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!