Tag Archives: Candace Nelson

Cupcakes, It’s What’s For Breakfast

4 Nov

I discovered a cupcake the other weekend that would be sure to brighten any morning!  There’s no shame to eating cupcakes before noon, right?  Cupcakes are like donuts (small cake + frosting), and donuts seem to really have made a name for themselves in the breakfast department.  So I’m thinking a cupcake for breakfast every once in a while shouldn’t be frowned upon?  If you’re up for it, I’ve got just the cupcake for you – the French Toast cupcake at Smallcakes Cupcakery.

Smallcakes started in Kansas City, but opened an Atlanta location this September.  If you’re a fan of the Food Network’s show “Cupcake Wars”, maybe you saw the episode with Smallcakes owner Jeff Martin as a contestant.  Once I got wind of that little factoid, I was all geared up to go meet Jeff and hear all about the wonderful world of Food Network!  And Candace Nelson.  I sooooo want to sit next to Candace Nelson at the judges’ table and eat cupcakes and smile.

Smallcakes - Buckhead's Newest Cupcakery

Well, it just wasn’t in the cards for me to meet (and squeeze info from) Jeff that sunny Sunday.  My consolation though – a free cupcake!  It pays to follow Smallcakes’ twitter and facebook pages.  Freebies to be found!  My other consolation – the French Toast cupcake!  It’s exactly how you would imagine comforting, cinnamon-y french toast in cupcake form.  Fresh, spongy (we gotta think of a better adjective for spongy!) cake filled with cream and topped with a cinnamon buttercream / cream cheese hybrid.  Go, folks.  Get their French Toast cupcake (call first to make sure it’s available that day) and start your day with a frosting-induced smile.  Just a heads-up, they open at 10am…maybe eat a little fruit or cereal beforehand to tide you over.

Aside for the commendable moist cake, I’m sorry to say the rest of our cupcake loot – the Peanut Butter Cup, the Fudge Sundae, and the Vanilla-n-Chocolate – was kind of forgettable.  The French Toast cupcake’s deliciousness could, however, have Top 10 potential.

Let’s bring on the break down now, shall we?!

Smallcakes / 2955 Peachtree Road Atlanta, GA location / other locations include Overland Park KS ~ Olathe, KS ~ Lee’s Summit, MS / www.smallcakescupcakery.com

1. Price: $3

2. Room temperature:  Yes

3.  Size:  Standard

4. Cake to Frosting Ratio: Socially acceptable

5. Vegan or gluten-free options: No…bummer

6. To-go packaging: Standard box with cupcake dividers inside and logo sticker on top

7. Milk for sale?:  Negative on the milk.  Affirmative on the bottles of Coke, Sprite, Diet Coke, and Coke Zero

8.  Other treats for non-cupcake enthusiasts you may have in tow: The only edible treats are the cupcakes.  T-shirts and water bottles are available for purchase, but those seemed to be emitting cupcake enthusiasm.  Oh well…

9.  Ambiance: This was kind of a let down, like something was missing.  Or a bunch of things.  There wasn’t any where to sit, which I’m thinking hinders the whole “Welcome!” vibe.  There’s a long counter along the window that you can stand and eat your cupcakes at.  But again, I just wasn’t getting that “Yay, you’re here! Stay a while!” message.  The cupcake counter, the main attraction, was kind of sad in its slenderness.  While the cupcakes were very attractive, they only displayed one of each variety and the rest were herded away from us on the bakers rack behind the counter.  Can you tell I’m hungry as I write this?  Which means I’m grumpy, and maybe a little too honest.  But I want to give Smallcakes (ATL) the benefit of the doubt since they had just opened this location, and say that they’re in the process of implementing cozy seating, mood music, cheery decor…

10. Service: Socially acceptable

11.  Three words to describe the Smallcakes experience:

1) Uneventful 2)  Sparse 3) FrenchToast (can we still count that as one word?)

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Smallcakes: A Cupcakery on Urbanspoon


Sprinkles – What Cupcake Dreams Are Made Of

20 Apr

I have been to Sprinkles, and it was good.  Crazy good, actually. 

