Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Disappearing Pineapple Cupcake

When I eat a cupcake it usually consists of my whole mouth encompassing a large portion of the cupcake to get the frosting, center, and cake all in one glorious bite, and then little bites to get a little bit of both and savor the rest. There are a few exceptions: 1) cupcakes that I inhale, because I cannot help the deliciousness from flowing into my mouth and 2) cupcakes where I am hunting for something inside of it.

Often in Cupcake Wars on food network you hear them say they didn't get enough of this flavor that was stated to have been there, or that they didn't taste it at all. I am usually confused by this statement. Bewildered by how they could not taste what sounds delectable or sometimes even strange. Yet today I had that first experience.

I had bought a Pineapple Right-side up cupcake from Pheobe's cupcakes last Saturday to eat in celebration of the Bear's going to the Superbowl. Alas, this did not happen. Therefore it waited for me for another celebration in the fridge. Today I decided it was a day to celebrate and devour a cupcake I had never had before. The cherry on top was exciting enough. I slurped it up before the rest of the cupcake was out of it's liner. I took one bite and enjoyed the soft cake, but something was missing. I literally picked at this cupcake. A little bit of the cake: soft, moist, buttery. A little bit of the filling: sweet, kinda caramel-esque flavored. A little bit of the frosting: delicious butter cream in a perfect thick swirl on top. But something was off...
Then I realized.
Where was the pineapple?!

There was no actual pineapple slice anywhere, as I had imagined in my head hiding underneath that beautiful frosting awaiting my teeth to sink into it's sweet crunch. There wasn't a heavy flavor of pineapple juice in the cake. The middle may have had a bit of the sweetness to a pineapple, but no real pineapple taste anywhere. The cake was yellow, buttery, and had a little spice. But the fruit was missing. It had disappeared. No bite could find it.

The cupcake is not listed on the Pheobe's website as one of the flavors. Although these do, sorta, rotate weekly, perhaps it's just not a usual one and that's where the slip up happened. Or the sign was mislabeled? I don't know what had happened, but the perfectly fine cupcake ended up being more disappointing because of the missing ingredient that should have been key.

Don't lose your sweet tooth
- Mollie

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Perfect Combination of Chocolate and Peanut Butter has a Rival

Pheobe's cupcakes has become an easy dessert stop on the way home from various locations, work, school, Noodle Company, the cold wind, whatever it is I couldn't deny the thought of stopping in today and getting a cupcake. The choices were hard, mainly because, again, they had a very rigid set of flavors as I mentioned in a past blog. Their website shows a list that is weekly, but I've noticed that only a few of them change. The usual very vanilla, death by chocolate, red velvet, tuxedo, funfetti, caramella and peanut butter fudgey are there. There was the addition of one today: the pineapple right-side up cupcake. I'll write more about this cupcake soon (since it's waiting patiently in the fridge for my will to break and devour it).

I decided to get the peanut butter fudgey for today, because the Reece's commercials have been making me crave chocolate and peanut butter. So much that I almost had a pb&j for breakfast just for a taste of peanut butter. Yet that wouldn't have satisfied my chocolate addiction, so this cupcake was perfect.

I've had this cupcake once before, when my room mate got it for me, but it had been sitting in the fridge for a bit before I ate it. This led to a harder cream frosting, which brought a much harsher and stronger peanut butter pop than I had hoped for. I decided to give the little guy another chance anyway.

Now first off, never let this one sit in the fridge that long. Just devour it right then and there if you can. The butter cream frosting has a perfect fluffy-ness that is soft with a beautiful peanut butter flavoring. There is no punch into your face. Instead it's smooth, airy, with a peanut butter taste that compliments the texture. It's the perfect kind of cream to get on the tip of your nose while you're trying to dig into the cheesecake bottom (which I did). Oh, did I not mention it was cheesecake? oh yes. There is a chocolate and cream cheese mixture that is, again, light and fluffy.

I learned from a  Food Feuds episode about the variety of cheesecake fluffiness. Usual New York style cheesecake is much more thick and heavy. So while this cupcake is not your typical, authentic New York cheesecake, it's the kind that I would much rather dig into: the fluffy and airy kind. I also think this melds well with the light cream frosting. You do not feel heavy or like it's hard to finish the cupcake. Instead you savor every bite, carefully tying together the frosting and the cheesecake.

Now my only curiosity left, is it always a cheesecake cake on the bottom? On the website it lists it as chocolate cake with "a baked in cream cheese top", but in the store it said cheesecake. My hope is that it's always made this way, focusing on the light airy cheesecake quality. If you give it a try, let me know!

- Mollie

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Things I love after a long day

The top five things I enjoy after a long day.

  1. Cuddling with my boyfriend and/or kitten. Preferably both. Those boys make everything in the world all right.
  2. Warm food awaiting me or made quickly upon my arrival, especially when I don't have to make it. Even just warmed up Chinese food seems to calm my spirits.
  3. A big cup of warm hot cocoa, especially with some marshmallows.
  4. Laying back and watching Disney movies, the food network, or shows about weddings (like David Tutera or Say Yes to the Dress)
  5. A cupcake.
Photo on flickr by mkecupcakequeen

Now I never thought I would come home from a long day, sweaty from a workout, feeling pretty good about life, and reach for a carrot cupcake. But today I did.

The last Sweet Mandy B's cupcake awaited me when I opened the fridge. After finishing off the pan of brownies I made yesterday, it was my one sweet treat for today. I couldn't resist.

