robicelli’s cupcakes: 5 miles ahead

T and I had been wanting to pay a visit to the newly opened store for Robicelli’s. But it’s a bit of a hike – ok far – so going for a visit, unless that happens to be where you live, does require some time (not that I’ve ever let that deter me).

Yesterday was gorgeous. Okay, comparatively nice. The sun might have been hiding, but temps were almost a balmy 50 degrees, no rain or snow, and little wind. Perfect day for a stroll to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. To be fair, the plan had been to take the subway, but we decided why not just walk?

Turns out that walk was over five miles. We strolled through South Park Slope and into Sunset Park, where the streets were filled with families, some children sitting to the side of their parents as they fried up food for their street carts. There was a man protesting in Spanish outside a church, his microphone breaking up but seemingly accusing someone of being a murderer.

Finally we made it into Bay Ridge, which started much further north than either of us realized. There were too many options from which to choose, the likes of which changed while we were sitting there.

T had walked the whole way intent on trying their buffalo chicken cupcake, an appropriate nod to Super Bowl day. When we got there, there were none to be seen. Instead, he went with the chicken and waffles.

Seeing as I’m a big fan of the salty/sweet combo, I finally chose the pecan potato chip cupcake. It was perfection – pecan potato chip cake, vanilla buttercream, salted butterscotch, roasted pecans, crushed potato chips. Potato chips are my favorite unexpected dessert accent.

As we were halfway through both, Matt Robicelli came out with a surprise tub of found buffalo chicken cupcakes, and we went from two to consume to three. So hard.

As we finished up, I looked over to eye the cookie sandwiches which had just emerged, filled with a layer of marshmallow fluff. Marshmallow fluff! I sighed, wishing that had been available 30 minutes ago before realizing I was being greedy and could go back. And go back I will.

Robicelli’s – 9009 5th Avenue (between 91/92 Street) – 917.509.6048

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kara’s cupcakes

Throughout my whole trip to San Francisco, I was in hot pursuit of sweets. Namely cupcakes. Perhaps it was where we happened to have plans, but I never seemed to come across anywhere selling this (or anything worth stopping for, that is). After brunch at 15 Romolo, my friends drove us around the city a bit and we saw some of what we hadn’t seen yet. Along the Waterfront. Over and down Lombard Street (windy windy and oh so packed with tourists) and we weren’t far from a spot they said was good – Kara’s Cupcakes. I was thrilled!

They have different types. There’s there signature flavors, including the likes of “sweet s’mores”. There’s their filled cupcakes, such as passion fruit, meyer lemon, just to name a few). And then there were some seasonal options, such as key lime or their latest – “royal biscuit”, which is a nod to the London Summer Olympics.

While it might have been smart to have gone with their mini cupcake options (and they had quite a few), I felt since I’d looked for days for cupcakes, I’d earned the real deal. I went with the key lime, since I wanted to make sure to try at least one of their filled options. It was a graham cracker crust vanilla cupcake with a key lime curd filling with cream cheese frosting. Pretty good, though the cake part was a tad on the dry side for my taste.

I also had to get the sweet s’mores, which was a chocolate cupcake with a graham cracker crust and a toasted marshmallow frosting. This was good though, again the cake was a bit dry and warning! If you leave this one in the box to eat for later and oh, maybe walk around in the Haight for a bit thumbing through dresses at Ambiance and various vintage stores, you might (ooops) find that gorgeous frosting has slid off the top.

Kara’s Cupcakes – 3249 Scott Street (@ Chestnut), San Francisco – 415.563.2223

peanut butter cookie cupcakes

Today’s the next 140Sweets event, benefiting the American Cancer Society’s DetermiNation Program. When I learned about the event, I started thumbing through all of my cupcake cookbooks for the “magic” cupcake. Lots of the ones I really wanted to make (why hello, spiced chai!) involved temperamental icing (something about a whipped cream style icing doesn’t work with making an interim stop at the office).

Peanut Butter Cookie Cupcakes - Before Icing

Peanut Butter Cookie Cupcakes - Before Icing

These peanut butter cookie cupcakes from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes cookbook (apparently, even available for ordering for your Kindle!) caught my attention. They were like a cupcake version of a standard peanut butter cookie. Yes. Just about perfect. Peanut butter in both the cupcake and icing portion (the icing also has cream cheese – so much cream cheese).

