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cupcake heaven

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hostess with the Mostess, Kaputt!

Do you have a "happy list'? I like the idea of having a "happy" rather than a "bucket" list. I'm much more interested in living happy than kicking the bucket. How about you? The other day I shared with my husband some of the things that are "must haves" in my life. Of course, the kids, him, Christian Louboutin's (just kidding) etc... For the most part, the list is pretty repetitious: Comedy is #1. Laughter is joy, I love it--A LOT, the bent over-crying hysterically kind- LOL, LMAO, LMFAO.....you get it! It's the absolute best. Hands down or in the air. LOL!! See what I mean?!

#2: hanging around happy people. It's contagious. And, so is unhappy, I try to keep my distance. I'm sure you understand.

#3: yummy foods-mmm...

I was listening to the radio the other day, I think it was Z100, my six-year old loves Elvis Duran in the morning. We totally blast Rihanna while driving to school bopping our heads, my 4-year old included(singing and dancing would probably be #4 - Ohhhhhh, if I could REALLY sing and dance--move over "Beyonce" LMAO, there I go again!!!). Seriously, they were talking about smells of foods that make you feel good or childhood favorites that bring you to that place of nostalgic heaven: bacon, sunscreen, Mickey D's french fries. I was totally shaking my head in agreement while the callers rattled off their lists. In my opinion, Twinkies, the Hostess with the Mostess would definitely make the list. The loaf-shaped golden spongy, springy, cream-filled cake has seduced millions over the decades: children AND adults. C'mon admit it? Back in the day, my grandmother would surprise me with Twinkies in my Wonder Woman lunch box--O.M.G.--that was the BEST!!! With every bite my smile grew wider. Remember those days?

My kids will never know the power of Twinkies, Ding Dongs or Suzy Q's. Hostess tried to keep up with the cupcake craze, renaming their chocolate cake: CupCakes. But, 39 INGREDIENTS in just one Twinkie? Eh-eh, the Hostess brands didn't have a chance. With sustainability at its best, farm to table, and natural healthy ingredients. It's a different time--Twinkie! Consequently, the Hostess giant recently filed for bankruptcy protection.

Can you remember the last time you ate a Twinkie? Well, if you feel the urge and it's still somewhere buried on your childhood "happy" list, run out right now while there's still time. Perhaps, you'll be lucky enough to have a scented flashback and walk down memory lane in the supermarket.

Best Wishes!

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Are there any chocoholics in the house?! The crowd roared: YEAH!!!! That was my intro to my demo at the Chocolate Show this past weekend. There are so many reasons people love chocolate: the smell, taste, texture, melt in your mouth affect; one audience member shouted: "it makes you happy". OMG, so true!!

At that moment, I knew it was time to skip to the beat of the mixer on stage and get those chocolate peanut butter cupcakes to the crowd as swiftly as possible. Thus, I began my journey of crowd pleasing with conversation, question and answer, a bit of modeling from an audience member and just pure fun. Honestly, I have a blast with the crowd. I just love people. The energy was great, the people were beautiful and the cupcakes were...well, I'll just say the crowd seemed pleased to my eyes. I wanted to continue the chocolate affair by sharing my recipe with you, perhaps you'll be inspired to make it for Turkey Day or another special occasion. Be sure to let me know how it goes!! Happy Chocolidays!!!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Yield: 24 cupcakes

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1¼ teaspoon coarse salt
¾ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

2¼ cups granulated sugar

1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter

4 large eggs, room temperature

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

¾ cup hot water

1 cup nonfat sour cream, room temperature

Semi-sweet chocolate, melted


1. Preheat oven 350°F. Line muffin pans with paper liners. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In another bowl whisk together cocoa powder and hot water, until smooth.

2. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat; add sugar stirring, until combined. Remove from heat, pour into mixing bowl. With an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat until cooled about 7 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping down sides of bowl periodically. Add vanilla extract and cocoa mixture, beat until combined. Reduce speed; add flour mixture alternating with sour cream, ending with flour until just combined.

3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups filling three-quarters full. Bake approximately 20-25 minutes, rotating pans halfway through and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Transfer pans to rack or counter to cool before removing cupcakes.

4. To finish, spread peanut butter frosting and drizzle with melted chocolate.

Peanut Butter Frosting

6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar½ teaspoon salt

1 cup creamy peanut butter½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ cup heavy cream1.

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat cream cheese, sugar and salt until fluffy. Add peanut butter and vanilla, beat to combine.2.

