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Entries in bakeries (274)

Friday
Sep182009

CakeSpy Undercover: A Cake Gumshoe's Thoughts on Common Ground Coffee and Cupcakes, Renton WA

Peppermint Patty Cupcake, Common Ground, Renton
CakeSpy Note: Since it had been a while since I sampled the cupcakes from Common Ground, I was delighted to see a new review on their current offerings via this guest blog post from Cake Gumshoe Roxanne Cooke. Check out her website here!

Common Ground Coffee and Cupcakes in Renton offers a variety of interesting cupcake flavors and uses fresh, local ingredients—the perfect recipe for a small downtown cupcakery.

Mini cupcakes cost $1; large are $2; and “Special Occasion” cupcakes cost $2.50 to $3. The shop produces its homemade cupcakes on-site and uses locally produced cream and sweet butter, according to its Web site. Common Ground uses Caffe D'arte in their espresso offerings—and even makes a Caffe D’arte cupcake with latte-flavored frosting. Smoothies and bubble teas are other tasty options, especially the avocado bubble tea.

Inside Common Ground, there’s plenty of seating and even a corner with children’s toys. Though it was usually full, there was never a long wait to order. The décor and atmosphere seemed hip and yet homey. Baristas were friendly and prompt but not pushy. The mini cupcakes sit on a tray near the main display case, where the large cupcakes are presented neatly and labeled clearly.

On my first visit, I went for one of my favorite combinations: chocolate and mint. Once I took a bite of the Peppermint Patty cupcake (pictured top), I savored everything about it. This was one of the most delicious I’ve had. It felt heavy in my hand, and the cake was very dense, moist, and flavorful. The frosting wasn’t too sweet, but instead complemented the cake well, with just the right amount on top. I could have done without the nonpareils, though they look cute.

My second visit took place on a very warm day. I bought a Strawberry Fondue cupcake and “The Smoothie” cupcake to go. Unfortunately, the beautiful strawberry banana frosting on The Smoothie didn’t fare well in my hot car, so I won’t be reviewing it. However, the Strawberry Fondue cake fared just fine. The frosting was a tad too sweet, but the cake was still moist and yummy. On a later trip I noticed real strawberries on these cupcakes—I bet that would have added an extra oomph.

"Sweet Sixteen" Cupcake, Common Ground Cupcakes, Renton
On my final trip to Common Ground, I tried the Sweet Sixteen and Double Dutch. The Sweet Sixteen, covered in pink frosting and flaked coconut, had a great texture, but the frosting was too sweet for me. The white cake was fine, though a bit plain compared to the topping!
"Double Dutch" Cupcake, Common Ground, Renton
Dutch chocolate frosting and chocolate cake—how could you go wrong? Well, I was spoiled by the Peppermint Patty, and so I was slightly disappointed that this cake wasn’t as rich and dense. It was still good and chocolaty, though, with flavorful frosting.

Since this shop offers seasonal cupcake flavors, I plan to go back and check them out this fall. It’s a cute place with nice staff and a wide variety of drink options and cupcake flavors. Hard to resist when it’s only a few miles from your office!

Common Ground Coffee and Cupcakes, 900 South 3rd St., Unit A, Renton; online at commongroundcupcakes.com.

For more of Roxanne Cooke's work, check out her website here.

Do you want to be a Cake Gumshoe too? Feel free to submit bakery reviews or great baked good related finds (with pictures, please) to jessieoleson@gmail.com.

Tuesday
Sep012009

Sweet Spot: Cakes by One Tough Cookie in NYC

Engagement cake by One Tough CookieCupcake by One Tough Cookie
Are you in NYC and in need of a super sweet special occasion cake? Or cupcakes or cookies, for that matter?

Well, according to CakeSpy reader Marie, One Tough Cookie, an NYC-based special order bakery, is the spot. Here's what she had to say:

My fiance Gabriel and I were hosting an engagement party in the Hamptons for our friends and family; being an absolute cake and cookie addict I had to get myself a perfect engagement cake. That's when I discovered OneToughCookie (a friend told me about her), who creates delicious, custom made cakes which she decorates with cookies - real works of art!

I just want to spread the word about her, because by creating my engagement cake she contributed to a perfect day in my life and I will definitely ask her to bake my wedding cake as well (the wedding will be next may...)! I thought you might be interested in her since her cakes are really unique and so tasty...I am absolutely amazed by her work and the cake was a dream!

Based on the pictures, it looks like a great find! For more information, visit onetoughcookienyc.com (warning: music plays upon opening the page).

Thursday
Aug272009

Blonde on Blondie: The Blonde Bombshell from TrixieBakes

Blonde Bombshell Blondie by TrixieBakes
CakeSpy Note: This post appears concurrently on CakeSpy Seattle.

