Sunday, May 8, 2011

Celebrate Good Times! (with cupcakes)

One of the things I am most passionate about, is my job.  I am a teacher at an amazing high school, work with amazing friends and colleagues, and teach some pretty amazing young people.  No teacher works for praise (thank goodness, because we don't get it very often!) but when you do get praised, it fills your metaphorical bank up so much that it can bring you to tears.

One of my old students nominated me for a very meaningful and amazing award from San Jose State,  and on Tuesday, I went to the awards ceremony to receive a certificate, eat good food, and celebrate the good work of English teachers in the area. I asked my husband to come with me so that we could celebrate together.

As I walked down the stairs of the parking garage, I saw my handsome husband walking across the street with a small white box in his hand.  My curiosity was piqued.  When we met, he opened the box, and inside, lay 6, tiny, beautifully decorated and petite cupcakes.

From top left: Guava, red velvet, strawberry delight, strawberry short cake, orangesicle, snickers

Yummmmm.  I was 

really excited.  We went to the awards ceremony, which was beautiful, and then came home where we (I) promptly dove right in.  I divided my experience over two nights.  (I am a glutton, but even I cannot handle three mini cupcakes in a night.)

The source of these beauties?  Loves Cupcakes in downtown San Jose.  They've been there for two years!  Why am I just now finding out about them!  I didn't pick them up myself, so unfortunately, I can't give them a rating on their ambiance.  But keep reading for all the deets on taste!

This was definitely going to be my first choice as soon as Mike told me what it was.  If you want a summertime cupcake, this is IT!!  Creamy frosting, and orange zest as a part of the cake itself.  I also loved the orange and vanilla swirled frosting, that replicated the iconic creamsicle perfectly.  Seriously. So good.

For taste, this bad boy which was moist, zesty, and creamy - gets a:

I Loved the perfectly balanced color combination and perfect pointy peak!  

For presentation/frosting, it gets a:


My second choice was the Snickers selection.  This is actually the second snickers cupcake I have had, and the first wasn't so great.  However, this one was very pleasing to the eye!  I loved the crunch of the peanut on top of the rich chocolate cake.  It definitely tasted like a snickers.  And, the caramel on the inside was nothing I was going to complain about either.  It was delicious.  Two for two.

This cupcake was divine.  Very good, caramely, and a good texture combination.  This has my stamp of approval.

Love the half and half concept of the frosting.  Jekyll and Hyde - but both are friendly and yummy:)  
For decoration, this one easily earns a:


I enjoyed the crunch of the nuts and the smooth silkiness of the caramel.  For taste, this one earns a:


I discovered something important after sampling this cupcake - I am not a fan of guava.  Mike was not a fan either.  It looked so pretty, but tasted like feet.  No gracias.

This cupcake earns:

for decoration.  I love the simple white frosting with a small dollop of guava yuminess in the center.  And although the dollop ended up tasting like feet, I didn't know this at first!

For taste, I think you might have already guessed:
I had to take a break, and left the other three for the following night (very sad to leave them!).  Here we are, on a taste date, the following night.

Strawberry Delight
This one is right up there with the orangesicle in terms of its summer worthiness.  This picture of the inside of this cupcake speaks for itself.  From top to bottom, this is a delightful strawberry cupcake.  The frosting is light, the inside gooey, and the strawberry decoration on the top - the perfect addition.  Summer berries at their finest.  

For decoration, this cupcake earns a:

It really reminds me of one of the hats we saw during the Royal wedding last week. So quaint and cute!

For taste, this cupcake earns a:

Strawberry Shortcake

This really did taste like its name!  Very summery and delicious.  The cake was a bit dry, but it was definitely a good shortcake, topped with light, airy, strawberry deliciousness.  I loved the topping and decoration because it reminded me of one of my favorite childhood characters - Strawberry Shortcake :)  Go figure!  If this cake had eyes and some cute little freckles...well, that might be creepy and I wouldn't have eaten it.  But it was a dead ringer!  I would eat this one again, but would make sure it was a bit more fresh!  There's nothing worse than a stale cake!

For taste, I would give this a:

The cake was dry, and it distracted me!  But given a fresher shortcake, it would be a five!

For decoration, I would give this one a:

Mostly because it reminds me of something I loved in my childhood.  If it didn't, I probably would have taken away a cupcake - I am kind of weirded out by the pink frosting.  Yes, I know, the orangesicle was probably stranger, but for some reason this pink frosting rings in as more artificial!

