Category Archives: Pastry

Cupcakes for All

Guest Post by Paige Hopkins

In recent years cupcakes have taken over as one of the newest food trends. From little ones to big ones, lots of icing to barely any, these miniature cakes are dominating the sweet-treats game.  If you find yourself in the Triangle and have a hankering for one, you’re in luck. The area has a wide variety of cupcake-focused bakeries. Cupcakes are the perfect way to celebrate a high school or a college graduation. Three especially noteworthy cupcake havens are Gigi’s Cupcakes, The Cupcake Bar and Sugarland. Each of these bakeries will do a delightful job pleasing your taste buds with their desserts.

Mexican Chocolate (front) and Mint Chocolate Chip (back)

Mexican Chocolate (front) and Mint Chocolate Chip (back) from The Cupcake Bar – Durham, NC

Gigi’s Cupcakes is one of the newer bakeries to Chapel Hill, but is one of the most widely known. With about forty locations nationwide, Gigi’s can safely say they know their stuff when it comes to cupcakes. They pride themselves on providing a family-friendly atmosphere and delicious treats. Before customers get a chance to eat anything they are sure to get hit by the sweet-smelling aroma of freshly baked cupcakes. Believe it or not, they taste even better than they smell. So, if you’re on Franklin Street with your kids anytime soon, make sure to stop by Gigi’s for dessert.

The Cupcake Bar is one of the gems of Bull City. This bakery’s claim to fame is its cocktail inspired cupcakes. In addition to more traditional flavors, The Cupcake Bar has treats such as “Citrus Cooler” and “Strawberry Daiquiri.” The bakery was opened by two sisters in 2008 and has a very special charm to it. Even better, The Cupcake Bar makes its miniature cakes with natural and locally grown ingredients. This bakery is the perfect place to stop by during a day out in Durham.

Sugarland is a Chapel Hill favorite, especially amongst UNC students. Their “Half-Priced Tuesdays,” during which all of their cupcakes are half off, are very popular. However, what really makes Sugarland unique is their full bar and their professionally trained bakers. Sugarland is great for grabbing dessert and drinks with friends after a show or a movie. If that’s not enough, the cupcakes themselves are phenomenal. Between the filling, icing, cake and garnishes, Suagrland’s cupcakes often times take multiple recipes to make. The bakery offers a classy cupcake option that you are sure to enjoy.

REVIEW: Jessee’s Coffee Shop – Carrboro, NC

If you live in Chapel Hill or Carrboro, you’ve probably passed Jessee’s a number of times, but have you ever been inside? This gem of a coffee shop has surprisingly delicious biscuits and a welcoming atmosphere. I met my friend David here for brunch a couple weeks ago and we both ordered biscuits. I got egg and cheese and David ordered egg and bacon.

If you’re not a biscuit person, the pastry case is quite tempting. I had a cinnamon roll from Jessee’s last week and it was one of the best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever had. Side note: for those non-biscuit lovers out there, these biscuits may just change your mind.

Jessee’s roasts their own coffee and they have four varieties packaged for you to bring home: strong, fruity, nutty and deep roast. The coffee is great, but the barista was making a mocha for someone else and it looked so good that I will definitely be getting that next time. Jessee’s serves breakfast until 4:30 and they begin serving lunch at 11:30.

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There is a beautiful patio outside (not pictured) which sometimes hosts live bands. The coffee shop also participates in the 2nd Friday Art Walk. The only downside to Jessee’s is the lack of parking, but it is so worth it!

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Jessee’s partners with local business such as Maple View Farm, Ninth Street Bakery and Cliff’s Meat Market. There are no frills here; Jessee’s is a place that stays true to its roots. It’s a comfortable place to study, have brunch or get a quick cup of coffee or hot chocolate.

Go get yourself a fluffy biscuit at this Carrboro staple!

-Haley
Jessee's Coffee & Bar on Urbanspoon

REVIEW: Guglhupf Bakery – Durham, NC

I used to drive past Guglhupf three times a week on my way to an internship. I drove past it for months before trying it because by the time I would get off work, it was closed. Once I finally went there, it became one of my favorite cafes in the Triangle area. The unmistakeable European feel will put you at ease and allow you to make new friends out of strangers. The cafe is spacious, with plenty of outdoor seating and two floors inside. The adjoining bakery emits the delicious smell of freshly baked bread out onto the patio area. If the weather allows, sit outside and enjoy a sandwich or a snack like you have no where else to be.

