Star Cakes: Cups of Cake

Jeremy and I recently had the chance to sample another new cupcake place in Springfield, MO called Star Cakes: Cups of Cakes that opened just this past September (one of MANY that we have now…although not quite as many as all the self-serve fro yo places…I’ll do a post on that another day).  Their store ran a special deal for buy a dozen cupcakes at half-price so we got to taste a good variety of their cupcakes the day we went.  They also had chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies so I went ahead and got a chocolate chip cookie to go with our DOZEN cupcakes.  It’s a hard job I tell ya.

Anyway, we gathered our bounty and headed home.  The chocolate chip cookie didn’t quite make it to the house…it was a really good, thick, chewy cookie and Jeremy and I both liked it alot!  As for the cupcakes, I chose nine different flavors:  Star Cake a La Mode, Fudge Star, Red Star Velvet, Chocolate PB Star, Strawberry, Hawaiian Star, Pumpkin, Carrot Cake and Milky Way.  You can check out the descriptions of each on their menu here.

Pumpkin
Milky Way
Fudge

Unfortunately, I didn’t really have a favorite out of the group and but you really can’t go wrong with pumpkin and that was probably the one I liked the most, moist and very fall-appropriate with a yummy cream cheese frosting.  The rest, to me at least, didn’t taste quite as from-scratch that I’m used to and it seemed like a lot of artificial flavors were used.  My least favorite was a toss-up between the Hawaiian Star and Strawberry…too much artificial going on for me.

Star Cakes a La Mode

Overall, I think it will be interesting to see who survives the cupcake wars going on in Springfield right now…and I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of new cupcake places to come to town!  Just more research I *have* to do!  😉

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GiGi’s Cupcakes

Last Friday night Jeremy and I visited one of the two new cupcakes places (yes TWO) that opened up this week in Springfield, MO.  GiGi’s is a franchise based out of Nashville, TN and I had heard good things about them so I was pretty excited to visit.  The place is cute, simple and clean inside.  No frills.  And quite frankly they don’t need frills because the cupcakes are gorgeous!  At three dollars apiece, they are good-sized and well worth the money.  And the frosting…OMG don’t even get me started on the frosting on top of these cupcakes.  The minute we stepped inside the doors and my eyes fell upon the mountain of frosting piped on top of the cupcakes, I was mesmerized and drooling.  I’m a frosting girl all the way!

Since it was their opening night and they had been giving away free cupcakes all day to all their fans on Facebook, they were down to some basic flavors but still a good variety.   I would have LOVED to have tried the Tiramisu or Red Velvet but they were out of those so we went with Wedding Cake (my choice), Midnight Magic (Jeremy’s choice) and Chocolate Salted Caramel.

The Chocolate Salted Caramel consisted of a yummy super dark chocolate cake with caramel buttercream topped with chocolate ganache and a sprinkle of sea salt.  It was very good and I loved the salt and chocolate combination but the caramel buttercream was just a tad too sweet for both of us.  Somehow we still managed to eat most of it though…how did that happen?!

My choice, the Wedding Cake, was vanilla cake topped with vanilla buttercream.   The cake was on the denser side and not so light and fluffy and the buttercream was very thick, creamy and smooth, not greasy at all and had a wonderful vanilla flavor.  I really enjoyed it, especially the frosting.

Jeremy’s choice, the Midnight Magic, was our favorite.  It was a rich chocolate cake topped with an absolutely delicious cream cheese frosting and mini chocolate chips.  We ate the whole thing and loved every bite.

I’m really looking forward to going back and trying more cupcakes.  And I will go back!  I can’t stop thinking about the frosting…and the Tiramisu cupcake…and the Miss Princess (strawberry) cupcake…and the Red Velvet cupcake..and the frosting..and the Kentucky Bourbon Pie cupcake…and the…

P.S. Check out all GiGi’s offerings here!

P.S.S.  After linking to her page, I read her story of how she started and it is totally inspiring!  Check it out!

