Guess what? This week's Illustration Friday theme is Cocoon. And you know what that made me think of? The sweet cocoon of fatty deliciousness that envelops you when you eat the breakfast masterpiece that is Eggs Benedict at Glo's in Seattle. Oh yes. The only thing that could make it better is following it up with a slice of their sour cream coffee cake, served warmed with (unnecessary, but welcome) butter.
Don't get me wrong: there are many reasons why one should desire to be in San Francisco. It's cool, full of good burritos and fun people watching, and it's gorgeous. However, right now all of those reasons are being put to the side, because my wanderlust is fueled by one thing only: American Cupcake.
Per DailyCandy (where I discovered this wondrous place),
Despite the saccharine name, this is no kid’s birthday party venue. Decidedly 21-and-over fare includes pork sliders with Jack-and-Coke BBQ sauce and champagne cocktails with intriguing names like the Drunken Ballerina.
And if that didn't make you want to book a one-way ticket to the foggy city, let's just take a gander at the sweets menu (copied in its entirety below):
chocolate / vanilla / black & tan / tan & black / red velvet / lemon / coconut chocolate coconut / butterscotch / chocolate mint / bubblegum / cotton candy red hot / pixie stixTM / chocolate peanut butter / passion fruit
single | flight
Ice Cream or Old Fashioned Sundae
three twins chocolate, vanilla or coffee | all the fixins
cupcakes | ice cream | bananas | all the fixins
Mad Tea Party (serves 10) naked cupcakes loaded with ice cream, frosting, and all the fixins
classic chocolate | vanilla | red velvet
cone or big bowl
classic cherry red
frozen tequila lime| salted pretzel crust
soft chocolate cookie | caramel | salted peanuts
Red Velvet Bread Pudding
red velvet cake | housemade custard
Banana Nilla Pudding
banana pudding | nilla wafers | whipped cream
Root Beer Float
root beer | vanilla ice cream
coconut porter | vanilla ice cream
(no description necessary)
Aren't you feeling the love, too? American Cupcake is located at 1919 Union Street in San Francisco, and will have its grand opening on May 1 at noon; find out more at americancupcake.com.
Mother May I...have another cupcake?
Yup, it's just about time to turn the calendar page, and you know what that means: a new flavor of the month from Cupcake Royale. This May they're bringing back last year's popular May flavor: the Chocolate Scorcher. Direct from the source, here's the lowdown:
Moist chocolate cake topped with a rich, bold chocolate cream cheese frosting. Made with Theo Spicy Chile Dark Chocolate, this masterful chocolate concoction of sweet meets heat will have your taste buds all fired up with the heat of guajillo chiles, hints of cinnamon, and orange oil.
But you know what? That's not all that's exciting at Cupcake Royale. They're also debuting a new series of classes / workshops about canning and preserving with Amy Pennington, author of the great new book Urban Pantry. Here's the lowdown on that:
Our good pal Amy Pennington just launched her sweet new book, Urban Pantry. You can see the real deal by signing up for one of our Pantry Royale local preserves workshops at our Capitol Hill store. You'll learn how easy it is to can and preserve your fruit and enjoy the local fruit of the season...all year! Skagit Valley Strawberry in February, or perhaps a Caramel Apple in April? We're preserving our own fruits and stocking the pantry in the Cupcake Royale bakery. And with Amy's help, we'll teach you how to do it, too. Sign up here.
The Chocolate Scorcher will be available for the entire month of May at all four locations; for more information, visit cupcakeroyale.com.
On a recent trip to Paris, my travel goal was simple: I wanted to try at least one pâtisserie in each of the 20 arrondissements. Happily, I attained my goal and then some, having visited a staggering 35 bakeries in a mere 7 days (I'll leave you to ponder that for a few moments).
My game plan? To try a mix of places I'd heard (and dreamed about) from books, guides, and trusted websites, but to also go to several arrondissements with no particular destination in mind, thereby allowing for some unexpected sweet experiences. And may I highly suggest this as a method of tourism? Not only did we make it to neighborhoods we probably wouldn't have discovered otherwise, but we also ate some seriously sweet stuff at every point along the way!
Here, I've listed at least one pâtisserie visited in each of the 20 arrondissements.
Note: While you may recognize several of these from my report on Serious Eats, I've also expanded and added several other spots to the roundup; enjoy!
