Huggiebears hits the sweet spot in Old Sacramento with cupcakes, cheesecakes, brownies and more

Cupcakes, cheesecakes, brownies and other sweets are on the menu at a new pastry shop in Old Sacramento, Huggiebears Sweets and Treats. The business, which opened July 18 at 904 Second St., was born of the recipes from owner Jim Austin, whose cheesecakes and other desserts have won numerous awards at the California State Fair and county fairs for his amateur baking. Store Manager Jason R. Clark said he and Austin talked about the recipes and about bringing the baked goods to a wider audience. “I figured the rest of the world needs to be exposed to the delicious treats we were making,” he said. Those treats include an orange creamsicle cheesecake, fresh brownies and a number of cupcakes. The Dynamite Cupcake is chocolate cake with a caramel cream frosting topped with broken potato chips which are then drizzled with caramel and sea salt. Another cupcake pays homage to an American classic. The peanut butter and jelly cupcake is made with vanilla cake, which then has its core removed and filled with jelly. Peanut butter buttercream frosting and jelly are put on top. The menu will rotate seasonally, with pumpkin spice desserts coming this month, and possibly a s’mores cupcake. Hot apple cider will be served in the wintertime, augmenting the current selection of coffee, milk, chocolate milk and tea. Dessert bars and brownies run […]

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Sacramento Gets A Taste of “Iron Chef” Style Cooking

On June 23, 2012, Sacramento will be treated to the Sacramento Chef Challenge, an annual fundraiser for people with developmental disabilities that features an "Iron Chef" style cooking battle, Cake War competition, gourmet food sampling, beer and wine tasting, live music and more! For $25 a piece, guests are treated to a culinary extravaganza beginning with fair from local restaurants, wineries and breweries including The Couch Sports Lounge, Two Rivers Cider, Terra d’Oro Winery and Morgan’s Restaurant. The first of two competitions will pit three professional chefs in a head to head battle for culinary glory. Chef Challengers will have three hours to prepare and sample an original menu to event guests, who will then cast their vote to determine the winner. Chefs will have to integrate three specialty ingredients into their menus while incorporating the theme “Hot Summer Nights!” This year’s chef challengers are Kristela Nazario-Mendoza of Pyramid Alehouse, Brewery & Restaurant; Keith Erickson of Colusa Casino Resort; and Philippe Caillot of the Institute of Technology Culinary Arts Program. The second competition is Battle Cupcakes. A combination of professional and amateur cupcake makers will compete in a sweet competition by creating an original cupcake and display to be tasted by and voted on by guests! The 2012 professional challengers are Carlos Mares of Vanilla Bean Gourmet Cupcakes, Bethany Gist of Auntie Bea’s Bakery and […]

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Cupcake Video Challenge- Submissions due by April 1, 2012

On June 23, amateur bakers will be given the opportunity to compete in the Cake War: Battle Cupcakes competition at the 10th Annual Sacramento Chef Challenge. Three amateur competitors will go up against three professional cupcake masters in a three hour competition, in which participants create an original cupcake and display that will be adjudicated by event guests and a professional judging panel. To determine which three amateur bakers will get to compete live at the Sacramento Chef Challenge, Cakegrrl.com and INALLIANCE have come together for a video challenge. Candidates have been asked to show off their stuff in a 3-5 minute video that highlights “why you and your cupcakes are the best!” The challenge began in late January, and April 1st is the deadline to submit a video . After that, the videos will be posted online where the public will have one week to vote for their favorite. The top three video winners will go on to compete live in the actual Cake War: Battle Cupcakes competition on June 23rd at the Sacramento Chef Challenge! The video challenge is open to all amatuer bakers 18 or older. For complete rules and event information visit www.chefevent.com or email jbean@inallianceinc.com.   Disclosure: Jessica Bean is an employee at INALLIANCE.

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A Sweet Challenge

Cakegrrl.com challenges local bakers to a sweet video competition! This year’s Cake War at the 10th Annual Sacramento Chef Challenge is “Battle Cupcakes,” and organizer’s are looking for three amateur contestants to duke it out against three cupcake pros! Amateur baker’s from the greater Sacramento area are invited to join the battle by creating a three to five minute video that shows “why you and your cupcakes are the best!” The challenge is presented by Cakegrrl.com, a local blog that explores and promotes restaurants, activities and fundraisers from across the Sacramento Valley. Kristy DeVaney, the sugarplum behind Cakegrrl.com is excited to see what her fellow bakers have to offer. Submissions will be accepted now through April 1, 2012. The following day, ten videos will be posted online, and the public will decide which lucky bakers have what it takes to compete live at the Sacramento Chef Challenge on Saturday, June 23, 2012. The Rules are Simple: • You must be 21 or older to compete. • The Video must be 3-5 minutes long, uploaded to YouTube and submitted to Cakegrrl.com by April 1, 2012. • Finalists will be notified by June 1st. • The three finalists will create a themed cupcake display alongside professional bakers and in front of a live audience. Guests will sample the cupcakes and vote for their favorite! "We are looking […]

