Sweet Sandy B. Bakes

If we are ever to enjoy life, now is the time. Not tomorrow or next year... Today should always be our most wonderful day...

So, let's eat cake!

Notes on my adventure as a mom and baker and life as Sweet Sandy B...

Monday, December 6, 2010

My adventures in staging, Day 1

I have to explain what staging is. Pronounced "stah-ghing" it is when a cook or chef works briefly, for free, in another chef's kitchen to learn and be exposed to new techniques and cuisines (thank you Wikipidea).

A stage normally is used to see how a new chef/cook/student can adapt to the kitchen environment they are placed in. When a chef/cook/student is seeking an internship or job, often the stage is the next step after the interview. It can be a one day affair, take the place of a 'job' and become an internship, or it can be like a once-a-week type thing. It is pretty much a French way of saying "job shadow".

Staging is a mandatory part of my curriculum at school. I thought it was brilliant, and in fact I tried to do this while still in Michigan before I started school, but being that not many people had heard of this term, they were like- dude, no way. I had an arsenal of retorts- primarily that it was free labor.
SO you can imagine my elation that so many places in Chicago welcome stages with open arms and in fact contact the school seeking out students to come in. Why? I'd like to think it's only because of our stellar reputation. But lets be honest. It's because they have long ago realized IT'S FREE LABOR. and, a great way to interview students before you actually need to hire someone. It's kind of like scouting.

I did quite a bit of staging. So, I'm going to just highlight a few of my experiences- mostly the ones that had the most impact on me. Lets start with my very first one because to me, it is the best story....

Alright. Because I was truly a go-getter upon my arrival here, I started to search for stages before I even moved here. seriously. I had a list of bakeries I wanted to visit and introduce myself. I was that irritating girl in class that was smugly making appointments with different head pastry chefs during breaks. so... yeah, I signed up for my first stage at a bake/cake shop in a trendy neighborhood in Chicago- let's just call it "hipster central". My hope was that I could get in the cake design area and make a job out of it while living in here. Lets just say, it didn't go that way.

I hightail it there a week later literally as soon as I get out of my first full day in the kitchen at school (as in my first time in uniform using my chefs knife in the classroom kitchen). It was BLAZING hot and humid. Up to this point, I had only been in one bakery kitchen and that was back in Michigan. I knew this would be different, but wow was I NOT prepared for HOW different.

Upon my arrival, I quickly changed into my uniform and began to sweat like a farm animal within minutes. Being in a full production kitchen that has been baking cake, pastry, bread ALL DAY will never be a comfortable- temperature wise. I timidly ask to speak to the chef that was in charge of me for the day. Here he comes in full Chef uniform and hat, introduces himself and says ok- why don't you get started on this white chocolate ganache. He hands me a recipe that is written in grams. ok... I knew that I would be working w/ grams instead of cups/spoons so it wasn't that odd. however, I had NEVER used a kitchen scale until that morning in class. It's ok, I'll wing it. No big deal. I start to look around to try and get my bearings. I notice that the majority of the women are speaking Spanish, so I wasn't sure what to do. I can speak Spanish well enough, but not really versed in cooking/baking terminology in Spanish. "excuse me? Perdon? puedes ayudarme encontrar el chocolate? Chocolate blanco? Please? Por favor?" This woman looks at me and points to the general direction of bins of different chocolate. Open your eyes idiot... Sheepishly I smile and start looking for bowls/containers/etc to get my mise en place ready. I move from one area to the next, trying to gather what ingredients I could find 'quickly' (quickly being completely relative) and re-read the recipe for the 100th time.

Mr. Chef has been watching me out of the corner of his eye and then comes over and looks me up an down. He says, "ok Sandra (i was a dork wearing my school name tag) why don't you first start by blooming the gelatin, then worry about the chocolate and other ingredients". I stared at him w/ saucers for eyes and said "sure..ok, great idea". He stared right back at me and said "Have you ever bloomed gelatin before?" I continue to stare blankly at him and begin racking my brain. obviously, the 'racking' was going to do me no good because I had never done it before. BUT- had I heard of this term before?? hm... bloom gelatin... bloom gelatin.. all I kept thinking about was making freaking Jell-O but that wasn't what we were talking about here. This was for a white chocolate ganache. WTH?
So, I say no- but I can figure it out! At this point he realized what he had on his hands. Someone w/ ZERO kitchen experience. He quickly pulled an established intern away from what they were doing and said- "Sandra, this is _______. He will be helping you today."

