29 September 2010

Pour Some Sugar on Me....Introducing the Saturday Sampler

My pop-up store is now closed at Printemps Nation. Thanks so much to everyone who came by, and especially to those who purchased cupcakes on 25 September - the day of the Odyssea Operation. I donated 100% of the proceeds from my sales last Saturday = just over 500 euros donated to the Institut Gustave Roussy, Europe's leading breast cancer research and treatment center!

For those who are interested in buying some cupcakes without the usual 1 dozen minimum and/or want to try a few different flavors at a time, I'm happy to introduce the the Saturday Sampler which will be available at least one weekend per month.

The box of 5 assorted flavors is 17,00 euros. On 16 October, you'll receive the following flavors:

- Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (red velvet cupcake, Philadelphia cream cheese frosting)
- Caramel Dolce (vanilla cupcake, salted caramel buttercream)
- You Were Mint for Me (white chocolate chunk cupcake, mint buttercream)
- Rogue (vanilla cupcake, chocolate buttercream)
- Touch Me Tease Me (Malteser cupcake with malted milk buttercream)

To reserve your sampler, send an email with your name, a phone number where you can be reached and the number of samplers you'd like to order to info@sugardazecupcakes.com. Your sampler can be picked up in the 17th on 16 October either between 10H-11H30 or 14H30-16H.

27 September 2010

The Sweetest Thing : A Daring Bakers' Challenge

I've been a Daring Baker for almost 2 years now and have loved so many of the challenges. We've made things from scratch I would have never dared to try on my own, and I have discovered new recipes for some of my standard desserts which are so much better than what I had traditionally been making. This month's challenge, basic sugar cookies, falls into the latter camp. For years, I have given sugar cookies at Christmas as teacher gifts, to our neighbors, etc. and I thought I had an excellent recipe for them. That is until I tried these which come from Peggy Porschen (who by the way I am dying to take a Master Cake Decorating Class with if anyone wants to sponsor me to the tune of 973 GBP!).

The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

These were so much fun to make; if I had the time, I would have spent hours on different shapes and ways of decorating them. Unfortunately, with my pop-up store at Printemps this month, I have had very little free time and so I actually made these as cupcake toppers, which was a little bonus for those of you who had a chance to taste them.

I made a batch of heart-shaped cookies and decorated half with yellow royal icing and a checkerboard band which was my take on a NYC Checker Cab (the theme at Printemps is I Love New York!).

For the second half of the cookies, I covered them in white royal icing and before they dried, made heart decorations with hot pink royal icing and Wilton Sparkle Gel. I loved how these turned out; the sparkle gel looked like stained glass inserts on the cookies. I used these as toppers for some of the 150 cupcakes I donated to their breast cancer research charity event.

I've seen some of the amazing cookies the Daring Bakers made this month and you really should check them out. To make your own, here's the recipe...

Basic Sugar Cookies:
Makes Approximately 36x 10cm / 4" Cookies

200g / 7oz / ½ cup + 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
400g / 14oz / 3 cups + 3 Tbsp All Purpose / Plain Flour
200g / 7oz / 1 cup Caster Sugar / Superfine Sugar
1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
5ml / 1 tsp Vanilla Extract / Or seeds from 1 vanilla bean

- Cream together the butter, sugar and any flavourings you’re using. Beat until just becoming
creamy in texture.
- Tip: Don’t over mix otherwise you’ll incorporate too much air and the cookies will spread during
baking, losing their shape.
- Beat in the egg until well combined, make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add the sifted flour and mix on low until a non sticky dough forms.
- Knead into a ball and divide into 2 or 3 pieces.
- Roll out each portion between parchment paper to a thickness of about 5mm/1/5 inch (0.2 inch)
- Refrigerate for a minimum of 30mins.
- Tip: Recipes commonly just wrap the whole ball of dough in clingwrap and then refrigerate it for an
hour or overnight, but by rolling the dough between parchment, this shortens the chilling time and
then it’s also been rolled out while still soft making it easier and quicker.
- Once chilled, peel off parchment and place dough on a lightly floured surface.
- Cut out shapes with cookie cutters or a sharp knife.
- Arrange shapes on parchment lined baking sheets and refrigerate for another 30mins to an hour.
- Tip: It’s very important you chill them again otherwise they’ll spread while baking.
- Re-roll scraps and follow the above process until all scraps are used up.
- Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C Fan Assisted) / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.
- Bake until golden around the edges, about 8-15mins depending on the size of the cookies.
- Tip: Bake same sized cookies together otherwise mixing smaller with larger cookies could result in
some cookies being baked before others are done.
- Tip: Rotate baking sheets half way through baking if your oven bakes unevenly.
- Leave to cool on cooling racks.
- Once completely cooled, decorate as desired.
- Tip: If wrapped in tinfoil/cling wrap or kept in airtight containers in a cool place, un-decorated
cookies can last up to a month.

