Friday, 31 May 2013

Washington's Best Cupcakes and Sweet Treats!

I have SOOO many bakes I should be blogging about right now, it's not even funny! but instead I'm procrastinating and planning the hundreds of cupcakes and milkshakes I'm going to drink on our 3 week Stateside road trip we're planning for July.  I can't even remember if I've told you guys about this? but if I haven't then I'm telling you now! I have been working a second job all year to pay for it and it's basically been the hugest motivation ever because if you know me at all you will know I'm California OBSESSED!!!

So we've made an awesome custom map on google pinpointing every little location we're going to stop at but I'll give you the quick recap! Basically we start in Seattle, and head through a few national parks in Washington like Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helen's and then on to Oregon.  We pass through Portland and then are going to be beaching it up at Cannon Beach and all down the Southern Oregon Coast before heading over to Crater Lake to hike it up over there....and then the real fun begins! as we meander through Northern California checking out some ginormous redwoods, the jelly belly factory, eating my body weight in San Fran, camping it up at Yosemite and then heading back to the California coast and hitting up every important beach and coastal town that The Thrills have ever sung about before we land in my favourite place in the world - SAN DIEGO! Yeah...excited doesn't even cover it! 

So that's where you all come in...I want ALL your recommendations for any and every cupcake/bakery/Mexican/BBQ/Diner/Milkshake/Burger hangout we will pass along the way! and don't be will be surprised with just how many sweet and calorific treats I can pack into a holiday so tell me as many as you can, the more the merrier! 

On that note, I decided I'd leave you with some of my favourite sweet treats I've had in Washington over this past year since we've been able to border hop so much! 

The very first Washington cupcakery we came across was Cupcakes - Like It Sweet in Bellingham.  
We were both completely stuffed after enjoying a rather large meal of coconut shakes and pulled pork burgers across the street at Billy McHale's.  So I just opted for a white chocolate raspberry mini, even from those few bites I could tell this was a cupcakery I needed to come back to! 

and so over spring break that's exactly what I did! With my cupcake loving friend Cassie in tow we went down to Bellingham for a day packed full of foodie fun! 

I had my eye on their flavour of the day which was s'mores! with a graham cracker crust, a moist chocolate cake and toasted marshmallow topping it was a treat for the senses! 

Cassie went for a box of mini's that didn't make it past the queue at the border heading back to Vancouver! because they were that delicious! 

It made up for our rather disappointing cupcake stop earlier in the day at Katie's Cupcakes  in Fairhaven.  I'm usually very thorough in my cupcake research so the dozens of good reviews and the fact that Katie's Cupcakes had not only been on cupcake wars but had won had to be a good sign, right? 

Well, their flavours were pretty unoriginal - chocolate,  vanilla, red velvet and all those usual suspects.  So we went with the only two unusual they had - salted caramel which just seemed to be chocolate cupcake with a salted caramel frosting.  We couldn't finish that one because the 'caramel' frosting tasted like coffee and was not good at all.  Then the white chocolate macadamia which had been the cupcake that won them cupcake wars was just plain weird.  When you pressed down on the frosting, it didn't leave an indent, and was just like rubber! Also the cupcake tasted like banana when there wasn't meant to be any banana component in it! We left half finished cupcakes on the plate and hastily made our way out of Katie's Cupcakes and will not be returning! 

So I would recommend to people in the Bellingham area to give their cupcakes a miss and rather go to Cupcakes - Like It Sweet if you want guaranteed delicious cupcakes and a good variety of flavours! but if you do find yourself in the super cute town of Fairhaven in need of a sweet treat I can strongly recommend the gelato store across the street from Katie's Cupcakes.  

Sirena Gelato was started by a university student who fell in love with gelato on a study abroad trip to Italy.  When he returned home, he learnt how to make traditional gelato through the help of a third generation Italian gelato maker from Venice and he hasn't looked back since! 

This was seriously the best gelato I have ever eaten! Their flavours were amazing, from butterfinger to mango to red velvet cupcake flavour you will definitely find something to tickle your tastebuds!

