Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Welcome to Miami! HIAC Does Florida Pt2

Sorry about the gap between posts, still jetlagged ;) Originally we were going to stay in Miami for 2 nights after Key Largo but we decided to go to Key West instead and just swing by Miami on the way to the airport. We will definitely have to go back to Florida as there are so many places to go and things to do that we couldn't possibly fit it all in in the time we had and also because, y'know - it's awesome!

So our next stop on the cupcake tour was The Buttercream Cupcake and Coffee Shop. It was a very sweet shop on Sunset Drive and the cupcakes were all beautifully presented. They had a range of flavours which were mostly traditional such as Vanilla, Choc, Choc-Orange, Choc-Vanilla etc but also some more 'interesting' flavours like Pistachio (which I bought) and Lime. As we were planning on visiting another cupcake shop afterwards and due to the fact we were flying home that evening, I settled on just 2 cupcakes - Pistachio and Red Velvet. As you can see, the display was FULL of cupcakes (just what you'd expect from a cupcake shop, but believe me I've seen some recently who shall rename nameless which was less than full and very disappointing!!)

Outside the store with my recent purchases. Not a good pic of me but focus on the shop ;)

Both the cakes were very light and because I was so full from eating the next cupcakes, they actually survived the 9 hr flight home as well. I liked the pistachio one best because I *think* the Red Velvet one had buttercream on whereas I prefer cream cheese on mine. However, the sponge was light and red velvety and it was red! One of the things I've noticed about some cupcakeries over here is that they just can't get Red Velvet ones right. It is tough and not one of the easiest to do but one thing that it must be is RED. I saw a Red Velvet cupcake this week that was brown...Easiest part to get right, right? Apparently not!

Next up was LA Sweets  and I think this was my favourite cupcakery of the tour (just check out that homepage!) It was really roomy and light inside and I loved the display. Their speciality is mini cupcakes - perfect for someone wanting to try as many flavours as possible. But again, I showed restraint and just picked 6! Here I am trying to decide on which ones to go for!

I went with the cupcaker's recommendation for 2: their popular Red Velvet and signature Guava. And I can see why they are their most popular. The red was a really bright red, it was light, fluffy and had cream cheese frosting. Yum! The Guava I had never tried anything like before and it really did taste like Guava. It was a really fruity, tropical taste but not overpoweringly so and even had a tiny piece of Guava on top.

My next favourite was the Chocolate Raspberry, it was divine! Moist, dark chocolate cake with a chocolate ganache and a drizzle of Raspberry sauce. The last 3 I tried were a little sweet for my taste but couldn't fault the sponge - Vanilla with peanut buttercream, Dulche de leche and Caramel Cheesecake.

Don't they look beautiful!?

Here I am with my purchases outside the front

And that concludes my cupcake tour of Florida - thank you Florida, you've been great. I can't wait for my next tour...which state should I visit next?!

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Heaven is a Cupcake Does Florida! (Part 1)

It's been a while since I've posted due to having an extremely busy month, my busiest yet in fact! And then to celebrate ;) I went off to Florida with my sister for a much needed holiday. I've never been before and was very excited to go to Disney, Universal (and more importantly, Hogwarts!), go swimming with dolphins and finally visit as many cupcake shops as I a) could possibly find and b) would be allowed to go to before my sister tore me away! So I thought I would share with you my Florida cupcake shop adventure and let you know what I thought.

Our tour started in Orlando where we went to Disney World (we only had one day there so lots to fit in!) and Universal Studios. We both agreed that Universal was our favourite. We felt it was more suited to us, had great rides and of course, had Harry Potter's Wizarding World. Disney World was great because it fulfilled one of my childhood dreams and although we only had one day there, we managed to fit a lot in - visiting both Animal Kingdom and The Magic Kingdom. I would definitely like to go back and experience it in a more laid back setting, perhaps even staying at one of the hotels. DW was also where we spied our first cupcakes! In Animal Kingdom they had zebra cupcakes and in Magic Kingdom they had chocolate and vanilla. And they were huge! Twice the size of my large cupcakes.  I loved the look of the bakery and the sweet shops on Main Street. It was really colourful and fun.

The cupcakes below were from the bakery on CityWalk at Universal. I actually preferred these as they were slightly smaller than the Disney ones and looked more appetizing.

Now onto the proper cupcakeries! Before we left for Florida I sat down with a nice cuppa and spent an enjoyable evening hunting down all the local cupcake shops to our hotel and I came across Sweet! By Good Golly Miss Holly! When I saw Holly, I immediately recognised her from The Food Network's Cupcake Wars so I was very excited that her shop was just half an hour away from our hotel in Orlando. We walked in and immediately I wanted one of each! Luckily they had a wide range of mini flavours which are also bigger than our minis and are enough for "2 and a half bites" (plenty when you want one of each ;) The display looked lovely and there was a really good choice of classic and more unusual flavours.

After much umming and ahhhing I decided to go for 12 minis (I restrained myself). Miss Holly recommends 3 per person which I think is a good average. We had a few on the journey, enough for a bite each of each cupcake then saved a few for later when we fancied them. Here I am taking time to choose the right cupcakes!

I went for a wide variety, some flavours which I like and have had before, others which I had always wanted to try (like the Boston Cream.) And this is what I went for: Carrot, Boston Cream, High Hat, Key Lime, Red Velvet, S'Mores, White Raspberry, White Out, Banana, Cinnamon Swirl, Dulche de leche and Cookies & Cream.

The first one I tried was the red velvet. I found the cake was quite sticky but it was very light and I enjoyed the frosting. My favourites were the boston cream *I loved the filling!*, the high hat and the carrot. I prefer cupcakes that aren't overpoweringly sweet so am a big fan of cream cheese frosting. My least favourites were the white chocolate ones simply because they were a little on the sweet side for my taste but those of you with a sweet tooth would love them. Overall it was a great start to my cupcake tour and I was pleased with the range of flavours available.

Our tour then continued to Naples where we planned to stop at two bakeries on our way from there to the Keys but unfortunately neither opened til 11am and because we'd got up early to visit the Everglades on route they weren't open when we popped by! And we didn't have much luck with any bakeries in the Keys, although I did find a couple of cupcakers that were based online in the area. In Key West, I did have the yummiest banana bread with maple syrup and flamingo crossing tahitian vanilla ice cream at The Flaming Buoy Filet Co. so that made up for the lack of cupcakes!! We also tried the famous Key Lime Pie at our hotel in Key Largo which also did not disappoint but did not top the banana bread.

Next stop...Miami!!