I was determined to make up for my lack of knowledge by being the best direction follower ever and not leaving until everyone else left. Truthfully, I don't remember much else of what I did that day. I obviously made the ganache (oh, and almost burned ALL of the white chocolate), I dipped some eclairs in chocolate... helped scale some pistachio something or other... cut chocolate 'biscuit' for some petit four, and after 9pm, changed and got on the train to my apartment. I was exhausted and sweaty, and was like- sweet baby Jesus can I actually do this? Did I make the biggest mistake of my life?? As this fear creeped in, my eyes filled with the tears I had been holding back all afternoon and I stared out the window of the train and watched the city speed by.

Thankfully- it gets better. But that's for another night. And, yes. Now I know how to bloom gelatin. ;)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Announcement to the world!

I'm going to get straight to the point.
I am in love.

Not a crush or a summer fling that turned into a fall romance. Full on, 100% head over heels LOVE. As in, I'm a goner. And I don't know what to do

It began slowly. When we first met I thought, wow I could really fall fast and hard here, but I'm going to take it slow. Enjoy each day as it comes and you know, soak it in and not lose myself in this one.

But it seemed that around every bend there was something else to fall for. And speaking honestly, this was completely unlike anything that had ever happened to me before. I would wake up excited and stay up late to steal extra moments together. I would walk down streets as if I was gliding on air...

I was taught so many new things and taken to so many new places. I was seeing my surroundings with new baby eyes and I wanted more, more and more.

To say I was treated kindly is an understatement. To say that I was wooed just doesn't do this justice.
Beautiful can't come close to describing their magnificence.

I've not once been let down, I've always been shown a good time, I'm constantly laughing and smiling and I've never felt so free to be myself.

Basically, I have fallen hook, line and sinker for the beautiful city of Chicago.

And as I'm closing in on my last month here I'm wondering how in the world can I break up with the best city in the Midwest? How am I going to pack up my apartment while listening to the sounds of the Brown line zooming past, listening to the city traffic and babble of my neighbors and not sob the entire time?

Because it's not just the city I'm breaking up with, it's the signal that my time at French Pastry School has come to an end. Just typing that gets me choked up.

I look back and think- wow I could have documented what happened better. But the thing is- it was MINE. All mine. Something I shared w/ my constant companion only and I'm fine with that. I have pictures of what I did and the books to remind me of what recipes we completed. But what happened on my day-to-day basis is just in my head and heart. And I'm ok with that.

So what have I done in the past six months? I wonder if I can come up with one sentence...
Lets see..


Stage, Eat EAT EAT,

Laugh- A LOT, made new friends,

Pie Competition,

got really really sick for a really long time, got to know myself a LOT better.

oh and I did find a job.
(SCREAMS! I did! More on that later)

but through it ALL, I was always missing two rays of light. My Moochie and my #1. Their phone calls and iChats were my highlights and having them here in this beautiful city was a gift I will never be thankful enough for. To take pleasure WITH them in all the small things was so humbling. Like just walking down a city street, going for runs on the lake and splashing in fountains, riding the train and being a city dweller, even if just for a brief moment. Those were my most favorite weekends

I do have one thing I do want to recap, although not in this post. That is my staging experience during school. I was reflecting back on them individually and truly laughing out loud at what happened at each one. I learned so much and from the first to the last one to date, I can see how much I've grown as a baby pastry COOK because my dear friends one thing I found out is that going to six months of pastry school does NOT make you a pastry chef.

But man oh man am I SO proud to call myself a pastry cook

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Yes, I'm still alive...