I went for their Oreo gelato along with a scoop of coconut because I'm obsessed! Their Oreo gelato was the greatest thing ever, it tasted like the creamiest smoothest frozen Oreo frosting! and the coconut flavour too was out of this world! In fact I'm craving a trip back there right now! 

We picked up a piece of root beer float fudge in the Bellis Fair Mall from Mount Baker Candy Co.  I'm not really a fudge person usually, but I'll pretty much buy anything with root beer in it! and this was completely amazing! It tasted just like a root beer float! 

When we road tripped to Seattle at Christmas, we found ourselves at Bellevue Mall pretty much because I NEEDED to go to the Cheesecake Factory! Finding this cute cupcake stall inside was a happy accident! 

I had already made a list of the cupcakeries we were going to be trying that day and Pinkabella wasn't on it, so I nearly walked away but luckily my husband prompted me to buy one anyway since he noticed a plaque on the wall saying they had won the award for best Washington cupcakes in 2012!

and oh man, this chocolate cupcake was THE best moistest most delish cupcake I've ever had and don't even get me started on the frosting, I loved the mound of cookie dough flavoured frosting! It was the best cupcake I ate all day! 

Unfortunately, that list of places I had mapped out somehow disappeared in our car, and our Canadian phones don't work in America! so I couldn't remember how to get to the Trophy Cupcakes storefront I was so keen to visit.  We did stumble across a Trophy stall in Pacific Place in downtown Seattle.  It wasn't quite the same as a cute little cupcakery but I've been following this bakery for years now and was SO excited to try their cupcakes.  I tried a coconut one, and it was so disappointing I didn't even take a photo.  Maybe cupcakes fresh from their actual stores would be better but now that I've discovered Cupcake Royale, I don't think I'll bother going back to Trophy.  

Unfortunately, by the time we reached Cupcake Royale at Christmas it was just closing up! and I never got to try their cakes! So we went back a few weeks ago when my mom and sister were visiting and I made sure we got there with plenty of daylight left! 

It is a super cute store inside, and they've recently started selling ice cream alongside cupcakes - how genius is that! If we hadn't already been such fatty's that day I would have liked to try both! because some of their ice cream flavours have their cupcakes strewn threw it - how awesome is that! I did get a very cool cupcake royale t-shirt though that I was pleased with! 

We went for a large lime and coconut cupcake a mini compost cupcake.  I could eat one of those lime and coconut cupcakes every day for the rest of my life and die so so happy, it was like a tropical island bursting out of that cake - so so delish! and that compost cupcake was one crazy mix up of chocolate chips, oats, coconut and potato chips all mixed into a chocolate cake.  It was oh so good! 


Happy cupcaking days! 

The Public Market down at Pike Place was also FULL of delicious goodies.  I think we would need to spend a week in Seattle to fully do it justice! Bear in mind we only had a day! but since I was with my sister who works at a cheesecake company and develops new cheesecake flavours as her job we couldn't pass up the chance to try this cute stall! 

The Confectional specialises in mini cheesecakes and cheesecake truffles, as well as cheesecake on sticks! I tried one of their mint chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake truffles which was every bit as ridunculous as it sounds!  and if we hadn't been racking up so many calories I would have tried one of their mini coconut cheesecakes too but there has to be a reason to go back doesn't there?!

We finished off our evening by driving to a Krispy Kreme drive-thru to pick up their key lime pie flavours of the month! 

Nothing makes me happier than key lime pie flavoured stuff! especially in doughnut form! 

I'll take it in cheesecake form too though! This was our 10pm cheesecake stop for mango key lime flavour - which was every bit as tasty as it sounds...

and of course the coconut lover couldn't pass this chocolate coconut cream cheesecake up! Unfortuntely we'd eaten so many sweet treats in a 24 hour period that we only got around to eating this cheesecake 3 days later! but it was still as tasty as when I laid eyes on it! 

We also stopped here on our Christmas visit, because you can never stop at Cheesecake Factory enough in my opinion!

and this time my peanut butter loving husband swayed the vote by getting this crazy peanut butter overload piece! 

