Blast from the Past: Sweet Surrender in Las Vegas

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(The Palazzo, home to Sweet Surrender.)

One of my favorite things to do in Vegas is just walk up and down the strip, stopping in casinos along the way for a quick slot game, a drink, some window shopping, or to grab a bite to eat. On this particular day (in August 2010) my husband and I started at the Monte Carlo and made our way up Las Vegas Blvd., ending at the Wynn. The whole time I was keeping an eye out for cupcakes. For those that don’t know, that’s a pretty long walk, so it seemed reasonable that we should stumble upon at least one bake shop.

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(Penny slots…that’s how I roll! This was in one of the not-so-high-end casinos.)

Fast forward to stepping onto the casino floor at The Palazzo. Just when I was starting to lose hope, I saw a pretty teal sign that looked very dessert-like from a distance. Getting closer I could barely contain my joy. For some reason Sweet Surrender did not come up in my pre-vacation research, so I was pleasantly surprised that my wandering eye paid off.

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(Shop decor and signature cupcake.)

I thought for sure the cupcakes would be more costly than what we’d purchased from The Cupcakery, based on the hotel-casino the shop was located in and the decadent decoration of the cupcakes. However the pricing was on par, if not less.

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(So many beautiful cupcakes!)

After being disappointed in The Cupcakery’s cupcakes, my husband and I decided to get only two cupcakes to share. As much as I wanted the “Sweet Surrender” with its gorgeous teal frosting and edible pearls, I opted for cupcakes with more flavor (I was a beginner then and didn’t realize that vanilla can pack a lot of punch).

Carrot Cake

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Selecting the Carrot Cake cupcake, with all the other amazing options to choose from, proves that I really must be the “Carrot-Cake-Crusader.” I remember being pleased that the cake and frosting weren’t overly sweet, unlike The Cupcakery’s cupcakes.

Chocolate Fudge

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Although I don’t remember much about the Carrot Cake cupcake, I recall being really pleased with the rich, Chocolate Fudge cupcake. The cake was moist, the frosting and ganach were smooth, and the cupcake wasn’t super sweet. I also liked the added texture from the candies on top. This cupcake alone has made me recommend Sweet Surrender to friends and fellow cupcake lovers.

While in the shop I discovered that Sweet Surrender was “Home of the $750 Cupcake,” the Decadence D’Or. Maybe the next time I’m in Vegas I’ll hit it big on the slots, and then we can splurge on the finest cupcake Las Vegas has to offer!

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader, Jenn (Westminster, MD)

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Guest Review | Just Baked | Detroit, Michigan

Today we have a guest review from an awesome fellow cupcake lover, Karla. Karla recently visited Detroit, Michigan and knew she couldn’t leave until she found out what they had to offer when it came to cupcakes. She was able to stop by Just Baked and has shared her story and photos with us below. Thanks Karla!

While in Detroit, MI I had the pleasure of stopping by Just Baked cupcakery. Since Just Baked is listed as a Top 10 cupcakery in Michigan, I decided to try my luck and visit their downtown location. The shop is located in the historic Dime Building: a neoclassical architectural style building that didn’t look like a place housing fun and sweet treats, but I had faith.

I was immediately taken to a happy place upon entering the shop. The colors, art work, and menu really invite you in.

I was greeted by a friendly member of staff who was able to answer questions I had about the many cupcakes proudly on display. Just Baked has between 25-35 different varieties of cupcakes every day. After the shock of being in cupcake heaven, I decided to get the following three flavors for myself: lemon, peanut butter chocolate, and chocolate fudge.

Lemon Cupcake: My first bite was more cake then frosting and I was happy to find the cake light, moist, and tasting just like a lemon cake should. My second bite was filled with frosting as well as cake and that’s when I made “the face”.  Sadly, I tasted no lemon in the frosting whatsoever. It tasked more like good cake with butter on top. A disappointment. After scraping off the frosting I was able to enjoy just the cake.

Peanut Butter Cupcake: I tried the peanut butter cupcake next and had a similar reaction. I enjoyed the chocolate cake. It was moist and not dense but once again the buttercream was lacking the peanutyness. I felt as if I were eating chocolate cake with colored butter.

Chocolate Fudge: I saved the chocolate fudge cupcake for the next day, determined to try them all. Success! I was happily surprised with my first bite of the chocolate with fudge frosting. The second day cupcake was just as moist and yummy as it could have been the day before. The fudge was perfect, not too heavy and it tasted oh, so good. I enjoyed this cupcake.


