Tuesday, July 26, 2011

best. cupcake. ever.

Yesterday, I discovered a new favorite cupcake recipe, and that's saying a LOT considering I didn't think anything could ever beat my love for my grandma's Red Velvet recipe! I wanted to try a cupcake dipped in ganache, so I googled and found the perfect recipe to try! You can find the recipe here:

This was my first time taking photos of the steps as I was mixing & baking, and I missed a few, but you'll get the general idea!

 All the dry ingredients!

 Dry ingredients mixed together. 
(my 3 year old's favorite part - he says "It's my job, mom!")

 LOVE my KitchenAid stand mixer! It was a hand-me-down from my mother in law when she got a new one. How did I bake without this before?!

Cream the butter & sugar until light & fluffy!

 The finished batter!

I am totally loving my new scoop! Perfectly portioned, even cupcakes!

 The recipe called for chocolate chips sprinkled on top of the batter before baking! This is the first time I've made cupcakes with chocolate chips on top, I totally expected them to just melt in!

 I was surprised to see the chocolate chips still whole when I took the cupcakes out of the oven! They are a yummy surprise under the frosting! Also, a great tip I read somewhere: run a toothpick around the outside of every cupcake right after taking them out of the oven! This prevents any overfilled batter from sticking to your pan & ruining your cupcakes when you try to take them out!

 The to-die-for mint buttercream frosting! I'm out of piping bags, so I just filled a ziploc & cut one of the corners off, since I was just doing simple swirls. I've seen a team on Cupcake Wars who can make gorgeous swirled frosting using only a spatula! I thought it was a little rude when they were scoffing at the other teams using piping bags, but it's definitely a skill I wouldn't mind learning, haha!

 The chocolate ganache! It took about 45 seconds in my microwave, you want the cream warm to the touch & the chocolate just barely starting to melt, so that the chocolate is not cooked! The whisk was the perfect choice to help mix & finish melting the chocolate!

Dipping the cupcakes in the ganache was probably my favorite part! I double dipped them, letting the ganache dry just a bit in between. I had quite a bit of ganache left, so I dipped some graham crackers too, which my boys have been loving!

 I sprinkled Andes mint baking chips on the wet ganache, and then let the ganache firm up a little more in the refrigerator. I think it's so cute how the mint buttercream peeks out from underneath the ganache! I'm also loving my display tower that I got on clearance at Walmart, only $4!

 Some of my new mark. products in front of the cupcake display, to use as the picture for my "sugar sugar" cupcake+mark. party event! Local followers, check out the details on facebook!

Without the flash. 

There you have it, my new favorite cupcakes! I'll still be making the Red Velvet for our birthday parties, since it's a tradition I want to keep, but these cupcakes will be my guilty pleasure from now on, haha! 

Do you have a favorite cupcake recipe? I'd love to try it out! Next up on my list is finding a delicious cupcake with less dairy ingredients, for a friend who tries to be dairy-free as much as possible!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

cupcakes + mark = perfection!

Remember the new i-mark metallics I showed you last post? There's a shade called sugar sugar, and that inspired my decision to change my blog name, to reflect my new direction for the blog - a combination of my love for mark. and my love for cupcakes - baking them & eating them haha! I hope you'll like the change and variation in posts!

My mark. mentor, Erica, has monthly meet ups in Eagan MN for reps & anyone interested in becoming a rep! Our team is called Erica's Rockstars, and it's such an incredible group of successful, helpful women! I look forward to the meetings every month, and last month was extra amazing because my bff (and fellow mark. rep!) Lindsey & I stopped at a bakery I've been dying to check out before heading to Caribou for the meet up!

I'm addicted to all things cupcake - baking them, searching new recipes, Cupcake Wars, DC Cupcakes, etc! I was so excited to see a Minnesota team on Cupcake Wars, and just happened to be watching that episode with Lindsey a few days before the monthly meet up! We decided on the spot that we needed to make a stop for cupcakes before the meeting, since neither of us get out without kids often, so a trip to the Cities (2 1/2 hours one way!!) needs to be packed with fun!

The shop we stopped at is simply called Cupcake, but their cute logo has a coffee cup for the U, since they also serve soups, sandwiches, coffee, etc! You can check out the website (and their yummy variety of cupcake flavors) here: 

Of course I brought my camera with to document our trip! We had quite the adventure getting there, and leaving especially, due to construction in downtown Minneapolis, but it was totally worth it! Here are a few pictures of the building, entrance, etc!

 Part of the indoor seating area, where you can see in to the kitchen!

 Check out the adorable whisk door handles!

The patio, where we enjoyed our cupcakes! It was such a nice day, warm with a gentle breeze! Perfect weather for eating outside!

Now on to the best part - THE CUPCAKES!

 The cupcake display case! SO many choices, I couldn't pick just one! I saw a cupcake called "Buddha Belly" which I didn't recognize from the website, and when I asked about it, the girl described it as a spiced chocolate cake, topped with chocolate mousse, dipped in spiced chocolate ganache. I exclaimed "OOH, is that from Cupcake Wars?!" She reacted with much less enthusiasm - a bored nod and sarcastic "Yes." Huh. Guess she gets that question a lot. Oh well!

 I settled on these 4 cupcakes (clockwise from top left): Razz-ma-tazz, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Mint Chocolate Chip, and Red Velvet!

 Also had to get a Mini Red Velvet to eat there! The cake was good, but I must not be a fan of cream cheese, because I hated the frosting! All in all, I think my own Red Velvet Cupcakes, with the recipe given to me by my grandma, are much better!