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The Meatloaf Bakery

When Jeremy and I lived in Rockford, we’d occasionally make trips into Chicago to shop, eat and visit the museums and parks.  Fun times.  One of our favorite areas of Chicago was Lincoln Park, which was a college town full of unique shops, bakeries and concert venues.  We discovered a cupcake place called Molly’s Cupcakes and I’ll never forget one time while we were on our way to get cupcakes from Molly’s we passed another cupcake place that immediately caught my attention due to the enormous size of their cupcakes.  They were huge!

Photo courtesy of LA Weekly

As I peered in the window I thought something seemed off…these cupcakes didn’t look quite right.  And then I realized I was not looking at delicious vanilla and chocolate cakes topped with creamy, dreamy buttercream but instead it was…meatloaf!  Topped with mashed potato “frosting”! Ummm, DISGUSTING.  I guess the name of the place should have given it away.  After all, it was The Meatloaf Bakery, hello!  But I didn’t even see the name because I was too preoccupied staring at the “cupcakes” inside.

Photo courtesy of LA Weekly

I had all but forgot about the place until this past Sunday night when Duff Goldman paid The Meatloaf Bakery a little visit on his new show, Sugar High.  Despite my initial gross out, I have to admit that the food actually looked good.   And I truly couldn’t believe the place was still in business.  I specifically remember thinking, “This place’ll never make it!”  Boy, was I wrong!

Photo courtesy of tumblr

Would YOU eat a meatloaf cupcake?!

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Side by Side Dessert Lounge

Jeremy and I had a little date night this past Friday night in downtown Springfield, MO.  We started out by getting dinner at Grad School (AWESOME wings and burgers) and then went directly across the street to grab dessert before seeing Another Earth at The Moxie.  For dessert, we went to a new place called Side by Side Dessert Lounge.  It’s actually connected to a restaurant called Blu Sesame and I think the idea is you eat dinner there and then go immediately next door and get dessert.

The place was small and had a fairly modern design.  The desserts were displayed beautifully in a bakery case, everything from eclairs to cheesecake, creme brulee and black and white cookies.  They even had hand-dipped ice cream.  We stood there for a looooong time trying to decide what to get before choosing a whoopie pie, tiramisu, a strawberry macaron and a cupcake.  Everything was reasonably priced and we ended up spending only $13 for all our goodies.

Our least favorite item was the Tiramisu.  It was not at all traditional tiramisu; instead of ladyfingers it was layered with cake that had been soaked in coffee (at least I think it was coffee…it wasn’t strong enough at all).  Between the cake layers was something like a basic vanilla custard or pudding, not the usual mascarpone or even cream cheese type filling.  And there was not one hint of rum, which is one of my most favorite parts, so that was disappointing.

Next was the Strawberry Macaron which was crumbling the minute we picked it up to take a bite.  It had a very hard, brittle outer shell and was a little bit difficult to bite into.  The strawberry buttercream inside was squirting out everywhere because it was so hard to bite!  Definitely not the slightly crisp and chewy macaron I have experienced in the past.   Another bummer.  Moving on….

We decided the White-on-White Whoopie Pie (yes, it is as massive as it looks!) was runner-up to our favorite, only because of the buttercream.  The cookie or cake or whatever it was on the outside, was seriously odd.  It was tough and not even close to having a cake-like texture and was not soft enough to be a cookie.  Very strange.  Jeremy and I sat there trying to figure it out and finally gave up.  But like I said, the buttercream was the only redemptive part of the whole thing…very light, airy and delicious.

Finally, the one thing we actually liked (sort of) was the Original Vanilla Yogurt Cupcake.  The girl that was working told us that their cupcakes were made with yogurt (hence the name), which gave it a super moist texture.  And it was very moist.  It was also kind of pound-cake like.  Again, unlike any cupcake I’ve ever had.  It was topped with a homemade whipped creamed, strawberry chocolate curls and white chocolate.