Let's talk about TrixieBakes. I had seen them before: I'd walked by their booth at the Madrona Farmer's Market, but had never purchased one of their brownies because at $4 a pop, they weren't exactly cheap. But after reading the DailyCandy feature on the brownies, paired with a reader writing to tell me how amazing they were, I knew I was going to have to fork over the cash.

Since I am one of those few people who prefers blondies to brownies, of course I had to go for the "blonde bombshell", described on their site as

A luscious blondie with an indecent amount of brown sugar and pecans
You can never be too rich or too dense. Ok, that's not really how the saying goes, but it definitely applies to this big blondie.

Doesn't that just give you a shiver of anticipation?

So, I enjoyed the blondie for breakfast the next morning, and I am happy to report that it was a particularly fine specimen of blondiehood: dense, chewy, and full of butterscotch-y flavor. The pecans were a particularly nice touch, adding a slight crunch and flavor contrast.

But getting back to the price. Was it worth it? Well, no doubt about it, $4 is a lot for a brownie or blondie--I think that most will agree on that. But when I reflect on my blondie experience and how decadent and satisfying it was, I do believe I got $4 worth of joy out of the experience. I'm probably not going to indulge too frequently, but maybe that just makes it more special?

TrixieBakes blondies and brownies are available at the Madrona Farmer's Market each friday, 3-7 p.m.; they're also available at Flying Squirrel Pizza Co., 4920 S Genesee St., Seattle and Pauline Patisserie, 2315 NW Market St. Seattle; also online.

Sunday
Aug232009

This Little Piggy: The Miss Piggy Bacon and Chocolate Chip Cookie, Volunteer Park Cafe, Seattle

"Miss Piggy" Cookie, Volunteer Park Cafe
Bacon in baked goods. It's hardly a new culinary trick, but it has enjoyed a bit of a vogue in recent years, showing up in everything from chocolates to brownies to cupcakes...and now, chocolate chip cookies.

When I visited Volunteer Park Cafe for the first time the other day with my buddies Neil and Judy, we tried out their "Miss Piggy" cookie--a generously sized chocolate chip cookie studded with bacon bits.

In general, I don't seek out bacon in baked goods, feeling like it's more often a shock-value addition than something intended to really bring out the flavors--but in this case, I did feel as if it actually worked. The bacon was used sparingly, so the taste was more of a whisper than a shout. While our consensus was that perhaps the bacon could have been slightly more crisp to add a texture contrast to the chewy cookie, it was overall a pretty successful use of sweet and savory. And for vegeterians, I'm pretty confident that the same would hold true if the cookie had been made with Morningstar's soy-based bacon.

What do you think about bacon in baked goods? Is it simply a shock-value addition, or are there delicious merits?

The Miss Piggy Cookie, Volunteer Park Cafe (call for availability), 1501 17th Avenue East, Seattle; online at alwaysfreshgoodness.com.

Monday
Aug172009

Sweet Art: Just Baked in Michigan

Custom Piece for Just Baked Bakery
I have fallen in love, from afar, with Just Baked, a Detroit-area bakery. I discovered them recently when I was hired by a friend of the owner to do a custom painting depicting cupcakes from their menu hanging out in front of the shop.

But business mixed with pleasure the moment I took a look at their menu, which has a gorgeous array of cupcakes:

 

as well as other baked goods:


 

If you're in the Detroit area, well then, lucky you--because you can taste the magic for yourself! A second location is set to open very soon.

Just Baked is located at 33309 7 Mile Road, Livonia, MI, (248) 255-1441; online at justbakedshop.com‎.

 

 

Sunday
Aug022009

What a Turon-On: A Delicious Find at Delite Bakery

Turon from Delite Bakery, Seattle
Nope: this is not an eggroll. It's even better, because it's dessert.

Say hello to the turon, my most recent discovery at Delite Bakery in Seattle's Beacon Hill. What is a turon (or turrón, as I've seen it elsewhere), exactly? Well, according to Wikipedia,

Though many varieties exist, a typical turrón is plantain and jackfruit wrapped in a springroll wrapper, dipped in brown sugar, then fried. This somewhat resembles banana spring rolls. These are also known as banana fritters.


Oh, and these little confections (which cost only $1.45 each! a steal!) are also exceedingly delicious. Delite's version was made with banana, and had the most delicious slightly crackly, carmelly-sticky crust which gave way to the sweet taste of banana. The banana's texture was perfect: yielding, but not too mushy. A satisfying treat, and surprisingly for something fried, not too heavy--all in all, perfect for a hot day and definitely worth seeking out if you find yourself in the Beacon Hill area (especially easy now, thanks to the light rail).

 

Delite Bakery, 2701 15th Ave S., Seattle. Read more online here!


Of course, if you're not in the Seattle area, you might want to investigate making your own turon--this recipe looks pretty delicious! If you've got another to share, please leave a comment!