It didn’t all go according to my daydream, but I still came out of the experience with a skip in my step.  No sunny and 70 degree weather on the day of our visit.  It was more like low 60s with severe thunderstorms circling about.  No front door parking with fed meter, either (I’ll admit, that really was a stretch).  But we did score a spot just around the corner, and the 35 cents in my wallet bought us 12 minutes on the meter.  Armed with an umbrella, our camera, a note pad, and our appetite – it was go time. 

See that little pink bunny graphic on the window? Thats Sprinkles there!

As we approached, I was relieved to see no long line spilling from the front door (especially since the storm of doom lurked overhead).  But getting through the front door was still a challenge as customers were aplenty.  Steve and I squeezed our way in and soaked in all up.   We had arrived!  I quickly scanned the premises for Candace Nelson and/or free mini cupcake samples…no dice.  But once we spotted the long-listed menu on the wall, an employee warmly greeted us and offered their assistance.  We placed our order, which was filled and ready to be rung up (by another friendly employee) after about 3 minutes.  I probably could’ve stood there in the crowd and people / atmosphere-watched for about an hour.  Steve on the other hand, was good to go after the 3 minutes were up.

Our Sprinkle bag in hand, we eagerly headed out to share our loot with family.  Here’s what we consumed:

~Peanut Butter Chocolate (“chocolate chip-studded peanut butter cake with fudgy milk-chocolate cream cheese frosting“):  The awesome peanut butter/chocolate combination with a fun texture was a group favorite.  Another thing going for it – chocolate sprinkles on top.  (Did I ever tell you guys I used to eat straight-up chocolate sprinkles with a spoon in college?  It was like the best cereal substitute ever.) 

~Red Velvet (“southern style light chocolate with cream cheese frosting“):  This cupcake is a beautiful thing.  I know I’ve said I’m not a Red Velvet fan, but I’m a fan of this Red Velvet.  Now I’m having to ask myself, will it replace Georgetown Cupcake’s Red Velvet in the #3 spot of the Top 10?  {Insert dramatic music here}

~Cinnamon Sugar (“light spiced buttermilk cake dusted with cinnamon sugar“):  This cake, like all of the others, was fresh and had fantastic consistency.  I loved the spice flavor, but really missed my frosting here (cue my inner frosting freak’s cries “why, oh why, is there no frosting on this cupcake?!”)  My mother-in-law mentioned that it was like coffee cake and I think she’s right on.

~Banana Dark Chocolate (“fresh banana cake with bittersweet chocolate frosting“):  This one also got a few votes for favorite, including mine!  I LOVED this cupcake.  Imagine fresh, homemade, out-of-the-oven, all-that-is-good-in-the-world banana bread with a soft and rich chocolaty frosting on top.  I will dream of you, Banana Dark Chocolate cupcake, every night until we meet again. (And, a big thank you goes out to the employee who brilliantly recommended this one for us!)

All in all, Sprinkles was a hit amongst the family.  They looked beautiful (cute little sugar button topping and all), and most importantly they tasted gourmet.  You certainly did not disappoint, Sprinkles (even Steve, who was initially a little miffed by the cramped quarters and high prices) – rock on!

And now, the break down!

Sprinkles Cupcakes / Washington D.C. location at 3015 M Street NW / www.sprinkles.com / Other locations include Beverly Hills, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, La Jolla, New York, Newport Beach, Palo Alto, and Scottsdale (Don’t see your hometown on this list? There’s hope – log on to their website and vote for their next location)

1. Price: $3.50 each / $39 dozen.  Ooof, these are some of the priciest I’ve encountered.  

2. Room temperature:  Why, yes!

3.  Size:  A solid “standard” size

4. Vegan or gluten-free options:   They make a Red Velvet cupcake in both the vegan and gluten-free varieties, hooray!

5. To-go packaging:  Our four cupcakes were sittin’ pretty in their brown, cardboard box with logo sticker (love that cursive font, btw).  And, hip hip hooray, they put the box in a paper shopper (bag) for easier transportation.   ~  I didn’t pick up any napkins or silverware on our way out, but did get a quick glimpse of those supplies.  I think the forks and things were wood or bamboo, which I think is super cool.  The less plastic in the world the better, right?!  After checking out their website, you’ll learn that sustainability is important to the Sprinkle’s philosophy and all of their packaging supplies are made from recycled materials (hooray, again)!