Cafe Angelina: Our pick here? The hot chocolate. The legendary hot chocolate here, called "L'africaine," is so thick that when sold by the bottle, it doesn't budge even when you turn bottle upside down. When heated, the hot chocolate is extremely thick and velvety, with a rich, dark chocolate flavor that isn't overpoweringly sweet. And it doesn't hurt that it's served up in a grand old tea room in the shadow of the Louvre by austere waitresses in French Maid-esque getups. 226 Rue de Rivoli, 75001, 1st Arrondissement, Paris, France (map) 01 42 60 82 00
Stohrer: For one thing, if a bakery has been around since the 1730s, it's probably doing something right. While Stohrer's chocolate éclair was voted among the best in Paris, I think their coffee-flavored ones are even better: a perfectly piped cloud of choux gives way to an insanely rich coffee-toned cream and icing. 51 Rue Montorgueil, 75002, 2nd Arrondissement, Paris, France (map) 01 42 33 38 20; stohrer.fr
Pain de Sucre: This gorgeous little shop featured a sweet variety of goods, including baguette-shaped macarons (!), but our victim--er, choice--was the quatre quarts cake, which was rich, buttery, and oh so good. 14, rue rambuteau, 75003, 3rd Arrondissement, Paris, France; patisseriepaindesucre.fr.
Berthillon: You've probably read about this place in a tour guide or seen it on a travel show—I'm here to tell you that you should listen to them. This ice cream is amazingly creamy and flavorful, with a rotating cast of flavors like salted caramel, roasted pistachio, and creamy coconut, and served up in clever two-cupped cones which taste pretty good themselves. 31 Rue Saint-Louis en l'Ile, 75004, 4th Arrondissement, Paris, France (map) 01 43 54 31 61; berthillon.fr
Boulangerie Julien: Oh, bebe. The delicious rhubarb tart here was the stuff of dreams; read a full review here. 24, rue St. Martin, 75004, 4th Arrondissement, Paris, France.
Legay Choc: The first patisserie we visited after landing, and one of our favorite stops. Two words sum it all up: Roulé Cannelle. Read all about it here. 17, Rue Des Archives, Paris 04; online at legaychoc.fr
Le Maison Kayser: Now, I had headed to Kayser intent on trying the Tigrés (Tiger Tea Cakes) as featured in Dorie Greenspan's book Paris Sweets (which, by the way, if you don't own, I have to say "You've got to be kidding me". Buy it now). But when I got to the bakery, I couldn't seem to drag myself away from the vision of these little chocolate tarts, served in sweet little squares topped with a disc of white chocolate and some candied hazelnuts. 8, rue monge, 75005, 5th Arrondissement, Paris, France (other locations too) maison-kayser.fr.
Pierre Hermé: So I'll admit it: I feel like macarons are often better in theory than in practice. Unless they're done perfectly, they can fall into the traps of being too chewy, too brittle, or too sweet. But if there's a macaron that can make you a believer, I think Pierre Hermé's may be it. Biting into one is like biting into a cloud: the macaron is light as air, and yields perfectly to the generous dab of ganache, which is smooth, rich, and creamy without having a texture that is incongruous with the delicate cookie base. And this dude is somehow able to make crazy flavors like strawberry and wasabi not only work, but work well. 72 Rue Bonaparte, 75006, 6th Arrondissement, Paris, France (map) 01 43 54 47 77; pierreherme.com
La Patisserie des Rêves: I couldn't imagine a sweeter place to pick up Breton specialty Kouign Amann Breton than Dorie Greenspan-approved La Patisserie des Rêves, where large glass domes that resemble huge upside-down wineglasses cover gorgeous cakes arranged in a circle on a main table, and then shelves off to the side have various individually-sized treats. Also noteworthy: their unique brioche. 93 Rue du Bac, 75007 Paris, France (map) 01 42 84 00 82; lapatisseriedesreves.com
Dalloyau: Opera Cake wasn't technically invented at Dalloyau (it's derived from another version of the fancy cake, the Clichy) but it was made famous here. For well over 100 years they've been serving up this slice of heaven, a serious cake comprised of thin layers of biscuit Viennois soaked in coffee syrup and then layered with coffee-flavored buttercream and bittersweet chocolate ganache. Various locations in Paris; we visited the one in the 8th; dalloyau.fr
Ladurée: A religieuse is a pastry supposedly takes its name from its resemblance to a nun's habit, but some hard-core pastry lovers might argue the name stems from its taste (which approaches an absolutely religieuse experience). Ladurée's intriguing Blackcurrant-Violet Religieuse, made up of choux pastry, blackcurrant and violet flavored confectioner's custard, is exquisite--but the violet taste is powerful, and this one is best shared. Various locations in Paris, including one in the 9th, and beyond; laduree.fr
La Baie des Anges: This place didn't look like much from the outside--and it was raining and we were eager to get into a bakery and get back to our hotel-- but the eclair was surprisingly delicious, fresh even at the end of the day, and redolent with chocolate-y goodness. 23 Rue du Faubourg du Temple, 75010 Paris, France.
