31 December 2010

Say I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do!

This has been an extraordinary year for me with many highs and some lows. It's ending on a super sweet note as I just sent a young man off into the streets of Paris with a box of cupcakes he'll be using to propose to his girlfriend tonight. I have fingers, toes and everything else crossed that she says yes though it sounds like they are madly in love. Aw.

I wanted to take a moment to wish you all a wonderful evening and much joy and prosperity in the New Year. As a friend said at my wedding: "May the best day of your past be the worst day of your future." Happy 2011 and see you all on the flip side!

xo Cat

26 December 2010

After Midnight, We Gonna Let all Hang Out

What better than to accompany the bubbly this New Year's Eve than a chocolate overloaded cupcake? I call it After Midnight -- a milk chocolate cupcake with a creamy chocolate center and bittersweet chocolate buttercream. Mmm mmm chocolatey goodness!

25 December 2010

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

May your Christmas sparkle with love, laughter and joy. From my family to yours, wishing you all the best for a magical holiday season!

22 December 2010

3rd Annual Holiday Gift Guide -Remastered & Pumped Up

This is an extremely tardy Holiday Gift Guide. Started it several weeks ago and haven't had a chance to circle back and publish it. Some of these gifts may be too late for Xmas (or maybe not if you are like me and have left your shopping for the last minute!) but you may be able to take advantage of some post-holiday sales to show the favorite cupcake baker in your life how much you really care!

I have discovered a lot of cupcake-related items through my travels, countless hours spent on the internet and through the many cupcake fans I have come to meet over this past year. Some of these ideas will not be a surprise to you because when I find something I like, I blog about it. I hope you will be just as enchanted as I am by some of the other ideas listed here. As a true cupcake afficianado, I promise you that these gift ideas will not disspaoint the cupcake lover in your life. And so without further ado, away we go......

I love how you can dress up or down a cupcake. The perfect cupcake liner can pull a whole design idea together. And this summer, I found myself literally drooling on my screen when I came across the site The Cupcake Social. I don't know where Jen, who runs the site, finds all her goodies but she stocks one of the largest arrays of cupcake cases -- for minis, regular and jumbos + a whole assortment of edible decorations and more -- that I have ever seen. I love how you can buy a batch of liners in the same design or let Jen put together an assortment for you. I love how the cases are organized by color - they are just too beautiful and I spend way too much time on this site thinking about what I could do with them! My current faves are the pink leopard, purple fieldflower and red damask liners in case anyone wants to send me a care package!

I know a lot of you have heard me talk about Sassy Apron but I have drank the Kool-Aid! I love the original designs and high-quality products Lana, who runs this Etsy shop, creates. She offers many styles in a wide range of prints (not just cupcake fabric but what else would I bake in?). She is wonderful to work with -- a truly good soul -- and ships worldwide. What are you waiting for? Go check out her store and you can easily cross several presents off your list. Be sure to tell her I sent you!

Next up is a fabulous new online store here in France that specializes in all sorts of baking goodies, Made in Cupcake. I love all the retro, kitschy items they offer including this serving tray for cupcakes. Can't you just imagine how lovely your cupcake creations would look sitting on that at a dessert table? Be sure to check out the awesome assortment of Meri Meri cupcake decorating kits they stock too - I am itching to get my hands on some!

Another online baking supply store has caught my fancy - it just opened last month but has been in the works for a few years now. I Love Cakes, is a brand new resource for us cupcake bakers run by Valerie down in Lyon. I know she has been busy scouring the world for the best items to offer like cookie cutters, stencils, cake molds and more. I see she has stocked my favorite disco dusts and has a pretty unique supply of edible decorations and the cupcake cases I normally buy in the UK. Thank you Valerie for finally bringing these great products to our side of the pond!

When I was in London a few weeks back, I had the pleasure of visiting Love Bakery on Kings Road. Sam, who runs the bakery is a baking genius and a mompreneur like me (so she gets major hi-fives in my book). I loved the cupcakes that I was able to sample there and to show my support, had to invest in a copy of her new cookbook. Inside you will find recipes for all of her best-sellers including Red Velvet and Lemon Curd Marscapone, as well as a variety of alcohol-infused cupcakes called Cuptails and whoopie pies. Even if you are not a baker, the pictures alone make this a must-have.

I have been buying tees and other accessories from other bakeries for years now and I finally decided to make some of my own gear like this Sugar Daze badge. You can check out my current selection of merchandise in the Sugar Daze store. Choose from dozens of styles of outerwear with one of my favorite movie quotes and a cupcake pic, or an apron, coffee mug and more. They're fun, fashionable and guaranteed to get other people talking.

Another cookbook I am tempted by is the new one out by the famous Bakerella, known worldwide as the pioneer of Cake Pops. Now I frequently make cake pops and I have to say they take a lot of time, patience and effort so I am always amazed by the endless talent and creativity that Bakerella infuses in hers. I will probably buy this book just to "ooh" and "ahh" at the pictures. I am sure this will be tops on many cupcake lovers lists this holiday season.

