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Entries in tacoma (5)

Tuesday
Jun052012

CakeSpy Undercover: Corina Bakery, Tacoma WA

Honey Lavendar cake

CakeSpy Note: This is a guest post from Cake Gumshoe Roxanne. View more of her work at roxannecooke.com!

Corina Bakery, located between Tacoma’s Theater and Stadium districts, offers a wide assortment of baked goods for a variety of dietary restrictions. The bakery recently celebrated its 4-year anniversary. Happy birthday, Corina!

Corina Display

Among Corina’s many goodies: cakes, cheesecakes, pies, cookies and bars, scones, muffins, and savory goods such as quiche. There are also options for vegan, gluten free, soy free, or low sugar diets. You’ll see most of the goodies in the main display case when you walk in, but don’t forget to look around the corner for the refrigerated display, with puddings, cheesecake, quiche, and more.

Corina cool display

Corina recently moved to a larger space. The shop’s old location was nice and cozy, but lacked seating space. Now there are plenty of places to sit, with lots of beautiful natural light shining in through big windows. Plus, the bakers get a much bigger kitchen!

Because there are so many different sweet treats at Corina, I’ve sampled something new during each visit and selected my favorites to review.

Valhalla brownie Valhalla brownie and tea

Valhalla brownie: Corina serves organic, fair-trade coffee from Tacoma-based Valhalla Coffee Co., and one of their most delicious desserts makes fantastic use of it! The brownie is rich, flavorful, and moist, with just a faint taste of rich coffee flavor. Decadent, for sure, so I couldn’t finish it in one sitting (that’s okay—more for later!).

In addition to Valhalla Coffee, Corina serves tea from Mad Hat, an organic, fair-trade tea purveyor in Tacoma. My go-to is the black lavender tea, pictured above with the Valhalla brownie, but there are many others, including decaf and herbal varieties.

Lavender honey cake (pictured top): This is just one of several different types of specialty cakes Corina offers. So far, it’s my favorite. Dried lavender is baked into a vanilla cake, topped with lemon-honey buttercream, and sprinkled with more dried lavender. I couldn’t stop eating this (gigantic) slice, with just the right amount of sweetness.

Vegan pumpkin loaf

Pumpkin loaf (vegan): The pumpkin loaf apparently goes really well with coffee, but since I’m not a coffee drinker, I didn’t try it. I did, however, eat the entire mini loaf in one sitting. The pumpkin seeds on top provide a contrasty crunch to the soft, moist bread. All in all, it’s a good, flavorful choice if you’re not in the mood for something as sweet as cake or a brownie.

Gluten free vegan pb cookies

Peanut butter cookies (gluten free, vegan): I used to avoid peanut butter cookies. They’re always so dry and crunchy! But not these peanut butter cookies. They’re soft, and yummy, and pair perfectly with a glass of milk. They’re quickly becoming my favorite Corina item.

This is really only a tiny sampling of what Corina has to offer. For prices, bakery hours, and a detailed menu, check out Corina’s website. Or, even better, stop by for a cookie and a cup of tea before catching an indie flick at the Grand Cinema next door!

Corina Bakery, 602 Fawcett Avenue, Tacoma, 253-627-5070; online here.

Sunday
Jul102011

Sweet Find: Johnson Candy Company, Tacoma WA

Not long ago when I took a little road trip to Tacoma to try and find the site of one of the original Mars factories (nerdy but true), my friend Reina (also one of the owners of Hello, Cupcake) introduced me to a gem of a candy shop: Johnson Candy Company.

Now, I was absolutely thrilled with this old-fashioned candy shop. It was old-school, but not in a put-on, contrived nostalgia sort of way: more like because they've been doing this candy thing the same way for, like, ever.

Of course, being so-old school, they don't even have a website. But I was able to learn a bit of their backstory from South Sound Magazine:

This long-time Tacoma favorite has been creating candy for local sugar seekers since 1925. The business was started by Russell Johnson, who ran a soda fountain lunch spot in the Hilltop neighborhood and bought some candy items. Well, the candy was popular so he decided he’d learn how to make it. Eventually he ditched the lunch gig and started making candy full time when he opened Johnson Candy Company, according to his son, Ron. During WWII, the elder Johnson hired another candy maker who brought with him more recipes. Ron purchased the business in the 1970s and now his son, Bill, is the third-generation lead candy maker turning out favorites such as caramel pecan turtles and homemade caramel dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with salt. “People keep coming back for more of those,” Ron said. Sweet, salty and addicting. Don’t miss out on their boxes of Valentine’s Day chocolates. 

