Friday, October 21, 2011

Charleston and Churros

by Darla

I’ve been trying to fight off a sinus infection this week, and I have an errant ‘y’ on my keyboard that is really starting to drive me bonkers.

Isn’t funny how something little, like a ‘y’ key that keeps popping off the keyboard for some reason, can be just as troublesome as the bigger things?

Seriously, this sinus crap is really getting on my nerves. I’ve been fighting sinus headaches all week, and my body just doesn’t know if it wants to break down and get sick, or not.

But that ‘y’ on m keyboard? Yeah, that’s what’s really gonna drive me over the edge.

It’s amazing to me that we have little computers that we carry around in our pockets, and yet technology has yet to find a better way to build a keyboard.yyyyy

Sorry. Yes, that really was me reattaching my ‘y’ after typing ‘keyboard’. I’ve reattached the ‘y’ approximately 25 times since starting this post. I just decided to let you guys see the carnage that time.

My ‘y’ went rogue two days ago, for unknown reasons, and I’m at a loss as to how to convince it that it’s happyyyyyy (sorry)y there between ‘t’ and ‘u’. I’m trying to tell it that it matters to the keys around it, they need it…I need it. But ‘y’ is having none of it. What began as a simple act of rebellion, popping off the keyboard occasionally after having been pressed, has escalated to a full blown coup of bouncing off and away upon almost every use.

Dear Y,

You are important to this operation. We can’t make it without you. When I press you down, it is not an act of oppression! It is an act of liberation. It is my way of sharing you with the world. I am showing your beauty and your place amongst letters. Just look at how vital you have been to these last few sentences! With you there is no “you.” We need you, Y. O, U, and I, we need you. We all need you. Please stop your errant wayyyys and come home to a happy, harmonious keyboard. A keyboard that can’t exist, in reality or as a word, without you, Y.

All our love,

Darla, my fingers, and your board mates.

While Y contemplates the options before it, I’d like to tell you about cupcakes and churros, okay?

First up, cupcakes.

While I was in Charleston last weekend, I visited a cute cupcakery simply called Cupcake. Cupcake is located at 433 King Street, right in Charleston.

We got there a few minutes before they opened, so when they unlocked the doors, the shelves were chock full of gorgeous cupcakes. Lots and lots of gorgeous cupcakes.

They decor is cute, with plenty of pink and brown, cute chandeliers over the tables, and a mural along the back wall.

They have a cute menu to the left, just as you walk through the door. It showed most of the flavors being offered that day and prices. I wanted one of everything, personally.

I mean, just look at how pretty and irresistible they all look. When we were there, they had vanilla, vanilla chocolate, chocolate, red velvet, black and white, French toast (!!!), a breast cancer awareness that was vanilla cake with cream cheese frosting, turtle, carrot, and cookies and cream.

My sister showed some restraint and got a single, pretty carrot cupcake. She thought it was tasty, but she wasn’t really fond of the frosting. She said it had a bit of an oily flavor. I tasted it and couldn’t pick up on what she was describing, but as someone who *gasp* doesn’t actually care for (most) cream cheese frosting, I may not have been the best judge. She finished the cupcake, though, and said she might buy one again, but with a lot less frosting.

I picked four other cupcakes to try: turtle, French toast (because, seriously? just look at it), plain vanilla, and plain chocolate.

The turtle cupcake was a chocolate cake with caramel cream cheese frosting, drizzled in chocolate and caramel, and topped with a praline (candy coated pecans).

The French toast cupcake is a vanilla cake with cinnamon streusel, topped with maple cream cheese frosting.

AFter trying all of the cupcakes, the consensus among me and my guests was that they were good cupcakes, with far too much frosting, but not fantastic cupcakes. The turtle and chocolate cupcakes tasted very similar (besides the frosting), but the cake on the turtle cupcake had this odd consistency. We thought at first that it might have been chopped nuts, but they don’t have nuts in them, so I’m not sure what it was. The frosting was good, and my sister loved the little praline on top. Both of these chocolate cupcakes were piled high with more frosting than I find palatable. Although the frostings were quite good, there was just too much.

As for the vanilla and French toast cupcakes, they both had the same flavor base for their cupcakes, but the French toast had the cinnamon streusel. To be honest, I thought the cake was quite good, but it was way too soft. It fell apart as soon as it was out of it’s wrapper, and it was very frustrating. I only took one bite of the plain vanilla before giving up on it. I couldn’t even pick it up. I’m hoping that this was just a bad batch, because, really, they had great flavor and I think I would have enjoyed them, had they held together better.