Red Velvet

This was, quite possibly, the best red velvet I've ever had.  Seriously.  Run out and get one NOW.  In my last post, I talked about what an ideal red velvet should taste like.  It should NOT taste like artificial food coloring.  This one fit the bill top to bottom, first bite to last.    If you notice, it is a relatively dark shade of red.  Sometimes when you get a red velvet, they are almost radioactive red.  Never a good sign, IMHO.  This one is a deep red hue, which means its got a good amount of cocoa powder, which is one of the tastes you want to come through.  It was most, the cream cheese frosting was not overpowering, and was creamy and fresh.  Seriously - top three I've ever had.

For taste, this one gets a:

Cupcakes like these make me wish I had more cupcakes to give.  
SO good.

For decoration, this one gets a:

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am waiting for someone to take this classic and really blow it out of the water with the decoration.  Something more than cream cheese.

Overall, I will definitely be going back to this place.  It is within walking distance and close to my hunny's work.  I definitely had my favorites, but I enjoyed every delectable bite!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Sweet, Sweet San Francisco...

The husband and I were in the city recently for a very special occasion - read more about it on my other blog that doesn't focus on my eating cupcakes!  Before we went, I did a bit of recon to find out if there was a cupcakery in the neighborhood.  And wouldn't you know - there was.  Right across the street from our intended destination.  Yes, that's right.  'Twas a sign from God.

Noe Valley is a super cute spot in the city, and a place I've never been before, despite our frequent city visits.  The Noe Valley Bakery is a neighborhood staple, and offers a plethora of goodies aside from my dear cupcakes.  But, this isn't a blog about other goodies.  I'm a straight up, 24/7, 365 cupcake girl.  I don't cheat.

Like I said, the neighborhood is great, and the bakery is right next door to a flower shop and super cute boutique.  The neighborhood, the vibe, everything was great, and I would go back again just for that purpose alone.  

Had to get the flowers in the shot.  Such a beautiful day!

Inside, the bakery is fairly typical.  It has a rustic, old school feel, but is very neat and orderly.  Most important?  Do you see the rows of cupcakes?

However, this place had no seats.  I am still on a hunt for the bakery of my dreams.  I want to sit, enjoy, eat on china.  Maybe have a glass of champagne from a crystal flute.  Is that too much to ask?  I think not.  So, for decor, I would give it...

It was definitely hard to decide on a flavor.  As I was eyeing a mini cupcake (the last one left of the flavor I was craving) the guy right in front of me beat me to the punched.  Darnit - I was forced to buy all full sized cupcakes.  Shoot.

Lemon (with a little bee)
The first flavor we got was a lemon cupcake.  It caught my eye because of it's super cute decoration.  It was very springy and creative.  It could have been mustard flavored, and I would have gotten it.  Luckily, it wasn't mustard flavor. It was incredibly moist, had just enough lemon so as not to be overpowering, and was, quite simply, delicious.  I'd get this one again in a heartbeat.

For flavor, I would give this cupcake:

  Seriously - so CUTE!


Look familiar?  Yep - it's a supersized and not super processed version of a childhood favorite (minus the plastic wrap!)  This chocolate cupcake is filled with cool and creamy whipped cream, dipped in a ganache, and topped with the signature white swirls.  Again, you eat first with your eyes, so this one and the bee were shoe ins!  The flavor was somewhat lacking - nothing special.  I enjoyed the coolness of the whipped cream, and the chocolate cake wasn't terrible.  But, it was a bit plain for my tastes (as you read earlier - I do have champagne taste.)

For decorations, this one gets a:
  Loved it!

For taste, this one gets a:

I just wasn't sold on the taste!

Red Velvet
I was also sure to include a tasting of my staple - the red velvet.   This classic was decorated in a fittingly classic way.  But do you see how creamy that frosting is?  It has a sheet to it that makes me both scared and excited.  Scared because do you know how much butter it takes to make that sheen?  And excited because, do you know how much butter it takes to make that sheen?  And everything is better with butter...

The flavor was alright - it was a bit dry, and tasted a bit like red food coloring - never a good look for a red velvet.  You want to taste the cocoa powder, and slight tartness from the vinegar.  Not red food coloring.

So, for taste, I would give this one a:

For decoration, I would give this one a:

You can't beat classic elegance...

Overall, I would rate this experience and would definitely go back.  The neighborhood is so great, and there are so many more flavors to try!


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