cupcakes at buttermilk bakeshop

I left one day with an ambitious plan – going to bed early. It had been a busy several weeks at work with events and I needed an early night to help offset. My big post-work “plan” was simple – a quick post-work sweet treat at Buttermilk Bakeshop before I turned in. So yes, a pre-dinner dessert. Yolo.

This spot was much more narrow than I was expecting. There’s a thin lane going the width of the store for customers to stand in. There were a few chairs though it was tricky to really hang out. Much more of a grab and go scenario.

Since I came for the cupcakes, I had to give that priority – though I really wanted to try the whoopie pie. Next time…

I went simple. Plain vanilla / vanilla. A friend of mine once mentioned you can really tell a good bakery by something as simple as vanilla / vanilla standing out – and I have to agree. Putting them to the test, I have to say their’s were quite good. Their name is not just to be catchy, as buttermilk was noticeably present in the cake of their cupcakes.

They also have a weekly macron schedule. Amazing. Since I was lucky enough to be there for PB&J (couldn’t have asked for a better flavor) I had to take one of those too.

Buttermilk Bakeshop – 339 7th Avenue (b/w 9th/10th St), Brooklyn – 347.689.4376


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

eating in the big d

A couple of weeks ago, I flew up to Detroit for a former roommate’s wedding. I’ll admit, Detroit in November did not sound super appealing. Maybe if it was going to be warmer, and perhaps if my flight wasn’t set to take off out of La Guardia, which had been a lake only a few days prior due to Hurricane Sandy. However I have to say after getting there, Detroit is a pretty cool city. We were only there for the weekend, but I have to say we hit several highlights and, of course, several tasty spots along the way.

Deep Dish Pizza - Buddy's Restaurant Pizzeria - Dearborn, MI

Deep Dish Pizza – Buddy’s Restaurant Pizzeria – Dearborn, MI

Friday night, our flight got in late and we scrapped plans to head to downtown Detroit in favor of just grabbing a bite nearby our hotel in Dearborn. We learned that dinner at almost 11pm wasn’t super easy to find in Detroit. We finally came across Buddy’s and when it was open, it was our winner. Unbeknownst to us, Buddy’s is on all sorts of lists of best pizza in the US, so I’m glad we found our way there. The pizza was square and deep dish style. The sauce was a tad smoky, toppings plentiful (I have no idea as to how many jalapenos were sacrified for my pizza – so so many), and crust slightly crispy. Chicago deep dish isn’t my favorite – it’s just too heavy for me. For me, this landed somewhere between New York hand-tossed and deep dish and ended up with a deep dish I can do! Yes! Only a shame this isn’t available closer to the Big Apple.

Posing after breakfast in Royal Oak

Posing after breakfast in Royal Oak

I scheduled plans on Saturday morning around my friend N’s availability. She’s always coming into town and we head out to fun restaurants all over Manhattan. Getting to try some of her Detroit faves was a priority for me. We met her bright and early for breakfast at Cafe Muse located in Royal Oak. The area had a cute downtown feel to it, lined with restaurants, boutiques, and thrift shops. The restaurant itself was super cute and the menu was filled with so many options I wanted that I was bummed at the get go that I wasn’t going to be able to go back and try more!

Carrot Cake Pancakes - Cafe Muse - Royal Oak, MI

Carrot Cake Pancakes – Cafe Muse – Royal Oak, MI

I finally settled on their “carrot cake” pancakes with raisins, orange, ginger and spices off of their specials menu. When it arrived, it was definitely different than any other pancakes I have had. The pancakes weren’t super sweet – almost similar to a texture of buckwheat though slightly lighter. I opted to add in the maple syrup to add a bit more sweetness. Quite good though. If you are a fan of carrot cake, you will love this one. My only change might have been to add in a bit of cream cheese to spread in place of butter (since cream cheese and carrot cake are so closely linked).

Seafood Cheddar Grits - Cafe Muse - Royal Oak, MI

Seafood Cheddar Grits – Cafe Muse – Royal Oak, MI

Knowing me, N insisted on us getting a side order of their seafood cheddar grits made with crabmeat and scented with lobster. I was curious to try these since I have pretty strong feelings about when grits and seafood collide. Sometimes the seafood is too overwhelming for me and I’m not a fan. I liked the fact that they made the lobster such a subtle element, and the crabmeat was also not overpowering at all – even softer of an addition than shrimp tends to be. The dish was overwhelmingly cheesy, which made it amazing in my book.

Bacon Waffle - Cafe Muse - Royal Oak, MI

Bacon Waffle – Cafe Muse – Royal Oak, MI

Another excellent selection was their bacon waffle, which similar to a Prospect Heights fave of mine (Woodwork) also put bacon pieces in the batter itself. The brilliance here is one part time saver (no need to eat bacon and waffle separately = genius!) and one part flavor boost (you get that smokey bacon goodness in each and every bite). Served with a maple butter and maple syrup, this one is another menu standout.

