Anyone actually paying attention to the internet this week? No? Good, because I am EXHAUSTED. Between the wrapping of 10 million presents, watching every single one that took so long to perfectly wrap to my insane standard be ripped to shreds in a matter of seconds, getting everyone dressed and to church, cleaning the house, cooking, having guests, cleaning again, heading to Jersey to see family- I am SHOT. So making this blog a quick one today.
Cupcakes/whoopies/brownies in select stores today. This is the FINAL appearance of both the Hansel and Chocolate Candy Cane until next December, and come next week we’ll be back in “ordinary time”- no more special “once a year” flavors. Know I just compounded your post-holiday depression by a million. It’s hard on us, too.
Good news is that so many of the flavors you love that have been shelved for months for holiday/fall flavors are now back in play, so get over to Facebook and make requests for the January schedule! Because I’ve waited til the last possible minute to write it!
Little side note: Matt has been asked to judge the final projects for the Pastry Arts Department of the International Culinary Center (nee French Culinary Institute), meaning the fate of the pastry chefs of tomorrow is in his hands! ICC is one of the finest culinary schools in the world, so it’s amazing to know I’m sleeping with one of the judges. I’m super proud of him, as always.
Now here’s today’s flavors, and we’ll see you back here on Monday for our final post of 2012! Should be a doozy! Or I may phone it in again- let’s see how tired I am Sunday night.
(forgot picture tonight- here’s a dog in a hula skirt to make it up to you)
We thought by pulling out of holiday markets this year, we’d have lots of time to spend with our children. As always- WRONG.
On Monday we played hooky so we could finally do the one thing that’s been on my “must do” list for 6 years and has never happened- take the boys to Macy’s on 34th Street to see Santa. It was, like everything I look forward to, a total disaster. The store was hot as hell, so I had to hold everyone’s bulky winter coats, and the bags, and my purse, and the boys coloring books like a frikkin sherpa. The hour plus we spent on line was NOT spent playing games or enjoying Santaland with our children, but instead spent completely ignoring them with both of us glued to our iPhones as there was a gigantic problem with a big delivery (reminder to everyone dreaming of owning a small business- you are NEVER “off”. We’ve taken calls from clients while on vacation, at weddings, at my grandmother’s funeral….and now at Santaland!). The Santa we got to see ended up scowling in the picture we spent a small fortune for. And there were tourists EVERYWHERE! Really- someone needs to give out instructions at the airport to these people, explaining to them that the rules of the road in the rest of the world are the same as the rules of WALKING in NYC: you need to look at something, pull over to the right. Stop short in the middle of a walkway to look at something, someone WILL run straight into you and then curse you out.
I did manage to get off my phone long enough to get this blurry picture of a tree staring at me. So, you know, that was worth it I guess.
THEN I got into a fight with an Elvis impersonator on 34th Street over the fact that he’s NEVER seen, much less heard of, Full House! And then get this crap- he tells me “I grew up in San Francisco- they didn’t air it there”. !!!!!! Are you freaking KIDDING me fake Elvis?!?!!
Uncle Jesse keeps saying “Settle down, pretty mama”, but I CAN’T. I sort of feel like Christmas is really trying to kill me.
I give up on trying to get the family to Rockefeller center or Saks, give up on having the New York Christmas experience that I had every year of my life before I had kids, and just get the boys back on the train back home.
So there we are on a packed N train, surrounded by businessmen. And my little Toby Bear (age 4), who loves the subway more than any kid on earth, won’t shut up (like his mom). He’s talking to ALL OF THEM. “Do you know we live on the R train? My name is Toby though, and I wish we lived on the T train. They’re building a T train that’s new! I can’t wait to ride it! No one in my family is an R. Well, we had a cat named Robbie, but he died. I’m not allowed to talk about him though, because every time I do, mommy cries a lot. So don’t say ‘Robbie’ to my mommy, ok?”.
I know every parent says this, but Toby is one of those kids that seriously, almost unnaturally adorable, and without question the most charming kid I’ve ever met. Everyone is smiling at him.
Then he looks at a businessman standing near the door, a tall slender man with thick glasses, nice black suit, completely bald. And Toby says to him “I’m going to Brooklyn! Where are you going- to go buy some hair?”
Oh God, no.
“Everyone, look! That guy lost his hair! Maybe he dropped it!”
Matt avoids the guys gaze, starts shushing Toby the best he can. “Toby- STOP. That’s not nice. Let’s talk about Santa”
Does this stop him? OF COURSE NOT!!!!
