Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Iron Cupcake Bake Off Challenge Results!

Packed full of fun, this month the Iron Cupcake SF Challenge had seventeen bakers. The range of minis was broad with Maple Bacon, Mexican Chocolate Cake, and even a couple tasty vegan options – Lavender with Lemonzest and Chocolate Peppermint with Eggnog.

The FingerSweets mini, Mallow Chocolate Graham, was wiped clean however this upscale s’mores cupcake was unable to move up the ranks with such other great delights competing side by side.
We’ll see what develops in January with the unique theme of White.
Any ideas what kind of white cupcake you would make?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Iron Cupcake SF Challenge!

It’s the last Iron Cupcake SF Challenge of the year and it’s a Bake Off.  Now is the time to bring out our best, our signature cupcakes or in FingerSweets’ case a first place favorite.

Mallow Chocolate Graham (a.k.a S’mores)!
This cupcake was a favorite amongst the attendees of the Iron Cupcake Challenge last February and was the most popular mini for many months throughout the year. 

This upscale version of the campfire treat brings together a graham cracker cake, thick chocolate ganache filling and thin layer on top, finished with a homemade marshmallow frosting, and torched to get that toasted yummy taste.

Will the Mallow Chocolate Graham be a winner in the Bake Off…stay tuned!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Iron Cupcake Spice/Herb Challenge Results!

Savory and Spicy cupcakes took the stage and few such as Mexican Hot Chocolate and Cinnamon Horchata made their way into the winning circle. 

Traditional and tasty FingerSweets' Spiced Carrot was ranked most creative amongst the judges. This is a first time for FingerSweets win most creative - Way to Go!

Next challenge is the annual Bake Off where it’s time to bring on your signature cupcake. Any guesses what will be FingerSweets signature cupcake of 2011?

Iron Cupcake SF Challenge!

The holidays are upon us and it’s time to spice it up!
Bring on the spice or herb infused cupcakes and let’s get the festivities started!   

FingerSweets went with a traditional favorite – Spiced Carrot. 

While a traditional and seemingly easy flavor to pull off it still took four test batches. Finally, in the end the result was a perfect entry for this month’s spice challenge. The Spiced Carrot mini brings a spice filled cake with textured carrot throughout, topped with a traditional cream cheese frosting and sprinkled with toasted pecans.

Let’s see if spice is key to life (or just the night) at this month’s challenge.
Watch for results!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Iron Cupcake Candy Challenge Results!

Time to brush the teeth and visit the dentist! Tonight’s challenge was very very sweeeeet!

A small sampling but a tasty outcome. Cupcake candies such as Caramel Apple and Candy Cap Mushroom made their way into the winning circle but most unique in my opinion was Dutch Salty Licorice. The taste was salty black licorice but combined with some sugar the balance of salty and sweet was surprisingly good.

Almond Joy or in this case Chocolate Coconut Almond made it's mark coming in at 2nd place.

Let's see what comes up next month with Herbs/Spices for the November Challenge.

Iron Cupcake SF Challenge!

Trick or Treat!
Let’s have something sweet to eat…CUPCAKES!

Candy inspired cupcakes!  FingerSweets is bringing the all time favorite candy Almond Joy into the world of cupcakes. Tonight’s mini entry is Chocolate Coconut Almond.

The candy challenge could have gone one of two ways, using candy as an ingredient OR using the candy as inspiration to create it as cupcake.  I opted for the later and came up with a chocolate coconut cake with that signature, sticky, yummy coconut filling as the center, topped with a smooth chocolate ganache and sprinkled with toasted crushed almonds.

Let’s see how this cupcake will be received and compared to the Almond Joy candy.
Stay tuned for the results!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Iron Cupcake Coffee/Tea Challenge Results!

It was a tasty competition tonight at Leland Tea with flavors varying from coffee concoctions such as Pumpkin Spice Latte and Caramel Mocha Chino to lighter specialties such as My Chai and Lady Grey Almond.
Strong in flavor and smooth in taste, FingerSweets’ Espresso Chocolate took 2nd place.

It’s onto Candy for the next Iron Cupcake Challenge.

Iron Cupcake SF Challenge!

Hot or Cold?
Small, Medium or Large?
Coffee or Tea?

Black, Espresso, Cappuccino, Americano, Latte, or Mocha
White, Green, Black, or Passion Fruit

Popping up this month for the next challenge is your daily fix of caffeine in cupcake form and FingerSweets went with the winning Bergamot Orange Spice last year and is now switching it up entering Espresso Chocolate.