Have to say right off the bat- I'm not at my laptop so I don't have pictures at the ready. But believe me when I say that there are a few. well, a lot. OK, a TON. I realize I'm just teasing you w/ this info, but seriously go to my Facebook fan page and check SOME of them out there:

Sweet Sandy B

I have been in school now for a little over a month and actually in the kitchen for a month exactly. How can I begin to describe this... It's intense. So much harder and focused than I could have ever imagined. This is all compounded by the fact that the first medium we started with was chocolate. I'm deathly afraid of chocolate. The thought of tempering sends chills up my spine- akin to buttering the bundt pan properly... and tempering eggs... and so many other things. which is why school is great for me.
Do I know how to temper chocolate perfectly now? Let's just say I TRY. and we also have a chocolate machine in the kitchen that offers up perfectly tempered chocolate on demand. It's a luxury for sure and one that most commercial kitchens won't have. But they also most likely won't ask you to table chocolate to temper it. Did I lose you there? I had no idea what tabling chocolate was either until I started class. Imagine a large marble countertop that is cool to the touch. now imagine pouring warm (NOT tempered) chocolate onto the countertop and spreading it about with an offset spatula making beautiful clean lines of chocolate to cool it down to a TEMPERED state.

The first time I attempted tabling chocolate I made the biggest mess. It was catastrophe and I looked like a child that had just got done playing in a mud pit. I was beyond embarassed and how come the chef made it look so easy and beautiful and I looked like a hot mess. chocolate was EVERYWHERE. the table, the floor, my tools, my uniform, hair and face. yup.

Please believe me when I say it did get better. And we learned so much about chocolate it still makes my mind swim. And I learned that I am NOT going to be a chocolatier. That's just not in the cards for me. I did make a kick butt chocolate sculpture though.
Then, we moved on to sugar.... and sugar showpieces more specifically. It's working with molten hot lava sugar and pulling/blowing it into different designs/flowers/birds... whatever, really. And, kind of honestly (and because I really needed it after the chocolate mishaps) I think I'm kind of good at it. And I liked it a LOT more than I imagined I would.
The problem is, how does that at all play into my future goal of opening a bake shop? When will I do a sugar showpiece? I don't know... but the cake portion and cake decorating portion of class is not for some time.. so for now I just wait anxiously for ICE CREAM AND SORBETS!!!! Which starts in one full week. I can't even stand it, i'm so excited

But first... exams.

How come I didn't know we had EXAMS? Why didn't I expect this though? We have exams to demonstrate we 'know what we were taught'. not entirely written, it's pretty much practical. without help from the Chef or our tablemate. O.M.G...

to say I'm nervous is an understatement. To say I feel prepared is a complete lie.
Wish me luck, exams start Tuesday. ah!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

First Day of School! First Day of School!

It's 5 a.m... I haven't woken up at 5 a.m. for a "day's work" since I quit the O.J (office job, not the juice)
Woke up this morning with visions of this guy... and his voice prompting me to wake up...

Saw him in concert right before I made the move to Chicago. This is Brian Aubert of Silversun Pickups... and The Royal We was running through my dreams ALL night for some reason.

SO- point being- I was so giddy excited last night I couldn't sleep. My stomach was in knots of anticipation. FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL! I was like a child the night before Disneyland, anxiously looking at the clock every few minutes during the night not wanting to sleep through my alarm. Like "memo" in Finding Nemo (Moochie can't say Nemo for some reason) who wakes up his father screaming "FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL! FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!" I was giddy to get up and get going this morning...
and proceeded to forget everything I kept telling myself not to forget (um, can you say notebook and pen?? water? COFFEE??)

School didn't disappoint. There are about 70 of us starting this 6 month adventure together and I think everyone was a little nervous, giddy, scared and was probably not their 'true' self. Truthfully I didn't meet that many people. I was trying to diligently pay attention and not call attention to the fact that I wasn't prepared. But all morning I was anxiously waiting a phone call interview for a scholarship. Once that was out of the way, my mind was a little more at ease. And then I got my Chefs Uniform.