Royal Icing:
315g – 375g / 11oz – 13oz / 2½ - 3 cups Icing / Confectioner’s / Powdered Sugar, unsifted
2 Large Egg Whites
10ml / 2 tsp Lemon Juice
5ml / 1 tsp Almond Extract, optional (I used Vanilla Extract)


- Beat egg whites with lemon juice until combined.
- Tip: It’s important that the bowls/spoons/spatulas and beaters you use are thoroughly cleaned and
grease free.
- Sift the icing sugar to remove lumps and add it to the egg whites.
- Tip: I’ve listed 2 amounts of icing sugar, the lesser amount is good for a flooding consistency, and the larger amount is for outlining, but you can add even more for a much thicker consistency good for writing. If you add too much icing sugar or would like to make a thinner consistency, add very small amounts of water, a few drops at a time, until you reach the consistency you need.
- Beat on low until combined and smooth.
- Use immediately or keep in an airtight container.
- Tip: Royal Icing starts to harden as soon as it’s in contact with air so make sure to cover containers with plastic wrap while not in use.

25 September 2010

Give It Away, Give It Away, Give It Away Now

Today Printemps Nation unveils its Odyssea Boutique in conjunction with the walks/runs that will happen across France next Sunday in support of breast cancer. All items in the boutique will be pink and 100% proceeds of sales will be donated to the Institut Gustave Roussy, Europe's leading breast cancer research and treatment center.

Printemps wanted to purchase cupcakes from me for the event but I have been thinking for a while now of how I could make my little business more charitable. I am proud to announce that I will be donating 150 cupcakes today to the Odyssea boutique at Printemps (I would have made more but have been busy making 250 cupcakes for a wedding this morning!). Every centime from my sales will go to l'Institut Gustave Roussy. Please come by and show your support by purchasing one of my "Cupcakes with a Cause" today; priced at 3,50 each, they will be available in boxes of 1, 2 and 6 cupcakes.

20 September 2010

Candy Candy Candy I Can't Let You Go....

Some are born with silver spoons; I think I was born with a candy-coated one. I have had a sweet tooth for as long as I can remember. Some of my best childhood memories involve some sweet or another. I've always been preferential to chocolate though caramel does it for me too. A trip to NY would not be complete without a stop at Dylan's Candy Bar, and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (with Gene Wilder) is on my list of favorite movies. I've daydreamed about candy-flavored wallpaper I could lick to my heart's content and a never-ending gobstopper filled with endless tastes and colors. Halloween has long been one of my favorite holidays. And I can remember saving my allowance as a child to buy Pixie Stix and wax lips from our local newspaper stand.

When I was little, I went to camp in Maine. The camp director's wife would often tell stories about a good witch who lived in the woods named Varna (this was long before the Blair Witch Project -- had I seen that, you can bet I would have never stepped foot out of Manhattan again!). Legend had it that Varna would do good deeds for all the good campers and if they were very very good, she might leave you a piece of candy. It was Varna who would leave a SkyBar (anyone remember those?) under your pillow if you lost a tooth while at camp and yes, I do admit to twisting and wiggling many loose teeth during those summer months.

One of the most memorable and secretive traditions at my camp (and I hope I am not spoiling this in case the tradition lives on) was Varna's Tree. This involved the campers from the most senior bunk decorating a tree in the middle of the woods in gold spray paint and candy...yes, candy! Late that night, they would creep into the youngest kids' bunk and lead them out into the woods. Once there, they were told that Varna had left the tree because they had been so good and as long as they kept it a secret, the tree would be there for them whenever they wanted candy (which was of course forbidden at camp). As soon as the little ones were led back to bed, the older kids would return to the tree, dismantle it and remove the evidence.

To this day, I can actually remember being woken from my sleep one night when I was about 6 years old and being lead out into the woods while still half-asleep. And I can completely recall the surprise and delight I felt when I saw the tree and gathered up some candy. Some of my friends and I returned the next day and found a few stray gold leaves but no tree. We were pissed as hell and didn't talk to one of the other girls in the cabin for about a week, convinced that she had spilled the beans. I also remember about 10 years later, when I was in the oldest cabin and the camp director's wife came to us one night to help her with that year's tree set-up. It was a fun night and of course the best part was we got to eat all the left-over "evidence" afterwards!