If you don't have time to make your own cupcake toppers, I can highly recommend you check out the adorable and stylish paper picks made by the TomKat Studio. They offer a wide array of free printable items like stationary, gift tags, and cupcake toppers as well as some items that can be personalized in their Etsy shop. Their blog and shop alone will give you tons of inspiration for your next party; in addition to gorgeous photographs, I'm sure you will agree their party set-ups look so whimsical and fun.

Now, let's talk serious cake decorating! Last year when I was in New York, I saw an ad for the Cricut scrapbooking machine and I thought to myself, I wonder if I could feed fondant into that thing and get it to work. Lo and behold, a few months later, a post on twitter caught my eye about the Cricut Cake Machine. Ladies and gentlemen, this is my dream come true. Now even novice bakers can make a professional-looking cake in a matter of hours. Even Martha Stewart has our own edition with unique Martha designs and fonts! I have to admit the reviews I have read are mixed and at upwards of 400 euros for the basic machine, this is a bit out of reach for many home bakers but since I just learned that one of my favorite baking supply stores in the Netherlands now carries it with shipping available to France, I figured I'd mention it!

I love cupcake bling as many of you know and absolutely adore this charm bracelet by Amy Secrest. It's available at Shanalogic and I would be ever so grateful if Santa popped one of these in my stockings this year! Love the Swarovski beads for added glitter!

For those of you with a more modest budget, check out Gaelle's, a/k/a La Peste Adoree boutique of non-edible but oh-so yummy jewelry and accessories. Every piece is unique and custom-created with Fimo, and made here in France! Her pieces are all adorable and she definitely has an eye for vibrant colors and flair.

One of my big investments of this past year was a spanking new Kenwood mixer. I had debated for many many many years as to whether to go with a Kitchenaid or Kenwood - each has its merits but in the end, I opted for the sturdiness of the Kenwood over the pretty aesthetics of the Kitchenaid. If you do a google search, you will see that much time and energy has been spent on this subject by bakers round the world; I think both are very good machines and it just comes down to your personal preference. I love my Chef and the perfect buttercreams, thick whipped meringues and more it beats up plus it's a huge time saver for when you are making large batches of batter. I've read about folks who have Kenwoods that their mothers or grandmothers passed down to them and am looking forward to getting DECADES of use out of this baby!

Last but not least, I always like to throw in some unrelated to cupcakes sparkle on my holiday gift guide and this year is no exception. Though I am roping in my tastes this year to show you a more affordable option than usual. I discovered Garnet Girl's Designs etsy store while on pinterest (yet another new obsession that has been sucking my free time and probably a big reason why I didn't publish this post earlier!). I love her designs, the hammered metals she works with and the assortment of precious stones she pairs together. Plus, I think you'll agree these are very reasonably priced!

So, what are you waiting for? Print this list and get out there! Happy Shopping, Happy Holidays and see you in the check-out line!

In case you missed them, you can check out my previous holiday gift guides from 2008 and 2009 by clicking on the dates.

16 December 2010

Oops I Did It Again

1, 2, 3 and away we go (again!). Find the Sugar Daze stand at Printemps Nation from 11H30 this Saturday, December 18, on the ground floor (RDC). I'll be bringing several flavors dressed up in their Christmas finest including the wildly popular Caramel Dolce: vanilla cake with salted caramel buttercream. Miam miam, good!

Printemps Nation,
21-25 Cours de Vincennes
75020 Paris

11 December 2010

At Printemps Nation Today!

I'm returning for two days only to Printemps Nation (today, December 11, and next Saturday) to participate in their holiday festivities.

Today I am bringing 6 different flavors:
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (pictured), Cookie Monster, You Were Mint for Me, The Movie Star, Vanilla Lovers and Storm. Find me there from 11:30AM - ??? I am supposed to be on 3rd floor next to Santa!

08 December 2010

Just Sit Right Back and You'll Hear a Tale...

You ever see that show "Dream On" where first we see the main character as a baby in diapers in front of the TV and as the years pass, he's still there on the carpet watching? Well, I've always thought that was me. I was a lifelong TV junkie. Until I met my husband who abhors television and got rid of the cable box as soon as he could. But my childhood years centered around the boob tube and I can remember spending hours pouring over the TV Guide deciding what I would watch to while away the hours. Among my favorites: Charlie's Angels, Love Boat, Fantasy Island, That's Incredible!, Lavern & Shirley, Three's Company, The Dukes of Hazard, Mork & Mindy and the syndicated Brady Bunch and Gilligan's Island.