OK... stop the train here. I haven't been this excited to get an article of clothing before. No, it wasn't designer and it wasn't a new Marc Jacobs purse. But I felt like a med student in a coat ceremony. This was (excuse me mom when you read this next line) more exciting than putting on my 4k wedding dress... This plain cotton coat represented so much to me. It was like a vow I was making to myself, and my kids too. A vow to pursue this dream with all that I have. To make me, my kids and my school proud. It represented all of the work I had been doing up to this point to get HERE. All the sacrifice I will be making the next six months and the battle armor I will be wearing day in and out to get me through the 'stages', volunteer jobs and hopefully amazing meet and greets w/ a ton of chefs in this wonderful city of Chicago.

enough sap. The hands down truth is I had a kick ass day. So many people were wishing me well yesterday, I was bursting with love. I was walking on a high and to top today off- I found out I DID get that scholarship. :) Um, can you say THREE FOR THREE! It just legitimizes what I'm doing here and I'm happy other people are able to see my passion and drive and are putting money behind MY dream. Thank you THANK you to the Hiller Scholarship program and the French Pastry school for making today as amazing as could be.

and to end it all, took a long run on the lake shore listening to Fall Out Boy and Skyped the kiddo's. I miss them so much I ache. So I look at my too long chefs pants (going to get hemmed TOMORROW!) and Chefs Jacket and know I'm doing this for us. My boot camp for the rest of my life.

Friday, June 25, 2010

After much ado- individual Raspberry Cobblers

I've been holding out, I know I know.
After Top Chef was over and Kelly won (Angelo was in the worst team for the elimination challenge- yes! but his team won the quick fire. again. ugh. oh, and Jacqueline was eliminated- ho hum) I was about to start working on this recipe. Then remembered that I didn't have to work the next day and could just do it in the morning and eat these for breakfast! I happily went to bed, and dreamt wonderful stay-at-home-ex-wife dreams. :)

So, Thursday a.m. as the kids were eating their pancakes I set to work on these little bits of magic.

**I must warn you first- this recipe was a FAIL in the beauty department, but tasted amazing. I will comment at the end on how to possibly make these successful when you make them because I have yet to bake them again. I've been busy!**

You will need:

2 cups milk
2 cups self rising flour
2 cups sugar
2 sticks melted butter
2 cups fresh raspberries
1 tsp vanilla
extra sugar for sprinkling

oven should be at 350.

First, combine flour and sugar, then whisk in the milk (because I like my desserts extra rich, I went with heavy whipping cream... yah. i'm fat like that)

then, whisk in the melted butter and the vanilla (I always say the more vanilla the better, so I put in 2 tsps instead of just the one)

and this is what it looks like all combined:

Now you will grease the muffin tins- whichever way you want to grease.flour. this recipe will fill 24 cups. I tried to overfill the cups and got about 18 cups filled. this was a HUGE mistake. DON'T do this.

Fill each muffin tin with ONLY 1/4 cup batter. DO NOT OVERFILL (this picture is of OVERFILLED CUPS. this is BAD)

Then, sprinkle raspberries into each cup, and then sprinkle w/ sugar.

Put in the oven for 45 minutes-50 minutes until they are golden brown and crisp around the edges. Let them cool slightly, then invert onto a cooling rack. I don't have a picture of this because i made a GIANT mess of the muffins. I overfilled and the batter went EVERYWHERE. Nothing to invert on a cooling rack. But this is what I salvaged:

Which, you can serve warm w/ something sweet- like ice cream or fresh whipped cream. yum...

Now, this doesn't look pretty and not at ALL what the recipe picture looked like. The idea is that these will still look a little rustic, the raspberries would sink to the bottom and after inverting you would get this beautiful pineapple upside down cake type thing going on.

SO I just scooped out the batter and put them into cute ramekins and will warm them up and serve w/ the whipped cream.

These are my thoughts for next time
2 sticks of butter is just way too much. My lips were seriously coated with butter fat when I took a bite. Don't get me wrong, I love butter. But this was just too much. maybe 1.5 sticks of melted butter.
Also, I always have a hard time w/ self rising flour. Make sure you use fresh flour. That still didn't help me this time, but I like to think that if I filled the cups with ONLY 1/4 cup of batter, this would have solved the problem. We will see next time.

try it out and if you have better results, let me know! I need to go buy more raspberries and give it a go this weekend.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

really, nothing (oh WAIT, ARIEL!!!)

I'm starting to feel guilty that I'm not posting recipes as often as I was when I first started... In January and February when my fledgling dream was a whisper in my mouth I was testing the water and just putting everything on here because I wanted to be able to look back when I needed a reminder on how to carve a Cars cake.. And remember what the whipped egg whites were supposed to look like.

