Long time no see! That was the longest hiatus I’ve ever taken here on the blog, but it turns out that writing a book is a lot of work – who knew? It has been a great project to work on but has kept me away from here for far too long and I am so happy to be back!
The timing of the book deadline was actually perfect because it was due yesterday and today is my birthday! So my b-day cake will have to multitask a little by also celebrating the completion of my first cookbook! Wooo! Taste Tester is in the kitchen as we speak whipping up some kind of tasty 3-tier cake. Whoa!
I have lots to share with you including info about my cookbook (yay!) a giveaway from Nature Valley (yum!) and a whole lot of other CPB adventures to catch up on. I also got to help work the Askinosie Chocolate booth at the Fancy Food Show in NYC back in June and had a blast seeing what life was like in the booth as opposed to just being one of the many observers pilfering free samples. While doing so, I got to meet/see some very cool celeb chefs (Ina! Rick! RR!) and will share those experiences as well.
Aside from that, for the next couple weeks, Taste Tester and I will be working out of the Chicago area. We have already been here a week and when I haven’t been working on the book, we have been busy visiting family and friends and (as always) eating delicious chocolate peanut butter treats! So we have some things to share from the Windy City as well.
Chicago is such a pretty city on a sunny summer day. We’re happy to be back!
I did some work in their cool, relaxing space with a latte, a delicious slice of Caramelized Onion Quiche and a Peanut Butter Cookie by my side. The cookie was soft and delightful. It was just firm enough, while chewy and slightly under-baked in the center. Yum, YUM! It’s available with chocolate chunks as well, but I was in the mood for the straight peanut butter. I can only imagine that it gets even better with the added chocolate!
Sunday was a pretty awesome day as well, which started with a great brunch at one of our favorite (and newly re-opened) brunch spots, Dodo (I had Vanilla French Toast w/Maple Sauteed Bananas – whoa!). We then headed downtown to catch the Freelance Whales play a great show at the Hard Rock Hotel before they headed over to Lollapalooza. It was probably the closest I’ve ever stood to a band I like, so that was pretty sweet (despite a little rain).
Oh the way to the show, we came across some of the Transformers 3 set which was also pretty kickass. It suddenly felt like we encountered the Apocalypse on a sleepy Sunday morning.
Also, on the way there we passed by Rick Bayless’s block of restaurants, which includes Frontera Grill, Topolobampo and a newer cafe called XOCO. I had a nice dinner at Topolobampo a few years ago, and was so excited to find that he opened up XOCO, which serves churros with *gasp* “bean-to-cup” hot chocolate. They were unfortunately closed when we passed by, but I hope to go back and try it before we leave the area. Can’t wait!
After the show, we enjoyed some cupcakes from a relatively new and well-regarded bakery called Bake over in Wicker Park.
I’ll admit that with a 4 1/2 star rating on Yelp, my expectations were high. Unfortunately they were out of their much-raved-about Chocolate Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies, so I picked up four of the also-raved-about cupcakes instead.
Clockwise from top left: Vanilla Nutella, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Chocolate Cake w/Cream Cheese Frosting & Vanilla Cake w/Chocolate Buttercream.
Though the cupcakes didn’t quite live up to my expectations, they were okay overall. The Vanilla Nutella cupcake sadly didn’t have much flavor at all (I never would have known it had Nutella in it if it didn’t say it in the title) and the icing tasted overwhelmingly of butter. Like the Nutella Buttercream, the Cream Cheese Frosting tasted overwhelmingly of Cream Cheese. I understand not wanting to load your frosting with sugar but when it results in a one-note frosting, it doesn’t really seem like you’re winning the battle.
Icings aside, the vanilla cake was quite good and dense. The texture was closer to that of a pound cake as opposed to your average fluffy vanilla cake. The chocolate buttercream was thick and rich as well and really tasty, but tasted better refrigerated than it did at room temperature (I think because it got thick and fudgey as opposed to melty and buttery). The Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcake wasn’t the most memorable in the world, but it was fine. The peanut butter frosting could have used a little more peanut butter and the cake could have been more flavorful and moist. Overall, it wasn’t the most exciting batch of cupcakes and I would seek my CPB elsewhere, but I would definitely go back for the tasty Vanilla Cupcake w/Chocolate Buttercream.
That’s all the CPB I have for now, but I should be writing more regularly once again and will be back to share more soon. Thanks for sticking with me through the hiatus!