(Cupcakes from Just Baked: Bottom Left – Chocolate Fudge; Bottom Right – Lemon; Top Right – Peanut Butter Chocolate)

Overall Just Baked cupcakery offered many things I liked and one major thing I didn’t. With so many cupcake flavors available I would got back and try more, just not any with buttercream. Until next time Detroit!

– Review by Guest Crusader, Karla (Baltimore, MD)

Elisa’s “From Scratch” Baking Experiment: Chocolate Blackberry Syrah

After such a successful baking experiment last time, this month I really wanted to stretch my filled cupcake boundaries! I did some recipe searching for chocolate cake with wine in it – because who doesn’t love wine and chocolate?! After finding this list of wine inspired cupcake flavors from Enjoy Cupcakes, I decided to try out a Chocolate Blackberry Syrah cupcake. Filled with a chocolate fudge filling, this cupcake sounded rich and decadent – just what I needed to warm me up in the cold month of February. I searched my usual websites for recipes and settled on these cake (www.epicurious.com), filling (www.foodandwine.com), and icing (www.epicurious.com) recipes.

Getting all of the ingredients wasn’t a problem this time around! The Safeway in Canton had everything I needed but the wine. For that, I happened to be at Boordy winery a couple of weekends ago with Stacy and her husband for their “Sip & Sliders” event, so after tasting their Syrah (Shiraz) wine I knew I wanted to use it in my recipe! I bought a bottle and took it home . I was ready to bake!

First step was the cake. The recipe was easy to follow, though tricky and a little scary once I got to the “folding” in the flour mixture and the wine part, but I trekked on. Not realizing the recipe would make much more batter than I needed for my dozen cupcakes, I used the rest to fill a 6″ round pan. (Note: While the batter had raw eggs in it, and I do not condone eating raw egg, I literally had to stop myself from eating too much of this batter – it was THAT good. Again, no one should eat anything with raw egg in it, and if they do, it is at their own risk.)

Once the cupcakes were popped into the oven I turned my attention to the chocolate fudge filling. The recipe intrigued and scared me because it seemed too simple. First, bring the heavy whipping cream to a boil – done. Then take off the stove and pour the chocolate morsels into the pot and walk away for 3 minutes. Wait, leave it for 3 minutes?! I read that part four times before I conceded that I should just stick to the recipe. I set the timer and did some dishes while I was waiting.

Ding! After mixing the cream and chocolate, then adding the confectioners’ sugar and whisking it all into submission, I almost whisked my arm off! It was a smooth rich “saucy” consistency that made my mouth water. I set it aside and moved onto the icing.

I love blackberries, fruity icing, and buttercream – so this icing is the trifecta for me! I thought that 5 cups of confectioners’ sugar was a bit much, so after adding each cup I tasted the icing and settled on 4 cups of sugar instead. (Check me out, all brave and deviating from recipes when it is only my second attempt!) The icing ended up a lovely purple color with flecks of blackberry bits in it – delicious and pretty!

By then, the cupcakes were done cooking – I tested them at exactly 30 minutes, any longer and they might have been too dry… so I advise: test, test, test! I took them out of the pan and set them to cool on the rack, while partaking in a glass of wine myself. The little cups of cake had a rich chocolate color to them, with rivers of cracks in the top, looking a little like brownies.

Now everything was complete and just needed to be assembled. I cut out a “plug” so that I could fill the cupcakes – which was my first taste of the cake, and WOW, I thought it was great! I carefully used a spoon to pour the chocolate fudge into the cupcakes.

Then, for the first time, I used a pastry bag and a fancy icing tip to pipe the icing onto the cupcakes. (Thanks to Stacy, who gave me my own little set! Having more of the tools definitely helps make you feel like a pro!) Check out those almost perfect piping skills!!

Complete and beautiful, I was done. There was nothing left to do but drink some more wine and try one! I waited until the filling set up and then cut one in half to see what it looked like. Yum! Fudge and chocolate galore!

This cupcake may be complicated, and more work than most, but it was well worth it! The cake is savory, decadent, and sweet all at the same time, with flavors that unfold in your mouth. The chocolate filling is thick, but rich and melty once it hits your tongue, it reminds me more of a truffle filling than fudge, but either way, it added just the right amount of creaminess to the cupcake. The icing was just that;  the icing on the cake. Creamy and fruity without being overpowering, all while being sweet enough to add a little sugar kick to the otherwise very savory cupcake.

I couldn’t be happier with the outcome! Carefully following the recipes, watching the baking time, and tasting everything twice are definitely rules I will continue to follow while I travel down my path of baking enlightenment. And this is a cupcake I will be making again and again!

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader, Elisa (Baltimore, MD)