...and if you're seeking classic confections such as cordials, homemade candies, or even bubblegum balls decorated like zoo animals (pictured top), they're a great spot, but honestly it's worth a visit alone just to walk in and absorb what feels like a very sweet history of candy-making.

Johnson Candy Company, 924 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma, 253.272.8504

Thursday
May192011

Pastry Profiles: The Majestic Bar from Corina Bakery, Tacoma WA

Riddle me this. What's a Majestic Bar?

No, it's not a bar at which they serve grandiose alcoholic beverages (though, come to think about it, such an establishment wouldn't be so bad, would it be?).

No, the Majestic Bar, at least at the lovely and amazing Corina Bakery in Tacoma, WA, was described like this to me:

"Like a magic cookie bar but with frosting & MORE chocolate chips." 

I know--like poetry, right? Of course, if you're not familiar with the Magic Cookie Bar (also called Hello Dolly Bars and 7 Layer Bars, and other names), let me give you a primer. This decadent bar cookie starts out with a graham cracker base upon which several layers of deliciousness are piled, including but not limited to sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, coconut, and nuts. They are rich and delicious. They also make a great pie, with the ingredients distributed slightly differently.

But when you make the upgrade to the Majestic Bar, you're on decadence overload, in the best way possible.

To sum it up: If you are what you eat, you might just become the Monopoly Man by the time you finish this big bar of awesome.

Of course, Corina also has a very worthy case full of other stuff, like this:

The Majestic Bar, available at Corina Bakery, 510 6th Avenue, Tacoma WA; online here.

Corina Bakery on Urbanspoon

Monday
Dec142009

Cake Byte: Sweet Things Cupcakes Now Open in Tacoma!

Gingerbread cupcake from Sweet Things, Tacoma
You know what the world needs right now? More cupcakes.

Happily, Sweet Things is right on top of that need--they just opened in Tacoma, Washington. The shop specializes in cupcakes (both a daily assortment and special orders) and also has a retail section featuring cake stands, notecards, and other gift items. Based on the feedback of Tacoma guy-about-town Kevin Frietas, they're worth a trek:

We snagged a 4-box of raspberry vanilla, chocolate mint, chocolate chocolate, and red velvet. The raspberry vanilla frosting was excellent, the chocolate cake with mint frosting balanced well and didn't overwhelm one way or the other, the chocolate chocolate was dark and smooth, and the red velvet was tasty but forgettable. We spied their carrot cake and hopefully there will be more interesting flavors to come like lavender, sweet potato, and mocha cherry mentioned over at the TNT Diner back in May.

Winter Wonderland from Sweet Things, Tacoma
And they've really got some sweetness baking for the holidays, per an email from one of the owners:

For the Christmas Season we are offering a 4-pack consisting of Gingerbread, Eggnog, Candy Cane, and Winter Wonderland. The Gingerbread is frosted with a spiced buttercream and finished off with a trio of spice drops. The Eggnog cake has an accompanying eggnog buttercream, a light dusting of nutmeg, and two white chocolate 'straws'. Candy Cane is a deep, dark chocolate cake frosted with mint buttercream tinted the palest mint green color, and it is then rolled in crushed candy canes, and topped off with another dollop of mint buttercream with a sugar "candy cane". Lastly, our Winter Wonderland is our Classic vanilla/vanilla frosted in an icy blue vanilla buttercream, sprinkled with sugar crystals for sparkle and shine and topped with two cute white snowflakes.


Sounds like Washington just got a lot sweeter! I can't wait to try their cupcakes myself!

For more information, visit the Sweet Things Cupcakes website.

Friday
Apr112008

Batter Chatter: Interview with Reina Miller of hello, cupcake in Tacoma, WA

Chocolate chocolate chocolate cupcake

Cakespy Note: This interview also appeared on our Cakespy Seattle outpost!