It took both of us two whole days to finish it! Let's take a minute to break it down, that's layers of dense chocolate fudge cake, topped in pure caramel, topped in vanilla cheesecake with reese's peanut butter cups mixed in and then repeated all over again! finished off with creamy fudge frosting and a swirl of peanut butter frosting! 

I love how they are able to dream up the most over the top and decadent possibilities! 

and of course no Stateside trip is complete without picking up a stash of baking goodies at Target! 

Happy Baking Days! I promise to resume regular recipe posts soon!

If you want to see what else we got up to on our crazy action packed day in Seattle you can check it out here.  That blog is also where I'll post all our roadtrip action once it happens this summer!

Monday, 27 May 2013

My First Ever Baby Shower!

So no-one really close to me has ever had a baby...or if they have they lived too far away for me to do anything about it! So I've never been to a baby shower which for a 26 year old mormon is pretty unheard of! 

As fate would cruelly have it, a few months after we moved to Vancouver my sister called to tell me she was pregnant and I also found out one of my best friends from high school was pregnant (the first out of our whole group of friends!) so I was more than heartbroken at the thought I was going to be missing both of these super important events, including their baby showers! With my love of all things sweet, and planning dessert tables I have been waiting to throw someone a baby shower for years! So when I met my friend Nicole at church here in Vancouver and found out she was expecting I knew I wanted to do something special for her! 

 I've decided if I could just be a party planner for the rest of my life I'd be so happy! I spent every day leading up to the baby shower dreaming up colour combinations and styles of table decorations! I was sad that I didn't have my cake stand collection here in Vancouver and so I had to make do with the limited resources I had but considering it was on a budget, it came together pretty well! 

I knew the chocolate ganache raspberry cupcakes were going to be the main focus of the table and so I decided the colour scheme should be pink to tie in with the pink raspberry frosting.  I spent a while thinking about what colour would work well with pink and so in the end I went with lime green.  I found that gorgeous polka dot sparkly tissue paper in the exact shades I needed and even found matching serviettes and paper plates in those colours too.

Luckily, my friend Kristen was able to lend me this pretty cake stand to make the cupcakes stand out...

I bought some pink and green plates to display the rest of the goodies, and I whipped up some of my oreo truffles because a party isn't a party without an oreo truffle! The green ones were mint flavour, 

and the pink ones I just made with regular oreo's and milk chocolate coating.  I drizzled each truffle in green or pink candy melt, and then put them in these cute colour co-ordinating mini cupcake liners.

I also tried out these creamy lime squares and I added some shredded coconut into the shortbread base because coconut and lime is a winner! 

These raspberry lemonade bars turned out great, and I loved how vibrant the colour turned out!

Kristen also brought a huge bowl of delicious fruit salad which I forgot to take a picture of! That was a great thing to bring because it was nice to even out all the sweetness with just a bit of healthiness on the side!!

I ordered the stripey straws off a baking website - they were my fave part of the table! and I also bought the mason jars from a canning factory, because drinks in jars makes everything more fun! 

To fill the jars, Cassie made up a few jugs of some rather delicious fresh raspberry lemonade! with real fresh raspberries in it too - it was sooo good!

Here's Nicole, who the baby shower was honouring! with the cute big sister Cambree.

Cambree's favourite part of the dessert table were the chocolate covered pretzels! She sure loved digging into them! as her face and hands will tell you!

After everyone devoured the food, it was time for a little present opening...

isn't this 'little sister' onesie the cutest! and Paisley, the baby of honour, is modelling it!

Cambree was enjoying all the excess wrappings!

Here's some of the lovely ladies that attended: Lindsay, Denise and Jessie

and here's my co-hosts Kristen and Cassie who produced some super fun shower games! 

One of the games was where you have to describe a baby word first round, then next round just use actions and the third round you just use one word.  

With quite a lot of the words involved there were some very funny actions going on! I think the look Lindsay is giving Denise here is even funnier than her action! 

I'm thinking maybe this was our 'hospital' action where we tried to recreate giving birth in an action!

I have no idea what's going on here but again, Kristen's face watching Nicole's actions below is pretty hilarious!

It was such a great night.  I love these girls I have met in Vancouver so much, I can't believe I only have 2 months left to enjoy them and then we're homeward bound back to the UK! 


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