6. Milk for sale?:  Yes, hooray (once more, with feeling)!  Skim, organic, or soy.  Or sip on coffee, tea, apple juice, Pellegrino, water, or Coke (from the glass bottles – is it just me or do those bottles make Coke-drinking feel fancy? Either way, I love ‘um!)

7.  Other treats for non-cupcake enthusiasts you may have in tow:  Not so much…well, see the above beverages.  Does that count?  IF, though, you happen to have your dog in tow…who IS  a cupcake enthusiast then you’re in luck.  They have these mini “doggie cupcakes”  (that looked so pretty I thought they were for us humans), which are sugar-free and topped with a yogurt frosting for $2.50 each.  More for the cupcake enthusiasts – merchandise like t-shirts, hats, a serving tray, and cupcake mixes.

8.  Ambiance:  It’s a wee space, but very rad.  Sprinkles knows what’s up.  It’s like this neat blend of Scandinavian / mod melded with a dash of sweet and a hint of whimsy.  There’s a small, round (or was it asterisk)-shaped table set in each of the store’s two bay windows, so your chances of dining in can be compromised depending on when you visit.  On our Saturday evening jaunt, I think we were lucky just to be inside. ~  Despite the tight quarters and throng of cupcake-lovers, the space still had a sparkle to it.  (Maybe I should’ve titled this post “Sprinkles Sparkles”.  Care to weigh in? 🙂 ) 

Faces have been "sprinkled" to protect identities

9. Service:  Pretty awesome!  This place was packed to the gills, and the staff still seemed unruffled.  They were so calm and friendly.  I never felt rushed, and actually felt like they were happy to see me.  I think that calls for one more (and final) “hooray”!

 10.  Three words to describe the Sprinkles experience:

1) Distinguished  2) Cheerful  3)  Urban

Last word:  The Red Velvet and the Banana Dark Chocolate knocked my socks off, so you know what that means?!  Top 10 material, all the way!

Sprinkles Cupcakes on Urbanspoon

A Sprinkle In My Eye

14 Apr

Steve and I are headed back to DC this weekend to visit family, which I’m very excited about!  I was also very excited…and a little short of breath…to see that Sprinkles Cupcakes has now opened a location in Georgetown!  Sprinkles, the Sprinkles.  A cupcakery pioneer!   ‘Cause according to their website, Sprinkles is “the world’s first cupcake bakery”.  I mean, if I was to consider myself a true cupcake crusader I should have been to Sprinkles years ago.  Alas, its west coast origins landed Sprinkles on my “ho-hum, some sweet day”-list… a sprinkle in my eye, if you will.

It all started in California (Beverly Hills to be exact), but has now stretched across the country to places like Chicago, Dallas, Scottsdale, and (ta da!) Washington, DC.   I can do DC!   Cue the elation, anticipation, and frantic OMG “we have got to go” message to Steve.  Another reason why visiting this establishment is so monumental – the founder, Candace Nelson, is a regular judge on the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars”.  And ooh, how I love that show and have formed some serious pipe dreams of one day being a guest judge myself.  So now I’m daydreaming about our visit to Sprinkles this weekend.  If you have a few extra minutes to spare and fancy reading the details of said daydream (in attempted longest-run-on-sentence form),  just scroll on down!

My sights are set on Sprinkles, folks!  Stay tuned –  I will jubilantly post my review soon.

My Sprinkles Daydream, by Jeanne:

We get to Georgetown where it’s sunny and 70 degrees and find on-street parking right in front on Sprinkles and our meter has a full hour left on it and then we enter the cupcakery and it smells amazing and Candace Nelson herself is there to greet us with heavenly, melt-in-your-mouth mini cupcake samples and she’s super nice and asks us what brings us to her store and when she finds out about Cupcake Crusade she’s really intrigued and asks me to contact her people and then her people ask my people (aka me) to come out to California and I get a behind-the-scenes-of-Sprinkles-type tour and eat cupcakes for breakfast/lunch/and dinner and actually feel healthier than ever and then they ask me to be a guest judge on Cupcake Wars which goes really well so they ask to sponsor a cross-country Cupcake Crusade tour where Steve and I spend a year travelling all across the country eating awesome cupcakes and meeting awesome people all of which is documented in a tv series so that we can share the experience with everyone and then maybe a book will follow and then…I think that’s good – the end!