Overall, everything was honestly kind of odd and I can’t say that I want to go back anytime soon.  Maybe for a cupcake since we did like that.  And the ice cream sandwiches looked good also.  Let me know if you’ve been or if you plan on going…I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Emack and Bolio’s

This past Sunday Jeremy and I went out for a very special anniversary dinner…pizza and ice cream.  We’re classy like that.  We went to a place called Chicago Gyros and Pizzeria for some delicious Chicago style thin crust pizza.  It was half Greek and half Gypsy (gyro type toppings) and it was delicious!  We also split a gyro because we love theirs so much.  Yeah, we got full.

Now, because it was getting late and I wanted pictures of the ice cream place while it was still light out, we actually went to get dessert first.  We’re adults now, we can do stuff like that right?  So we headed just down the road to Emack and Bolio’s, a little ice cream parlor that is a teeny, tiny building across from a park.  They are only open during the summer months and since I pass them everyday on my way to work and always see people sitting outside eating massive waffle cones with like five scoops of ice cream, I had to try them.  Plus, my mother had just informed me a couple of weeks earlier that they had rum raisin ice cream which is one of my all-time favorites!

So we stopped in a decided to get what’s called a 3-scoop sampler for $3.95.  It’s supposed to be smaller scoops than normal but dear Lord, if they had been any bigger I would have been sick.  It was plenty of ice cream!  Jeremy chose White Pistachio which was an amaretto ice cream with pistachio pieces, Chocolate Addiction which was dark chocolate with dark chocolate chunks and Cookie Monster which was vanilla with Oreo pieces and cookie dough.

I choose Myers Rum Raisin (of course!), Bean Town Buzz which was espresso ice cream with chocolate covered espresso beans and fuge and Black-N-Tan which was vanilla with chocolate covered toffee beans, fudge and cookie crumble.  All of the flavors were sooooo good.  We decided our top three picks were the White Pistachio, Myers Rum Raisin and Chocolate Addiction.   I haven’t had such delicious hand-scooped ice cream in quite a while.  Our usual ice cream run is either a blizzard from Dairy Queen or a frozen custard concrete from Andy’s so it was nice to get something different.

It was a fun night and we made some good memories just hanging out and enjoying each other’s company.  And we’ll definitely be going back for more ice cream before summer is over….

 

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Lola’s Pastries and Eatery

Jeremy and I recently had the chance to visit a restaurant, Lola’s Pastries and Eatery, in Nixa that I’ve been meaning to try out for awhile. I had heard that they have delicious, made-from-scratch desserts and that the food is quite good too so I was curious. On our way back from Branson a couple of weekends ago, we finally stopped in to see if the desserts lived up to expectations.

Lola’s is actually a former house that was converted into a restaurant and has a nice tea room feel to it. They have a pretty good breakfast and lunch menu and of course lots of desserts to choose from. We hadn’t had hardly anything to eat that day so we decided to split a BLT sandwich in hopes of curbing the inevitable sugar rush. The sandwich wasn’t bad but it was shockingly void of key BLT players…one half of the sandwich had ZERO bacon and the other had maybe 1 1/2 pieces. Like they forgot to put it on! It came with chips and we added a side salad which was small but tasty. We probably should have said something about the sandwich since it wasn’t cheap (about $7) but didn’t want to mess with it. I will say that the other sandwiches everyone else had looked quite “meaty” and tasty so I’m not sure what happened with ours. Anyway, enough of that, on to the main event–dessert!

There were alot of choices…strawberry cake, chocolate cake, coconut cream cake, key lime pie, carrot cake, Oreo cheesecake, no-bake cookies, monster cookies, cupcakes and more! It all looked mouth-watering but I knew for sure I wanted to try the strawberry cake since that’s kind of what they’re known for. Jeremy chose the carrot cake and we also got a piece of the Oreo cheesecake.

The Oreo cheesecake was really good, very smooth and creamy and not an overly sweet cheesecake at all. I didn’t think the Oreos were that noticeable though. The graham cracker crust was probably my favorite part, it was a little on the thicker side and had the perfect amount of saltiness to it to contrast with the cheesecake.

