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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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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Bed & Breakfast Weekend

Jeremy and I just got back from a short but sweet weekend in a little town called Ironton, Mo.  He surprised me with a belated anniversary trip to a bed and breakfast called The Parlor.  When I went online to do a little research on the activities in and around the town, I found out that the B&B used to be a funeral home and was supposedly haunted! We didn’t see any ghosts or notice anything out of the ordinary while we were there but we did have an absolutely wonderful time and enjoyed our stay IMMENSELY.  The husband and wife that own The Parlor were the nicest people and so accommodating.

There wasn’t much on our agenda (which was nice) other than going to a couple of state parks, eating some good food and relaxing.  Oh and of course enjoying some yummy desserts!  Jeremy also surprised me with a horse-drawn carriage ride Saturday night when we got back to the bed and breakfast.  It was so romantic and a great way to end the weekend.  Here are some fun pictures from our trip!

Outside of our lovely B&B, The Parlor
Flowers that were waiting for me in our room.
At Elephant Rocks state park.
Chocolate covered bacon a vendor was selling at Elephant Rock (for $3 each!!). Random...but good.
Getting cooled off at Johnson's Shut-Ins.
Dinner in Farmington, Mo.
The view from our corner booth at 12 West Bar & Grill. We were a little early (and hungry) which is why it was fairly empty.
An up-close look at those gorgeous chandeliers.
Dessert #1 at 12 West Bar & Grill: Ooey Gooey Butter Cake with Chocolate, Caramel, Sliced Bananas and Whipped Cream. Insane.
Dessert #2 at 12 West Bar & Grill: Triple Chocolate Cake with layers of Devil's Food Cake, Chocolate Mousse and Ganache. Even more insane.
Other than McDonald's, this was the only cafe/restaurant type place in Ironton. Every town has to have a bakery. 🙂
Outside the cafe.

 

A cinnamon roll at Aunt Mary's. It was yummy...warm, cinnamony and soft.
Cream Horn at Aunt Mary's. I had never had one and I LOVED it. Light, flaky pastry filled with the fluffiest buttercream. Really delicious.
Old Village Mercantile in Caledonia, Mo. This was one of a few antique shops we stopped at on the way home. Bonus: They had a coffee/smoothie bar, bakery and candy shop on the first floor.
The first floor of Old Village Mercantile. Lots of candy. And check out the original, beautiful ceiling.
View from the upstairs of Old Village Mercantile. LOVE that ceiling.
Barrels of old-fashioned candy at Old Village Mercantile.
Chocolate candy. Mmmmm.
LOTS of candy!
We stopped at another antique shop in Steelville, Mo and this little ice cream stand was across the street. How convenient. 😉
My choice--Mint Chocolate Chips. It was good. But I liked Jeremy's choice better. Why does that always happen?!
Jeremy's choice--Strawberry Waffle Cone. It was sooooo good!

Hope you enjoyed the peak into our weekend!  Tomorrow I’ll have a yummy end-of-summer recipe to share with you…have a great Sunday evening!

 

 

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Oreo Cheesecake Cupcakes

For the past year or two I’ve had a minor obsession with what I call “cheesecake cakes” and it all started when I made Jeremy this Red Velvet Cheesecake for his birthday.  He first had Red Velvet Cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory and absolutely loved it.  I have to admit, it was awesome.  When his birthday came around I did my best to imitate their version and think I got pretty darn close.

After that, my brain couldn’t help but imagine all the possibilities of cheesecake cakes…I did a vanilla cheesecake and strawberry cake combo, a neapolitan with chocolate cake, vanilla cheesecake and strawberry cake…you get the picture.   While they are delicious to make, they can be somewhat labor intensive and difficult to transport.  So I finally had the bright idea to make it into a cheesecake CUPCAKE.  Brilliant, right?  So much simpler!  And that idea led to the glorious recipe offering I give you today…Oreo Cheesecake Cupcakes.