As for the French toast cupcake…

This was, by far, my favorite cupcake of the day. It was the most flavorful of all of them, and I loved the maple cream cheese frosting. However, as I stated above, the cake just crumbled in my hands. I was so sad, because, seriously, I loved this cupcake. As with the chocolate flavors, both of the vanilla flavors had a lot more frosting than I, or my guests, thought was enjoyable.

Here’s the thing, the frosting is really delicious. There’s just too much of it. Unless you’re a major frosting nut; then you’re in luck. :)

My one and only real complaint about Cupcake is the service that we received while there. Unfortunately, we all felt rather looked down upon and ignored. Aside from the fact that customer service should be a number one priority, we spent about $50 on cupcakes, drinks, and souvenirs, so I would have thought customer appreciation would have been a little higher. The staff barely spoke to us the entire time, and seemed annoyed at having to answer any questions that we had. All of us left feeling as though we were unwelcome. It was disappointing, to say the least, and after all of the lovely Southern hospitality that we received at all of our other stops, it was like a splash of cold water to the face. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt, and say that it was just a busy time for them, but other reviews on google seem to share the same complaint.

These are cupcakes, they make us smile; the people serving them should, too.

I won’t let that stop me from recommending Cupcake to people visiting Charleston, though. The cupcakes were good, and they have some seriously adorable merchandise. They’re worth a stop for a snack, but I suggest getting it to go, and eating the cupcakes in one of Charleston’s lovely parks, where there won’t be the chill of the staff watching over you.

Okay, now I know these have nothing to do with cupcakes, but I had to share them today.

A couple of days ago, Felicia Day tweeted about savory churros.

Yes. This should indeed happen.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about them since. Of course there should be savory churros! Churros with spice and cheese…mmmm! Obviously, I had to pursue this. (P.S. You can totally make these vegan/dairy free with a little soy or tofu cheese.)

For more instructional photos on making churros, visit my churro cupcake post.

I made several flavor combinations, but my favorites were parmesan and cracked peppercorn…

…and chile cheese.

I also made a quick and dirty sour cream and onion flavor by crushing some Lay’s sour cream and onion potato chips, then rolling the hot churros in the crumbs. I’m not gonna lie, they were pretty delicious.

The parmesan churros had a great cheese flavor and I loved the little spice added from the pepper. I tried several dip ideas for these, but I only liked one. At first, I thought they’d be great with olive oil, but seeing as how they’re cooked in oil, it wasn’t appetizing at all to dip them in more oil.

What ended up being the most delicious with these was an alfredo sauce dip. I made a super simple heavy cream and parmesan alfredo, and it was perfect with these. If you’re short on time, they would be great with a jarred alfredo sauce, too, although I’ve always preferred homemade.

The chile cheese churros were spicy and delicious. We ended up dipping these in a little sour cream and loved them. All I did for these was combine some shredded cheddar or some Mexican four cheese blend (the one without he spices added) with a little chile powder.

All in all, I really enjoyed savory churros, but I have to admit, I’ll always have a soft spot for the cinnamon-sugary goodness of a more traditional churro. These would make an excellent (if unhealthy) appetizer for any party, though. They’re ridiculously fast and easy to make, and you get a lot from a single batch. Of course, they tend to disappear just as fast and easy as. :) Enjoy!

Savory Cheese Churros

Ingredients

1 cup (250 ml) water
1 teaspoon (13 grams) sugar
1 tablespoon (15 ml) canola oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (127 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Various shredded cheeses and/or spices for topping

Preheat about 4 quarts of canola oil to 375 (190 C) degrees in a large pan set over medium high heat.

Prepare any toppings in a small bowl or brown paper bag; set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine the water, sugar, oil, and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Once dissolved, remove the pan from heat. Stir in the flour and baking powder until the mixture forms a dough. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes, then transfer the mixture to a pastry bag. Pipe strips of dough into the hot oil and fry until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on several layers of paper towel before coating in shredded cheese, spices, or other flavorings.

Recipe by Darla

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jessica October 21, 2011 at 10:01 am

Any idea that comes by way of Felicia Day is ok in my book. Nevermind I’d burn down the house if I ever attempted to make these.

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2 Danielle October 21, 2011 at 10:15 am

I too have been dealing with the sinus fun all week. I stayed home sick three days this week. You have my sympathy.
It’s too bad you’re not near me either, I have at least 3 keyboards that are just sitting around.