The strawberry cake was also very good and definitely made from scratch–no nasty strawberry Jell-O in this cake, just real strawberries! It was three (yes, three!) layers high with strawberry buttercream sandwiched between each layer and all over the top and sides. It was indeed delicious, just as people said. However, the strawberry buttercream was a tad too sweet for our taste. I think we prefer cream cheese frosting on our strawberry cake. But still a seriously delicious strawberry cake!

Jeremy’s choice, the carrot cake, ended up being our favorite. It was a massive three layer cake with vanilla cream cheese frosting between each layer and on the top and sides. The cake was super moist and very straightforward, no pineapple pieces or chunks of pecans or walnuts in the batter, just a moist, dense, perfectly spiced carrot cake. It did have chopped walnuts sprinkled on top which I thought were a nice touch. We loved it and will definitely be going back for more.

If you are in or around Nixa, check this place out!  The desserts do not disappoint!

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Modica Market

One of my families stops in Florida is a little place called Seaside.  This is a richy-rich little community that we like to visit and pretend we actually live in but know good and well that we can’t afford the 500 square foot, ocean view house that is somewhere around $1.2 million.  But one can dream.  And we also like to visit all the quaint shops in the area.  Lots of restaurants, clothes boutiques and art galleries.

There’s also a fun little store called Modica Market that sells some of the prettiest and unique food you’ll ever see.  The shelves are loaded with imported oils and canned goods.  The deli and bakery cases hold the most mouth-watering sandwiches, seafood, cold salads, cakes and baked goods you’ll ever lay eyes on.  Pretty much, you want one of each. Of everything.

I, of course, chose two slices of cake, one called Sunshine Orange Cake and the other was Caramel Cake.  The caramel cake was three layers of a super dense golden vanilla cake with the most yummy caramel layered in between and all around it.  The Sunshine Orange Cake consisted of three layers of made-from-scratch orange cake, layered with orange buttercream and topped with white chocolate ganache, orange whipped cream and mini white chocolate chips.

These cakes did not disappoint and we savored every bite!  Good thing that place is nowhere near where I live or I’d be in trouble.  Next up…Tommy Bahamas!

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Cupcakes by the Beach

While in Florida, I made it a goal to get around to a couple different bakeries and try some of the desserts at the restaurants we went to.  So, the next few days I’ll be giving you the down low on some of the yummiest sweet treats in and around Destin.  Today, I’m going to start with Cupcakes by the Beach, a little cupcake shop along Highway 98 in Ft. Walton.

The shop is super adorable and very beachy feeling.  When you come in, you immediately see the cupcakes that are displayed on various cakestands behind glass to your left.  To the right are displays of dessert related items such as cupcake pedestals, cupcake candles, fun, patterened straws and a rack of the cutest aprons.

When it came time to order (which was hard because they had a great selection), I chose two basic cupcakes, Red Velvet and Vanilla Bean and two that just sounded yummy to me, Mocha and the El Diablo.  The Mocha was a mild chocolate cake with a cream cheese espresso frosting and the El Diablo was a dark chocolate cake with a super fudgy dark chocolate frosting that had cayenne pepper blended in.  I will say that I loved the frosting on both of these, the cream cheese espresso was divine and the Diablo frosting was rich with that slight heat that you get with cayenne.  The cake part however was dry which was really disappointing.

It was pretty much the same with the Red Velvet and Vanilla Bean.  The cream cheese frosting on the Red Velvet was good, as was the vanilla buttercream on the Vanilla Bean, but the cake part of both were really dry and just didn’t taste good.  It was kind of a bummer because the place was so cute and the cupcakes looked so good.  And at $2.75 apiece they are definitely affordable.  But if I lived in the area I wouldn’t go back, unfortunately.

So, that’s the first review.  What a downer, huh?  Well not to worry, things only get better from here on out!  Can’t wait to share all the other yummy dessert finds with you!

