Friday, October 29, 2010

Notes from the Field: Been up to my elbows...

I have been nonstop busy the past few days....

Giving friends a hand here and there...

And finding out that what they said was true...

New York City is QUITE the meat market.

Baby red velvet layer cakes drizzled with chocolate and topped with cream cheese buttercream and freshly sliced fingers.  


Monday, October 25, 2010

Case Study 75: "The Salted Caramel"

 "Imperfection is beauty, 
madness is genius
and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous
than absolutely boring." 
-Marilyn Monroe

"The Salted Caramel" is a double vanilla cupcake topped with a salted caramel frosting and a sweet chocolate caramel crunchie disk on top.


In Italy, they have a saying "brutti ma buoni."  Ugly but good.  Sometimes the best things in life aren't the most obvious, the prettiest or the most perfect. Like these cupcakes, they might just be a gooey, sticky, sugary mess.  

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Case Study 74: "The Lady Cake"

Last Friday, after a spin through the Guggenheim and the Upper East Side, I ducked into Bemelman's Bar for a quick cocktail.  As usual, it was dark and quiet, save for the Mia and Woody on the other side of the leather banquette, sharing the most Midsummer's Night Sex Comedy exchange about philosophies, dancers and how great the other person was.  I ordered a Sidecar, and Tommy, who's tended bar there for the past fifty-two years, whipped it right up, but not without a conversation first. 

"You are some lady, you are, ordering that drink," he said, and proceeded to tell me all about the Sidecar itself.  Cognac, Cointreau, Lemon.  It was a popular cocktail in the 50s and 60s, after the war, but the libation eventually went into hiding in lieu of more complicated mixologies.  I smiled, explaining how I've always been a fan of the classics, and after assuring him that his version was excellent, I got to thinking: about history, about class, and about being a lady.  

"The Lady Cake" is a miniature lemon chiffon layer cake, topped with a fluffy lemon buttercream.  From the outside it's light, fancy and whimsical, something truly dreamy and sweet.  But underneath it is sturdy and full of dimension, layer upon layer, building up to be one strong piece of cake. 

When I think about the women I admire most, relatives, icons, friends and my mother, what I find in common is a rare mixture of both dignity and courage. She is the one who balances the line of grace and attitude.  She is naturally private, always a step ahead, yet completely unafraid to elbow her way through to where she wants to go.  She is a gentlewoman among men.  She defies time and place.  But most of all, she has gumption.  

I walked out of The Carlyle that afternoon, back into the gray Manhattan light, and strolled through Central Park back downtown.  Across the terrace, along The Mall, and I smiled as I thought about one of my favorite quotes by Katherine Hepburn.  She said, "I have not lived as a woman. I have lived as a man. I've just done what I've damn well wanted to and I've made enough money to support myself and I ain't afraid of being alone."  That, my friends, is what it means to be a lady.  

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Case Study 73: "The Spiced Pear "

In Greek mythology, the pear was seen as sacred to three goddesses: Hera, Aphrodite and Pomona.  In China it symbolizes longevity and immortality.  But in the culinary world, no fruit symbolizes the mid-October harvest like this sweet succulent pomaceous delight. 

In the summer we savor the offerings of the vine.  Mother Earth's truest candy is a fresh July tomato or ripe summer berry.  But in the fall we pick from the earth. We find abundance in what is rooted to bring warmth and nourishment to our table and we keep this sacred for this season alone. 

"The Spiced Pear" is a gingerbread cupcake under a light vanilla buttercream, crowned with a savory poire épicée.  It is full of flavor and oozing with fruit's own syrupy goodness, spiked with the unmistakable notes of ginger, star anise, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg wrapping up one warm aromatic bite. 

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately - in this month that's ruled by Venus and the symbol of balance - about life, about worth, and about how to measure it all. We spend our days working hard and our nights wondering what weight it all really has in the grand scheme of things.  We wonder if what we expect of ourselves determines the value of our capacity, and we try to tell ourselves that experience that is bad can be experience well learned.  But sometimes we just realize that life is too damn short to not just live it well.  In the season, in the moment, and in the end, we have to live it well.   

On Cupcakes in New York

Since I’ve moved to New York, I’ve received quite a lot of inquiries on private cupcake orders for parties, baby and bridal showers, work events and just plain old personal enjoyment. I have been creating bespoke cupcakes for events for the past year and a half in the Philadelphia and NYC Metro region!

If you are in the New York City area and have an inquiry, please email or message me directly for pricing and delivery(included!).

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Case Study 72: "The Artful Pecan"

Three days after I moved in, I finally decided to christen my new Manhattan kitchen with the only thing that seemed fit: pie.  Well, not really pie, per se. But when I think of moving, think of housewarming, and think of welcomes, I think of pie.  And when I think of pie, I think of my mother's famous pecan pie.  

"The Artful Pecan" is a bourbon pecan cupcake with a burnt brown sugar buttercream and a caramel pecan on top. It is haute design meets homecooked goodness.  It is elegance inspired by recent tours of the landmark and art deco buildings that ground this city and one whirlwind dive into the crazy kitchen that is the New York restaurant business. 

I once read that, according to the "science of happiness," location can as much impede our growth as it can serve to inspire us, help us grow and bring us joy.  What we take in and what we perceive affect what we feel and what we create.  New York City is a boundless pot of opportunity, with art lurking in every corner, waiting to be eaten up.  I'd like to think that with this move, a new era of Cupcaketology has begun.