Four test batches and still unsure of perfection this new flavor brings together the compliments of Espresso and Chocolate into one mini delight. An espresso cake with a dark chocolate ganache filling and top layer. A smooth and creamy espresso buttercream frosting. Garnished with ground espresso beans offering a burst of espresso in the initial bite.

Check back results to be revealed!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Iron Cupcake Stone Fruit Challenge Results!

It was an evening of peach, peach and peach. The entries included Brown Butter Peach, Maple Donut Peach, Peaches and Cream, and even Peachy Keen. Interspersed within these peachy minis some branched out with Pluot Almond and Dulce de Tamarindo.

Another non-peachy delight, Apricot Honey Cardamom was still well liked amongst the judges and took 2nd place.
It’s onto Coffee and Tea for the next Iron Cupcake Challenge.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Iron Cupcake SF Challenge!

Dense fog, misty moisture, and low temperatures indicate a San Francisco summer. Step outside the city and blue skies appear, the sun shines and temperatures rise. These are the perfect conditions to enjoy stone fruits.

These pitted fruits are the next challenge ingredient for Iron Cupcake SF and tonight FingerSweets is entering the tried and true flavor, Apricot Honey Cardamom. Let’s see what the cupcake engineers will think of this Marin County Fair award winning mini. 
This summery favorite brings together apricot, honey and cardamom in a cake and cream cheese based frosting. With the addition of an apricot preserve filling and dried apricot decoration these minis have summer written all over them.

Stay tuned for the challenge results!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Iron Cupcake Alcohol Challenge Results!

It was tough competition tonight at the Iron Cupcake Challenge. There were so many tasty liquor combinations.  From Dark & Stormy (a ginger inspired mini), Hot Toddy (apple brandy infused), to an Irish Car Bomb, the FingerSweets D209 Spiced Gin had a lot to compete against. 
Happily though, the D209 Spiced Gin was well liked amongst the experts. The bakers themselves all agreed this cupcake deserved to receive the Bakers Choice Award. Thanks to all the bakers who participated and enjoyed the Distillery 209 Spiced Gin creation.

Next challenge is perfect for the season so stay tuned to see what develops with stone fruit.

Iron Cupcake SF Challenge!

FingerSweets is going into it’s 12th Iron Cupcake Challenge tonight and we’re bringing the exclusive Distillery No. 209 Spiced Gin Cupcake to all the Leland Tea cupcake connoisseurs.
The subtle and clean taste of the D209 Spiced Gin Cupcake will expose you to another world of dessert pairings. 

Visit Spice Sherpa’s blog to view a special guest entry on how the creation of the D209 Cupcake came to be. Don’t forget to poke around Spice Sherpa's site, there's a lot of interesting and informative tidbits to find.

To be continued later tonight with the cupcake challenge results!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Iron Cupcake Picnic Challenge Results!

It was a cupcake picnic last night at the Iron Cupcake Challenge with Picnic Watermelon, Ants on a Log, Pickle-my-Melon and some Lemon Strawberry Basil to round out the freshness of flavors.

A refreshing compliment to any picnic, Lemon Strawberry Basil came through as a 3rd Place Winner!
Thanks to all who tasted and enjoyed the latest FingerSweets creation.

Get ready to drink up at the next Iron Cupcake SF Challenge where the challenge is all about Alcohol.  Anyone wanna take a stab at what my entry will be? 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Iron Cupcake SF Challenge!

The month has flown by and it’s already time for the next Iron Cupcake Challenge.
This month’s theme is Picnic and FingerSweets is introducing, Lemon Strawberry Basil!
It’s officially Summer and all I can think about is soaking up some sun, bbqing, and having some refreshing lemonade or better yet how about the drink in cupcake form. Yum! This mini delight features a sweet vanilla lemon cake filled with a refreshing strawberry compote topped with a tangy lemon basil frosting.

Results will be revealed later!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

FingerSweets First Wedding!

It’s official FingerSweets has jumped into the wedding circuit.

This first wedding featured a splendid display of Bergamot Orange Spice, Coconut Rum, and Mallow Chocolate Graham mini cupcakes.  The minis were all dressed in the wedding colors – red, silver, and white – and set on a beautiful tiered stand trimmed with red ribbon.

Congratulations to Michele & Jörg!!!!!!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Iron Cupcake Movie Challenge Results!

Candy, Popcorn and Movies – Oh My!

Apple Brulee Spice had a different spin on the interpretation of the challenge Movies.
That didn’t stop the judges from selecting this flavorful combination as a 2nd Place Winner!

A good brainstorming session from one of my key taste testers brought this cupcake to the winning circle.

Let’s get ready for summer and head out to the park, next Iron Cupcake SF Challenge is Picnic. What do you bring to a picnic that you think would be great inspiration for a cupcake?