 I decided to eat one of my other cupcakes there too, and chose the Razz-ma-tazz! Ohmygosh, I LOVED it! Chocolate cake with a raspberry filling, raspberry buttercream frosting, and chocolate shavings! I tried to replicate this at home with less-than-stellar results. I'll have to keep trying!

 I took the other cupcakes out of the box for better pictures of them! Here's the Mint Chocolate Chip, which I had half of before bed that night! Chocolate cake with mint buttercream frosting, topped with chocolate chips! I liked this one a lot, but it was a little too heavy on the frosting for me!

 Chocolate Peanut Butter, which I enjoyed for breakfast the next day! Chocolate cake with peanut butter buttercream frosting, topped with a chocolate peanut butter candy! Very good, but again, a little too much frosting for me. (I know, I'm weird. Most people like the frosting best!) I've baked a similar cupcake for the hubby since, and it was pretty yummy! My only disappointment was that I was out of icing bags, and using ziploc bags was not working! I guess it's time to invest in a professional decorating kit!

The full-sized Red Velvet, with cream cheese spikes! Funny side-story for this one - my sister's 2nd baby boy was born the morning of this trip, and I brought this cupcake to the hospital for her. The cream cheese had started to wilt, and one spike had fallen down over the side. Cassie asked if it was supposed to be a dragon, but I found out later that her husband thought it was breastfeeding cupcake, I'll let you guess what he thought the spikes resembled. Oh my! Haha!

I didn't get pictures of Lindsey's cupcakes, but she got the Paris Hilton to eat there (vanilla cupcake with sweet frosting, covered in hot pink sprinkles!) and it turned her fingertips hot pink! She also got a 2nd cupcake to take home, the Caramel Chai Lotus, which was another cupcake featured on Cupcake Wars. She didn't care for the frosting, but said the cake was good!

I think we'll have to make Cupcake a traditional stop on the way to the mark meet-ups! If anyone would like to join us, feel free to comment or send me a message! Lindsey was just coming along for fun the first meet up she attended, and by the next one she had decided to sign up as a rep! :)

I'm hosting a cupcake-tasting/mark. party on August 5th & 6th! Guests can offer insights on my cupcake recipes, check out the latest beauty & fashion from mark. and get more info on the mark. opportunity! For more info or to RSVP, find me or my mark. fan page on facebook! (click the tabs at the top of my blog page for links!)

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

NY Inspired Style!

I've been in a blog writing-block lately! I logged on today and saw that my last post was all about the NYC trip, which is very fitting since I've been feeling a bit melancholy, wanting to be in NYC with my mark girls again! That was all I could think about while watching the Macy's fireworks display on TV on the 4th of July! 
Luckily, mark. has come to my rescue with their NYC-inspired fall fashion collection!

mark.'s gorgeous brand ambassador Ashley Greene 
on the cover of magalog 9!

mark. reps get the chance to pre-order products, a month before they're available to our customers through our eBoutiques! Friday was our first opportunity to order the fall fashion items that I have been super excited about!

I had to sweet-talk the hubby a little bit, but I'm SO thrilled with what I ordered, and I'm (im)patiently waiting for my shipment confirmation. To help tide myself over until my stuff comes, I'll give you a sneak peek at the upcoming products that I ordered!!

Get It All Deal - $28
You truly get a little bit of all the fall beauty products in this collection!
The new i-mark metallics in shades Jazzy & Lava, a Good Glowing blush in Cameo Glo, the new lux-ed up Snap To It case, with the mirror stretching over the whole top, and a brand new duo of the popular Nailed It lacquers!

I-mark Metallics - $6 each
Of course I had to try out each color of the new metallic i-marks! We learned in NYC that these powder shadows are formulated with shea butter, so they're a very velvety feeling eyeshadow! They're highly pigmented and have tons of staying-power!

Scene Stealer Necklace - $36
We had a sneak peek at this necklace MONTHS ago, when Ashley Greene released a photo from a mark. photo shoot! I've been obsessed ever since, and after seeing it in person, I know I won't be disappointed! mark. does an incredible job designing their statement jewelry pieces, and this necklace is sure to become my new favorite!

Glammed Up Ring - $28
The mark. website describes this ring as "rock & roll meets glitz & glam" and it is STUNNING with 297 clear glass crystals! We got to see this in NYC, and then while out exploring Times Square, fellow rep Melissa noticed a VERY similar ring on a billboard!

Lace It Up Tights - $12
I ordered the tights, which have a vertical crochet pattern!
Also available are the Short Story Shorts - $38
and the Totally Suitable Blazer - $52!

High Stepping Boots - $70
I am super excited for these boots! We got a quick little teaser glimpse at them in the new sizzle reel, and the room went NUTS! They can be worn cuffed, as shown, or flipped up over the knee! As a special promo, you get a FREE lipclick when you purchase the boots!

Those are the products I'm anxiously awaiting - I bet you can see why I'm so excited for these NYC-inspired items! Everything shown here can be pre-ordered through me now, and will be available in my eBoutique starting mid-August!

Can't end this post without mentioning the fabulous clearance going on now in the Last Chance section of my eBoutique! Some of my absolute favorite mark. items are being discontinued to make way for new products! Here are just a few of the highlights:

mark. Jewel A Spray We Go Hook Up Fragrance - $3.99 (was $8)

Spring 2011 It Kit - $9.99 (was $20)

Petite Cosmetic Bag - $3.99 (was $6)

Ibiza Sol Instant Vacation Fragrance Mist - $9.99 (was $18)

Make sure to snap these items up before they're gone!
Use promo code WELCOME for free shipping on your first order,
or promo code MARKFS30 for free shipping on your order of $30 or more!

Thanks so much for reading!