Thursday, October 27, 2011

Trick or treat

Trick or treat?

How many times have you actually received a trick instead of a treat -- and what was it? A caramel-dipped onion? A pop quiz in your history class? A heart-stopping scare from a scarecrow that you thought was a lawn fixture? (Ha ha, very funny. Now where's my candy, you jerk?) Or maybe you've had the pleasure of trick-or-treating in a ritzy neighborhood where the 1% handed out full-sized candy bars and dolla dolla bills.

Well, here at Carrie Cakeaway, we can't promise you a gold watch in your goodie bag, but we're all about the treats. Like a mixed cupcake assortment. Check out our newly logofied boxes (yay, branding!) filled with sixteen snugly arranged cupcakes in four tasty flavors. In this one we have, from top to bottom:

  • S'mores - Chocolate cupcakes with a gooey marshmallow center, a swirl of vanilla frosting, a Teddy Graham resting against a marshmallow pillow and mini chocolate chips
  • Birthday cake - Vanilla cupcakes topped with fudgy dark chocolate ganache frosting and confetti sprinkles
  • Not-quite-angel-food cake - Vanilla cupcakes topped with vanilla buttercream frosting and confetti sprinkles
  • Peanut butter cup - Chocolate cupcakes topped with fluffy peanut butter frosting and mini chocolate chips
Now that's something even the most vicious of werewolves and hungriest of vampires can sink their teeth into - and maybe even share with a zombie or two. What are you going to be for Halloween this Monday?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Farewell to summer

What marks the end of summer in your mind? The day after Labor Day? The first day of school? The moment the leaves start to change? This year, the first day of autumn officially fell on September 23, but I've come to expect Indian summers in San Francisco, with glorious summer sunshine lasting well into October. Here at Carrie Cakeaway, what signals the change in seasons isn't weather, but produce.

Every summer, we look forward to bright, juicy berries, ripe peaches and plums just bursting with fragrance and flavor, and plump, jammy figs. When these start disappearing from the marketplace, our hearts sink just a little bit -- apples, even in all of their beautiful varieties, just aren't the same.

So this post is dedicated to the last of the berries, stone fruits, and other sweet summer fruits, and one of our favorite summer creations this year -- our chocolate-dipped raspberry cupcake. Inspired by Monica, who first requested these for a bridal shower in July, we couldn't get enough of these rich chocolate cupcakes topped with tangy cream cheese frosting, a trio of fresh raspberries, and a drizzle of dark chocolate fudge.

Now that we've gotten that out of our system, we'll quietly tuck our sundresses away and try to stop with the pouting. After all, we're well into pumpkin season and Halloween is right around the corner! What are you going to be this year?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Pointing fingers

So, post-Cupcake Wars, I’ve just about disappeared off the face of the internet. I know time and time again, I’ve promised that I’d post more frequently, and I continue to blame my assistant for my failure to do so. (After all, I’m still a figment of her imagination). Well, you can blame her too now that she’s been revealed to you after 2+ years of anonymity -- funny how five minutes of hot dog infamy on the Food Network can unravel all of my hard work in keeping her name and identity under wraps! So yes, point your fingers, scowl with disappointment, and send incendiary messages because the fact that we’ve had a sorry total of twelve posts this year is all her fault.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let me share with you some things that we’ve been whipping up in the kitchen. The reporting may be slow, but the baking sure hasn’t stopped! Back in August, T and several coworkers threw a farewell party for FeiFei before her big move to New York. Her sendoff included an elaborate game of Fishbowl, an international Google+ hangout, and more variations of Pad Thai than one could ever dream of. T brought our signature strawberry-dipped mudslide: Kahlua-bourbon chocolate cake topped with Bailey’s cream cheese frosting and carefully arranged fresh strawberries. Here it is, almost complete:

Cheers to you, FeiFei! We all hope you’re doing well in New York. You continue to be missed, so please visit us in (mostly) sunny California soon!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

So, about last night...

It happened! You may have seen my assistant T on TV last night competing on Cupcake Wars (and if you didn't, the episode will re-air on Sunday and next Wednesday on the Food Network, so read no further, as spoilers follow). And you're probably wondering: What was she thinking?