Iron Cupcake SF Challenge!

It’s time for the next Iron Cupcake Challenge and the theme is Movies.

FingerSweets is introducing, Apple Brulee Spice!

I couldn't place these cakes to any particular movie though my recent travels to New York for an intimate wedding allowed me to connect the flavor, destination and a movie genre into one mini cupcake.  

The inspiration of The Big Apple brings the spice of many romantic comedies.

This Apple Brulee Spice cupcake offers an apple caramel spice cake with a spiced cream cheese frosting, topped with a brulee crust. 

Stayed tuned for tonight’s competition results

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Flavors on the Menu!

Most of the fun is creating new mini cupcake flavors. Combining the unusual with the usual; sticking with what is familiar and traditional in order to grow the offerings on the menu.

So, how does a mini cupcake make it onto the menu?

I start by researching pairings, flavors and suggested combinations, and others previously developed recipes to come up with a conclusion of my own. I turn to experts like Spice Sherpa for suggestions and uses when working with spices. I get inspired by menus, websites, and blogs. I ask friends what flavors they enjoy and lastly, I use my own palette to come up with new ideas.

I tap into my roots and discuss with my mom (Susan) the flavors I am intrigued by in order to execute the ideas into a recipe form. While sticking to FingerSweets original concept we compile our thoughts into a starting place – “X” Test Batch 1.

Testing is key before a new flavor makes it onto the FingerSweets menu. Diligent note taking as each test batch is produced is critival. A single recipe generally will take multiple test batches to perfect and capture the desired layering of flavors.

Quality Assurance
A new flavor goes through a few stages of in-house testing.  

Stage 1: 
The mini cupcakes must meet a certain level of quality before being frosted.
Stage 2: 
The frosting must meet a certain level of quality before being placed onto a mini cupcake.
Stage 3: 
The frosting is applied to the mini cupcakes as a completed dessert and must meet a certain level of quality as a combined flavor.

Once each of these stages are met, the test batches are distributed to the pool of FingerSweets taste testers. These people offer critical and descriptive feedback about the overall flavor combination. It’s this feedback that greatly aids FingerSweets with developing new flavors and getting them onto the menu.  

 As new flavors are developed, I am hoping you’ll be in the next pool of taste testers!
FingerSweets Current Flavors
  Almond Fruit Crumb
Apricot Honey Cardamom
Bergamot Orange Spice
Chocolate Banana Peanut
Chocolate Cream
Chocolate Mint
Chocolate Raspberry Pink Peppercorn
Cilantro Lime Mango
Coconut Rum
Marble Chocolate Mint
Mallow Chocolate Graham
Meyer Lemon Basil
Peanut Butter Jelly
Pumpkin Maple Spice
Saffron Lemon Pistachio
Scharffen Berger Chocolate Coffee Cardamom
Spicy Masala Chai
Vanilla Lemon Meringue

Monday, April 25, 2011

Iron Cupcake Citrus Challenge Results!

Citrus Sweets…YUM!
Mango Lime Cilantro was only one of many lime flavored delights. 
All tasted and voted and the results of this bold and tangy flavor gained 3rd place recognition.

Thanks to my good friend in San Anselmo who offered inspiration for the delicious combination.

Next SF Iron Cupcake Challenge is Movies.  A call to Movie goers, what do you think should be considered for next month’s challenge?

Iron Cupcake SF Challenge!

It’s that time again, I’ve tested, tasted and time has run out!
The Citrus challenge is tonight and FingerSweets is going in with a twist of a flavor.

Let me introduce, Mango Lime Cilantro!

Spring is in the air and this refreshing and tangy mini cupcake brings together a mango lime cake with a mango preserve filling and cilantro lime frosting topped with lime zest.

Stayed tuned for tonight’s competition results!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Cupcake Philosophy

I am often asked what makes my mini cupcakes different. Aside from the personal attachment I have to these cute cakes there is a defined reasoning why I believe FingerSweets (mini cupcakes) are superior to others.

Observations of a Typical Mint Cupcake:

Typically, retail cupcakes are a basic cake flavor (vanilla, chocolate, yellow) paired with a flavored frosting that denotes the cupcake as a particular kind.  For instance, take a Chocolate Mint cupcake.  Many retail establishments use their basic chocolate recipe and top it with a mint frosting (sometimes the green kind).  To the general public, it works and this is a successful Chocolate Mint cupcake.   My interpretation of the same thing is vastly different and is what I think brings my creations to a gourmet level.

