what is this… velvet?

I don’t go nutso over Red Velvet cupcakes like a lot of people o’ the South.  Maybe I’m just weirded out that most Red Velvet recipes call for both buttermilk AND vinegar topped off with sugar and a cream cheese icing. Maybe I’m just not that entertained with blood red cake.  Ok, yes…it does look pretty.  In researching this type of cake, I found there is great debate over what classifies a Red Velvet as being an “Authentic Red Velvet Cake.” Photo Info:  Red measuring cups sold at Target / container sold at Target

In my research, I found a few distinguishing characteristics that separate others from the authentic versions. First….to butter or not to butter?  Paula Deen is known as the butter queen, so I was quite shocked to hear that her version is one that calls for oil and NOT butter.  I even said in my best Paula Deen impression, “Shut yo’ mouth!” when I read this.  Yep.  She uses oil, or “owwwwel” as she says.  Butter = more flavor where Oil = moist. Second….the amount of food coloring and cocoa.  Third…..pecans or no pecans.  Fourth…and I have consulted with hubby over this and he says, “possibly”, but it is a specific southern flour used.  I believe those were the main ones.  I kind of just like to go by the old standard, “Ohhh pretty!  Does it taste good?” Photo Info:  Kitchen Aid mixer

My hubby (being the bread man) helped me find a few recipes that we decided to marry and get the best out of every one we found.  I still have 1 more alternative to try because I wasn’t 100% satisfied with the results.  So this is why I am going to wait to post a recipe once I get one exactly the way I like it and we’re all happy with it.  Photo Info:  2nd batch of cupcakes, Hershey’s cocoa, red ribbon, powdered sugar & a scrapbook sheet from Hobby Lobby

Batch #2 Photo

Batch #3 Photo Photo Info:  Third batch of cupcakes, cupcake liners from Kroger / scrapbook sheet from Hobby Lobby

In the meantime, here are a few places you can find red velvet recipes and you can decide for yourself which one you like best! *Since writing this, we discovered that on Food Network’s website, the Paula Deen version calls for oil, but on her own, personal website, she calls for butter. The butter army must have had a meeting and she caved.

Click Here for Pinch My Salt Recipe

Click Here for Paula Deen


Cupcake madness in Dallas!

I am a free spirit.  Let’s just get that out on the table.  So when I set out to find the very best cupcake in Dallas, I was going to let chance and fate decide what the name of my blog would be.  Feeling nutty, I decided to push seek on the radio and no matter what the radio fell upon, THAT song title was what the name of this blog would be with “with cupcakes” at the end of it.  Yeah, so do you really know a song called, “Cupcake madness in Dallas?”  Me either.  The not-gonna-happen song I fell upon?  “My humps,” by the Black Eyed Peas.

Ok, so I’m not such a free spirit after all.  I guess this is why none of my kids are named “Keyring” or anything spontaneous like that!

I went to 4 different bakeries & asked for their best seller.  Every single one said, “Red Velvet.”  I was originally going to go to 5, but found out along the way that the last one had closed.  So the remaining 4 that I went to were:Sprinkles, Society, Cupcakery, and Velvet (North Dallas near 121).  I (along with my 3 kids) decided to have a very fair, BLINDFOLDED taste test.  Here are the results!

1.  Sprinkles
Located at 4020 Villanova Drive (off Dallas Tollway & Southwest Highway) Dallas
Sorry all of you Sprinkles haters.  This one won hands down with 3/4 of us picking it as our favorite. McKenzie (our eldest), and Andrew (our middle), and I loved this one the most. Remember, this was a blindfolded taste test.  It just is THAT good.  The trifecta.  Quality ingredients, moisture, and good icing-to-cake ratio.  Plain and simple.  It has all 3.  Not to mention, the branding is just so cute and trendy!  I have to say I loved the fact that they put a Texas Rangers “T” on the Red Velvets today for their win over Detroit last night. Awesome support!
Staff was extremely friendly, store was cute and trendy & cupcake was delicious! A+

2.  Society
Located at 3426 Greenville Ave (just 4-5 miles from Sprinkles off 75) Dallas
Our little squirt, Bodee, loved this one the most and the only reason I give it a “B” for Bodee!  I have to say although I did not enjoy this cupcake, I did LOVE their Bread Pudding Whoopie.  If you like bread pudding, I strongly recommend getting one at Society Bakery.  Ellen Degeneres gave them the “Best cupcake” award I think…I just don’t see it Ellen.  She must have been channeling Dori because she was confused maybe?  🙂
No taste, and the icing was strange.  Another thing is when I was lining the cupcakes up to take pics, this cupcake was like the screaming 18 month old that hadn’t had his nap.  It just did not cooperate.  It kept falling over, and it was so lopsided that I couldn’t put it anywhere for a good pic.  I know, I know, you’re supposed to eat it, not take pics of it.  All I’m saying is I would rather take pics of this one. :-/

Staff was friendly, store was not what I expected.  This looked and felt like your typical mom & pop bakery with no thrills.  Just a typical bakery store front.  Parking is not very convenient either. B-

3.  Velvet
Located at 8240 Preston Road (corner of Preston & 121) Plano
I’ll just make it short and sweet and say this was not in our top 2.
“Too grainy, dry.”
“No flavor, yuck.”
“Just ok.”
“No, no, no.”
(Comments from us.)  So what were some positives to Velvet?
This place was one of the cutest to go in, but too bad cute doesn’t = good, quality cupcake. C+ 

4.  The Cupcakery
Located at 2222 McKinney Ave Dallas
Another that I’ll just make short and sweet – but also add that I have no clue how this bakery can be in the top 5 of favorites in the Dallas area.  Did not enjoy the texture, taste, or especially the texture of the icing. Out of all of the bakeries, this one had the most unfriendly staff.  The girl looked bothered and annoyed that I would even be in there buying cupcakes.  Very different from the other 3. What were the positives to The Cupcakery?
It was the cutest place on the inside.  A complete lounge with a TV.  Very trendy colors.  Great location.  Just bad cupcakes. 

My Disdain for Cake Pops / Balls / Spheres o’ Sugar

To be fair, I am not a sweets kind of gal.  I have to be in the mood to have something dripping with sugar, and even then, I have to balance that uber-sweetness with a strong cup a’ joe just to get it down.  So when the cake pop / ball trend came out, lets just say I wasn’t rushing to the front of the line to get my hands on one.

1)  What the heck are they?  They aren’t really just cake.  They are cake batter balls mixed with frosting to get them to bond together to put on a stick.  They aren’t a cupcake either.  Cupcakes (are supposed to) have this magical icing-to-cake ratio.  Which brings me to my next point….sweet upon sweet upon sweet upon sweet…

2)  As if cake weren’t sweet enough most times, this is a ball of icing mixed with cake, THEN dipped in another sugary candy coating to create that outer shell.

3)  Consistency is key.  I cringe when I bite into an underdone biscuit, donut, muffin, etc.  So when I took my first bite of a cake pop, I had to find the nearest napkin.  Unless I just had a really bad experience with one, I am not a fan of the consistency of a cake pop.  Mush.  Pure sweet mushness.

These are just 3 top reasons why I am not a fan of the latest trend.  Hubby says they are almost pure profit, so relax Cake Pop lovers….I doubt they are going anywhere anytime soon.  Just give me plain ole’ chocolate any day. Blahhh.  🙂