Despi Delite Bakery on Urbanspoon

 

Sunday
Jul262009

CakeSpy Undercover: A Cake Gumshoe's Thoughts Cakes on Demand, Chilliwack, BC


CakeSpy Note: This is a guest post from Cake Gumshoe Jess.

What luck: my new neighbour is a baker and the owner of Cakes on Demand. Well, I was so very excited when she arrived at my door to welcome me to the neighbourhood with some of her delicious delights! Caitlin was just leaving when she arrived and quickly retreated back inside the house so that she could partake in the cupcakery confections.

 

They all looked so good it was so hard to decide which one to eat first!

 

Caitlin was quick to zoom in on a fluffy coconut one. Her thoughts? Yum.

I decided to try a coffee one as I am a nut about anything coffee. We were both delighted to find that our cupcakes were cream-filled!

I highly recommend Cakes on Demand to anyone needing a cake or cupcake fix.

Cakes on Demand is a special-order cupcake and cake bakery in Chilliwack, BC; for more information or to make an appointment, visit cakesondemand.com.

To read more about Cake Gumshoe Jess's adventures, visit her blog.

 

 

Wednesday
Jul152009

CakeSpy Undercover: A Cake Gumshoe's Thoughts on Sprinkles Edible Art in Olympia, WA

Corn on the Cob Cupcakes
CakeSpy Note: This is a guest blog post from Cake Gumshoe Roxanne Cooke. Check out her website here!


At Sprinkles Edible Art in Olympia, your cupcake can be dressed up the way you want. Sprinkles, which is dubbed “an interactive pastry shop” on its business cards, offers the “Edible Art experience” either in a kit to take home or directly in the shop. For $6, you get a cupcake, individual cake, cookie, or brownie, as well as a small container of frosting, three different kinds of sprinkles, and a drink.
Sprinkles Edible Art, Olympia
There are dozens of sprinkles of all shapes and colors to choose from, including bear-shaped sprinkles and Christmas-themed sprinkles. Cupcake and frosting flavors cover the basics, such as chocolate cake and cream cheese frosting. Drinks include soda, juice, milk, coffee, and water. Once you order your baked good and gather your sprinkles, you’ll sit at a table with a cupcake-shaped placemat and begin to frost your goodie.
Sprinkles Edible Art, Olympia
Now it’s time for the fun part. I found that each tiny container of sprinkles was more than enough to cover the entire cupcake. I added the other sprinkles just for fun, but most fell onto the plate because there wasn’t anything left to stick to! The chocolate cupcake was good and moist, and the cream cheese frosting was delicious.
Chocolate Cupcake from Sprinkles Edible Art
If you’d rather skip the art experience and get straight to the goods, you can. Cupcakes are $1 for small, $2 for large; brownies are $2.25; cake is $5; and cookies are under $1.
Sprinkles Edible Art, Olympia
On my second visit to Sprinkles, I opted to try a cupcake without all the jazz. The shop was sporting a new display case, and inside were lemon-filled cupcakes that looked too good to pass up.
Lemon Cupcake, Sprinkles Edible art
Though the cake looks a bit like cornbread, it definitely doesn’t taste like it. The cupcake was a tiny bit crumbly, yet still plenty moist and flavorful. The filling was pure heaven, gooey and sweet—but not overly sugary. It was similar to doughnut jelly filling, rather than the lighter lemon curd found in other lemon-filled cupcakes.
Lemon Cupcake
Sprinkles also hosts live music events and rents its space for any special occasion you can think of, from birthday parties to Pampered Chef parties to cookie swaps. There’s plenty of seating, from tables and chairs to couches surrounding a television. A local photographer’s art hangs on the walls, and there is interesting cupcake art near the entrance, including cupcakes-on-the-cob covered in yellow jelly beans and speared with corn cob holders (CakeSpy Note: this project was also done beautifully on Peabody's blog!)

 

Sprinkles Edible Art is an artistic shop with plenty going on. The people working there are always friendly and inquisitive, making sure your experience goes well. The cupcakes are tasty and the topping choices are abundant. Kid or adult, it’s a fun place to visit!

Sprinkles Edible Art, 316 Capitol Way N., Olympia WA, (360) 350-0712; online at sprinklesedibleart.com.

For more of Roxanne Cooke's work, check out her website here.

Do you want to be a Cake Gumshoe too? Feel free to submit bakery reviews or great baked good related finds (with pictures, please) to jessieoleson@gmail.com.

 

Tuesday
Jul142009

CakeSpy Undercover: Amelie's French Bakery, Charlotte, NC

Amelie's Dessert Case
By Cake Gumshoe Shannon Connell


So what’s better than a super-cute French bakery with a variety of delicious home-cooked goodies? One that’s serving up treats around the clock.