In a separate bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk heavy cream until medium-stiff peaks form. Fold cream into peanut-butter mixture.

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Monday, November 7, 2011

Halloween came early at Whole Foods Bowery Culinary Center on Sunday, October 30th. A few kids came dressed for the occasion. There was a bumble bee, Mortisha Adams (with the skull) and a pirate. The other kids were anxious to wear their costumes on Halloween, the next day. Me too, for that matter. I was going as a 1960's chick. My kids: a boxer and a skeleton. I love Halloween, not sure if my favorite part is playing dress up, because that never grows old or collecting the candy. Hmmm... This year, the kids had pre-Halloween celebration at Whole Foods with all the candy toppings and cupcakes, there was definitely a sugar rush going on. The kids were so excited to help make the frosting and decorate the cupcakes. Some ate while decorating; a few abandoned the decorating idea all together and went for the candy first, then the cupcake. It's always so much fun to have kids cupcake classes, their little minds are completely one track: READY. SET. EAT CUPCAKES!!!!! Gotta love that...

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Sunday, July 3, 2011


In the July issue of Essence magazine, the article reads: CUPCAKE BOSS. Gotta love that! I mean, who wouldn't?! It's such a flattering opener to a story about oneself. And, I had absolutely nothing to do with it. Still, I couldn't help but wonder how the magazine staff settled on the title. But, then again, does it really matter?! Nope.

Before the magazine hit the stands a couple of weeks ago, I never thought about circulation stats. That is, until my Facebook and Twitter followers doubled. Can't say that I'm on the heels of Lady Gaga with FIVE MILLION followers or anything remotely close to that figure. But, for me, the numbers have definitely increased a few digits. Randomly, I receive notices....John Smith is now following you....Jane Adams is too! WHO?? Then, I think, oh, Essence---right....

Even, the inquiries in my inbox come more frequently. Clearly, a little bit of press can take you to another level, of baking, in my case. I've received a few request for out-of-state shipping. We're not there yet, but it's a real consideration now.

The article is about FIVE ways to mix passion with profit:

1. Be Inspired

2. Have a Mission

3. Set Daily Goals

4. Garner Support

5. Recharge Every Quarter

The fifth one is my favorite. Every three months, I go into what I call "mommy lockdown", I check out of my daily routine (family, business, friends etc..) and check into a hotel for 36 hours with NO external communication. Basically, call me only if "SOMEONE" is on fire. If it's the house, call the fire department. Selfishly, it's my veg out time. DO-NOT-DISTURB exudes from my inner core. With pleasure, I order room service, enjoy spa treatments (that's plural), read Essence magazine. And, simply RECHARGE. Honestly, it's the best way for me to stay balanced.

I highly recommend the "lockdown" retreat. And, it's one unisex fits all. So, moms and dads, check your balance. Perhaps, it's time for you to RECHARGE!!!

See you at the chateau!

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Every so often I'll do a cupcake run. Basically to check out the competition. So, after a brief shopping spree at Bloomingdales (Lexington Ave, my Fav) the other day. I hit Sprinkles Cupcakes a block away. I opted to buy a box of six--to get a fair comparison: two red velvet, one black & white, two milk chocolate and one carrot. All the flavors were selected with family members in mind. Of course, I sampled each. The red velvet was for me, milk chocolate, my offspring, and the carrot was reserved for my partner in crime, my hubby. The the rest would be family style.

For me, the carrot was a little spicy--too much nutmeg and ginger, but the long strands of carrot were a fresh addition. The red velvet cake was moist, but the frosting--well, tasted a few days old, maybe three?! Not sure, just my guess. Black and white, that's chocolate cake with so called cream-cheese frosting--again, disappointing! My kids seem to enjoy the milk chocolate, but cupcakes and kids--who can go wrong? Admittedly, I've had a few baking disasters, needless to say, my boys' sideline commentary of "yucks" confirmed the results.

Back to the Sprinkles affect, so, we're in the car returning home and my husband who refuses to own up to his sweet tooth, yet always in search of his next fix, asked for a piece of a cupcake. I gave him the one with his name on it, the carrot. He had no major reaction to the taste. Not that I expected one. In fact, his exact words were: "babe your cupcakes are waaaaaayyyyy better than these." What can I say, "men?"--they always know the right things to say. Perhaps, there is an ulterior motive?! But, whatever!