I don’t think I need to say too much about these other than they are good ABSOLUTELY AMAZING.  The chocolate cake is a recipe I borrowed from My Baking Addiction and the cheesecake is a recipe from a friend.  I was a little skeptical about the cake since it used a cake mix, but it was actually quite good.  It had a more spongy texture than I was used to but was still very moist and had a rich chocolate flavor.  And the Oreos…I mean, how can you NOT put Oreos in these?  They just send them over the top and transport you directly into chocolate/cheesecake/Oreo heaven.

Make these and share them with the people you love.  They will love you back.  Promise.

Oreo Cheesecake Cupcakes
Dessert
36
 
Ingredients
Chocolate Cake
  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package Devil’s Food Cake Mix
  • 1 (5.9 ounce) package Instant Chocolate Pudding Mix
  • 1 c. Sour Cream
  • 1 c. Vegetable Oil
  • 4 Large Eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ c. Warm Water
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
Cheesecake
  • 1 (8 ounce) package Cream Cheese, softened
  • ½ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1 (18 ounce) package Regular Oreos
Buttercream Dream Frosting
  • 2 sticks Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1 c. Shortening
  • ⅛ t. Salt
  • 2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 lbs. (7.5 cups) Powdered Sugar, sifted
  • 4 T. Very Cold Heavy Whipping Cream (or milk)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a regular size muffin pan with paper liners or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. For the Chocolate Cake: In an electric mixer, beat together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, beaten eggs, water and vanilla until well combined and smooth. Set aside.
  3. For the Vanilla Cheesecake: In an electric mixer beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Add the sugar and vanilla, beating well. Beat in the egg and set aside.
  4. For the Buttercream Dream Frosting: In an electric mixer, cream the butter and shortening until fluffy, about three minutes. Add the salt and vanilla and combine well. Begin adding the sugar, one cup at a time and mix thoroughly after each addition. After all the sugar has been added and mixed thoroughly, begin adding the very cold heavy whipping cream one tablespoon at a time, combining well after each addition. Beat on medium-high speed for three minutes to reach desired consistency.
  5. To assemble: Use a scant tablespoon full of chocolate cake mix and smooth into the bottom of the muffin tin (I actually used my (very clean) finger to do this). Spoon in just enough cheesecake to cover the chocolate cake. Press an Oreo into the cheesecake and cover the Oreo with cheesecake mixture–just enough to cover the cookie. Top with another tablespoon of chocolate cake and gently spread until even in the tin. (Be careful to do no more than a tablespoon each time otherwise your muffin tin will be too full and the cupcake batter will rise above the muffin tin and “mushroom”) Repeat with remaining muffin tins. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until top is springy to the touch. Place on wire rack and cool completely. Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes and store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

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Strawberry Daiquiri Pie

Holy heck it’s hot outside!  I’m interrupting this non-stop Florida dessert roundup to bring you guys a deliciously creamy, super dreamy, frozen sweet treat.  I  know there is someone out there that is dying from the heat and needs an easy dessert for supper that requires minimal oven use or none at all.  I have just the thing!  This Strawberry Daiquiri Pie has a grand total of seven ingredients (if you make everything from scratch) and the crust only bakes for 10 minutes in the oven.  Yay!

The original recipe here on Allrecipes.com calls for a store-bought graham cracker crust and Cool Whip so feel free to use those if you want but if I’m gonna indulge, I want the best possible ingredients!  Also, you could easily make this a Pina Colada pie by using a different mixer and pineapple instead of strawberry or whatever flavor suits your fancy.  Pina Colada honestly sounded really good but I went with strawberry…I’m a sucker for pretty pink desserts.

Stay cool and enjoy!

Strawberry Daiquiri Pie
Dessert
18-20
 
Ingredients
  • 9 T. Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 2 c. Graham Cracker Crumbs
  • 1 (10 oz.) Can Frozen Strawberry Daiquiri Mix, slightly thawed (I used Bacardi's..it was in the frozen juice section)
  • 1 c. Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 2 c. Heavy Whipping Cream, whipped, with ½ c.+2 T. Powdered Sugar and 2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10-inch springform pan.
  2. Mix the graham cracker crumbs and butter together in a bowl and pat down evenly into the bottom of the springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes and let cool completely on a wire rack.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together the strawberry daiquiri mix and sweetened condensed milk. Gently fold in 3 cups of the whipped cream. Spread evenly into the pan, on top of the crust.
  4. Cover with foil and place in the freezer for 6-7 hours. Remove from pan, slice and serve immediately.
  5. Garnish with strawberries and the remaining cup of whipped cream.