I don't know how many of you have seen Gilligan's Island but it revolved around the simple premise of a group of shipwreck survivors trying to find their way off a desert island in the Pacific (way way before Lost). There were 3 single males and 2 single females among them, and while they never showed any hanky panky going on, one of the age-old conundrums that I've heard debated many times is : Marianne or Ginger? Referring to the cute, perky and smart but alas mousy brunette in the short shorts who mooned over the Professor, or the red hot movie star who never lacked a sequin-encrusted dress with loads of push-up to run around the island in one of their weekly capers.

Growing up, I related to Marianne. Not the brains part of the equation but the shy tomboyness. I never liked to stand out in the crowd and I was definitely not a girly girl. On the other hand, my daughter is definitely a Ginger. She has been attracted to pink and sparkly since she was old enough to crawl; she has crushes on all of my son's friends and I often see her pirouetting around in front of them, one hand on her hip as she coyly calls after them; and I am constantly chasing her out of my make-up bag less she applies that mascara one more time (looking a lot more Tammy Fay than Ginger). Did I mention she just turned 3?!? My daughter and I are clearly wired very differently and I shudder to think about her teenage years but that's a whole 'nother conundrum!

I was asked by Joannah, better known as the blogger and cupcake creator: Cupcak(e)ista, if I would like to participate as a judge in her Christmas cupcake contest. It's open to anyone who wants to create a cupcake inspired by the holiday season. You can read all the details here. In the meantime since Johanna always posts recipes to her blog for the fans to try out, I wanted to share a recipe with you for my favorite Christmas cupcake: A double chocolate Gingerbread with cream cheese frosting. I call it the Movie Star (get it?). You can see it here featured in various incarnations -- the Gingerbread man and Santa coming down the chimney (which is my "hors concours" entry in Cupcak(e)ista's contest). And now you know why my Gilligan's Island tale was included in this post! Good luck to everyone who enters; I look forward to seeing your wonderful Christmas creations!

*The Movie Star* Cupcakes
Double Chocolate Gingerbread Cupcakes with
Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting
by Sugar Daze

For Cupcakes
(Yield : 24 cupcakes)

2 ¼ cups flour
¾ cup cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon instant coffee/espresso
2 ½ teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of salt
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup molasses
2 eggs
½ cup chocolate chips (optional)
¾ cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C. Line 2 muffin tins with cupcake liners.
Mix flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, coffee/espresso, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, salt and nutmeg in medium bowl; set aside.

Beat butter, brown sugar and molasses in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well mixed. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Add flour mixture alternately with boiling water, beating on low speed after each addition until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips.
Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full.

Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in tins about 5 minutes. Remove from tins; cool completely on wire rack.

For Frosting
12 ozs. cream cheese, softened
4 ozs. butter, softened
5 cups icing sugar
½ vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup milk

Bring butter and cream cheese to room temperature by letting them sit out for about an hour. Beat cream cheese and butter in a large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and there are no visible lumps. Alternate adding sugar and milk until frosting is of good spreading consistency. Using the point of a sharp knife, slit the vanilla bean lengthwise and remove seeds. Add to frosting and stir until well-combined. Use an offset spatula to spread frosting on cupcakes and enjoy!

07 December 2010

Computer Blue

Good news cupcake lovers: my cupcakes will be hanging out soon permanently at a new location in the 11th. I am hoping to do two deliveries per week. I made several batches of cupcakes for their Grand Opening including these I Want (Cotton) Candy. More details to come on this very soon!

The first two weeks of January are going to be very busy. I have been getting a lot of orders from companies looking to send a unique end-of-the-year gift to Clients. I offer entirely customized options such as cupcake flavor, colored or themed cupcake case and an edible version of your logo or image on top. Here's mine; can you imagine what yours may look like?! I can also provide gift-packaging and personalized messages as well as delivery of your gifts throughout Paris. Contact me for a cost estimate at info@sugardazecupcakes.com

06 December 2010

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Sugar Daze is heading back to Printemps Nation to join in the Christmas festivities! Find me there on 11 & 18 December on the 3rd floor; I'll be right next to Santa Claus (either I was very good this year or someone has a serious sweet tooth!). The stand will be open from about 11H30 until we sell out.

If you want to know what flavors will be available, check out my page on facebook. I'll be sure to bring some of my new flavor: Dancing Queen (cardamom-white chocolate-pistachio cupcakes with rose buttercream) and a holiday favorite: The Movie Star (double chocolate gingerbread). Hope to see you all there this weekend!

Later, my sweets........

Printemps Nation
21-25 Cours de Vincennes
75020 Paris

05 December 2010

You Put Your Chocolate in my Peanut Butter!

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups have long been one of my favorite foods. Here in Paris, there are only a handful of stores that sell them, and they don't come cheap! I've tried various incarnations of peanut butter and chocolate cupcake recipes but I always come back to my tested and true -- chocolate brownie cupcake with whipped peanut butter frosting. It's one of my personal favorites and you'll find it on the Sugar Daze menu under the Old School section: Chocobutter. If you're a peanut butter-chocoholic like me, this one's got your name on it!