Wednesday, September 29, 2010

DC area cupcake happy hour event

I received an email from one of my readers about a cupcake event at Sticky Fingers in DC. In case you haven't heard of them, they are one of the top vegan bakeries around here :) Even though I'm not vegan, I'm a big fan of their brownies which don't even taste vegan to me. Oh and guess what they ship! But I'm lucky enough that even though I don't quite live in the city, they sell them at a local whole foods/organic store near me! Jealous?! haha... Okay well back to what I wanted to tell you. Sticky Fingers along with Scharffen Berger Chocolate and TuttiFoodie is having a cupcake happy hour to kick off the Chocolate Adventure Contest 2010. Here's more info from the email:

I'm helping my aunt, founder of (kind of like Daily Candy for foodie types, maybe you've seen it!), promote the Chocolate Adventure Contest here in the DC area. We're holding a launch party (a cupcake happy hour!) at Sticky Fingers Bakery in Columbia Heights on Wed, October 6th from 5-8. The first 100 guests will enjoy a complimentary Chocolate Adventure cupcake made by Sticky Fingers - which means it will be fabulous and vegan and include one awesome contest ingredient - stout! I'm kind of excited to try it :)

The Contest: We’d be grateful if you could tell your readers about it. They can make their own tricked-out cupcake in the privacy of their own kitchen between October 1 and January 1. Grand prize is $10,000 and a feature in Food Network magazine. And the winner gets to ride around on a cupcake truck in NYC that’ll be handing out the grand prize winning cupcake.

Click image to enlarge

Thanks for the info Meg! Unfortunately I will not be able to attend - grad school just gets in the way of all the fun things :( Hopefully one of you all will be able to attend though!! (Did I read FREE cupcake?! and it has beer in it?!) Enjoy!!

ps - Even though I can't make it to the launch party, I'm definitely thinking about entering this contest!!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Happy Birthday Lindsay

Here's a little cake I whipped up for one of my closest friend's birthday this weekend. I wanted to do something a little more simple but fun too. I did a tall 6 inch round cake with layers of vanilla and chocolate cake. Between them I put strawberry swiss meringue buttercream and coated the entire cake with amaretto chocolate ganache. I made some simple fondant flowers and leaves to decorate it. I think it came out pretty well and it lasted too (considering it's unseasonably hot again here in the DC area - another 90 degree day during fall!). *See below for easy chocolate ganache recipe*

So yummy! Who doesn't like chocolate and strawberry?! (I learned that from cupcake camp lol) I think it was a crowd pleaser ;-) But I am so annoyed at my horrible piping skills! I don't know what it is when I have to write something on a cake my hand shakes so much. Any tips??

Easy Chocolate Ganache
I'm always looking up how to make ganache and every recipe calls for weight measurements. I don't have a scale and then I end up having to look up a measurement converter on the internet, etc. So here is the amounts I used yesterday and it came out great! I still had some left over and it keeps in the fridge for a few days - just slowly heat it up int he micro when you're ready to use again (or snack on it with pretzel sticks! YUM)

  • 1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips (12 oz. pkg - I like to get the mini chips since they melt easier)
  • 1 cup of whipping cream
  • 3 tbls butter, softened
  • 1-2 tbls Liquer of your choice (I tend to use amaretto, Grand Mariner, or Bailey's)
  1. Place chocolate chips in a glass bowl.
  2. Slowly heat up the cream over the stove top, stirring and bringing it just before a boil.
  3. Pour heated cream over chocolate chips and let sit for about 2 minutes.
  4. Whisk the cream and chocolate chips until combined, then add the butter.
  5. Whisk in the liquer. Voila! You're ready to cover a cake or have some fondue ;-)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Give Away Winner!

Congrats to Ashley for being the winner of my first giveaway! Thanks for participating and many thanks to CSNstores!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cupcake Camp DC

I attended Cupcake Camp DC yesterday - talk about cupcake overload! I think overall it came together - being the first one and all. Some bakers pulled out last minute and they weren't sure if we would have a venue or not, but they were able to find a new one in time and some people (like me) made extra cupcakes. As for the venue, it ended up being at FunXion in DC which I had never heard of or been too. It was a little cramped and claustrophobic at times making it hard to get cupcakes when they brought them out each round. If there was more space I'm sure this would have been easier. But, I guess we should be thankful they let us use the venue last minute... and even though the bartender was a little rude to people (like not giving some people tap water!) But besides all that... I enjoyed the event overall! It helped I won something in a raffle: 2 free admissions to the Celebrity Cake Challenge to the NCACS nest year! HOLLA!

Silly me forgot to take pics of my cupcakes,
so I snapped a pic from some random person before they ate it

My entries:
~ Home brewed chocolate stout cupcake with Bailey's chocolate ganache and frosting (I think these may have had too much Bailey's which over powered the taste of the cake)
~Mini ginger citrus cupcakes (I think these came out too sweet)

Cupcake catastrophe

The view

Fun flavors

Slowing down and only 3 cupcakes in...

Started to collect some for later to try :)

Washed them down with my expensive drink (forgot it was DC when I ordered this)

Judges table!