About six minutes after hubby indulged the shredded crumbly carrot pieces, the ATTACK seized his internal organs and the invisible band began to tighten. Suddenly, my husbands face twisted reminding me of the exorcist or more like Sigourney Weaver birthing her Alien baby. I wasn't sure if I should grab the wheel, jump out of a moving vehicle, or simply ignore him. I settled on remaining calm and advising him to drive to the nearest rest area. Thank God there was one within a half a mile. Whew! That was close.

Needless, to say we won't "dine-in" or "take-out" from that cupcakery anymore. This was no random act of violence, eh-eh, this was PERSONAL, an accident waiting to happen, literally!

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Lady Cupcake Tour

"Lady Gaga", "Taylor Swift", "J-Lo" I'm not. But, I CAN imagine what it must be like to be an artist on tour: concert dates, sold-out venues, rehearsals, wardrobe, hair/makeup, fans and..MASSIVE checks. Okay, perhaps, I can't imagine the massive checks part, but everything else...do-able!

Lately, I feel like I've been on the "Lady Cupcake Tour." Weird, I know! Venues are a lot smaller than your average concert. Most up close and personal, just a few with theater like-seating. Absent are the in your face...TICKETS ON SALE NOW...through Ticketmaster or LIVE nation.com..., SECOND SHOW...just added!!! The approach is much more relaxed. Some in-store promotions and social media impressions, that's all. But, I do like the sound of SECOND SHOW JUST ADDED!!! Who wouldn't? How about this one...BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND!!! Oooooohhhhh!!!

For months, I've mixed the batter, softened the butter, alternated the flour with milk, rehearsed until I was room temperature ready. Last December, the "LC" tour kicked off as a two-city circuit: New York and New Jersey. From Williams-Sonoma , Macy's, Bloomingdales, Architectural Digest Home Design Show, Neiman Marcus to Whole Foods Market with a few local venues in between. I know its sounds crazy, but I even have upcoming dates. Now, do you see what I mean? The Lady Cupcake Tour!!!! I've been turning more than "your favorite dessert into cupcakes". I heard the "pie" is the new trend for 2011, so I threw a few blueberries and cherries into my routine. Of course, I rehearsed before incorporating the "dough process". Seemingly, crowds approved.

Clearly, I haven't sold out arenas, and obviously I'm not referred to as Mrs. Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter aka "Beyonce". I'm still trying to figure out how she endures a 2 1/2 hour high-impact aerobic workout onstage night after night. I would pass out mid-set. Then, cancel the rest of the tour.

Whew--no worries, I am not your competition "B".

Admittedly, it would be super cool to trade places with a performer for one, maybe two nights. Why not? The marquee at Radio City would read performing tonight "Lady Cupcake". Across town, Madison Square Garden would flash SOLD OUT demonstration "Lady Cupcake".


Feel free to pinch me at any time or I'll just wake up on my own.

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Friday, March 11, 2011

Martha Cheats?

It was a shocking revelation. Earlier this week, I was watching the TODAY Show and the Goddess of "Lifestyle Everything" was the guest. None other than, Martha Stewart. She did a cooking segment. The feature was Pate-a-Choux, a french pastry dough. Think--cream puffs, profiteroles-(pronounced- pro- fit-ter- rolls), it took me a minute too! And, Eclairs. Yum!

For me, the best part wasn't her technique or the insanely delicious eye-tasting treats. Of course, whenever I see Martha, I'm in awe of her knowledge. Each time, I become a sponge absorbing all of the nutritional molecules surrounding her brain cells. Face-it, is there anything she doesn't know about baking, cooking, gardening, weddings, or entertaining? Apparently, so!
We're all aware that she's still in training for "insider trading". Sorry, your highness--couldn't resist.

Believe it or not, Martha uses CHEAT SHEETS!!! I know- CRAZY- right! If I didn't see it for myself- I wouldn't believe it.

Picture this...during the demonstration the camera zoomed in to get a better angle of Matt and Meredith participating as sous chefs. Martha stood off to the side. And, BAM- to the right of the dough bowl, was a 3 X 5 index card with blue recipe highlights. STUNNED--to say the least. Suddenly, I was nervous- why? Not sure. But, mostly excited, envious, reassured, and RE-LIEVED! If the queen, could have a few helping lines. Why not me? Would I have to join her fraud wagon? I wasn't ready to do time--eh eh. Besides, Martha already did her stint--she was good!

Seriously, if it was okay for MS. STEWART...


Or is there a double standard? Perhaps, I have more dues to pay. Although, I would be less conspicuous. Maybe even, write on my hand. Hmm...it worked in grammar school- or did you get caught? He-he!

The point is no one knows EVERYTHING, not even Martha Stewart!!!

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze
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