Monday, May 16, 2011

Ginger Elizabeth Cupcakes



Bob is a big fan of Ginger Elizabeth. Actually, the whole family of Sactomato's Ann is, but her husband is the biggest. The way he tells it, he's parked out in front of Ginger Elizabeth's small shop before opening, tapping on the window going, "Open, open, open" like in those old Mervyn's commercials. Once a month Ginger makes cupcakes and Bob is first in line with daughter, Eva, to get them. This devotion does make a statement. After all, Ann and Bob are well versed in all things foodie.

This cupcake admiration meant that I had to try them too. Ginger makes three flavors for that one day a  month. Being May, she decided to make cupcake day on Mother's Day. I will bet that it was her highest sales ever in the cupcake category. I certainly couldn't resist when she announced May's flavors on her Facebook page:
  • Strawberry Rose Shortcake Cupcake: Vanilla Cake filled with House-Made Strawberry Rose Jam and Vanilla Crème Bavarois, topped with Strawberry Rose Buttercream.
  • Pistachio Parisian Macaron Cupcake: Almond Cake with Pistachio Pieces topped with Rich Pistachio Buttercream and Parisian Macaron Cookies.
  • Salty Caramel Cupcake: Rich Chocolate Cake filled with Fleur de Sel Caramel and topped with Caramel Buttercream.
     


I'm a sucker for anything with rose flavoring. And I love pistachios too. Everyone has raved about the salted caramel cupcakes in particular. How could I resist? Even when it would require me ordering half a dozen to guarantee I got some. Well, I've never had any difficulty eating desserts. Sigh.

The photo has five cupcakes because I couldn't resist eating one right away. I started off with the salty caramel. The first thing I noticed was how moist and rich the chocolate cake was. The next thing was the silky smooth caramel frosting. I'm a sucker for cooked buttercreams. Whether they are Italian or Swiss, if they include cooking because there is egg added to the frosting, I'm hooked. The egg adds so much more decadence and richness to frosting. But the signature of this cupcake was the bit of salted caramel piped into the center of the cupcake. This was my only disappointment. I don't know if I just got a couple from a bad batch along the cupcake assembly, but mine had barely a drop of the famous caramel (compared to the rose cupcake which had plenty of jam/cream plugged into their centers). There was just enough to get a quick hit of salt  - and that salt does have an impact. The salt adds a whole new dimension of flavor to contrast the sweetness of the rest of the cupcake. Oh, to have had more of it.

The next was the pistachio. I was a little disappointed that it was an almond flavored cake embedded with pistachios versus pistachio flavoring throughout. Perhaps she thought it would be pistachio overkill. The pistachio frosting was silky and delicious and on top were two mini macaron halves. Macarons are traditionally made with almond flour. Could they have been done with pistachio flour just to carry the theme? I'm sure they could have. All the same, it was still delightful to eat.

And so we come to the strawberry rose cupcake. I love rose paired with any berry. Unlike my caramel cupcakes, these had holes drilled completely through the cakes. The inside was filled first with the vanilla crème Bavarois and then with the strawberry rose jam on top of that. It was all sealed with a giant swirl of strawberry rose flavored buttercream. The rose was barely there but served to give the sweet taste of spring.

It should be noted that Ginger studied pastry at the CIA in New York and graduated top of her class and won awards. She knows her pastries. Although she's turned her focus to chocolate, it's nice to know that she dips into her dessert toolbox once in a while to honor us with her other confections. During the summer there are her ice cream socials and ice cream sandwiches. And there are always chocolate pastries and macarons available in her shop's display case.

As for my ongoing cupcake comparisons, she ranks there at the top for flavors and quality. I'm just going to have to resist the urge to get half a dozen each month and do what Bob does, be one of the first when she opens so I can buy individual cupcakes before she runs out.

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