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The Catering Divas Divalicious Bake Shoppe

I had heard about a new bakery in Hollister, MO, The Catering Divas Divalicious Bake Shoppe (what a name!) and got my chance to stop in and visit a couple weekends ago after a trip to White Water in Branson with my sister and her husband.  I felt a little bad dragging them along for my “research” but they didn’t seem to mind.  After a short little drive right down into the heart of downtown Hollister, we arrived at our destination.  I was a little shocked to learn the bakery was just a tiny room off of a bar, so that was a little off-putting at first but the space was cute inside.  On the small countertop were a few pieces of pineapple upside down cake, cookies, brownies, a couple of pastries, a few cake pops, zucchini bread, some quick breads and rolls and a few chocolate cupcakes in the refrigerator.  I thought they’d have more to choose from because they supposedly stay open until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday so they might have had a rush that day, but we still managed to choose quite the selection between the four of us.

The things we chose were cupcakes (chocolate with peanut butter buttercream and chocolate with vanilla buttercream), red velvet cake pops, a brownie and a slice of pineapple upside down cake.  The pineapple upside down cake was good but I probably wouldn’t get it again (only because everything else we got was way better).  The brownie was really yummy, more cake-like with a chocolate glaze, drizzled with caramel and sprinkled with pecans.  The red velvet cake pops were also really, really good and not sickeningly sweet like a lot of cake pops I’ve tried.  Possibly the best cake pops I’ve had yet!

And finally, the cupcakes were delicious.  They only had a few chocolate varieties left (I typically like to try white cake with vanilla buttercream).  The chocolate cake part was very moist and had a mild chocolate taste and both the peanut butter and vanilla buttercreams were amazingly smooth and not too sweet…I think the frosting might have actually been an Italian or Swiss buttercream because it definitely did not taste like a typical powder sugar buttercream.

As for the prices, they were very good, if not even a little low on some things.  Jeremy and I got four items and only spent $7.  Overall, we liked the treats very much–you can definitely tell that the owner knows her cake!  I’m already thinking about stopping by for a cupcake the next time I’m in Branson.  Let me know if you’ve been there or plan to stop by sometime soon–I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

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Missouri Baking Co. – St. Louis Bakeries, Pt. 2

About a week ago I posted the first part of two bakery reviews from a trip that Jeremy and I took to St. Louis recently.  Now it’s time for the second review and I have saved the best for last!  When we were googling “St. Louis bakeries”, one of the first things to pop up at the top of the search was Missouri Baking Company.  This place had awesome reviews and people especially raved about their Italian desserts, cookies, pastries and gooey butter cake.  Since they don’t have a website, I wasn’t really sure what to expect in the way of a menu or what the place looked like.  We pulled up to an old, brick, factory-like building that was quite non-descript except for a large sign that said “Missouri Baking Co.” on the side of the building.  We walked inside and were greeted by several bakery cases, people everywhere and no tables or chairs.  This place was very straightforward, no frills which probably meant they don’t need to impress you with decor or aesthetics because their baked goods are just that good!

So, we got a number (yes, you had to take a number!) and I frantically tried to pick out what I wanted.  I am not so good with the decision making so trying to choose from this sea of delectable looking sugar was SO hard.  Plus, we couldn’t see any prices so we had no idea what we were going to spend AND they only took cash.  What to do?!?  Finally our number came up.  I knew I wanted a cannoli and asked the girl working which of their bazillion different kinds of cookies was popular and she recommended the Amaretti cookie.  Jeremy settled on a slice of Italian vanilla cheesecake and a brownie.   Our total was $4.75.  Say what???  Jeremy and I immediately looked at each other in shock and wanted to choose at least five more items…but we didn’t.  So we took our stash out to the car and got busy taking pictures and eating (between being in the car and extremely overcast skies, these are the best pics we could get but I thought Jeremy still did a great job).

Ok, first the brownie.  It was just…meh.  Kind of like they threw it in as an afterthought for the person who comes in the door and says “what the heck’s a cannoli?”.  It was a more cake-like brownie studded with chopped walnuts and covered with a thin layer of chocolate frosting, very reminiscient of the ones they sale at Walmart, two to a package that school kids get in their lunch.  So definitely our least favorite item.

