Monday, May 10, 2010

Strawberries and sweethearts

There's nothing quite like seeing a loved one's face light up after surprising him or her with something sweet. Some of my favorite requests have come from folks looking for the perfect cake with which to surprise their significant others on their birthdays or on Valentine's Day. These requests are usually very specific, with the romantic "surprisers" detailing exactly what their sweethearts like most, whether it's a favorite cocktail, liqueur, or fruit. And to be sure, they never fail to disclose elements to be avoided -- protectively shielding their loved ones from flavors they may find offensive. The cute little strawberry, for instance, is one man's gem and another's pet peeve.

Well, Li-Ming is certain that her husband, Dave, loves rather than loathes strawberries and wanted to surprise him with a cake featuring them as well as a handful of his favorite flavors, including Kahlua, Bailey's, and lots and lots of chocolate. The occasion? A birthday, and a very special one at that -- his 30th!
Having crafted an almost identical Valentine's surprise (but in cupcake form) from Li-Ming to Dave before, my assistant and I were happy to oblige. We whipped up a rich chocolate cake infused with the deep coffee notes of Kahlua, frosted with silky Bailey's cream cheese frosting, topped with fresh strawberry halves and coffee cream cookie crumbs.

Li-Ming, thanks again for trusting me with a cake for such a special occasion! I hope Dave had a very happy birthday and that you both enjoyed the cake!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Work-life balanced

What ever happened to the nine-to-five workday? You know, the one in which you'd start your day with the morning news, a cup of coffee, and a hearty breakfast before getting to the office... The one in which you'd leave at five-thirty sharp after a productive day with the rest of the evening ahead to wind down and rela--wait, I'm sorry, what? You're telling me that the workday I just described is as imaginary as I am? Well, excuuuse me!

Every now and then, we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of putting out fires, fulfilling client asks, and prioritizing so that we can pick off low-hanging fruit before taking strides towards our stretch goals and pies in the sky. And then there's the constant pressure to streamline processes (pronounced, processEEZ, mind you) and identify opportunities for synergy in order to avoid duplicating efforts -- all while managing expectations in order to avoid burnout.

So. How'd I do with all the corpspeak?

(A knowing nod followed by a roll of the eyes and a big groan from my assistant -- all signs point to nailed it).

The point is, it's easy to get completely wrapped up in work, allowing the stress of it all to seep outside of business hours. My suggestion? Take a deep breath, close that laptop, and grab yourself a mid-day Mudslide. And if your boss isn't keen on having spontaneous cocktail hours at the office, then make it a Mudslide cupcake. Heather had the right idea when she requested a batch of Mocha Mudslide cupcakes to celebrate a coworker's birthday.
There's nothing quite like a dark chocolate, Kahlua-spiked cupcake with Bailey's cream cheese frosting, some chocolate sprinkles, and a coffee cream cookie "straw" to chase away the stress of the workweek and have you speaking in plain English again.
Thanks again, Heather, for bringing some fun into the office. I hope you and your team enjoyed the cupcakes!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Fiesta and a photoshoot

Being head over heels in love with all things sweet and with a name like Carrie Cakeaway, I'm unabashedly dessert-obsessed and cake-minded. The proof is in the pudding: I've come to associate almost every single holiday and special occasion with a particular sweet -- be it a generously frosted cake with sprinkles (birthdays), a warm, spice-filled slice of pumpkin pie (Thanksgiving), or an indulgent libation like rich, rum-spiked egg nog (Christmas). Well, ladies and gents, I hope you need no reminder that it's Cinco de Mayo and time for a refreshing margarita...and perhaps one of my signature margarita cupcakes!
Heather requested a second round of margarita cupcakes for her friend's Cinco de Mayo party over the weekend, and my assistant and I were happy to oblige. Sweet little buttercakes were infused with tequila, filled with tangy lime custard, and topped with lime cream cheese frosting, a fragrant key lime slice, and a sprinkle of course sea salt. No straws this time because my assistant so obnoxiously reminded me that margaritas are rarely -- if ever -- served with straws. I know that...but they're just so cute (albeit entire nonfunctional) on a cupcake!Heather, thanks again -- I hope these festive little party favors helped get the fiesta started and that you and the party guests had a fantastic time. And happy Cinco de Mayo to all!

P.S. Thanks, Alastair, for these lovely close-up shots. SLRs are amazing, and now my assistant's little point-and-shoot has developed an inferiority complex.