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French pastry shop coming to K Street downtown

French desserts will once again be available at the corner of Ninth and K streets downtown as the owner of a popular East Sacramento cupcake shop plans to open Estelle’s Patisserie on Dec. 1 in the building that formerly housed Danielle’s Creperie. “This has been my lifelong passion,” said owner Esther Son. “I’ve always dreamed of owning a bakery, ever since I was a little girl.” Though not traditionally trained as a baker, Son said she considers herself self-taught, and she has extensive experience in coming up with recipes and tweaking them until they’re perfect. Her cupcake shop, Esther’s Cupcakes, has been in business at 2600 Fair Oaks Blvd. for two years. “We were always coming downtown because we had a lot of clients at the Capitol,” she said. “The politicians and the lobbyists would bring in our cupcakes for gifts at fundraisers, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger used to order from us.” The pastry shop, however, will have a much broader set of goods. Some of the menu items include French macarons, croissants, green tea madeleines, fresh strawberry cakes, puff pastries, French baguettes and even sandwiches such as ham and cheese on a croissant. Fruit tarts and quiches loaded with vegetables will also be available, and coffee from Temple Coffee will be sold. Most desserts will be in the $3-$4 range, and Son said customers […]

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Spotlight Cakes offers cakes, Caribbean food

A native of Trinidad and Tobago is bringing gourmet cakes and the taste of the Caribbean to Sacramento with the newly opened Spotlight Cakes on Stockton Boulevard. Donna George, 54, learned the art of Caribbean cooking and cake baking at an early age from her family, and at 16, they moved to New York City, where she later began a career in nursing. “I’ve always dreamed of opening my own restaurant and bakery,” she said Wednesday, adding that it opened July 21. Her move to California from New York was prompted by the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “I witnessed the first plane fly into the first tower on my way to work,” she said. “I have seven kids, and one of them was in college near the towers. I had no idea what was going on, and it took me seven hours to get home to Brooklyn.” After that, she said she couldn’t live in New York City anymore, and she packed the kids and her belongings and drove to Sacramento, where she had previously traveled visiting friends. Working as a nurse for Sutter, she got to know the community around Stockton Boulevard and Oak Park, and when an injury a few months ago kept her from being able to work, she decided it was time to fulfill her lifelong dream. The cakes she makes can […]

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Icing on the Cupcake

If you think a cupcake is a special treat – and that a business selling them might be considered a luxury in tight times – you’d be wrong. Individual cupcake prices at Icing on the Cupcake, 1121 Alhambra Blvd., range from $2.75 to $3, and co-owner Christee Owens characterized them as being “small indulgences that make people smile.” According to Area Manager Kristina Johnson, the store – which has been open for two weeks – has already garnered a loyal following. “We have every-day customers,” she said. “It makes you feel good to see them coming in each day.” The new location is the third one for the chain, which was founded three years ago in Rocklin. Cupcakes are baked fresh each day from scratch, following family recipes, at a central kitchen. Workers arrive at 1 a.m. and bake between 2,500 and 3,000 cupcakes to be distributed to the three stores. “My mother taught me to bake when I was really little, and it was always a tradition,” said Owens, who owns the business with Chuck Meridith and her mother, Shirley Nagasawa. Flavors include the most-popular red velvet, confetti cake, German chocolate, maple bacon, chocolate mint and pistachio. “The German chocolate is my great-grandmother’s recipe,” Owens said, adding that her favorite is caramel apple. She described her cupcakes as being like old-fashioned, dense cakes. Not […]

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Cupcake and the City bakery now online

Obsessed with cupcakes? Not as much as Dina Neils. With one oven and a hobby-turned-business, Neils is serving up cupcakes through her newly launched site, Cupcake and the City. Two months ago the 26-year-old debuted her morsels at Mixture – a pool party hosted by MXD Entertainment Group every year at the Red Lion Hotel. She brought five dozen cupcakes to the party, and they were gone in one hour. She started baking with her father when she was very young. His specialty was cakes, but Neils was interested in baking may different desserts. Her focus on cupcakes started after she graduated from California State University, Sacramento with degrees in public relations and journalism in 2007. "Pretty much every weekend I was making cupcakes for the fun of it," she said. "I don’t know where the obsession comes from, I just love cupcakes." She was constantly receiving praise from friends and family about her baking abilities. They would ask her if she ever thought about doing it as a business. One night Neils said she was talking about cupcakes (big surprise) with her boyfriend, and he pushed her over the edge. "Why don’t you just go for this?" he asked her. "If anyone can make this happen, it’s you." She said that hearing someone close to her tell her she could succeed was a tipping […]

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