But, things got immensely better from them on!  Jeremy’s cheesecake was awesome.  Not overly sweet, super creamy and smooth, with some sort of delicate indescribable crust (now that I think about it, I’m not sure it even had a crust) and was dusted with cinnamon.  So simple and so delicious!

Next the cannoli.  Isn’t it pretty?  I think I’ve had a very Americanized cannoli once it my life and this one was nothing like it, thank goodness.  It consisted of a waffle-cone like shell, filled with some sort of sweet custard that had a faint hint of cinnamon and was studded with semi-sweet chocolate chips and finished with a cherry.  So, so delicious!  We loved it.

Lastly, our absolute favorite was the Amaretti cookie.  The almond flavor of this cookie was INSANE and I love almond flavor.  And the texture was perfect–slightly chewy outside but so soft inside.  Just divine.  I definitely wished I had chosen more cookies, so if we ever get a chance to go back (we’ll find some excuse!), I plan on getting quite the selection of cookies and without a doubt will try their gooey butter cake.  This place really is all about the BAKING, especially authentic Italian baking which is refreshing since everyone and their brother thinks that if they can make a cupcake, they can open a bakery.

Check them out if you are in the St. Louis area!  You will most likely find something delicious that you’ve never tried before!

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BitterSweet Bakery – St. Louis Bakeries, Pt. 1

Last weekend, Jeremy and I headed to St. Louis to see Jimmy Eat World Saturday night.  The concert didn’t start until 8 p.m. so we had plenty of time to go at a somewhat leisurely pace and make some stops along the way.  We managed to hit up three vintage stores that we came across while driving and then proceeded into St. Louis to check out a couple of bakeries that had pretty decent reviews online.

I’ll start with the second bakery we visited that day, Bittersweet Bakery.  First, the space itself was really cool, one of those refurbished old brick warehouse buildings.  Inside were hardwood floors, exposed ductwork and modern chandeliers.   The bakery case was full of cakes and the countertops displayed quite the assortment of jumbo muffins, breakfast breads, biscotti and jumbo cookies.  I was a little surprised at the lack of selection just judging by what I’d seen on their website.  They did have a small display with a couple of whoopie pies that looked awesome, an amaretti cookie and a couple macaroons.

My first two selections they were out of, a whoopie pie and a mini peanut butter pie.  Apparently they were out of a lot.  So I finally settled on a Chocolate Chunk Cookie and Vanilla Bean Buttermilk Cake.  Jeremy chose Chocolate Buttermilk Cake.  The cakes themselves were very good, dense and probably some of the most moist cake I’ve ever had.  Inside they had chocolate mousse/vanilla pastry cream fillings and they were topped with a huge swirl of what I thought was Swiss buttercream but apparently it was Italian.  Not sure what the difference is but either way, I loved the frosting.  Jeremy, not so much.  He’s used to the American style of buttercream.  I also loved the fact that you could really see and taste the vanilla bean in mine.  At $5 each they were enough for two to share so we could only eat about half.

The cookie was allright, nothing special.  The texture was pretty good, very chewy but the flavor was somewhat lacking and a teensy bit on the salty side.  I kind of liked it but Jeremy didn’t like it at all.  It was somewhere around $3 and most of it went into the trash, unfortunately.

So, our overall experience here was ok.  We got there around 4 p.m. so I guess it was a little late in the day for them to have much left.  That was really disappointing to me because I would have really liked to have tried some other things.  But I will say their cake was absolutely delicious!  So if you are in the area, get there early for the best selection and definitely split one of the cakes with someone–you won’t be disappointed!

I will have Part 2 of our St. Louis bakery adventures next week–I’ve saved the best for last!  Oh and in case you were wondering, the concert was AWESOME.