La Bague de Kenza: I was intrigued by the writeup on Chocolate and Zucchini of the rfisse, which she described as "a mix of semolina, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, date, and honey, ground into a marzipan-like, pleasantly grainy paste"; happily, the sweet pastry was freshly made and delicious--vaguely reminding me of my days of serving Basbousa in Brooklyn. 106 Rue Saint-Maur, 75011, 11th Arrondissement, Paris, France.
Aux Castelblangeois: Our favored pastry here? The Tartelette aux Fraises. Starting with the fattest, most flavorful strawberries you've ever tasted on top of a rich bed of cream and a flaky pastry crust, this was a sweet tart indeed. 104 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine, 75012, 12th Arrondissement, Paris, France (map) 01 40 19 93 36
Boulangerie Pâtisserie Renard: While walking around this neighborhood, which was nearby a hospital and was full of medical students and doctors, we found ourselves in this unassuming little bakery and were happily rewarded with a heavenly pear and chocolate tart. 113 bis, boulevard de l'Hôpital, 75013, 13th Arrondissement, Paris, France (map); 01 44 24 13 49
Bonjour Bakery: What we indulged in here was something called a chouquette aux marrons. What's that? Well. Imagine an éclair. Now, fill it with rich, unbelievably creamy chestnut filling and top it with sweet vanilla icing. You're getting the idea, and it is delicious. 16 Avenue René Coty, 75014, 14th Arrondissement, Paris, France (map) 01 43 27 70 97
Maeder Véronique: Even blueberries are different in Paris! I didn't actually realize that's what the little berries were on top of this tart until I later looked it up: these were small, piquant, and more tart than mere US blueberries. Studded with pistachios atop a layer of pastry cream, all perched on a sturdy crust, this little tart was basically like heaven. 18 Rue de Lourmel, 75015, 15th Arrondissement, Paris, France (map) 01 45 78 89 31
Lenôtre: Walking into Lenôtre is kind of like walking into Tiffany & Co., only the wares are edible. The brioche, which was light and buttery all at once, was beautifully accentuated by the rose-colored candied nuts (I believe pistachios)—I think I liked their version even better than the famous Praluline, which is similarly flavored, if different in construction. 48, Avenue Victor Hugo, 75016, 16th Arrondissement, Paris, France (map) 01 45 02 21 21; Brioche Pralines Rose, lenotre.fr
Alain Bernard Artisan: Here is where we devoured the Salambo. Named after a literary character, this choux pastry filled with pastry cream and topped with icing and chocolate sprinkles is much more delicious to gobble than any old book. 6, Place Henri, 75017, 17th Arrondissement, Paris, France, 01 47 57 43 89.
Berko: An American cupcake shop in Paris! But what made these cupcakes so good? My theory is that it's the butter. France takes it a whole lot more seriously than the U.S., and it shows in these cakes, which are so tantalizingly buttery that really, a small one is sufficient (honestly). Their cake is unbelievably moist, and the frosting...well, it's buttercream (accent on the butter). 31, rue lepic, 75018, 18th Arrondissement, Paris, France. (note: there is also another location in the 4th Arrondissement)
La Boulangerie par Véronique Mauclerc: This sweet shop seems a bit hidden, but is worth seeking out: we had an apple and raisin tart which, in spite of its name and ingredients, managed to taste buttery enough to make up for the virtuous fruit. 83 rue de Crimée, 75019, 19th Arrondissement, Paris, France.
Banette: Here, we scored La Figue. This unusual little squat pastry was on show at patisseries all over town, and nearby Pere LaChaise I finally picked one up at Banette, a boulangerie-patisserie with several locations throughout Paris (and, it seems, Montreal as well). Comprised of a fig-and-chocolate mixture topped with a rich green marzipan wrapped in a way to suggest a fig-like form, this was an absolute pleasure to eat. It tastes somewhere between cake and confection. Boulevard de Menilmontant, 75020, 20th Arrondissement, Paris, France; various Banette locations can also be found around Paris; banette.fr
Boulangerie 140: After having read about this place on David Lebovitz, we simply had to give this gem a try. Everything in the case was so obviously made with care that it was hard to decide what to settle on; while the bread was definitely the point of pride here, we tried the pain au chocolat, and were not disappointed. 140, rue de Belleville, 75020; au140.fr.