“I have lots of hair! You need to go to the hair store and get some. Or maybe you need to get off the train, and get on a train going back to your office. Maybe your hair is still there and you left it on your desk! You need to go back and look for it!”.
In the event that man reads this site- sir, I am SO SORRY. I know you were laughing, even though I couldn’t make eye contact with you. But really- so so so so so so sorry.
And Toby, thank you for once again doing something ridiculous and saving Christmas from being a total painful crapshow for the 5th year in a row. I may not get to see the windows at Bergdorf’s or the Nutcracker anymore, or be able to go Christmas shopping without wanting to throw myself through a plate glass window, or make it to December 25th without having at least one small nervous breakdown. Yet somehow, Christmas is better now than it has ever been before. Because with you and your brother, EVERYTHING is better.
Hope all of you have managed to find some little moments that have made the holidays less insane for you. Maybe you could have a moment with one of these cupcakes? Maybe a Robicelli’s brownie or a cup of our hot cocoa? That sounds pretty nice, doesn’t it?
Photograph property of Instagram.
From front: Creme Brulee, Hot Toddy, Chocolate Orange, The Hansel
The Hansel: Gingerbread cake, white chocolate pudding, speculoos buttercream, white chocolate dipped gingerbread cookie
I forgot to write the Tumblr on Tuesday (sorry). And by forgot, I mean I fell asleep on the couch. I’ve been kinda crazy busy lately. To make it up to you, here’s a post with 10,000 links! Ok, maybe that’s not making it up to you, but I’ve just got a ton of stuff to talk about today, and besides I could pretty easily blow a good 20 to 30 minutes of your productivity with all of this. Fortunately, it’s Friday AND we’re into the holidays now, so it’s not like you really have to pay attention to your job or anything. Ten bucks says a solid third of you guys are showing up drunk to work already.
Tuesday I spent the day talking to the most amazing kids I’ve met in a long time- the third grade at the world famous PS 22 in Staten Island. You’ve seen their chorus on the Oscars, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Oprah and more…..and here they are with Matt Damon!
My BFF Peter Shankman invited me to tag along with him to speak about what it’s like to be an entrepreneur. I thought I’d be the cool kid in class who owns a freaking CUPCAKE FACTORY, but of course, Peter brought along video of himself jumping out of an airplane because he’s essentially the entire world’s awesomely crazy uncle. Peter Shankman 1, me 0. Of course, there will be a day where outcrazy Peter and win the love of children all over the globe. (side note, if anyone out there with a video camera has access to a cheetah, a zeppelin, and 10,000 ping pong balls, get in touch with me)
I’ve been busy working at and behind the scenes at the Bay Ridge Cares Kitchen (BRiCK). Serious Eats has been hanging out with us a bit and wrote this really great piece about our team. We seriously have the best people ever working there.
While we’re on the topic of holiday parties, now’s as good of a time as any to mention that we’re a week away from Hanukkah, meaning we’re a week away from….
THE BLATT! Our once a year classic that imagines what would happen if a cheesecake made sweet sweet love to a jelly donut. This one is obsessed over by many, yet only available for eight crazy nights. Want to make sure they, or any of our other delicious creations, are at your party next weekend? Hanukkah ordering is finally up to make that happen- just note that we need at least 2 days to process orders, so get yours in ASAP!
You may also have noticed that we haven’t announced our Christmas flavors yet, and with good reason: we haven’t decided what they are yet. We have just so many amazing ones, and it gets harder and harder to pick every year. So what do we do when we have to make tough choices? Easy- we make you do it. Head on over to our Facebook page and vote- your answers will determine what you’re cramming in your piehole on the happiest day of the year (it sounds so much more appetizing when you say “cram in your piehole, yes?).
And now for one final item for you to click on to get you in the holiday mood: Emmett Otter’s Jugband Christmas:
Now go eat some cupcakes. The holidays are ON, people!
I know the Tumblr is crazy late today. Last night I came home, collapsed into bed and just watched the lights on my Christmas tree. Atticus was up, too. He said he stayed up in his bed til I got home because he loves me and he misses me. Of course, after he says this I start crying. Then he starts petting my head and saying “It’s ok Mommy! Don’t cry- I’m right here! It’s ok!”.
This, of course, makes me cry more.