Well, a couple of things:
  • This is our chance to make something epic that the world has never seen before
  • We've made bacon cupcakes before with great results - hot dogs can't be that far off! (wrong)
  • Go big or go home!
Annnd, she went home. But that's okay! I'm so proud of her and Karen for making it on to the show - a huge win for amateur bakers and aspiring bakery owners. And while I would have loved to compete myself (have I ever told you how hard it is to get onto reality TV when you're imaginary?), it was so exciting to see the girls on TV baking their hearts out.

The most disappointing part of it all was that T didn't have a chance to show what we can really do here at Carrie Cakeaway. So take a look around. No frills, no frankfurters (we promise) -- just delicious cupcakes with super tasty frostings, a sense of adventure, and a splash of bourbon here and there.

Please continue to support us by liking us on Facebook and stay tuned for our latest creations! I'd love to hear your thoughts on the episode.

Be frank. And let the hot dog puns begin.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A very Sunny occasion

If I weren't imaginary (I am), I think I'd go all hormonal every time I saw a toddler or a baby -- the nice kind of hormonal that makes you want to hug and laugh and bake many, many cupcakes. And then eat them. (The cupcakes, not the children).

I apologize for sounding a little crazy right now, but I'm just so excited for Sunny and her baby-to-be. Annie, Jen, and Sarah planned a surprise Southern Belle-themed baby shower for her in a conference room under the guise of a "very important meeting." Well, it was a very important meeting, complete with balloons, beignets, pecan pie, sweet tea, and cupcakes. What, you mean to tell me that you don't have all of those things at your very important meetings?

For this very special occasion, T and I whipped up some Peanut Butter Chocolate cupcakes for Sunny and some Bourbon Strawberry cupcakes for everyone else. Rich chocolate cupcakes topped with silky peanut butter buttercream, a sprinkle of course sea salt, and freshly crushed peanuts - one bite, and you'll think you've just sunk your teeth into a fluffier, even tastier Reese's peanut butter cup. And as for the Bourbon Strawberry, we're talking melt-in-your-mouth bourbon-spiked vanilla cupcakes topped with vanilla-bourbon cream cheese frosting and a fresh strawberry half.

Congratulations, Sunny! Warmest wishes to you and your bundle of joy.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Bringing wine country to you

What do you look for in a wine? Do you like bold, spicy zinfandels that pack a tannic punch? Or do you prefer crisp, buttery chardonnays that glide across your tongue? Perhaps you like moscatos, so sweet and dessert-like that you'd think you were drinking juice. Or maybe, just maybe, you like it all - wine in all shades of red, white, and everything in between, with notes of everything from oak to cherry, leather to get my drift.

If that sounds like you, then you're probably a oenophile, and I'd like to bake for you! The sky's the limit when it comes to working with wine, so T and I were very excited when preparing cupcakes for wine-loving Anna's birthday. Here's what we came up with:

Chardonay Peach (pictured at the top) - Chardonnay-infused vanilla cupcakes filled with peach chunks, topped with cream frosting splashed with chardonnay and peach juice and a fresh yellow peach slice.

Strawberries and Champagne - Champagne-infused vanilla cupcakes filled with champagne-soaked strawberries, frosted with strawberry-champagne buttercream, and topped with a fresh strawberry half

Dark Chocolate Cabernet - Cabernet-infused dark chocolate cupcakes topped with silky cabernet cream cheese frosting

Happy birthday, Anna! Hope you enjoyed these. All that's missing now is a trip to beautiful wine country for a day of cupcake and wine pairings.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Just a little nuts

Clouds of flour are whitening your hair and dotting your nose, milk and cream are splashing against your clothes (which may or may not have already been streaked browned with cocoa powder), and your hands are slick and shiny with butterfat -- this is not a good look. Well, not unless you're my assistant T, happily working away by the oven, whipping up our new favorite cupcake: the Peanut Butter Cup(cake). (Sorry, Mudslide, but you've had your throne for over two years now!)