Guess what? Today is National Pretzel Day. But how to celebrate?
On the one hand the answer is painfully obvious--eat pretzels. But what kind of pretzels? After all, there are so many options: hard or soft, knotted or in stick form? Smothered in mustard or covered in chocolate?
Well, here's a suggestion for those who like plenty of sweet with their salty: chocolate-filled pretzel nuggets. These pillow-like nuggets are sort of like Combos meet chocolate covered pretzel--that is to say, the pinnacle of sweet and salty pretzel perfection.
Undoubtedly you've baked with either Sweetened Condensed or Evaporated Milk, if not both. But what exactly are they? And what's the difference, anyway? Happily, I was able to get the full story directly from the source, when I sat down with a couple of the respective canned dairy products for an interview:
CakeSpy: First off, I'd like to thank my guests, Sweetened Condensed Milk and Evaporated Milk. And I'd like to say, for the record, that no matter what anyone says, I've never considered you dairy misfits.
Sweetened Condensed Milk: Who said that?
Evaporated Milk: I'll kill them! It was Whipping Cream, wasn't it? He's so smug.
CakeSpy: Outta sight! So, to get things started, Sweetened Condensed Milk...what exactly are you?
Sweetened Condensed Milk: Well, since I was googling myself before the interview, I can tell you that I'm "cow's milk from which water has been removed and to which sugar has been added, yielding a very thick, sweet product which when canned can last for years without refrigeration if unopened."
CakeSpy: Wow, that's a long time.
Evaporated Milk: No wonder why you seem so dated.
CakeSpy: Now, now, Evaporated Milk. I'm interested in you too--what is it exactly that you are?
CakeSpy: You guys, no offense, but it doesn't sound like you're all that different. What exactly is the difference between you two?
Sweetened Condensed Milk: I've got sugar!
Evaporated Milk: I don't need sugar! I have a very unique flavor and am often used in desserts such as Libby's Famous Pumpkin Pie.
Sweetened Condensed Milk: But with my deliciously decadent sugary nature, I'm often used in desserts too--perhaps most notably, or notoriously, in the Magic Cookie Bar.
Evaporated Milk: I thought those were called Hello Dolly Bars.
CakeSpy: Tomato, tomahto.
Sweetened Condensed Milk and Evaporated Milk (in unision): Whaaat?!?
CakeSpy: Nevermind. (pause)
Anyhow, to review, you're both shelf stable canned milk products, but basically Sweetened Condensed Milk has added sugar, and Evaporated milk doesn't. You both have a rich history and a rich texture, and are often used in baking. And no matter what Heavy Cream, Yogurt, or Cream Cheese says about your status as reputable dairy product, I love you both.
Evaporated Milk: Thanks...I think.
Sweetened Condensed Milk: Let's go shank Heavy Cream!
Now, I'm not saying that I wish harm upon anyone, but if my dream were to be a reality, I think it would be super delicious if the ice cream in question were from Seattle ice cream icon Molly Moon's.
And guess what? As I learned from my friends at Capitol Hill Seattle, they're debuting an ice cream truck this summer. As they report it,
While we're lucky to have the brick and mortar MM already in the 'hood, the idea of having the truck cruise over to serve the crowds of kiddies in the Volunteer Park wading pool on a hot August afternoon is almost as tasty as a scoop of salted caramel with hot fudge.
Yup--looks like Seattle's about to get even sweeter. For more information on Molly Moon's Ice Cream, visit their website.
To tell you what a Lucky Charms Treat is--which basically amounts to a Rice Krispie Treat, but with Lucky Charms--really doesn't do it justice.
Because while this technically tells you what they are, it really doesn't tell you about the strange beauty of seeing how the marshmallow colors run into each other, and the surprise of coming across an extra marshmallowy pocket of flavor while crunching through these super sweet treats (which I made for the Great American Bake Sale).
But perhaps you might get a hint of the magic that is the Lucky Charms Treat if I show you the pan used to make them, which was streaked with marshmallow rainbows after being emptied into the pan to cool:
...or maybe that just sealed your resolve to never, ever go down this road.
But if you'd like to see for yourself, here's the recipe (oh, and if you like messing with cereal treats, you might like this too).
Lucky Charms Treats
Makes about 12
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 4 cups miniature marshmallows
- 6 cups Lucky Charms
- In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.
- Add cereal; stir until uniformly coated.
- Using a buttered spatula or wax paper evenly press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Cool. Cut into 2-inch squares. Best if served the same day.