{SF} All The Cupcakes You Can Handle: At The SF Cupcake Challenge

January 26th, 2012 · 11 Comments · San Francisco, SF Events, Sweet Spots

kingdom cake

Is the cupcake craze over? Apparently not in the Bay Area, where new cupcakeries are still proliferating. A couple weeks ago DrinkEatPlay invited me to judge at the 2nd Annual Bay Area Cupcake Challenge, where 13 cupcake bakeries competed for Best Cupcake and Best Bakery. Two cupcakes from each competitor equaled a whole lot of cupcakes to taste!

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A Winning Blackberry Lemon Cupcake

December 12th, 2011 · 15 Comments · Cakes, Recipes, San Francisco, SF Events

blackberry cupcake

Photo courtesy of Driscoll’s

About a week ago I got to be part of an exciting event: Driscoll’s held a holiday cooking and food photography workshop in San Francisco and several local food bloggers, including yours truly, was invited to attend.

I had previously got to tour some of the farms that grow Driscoll’s berries, so another chance to sample their delicious product was most welcome.

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{Giveaway} {SF} Teacake Bake Shop – In Praise of Local Bakeries

November 30th, 2011 · 65 Comments · Giveaways, San Francisco, Sweet Spots, Sweet Spots

This giveaway is now closed. Thanks for visiting!

teacake sampler

Hi all, hope you had a great Thanksgiving weekend and are getting a good start on your holiday shopping! I’m going to be posting up my annual gift recommendations in the next week, but meanwhile I thought I’d like to start off the holidays with a little giveaway!

Teacake Bake Shop is the sort of bakery I would have loved to open – it’s cute, girly, and all the pastries are sweetly sophisticated. The first Teacake opened in Emeryville (near Berkeley) while I was still in pastry school. When I found out the owner was a young female Asian entrepeneur, I thought, hey, she’s living out my dream!

A couple years later I had the opportunity to interview Agnes, the owner, for Edible East Bay, and finally had the chance to chat with one of my inspirations. There’s practically a cupcake shop on every block in the city now, but back when Teacake opened, there were only a couple around, so it’s really one of the originals, and I’m glad it’s succeeded and continued to grow. I have immense respect for all the local food producers and artisans – it’s people like Agnes who follow their dreams and open up a shop selling unique sweets, meats, cheese, jams, etc. that make the Bay Area such a vibrant culinary culture. There are four Teacake Bake Shops now, and again one of them is close to my current home. It’s always a treat to walk by and see the bakers working in the open kitchen (customers can see their cupcakes being made in front of their eyes), and there’s also a large room where they hold tea parties and classes for kids.

In fact, Jessie of CakeSpy stopped by her on her book tour! Check out her post to see some photos of the shop and of the two of us goofing around.

I’m excited to host a giveaway for Teacake Bake Shop, so you’ll get a chance to try out her goodies – or perhaps cross a gift off your shopping list! Teacake is offering up their Mini Treats Sampler, a collection of four of their bestselling cookies, including Strawberry Jam Thumbprints, Mexican Wedding Cookies, Sugar Cookies, and Chocolate Cookies Sandwiches. There are 30 cookies in the package – enough for a party, snacking during a gift-wrapping session, or to leave out for Santa.

To enter: Please note that Teacake Bake Shop will ship the prize within the continental U.S. only (not to Alaska or Hawaii). Please make sure you have an appropriate shipping address before you enter!

Simply follow Teacake Bake Shop on Facebook or Twitter, and let me know in the comments below. If you already follow them, that’s fine too – just note it in the comment! The giveaway will run through Sunday, December 4th and I’ll announce the winner on Monday December 5th.

Good luck! And if you live in the Bay Area, be sure to stop by a Teacake Bake Shop!

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{Chocolate Review}: Toffee Theory

October 27th, 2011 · 13 Comments · Candy, Chocolate, Field Guide to Candy, Recipes, Reviews, San Francisco, SF Events

toffee field guide candy
image from Field Guide to Candy

A few weeks back, I was invited to be a judge for TasteTV‘s Best Toffee in North America Competition. A whole boxful of toffees delivered to my door? Yes, please!

Those of you who are curious about the difference between toffee, English toffees, and buttercrunch, feel free to see my older post on buttercrunch. I became quite obsessed with untangling the various monikers of this candy while researching my candy book, if you couldn’t tell.

These days, most buttercrunch is marketed simply as “toffee”; I only saw one brand out of thirteen that was labelled “English toffee” (Which may perhaps provide some comfort to poor Brits trying to find their version of the candy abroad). For that reason, I will refer to all the candy I sampled for the competition as toffee, to avoid confusion. I will maintain, though, my abiding love for the word “buttercrunch”. If I ever make and sell my own version, I’ll call it buttercrunch, and probably confuse the heck out of everyone.

So how does one determine the best toffee?

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{SF} My Favorite Ice Cream Shops in San Francisco

August 5th, 2011 · 9 Comments · Reviews, San Francisco, Sweet Spots, Sweet Spots

mrmrsmisc

Typical menu board at Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous. Flavors change daily – another incentive to visit often.

By popular request and in an attempt to populate the “San Francisco” tab on my site, I’ve created a list of my favorite ice cream spots in San Francisco. Of course, I started this last week when it was bright, sunny, and warm (these three conditions are not always simultaneous in San Francisco), but naturally now it’s back to Fog City again. No matter – in SF ice cream consumption is rarely tied to the current weather but rather to the pure desire to have a cone filled with something sweet, frozen, and really, really delicious.

I’ve only listed ones that I’ve been to personally, as is only fair. However, as eating ice cream is one of my very favorite activities, and as there seems to be no shortage of ice cream shops both classic and artisan opening up in SF, rest assured this list will continue to be updated (with more photos, as well!) Feel free to give your own recommendations in the comments as well – there’s always room for more ice cream.

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Another Successful SF Food Blogger Bake Sale!

May 20th, 2011 · 8 Comments · Cookies, Recipes, San Francisco, SF Events

GF brownie cupcakes - bake sale tips at dessertfirstgirl.com

Sorry all for the late update…I’m totally overwhelmed with work obligations and getting ready for my upcoming vacation – just a week and a half away! I’m trying to wrap up all the loose ends before I leave, but they stubbornly stay unraveled. Do I ever need summer break!

I do want to give a quick recap of the second annual SF Food Bloggers Bake Sale that took place last Saturday and thank everyone that turned out to help and donate. We got classic San Francisco “summer” weather that day: overcast skies and chilly breezes. Nevertheless, our volunteer bakers showed up early and eager with piles of beautiful pastries that we laid out in a truly tempting display.

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