Rich, chocolate cupcakes topped with the silkiest, nuttiest peanut butter buttercream frosting that you've ever tasted. Top it off with some dry roasted peanuts -- crushed or whole -- maybe a couple of mini chocolate chips, a sprinkle of course sea salt if you're feeling adventurous, and you've got yourself a combination of sweet and salty that'll make your eyes roll back. They're that good, and I can't stop thinking about them.

It doesn't help that we're crazy about peanut butter here at Carrie Cakeaway and will find any excuse to eat it: PB and banana sandwiches, PB sushi, PB with celery sticks and apple slices. Only one of those is untrue (yeah, who eats peanut butter with celery sticks and apple slices?)

Did I mention that peanut butter also pairs beautifully with marshmallow and that it's baseball season?

Here's a Peanut Batter Up cupcake with a triple peanut play: a marshmallow-filled peanut butter cupcake topped with peanut buttercream frosting, crushed peanuts, and a cute little marshmallow slice. Take this out to the ballgame and all eyes will be on you.

Cheers to all of the peanut butter fanatics out there! I'd love to hear about the craziest PB creation you've ever eaten. In the meantime, T just made the rookie mistake of turning her beautiful new Kitchenaid mixer on high too quickly, and is emerging from the cloud of powdered sugar with a suspicious-looking streak of the white stuff on her nose.

That girl. Can't take her anywhere!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Afternoon tea

::Insert poor imitation of a British accent:: 'ello! Do you care for a spot of tea?

Do I ever! I'm all about tea time - taking an hour in the middle of your afternoon to sip piping hot cups of tea while indulging in dainty finger sandwiches and bite-sized desserts... You don't have to ask me twice!

T fondly remembers her first real afternoon tea experience. She was studying abroad in the town of Brighton in England the summer before her senior year of college, and made her way to a tiny tea house with three friends. A strict dress code was half-enforced by a snooty waiter who turned his nose at the four Americans but still, politely enough (house rules), rattled off the tea time specials.

You should've seen the girls' eyes the moment he brought out the tiered tray of assorted smoked salmon, roast beef, and cucumber finger sandwiches, mousses, biscuits, delicately iced petit fours, and scones served with lemon curd, berry jam, and clotted cream -- they nearly popped right out of their sockets (how's that for appetizing imagery?)

I wanted to create a unique tea-time cupcake and couldn't resist using a pint of plump blueberries that T had brought back from the farmers market. Feeling a little spontaneous, I decided on a Honey Blueberry Teacake - a rich, buttery vanilla cupcake filled with fresh blueberries (unbaked, so they really pop in your mouth), topped with vanilla frosting, another blueberry, and a light drizzle of clover honey. I'd imagine this would pair nicely with an Earl Grey, English Breakfast, or Darjeeling--okay, you caught me. I'm just rattling off names of teas, but I'd imagine this would go nicely with just about anything.

It's three o'clock in the afternoon somewhere. Cheerio!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Berries are back, and so am I

I've been away for a long, long time. For awhile, you may have missed me. Believe me when I say that I missed you too! But now, the hiatus has been so long that you've probably forgotten all about me. Carrie who? I don't blame you.

May I make amends by offering you a Strawberries and Cream cupcake? Please? Over the past month, my assistant T and I have been swooning -- as we do every year -- over berry season. Sweet, juicy, and gorgeous berries popping up in farmers markets, grocery stores, restaurant menus, and bakery display cases. My friendship offering comes to you in the form of vanilla cupcakes stained pink with the addition of fresh strawberry puree, filled with fresh strawberry chunks, and topped with strawberry-infused cream cheese frosting. And I'll throw in the promise of never using berry puns like "It's berry nice to be back." Never.

A lot has been happening in the past few months, and I'm excited to share with you everything from some sweet inspiration T found in her recent first-ever trip to NYC, some wise and encouraging words from friends, and a wedding for which we'll be whipping up cupcakes come November.

Until next time, love and strawberries,
Carrie Cakeaway

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Hi there! Long time no see.

Okay, so we've really dropped the ball--er, cupcake here.