But slowly but surely (well not that slowly) I've been getting more busy with orders. So on top of driving 2.5 hours/day for work, working, being a mom, working out and baking orders, the time dwindled for fun experimenting. When I officially quit my job 2+ weeks ago, I dreamt of all this wonderful TIME I was going to have and what I would do with it. I started trolling for recipes and drooling over ingredients that I was planning on buying... And then Saturday hit.

I had two cakes to decorate for Saturday. I figured I had time- I could pull it off. NO worries. Well... Because I was so caught up in my 'last week of work' activities and excitement, I kind of biffed on my pre-planning to get ready for Saturday. I wasn't focused. So Friday night I was up pretty late working on this:

initially I was really intimidated by this cake. I'm not so good w/ drawing faces so to have to come up w/ a face out of fondant... And, to make her stand up! Perhaps that's why I didn't prepare so well- I was almost avoiding it and thinking I would be in a do or die situation. BUT, much to my surprise, it worked out. I was able to bring my drawing to life and I was so proud of myself.. Plus, I had a pretty in depth conversation w/ someone that night and, it left me somewhat distracted.

so, I had the cake frosted and had Ariel made and I was praying she would get hard enough to stand on top of the cake (as it was requested). My tooth also mysteriously started to hurt but I put it in the back of my head.
until Saturday a.m.
I woke up in the most disgusting amount of pain ever. And it kept getting worse by the minute. I couldn't see straight and all I kept thinking was "must finish this cake...must START other cake... must get pain relief. must pull tooth. i don't care, pull it"

well, you know, life happens and in a whirlwind of 6 hours I manage to melt Ariel, find a way to make it work, finish the Ariel cake, finish the graduation cake, not pull my tooth out, cry, argue, WATCH Ariel get decapitated and crumble and feel utterly helpless... and medicate myself into painless oblivion so I could sleep.

Mind you, the day before had been a Mary Poppins day (practically perfect in every single way), and then Saturday was the payment for the wonderful day prior.

Either way I REALLY like the Ariel cake, but man you should have seen her on Friday night. She was gorgeous...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Oooh baby baby it's a wild world....

Love that song! the guy that gave me my first kiss used to sing that song to me (HOW CHEESEY!!!) but, it is a wild world.. it's a jungle out there! and I just up'd the cheese factor myself. anyhow- I love love baby animals… Something so sweet about their big eyes.. and PUPPY PAWS! aren't big puppy paws the cutest? makes me want to get a puppy. for a second...

OK, the point of this post- I've been wanting to do a baby animal cake for a while and I finally was able to for a baby shower.
A while back I donated a decorated celebration cake to a Relay for Life auction and along w/ the certificate for a cake I set out a tray of cookies and some pictures of cakes I had already done.

I seriously got a TON of business as a result and this order was from one of those new customers. Again, the power of word of mouth amazes me.

After emailing w/ the client, I sketched out this cake:

#1 had some animals similar to these in his room at one point so I had some inspiration already.
She liked the idea and I got started with the animals on Friday night while chatting w/ my bestie and dying over the gift she brought me (she hunted down a DVD copy of the movie "Rad" oh.my.GAWD. seriously!!! I love her)

And here is the cake:

The top tier is banana cake and the bottom is white cake. The whole thing was frosted with Swiss Buttercream and filled w/ same.
The animals are all made out of fondant.. OH, speaking of which- I bought a new kind of fondant last week. It's a new brand made by Duff (of Charm City Cakes/ Ace of Cakes). It has a 'buttercream' flavor (where the Satin Ice has a "vanilla" flavor). I'm still on the fence about it. It's not as pliable as the Satin Ice, but it smells delicious. The colors are gorgeous though!! Price point is about the same (both are expensive) so I will see how I feel as I work with it more- will keep you updated (because I know you care)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

You lucky bastards...

I'm only 29 (yes, ONLY) and during the last 5 years at my office job, I would spend some time- well, lets just be honest and say a SUBSTANTIAL amount of time- fantasizing about winning the lottery. The money was spent before I even won. Or bought a ticket.
Since that wasn't likely to happen, I'd switch gears and dream about retiring at the ripe old age of 40. I thought my 401k would be pretty well padded by that point and I'd be so ready to retire. :)
I'm a dreamer, what can I say.