If you don't like carrot cake, you will probably not like this cupcake, because it is beautiful crafted to be a carrot cake cupcake. There is that fun nutty flavoring, raisins, orange pieces that you can see to give it color, and a carrot flavor that is not artificial and not overwhelming. The best part is the cream cheese frosting. It is so perfect with that nutty flavoring that I had to calm myself down so I wouldn't just eat the whole top of the cupcake in one bite. While I had only a single pecan on top of mine, it was delicious when I got it with the cake and frosting all mixed together. I bet these cupcakes, pictured above, would be even more fun with the nuts sprinkled on top.

So try out this little treat to mix up your sweets and feel even a little bit healthy about eating a cupcake. It does count as a serving of vegetables right? Let's just say it does. Enjoy!

- Mollie

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Oh Sweet Mandy B's

If you are a student at DePaul and you lived in the dorms in Lincoln Park, you know about Sweet Mandy B's bakery. My room mate my freshman year raved about them and spent a good majority of her money on their colorful cupcakes. This was how I had my first one: my room mate's sweet gesture. Oh if only I had known how delicious and tempting these cupcakes would turn out to be.

Photo from chicago.citysearch.com

I had only tasted their typical vanilla cupcake with bold, neon colored frosting and sprinkles to remind you of your childhood dreams. Recently, my sister in law brought me cupcakes for my boyfriend and I to share - and to use to get through a stressful weekend.
My first taste was of a beautiful chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting. As a woman and a chocolate addict, I melted at the soft chocolate goodness that flowed across my tongue and into my tummy. The lightness of the cupcake, but bold chocolate flavor made a perfect match.

Yet I found another beautiful piece after work today. Stressed out, with a mind made of goo, I went straight for the cupcakes in their plastic Sweet Mandy B's container. All I could remember of this cupcake was that she said it was something to do with cinnamon and cream cheese frosting. That was all I needed. The first bite was surprising. It was soft, like the beautiful fluffy cupcakes Sweet Mandy B's is famous for, but the flavors burst forth. The cinnamon and frosting at first reminded me of a sweet cinnamon roll and I melted at the thought. Yet going back, I tried to find their menu online. It was a lot harder than expected. Still the menu that I found on chicago.menupages.com didn't have anything listed as cinnamon cupcake. They did have a snickerdoodle cupcake, which makes complete sense. The cupcake itself was a perfect snickerdoodle, while the frosting was beautiful to give it a bit of a cinnamon roll sweetness. I was really impressed by this cupcake.

For those that aren't chocoholics or want to try something too crazy, I would suggest going to Sweet Mandy B's to try something soft, fluffy, and full of flavor. This cinnamon or snickerdoodle cupcake was a beautiful sweet treat that was different, but not too scary. I still have a carrot cupcake, topped with a beautiful Pecan, waiting for me in the fridge. Sweet Mandy B's has an interesting, but simple list of cupcakes. A wise choice for a simple cupcake, a child-friendly cupcake, or something reliable and sweet. To find out more either visit them at 1208 W. Webster or check out MenuPages to see their menu, phone number, and other reviews.

Although it's cold outside, keep sweet Chicago.
- Mollie

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Late Happy New Year Chicago

Hello and Happy New Year!

I'm sorry I've been behind on my writing, but the holidays caught up with me in the same way that the cold wind catches up with you while you are walking down the streets of Chicago - and then overtakes you and almost knocks you over. I am going to do a whole lot of adjusting to the blog, mainly to any recipes I post, and will be updating much more often. But first I thought I'd show you the sweet that gave me a happy start to the new year:
Oh yes, that is a cookie cake. His face and the numbers are off center. Despite the fail (which made me want to send him to Cake Wrecks), I fell in love with his goofy face and uncertainty about the new year. He made me wish for a good Mrs Fields cookie cake, but still kept me coming back for more soft cookie sliced up like a pie.

Now what you were really waiting for:
The Cupcake.
This bit of chocolate heaven was brought to you by Pheobe's Cupcakes at 3327 N. Broadway. Since this is just a short walk from my apartment and doesn't include spending money on transportation, this cupcake place has been a happy place for my entire apartment. I have been treated to their cupcakes many times, but this was the first time I had ever entered.

It is a small store, with a few small tables, and a counter that goes from wall to wall of cupcakes and cakes. You could easily miss it walking down Broadway with all the other shops and restaurants clumped around it. Yet, it is a little gem.

This particular cupcake was the "death by chocolate" - which sounds like part of my future obituary. It fit exactly what I wanted. Rich chocolate cake, soft chocolatey frosting, and chocolate crumbles on top. It was rich, but not to the point where I couldn't eat the whole thing. This cupcake is not for mediocre chocolate fans, such as my boyfriend.

We were both a little disappointed that day by the small selection. There was the very vanilla (his choice), salted caramel, funfetti, and Caramella. The Caramalla sounded tempting. An amaretto and vanilla swirled cake filled with caramel and topped with chocolate sugar cream almost beat out my love for chocolate. Yet it was the only really unique cupcake we saw. Very different from the crazy selections you see on Cake Wars or even at Molly's Cupcakes.

What I discovered after conversations with other cupcake fans and research on their website, is that they have flavors of the week. So one week may be simple, while the next will be crazy and fun. It also varies in decoration and recipe depending on the chef there. My boyfriend was told that Saturdays the best chef was in, so I recommend stopping by on Saturday to try out some of them. Otherwise, feel free to stop in and check out their delicious cupcakes for something new, quiet, small, and not as talked about.

Enjoy the new year and all the goodies it brings you!
- Mollie