 

Stepping into Amelie’s French Bakery and Café was a magical experience. I had high hopes for the bakery, which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and I was enchanted at first glance by the chic, bohemian environment.
Cafe Food Menu Board at Amelie's, Charlotte NC

True to its name, once you walk through the door, you may feel as though you’ve stumbled into a bit of Paris mixed in with eclectic, shabby chic décor. Funky lampshades, one-of-a-kind chandeliers and toile adorn the cozy café along with Parisian monikers such as wall-hangings of Marie Antoinette, the Mona Lisa and black-and-white pictures of well-known and loved monuments of the City of Lights.

 

The fabulously French ambiance aside, Amelie’s offers a variety of baked sweet tooth cures in addition to an array of tartines, soups and baguette sandwiches. While the Ham and Gruyere Tartine that I sampled was quite good, the pastries and desserts are the real draw.
Chocolate Mousse Cup at Amelie's, Charlotte NC
The Chocolate Mousse Cup was the consensual and uncontested favorite among Amelie’s employees and me. Creamy, rich chocolate mousse was nestled in a delicate chocolate cup and topped with a luscious and tart chocolate-covered strawberry. To top it all off, the strawberry was situated in a pillow of thick and creamy chocolate frosting. A symphony of tastes in harmony, the Chocolate Mousse Cup was a decadent treat sure to cure any chocoholic.

Another delightful Amelie’s dessert that I sampled was the Salted Caramel Brownie, a moist, chewy fudge-like concoction topped with a salty-sweet layer of soft caramel. The only thing that would make this treat even tastier would be if it was served a la mode.

While the chocolate desserts were my favorite, the Blackberry Lemon Torte is not to be underestimated. The torte had an almond and sugar crust topped with alternating layers of lemon and blackberry custard-like soaked sponge cake, combining sweet and tart flavors with a slight almond crunch.

Other Charlotte favorites of this maven haven include croissants, which are made six times on Saturdays to ensure freshness, and petit fours including the signature, award-winning peanut butter, chocolate ganache and feuilletine petit four. I have yet to experience the simple joys of these popular offerings, but I’ll have the opportunity to do so as I know I’ll return to this sweet spot again and again to enjoy the variety of baked treats offered at all hours of day!

Amelie’s French Bakery & Cafe, 2424 N. Davidson St., Charlotte (704) 376-1718; online at ameliesfrenchbakery.com.

For more of Shannon Connell’s work, check out her website here.


Amélie's... A French Bakery on Urbanspoon

 

Wednesday
Jul082009

In The Raw: Decadent Raw Chocolate Fudge Brownies at Chaco Canyon

Raw Brownie from Chaco Canyon Cafe, Seattle
Usually when one thinks of raw foods the images conjured up are very crunchy-granola health foodie sorts of foods, but clearly most people have not been properly introduced to the raw chocolate brownie at Chaco Canyon Cafe.

This is a serious brownie in several ways. Starting with the price--weighing in at $4.95 plus tax, it's a lot of investment for a relatively small amount of brownie. It's noticeably more expensive than their vegan (baked) brownie at $2.25. (Ten points if you can shed some light on that.)

Luckily, you've got Cake Gumshoes who will taste-test for you in the name of research; and so recently the $5.20 or so was forked over in order to sample this uncooked treat.

Now, not to get overly dramatic about it, but this brownie is worth every penny. I'd go so far as to say this may be one of the more perfect desserts I've tried in recent memory. Honestly. And I'm not alone: turns out CakeSpy buddy Tea (who is like, a famous food writer) is also a fan.
Delicious

The name "brownie" is a misnomer, really. It's really more of a bar cookie, comprised of three distinct layers: a hazelnut-date crust topped with raw cacao and coconut and topped with a generous smattering of hazelnuts. And oh, what joy lies within those three layers. The raw cacao and coconut oil layer is one of the most decadent, melt-in-your mouth fillings I have ever tasted--so creamy, so rich and chocolatey--and yet, somehow, not too sweet. It finds the perfect complement in the tightly packed, nutty crust, which has a perfect amount of salt added (and this can never be underestimated), which really rounds out the sweetness in a most tantalizing way. The added crunch of hazelnuts on top is a nice touch and gives a really pleasing texture contrast to all that creaminess in the middle layer.

This brownie is an absolute delight. It absolutely defies any preconceived notions about vaguely healthy-tasting and ultimately unsatisfying raw desserts: it's one of those truly decadent sweets that makes you want to take a nap afterward. And if you do, you'll pretty much be guaranteed sweet dreams.

Raw Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Chaco Canyon Cafe, 4757 12th Avenue NE, Seattle; online at chacocanyoncafe.com.

CakeSpy Note: Looking for a recipe? In looking around online, I found this one which uses walnuts but otherwise seems comparable.

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