While there's no acceptable excuse for this two-month posting hiatus, the past two months truly have been the busiest ever in terms of churning out cakes and cupcakes. So get ready as we play some heavy duty catch-up, share some of the deliciousness that has come out of the kitchen (think lots of new flavors and experiments!), and reintroduce Carrie Cakeaway to the world. We have something special up our sleeves, and can't wait to share it with you.

- Carrie

Monday, March 7, 2011

Carrie Cakeaway, Cake Bartender

I like the sound of ice clinking against metal in a cocktail shaker. I'm a fan of mixing and matching precisely poured ingredients -- turning familiar flavors into something new, exciting, and (of course) delicious. Being half baker and half mixologist, I simply love crafting cakes and cupcakes made to taste like the best versions of their cocktail namesakes.

So, reader, what's your favorite drink?

Over the weekend, my assistant and I made five of our favorites -- (from the top, going clockwise):
  • Mint mojito - lime-infused rum cake with muddled mint lime curd filling, topped with tangy lime frosting, a fresh mint leaf, and a lime wedge
  • Vodka appletini - vodka-infused apple cake with lightly cinnamon-kissed frosting and a fresh apple wedge
  • Beer batter - dark chocolate stout cake with stout-infused buttercream and a light drizzle of stout syrup
  • Margarita - tequila butter cake filled with lime curd, topped with lime-zested cream cheese frosting, a sprinkle of course sea salt, and a fresh lime wedge
  • Mudslide - Kahlua bourbon chocolate cake topped with Bailey's cream cheese frosting and a fudge drizzle
How's that for the booziest and most tempting cupcake carousel ever?

And speaking of mudslides -- Christina requested a dozen for her girlfriend's birthday. Out of the five flavors listed above, I'm especially fond of the mudslide. Rich chocolate and coffee notes, three different kinds of liqueurs, and a silky cream cheese frosting topped with a chocolate covered coffee bean and chocolate cookie "straw," these make a festive addition to birthdays and -- let's be honest here -- any day.

Thanks, Christina, for thinking of me for this special occasion! And thanks, friends, for inspiring me to continue experimenting behind the bar and in the oven where cake meets cocktail and lives tastily ever after.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hello, red!

Come in, make yourself, at home, and take a look around! Please don't pry in my medicine cabinet, but do take a look at the photos. You can probably tell that food photography is a work in progress for my assistant T, and while I'd love to take the helm, it's a little hard to snap photos when you're imaginary.

In any case, imagine how thrilled T was when her friend Vic encouraged her to try out his SLR camera. And imagine how thrilled I was to see my lovely red velvet cupcakes gallivanting around beautiful San Francisco in these crystal-clear photos. Thanks, Vic!

I still remember hating on red velvet cupcakes, calling them "overrated" and "nothing more than a vehicle for cream cheese frosting" after a series of red velvet disasters that occurred when T first started trying to make them. It's been a year since our first successful batch, and we've continued to improve upon our recipe.

Now, I'm finally a fan. Moist, buttermilk cake with a touch of cocoa, topped with silky vanilla cream cheese frosting -- I can do without the red food coloring, but have to admit that these cupcakes are quite a treat!
And here they are, staring off into the sunset in the residential Sunset district near Ocean Beach. Delicious, beautiful to photograph, and such a rock star in the cupcake world -- it's good to be red velvet.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Sugar for the Super Bowl

What's on your Super Bowl Sunday menu? Hot wings? Chips and salsa? Blue cheese burgers? (Ooh, gettin' fancy, are we?) And plenty of beer to wash it all down? That sounds great in all of its artery-clogging glory, but I think you're forgetting something.

You know exactly where I'm going with this, and don't you roll your eyes and tell me that a cupcake has no place at a Super Bowl party. My assistant brought a fresh batch to one, and those cupcakes did just fine nestled between the guacamole and the noodle salad -- they were gone in a flash.

I guess cupcakes are more like surprise guests than party-crashers when the Super Bowl falls on a birthday. To celebrate Christine's 26th, my assistant brought a batch to share. Here they are before sprinkles:

And here they are after:

Rich, fudgy chocolate cupcakes topped with delicate swirls of Bailey's cream cheese frosting and confetti sprinkles -- how can you say no to that?

