!

Cup n Cake Café Kiosk
The kiosk was on the pier near one of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge. I got the cupcake and proceeded on my merry way towards the view and the sites.

Mini red velvet cupcake
I'm really glad I chose to get the mini red velvet. The cupcake was very moist, thought the top was a little hard, almost over baked, and it had a hint of chocolate flavoring, but not as much as I would like. The cream cheese frosting was very good. It was smooth and creamy. Overall, the cupcake was very good. I am interested to go back and try the regular sized cupcake to see if there is any difference. Sometimes when bakeries do mini cupcakes, the taste can change as well as the consistency of the cupcake itself. I would be interested to see if the regular sized cupcake is better. 

I'll have to wait until the next time I'm in San Francisco to find out!

Price $3.50/cupcake; $1.95/mini cupcake
Cake: moist, dense, good hint of chocolate flavor
Icing: smooth, creamy, cream cheese frosting
Decorations: simple red flower
Overall Rating:8/10
Website: Cup n Cake Café