The FingerSweets Chocolate Mint Cupcake:

A basic chocolate cake infused with mint extract and Andes mints.  My standard chocolate frosting enhanced with mint extract to get that cool burst of minty yumminess.   I don’t stop there; chopped Andes mints decorate and put the finishing touch on capturing as much mint flavor as you can get out of every mini bite.


I rarely use a basic recipe as a stand alone without any additions (unless it is my Vanilla Lemon Meringue where I let the creamy lemon curd be the star in the tasty basic vanilla cake).  

My development process is cyclical which allows me to capture a depth of flavor throughout a mini cupcake.  My goal is to avoid any possibility of flavor separation in the mouth by making sure there are flavor connections in the cake and the frosting.  My method I believe is what makes FingerSweets a gourmet item and superior to other cupcakes.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Distillery No. 209 Spiced Gin Cupcake

It’s a Distillery No. 209 Spiced Gin Cupcake day!   

Check out this fantastic opportunity FingerSweets had with Spice Sherpa

FingerSweets was asked to write a guest blog for Spice Sherpa about the Exclusive Distillery No. 209 Spiced Gin Cupcakes.  The idea to develop this piece came out of a posting Spice Sherpa did on “10 Awesome Coriandor Combinations”.  Through our collaboration the Exclusive Distillery No. 209 Spiced Gin Cupcake blog post emerged. 

Click above to get the inside scoop on how these exclusive mini cupcakes came to be. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Iron Cupcake Breakfast Challenge Results!

It was a tough challenge tonight! With so many fantastic flavors and creative combinations FingerSweets entry, Almond Fruit Crumb, had a lot to stand up to. Unfortunately, they didn’t place this month but that doesn’t stop the designing and creating of new flavors and participating with these developments.

Thanks to all my taste testers these Almond Fruit Crumb minis will still be making their way to the FingerSweets menu.

Next SF Iron Cupcake Challenge is Citrus.  
Think unique. Think innovative. Think out of the box.
What do you suggest as the next challenge flavor combination for FingerSweets? 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

At the Onset!

July 2010, a good friend of mine asked me to bake cupcakes for her birthday celebration.  They were a hit! To my surprise people thought they could sell.  I never gave this any thought and especially since I am set on continuing my career in landscape architecture.  Though in the meantime, I was eager to keep furthering my creativity and needed to find a way to have unbiased people critique my developments.    

Birthday Celebration Cupcakes
Thus, I found the Iron Cucpake San Francisco Challenge.  This is a meet up group of local bakers, friends and cupcake enthusiasts who join to face off each month.  Every month a new challenge ingredient or theme is presented and all cupcake engineers devise their interpretation of the ingredient into 48 mini cupcakes.  Both bakers and engineer supporters join in on the judging with awards to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place based on taste and appearance, one prize for most creative, and one prize for baker’s choice. I grew to develop a variety of mini cupcakes based on the size, quantity and challenge criteria from Iron Cupcake.  It’s their challenges that offer me inspiration to research and test new flavors. 

Now specializing in mini cupcakes, I participate in the challenges on a monthly basis and low and behold I have actually won a few!  Here’s a list of my winning flavors to date:

February 2011 Filled Challenge
1st Place Winner: Mallow Chocolate Graham
December 2010 Bake Off
4th Place Winner: Bergamot Orange Spice
November 2010 Nuts Challenge
3rd Place Winner: Saffron Lemon Pistachio
September 2010 Tea Challenge
1st Place Winner: Bergamot Orange Spice
August 2010 Coconut Challenge
3rd Place Winner: Coconut Rum

Not every flavor has won an Iron Cupcake challenge but many have won high marks amongst my group of taste testers.  The Iron Cupcake and feedback from my taste testers has given me the motivation and inspiration to continue producing these mini delights to everyone I can.  Stay tuned for what happens at the March Breakfast Challenge this Monday!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Foundation to Draw From!

My mom, a culinary specialist in the 80s/90s, began Susan’s Culinary Specialties, a catering business and eventually a little storefront known to the family as ‘The Shop’. As a self-taught baker she created these amazing desserts.  One in particular were her FingerSweet baskets; a variety of ‘cookies’ known as FingerSweets, placed in a baking cup (much like a mini cupcake), and assembled into small to large wicker baskets.  A true hit for private parties!

Fingersweets was inspired from childhood memories, bringing my current design skills, creativity, and innovation to these mini delights.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Welcome to FingerSweets!

I am a landscape architect seeking full time employment in San Francisco BUT in the meantime and in between contract work and furthering my landscape career, I bake!

Gourmet Mini Cupcakes

A parallel to my design career, instant gratification, and happiness shared amongst family, friends, and now you. I have started this blog as a way to share these mini delights with the public and spread the word about FingerSweets.