Cupcake ATM Coming to Georgetown

Though it might already be old news to some, I just had to mention that cupcake shop Sprinkles is bringing its famous Cupcake ATM to Georgetown.  The Washington Post reports that it is expected to open sometime in August.

Sprinkles Cupcakery, Georgetown

I am curious how many cupcakes will sell through the ATM per day.  Georgetown is the perfect location – between college students, shoppers, tourists, and the post-bar crowd.   I can’t think of a better place in Washington to put 24 hour cupcake access. But will it sell 1,000 cupcakes a day like the Beverly Hills location?  Will it impact those long lines outside Georgetown Cupcake?  Time will tell.Meanwhile, I’ll file “Cupcake ATM” under the list of things I wish I had thought of first!

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Do Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies Taste Better?

I have recently become interested in vegan baking.  While not a vegan myself, I have had vegan dinner guests and preparing a dairy-free, eggless dessert has presented an exciting challenge.

How do you mimic the behavior of an egg in a baked product?  Eggs have magical scientific properties that make cakes rise and fluff, cookies moisten, and bread shine.  Leave an egg out of a recipe inadvertently (as I did once) and you’ll know it right away.  Can you imagine a soufflé without eggs?

 Vegan baked goods use a variety of ingredients to replace eggs, milk, and butter.  One vegan brownie recipe I tried used soymilk and canned pumpkin.  Some vegans will use applesauce.  Tofu is another common substitute, as is a flaxseed paste.  Several people online recommend Earth Balance brand margarine. Commercial bakeries use ingredients like brown rice syrup or evaporated cane juice as sweeteners.

 But how does all of this taste?  I can vouch for the cupcakes at the vegan Sticky Fingers Bakery in the D.C. neighborhood of Columbia Heights.  Their cupcakes are some of the best I’ve ever tasted—vegan or not.  You would truly never know they were unconventional.

 Having determined that there are good vegan cupcakes out there, I decided to compare another bakery staple—chocolate chip cookies.  I purchased cookies from Sticky Fingers and one of my D.C-area favorite traditional bakeries, Buzz.  Cookies from only two bakeries are admittedly a small sample, but I was limited in time and budget.  I gathered a scientific panel (my boyfriend’s family) and conducted a blind taste test.

 The Buzz cookies were fairly large, and used chocolate disks rather than chips.  The cookie itself had a nice brown sugar taste, but some complained that there were too many bites without chocolate.

 The Sticky Fingers cookies were moister, with smaller chips.  One tester immediately tasted an odd spice, something like nutmeg.

 When asked which cookie was vegan, all the testers immediately identified the Sticky Fingers cookie.  However, they agreed that it wasn’t that they disliked it, more just that something seemed “off” which made them suspect it was the vegan one.

 I enjoy the vegan chocolate chip cookies at Whole Foods more than their traditional ones.  The Whole Foods cookies are more chewy, and you can break them into pieces with one hand (which is convenient when eating them at your desk like I do).  I find the dough to have a more balanced taste.  Both the vegan and traditional cookies are available as single cookies (perfect for lunch) and they are the same price.  Whole Foods has also started carrying selected items from Sticky Fingers.

 While I don’t plan to make a habit of eating vegan desserts, I do enjoy investigating them and will be happy to share any tasty ones that come along.

Photo courtesy of joyofbaking.com

 

Bakery Review: Danielle’s Desserts, Tysons Corner, VA

Did you know there’s a delicious bakery on the third floor of the Tysons Galleria?  I had no idea.  Danielle’s Desserts serves cakes and pies whole or by the slice, along with cookies and fair-trade coffee and tea.  It’s a great place to stop for dessert after a meal in one of the restaurants downstairs.  (I raced to Danielle’s after dinner at Lebanese Taverna).

 I tried the blueberry buckle and the triple chocolate cake.  The blueberry was very generously sliced and tasty, though a bit underdone in the middle.  The chocolate cake, however, was a real stand-out.  It had the bitter, intense flavor of dark chocolate (maybe some espresso powder in there also) and was rich without being cloyingly sweet.  Two people could easily share the slice.

 I was pleased to see that Danielle’s emphasizes seasonal ingredients.  Danielle herself was behind the counter, which gave this bakery additional charm.  Located in a mall full of chains (which most people don’t shop in—Neiman Marcus, anyone?!) it was nice to see a bakery with a local owner.  Despite its location, I thought Danielle’s was affordable, especially considering that the portions can be shared.

 I’ll definitely be heading back to Danielle’s to try some more items the next time I’m in the area.

 Grade: A

Bakery review: Little Cupcake Bake Shop, SoHo, NYC

From time to time, 350degreesofyummy.com will feature reviews of bakeries I’ve visited in my travels.  I go out of my way to find offbeat, funky, cozy, or just non-chain bakeries in the cities I visit.  [Read more…]