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4th of July Dessert

You’ll have to excuse me if this blog post isn’t quite as coherent as it should be but I just got done taste-testing tonight’s recipes and I think I’m in a bit of a sugar coma.  Not necessarily a bad thing but if I stop making sense about halfway through this post, I warned you!

Ok, let’s get down to it–4th of July themed dessert recipes are a pain in the butt!  Why?  Because if you limit your use of artificial color (like I do), you’re pretty much left with blueberries and strawberries to work with (and who are we kidding–they’re purple and pink!).  That’s it!  And don’t even mention the word TRIFLE.  Seriously.  I racked my brain for hours and googled until I could google no more but honestly couldn’t bring myself to make the same whipped cream/berry/pound cake trifle that everyone else was making.  Then it hit me–BREAD PUDDING.  I’ve only recently discovered the nirvana that is bread pudding and I love it with all of my heart.  I know, I know. You’re thinking “a HOT dessert?  ugh!”.  But throw in some vanilla ice cream and it’s all good.  Promise.

So here’s the recipe–Berry Bread Pudding with Lemon Drizzle.  First, let’s start with the sugary, slightly crunchy top crust.  Next, imagine sweet cream soaked chunks of soft French bread, studded with blueberries and raspberries.  Finally, spoon on some tart lemon drizzle and top with cold, vanilla ice cream.  Are you drooling?  Out. Of. This. World.

What’s that?  You want a second recipe?  Done.  You can do this one in less than five minutes–Berry Bark.  White chocolate with dried cherries, blueberries and cranberries.  Yay for options!

Hope you enjoy these recipes and try them yourself!  And most of all, have a safe and fun July 4th weekend!

Berry Bread Pudding with Lemon Drizzle

1 lb. Day Old French Bread, cut into 1-inch cubes

8 Eggs, lightly beaten

3 c. Half-and-Half

3 c. Heavy Whipping Cream

2 c. White Sugar

4 T. Pure Vanilla Extract

2 1/2 t. Lemon Zest

3 c. Blueberries

3 c. Raspberries

Directions

Spray a 9×13 glass baking dish with cooking spray.  In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, heavy whipping cream, half-n-half, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest until the sugar has completely dissolved.  Gently stir in the bread.

Place half of each of the berries in the bottom of the 9×13 dish.  Spoon half of the bread mixture over the berries.  Sprinkle the remaining berries over the bread and top with the rest of the bread and pour any liquid that is left, evenly over the dish.  Gently press the bread down with the back of the spoon and make sure no berries are peaking through the top.  Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour, so the bread can absorb the liquid.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Sprinkle the top of the bread pudding with sugar and place in the oven on top of a baking sheet (sometimes the liquid part will bubble and overflow..no fun cleaning that off the bottom of your oven!).  Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the middle is firm.  While the pudding is baking, make the Lemon Drizzle.

Lemon Drizzle

1/2 c. Unsalted Butter

1 c. White Sugar

1/4 c. Water

1/3 c. Lemon Juice

1 t. Pure Vanilla Extract

1 Large Egg, lightly beaten

Directions

In a small, heavy saucepan, combine butter, sugar, water, lemon juice, vanilla and beaten egg.  Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture comes to a boil.  Remove from heat and let cool.

Serve over warm bread pudding and top with ice cream.

Berry Bark

4 c. (2 lbs) Good Quality White Chocolate, chopped (or White Chocolate Chips)

1 c. Dried Mixed Berries (Blueberries, Cranberries and Cherries)

Directions

Melt chocolate in the microwave at 20 second intervals, stirring between each interval, until completely smooth.  Stir in 3/4 c. of the mixed berries and then spread onto a foil-lined cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with remaining berries.  Pop in the freezer for about 30 seconds to harden up.  Cut into pieces with a sharp knife.

