Tasting Tour NYC: Just Velvet

 Just Velvet Cupcakes


Just Velvet

I encountered Just Velvet at the 41st Annual Atlantic Antic. The Antic is a street fair on Brooklyn’s Atlantic Avenue from Hicks Street to Fourth Avenue every fall. I love it as it features mostly local vendors rather the random sock sellers and such that pop up at some NYC street fairs. It’s always good for tasty treats, crafts, music and local flavor (and if you’ve lived in Brooklyn for long, you’re sure to run into a friend or two)!

There were many tempting offerings, but I chose the Cruel Velvet Carrot Cupcake with some prompting from my husband. It was moist and carroty with plump raisins at the bottom, a delightful dessert.

Cruel Carrot Cupcake by Just VelvetJust Velvet is a home-based business owned by Shana Evans. The website is available for ordering 24/7, and orders may be picked up between 8am and 10pm.

Beside the Cruel Carrot Velvet, other “velvets” offered include an Island Velvet (coconut) and, of course, a Just Red Velvet. I also have my eye on her Hot Cappuccino Cake.

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Candy Cupcakes – Caramels & Toffee

I don’t want you to think I’m getting lazy, but I’ve been a busy bee these days. So, when I realized I needed to make interesting and yummy cupcakes that my husband would love with only what I had on hand, I dug into my candy box.

To the rescue, Trader Joe’s English Toffee and Werther’s Original Chewy Caramels.

I made regular vanilla cupcakes, dropping a caramel in each cup of batter.

Caramels dropped in cupcake batter

These plain-jane vanilla cupcakes had a caramel surprise in the center.

Once I frosted, I added chunks—and I do mean chunks—of the toffee.

Toffee cupcakes (champagne candle)

Yes, that’s an adorable mini champagne candle.

Voilà, we had tasty cupcakes fit for a celebration!

[ Posted in Candy/Cookies ] [ 1 Comment ]

Minecraft Cupcakes


Cupcakes for a 6-year-old boy’s Minecraft-themed birthday party

As I have tended to concentrate more on flavors than decorating, this was my first time working with gum paste for my own cupcakes. Gum paste is similar to fondant except it dries hard. (I also think it tastes a little bit better, but it still doesn’t taste wonderful!) That makes it more appropriate for detailed decorations.


I drew a 1 cm grid on parchment paper to provide a guide, flipped it over and taped it to a white cutting board. That gave me a clean and stick-resistant area to work.

The gum paste was white, so I colored a batch with food coloring gel to a light green before rolling it out onto my grid. (Note: Use gloves if you don’t want your hands colored like mine were! The easiest way to color is to work the gel into the paste by hand.) I used a pastry cutter to cut out 5×5 cm squares. I scored them gently with a grid, not cutting all the way through, to provide the base for my Creepers.

I colored other batches of gum paste a darker green and black for the details, cutting 1×1 cm squares.


I applied water with a brush to glue the small squares onto the larger to make my Minecraft Creeper cupcake toppers and let them dry overnight.


The cupcakes were dirt-color (chocolate!), and vanilla buttercream attached the Creepers. As creating the toppers were time consuming, I made enough for half the batch, piping buttercream “grass” onto the rest.


The birthday boy was delighted with his Minecraft cupcakes, it was totally worth staying up late and dyeing my hands green and black!


The TNT piñata was a hit.

Gum paste may harden, but it wilts in the summer sun! The birthday party guests didn’t seem to mind at all.

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Travel Treats: Princeton, New Jersey

Attending a 1st birthday party in NJ, I was of course delighted that cupcakes were on the menu.


House of Cupcakes
32 Witherspoon Street


The cupcakes were the stars of the dessert table at the birthday venue, North End Bistro. I didn’t visit the bakery itself, which is owned by Cupcake Wars winner Ruthie and Ron Bzwedka and offers more than 30 varieties of cupcakes, even—so I hear—pupcakes for your pooch!

There was so much good food at the party, I had to take one to enjoy at home. I picked out a carrot cupcake for the road. My husband and I split it a day later, and it was still moist and flavorful.


There was some evidence of carrots, but they weren’t immediately obvious. If I had not known its flavor, I may have at first mistaken it for a spice cake. The spicy flavor hit first, the carrots came through as an aftertaste. It was quite good, though, and the cream cheese frosting was perfect. My husband also notes that it pairs well with whiskey.


I will certainly make it a point to stop by the bakery, if ever I am again in Princeton!

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Grapefruit Cupcakes for Fourth of July

These citrus-flavored cupcakes hit the spot after some Independence Day BBQ.

Fourth of July Cupcakes

I used grapefruit in my Lemon Cupcake recipe, which resulted in a subtle citrus flavor that no one could quite guess. They tasted good, but they could have used more of a grapefruit punch.

I upped the amount of grapefruit zest in the cupcake recipe below. It should make their taste slightly stronger yet not overpowering.

Happy Fourth of July Weekend!

Recipe: Grapefruit Cupcakes and Frosting

Makes about 16 frosted cupcakes

1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter
4 oz. cream cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 1/2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon grapefruit juice
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons grapefruit zest
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks butter, softened
1 pound powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons fresh grapefruit juice
1 teaspoon grapefruit zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tins with paper cupcake liners.

Cream the butter, cream cheese and sugar at medium speed, then reduce to low. Add the eggs one at a time, then add the grapefruit juice and vanilla extract.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the grapefruit zest to the flour mixture.

Incorporate the dry ingredients gradually into the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined. Do not over mix.

Scoop batter into lined muffin tins with an ice cream scoop (about 3/4 full). Bake about 20 minutes, rotating pans halfway through.

Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan, then move to racks to cool completely.

For frosting: Beat the butter until smooth and add the vanilla extract. Slowly add the powdered sugar, then the grapefruit juice and zest. Add a little milk if frosting is too thick or not smooth. Add more powdered sugar if the frosting is too thick.

Frost the cupcakes once they reach room temperature.

[ Posted in Decorating, Fruit, Holidays ] [ Photos by ] [ 1 Comment ]