Iced and ready to go!

Iced and ready to go!

These were super easy to make. The recipe claimed a 30 cupcake yield, but I ended up with 26. Check out @140Sweets on Twitter if you’re interested in learning more about tonight’s event!

new icing flavors coming to @butterlane in august

On Monday, Butter Lane invited me to stop by to taste test possible new icing flavors for the month of August. If you’re new to this blog, you might have missed out of all of the various times I’ve raved about Butter Lane. Let’s say I’ve been a fan for a long time. I love their varied icings, your option to customize the pairing of icing with the cake base (banana, chocolate, or vanilla), and they try to use as little processed items in their baking as possible.

So true...

So true...

The options were interesting – pistachio, peach, and cherry. What I like about icing shots at Butter Lane is that they don’t just give you a plain cup of icing. The shot is topped off with something corresponding to the flavor. Pistachio was topped with actual pistachios. The peach was topped with a peach drizzle. The cherry was topped by a big fresh cherry. And with the peach and cherry, there were little fruit bits throughout all of the icing.

Three August Icing Flavor Contenders

Three August Icing Flavor Contenders

We each voted for which one we thought as the best and they were going to then compile the votes and choose August’s flavor. I had to go with peach, though I wouldn’t be disappointed if cherry came out the winner. So much fun to be able to participate in this with Butter Lane!

Butter Lane – 123 East 7th Street (at Avenue A) – 212.677.2880

pumpkin maple cupcakes at babycakes

I have a tradition when it comes to getting my hair cut, and it involves Babycakes. I’m one of a small club of people who think vegan and gluten free baked goods and a head full of highlighting papers logically go together.

Now I’ll confess, I have no dietary restrictions (unless bakeries ever start to incorporate mushrooms into their sweets – guess you never know). Gluten and I so far are friends. However, the process behind t intrigues me. No dairy, yet the icing has a similar creaminess about it. And I’m a fan of agave as a sweetener. It has a less syrupy taste as sugar does for me. And I like that they’re not using food coloring in their goods. Much more natural.

So much to choose from...

So much to choose from...

I’m a fan of their cookie sandwiches – which are two cookies and a thin layer of vanilla frosting. Mmmm. Just because you have an unhealthy obsession with that lovely layer of white cream doesn’t mean it has to be entirely unhealthy. I always feel a litlte better about myself after getting one there as opposed to say Mrs. Fields.

Pumpkin Maple Cupcake & Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwich

Pumpkin Maple Cupcake & Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwich

I’ve still yet to try their donuts. Maybe next time…

Babycakes – 248 Broome Street (b/w Orchard and Ludlow) – 212.677.5047

prospect park food truck rally

When I heard about today’s Food Truck Rally, it seemed perfect luck that my sister and  I had a photoshoot in Prospect Park with a friend just as the rally was set to start. After countless photos in the park (damp grass, but still quite fun – think the shots of us jumping are my favorite), we made our way back out to Grand Army Plaza. Before the photoshoot, we managed to snag a sample from the Treats Truck – two thin sugar cookies with a thin layer of vanilla cream in the middle. We were ready for more.

We waited a while in the line for Taim Mobile, which was primarily serving falafel. I’d really liked the falafel samples they had at the Village Voice Choice Eats. While we were waiting in line, we watched people slowly peel off to get a cupcake during the wait from the Cupcake Stop. I’d been meaning to hunt them down at some point to welcome them back to the streets. Clearly I had to have a chocolate peanut butter cupcake. The icing was light and whipped – just like I like it. The peanut butter chips were a nice touch. The chocolate cake wasn’t quite as chocolate as I like it, but was good and moist. These guys have really come a long way back from their first weekend! Turned out to be a wise move, as the wait for real food was quite lengthy.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcake - Cupcake Stop

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcake - Cupcake Stop

In the end, we bailed that line and made our way over to the Rickshaw Dumpling Truck. The line doubled back in a U-shape and took us some 45 minutes+ to conquer. The idea overall of the rally was good – plenty of space. However while conceptually having full access to the trucks is nice, it just took too long for each of them to wait on the customers when they were offering their entire normal menu. I’ve oftentimes wished that vendors would offer their full selection at these events. And now I know why they don’t. Noted!