Many of my US friends will tell you that I often ring them up and ask them to send me care packages of impossible to find candies here in France. Tops on my list? Mike & Ike's Hot Tamales, atomic fireballs, Reese's pieces, SweeTarts, candy corn, candy canes, Peeps and Cadbury eggs. Wanna get on my good side? Send me some...puh-leese!

My cupcake menu actually includes versions of some of my favorite candies: Peanut butter cups, Rolos, After Eight, etc. and in the past year, I have paid homage to some of my favorite candy bars by recreating cupcakes around them like my Twix Hi Hats or Snickers cupcakes. My newest menu addition is the "Touch Me Tease Me" cupcake which is essentially a Malteser (or Whopper for those in the US) in cupcake form. I have been playing around with Nigella Lawson's recipe for the better part of a year, and finally have come up with an adaptation that I really like. I think my fans must like them too cause I put them out for sale last week at the pop-up store, and they were gone in about an hour!

Now I can't tell you the exact changes I have made to this recipe cause then I might have to kill you! But prepared exactly as is, Nigella's gets two thumbs up from me. I'll give you a hint as to the changes I made...it just didn't taste Malteser enough to me! Here's how you can make these at home:

Chocolate Malteser Cake
From "Feast", Nigella Lawson (2004)

Makes about 24 cupcakes
150g soft brown sugar (muscavado sugar is best for flavour)
100g caster sugar
3 large eggs
175ml milk
15g unsalted butter
2 tablespoons Horlicks powder
175g plain flour
25g cocoa, sieved
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

For the icing and decoration
250g icing sugar
1 teaspoon cocoa
45g Horlicks
125g soft unsalted butter
2 tablespoons boiling water
2 x 37g packets Maltesers

Take whatever you need out of the fridge so that all the ingredients can come to room temperature (though it's not so crucial here, since you're heating the milk and butter and whisking the eggs).

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 3/170C. Butter and line two 12-hole cupcake tins.

Whisk together the sugars and eggs until light and frothy. Heat the milk, butter and Horlicks powder in a small saucepan until the butter has melted and the mixture is hot but not boiling. Beat the milk mixture into the eggs a little at a time. Fold in the dry ingredients thoroughly. Divide the cake batter evenly between the two tins and bake in the oven for about 12-15 minutes, by which time the cakes should have risen and will spring back when pressed gently. Let them cool on a rack for about 5-10 minutes and then turn lift out of their tins.

Once the cupcakes are cold, you can get on with the icing. Put the icing sugar, cocoa and Horlicks in a processor and blitz to remove all lumps. Add the butter and process again. Stop, scrape down, and start again, pouring the boiling water down the funnel with the motor running until you have a smooth buttercream.

Spread on top of cupcakes or use a pastry bag and tip to make pretty swirls. Stud the top of each cupcakes with a few Maltesers or crush them leaving large pieces and sprinkle on top. Eat, enjoy!

08 September 2010

You're a Native New Yorker

Printemps is celebrating la rentree New York-style with lots of fun and unique Big Apple-related offerings on tap in their various stores. This native New Yorker is delighted to be a part of the event and will have a pop-up store throughout the month of September at their Nation location.

Starting tomorrow, 9 September, you will find Sugar Daze on the ground floor (RDC) every Thursday, Friday & Saturday through the 30th. We'll be open from 1PM til closing (or til we run out of cupcakes -- whichever happens first!). I'll be there on Saturdays, and Meg will be happy to welcome you on Thursdays & Fridays. Cupcakes will be sold individually or in boxes of 2.

We'll have a rotating assortment of 4-5 different flavors per day including the September Flavor of the Month: Fields of Joy. If you want to find out what we'll be selling each day (and when/if we run out of cupcakes), follow me on twitter at @sugar_daze.

Hope to see some of you there!

Printemps Nation
21-25 Cours de Vincennes
75020 Paris - France
Tél. : 01 43 71 12 41

Related Articles:
Lost in Cheeseland - Bon Plan: Printemps Loves New York!
Your Je Ne Sai Quoi - Weekend Plan : Sugar Daze at Printemps!
Cupcakes Take the Cake - Cupcake Motivation: A Peek Inside the Transformation of Little Miss Cupcake to Sugar Daze

05 September 2010

New Flava Flav: Fields of Joy

Welcome back! This month, I'm showcasing a delicious flavor combo of dark chocolate cupcake with a pistachio-almond buttercream, drizzled with chocolate and topped with a home-made chocolate heart. The flavor was inspired by Joy C., a pastry student in the UK, who is a fan on my Facebook page. Thanks Joy! Be sure to give me a shout when you are in Paris so you can come collect a box of Fields of Joy courtesy of Sugar Daze!

