Monday, January 31, 2011

In the MEDIA? Little old me?

That's right folks... the Old Town Crier is running an article on BABYCAKES! It will be in the February edition, which should be hitting streets on February 3rd. Make sure you get your hands on a copy and check out the business profile. If you aren't in the DC/MD/VA area -- you can always read the publication online (the link above will take you to the site, and the Feb edition should be up and running by the 5th).

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Valentine's Dish

alright loves, here's the dish on BABYCAKES Valentine's flavors!
We will be offering two extra special flavors for heart day...
Chocolate Raspberry Stout cupcakes w/ Chocolate Ganache buttercream
Espresso Valrhona cupcakes w/ Fudge frosting

"Toppers" include your choice of (milk or white) chocolate covered strawberries or cherries or fondant sweetheart roses.

Of course, as always -- your BABYCAKES will be dressed to impress from the cupcake liners to the boxes and ribbon you can expect to impress your sweetie!

half dozen - $20
dozen - $40
delivery to anywhere in the DC, MD, VA area - $15

We will be accepting orders until Feb. 8th!  


While on my whirlwind tour of the California Central Coast, I saw as much as was possible from Paso Robles to Santa Rosa. We traveled the coast via the PCH and visited several vineyards/wineries. We saw elephant seals, sunsets, sunrises, San Fran w/ it's hills and bridges, the wharf, ate delicious food, drank amazing wines, and of course... indulged in some serious sugar. Basically when all was said and done, I was looking for property for sale in Yountville down the road from Thomas Keller and his French Laundry, and begging the hubby to pack up our children and head west. I absorbed as much as humanly possible, and slept as little as humanly possible. Don't get me started on the quality of coffee that basically came out of someones garage... Alright, Alright... point. Sugar! We ate a metric ton of delicious desserts and pastries. I believe the sugar intake began with blueberry scones at Amsterdam Coffee House (no, not THAT kind) to accompany my Lavender Latte. Now that I think about it, I had some sort of delicious scone EVERY single morning I was there, and almost all of them were made with seasonal, fresh fruit.

My eyes nearly popped out of my head when dining at The Slanted Door, I ordered the confectioner's plate and a massive cloud of green apple flavored cotton candy arrived as the center of the spectacle. It was fluffy, slightly sour, and absolute perfection. In fact; it was so good that I refused to share it with anyone else at the table.

But, nothing compared to the banana cream tart that I purchased at Tartine (quite possibly one of the best bakeries I've ever been to). The pastry dough was flaky perfection, drizzled with bittersweet Valrhona Chocolate, and filled to the brim with caramelized bananas and the silkiest pastry cream I've EVER tasted. I've tried to recreate the pastry creme, and I'm not there yet... but, I'm determined. Oh, PS. Shaved Dark Chocolate to top the whole thing off. I resolved to wait until I could actually sit down and fully enjoy my treat (as Tartine was packed -- it was Sunday morning after all). About a block or so in to our trek back to our accommodations I decided I couldn't stand it anymore, and dug in. I'm not going to lie, I'm pretty sure that there was pastry cream all over my face and I looked ridiculous. I scarfed my banana cream tart and quite honestly had a really hard time not offering a bite to those that passed me on the sidewalk. It was that good. I was beyond impressed. Quite honestly, I wasn't sure I'd enjoy the west coast, as I've been an east coast girl my entire life... but, you know what? I fell in love.


HOORAY! BABYCAKES will be a "featured restaurant" at the Of Wines and Words fundraiser to benefit The Reading Connection. It's a spectacular evening filled with wine tastings, delicious food, and a silent auction, not to be missed!

The Reading Connection is dedicated to helping at-risk families throughout the DC metro area create environments that encourage family reading. For over twenty-one years, The Reading Connection has been reaching out through volunteer readers, training programs for parents and family support workers, and a book club to expose at-risk families and children to books and encourage them to spend more time reading.  Over the past year, TRC volunteers and staff read to over 700 children, provided 40 parent training workshops, and gave away over 7,500 new books to children in housing crisis.

Now, THAT is bad ass. And, I couldn't be happier or more excited to donate my time and BABYCAKES to the cause! The event is scheduled for Friday March 25th at the Boeing Company in Arlington (6:30-10pm). More info (how/where to get tickets) to come!

Now, literary themed cupcakes? WHERE, oh where to begin....

"There are many little ways to enlarge your child's world. Lots of books is the best of all." Jacqueline Kennedy

June Cleaver, much?

Really, I must get some better photos taken of me "at work". Perhaps where I don't look like the 1950's icon, Mrs. Cleaver. Although -- it could be a good bit?

a quick lesson in Chocolate

Valrhona -- As if I the Rhone (river, terroir, valley, ad nauseum) didn't cause me to drool already... it also gave us the Pastry Chef who created Valrhona Chocolate Manufacturer. Now, if you will excuse me for just one moment -- I am going to get really geeky.

Valrhona focuses on high grade luxury chocolate, and chocolate confections. I believe they even offer education for pastry chefs that want to focus on chocolate and chocolate making (that would be one hell of a birthday present!) It is a good thing that I've retained a minoot amount of the French that I studied for four years, because honestly, I could shop their sight for hours.
And, as if they weren't fabulous enough, they take it to a whole other level...
Valrhona actually makes "vintage chocolate". Think Champagne (assuming that you understand the diff between NV and Vintage Champagne) -- they utilize beans from only one year's harvest and only from very specific plantations. Essentially, the Grand Cru's and Premier Cru's of the chocolate world. IE. South America, and the Caribbean. I'd love to get my hands on some "Gran Couva"!

