Category Archives: Bakeries & Restaurants

Cute Cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery

You’ll find lots of wonderful baked goods at the Magnolia Bakery in New York City, but they are pretty famous for their cupcakes! 🙂  This well-known bakery opened in 1996 in Greenwich Village and, according to their website, “It was envisioned as a cozy, old-fashioned shop where people could come for coffee and something sweet. With its vintage American desserts and decor, customers often remark that walking into the Bakery is like taking a step back in time.”  They have about six locations now–none by where I live, unfortunately–so I admire their cupcakes from afar on their site (all photos shown in this post are from Their Vanilla Vanilla cupcake, “a buttery old-fashioned vanilla cupcake with a light crumb and vanilla buttercream,” is their most popular cupcake. I actually found the recipe for these on the web and made them this past Christmas–they were really good! In addition to their Vanilla Vanilla, other cupcakes included in Magnolia’s “classics” collection include these popular flavors…

  • Vanilla Chocolate (vanilla cupcake with chocolate buttercream)
  •  Chocolate Chocolate (cupcakes with a smooth velvety texture and dark chocolate flavor, chocolate buttercream and assorted sprinkles)
  • Chocolate Vanilla (chocolate cupcake with vanilla buttercream). 

You just can’t beat classic chocolate and vanilla–and they’re decorated so cute with the sprinkles and edible flowers on top!

Magnolia Bakery also has a Baker’s Choice Specialty Cupcake Assortment…

…which includes red velvet, lemon, caramel, hummingbird, pumpkin, and pistachio cupcakes–yum!

Here are some other ways they decorate cupcakes for various occasions like birthdays, baby showers, holidays, and other special “themed” events…

Magnolia Bakery has special Easter cupcakes and other treats featured on their site now, too…you’ll have to visit and check them out!


Frosty Vanilla Cupcakes


Who doesn’t love cupcakes? Especially if they’re frosted with rich, swirly buttercream…now that’s pretty hard to resist! If you’ve heard of the famous Magnolia Bakery in New York City, well, this is the recipe for their most popular cupcake. They call it the Vanilla Vanilla–a yummy vanilla cupcake with vanilla buttercream (pink is their most popular-selling frosting color). I found the recipe at If you’re a cupcake-lover you will want to try this! Or, according to the Food Network site, if you’d rather make a cake, you can divide the batter between two 9″ round cake pans and bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Even though I haven’t tried making the cake version, I would recommend checking the cake at 30 minutes, because when I made the cupcakes, they were done at the lower baking time. They would have been too dry had I let them bake any longer.

These cupcakes look really festive, wintry, and Christmasy with the white buttercream and pearly sprinkles I used. You could also tint the frosting green or red if you wanted it to be more colorful for Christmas. The white frosting would work great for New Year’s Eve or Day, too. These cupcakes would also be fun with silver or gold sprinkles. I also thought the white frosting with white pearl sprinkles would be nice for a wedding shower or wedding…so you see, these delicious cupcakes are really versatile!

There is a chance you might need to make extra frosting, depending on how heavily you frost these cupcakes…just wanted to point that out. I frosted some heavy and some not-so-heavy because not everyone likes lots of frosting on their cupcakes (being a frosting-lover, I do find that hard to believe 🙂 ). So, I had enough frosting for my cupcakes. But had I frosted all of them heavily, I think I would have needed to make more frosting.

Enough talk about the cupcakes…here’s the recipe!

MAGNOLIA’S VANILLA CUPCAKE  very slightly adapted from

Makes 24 cupcakes


  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake liners.

In small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.

In large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over-beat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully spoon the batter into cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean (Note: mine were done at 20 minutes, so be sure to check your cupcakes then to avoid over-baking!).

Cool the cupcakes in tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.


(A note from the bakery: “The vanilla buttercream we use at the bakery is technically not a buttercream but actually an old-fashioned confectioners’ sugar and butter frosting. Be sure to beat the icing for the amount of time called for in the recipe to achieve the desired creamy texture.”)

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 to 8 cups confectioners’ sugar (I used 8 cups because I wanted a thicker frosting)
  • 1/2 cup milk (I substituted half and half for the milk)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk (or half and half) and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly (use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled). Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days. NOTE: if you like to frost your cupcakes with lots of frosting, you may want to double the frosting recipe so you have enough!


The recipe makes 2 dozen cupcakes or one 9″ layer cake. Enjoy trying this out!