Guglhupf Bakery in Durham, NC

Guglhupf Bakery in Durham, NC

I visited Guglhupf before Thanksgiving to spend some quality time with my friend Liat. It has become somewhat of a tradition for us after I took her there for the first time last year. I don’t usually stray far from my favorite item on the menu, a turkey, brie and apple chutney sandwich. However, this time I got something a bit different, a turkey, grilled pear and gorgonzola sandwich. The sandwich was heavy on the turkey, but the strong flavors of arugula and gorgonzola cheese complemented the sweet, grilled pear. I still prefer the turkey, brie and apple chutney sandwich, but this one is a close second. Guglhupf also has an assortment of small plates and salads.

House-roasted turkey with a grilled pear, arugula and gorgonzola on rustic house bread

House-roasted turkey with a grilled pear, arugula and gorgonzola on rustic house bread

Liat got what she always gets – the strawberry tart. I have yet to try it because the sandwiches always fill me up. The menu is not large but there is an option for everyone, whether you are craving a hearty soup or something sweet. After, or even before, going into the cafe, check out the bakery. I dare you to walk out without trying anything.

Nutzen den tag!

-Haley
Guglhupf Bakery on Urbanspoon

REVIEW: Amelie’s French Bakery – Charlotte, NC

If you have been to Charlotte but not to Amelie’s French Bakery, shame on you. This 24-hour bakery in the NoDa neighborhood of Charlotte is perfect for a lunch date, a late-night macaron craving or Sunday brunch – if you’re willing to wait in line. The pastries and the decor will fight for your attention as you walk in. A chandelier made of pots and pans, a translucent lamp shade, Parisian themed photo montages and the tempting bakery case.

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You will be tempted to try one of everything, but the prices may steer you away from that – $1.99 per macaron is a steep price for a small delicacy, but it is worth it. Amelie’s prepares their pastries around the clock, ensuring that everything is fresh. I had the salted caramel hot chocolate last weekend and it was one of the best hot chocolates I have had. What can beat a delicious hot chocolate, a reunion with an old friend and all the board games you’ve ever wanted in a coffee shop?

Macaron vs. Macaroon – One is a chewy coconut treat and one is a crispy merengue. The delicacies pictured above are macarons. They have a crisp outer shell with a ganache-like filling.  My favorite flavor is rose, but you cannot go wrong with chocolate. While macarons have more of an almond flavor, macaroons have a coconut flavor. You can read more about the ingredients and find some recipes here.

If you don’t have a bottomless stomach or wallet, order at least one macaron and one salted caramel brownie. Or take some goodies home with you! But stay at Amelie’s long enough to enjoy the creative interior design. You will be hard-pressed to enjoy all the nooks and decorations in just one trip to Amelie’s.

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I suppose I should have mentioned the “real food” before dessert. Amelie’s has a selection of sandwiches, salads and soups. My favorite dishes include the spinach asparagus leek soup and the turkey and brie sandwich – roasted turkey, brie and seasonal compote on a baguette. These light dishes are satisfying while still allowing room to try some of the desserts.

I try to make it to Amelie’s whenever I am in Charlotte and no matter if I get the same flavor macaron every time, it is always a different experience. It’s probably a good thing I don’t live in Charlotte, otherwise I’d never leave Amelie’s! It is open 24 hours, after all.

Cheers!

-Haley

Amélie's French Bakery & Cafe on Urbanspoon

LINK: Mod Meals on Mendenhall’s Guava & Cream Cheese Pastry

I don’t much about baking pastries but I do know what looks good and Cecelia over at Mod Meals on Mendenhall has a winner here. She decided to to try to cook this after finding it at a local pastry shop in Greensboro and found a fairly easy recipe out of Gourmet (June 2010 issuse) which she has posted on her blog using a guava paste for year round enjoyment.

I tend to only eat guava when I visit family down in Florida? Do many North Carolinians get on the guava train?

Click  here to check out the full post on Mod Meals on Mendenhall

 

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