Now, enough of the geeky-ness. The bottom line is that this is some gorgeous chocolate. And, it is what I will using in the "Espresso Valrhona" cupcakes for Valentine's Day! What goes together better then perfect French chocolate and decedent Italian espresso? Not much. In fact, I like to close my eyes and pretend that I'm in a villa somewhere between Provence and Tuscany when I take that first bite.

Monday, January 24, 2011

I heart you.

It's that time of year again.. my most favorite of the holidays, that I like to refer to as "The Shannon Extravaganza!" You see I was born on February 14th (that's Valentine's Day for all you men out there), and my husband and I said our "I Do's" on February 16th... therefore, the second week and/or the third week of February is usually dedicated to celebrating. I've actually been lobbying Congress to see if they could get a bill passed to make "The Shannon Extravaganza" an official holiday week. Per usual, they are slow accomplishing anything worth accomplishing.

This year, I'm even more hyped then in years past because BABYCAKES will be debuting their Valentine's Day treats. Basically, I will spend the second week of February feeding YOUR faces w/ over the top decadence, and I will in turn spend the third week feeding MY face with over the top decadence. Deal?

BABYCAKES will be offering two flavors of Chocolate Cupcakes (for all you chocolate haters out there, I'm sorry about your luck. Talk to me around St. Patrick's Day -- I'm thinking Green Velvet?).

So, Heart Day Treats will be as follows -- Chocolate Raspberry Stout cupcakes w/ a Chocolate Ganache buttercream *OR* Espresso Valrhona cupcakes w/ a Fudge frosting. To top off these sweeties, you can choose from hand dipped (chocolate or white chocolate) strawberries, or cherries OR hand-made fondant sweetheart roses (example below).

Stay tuned for an e-mail coming soon w/ the details! And, if you aren't on the mailing list... SHAME on you, get in touch with me at STAT to get your e-mail added to the list. You wouldn't want to miss out on something fabulous, would you? 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

for the record..

Alright. I gave you photos of the Christmas rush, and gave you the nicey-nice post about what the New Year holds for BABYCAKES, ad nauseum. Now, for the rant/bitch session that I've been holding in for the last few months.

I am not, nor will I ever aspire to be Georgetown Cupcake. Or for that matter, Crumbs, Lavender Moon, Red Velvet, Sprinkles, etc. I do not want my own television show, and believe it or not, I don't even want my own Cupcakery. I take offense at the thought of my cupcakes or any other confection that I make identically produced (by someone other then ME, none the less) shoved into a refrigerated case somewhere. I know that generally speaking, when people come to me with their, "ohmyGod, you make cupcakes?! have you BEEN to Georgetown cupcake?! They are ahhhmaaazing!" schpeal -- they are not trying to be offensive or rude. They should know though, that they are being annoying. In fact, I usually give a tight lipped smile and don't speak, in fear that "can you do me a favor... and stop talking.." will be my response.

There is obviously a market for those places, and they are obviously successful. I am not jealous, I just REALLY dislike being told how spectacular they are, when I personally don't think so. And, when it is something that you have a passion for, and love doing yourself -- you tend to assume that your opinion actually matters. I think it's kind of sad that their (Gtown Cupcake) recent success is based solely on a TV show. Let me get this straight... You are willing to wait in line for an hour + for cupcakes that run you at least $4+/ea. and were made along with about 2,000 others? Why? "Because they are on TLC, and they are ahhmayzing!" Oh. Gotcha. It would probably be too difficult to walk down the street to Baked and Wired and see just how delicious their cupcakes are. Or, form your own opinion for that matter. I get it. It just reiterates to me that when it comes to food, wine, and the restaurant industry in general -- people are such lemmings, it is appalling.

I'm well aware that I sound quite salty. I'm not. I just want to make it clear that my end goal/s do not include, massive lines around city blocks, mass production, selling out, a television show, high prices, or jumping on board with the homogenization of the American palate.

I like to think of myself in a little bakery/lounge that serves over the top artisan coffee and pastries in the morning, and caters to a light lunch and dinner crowd with a small menu of local and seasonal fare. And, one day soon.. it's going to happen. Promise.

I documented my holiday survival.

snap shots of what I like to call Rookie Christmas..

New Year -- New Agenda!

So, it's actually been -what feels like- 437 years since I've updated. Needless to say, I've been up to my ears in cupcakes, holidays, and craziness...

I survived Christmas. It was actually almost pleasant. The cupcakes, baking, and boxing went very smoothly. The only hitch was in shipping. I finally worked out a way to ship securely, however, it was fairly time consuming.. and I, of course didn't assume that cost and fed-ex store hours change during the holiday season. Why wouldn't I assume that? Where was my brain??
Oh well... lesson learned. I've only been building this little thing into a small, if not, tiny business since October... so -- I can't be too hard on myself.

I figured that between Thanksgiving, Christmas and all of the space in between... I pushed out between 90-100 dozen cupcakes. That's somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000 of those little confections. And, it certainly wasn't easy. There were tears shed, pans thrown into the trash, colorful explicits mumbled and sometimes shouted, and above all -- a whole lot of learning and excitement.

I think I've come out of the tornado more organized, better prepared, and ready to move forward with loads of new ideas. I am starting the new year with a check list of things that MUST get done. First on that list, is sitting down with a graphic artist/designer to help me get my logo solidified and especially to work on the blog/website (I HOPE the website will be up and running before or just after Valentine's Day). I have this logo in my head that needs to be put onto paper, and since I'm quite possibly the most computer/design incompetent person ever... I'm looking forward to working with a professional.