Linked to Sweets for a Saturday, Sweet Indulgences Sunday, Foodie Friday.

A Trip to Altanta

Recently I went to Atlanta with some co-workers to attend the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) and the Atlanta Gift Show. Our hotel was right by the Centennial Olympic Park (photo above by David Henry). While at ICRS, in addition to seeing new books, card, and stationery products, we had the opportunity to view a special preview showing of a new film that will be coming out in September called CourageousIt’s a touching, inspiring movie that will make you laugh and cry, so bring tissues! You can learn more about it and watch a trailer of it by clicking here. The group Casting Crowns has made a music video for the movie, too–click here to see that.

The gift show was at AmericasMart® in the huge Atlanta Convention Center, with floors and floors of the newest items in stationery, giftware, home accessories and furnishings, jewelry and fashion…you name it! One of my favorite showrooms was Natural Life. I loved the colorful, unique, handmade look of their products.

Another showroom I liked was Gabby Home. They had great home accessories and furniture with a rustic and weathered look. It made me want to do some redecorating! 🙂

Of course, we had to eat, too, and found some great places in downtown Atlanta. We had some delicious breakfasts at the Landmark Diner and enjoyed several lunch and dinners at the Cafe Intermezzo. This cafe has so much to choose from, and if you’re wanting dessert they offer over 100 different tortes, tarts, cakes, pies, and cheesecakes!

It was fun seeing everything in Atlanta. Now I have to do some not-so-fun stuff like laundry…

Ghirardelli Luxe and a Hot Cocoa Recipe

If you like milk chocolate, then I’m sure you’d like these chocolate bars as much as I do! I received some samples of Ghirardelli Luxe milk chocolate as part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program and enjoyed savoring the rich and creamy squares of milk chocolate in three different flavors…classic milk chocolate, hazelnut, and almond. I liked all of them, but if I had to choose a favorite I’d go with the almond…I love almonds and a chocolate/almond combination is pretty hard for me to resist! 🙂  These chocolates are so smooth and creamy…they just melt in your mouth!

While I was taking this Ghirardelli chocolate taste-testing break, it reminded me of my two visits to San Fransisco and the stops I made both times to the flagship Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop in Ghirardelli Square. It’s a great place to visit if you’re in the area…the square is also home to many other unique shops and restaurants and is located in a beautiful spot right on the San Francisco waterfront. Here’s a photo, courtesy of

It only seems right to include a Ghirardelli recipe in this post and since the weather is getting cooler, I thought this hot cocoa recipe (and photo), slightly modified from, would be the perfect choice…


(Makes 4 servings)

  • 4 ounces 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips (or semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips)
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond or peppermint extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup whipped cream

In saucepan over low heat, bring chocolate and half-and-half to simmer, whisking constantly. Simmer 1 minute or until mixture thickens slightly. Remove from heat; whisk in almond or peppermint extract and vanilla extract.

Pour into four 1/2-cup demitasse or coffee cups. Top each serving with 2 tablespoons whipped cream; dust with Ghirardelli Unsweetened Cocoa (if desired). Serve immediately.

Sprinkles: The First Cupcake Bakery

I had heard about the wonderful cupcake cafe in Beverly Hills called Sprinkles, but had no idea that it was the world’s first cupcake bakery! The owners were sure on to something when they opened in the spring of 2005…the cupcake craze continues to grow and so do the number of cupcake bakeries. Sprinkles itself has 7 locations nationwide (Beverly Hills, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Newport Beach, Phoenix and San Fransisco) with plans to open more soon.

These photos, from the Sprinkles website, give you an idea of how they decorate their cupcakes. Like the Sprinkles logo, the cupcakes have a clean, fresh look that is very eye–catching. You can imagine just by looking at the pictures how creamy and yummy the frosting must be!

The made-from-scratch cupcakes are described on the website as “simple and satisfying desserts handcrafted from the best ingredients.”  Ingredients like “sweet cream butter, bittersweet Belgian chocolate, pure Madagascar Bourbon vanilla, fresh bananas and carrots, real strawberries and natural citrus zests.” Yum! And the cupcakes are decorated in a variety of ways: with the Sprinkles trademark modern “dots,” rich chocolate sprinkles from France, or seasonal sugar decorations.

If you’re lucky enough to live near a Sprinkles cupcake cafe, you probably know how good they are. I have not been to a Sprinkles yet, but the next time I’m near one, I’m going! 🙂