We'll have this for sale every weekend during a tour at Printemps Nation in September. Hope to see you there!

02 September 2010

I *Can* Change My Mold

So many of you have written in recent months for an update on my sob story concerning the new Paris cupcakery who trademarked & opened shop with a name almost identical to Little Miss Cupcake (a name I have been using since 2008)....Here's Part 2 and a Happy Ending!

When I last wrote I described my efforts to settle this amicably. Whereby the CopyCat sicced her lawyer on me. At this point, I felt I had no choice but to file an opposition with the INPI, France's equivalent of the Trademark Office. My lawyer explained this was likely a lost cause but a mandatory first step if I wanted to fight this. Why? A search of the INPI online database shows not a single case where a non-trademarked brand (that would be me) successfully blocked a trademark filing of a similarly named company. But I understood it had to be done.

So it was no surprise when I received the official reply from the INPI stating I had failed to show evidence that Little Miss Cupcake is a well-known name among the Parisian cupcake eating public. Despite the fact that I submitted over 250 pages of press articles naming Little Miss Cupcake as a pioneer and one of the more established cupcake bakers on the market; order invoices from well-known corporate clients; visitor statistics from my blog and other social media; emails from individuals and corporations interested in partnering with me; my ownership of the domain names, etc. In their reply they stated that only proved that Little Miss Cupcake exists but not as a trademarked brand; that I am written about frequently; that I get lots of orders; that I have a lot of people online who are interested in me and my company news as well as people interested in doing business with my company. BUT this fails to prove that Little Miss Cupcake is a brand that people know of. I can’t say I follow this logic at all but then I guess that is what bureaucracy is all about.

As infuriated and depressed this news left me I realized I had to accept the ruling and move on. My lawyer laid out my options : 1) keep my head down and co-exist in the market with CopyCat, 2) take CopyCat to court, 3) wait to see if CopyCat came after me for "counterfeiting" her brand (can you imagine?), or 4) proactively change my name. My lawyer felt strongly about option #2 and mapped out the road ahead. But as I listened to her drone on about the process, I wasn't sure I was ready for a long, drawn-out, expensive court battle. Preparing my dossier for the INPI had been difficult enough and took me weeks to pull together. The prospect of living with this for another year, sapping my energies and leaving me in a constant state of stress just wasn't an option for me. So for the short-term, I decided to take my time and weigh my options before moving forward. Besides, I was so busy before the summer and happily distracted doing what I love doing: baking, rather than focusing on this ugly affair.

And then the emails and blog comments started rolling in.

People who had visited CopyCat's shop thinking she was me wrote to accuse me of photo-shopping or stealing the pictures on my blog because what they had seen in "my" shop didn't look anything like what was advertised online. Or that I was a hack - after a visit to "my" shop, they decided I must be paying people to write glowing reviews about me because my cupcakes tasted like (expletive removed!). One woman went so far as to tell me I should be ashamed of being an American and to sell my products as “cupcakes” was an insult to the US! F*ck me! All this time I was steamed that CopyCat was going to profit from my reputation, it never even occurred to me that she could ruin it, and man did that piss me off. After the 40th or so email of this type (and my god were some of these people nasty!), I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands.

I don’t want to stagnate in this situation – it’s tiring, it’s frustrating and I don't like putting negative energy out there. So I've decided it's time to make a break with the past. It's the only way I can safeguard what I have worked so hard to build. I'll be slowly phasing out Little Miss Cupcake as the "official" name of my cupcake entreprise these next few weeks. She served me well, and I'll always carry a piece of her with me, but it's time to put some distance between myself and CopyCat.

Introducing...drum roll please...Sugar Daze! I may have a new name but I remain your best Paris source for delicious, fresh-baked American-style cupcakes! And most importantly, I have filed for the trademark. Help me spread the word!

I've learned some very painful but valuable lessons about running a business these past few months. I'm still in shock over French policies regarding trademarks and rights of use. And disappointed that I am the one who has to pay so dearly in a situation where I truly believe I was wronged. All because I made the rookie mistake of not trademarking my business name! But I am sick of feeling angry and bitter. Time to turn the page on this chapter and move on. Bye Bye Little Miss Cupcake, and HELLO Sugar Daze!

Thanks to all of you who have stood by me in these troubling times. Your friendship and support have meant more to me than you will ever know! And thanks to Aleberry Creative for designing my funky new logo!

Contact: info@sugardazecupcakes.com
Get Sugar Dazed: www.sugardazecupcakes.com