With all the craziness of the holiday season- with the gift buying and running from market to market to dealing with extended family and making travel arrangements and whatever you start to think that the holidays are meant to kill you. Then you have moments like that where you realize that the holidays are about nothing more than taking a little step back from the insanity of your life, looking around, and realizing not what you want, but what you already have. And I am an incredibly lucky person.
Now to today’s flavors. Today’s sort of special to me, because as we’ve made many cupcakes that touched on “traditional” Christmas flavors, most of those things were never found at my house growing up. Now while those of us who were born and raised in Brooklyn know about American Christmas traditions from tv and pop culture, our neighborhoods were divided into ethnic enclaves where we held strong to the traditions of the old world, regardless of when our families arrived from there.
At my Sicilian grandmother’s house, I don’t think we ever had a turkey, or eggnog, or gingerbread. But we DID have lasagna, red wine, orange flavored chocolates and panforte. Panforte is a sort of chocolate fruitcake/candy hybrid that is not remotely like the fruitcakes we all joke about. It’s so rich that only a small slice will do. And it’s wonderful.
My mother’s parents came here to escape the Nazis in occupied Norway. For Christmas, my bestemor made “Riskrem”- rice cream. Now, the Persians and Mexicans and whomever else can talk about how great their rice pudding is, and yes, it’s delicious- but Norway OWNS rice pudding, and nobody realizes it. The secret? Once they make the pudding, they fold in an equal amount of whipped cream. And yes, it’s ever better than you’re thinking it is right now.
Riskrem is made in a giant pot, then one solitary almond is mixed in, and whomever gets it has good luck for an entire year, AND gets a marzipan pig! I got the pig when I was 8, and let me tell you, marizpan? Tastes like VICTORY.
Today we have a chocolate and mascarpone cake topped with a sliver of homemade panforte for you to try, and another topped with riskrem and some almonds so you’ll all have good luck in the New Year. If you like them, maybe you can make them into traditions for your family in the years ahead.
That was pretty much the best part of growing up in Brooklyn. We had all our own cultures, but we got to have all our friends cultures, too. And that was a lot more interesting than the tradition of holiday red velvet milk. (it’s red flavored!)
Clockwise from front: Chocolate Orange, Creme Brulee, Chocolate Panforte, Riskrem
NEW! Chocolate Panforte: Chocolate Cake, Mascarpone Buttercream, Homemade Italian Panforte
How have you been? Did you have a nice summer? How is your wife? I have been extra good this year, so here is the long list of presents I want this year. Please note the size and color of each item, and send as many as possible. If it seems too complicated, make it easy on yourself: just send money. How about tens and twenties?
1. Tickets to “Sleep No More”. I’ve been asking all year, Santa, and I’ve been extra EXTRA good just for this, so please make it happen. My kids get everything, and that’s fine- I love them to death and would give them the whole world if I could. And I have forfeited Christmas and birthday gifts for the past few years so we could save money and throw everything we had back into the business. And I would have no problem skipping another year, except I REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY WANT TO SEE THIS SHOW.
And please promise me that it’s even more awesome than I think it is, because I hate it when I get so utterly hopelessly stoked for something and it doesn’t live up to expectation. Maybe I have high standards, maybe I expect too much. I’m a woman, gaddamn it! I will never be happy with anything!! ANYTHING!!!
2. LASIK Surgery. Actually, I hate surgery, so if I can just wake up with 20/20 vision, that would be sweet. I’m sick of walking into doors in the middle of the night on account of my blindness.
3. A Really Big Steak. Just keep this on every list I ever send you. There will never, ever be a day this doesn’t make me deliriously happy. I prefer a bone-in ribeye, with a perfectly charred outside and a juicy medium rare center. I also request that I be able to eat this steak with my bare hands and making whatever primal grunts or coos that I deem necessary without judgement.
4. Center Ice Rangers Seats. I don’t get to follow hockey anymore because of that whole “raising young kids while running a small business” thing, but I miss it a lot. If you can just talk Atticus & Toby to sitting down and watching one full game with me instead of forcing me to change the channel to “Yo Gabba Gabba”, that really would be just as good. And if we could all be eating steaks- WIN!
5. Jem Dolls. Yes, I had ALL of them when I was six, and yes, we gave ALL of them away. And yes, I now understand in adulthood that the show was actually created by Hasbro, and the entire Jem series was nothing but a really long commercial. I should be too smart for this. Yet I started Tivoing the old cartoon (it’s on the HUB network!), and within the first five minutes, I was on Ebay trying to track down all the dolls again. Their hair was sooooo pretty.
