Archive for the ‘cupcakes’ Tag

Cupcakes AnyTimeMachine   Leave a comment


I used an ATM for the first time on a recent visit to California. It’s not because I haven’t seen them before or had a need for cash at an odd time of day or night. I just have an inexplicable aversion. The ATM I recently used was for cupcakes! I’ve wanted to try Sprinkles Cupcakes ATM in Glendale at the Americana shopping area for quite a while. The ATM experience was fun, but the cupcakes were unsatisfying.

Sprinkles has been a mainstay in the cupcake world for a decade with shops around the country. I’ve enjoyed their small frosting-laden cakes in Beverly Hills and New York City. Cupcakes are one of my favorite foods. I like their compactness, the ratio of cake to frosting and the creativity of flavors many bakers incorporate.


It all begins at the ATM’s touch-screen that reveals a menu with several flavor options, including Red Velvet and a few gluten-free varieties. I know the Red Velvet is rich and moist, but decided to try something new: peanut butter and chocolate. We also ordered Double Chocolate, Marshmallow Chocolate and Black and White. Four is the maximum number per order. With a quick swipe of the credit card, within minutes four separate boxes containing the baked goods are ready for retrieval.

 My choice was underwhelming. It was dry and the amount of frosting was disappointing. The other flavors were fine, but I regret not ordering the Red Velvet. Guess I’ll have to give the cupcake ATM another try.

Sprinkles Cupcakes
629 American Way, Glendale, Calif.

Mystery Lite   Leave a comment


A wholesome, but fiercely independent, young woman in rural Minnesota isn’t exactly who comes to mind when a murder needs to be solved. Yet, author Joanne Fluke has developed quite the following with her Hannah Swensen mysteries. The only explanation I can surmise lies in the fact that Hannah, who fits the above depiction, is also a baker extraordinaire and it’s worth the easy reading to get some new recipes.

Fluke’s most recent addition to the Hannah Swensen oeuvre is Red Velvet Cupcake Murder, which had been on The New York Times Best Seller’s List for several weeks. That, along with my own penchant for cupcakes, is what drew me to the book. Nonetheless, my expectations, fortunately, were not high, so I was not  disappointed.

Hannah lives in Lake Eden, a small town, where she owns the Cookie Jar, a bakery and coffee shop. The story begins with her catering the opening of a renovated hotel. The cupcakes are a featured attraction, along with several delicious-sounding baked goods. Readers are immediately introduced (or for those Hannah followers re-introduced) to Hannah’s mother, sister, love interests (yes, plural) and friends. Hannah’s nemesis from an earlier book reappears on the scene.

It doesn’t take long for an accident to occur, which requires a lot of cooking on Hannah’s part to help make people feel better. Soon thereafter someone is murdered, and instead of being part of the unofficial investigation, Hannah becomes a suspect. Somehow, thanks to friends and family, the bakery continues to serve the delicious sweets it is known for, and readers can continue to drool over their descriptions.

All of the delectables include clever names to fit the situation. Among them are Razzle Dazzle Brownies, Tickled Pink Lemonade Cookies, Snappy Turtle Pie and the Red Velvet Cupcakes with a Surprise Filling — the storyline is so predictable it’s nice there is at least one revelation that truly unfolds.

Red Velvet Cupcake Murder
Three Bookmarks
Kenninsgton Books, 2013
323 pages, including recipes

A Subtle Pizza Place   Leave a comment


Among the first things you notice when entering Baked is the absence of tables. Then eyes turn to a turntable playing records, real 33 1/3 LPs. The distressed brick walls also command attention as does a large frame on part of a chalkboard listing the day’s offerings. It’s an eclectic scene which reflects the menu: five types of pizza, a soup, a salad, two types of Angel Food cupcakes (chocolate and vanilla) and (usually) another dessert. The other distinguishing feature is the friendliness of the staff.

They have good reason to be amicable; this is a pretty relaxed place that serves food based on what’s fresh and available locally. In Galesburg, IIL., in late winter you might think that wouldn’t be much, but that would be wrong. Fresh isn’t relegated only to produce. At Baked it also refers to locally-sourced meats and cheeses.

Pizza is available by the slice and by the pie. We tried the “low pork” which was slow roasted and shredded. The crust was thin enough to fold and the pork jumped off the red sauce with a slight kick. Mozzarella was almost superfluous. The Angel Food cupcakes were funky-looking, but airy and frosted with creamy, tangy icing.


Other pizza offerings included pepperoni, tomato, cheese and the intriguing-sounding pistachio and red onion. The pepperoni comes from Walt and Cole, unless you’re a local that doesn’t mean much more than tasty.
Although Baked has no tables, it does have a small counter space with barstools to accommodate as many eight people, if everyone is a close friend – or wants to be.

Four Plates
57 S. Seminary St.
Galesburg, Ill.