Needless to say, retirement parties and moreso retirement CAKES hold a special place in my heart. You lucky bastards. I say it with love...
I was asked to make one for 4 retiring teachers and after A LOT of discussion and back and forth we finally came to an agreement on what the cake would look like.

And heeeere it is:

It was 4 layers of devils food chocolate cake with milk chocolate chip frosting inside, Swiss Buttercream outside. The flowers and bugs are fondant, the initials are beads

Now, I realize this has nothing to do w/ teaching. But, I didn't want to do the generic apples and chalk boards. Plus, it was to celebrate THEM. So I asked about what they liked- what their favorite colors were, etc.. And each of them had a favorite flower so I ran with that.

I have THREE crazy cakes coming up in the next week but I think I'll make time for a new recipe to share. Let me do some trolling and I'll get back to you.


I'm selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle, but if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best.
-Marilyn Monroe

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A greener Sweet Sandy B

My carbon footprint is Shrek sized. Or Sasquatch sized, if you believe in such things.
For the past 3 1/2 years I've driven 65 miles EACH WAY to work. I hate it, the car hates it, my kiddies hate it. It just sucks. Yet another reason why I'm looking forward to next Friday.

Anyhow, even though I have begged and pleaded- on literal bended knee- to work from home the answer has always been the same.... NO. and quit asking.

Due to guilt, I've really tried hard to not think about the awfulness my commute has been causing the environment. (stay with me here, this does involve food and not preaching). I thought about buying carbon offsets or planting trees or what not- but I would kill the tree and really, I'm broke (see Livin' La Vida Divorced)

A couple of months back I found this website- www.reusablebags.com
I found it because Natalie (of Bake and Destroy) works there and she does an amazing job of promoting the site and their products. When I was at the TNT party a couple of weeks back there was a brief discussion about reusable bags in general (because Natalie brought along the CUTEST cupcake bag). I sat back quietly listening...somewhat ashamed because I do use plastic bags from the grocery store- I re-use them A LOT and even when I get paper bags, I re-use those too! I do own some reusable bags but because I get so much use out of the plastic/paper bags, I don't use them all the time. :( Sweet Sandy B = sheepish.

Well, as a parting gift from that weekend Lisa (@thebutcherbaker) gave me a Platypus. Not the duckbilled mammal (talk about crazy town animal man... check them out!) but a reusable water bottle that rolls up/smashes flat when you are done. I loved it and used it daily until some dingbat at work threw it away because it was empty and they thought it was garbage. grrrrr

Natalie and Reusable Bags to the rescue!!!

In Mondays Mail I got the following:

Notice ALL the items stuffed into this one envelope! That was the VERY FIRST thing that struck me- how little packaging was used for these products. It was GREEN primarily, but also instant gratification. I opened the envelope and BAM, I could play with the contents w/o having to open various other bags. (FYI- there was also a platypus and another Wrap N Mat inside, but I forgot to put them in the pic)

These are snack bags. They are similar in size to regular baggie 'snack' bags and hold about the same amount of... snacks! ha. and, cute pattern!!

THIS bag is a small reusable Q Tote/lunch bag/gift bag. It's called "yum" (duh). And, it is the perfect size for lunch... as you will see shortly. It's made out of recycled materials and is really REALLY sturdy.

The Wrap N' Mat. I was most excited for these. I pack a lunch every day for work- always have, always will. It has endlessly bothered me that I use a different baggy every day. I started to use the same baggy for an entire week, but even still, I wanted a better option (I thought about Bento boxes for a while too).
But this little piece of magic was perfect. It wraps up around the sandwich and you just wipe it off, wash it off, whatever and then use it again the next day. And, what do you know, it also serves as a placemat when opened. Genius. I will DEFINITELY be buying more in different colors. (and yes, I HEART mustard. the more the better I say.)

So, here is my Greened up lunch:

And yes, Plastic Bags do indeed, BLOW

Please do me a favor and check out Reusablebags.com They have specials ALL the time and different discounts available. Become a fan on FB and you will be hip to what's new on their site and also get MORE discounts!!!
(I also am the proud owner of the cupcake Q reusable tote... I couldn't wait and ordered it as soon as they were available on their site- pix to come!!!)