I hope you enjoyed the Super Bowl, whether for the game, the commercials (who didn't love the little Darth Vader?), or the entertainment value of botched national anthems and cheesy halftime show performances. And I certainly hope you watched it in good company over the tastiest of finger foods. Happy birthday, Christine! Cheers to you and a super Birthday Bowl.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Resetting expectations

We've all heard this time and time again: don't judge a book by its cover. Smile politely at that intimidatingly burly stranger, and you may find a warm smile greeting your own. Crack open the spindly exterior of a rambutan, and you'll find a lychee-like fruit as smooth and pretty as a pearl (and tasty to boot!) While I don't want you to go around winking at brutes who'd just as soon chuck you across the room or begin taste-testing pretty little mushrooms off the ground, I do hope you'll check your expectations every now and then and open yourself up to pleasant surprises.

For example, after one look at the photo at the top, if you were expecting cheesecake or carrot cake -- think again. One slice through this simple little cake, and you'll find yourself fork-deep in chocolate, chocolate, glorious chocolate.

Now if you were anxiously awaiting cheesecake or carrot cake, my apologies! But have a taste, and I don't think you'd miss either, as you'd have some of the best elements of both: rich, fudgy chocolate cake with luscious Bailey's cream cheese frosting (tasting just like a cheesecake) plus the nutty notes of toasted pecans that you'd expect in the most traditional of carrot cakes.

I hope you're all having a fantastic 2011 so far and that there will be many sweet surprises ahead!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A look back

You're getting ready for the New Year's Eve shindig of the century -- there will be music and dancing and all kinds of revelry. Fine champagne will be flowing, and everything you've ever wanted to eat will be magically portioned so that you can try it all without worrying about a distended belly showing through the world's cutest party dress (yours). And when the clock strikes midnight, the sky will be painted with beautiful, sparkling fireworks that'll leave you breathless as you ring in the new year with that special someone.

That's one hell of a party to look forward to -- of course you're excited! You're getting ready: curling your hair, putting your makeup on, slipping into your pumps. You make your way over to the venue and--

You're late. Really late. You're 25 days late to the party.

That's how I feel, and I blame my assistant entirely. This is our first post of 2011, and we're 25 days into January! I apologize on her behalf (I hate having to do that -- being awesome, I should never have to be sorry for anything), but let's kick things off with a look back on 2010 and the last request we filled for the year:

My assistant T received a request from her coworkers, Justin and Mano, who wanted to organize a sweet surprise for a team that had worked at all hours of the night to wrap up a big project. Cupcakes and champagne -- I couldn't think of a better way to say thanks and congratulations! Disguising the surprise as a last-minute director-led meeting, Justin, Mano, and their teammates pow-wowed in a conference room, laying out the cupcakes and drinks, and setting up a large poster board signed by everyone on their team. Here's what the team of honor walked into:

A cookie-themed cupcake smorgasbord, complete with Oreo, S'more, and Snickerdoodle cupcakes! First we had the Snickerdoodle cupcakes -- velvety cinnamon cupcakes topped with creamy vanilla frosting, a generous sprinkle of cinnamon sugar, and a Teddy Graham (which is not quite a Snickerdoodle, but when covered in cinnamon sugar, can serve as its equally sweet and far cuter cousin):

Next, we had Oreo cupcakes -- rich, chocolate cupcakes with Oreo cream cheese frosting (with Oreo crumbs blended in for that classic "cookies 'n' cream" speckled look), topped with an Oreo cookie half. The only thing missing here was a glass of ice cold milk for dunking.

And lastly, we had S'more cupcakes (pictured at the top of this post), which had been a huge Carrie Cakeaway hit last year -- rich, chocolate cupcakes with a gooey marshmallow center, a swirl of vanilla cream cheese frosting, some mini chocolate chips, and a cute little Teddy Graham resting against a mini marshmallow pillow.

T and I have hit the ground running in 2011 and will be posting more soon, but for now, I'm so happy thinking back on the last request filled in 2010 -- a big (and really fun!) one. Justin and Mano -- thanks so much for thinking of us for this celebratory occasion. Cheers to you, your team, and big accomplishments to come in 2011.

And happy new year to all!