Cupcake Spread from Taste Love Cupcakes - Detroit, MI

Cupcake Spread from Taste Love Cupcakes – Detroit

And no trip to another city would be complete without trying the local cupcake standout – which for Detroit, I learned was Taste Love Cupcakes of Cupcake Wars fame. I was greeted at breakfast by a selection of 4 cupcakes from Taste Love – red velvet, sweet potato, buckeye bliss, and chocolate salted caramel. The sweet potato won for originality for me. Not too sweet and with icing bordering on cream cheese but still light and fluffy, it was a perfect fall treat. The red velvet was a close second and I have to say it was the best red velvet I’ve ever had. The cake was very moist and the cream cheese was especially flavorful. I really liked the chocolate salted caramel as well, though I wished they hadn’t included the super salty filling at the center. Ended up being a bit too much salt for my taste. The Buckeye was a fun play on a buckeye, even containing one at the center. Super chocolate-y option!

Brown Butter Shortbread - Pinwheel Bakery - Detroit, MI

Brown Butter Shortbread – Pinwheel Bakery – Detroit, MI

N also sent me back with some brown butter shortbread from Pinwheel Bakery. It was rich and flavorful. I don’t think I want to know how much butter went into these guys – they were some of the most buttery baked goods I’ve ever had, but so good. I think it’s what helped to keep them slightly less crumbly than shortbread tends to be, and the brown butter was a nice way to add a bit more flavor to the shortbread. Another great find!

And seeing as I actually didn’t go to Detroit just to eat… I feel it’s appropriate to end with some photos from the wedding. Big congrats to Sarah and John!


birthday cupcakes for rachel

Rachel is one of my best friends and today she would have been 32.

When I arrived in Madrid, jet lagged and in the midst of a group of 16 students, mostly from the same university (which wasn’t mine), I thought I was going to have an uphill battle or a long summer ahead, one. When I met Rachel, we clicked instantly. She was warm, friendly, and 100% her own person. Like me, she wasn’t a University of Maryland, University College student and we clicked instantly.

Catching up in NYC

Catching up in NYC

That summer, we spent a lot of time together. We both loved desserts and were oftentimes the only two in a group to insist on peeking at a dessert menu – “postre buddies”, as we called it. When a group of us decided to go to Portugal for a long weekend, we chose to room together. Both planners, we lined up quite the itinerary, intent on making the most of every moment we had there and confused why the others didn’t see it the same way.

Co-Virgo Birthday Festivities

Co-Virgo Birthday Festivities

While there, I found my nights full of reading. It didn’t take long for me to realize that three full Spanish books during our time there was a lot. While I spend my evenings in a hot apartment reading through books and preparing presentations, Rachel was out and about meeting people, trying new places, and enjoying the best of the local sangria. I was jealous I couldn’t be doing the same but comforted at least someone had it covered for me.

Smores at Cosi in Dupont

Smores at Cosi in Dupont

Rachel wasn’t entirely the reason moved to DC, but she did play an important part. I wouldn’t have really even thought of it had I not hone to visit her that cold weekend where she showed me just how fun the city could be. We’d seen each other once in Miami and then I came up for a trip. After staying with her in Dupont Circle, I was sold. Aside from the over-politicized nature of the city, it was hard to find anything not to love.

Rachel's Bachelorette Party

Rachel’s Bachelorette Party

Our birthdays are very close to each other – only five days apart (and a year, but who’s counting). While in DC, we held our birthdays together. It was always more of a celebration when all of our friends together were there. When I decided to move to NYC, she joked it was the end of an era. I was sad for our tradition to end, but knew it was just one day out of the year. She came to visit, I came to visit, and we continued to stay in touch over the years.

Sad all of the Baked by Melissa cupcakes were gone - SoHo, Summer 2009

Sad all of the Baked by Melissa cupcakes were gone – SoHo, Summer 2009

When Rachel got sick, I was in shock. None of my close friends had ever had cancer and I didn’t know what to think. All reports looked positive though and if anyone could overcome this, I knew it was her. She was a fighter in every way. We had plans for me to finally arrange a trip down when I saw the news from my hotel room in Cape Town, South Africa. I’d suspected when my phone had beeped at the airport that the voicemail from her hadn’t really been from her and was heartbroken to learn I was right.

Birthday cupcakes

Birthday cupcakes

I’ve spent months barely talking about her because I just can’t, but for me the writing comes long before the talking. And today, if ever any, I feel it’s time to not be silent any more. Rachel loved the cupcakes from Baked by Melissa when she was here. So today I – we – had cupcakes. Somehow, somewhere, I hope she saw, she knows, and she smiled. Thinking about you today, and always. I’d like to think if you were here, it would have gone something like this…

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