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3 Kim October 21, 2011 at 11:35 am

Okay, I have to tell you that reading your blog can get creepy sometimes. Not because the things you post are creepy (with the exception of Dead Man’s Toe cakebites), but because I’ll be thinking, “Man, Felicia Day’s really on to something. A savory cheese churro sounds awesome. I wonder if I can figure out how to make it.” And then a few days later, you post savory cheese churros. Inspired by Felicia Day’s tweet.

My mother says to make sure that you aren’t a clone or robot sent from the future to kill me and take over my life. I’m a 2nd gen nerd, what can I say?

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4 AdamVonWillis October 21, 2011 at 11:48 am

This is truly one of the greatest blog posts ever created. Churro + Parmesan cheese? Yes, please! Such a simple, yet amazing, idea! Thank you!

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5 Blog is the New Black October 21, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Wow, delicious!!! The 8 year old in me is giggling at the phallic shape… great flavor here!

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6 Kathia Castro October 21, 2011 at 2:34 pm

I love churros, specially the ones with dulce de leche, but these ones look amazing and I bet they taste delicious.
I also get really disappointed when I visit a sweet bakery and I get bad service. Cupcakes are sweet, as the staff should be!

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7 Choc Chip Uru October 21, 2011 at 2:43 pm

What a great idea – I have never tried savory churros but certainly want to give these a whirl with sweet chilli or salsa :)

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8 Emily ~So Domesticated~ October 21, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Wow, those cupcakes look amazing! Too bad the customer service wasn’t as good as their cupcakes : (
Very creative… love the creation of a savory churro!
P.S. Hope you feel better soon!

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9 Montana October 21, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Omg this looks SO delish I can`t help but drool on my keyboard! {Ironically the Y!} Sounds incredible!
If you are ever in Australia you should look this lady up
she has been making my bday cakes for years!
http://cupcaketeahouse.com.au/

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10 Patricia October 21, 2011 at 11:22 pm

I visited Cupcake this summer and was also disappointed in the customer service. I almost felt like I was imposing on them when I placed my order. The cupcakes were just average. On the other hand, the brownies and coconut macaroons at Baked in Charleston were excellent and so was the servie. You should give them a try if you haven’t.

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11 Erica McPhee October 22, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Have to say this is my absolute favorite blog! The amazing recipes, great photos, and warm writing are just sensational. I so appreciate a good review, too. Straightforward and honest, but still kind. You’re a better person than I, though. I refuse to shop anywhere the staff makes me feel like I am doing them a favor – especially when it isn’t an isolated incident.

Hope we see a french toast cupcake recipe soon

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12 Kelley October 23, 2011 at 7:51 pm

I go to Charleston often and a trip to Cupcake is always on my list. I have seen this shop grow over the years, and where it used to be the owner behind the counter making cupcakes, it is now manned by college students.
I have never received poor customer service (although not stellar either) and haven’t eaten a cupcake I didn’t like. Sorry you had a bum experience. Your pictures made my mouth water. I can’t wait to have another one!

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13 Lora October 23, 2011 at 8:52 pm

I love the idea of savory churros. These look delectable. p.s. Physician hubby swears by steaming (inhaling) chamomile tea for sinus issues.

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14 Lisa October 25, 2011 at 1:28 am

Wow, a bakery selling assorted yummy cupcakes. The icings did a great job making them look so tempting. I am grateful for the recommendation. I think this place will really satisfy me and my kids cravings. Thank you for sharing the recipe for the Savory Cheese Churros.

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15 Angela @ The Dancer Bakes October 25, 2011 at 7:53 pm

Ohh…salty deep-fried sticks of crispiness…how I miss you…
I think these will be a totally worthwhile splurge sometime in the future when I own a thermometer. And I almost want to melt the cheese over them, add bacon bits, and make Churro Cheese Fries…hmmm…

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16 Cyndy October 28, 2011 at 12:01 am

Darla, get well soon. The cupcake oddesy was so yummy looking!!! The churros looked like they were crispy and delish. The first thought was they , “Did she squeeze them out of a Playdough machine?!!! You’re probably too young!!! sigh.

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17 Megly October 31, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Wow LOVE the idea of a savory churro! Sounds fantastic!

And I must say, hearing about that terrible customer service would definitely keep me from ever visiting that particular cupcake shop in Charleston. Every store should know the value of their customers – if they don’t appreciate them, they don’t deserve them! I’ve worked many, many service jobs and the #1 rule is: customer comes first!! How sad for this little store.

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