Monday, June 7, 2010

A cupcake follow up

A few weeks ago I had the Johnny Cupcakes experience. Remember? It was just that little tiny bitty event that I may have mentioned once or twice. Maybe


When I was there, Just Baked provided the cupcakes for the event. So I was starving and excited that night and I truly didn't taste the cupcake they handed out. I more or less scarfed it down and called it good. As a result I didn't have much commentary (except to say that I thought it was expensive- and later learned that in the cupcake world it was actually pretty cheap)

Welllllllll, today I had the chance to try one again. I went to the mall and finally bit the bullet and bought my new laptop (and also got my iPod fixed! Yippeee!!!)
At the mall I was walking w/ the kiddo's and spied the Just Baked shop and made a beeline towards the counter.

I was suprised to see that the case wasn't full. It was about 11:30 and they had just opened a half hour before... Hm.... Was it just not stocked yet? Or do they just not bake a lot on the weekends? That didn't make sense..
And I was also surprised to see this on the counter:

I didn't know they did celebration cakes too!! It was cute- the colors matched their decor. They also had some cupcake liners for sale although I didn't check out the price tag for those

They had some appetizing options but nothing was jumping out at me, until I saw this:

It was called the Fat Elvis. I'm not an Elvis fan, really. But I think he and I could have had some amazing food binges together. Like in his later, super bloated eat a lot of food days. When I was in Chicago a couple of weeks ago at the Tits N Tats Jamboree (oh, did I tell you about that? Maybe? lol) Natalie made an Elvis Comeback Special cupcake. I think I may have begged her in advance because I love anything involving peanut butter. She kindly did me the favor
Hers were delicious... the buttercream was insane, and she topped them with pretzel M & M's. Have you had those yet?! Buy some today, but beware. They are that good. I won't let myself buy a bag for fear they will take over my life. I still day dream about them. Seriously.
So when I saw Just Baked's version of an Elvis cake, I had to try it.

This is what their description reads: "Our moist banana cake topped with peanut butter-buttercream pillows then hand dipped in our homemade ganache and sprinkled with peanuts"
Basically, a little bit of heaven.

VERDICT: The cake was a faint banana. Not in your face banana, like I like my banana cake. It was also really light and fluffy. It seemed like the focus was on the frosting (which was good) and the ganache and not really the cake.
Given- the cake was moist, it was good. It just wasn't AMAZING. I let Mr. Papers have a bite and he said he liked the cake (BETTER THAN MINE I MIGHT ADD... jerk) so, whatever to each their own.
The frosting and ganache was really really good though. And I liked the addition of chopped peanuts on top.

As I reflect back... I remember why I ate the first "Johnny Cupcake" cupcake so quickly- it was because the cake wasn't dense. It wasn't enough to fill you up, you could eat like 2 MAYBE 3 before you felt you got a good taste.
This is a first in my cupcake experiences. Usually I can eat 2 or 3 BITES of a cupcake and feel like I got a good feel for it.
I wonder if this is intentional... if so, kind of smart.....

Here are some of their other flavor options:
Banana Split, Pineapple Upside Down, S'more, Samoa, Snowball, Orange Creamsicle....

If you ever happen upon one, I'd check it out. Sweet Sandy B gives it a thumbs up. Not way up, but up.

and in other Holy Cow moments... (I can't believe I almost forgot to post this) On Saturday a new person sent me a message on Twitter. She had tasted one of my chocolate chip cookies courtesy of @thehungrypanda who referred by 500th fan on FB.
I smiled as I read her message that said her husband said it was the best of his life. aw, shoot, really? blushing... I got super giddy and replied back to her so quickly she could practically see the drool dripping from my jowels. In my reply to her I mentioned Michael Voltaggio. Don't know him? Good, because that means more for me. To follow it up, I send yet ANOTHER message including his name.
GUESS WHAT? um, he read it and replied to me. twice. And yes you now know of yet another reason why THIS girl is a huge dork.

but seriously? is he not attractive? and he can cook. If he is remotely funny I'm a goner.