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Sugar Leaf Bakery

There is a cute little bakery in Branson, MO that I have been DYING to try for a few years, called Sugar Leaf Bakery.   This past weekend I was finally able to stop in!  I had heard from both family and friends that they had great baked goods and fabulous wedding cakes.  The day that Jeremy and I went they had German Chocolate Cake, Key Lime Pie, Coconut Cake, Carrot Cake, Turtle Cheesecake and an assortment of delicious looking cookies.  So hard to choose!

For me, it was a toss up between the Key Lime Pie and the Coconut Cake but because I had heard they had amazing Coconut Cake, I went with that.  And oh my, was it good.  The cake was moist and dense and the coconut filling was super gooey.  It was all covered in a light whipped cream frosting and toasted coconut.  It had a great balance of flavors and wasn’t sickening sweet so that was nice.  I also got a jumbo snickerdoodle cookie that was chewy, cinnamony and delicious.

As for Jeremy, he apparently was filling the whole caramel/chocolate thing because he got a massive slice of Turtle Cheesecake and a Turtle cookie.  And I have to admit, he chose well.  The cheesecake was a dream.  Seriously.  First, you had a thick layer of chocolate cookie crust which was filled with the creamiest, smoothest vanilla cheesecake filling I think I have ever had.  The cheesecake filling had shavings of dark chocolate all through it and finally the whole thing was topped with a layer of caramel and drizzled with chocolate.  After the first bite I wanted to yank the plate away from him and scarf the whole thing down.  But I refrained.  I have to say, it was probably the best cheesecake I’ve ever had.   And I always thought I made fairly good cheesecake but this one definitely inspired me to improve on my own recipe.  The Turtle cookie was great also…a nice thick chewy chocolate cookie with a pool of caramel in the middle, sprinkled with chopped pecans.  Mmmmmmm!

They also had great looking salads, soup, paninis and other sandwiches.  We are already planning to go back and try lunch sometime and I fully intend to have a slice of that Key Lime Pie!  Do NOT miss this place if you’re in the Branson area–you are definitely in for a treat!

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Alexandria’s Cupcake Cottage

This past Saturday I had the opportunity to drop into a new bakery in town, Alexandria’s Cupcake Cottage at 1332 E. Republic Road.  It’s a quaint little space full of antique and 50’s/60ss retro furniture, signage and decor.  It’s a little overwhelming when you walk in because the tiny space is crowded with so much…small and large tables, lots of non-food retail items such as aprons, dessert themed soaps and lotions and a few other fun items.

Eventually, I made my way to the bakery case to see what magical sugary delights awaited me.  There were a few chocolate truffles in the case, a couple of different cookies, cannolis,  birthday cakes and of course cupcakes.  I chose classics–a vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream and a red velvet cake with cream cheese buttercream.   At $2 a piece they were decently priced and sized.

So how were they?  Overall, ok.  The vanilla cake was very moist and the frosting was good but a little too sickeningly sweet.  As for the red velvet, Jeremy and I both agreed it was very disappointing.  The cake was moist but had a strange bitter taste from the cocoa and the cream cheese frosting was way too cream cheesey and tangy for my liking.  What I did like about these was the amount of frosting on the cupcakes–it was piled on!  Just wish it had tasted better.

I probably will go back because I’ve heard their cannolis are very good and I’d also like to try the chocolate truffles.  But for now I think I’ll stick to making my cupcakes at home.  Try them and let me know what you think!

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Sweet Endings

This post is a little late but I wanted to be able to devote enough time to writing and adequately expound upon a near life changing dessert encounter I had recently.  I know, I know it seems slightly dramatic but I am not exaggerating one bit (well, ok, maybe a teeny tiny bit).  Let me explain…

The weekend before we moved to Missouri, we headed into Chicago one last time for some sightseeing and of course, food.  Initially I wanted to do a Chicago bakery mini marathon, but after coming to my senses I realized this would not only cost me waaaayyyy too much in dollars but most likely in pounds too so I decided to narrow it down from six to two.  I had done my research and was ready; I had high hopes for one and not-so-high for the other but the place sounded fun and kitschy so I had to try it.