And if we can’t make the dolls happen, can we at least guarantee that Matt won’t laugh at me when I sing and dance during all the musical numbers? I still do a mean “Glitter and Gold”.
6. Another Steak.
7. The Ability to Understand Why Chicks Like Shoes So Much. I have been trying, Santa. I’ve been trying for 31 years- I just don’t freaking get it. Who’s looking at your feet! Seriously! I wear the same pair of chef shoes every day, and have been wearing chef shoes for almost 10 years. I feel like maybe I’m missing out on something, but I really, really just don’t get shoes at all, and all I want is to fit in one girl’s night.
8. Big Apple Circus Tickets. Here’s a true story: when I was 8, my parents took my sister and I to the Big Apple Circus and we loved it. Wouldn’t stop talking about it. The next year they took us again, and it wasn’t as great. They tried this whole “wild west” theme that we didn’t like, the jokes weren’t as funny…..it’s just like I was saying in the “Sleep No More” part: sometimes when you look forward to something so much, it just can’t possibly live up.
We left the big top and my parents asked us how we liked the circus, and we told them it was horrible. And that’s when they FLIPPED THE F*** OUT ON US. My father started screaming at us at the top of his lungs as we got into the car, how we were spoiled and ungrateful, and how dare we not like the circus! If they were buying us tickets to something, we sure as hell better like it!
Now, I was grounded a lot as a kid- like just about every weekend. Sometimes I deserved it. And sometimes I couldn’t go out to play for two weeks because I didn’t like the circus enough. That’s one of those things I have never let my dad forget about.
This year is the last one for Grandma the Clown, who I fell in love with at that first circus as a girl, and have had a soft spot for my entire life. Matt and I decided that the boys were old enough to go to the circus for the first time and planned on buying them tickets for Christmas. And then once we picked our seats in the last row, added on all the tax, “convenience” charges etc, we were looking at a bill close to $300 for the four of us.
So dad, um…..yeah, I’m really sorry for not liking the circus. And if you know of any coupon codes, Santa, that would be pretty nice.
9. A Robot Army To Do My Bidding. There are really too many areas of my life where there’s some sort of problem that could EASILY be solved by a robot. Like the other night at Union Square and I couldn’t leave my booth but really wanted a burrito from Dos Toros?
How smart is this. Really, Santa.
10. A Week With My Husband and Kids. We don’t have to be in Hawaii or on a cruise or even out of the house. I’ll take one full week where we do nothing but hang out in our pajamas and play Duplo blocks and Super Mario World, eat take-out and have cuddling parties. Truth is, Santa, I already have everything I have ever wanted in the world with these three guys. I just want more of it.
Though you know what would make my family even better? A robot butler.
We’ve been at the Union Square Holiday Market for two weeks now, and I’m still getting lots of tweets from people who claim they’re there but can’t seem to find us. Apparently the map I made isn’t good enough for you guys!
How can anything of that caliber of quality be confusing?! Trader Joe’s, Upside Down Elephant, US! We even finally got a sign and a number- we’re C34 now! EVERYONE knows good old C34! But in case you don’t here’s some super-clear text directions you can print out and stick in your pocket:
When you get out of the subway you’ll be exiting into this round gazebo-like dealie. Is it a gazebo if there’s a subway under it? Maybe it’s just a roof? I’m really not sure what necessarily constitutes a gazebo and how it differentiates from a kiosk or ramshackle lean-to. Once you get to the top of the stairs, look straight ahead and there’s an “Information Booth”. Ask them where we are. OR turn left, pick the wide aisle that runs along 14th Street, and take that til almost the end. We’re on the right side. C34.
From the L, or people who got out of the R,N,Q out of the wrong exit:
You’re probably in front of Whole Foods. Walk to “Shoemania” on the corner of 14th and Broadway. You’re going to pass a girl who has a sign saying she’s homeless & needs money, but every time I see her she’s on her iPhone, so I end up thinking about the nature of necessity versus basic survival, and whether or not the need for connection to the internet and vis a vis society as a whole actually trumps the long thought basic necessities of food and shelter in 21st Century NYC.
By the time you’ve begun to sketch out two compelling sides to the argument, you’ll have overshot your target by about 5 blocks. Ponder these questions on your subway ride into Manhattan, so by the time you arrive you’ll already behalfway to your conclusion and can keep an eye open for Shoemania.
At Shoemania: Stop, turn left, cross the street, enter the first aisle of the market. Stop again, turn right, walk about halfway down. C34.
