Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy birthday with sushi, sake, and cupcakes

What better way to celebrate a 27th birthday than by rounding the troops to eat, drink, and be merry at a local izakaya where small plates of deliciously fattening appetizers (mm...miso-marinated pork belly and fried chicken, anyone?), fresh sushi, pitchers of beer, and massive bottles of dangerously smooth sake are shared family-style? This was the scene at Sara's birthday dinner, complete with a boisterous and unabashedly pervy owner, Oyaji-san, for whom the restaurant is named. My assistant attended the celebration and I, of course, was there in spirit.

Even though almost everyone was stuffed silly, the guests managed to make room for dessert. This comes as no surprise, as I'm a firm believer that there's always room for dessert. My assistant was pleased to present the birthday girl with a batch of cupcakes of her choosing: Rum and Chocolate Cupcakes
Light, fluffy rum-spiked cupcakes with a smooth, rich dark chocolate mousse frosting, these bad boys were quickly gobbled up by the birthday girl and company
Cheers, Sara! Hope you found your birthday celebration as fabulous as you are.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The sweetest bon voyage wishes

Farewells are complex, often bittersweet, and the accompanying emotions can run anywhere from utter joy (oh, come on, we've all had our "good riddance" moments) to heartbreak when saying goodbye to one who will be sorely missed. For instance, saying farewell to a coworker can include a mix of excitement for her next big adventure as well as disappointment at losing a friendly and dependable comrade at the office. While saying goodbye isn't always easy, one can send a colleague off properly with a nice farewell party, complete with warm wishes and a sweet surprise...
...like my signature Mocha Mudslide Cupcakes -- dark chocolate cupcakes infused with strongly brewed coffee and Kahlua liqueur, topped with creamy Bailey's cream cheese frosting and a chocolate-covered espresso bean to truly bring out the nutty coffee flavor in this boozy chocolate and coffee concoction.
Thanks, Doris, for ordering these for your team's bon voyage celebration for Jenny. And Jenny -- best of luck on your new adventure!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Time for a tea party

When people think of tea parties, they usually imagine lush garden settings in the spring with plenty of green grass and blossoming flowers, fancy table settings, adorable tea sets, and an assortment of delicate finger sandwiches and pastries. Well, something seems to be missing from that picture. Cupcakes! Obviously. And whoever said that tea parties were only apt in the spring? Fortunately, in California, you can catch rays of sunshine even in December -- making an outdoor tea party in the winter not only possible, but a simply fantastic idea.

Jacquie wanted to give her guests a sweet treat at her tea party (an annual tradition, mind you!) and ordered two batches of kid-friendly cupcakes:
Rich, old-fashioned chocolate cupcakes topped with silky chocolate mousse frosting and...
Vanilla cupcakes filled with vanilla custard and topped with sweet, tangy cream cheese frosting.

And Jacquie made these teacakes extra special by decorating them with sprinkles and arranging them in a lovely tiered cupcake stand:
What a treat! Thanks again, Jacquie. I hope you and your guests had a wonderful time at the tea party and enjoyed the cupcakes!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sweet and sassy cupcakes for some sweet and sassy dancers

Let's face it. Not all workouts are fun. A two-mile run? Groan. A half hour on the elliptical? Ehh... Pole dancing classes? Meh--wait, what? That's right, S Factor classes give students the opportunity to flaunt their inner vixens, build some serious upper body strength (have you seen some of the more intricate pole tricks?!), and let loose in a fun, safe, and supportive environment. No wonder Stefanie wanted to treat her classmates to a batch of cupcakes after one of the sessions!

And so she did, choosing a batch of (Almost) Mocha Mudslides to share as a post-workout treat.
Why the "(Almost)"? Well, these cupcakes packed some very strongly brewed coffee in the batter, but no Kahlua, so the coffee component of the mocha equation didn't shine through as potently as it does in my usual Mudslide cupcakes. Instead, the coffee in the batter worked its magic by intensifying the chocolate flavor of the super moist cake, creating a nice contrast against the silky Bailey's cream cheese frosting that rocked a mellow sweetness and a subtle tang. Yum!
Ladies, I hope you enjoyed the cupcakes! And thank you, Stef, for trusting me to whip up some sweet and sassy cupcakes for some even sweeter and sassier dancers ;)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Celebrating the season of giving

I have exciting news to share! My assistant jumped at the opportunity to participate as a seller at a holiday gift fair at her place of work. (Yes, she actually has a day job, and it involves working at the headquarters of a company famous for its search engine, lava lamps, penchant for primary colors...oh, and it's fabulous, fabulous food.) She collaborated with the lovely Georgette, who manages one of the cafe kitchens, to bake over 230 cupcakes for the gift fair. That's 230 cupcakes in two flavors: pumpkin spice cupcakes filled with cinnamon-infused vanilla pudding and topped with cream cheese frosting and Guinness chocolate cupcakes topped with Bailey's buttercream.

But that's not the exciting part. The exciting part is that the fair took place today, and Team Cupcake raised $760 in cupcake sales and will be donating 100% of proceeds to the San Francisco Food Bank!! And because my assistant's place of work offers a generous gift-matching program, the company will match the donation, bringing the total to $1520. And according to its webpage, the SF Food Bank distributes $9 worth of food for every $1 donated.

That means 230 cupcakes will help bring $13,680 worth of food to people across San Francisco and the Marin County who need it most.

Thank you, everyone, who came by the cupcake table and bought a cupcake or made a donation. Giving back has never tasted so sweet, wouldn't you say?

If you're wondering why there are no pictures to capture the awesome event or the table filled with beautiful, chocolate curl-topped cupcakes, it's because my assistant lost her camera in the hustle and bustle of the sale. Distracted by cupcake sales and by guarding the donation box with her life, she may have absentmindedly tossed her little point-and-shoot camera in an empty pastry box, which was promptly thrown out :(

Let's just focus on the good. Thanks again, everyone, for your support!

Update, here are a few camera photos taken of the frosted and chocolate curl-topped cupcakes resting in the fridge before the big sale. Quality's a bit lousy, I know, but at least there's some footage of the sweet little cupcakes on their holiday mission to be indulged and do good -- all in one tasty wallop.
And here's another. Imagine standing in front of this big commercial fridge just packed with pumpkin and chocolate cupcakes all lined up and ready to go. Oh, the temptation!