We started the day with a little French pastry shop called Vanille Patisserie, owned by husband and wife team Dimitri and Kell Payard. Dimitri is originally from France where he received his culinary traning and Kell is Chicagoland native who attended the Culinary Institute of America.  Between the two of them they’ve won numerous awards and after indulging in their beautiful creations, I can see why!  Their French macarons are absolutely delicious.  When you bite into one of these colorful, delicate cookies it is crisp on the outside but airy and chewy on the inside.  The ganache and fruit fillings are spread thin but bursting with flavor.  The girl at the counter let me try a Coffee macaron.  So good!  Jeremy decided on a Red Velvet and Vanilla and I got Pistachio and Raspberry–we loved them all!  We also chose Chocolate, Nutella and Coconut Papaya macarons to-go.

Macarons All

Macarons Close

After much deliberating–mainly by me–we also chose an entremet, or mousse cake, to share.  I honestly couldn’t decide.  Everything looked so delicious so we went with what the girl behind the counter suggested, the Entremet Vanille, and it was definitely the perfect recommendation.  It consisted of a layered mousse cake with a sable (think thin shortbread type cookie) on the bottom, covered in a mango glaze.  The mousse was light and creamy, not at all heavy and the flavors of vanilla, mango and coconut were balanced perfectly.   It was small but to be honest, it was so flavorful that it was really the right amount to share.  Not that I wouldn’t have eaten another one.  Because I really, really wanted to.

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2Decisions

3 Rasp and Bars

4Rasp Entremets

5Van Choc Close

6Vanille Closeup

7Our Entremet

8Eating

We also took home some chocolate, raspberry and vanilla marshmallows.  They were a tad too chewy for me which is not something I’m used to since the ones I make are always soft.  They were ok but definitely not something I’d buy again.

Mallows VP Bag

So the day started off wonderful!  We drove around a bit, ate a late lunch/early dinner at a place called Gino’s East (apparently famous for their deep dish–we got thin crust, hah!) and then headed off to find the next and final stop, Angel Food Bakery.  The place really intrigued me because it was retro themed and the desserts seemed fun and different.  With offerings like homemade Twinkies, S’mores, Boston Cream cupcakes and Whoopie Pies, how could you go wrong, seriously?!  But oh my, you can go wrong.  Very, very wrong.

Here’s a pic of the inside. So deceptively cute and inviting.  The walls are lined with every make and model of Easy-Bake Oven.

Angel Food

I chose the Coconut Cupcake.  It was huge and looked soooo good but was extremely disappointing.  The only thing “coconut” about this cupcake were the flakes that had been sprinkled on top.  The cupcake and frosting were both vanilla and the cake actually tasted like they had gotten a little crazy with butter flavored oil.  Very weird.  And the worst part of all–it was dry.  As in desert.  Ick.

Jeremy got somewhat lucky with his pick, a Boston Cream Cupcake.  Again, huge and screamed “eat me!” but it wasn’t anything to write home about.  The chocolate goo on top and the custard filling helped mask another otherwise dry and tasteless vanilla cupcake. (I think the red fondant hearts on top were the best part.  Yikes.)

Faux Coconut Boston Creme

We also split a made from scratch, chocolate dipped S’more.  Horrible.  Didn’t even deserve a picture. We both left feeling a little sugary sick to our stomachs.   Such a sad way to end the day when it started so well with this:

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All in all it really was a great day and a bittersweet farewell to Chicago.  I was finally introduced to some real French pastry and I can now understand why they might be a tad snobbish about those sweet little creations they craft.  The focus on taste, flavor, texture and color is so unlike the heavy, sugary desserts that Americans are so accustomed to. The French know how to make something so small taste so delicious that you are satisfied with just a few bites and don’t feel the need for gigantic portions or seconds.  Or thirds.  Or fourths.

It really is amazing.  To me, at least!

But I still love me some Red Velvet cake and cream cheese frosting.  🙂

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