Let's face it--between the paper-mill aroma and the collapsing bridges, Tacoma doesn't have the best reputation. But have you been there recently? Like whoa. Downtown Tacoma has undergone a massive revitalization and has become quite the budding art scene, what with its gorgeous museums, newly-renovated airy artist lofts, and a thriving UW campus. But really, to the Cakespy crew, the most exciting part of this revitalization is hello, cupcake, a cupcake shop whose wares have been aptly described as "coo-worthy". Walking into hello, cupcake is like becoming a child again: there's no turning back once you're greeted by an intricate cupcake mosaic tile design on the floor, on a crash course toward sugar overload...but then again, why would you want to? The cupcakes are not only adorable but delicious, with a tender, moist crumb and creamy, rich frosting which melts oh-so pleasingly in your mouth (not your hand). Recently, we had a chance to talk cupcake with one of the owners, Reina Miller; here's what we found out about life, love and the pursuit of cupcake nirvana:

Cakespy: What made you decide to open hello, cupcake?
Reina Miller: Developing the idea for hello, cupcake began about four and half years ago after reading a short article in a magazine about cupcakes. The idea of a cupcake bakery sparked all kinds of discussions and brainstorming sessions between my mom, my sisters, and I. Since I have always been the baker in our family, I was immediately engaged with the thought of opening a specialty bakery.

CS: Are you formally trained in baking or are you self-taught?
RM: Coming from a family of six children it seemed like there was a celebration at least every month. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of being in the kitchen with my mom and sisters baking and decorating cakes. Throughout the years I have experimented with baking all sorts of desserts and in the past four years have focused mainly on cupcakes. I haven't been formally trained, but developed all of my recipes by researching and trial and error. It was a long and at times, frustrating process, but I am proud of all of my creations.

hello, cupcake(s)
CS:
Di
d any other cupcake shops or bakeries elsewhere in the world serve as inspiration when opening hello, cupcake?
RM: Over the past four years I have been able to travel all over the country and visit many cupcake shops and bakeries. There wasn't any certain bakery that served as inspiration when opening hello, cupcake. Experiencing each shop's unique idea of a cupcake bakery was in itself interesting and inspirational.

 


CS: Do you sell anything other than cupcakes? Do you think you ever will?
RM: Presently, we offer a variety of cupcake flavors, drip coffee and a selection of bottled drinks. We also have t-shirts, hello, cupcake coffee mugs, ceramic cake plates and other cupcake stands. At this time we have no plans of adding any other baked goods to the menu, but there is always a possibility of that in the future.

 

CS: Where do you get your recipes?
RM: Some of my recipes have been passed down to me from family; others have started with basic cake recipes that I have developed into my own.

CS: What is your most popular flavor?
RM: It's hard to top a classic, vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream has been the most popular from the day we opened. It is followed closely by red velvet, a southern tradition that has found a new home in the northwest.


CS: If you were on a desert island and could only
have one cupcake flavor, for the rest of your life, which would choose?
RM: It is only offered on our menu for a few months during the holidays, but chocolate peppermint is my favorite and I could enjoy it anytime of the year.

CS: What is your favorite non-cupcake dessert item?
RM: At home I still enjoy baking, other than cupcakes, my favorite is classic chocolate chip cookies.

 

CS: What is the best time of day to eat cake, in your opinion?
RM: Any time is a good time for cake.
CS: In your opinion, what is the most important aspect in making a great cupcake?
RM: For me, the most important aspect in making a delicious cupcake is baking with quality ingredients.

 

CS: Is there a "correct" way to eat a cupcake in your opinion? Or perhaps an "incorrect" way to eat one?
RM: I don't feel there is a correct or an incorrect way to eat a cupcake. All that really matters is that it is being enjoyed. I like to eat cupcakes with a fork and knife.

CS: What is next for hello, cupcake?
RM: As I am continuing to experiment with different recipes we will be introducing new seasonal flavors throughout the year. Look forward to a local favorite, we will be starting an Almond Roca cupcake soon.

hello, cupcake is located at 1740 Pacific Ave, Tacoma, WA. (253) 383-7772; online at www.hello-cupcake.com.
Entryway tiles at Hello, Cupcake in Tacoma, WA

 

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