From the 4,5,6
I keep getting lost coming from this line. You kind of just have to hug the outside rim of the market and jump into what you think is the southermost aisle, and keep your eye out on the left hand side for us. Or just hang along 14th Street and follow the Shoemania directions, but without the philosophical crisis since that girl is on the other side of the street and you won’t see her. OR you can cross the street and then cross back so you can have the crisis and won’t feel left out.
If you get it wrong, don’t bother asking any of the other vendors because nobody has any idea how to get around over there. Seriously, I have no idea where anything is but the information desk, and the stuff that’s immediately around me. I’m across from Gnome Enterprises, which is kinda awesome because they make the best shirts in the world and are the coolest people ever. And we’re right next to Fortune Keeper which is my current obsession, because it proves to me that I’m not the only person who totally believes that what fortune cookies tell me is 100% true. Like that time that cookie said “You are young, wonderful and attractive”, and I was like “Hells YES cookie! I AM young wonderful and attractive! You are one smart dessert!”. And then I ate it.
And if all else fails, you can click on this link to be taken to a detailed map and directory of the market so you’ll be able to tell where everything is. It’s alphabetized and everything.
Once you find where you’re going, THESE will be waiting for you, alongside brownies, whoopie pies, Danny Macaroons, hot tea and Matt’s new homemade hot Valrhona dark cocoa! And if you can’t come visit us directly at Union Square, these will still be at a store near you, so go check them out!
Clockwise from front: Chocolate Orange, Chocolate Merlot, Eggnog, Creme Brulee
It’s been a few weeks since we launched our IndieGoGo fundraiser, and we are already 38% closer to our goal (don’t ask how long it took me to figure that one out). So a big THANK YOU to everyone who’s contributed so far!
I’m sure many of you checked out the project when it was first announced, and have had no reason to look at it again. Well, may I entice you with our BRAND SPANKING NEW VIDEO!!!! If you have ever wanted to know what I look like mid-shift after minimal sleep with no makeup on, now is your chance!
As cool as this video is, what makes it even cooler is that it’s the first in a new video series called Bklynography, the brainchild of super-fan Alison Grasso. Not only is she an incredibly awesome and generous girl, but she’s ridiculously talented behind the camera. I’m very excited to see what she’s coming out with next.
No more reading! Go watch the video- right after flavors!!!!
Today is exciting because we’re pulling a flavor off our bucket list that’s been there for nearly two years: Pecan Potato Chip. We’ve already had mixed reactions to it- those from down South can’t be more excited, some who love the mixture of salty and sweet are curious, and some people have just given us a good old “EEEEWW!”. I mean for real people, why would we release a cupcake that didn’t taste good? Why would that make sense? You doubted us with the whole bacon on a cupcake thing, we proved you wrong. Again with blue cheese buttercream, proved you wrong again. Chicken n’Waffles- do we even need to keep going? This is no different than rolling our cupcakes in pretzels- salty+sweet=PURE AWESOMENESS.
I actually can’t take credit for this idea, which I alluded to before when I mentioned our friends from the American south. Years ago I was the head chef of a fancy-schmancy specialty food shop in Manhattan, and one of the things we used to sell a ton of was North Carolina’s Immaculate Baking Company Potato Chip Cookies (I happened to schedule all the demos, and since I was pregnant at the time we demoed this item a LOT). I had never heard of a potato chip cookie before, but I’ll never forget that first taste- crumbly, buttery, salty and sweet all at the same time. It was everything a girl could want in cookie, and then thinking about it from a chef’s perspective, it just seemed like a brilliant idea! It’s classic in it’s American housewife-style resourcefulness: utilizing all the leftover crushed chips in the bottom of a bag and turning it into something unbelievably delicious.
Eventually I left that job to give birth to my first son. The next summer Matt and I were hitting up the Fancy Food Show at the Javits Center, and I made a beeline for Immaculate Baking Company booth to generously sample the potato chip cookies. To my horror they didn’t have any, and to make it even worse when I asked the owner where they were, he said they’d been discontinued! And then he told me that they were his favorite too but they had to discontinue them, because apparently I was the only person who was buying them!!!
Now, I can’t bring those cookies back to store shelves, but I CAN take those incredible flavors and make them into a cupcake. You need to trust me on this guys- if you love salty & sweet together (like in our chocolate caramel pretzel), you love things that are rich and buttery (like, um, our cupcakes), you will LOVE THESE CUPCAKES.