This winning cupcake!
Chocolate covered strawberry from my friend Rene of Rene Takes the Cake!

Rene and I :)

And that was cupcake camp in a nutshell. Some thoughts for next years cupcake camp:
~Bigger venue (I understand that the first venue bailed so I'm still happy they were able to get a place last minute venue)
~Instead of bringing whole cupcakes out each round, it should be tastes of cupcakes cut into fourths for the big cupcakes (people would grab up the whole cupcakes and the people in the back couldn't get any. People couldn't even finish cupcakes anyways. If they did pieces, then at the end they could put all the cupcakes out and people take home what they like)

Those were my only real issues I did have a fun time! Props to Nicole for putting together all of the event! Thank you! Until next year ;-)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Happy Birthday to ME

Well today is my birthday... officially hitting my late 20's. It still feels like my mid 20's, but I guess it hasn't kicked in yet. (UPDATE: I think it has kicked in... found some gray hairs! ACK!)
This past weekend we celebrated my birthday a little early and went camping for a night. It was nice to hang out with friends and relax by the fire and veg out (I can't tell you how many s'mores I had!).
Is it weird I didn't make myself a fancy cake?! It was kinda nice relaxing since I've been making cupcakes and cakes for others recently. However, my friend Jessica did make me a wonderful s'mores brownie concoction cake (thanks girl!!)
Well the rest of this week I will be preparing for Cupcake Camp DC! I'm kinda nervous - there are two other entries with (almost) the same kinda of cupcake I'm doing. So we'll see....

In the mean time enter my giveaway!
Have a good one ~Cara Lee

Sunday, September 12, 2010

My first give away!

Whether you need a coffee table or a Kitchen Aid, CSN Stores has got it all! And the gracious people at CSN Stores have offered to give one of my wonderful readers $35 to spend at their stores - how awesome is that?!

All you have to do is:
1) Leave a comment how you would spend $35 at CSN Stores.
2) Leave a valid email address.
3) Become a follower on blogger or 'Like' my blog on Facebook.

1) You have until Sunday, September 19th 11:59pm est to enter.
2) Entries will be drawn at random and the winner will be posted Monday, September 20th.
3) If the winner does not respond within 48hrs a new winner will be selected.

My CSN Stores wish list...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Strawberry Rhubarb Cupcakes

When I want to DEstress, I love to bake. Today was just the day for that. I happen to buy some rhubarb on a whim yesterday. I've never actually had rhubarb by itself before, but I had some strawberry rhubarb jam while on a recent trip I took. It looks like a purple kind of celery and tastes really tart when it's raw. Do people actually eat it raw?
I googled around for some inspiration as to how to cook this stuff and what to do with it. I came across the blog The Dutch Baker's Daughter, and found her recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Cupcakes (which was actually a runner up in a Betty Crocker baking contest :-). I followed all her directions but the only thing I changed was the frosting. I'm on this swiss meringue kick lately, so I did a strawberry rhubarb version :) Btw - I could not stop licking the spoon when I was cooking down the strawberries and rhubarb together!

They were really yummy. Very moist and not too sweet at all - which the BF liked, I could use a little more sweetness but that's just me ;-) I like the combo more than just plain strawberry cupcakes, the rhubarb gives it a little more umph. I think it's a perfect treat for the end of summer going into autumn season.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Happy Labor Day!

Hope everyone enjoyed their labor day weekend :) It was a beautiful labor day weekend around the DC area - good thing that hurricane Earl kept movin along and we didn't have any rain. I actually had to work all weekend, but I had off today so that was nice, but of course I'm exhausted. I was able to muster up enough energy to make some cupcakes for our work party today!

I did a bunch of flavors that I've done in the past including some gluten free flavors for a few friends who are Celiac. When I was deciding on flavors, I considered the kids that would be there and flavors that they would like. I love Oreos and I found these cute football shaped Oreo Cookies when I went to the store last night.
They inspired me to make these football cupcakes! A little pre-game before the season starts next weekend.
These are so simple and easy to make! Just make your favorite flavor cupcakes (I chose a chocolate cupcake and mixed in Oreo chunks) then dye the frosting green and use a grass tip (wilton tip 233) to pipe on the frosting to look like grass. I cut the Oreos in half for the toppers so they would sit up nicely...voila! Something tasty and easy to make for your next football tailgate :)

Until next time ~Cara Lee

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ahhhh memories

Did a little poking around my parents house today and found a few things that brought back memories...

Here's little Cara Lee circa 1987! I remember scrambling eggs for my mom on the weekends with my little mixer. I just realized it's pink, like my new pink kitchen aid mixer I won a few months ago!! I also had an off brand easy bake oven. It wasn't pink and white like the real one, it was red, yellow and blue. I wish I had a picture :-(

I also dug up my very first cook book! My mom got it for me in the 80's. I think it was one of those mail order ones, from Gold Medal Flour. I loved this cook book and I thought I was just so cool I had my very own book of recipes :-)

I'm so happy I found these... brought a little smile to my face and calmed me a bit due to this crazy stressful week!