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Tuesday
Feb172009

Looking Good: Sweet Treats from Look Cupcake in Seattle

A surprise package from Look Cupcake
Last week, something magical happened: upon returning home to the Cakespy Headquarters after running some errands, we found the most gorgeous box of cupcakes on our porch. Magic!

The parcel was from Seattle's newest custom-order cupcake business, Look Cupcake. Based out of a commercial kitchen on Lower Queen Anne, owner Rhienn Davis takes a unique slant on the cupcake trend by looking inwardly--literally--by specializing in gourmet, filled cupcakes.

Look Cupcake
Our assortment included three flavors: the Feather Boa (coconut cream cake, mojito cheesecake filling, vanilla buttercream, coconut garnish); the La Nina de Chocolate Diablo (spiced mexican chocolate cake with kahlua especial swiss meringue buttercream); and the A Formal Affair (vanilla cake, bittersweet ganache filling and whipped truffle frosting).

These cupcakes were--to put it mildly--crazy delicious. But even more than the fillings, what impressed us was the frosting. Silky, buttery and absolutely luxurious, it seemed different a lot of other cupcake-frostings we've tried. What gives? 

Sweet Surprise from Look Cupcake!Sweet Surprise from Look Cupcake!
Turns out, they were topped with what is known as Swiss Meringue Buttercream (and in the case of the chocolate frosting, ganache whipped in, which only added to that luxurious texture).
So what is Swiss Meringue Buttercream? Happily, Rhienn (aka the "Cliff Clavin of buttercream") was able to explain:

 

The difference between meringue buttercreams (there are several - Italian, Swiss, French - every European country thinks they know best, apparently,) and regular "American style" buttercream (what we think of as a more "crunchy" frosting) is as follows:

 

  • American buttercream is just butter (sometimes a little cream cheese) and TONS of powdered sugar mixed together. The result is that intense, super sweet, sometimes a little gritty, frosting. I make a great one with fresh ginger grated into it. Mmmm!
  • (Pick your European country) Meringue buttercream is made by dissolving a relatively small amount of granulated sugar into egg whites, whipping it into a meringue and then adding the butter. They're smoother, creamier and less over the top sweet. They also stand up better in heat, which is awesome for those of us that do seven million weddings in the dog days of summer.
So there you go--unexpected free cupcakes, and an unexpected lesson on various different types of frosting: we'd call that a sweet treat, indeed.
For more information, visit lookcupcake.com.

 

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Reader Comments (22)

Awesome! A new cupcakeary in Seattle? Who would have thought the town was big enough? I guess all of us Vitamin-D deprived PNW'ers have to keep going on a steady diet of sugar and caffeine so a new cupcake maven makes sense. I can't wait to try the frosting. It sounds delish ... Though, I have to admit that right now the Salted Caramel frosting at Cupcake Royale is setting the bar pretty high for me. =) Thanks for the alert on the new kid in town. I can't wait to try 'em.

February 17 | Unregistered CommenterAnne-Marie

Actually, there are quite a few variations on the European meringues. They all contain egg whites & sugar, but their preparation varies.

French is mixed "as is" therefore the egg whites are uncooked, it's the least stable & cannot be used to make buttercream. (French buttercream is made with a pate a bombe base.)

Swiss is heated gently on a bain marie until it reaches 110F & then whipped into meringue. Because it is cooked slightly, you can use it as is for Swiss buttercream (just add butter!).

Italian is made with heated sugar (soft ball stage) added to whipping egg whites. Same deal for Italian buttercream...egg whites are cooked, so just add butter.

Oh, and German buttercream is mousseline. ;) (Pastry cream + a ton of butter.)

Sorry, just HAD to clarify! :-D

February 17 | Unregistered Commenterlilly

oops - Swiss is heated to 130F, not 110F :-D

February 17 | Unregistered Commenterlilly

these look so good and creamy. Nice present eh ! :)

February 17 | Unregistered CommenterSnooky doodle

They look amazing! I think I have to have a go at making this meringue buttercream - it looks devine.

February 17 | Unregistered Commenterthereddeer

Those are so beautiful, and the flavors sound so wonderful. I'm also going to have to try meringue buttercream, I keep hearing more and more about it.

February 17 | Unregistered CommenterMargie

what cute packaging!! one of these days i'll try a real "swiss" buttercream, but the next cupcake i'll be making will be a vegan one, so i think i'll skip the egg whites for now!

February 17 | Unregistered Commenterkickpleat

I gotta say, the S'mores cupcakes at Trophy in Seattle are THE ones to beat.
I am a huge fan of Swiss meringue buttercream, and this is what I normally use for my cupcakes. It's much less sweet than (ack!) American buttercream and has a beautiful texture if it's made correctly. :)

February 18 | Unregistered Commentersheryl

I like learning new things about cupcakes, thanks cakespy :)

February 18 | Unregistered Commenterapparentlyjessy

People leave cupcakes on your doorstep. I want your job.

Lisa's right. We all need more cupcake doorditching in our lives. I love swiss meringue buttercream. And that says a lot in my frosting-hater mind. :)

February 18 | Unregistered Commenterchou

Swiss meringue buttercream is always my buttercream of choice. It's much easier to make than you'd think but you definitely need some sort of electric beater to make it silky smooth as it takes a lot of whisking!

February 18 | Unregistered CommenterThe Caked Crusader

Love those soft pink petally cupcakes! They remind me a bit of these ones that Toronto cupcake queen Eini makes:

http://danamccauley.wordpress.com/2008/01/30/gorgeous-gourmet-cupcakes/

February 18 | Unregistered CommenterDana McCauley

Love those soft pink petally cupcakes! They remind me a bit of these ones that Toronto cupcake queen Eini makes:

http://danamccauley.wordpress.com/2008/01/30/gorgeous-gourmet-cupcakes/

February 18 | Unregistered CommenterDana McCauley

Aren't free cupcakes the best? They may even taste better than ones you have to buy! Thanks for the info about buttercream frostings. It's so weird that you posted about this because just yesterday I was trying to search to figure out the same thing. Thanks!

February 18 | Unregistered CommenterCupcake Activist

Swiss meringue buttercream doesn't hold well in high heat (above 90 F) because the butter starts to melt, and then there's all sorts of disasters. Though a lot of recipes say you can cook the egg whites in a Swiss meringue buttercream until the sugar melts and the mixture feels smooth, it is actually recommended to cook the egg whites to at *least* 160 F to kill off any bacteria that may be in the egg whites.
American Buttercream often contains crisco, especially in the South and Intermountain West where temperatures top 100 F in the summer. Obviously, crisco is far less appetising than butter.
For a vegan option, you can make a (moderately successful) Swiss meringue buttercream using Egg Replacer (found at Whole Foods), and a butter substitute (like soy butter, but be careful which soy butters you choose... not all are vegan).

February 18 | Unregistered Commenterbigspoonbakery

Your job is so hard!! If you need help with the heavy lifting there, call me. :-)

February 18 | Unregistered CommenterCookie baker Lynn

Yummy, and I think peeling the top of the frosting can is hard work....off to bake some new cakes....and I love filling.

February 18 | Unregistered CommenterKathy

I do not use American buttercream for my cupcakes either. European buttercream is definitely superior in flavor!

February 18 | Unregistered CommenterVeron

SMBC is the best! It's pretty much all I make at home! :D

What gorgeous cupcakes!

February 23 | Unregistered CommenterMy Sweet & Saucy

They are gorgeous..The flower shaped one is so beautiful!

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