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Strawberry Lemonade Candy Cups

A couple of days ago I found myself with a few strawberries that desperately needed to be used and found this recipe for Strawberry Lemonade Truffles.   Obviously mine didn’t turn out as truffles because the mixture never stiffened up completely so I just turned them into candy cups.  While not quite as simple as scooping the mixture into balls and dipping them in chocolate, it worked just as well.

The end results were quite tasty.  They reminded me of the Lemon Berry Slush at Sonic…only dipped in white chocolate.  And they definitely are on the sweet side due to all the white chocolate but the tartness of the lemon helps to balance that out.  A nice and different summertime treat!

Strawberry Lemonade Candy Cups

  • 8 oz. Fresh Strawberries, sliced (will yield 1/3 c. strawberry puree)
  • 1 T. Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 t. Light Corn Syrup
  • 12 oz. White Chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 t. Citric Acid  (find at local health food store)
  • 1/2 t. Strawberry Extract
  • 1/4 c. Dried Strawberries, finely chopped
  • Zest of One Lemon
  • 1 lb. White Chocolate Candy Coating Wafers
  • Decoration:  Chopped Candied Lemon Zest, Yellow/Pink Sanding Sugar, Processed Freeze-Dried Strawberries

Directions

  1. Place the chopped white chocolate in a medium size bowl and microwave until melted stirring every 20 seconds.
  2. Place the sliced strawberries in a medium saucepan and heat them over medium heat until they release their juices and become a chunky strawberry sauce.  Blend them in a food processor or blender and then strain them to remove any seeds (I didn’t bother with straining them).  Set aside 1/3 cup of the strawberry puree.
  3. Combine the 1/3 cup strawberry puree, heavy whipping cream and light corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil.  Remove from heat and pour over into melted white chocolate and stir to combine.  Add the citric acid, lemon zest, strawberry extract and chopped dried strawberries and stir until thoroughly incorporated.  Let chill in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.
  4. Place the white chocolate wafers in a small bowl and melt in the microwave stirring every 20 seconds.  Fill each cavity of a candy cup mold with one teaspoon of white chocolate.  Gently tip and rotate the mold to cover it’s sides and bottom with the chocolate and place in the freezer for one minute to completely harden.  Fill hardened candy cup mold with 1/2 teaspoon of the strawberry lemonade mixture and then carefully cover with more white chocolate and decoration of your choice.  Place in freezer for one minute to harden.  Carefully flip mold upside down onto foil and press gently on bottom of each candy cup until they pop out.

Makes 48.

 

 

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Godiva Chocolate Rewards

Choc 1

Chocolate is good. Certain chocolate (ahem, dark) can even be divine. But sometimes it tastes even better when it’s FREE. Which is why the Godiva Chocolate Rewards Club is so sweet! (Lame, I know.) If you’ve never heard of the program, I am here to bring a little extra joy to your life once a month.

All you need to do is head into your local Godiva boutique, hand over some non-intrusive personal info (name, address, email) and you’re in! It’s fairly quick and painless to sign up and definitely worth it. So, once a month you can go in, flash your Godiva Chocolate Rewards card and snag a piece of free chocolate bliss. It’s a nice little no-cost pick me up after you’ve spent all your money shopping at the mall and are having a slight case of buyer’s remorse. Not that I would know anything about that.

There are also lots of other perks that you can check out here. The only downside of the club that I’ve found thus far is that you are limited to one piece of chocolate. I end up standing in front of the display case for at least five minutes, drooling over the selection and agonizing over which one I want while the salesperson looks at me like I’m crazy. This typically results in me cracking under the pressure and purchasing at least one chocolate in addition to my free piece. Sigh.

I’m sure it’s all part of Godiva’s evilly delicious plan and I’m playing right into their hands.

Choc 2

Oh and in case you are wondering, the chocolates above (from back left to right) are the Almond Marzipan, Macadamia Mosaic, Strawberry White Chocolate Truffle, Praline Crescent and Dark Ganache Heart.

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