Rickshaw Dumpling Truck Menu

Rickshaw Dumpling Truck Menu

I’d been wanting to try Rickshaw for some time now. I ended up trying their pork dumplings, which were pork, cabbage, ginger, and scallions. You could do an order of the dumplings ($6) or for $9, could add in your choice of side dish – salad, chili rice noodle salad, or chilled edamame. I went for the combo and the noodle salad, which was made with fresh carrot, cucumber & sprouts. The dumplings were good – small, but with 6 of them in an order, it as more filling than I’d originally thought it might be. The noodle salad was actually quite flavorful as well, with the chili adding a nice spicy contrast to the cool temperature. I do have to admit with the chilly damp weather today, I would have liked a warm side, but the noodles were tasty enough to overlook that. I’d like to try their sit-down restaurant, which offers a more robust menu. [Oh and the few bites I had of a butterscotch bar from the Treats Truck were tasty as well – very moist and chewy!]

Pork Dumplings and Noodle Salad

Pork Dumplings and Noodle Salad

Anyone else go to the event? What’s your favorite food truck in the city at the moment? (If you’re not in NYC, that’s ok – would love to hear about your fave where you are, if applies!)

sprinkles cupcakes open in nyc

I usually avoid opening day insanity, but eh. It was Friday. I wanted cupcakes. And I knew today the new NYC location for Sprinkles was opening. And besides, I’d been watching the Sprinkles mobile postings about them giving away cupcakes prior to their opening. Sadly I hadn’t been able to make it out, but it had me with cupcakes on the brain. The line wasn’t too bad. I’d approximate I only waited about 20 minutes to get inside to place my order.

Sprinkles - New NYC Location

Sprinkles - New NYC Location

Sprinkles Cupcakes, NYC - Exterior

Sprinkles Cupcakes, NYC - Exterior

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to try. While waiting outside, I heard that their most popular selling cupcake was their red velvet. Eh. That just sounded like a plain option when they had so many other great ones. Maybe chai latte… or vanilla milk chocolate. Maybe cinnamon sugar.

Decision Time...

Decision Time...

When it came down to it, I decided to go with chocolate marshmallow and salty caramel.

Chocolate Marshmallow

Chocolate Marshmallow

I was really excited to see that Chocolate Marshmallow was one of their daily flavors (there are some which are only available on certain days of the week – FYI Nichelle of Cupcakes Take the Cake recommends the Ginger Lemon – I may have to return on a Wednesday to check that out). The Chocolate Marshmallow is a Belgian dark chocolate cake and marshmallow cream with a bittersweet ganache. When I bit in, I found the cake to be too dense for my taste and the icing was too heavy and the chocolate was quite bitter. I think it was also that I was really hoping for more marshmallow, as I found this a bit lacking. The center just  had a little dollop of marshmallow. I’ll confess, it wasn’t my favorite.

Cupcake demolition in process. Slight dash o' marshmallow in sight.

Cupcake demolition in process. Slight dash o' marshmallow in sight.

There were others I wanted to try, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to try their special cupcake (only available May 13-20) – salty caramel. It was a caramel cake with a buttery caramel cream cheese frosting toppped with a fleur de sol. This one? Amazing. It had that whole salty/sweet thing in just the right balance. I’d think this one would be a big hit with the male patrons who usually scoff at the ideas of sweets but dive in if someone brings in chocolate covered pretzels. Yup. Same concept.

Salty Caramel Cupcake @ Sprinkles Cupcakes

Salty Caramel Cupcake @ Sprinkles Cupcakes

The cupcake was even lightly sprinkled with salt. Incorporating cream cheese into the icing was a nice touch. I’ve had this before with straight caramel icing or somethign more along the lines of dulce de leche, and it’s usually too heavy. This lighter version worked nicely. I liked this one a lot. Shame it’s not a part of the regular line-up!

Halfway through the Salty Caramel Cupcake...

Halfway through the Salty Caramel Cupcake...

And I noticed as I was paying, they even have something for your dog. Awwwww.

Canine Cupcakes!

Canine Cupcakes!

Follow them on Twitter or Facebook for special passcodes for free cupcakes. Today I might have ordered two, but oh yes. I only paid for one. Score. I’ll be back to try some more. Perhaps I just didn’t find my fave…

If you’ve been there before, what’s your favorite at Sprinkles?

Sprinkles – 780 Lexington Avenue (b/w East 60 & 61st) – 212.207.8375