Cupcake Crawl Across Manhattan: NYC’s Sweetest New Pursuit

There are pub crawls, there are babies’ first crawls, and now there are cupcake crawls. In a city with cupcake shops as ubiquitous as gay bars, and double-decker Sex and the City tour buses, it’s shocking that it’s taken so long to adopt a crawl devoted to the frosted, crumbly-on-a-bad-day, chocolate-filled-at-its-best treats. Alas, now it’s happening, and SugarTooth Tours is pioneering the movement. Starting next Wednesday, April 17th, the official “Cupcake Crawl Across Manhattan” commences with its three-hour crawls happening most Wednesdays through Saturdays, from 2pm to 5pm.

Three hours of consuming large quantities of cupcakes from six of NYC’s top cupcake shops takes stamina and a steely will to uncover the city’s finest desserts, but lucky for you, there’s a good deal of walking (and some subway action) involved on this pursuit – giving you the time to reflect on all you just consumed and come to the most mindful and informed decision. And also "burn calories."

I don’t want to spoil all the fun, but you can bet that (my favorites) Sweet Revenge & Billy’s Bakery are stops on the tour, among some other surprises. Wear sweatpants, come hungry, leave suga-buzzed.

Get the Cupcake Crawl details & follow Bonnie on Twitter here.

The Top Alcoholic & Creative St. Patrick’s Day Desserts

Whether you’re heading to a St. Patrick’s Day potluck or intending to fawn tipsily over a plate of sweetness at the end of your pub crawl, the mission is clear: you need something sweet and St. Patrick’s-themed. Thankfully, some of NYC’s best dessert spots are offering special treats that lovingly combine not just the green theme, but also alcohol. And here they are:

The Beer Cream Puff at Puddin‘: Soda bread-inspired puff with an orange glaze, cherry compote, and filled with pudding soaked in Brooklyn Brewery’s Dry Irish Stout. Info here

The Black & Tan cupcake at Sweet Revenge: Chocolate cake infused with Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, topped with ChocoVine-laden cream cheese frosting. Info here.

The Banana Bread Pudding at Bounce Sporting Club: Topped with butternut squash ice cream and paired with three homemade Jameson shots: banana, eggnog, coquito. Get it Sunday at their Sunday Funday party, info here.

The Irish Chocolate cupcake at Sprinkles: Belgian dark chocolate cake topped with Bailey’s Irish cream cheese frosting. Info here.

The Leprechaun Milkshake at Melt Shop: Green vanilla milkshake topped with four-leaf clover sprinkles. Info here.

The Guinness Chocolate Cupcake at The Windsor: Guinness-infused chocolate cake with Bailey’s buttercream, served in a jar. Info here.

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Photo: UrbanDaddy

Cake In A Cup: Happening At The New Bee’s Knees Baking Co.

Cake in a cup. More specifically, layered cakes in cups filled with ingredients like salted caramel, milk chocolate ganache, peanut butter mousse, and raspberry honey jam – even bourbon cake. Which is fitting considering the individualized cup portions are bourbon glass-sized, and slightly intoxicating (I’m looking at you, honey bourbon cake).  So of course, these cake cups are becoming a thing in the West Village, where they’re being sold at the recently-opened Bee’s Knees Baking Co. And with appearances at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, The Jade Hotel, and hundreds of weddings, the Bee’s Knees cake cup phenomenon is turning cupcakes on its head, and off its frosted, regal throne.

Opening on 12/12/12, as Bee’s Knees did, comes with a good deal of expectations. Both a doomed and auspicious day, Bee’s Knee’s has since emerged victorious, with customers rushing in at 8am for their Gorilla Coffee (only place in NYC to serve the Brooklyn-based brew) and croissants, and midday to lounge at the communal wooden table by the long front windows for some free Wi-Fi and chocolate PB cake cups.

Every day, around six or seven fixed and rotating flavors are offered, such as red velvet, lemon raspberry, carrot, PB & J, and even coconut grapefruit all baked fresh by chef Billy Mayer in a kitchen on Bowery. The most popular cup: the chocolate salted caramel – layered with chocolate cake, a thick ring of salted caramel, and roasted pecans and chocolate cake crumble on top.

So how did the cake cup idea arise? Switzerland-born co-owner Marco Stucky (pictured below) has the answer: “Americans love variety and options like nothing else,” he said. “So we wanted to come up with a cake that was as multilayered in flavor and as individualized as possible.”

Since opening, Stucky has not only lost 30 pounds from running around the shop, but has also become somewhat of the neighborhood talk show host; regulars know and love him for his easy conversation, passion for Bee’s treats, and his ability to remember your name. If you’re lucky – he’ll throw a couple of free, shot-sized samples in there to hold you over after lunch.

But Stucky isn’t the only European native in the shop. The coffee machines themselves, handpicked by Gorilla Coffee, are handmade and straight from Florence, Italy and Germany. “These are all top-of-the-line,” Stucky said. “Gorilla wanted to make sure we have the quality standards they have.”

And to test this, the drink to get is their signature Hot Nasir (named after a loyal regular, lucky guy), which blends hot caramel with a shot of espresso. Pair that with the chocolate salted caramel and, well, your morning becomes “the bee’s knees.”

Marco Stucky

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Your DC Inauguration Weekend Guide

Feels like just yesterday, huh? Well now we’re gonna do it all again. But better. Regardless of your stance on the election, the inauguration of Obama on Monday, January 21st is a good opportunity to head to DC, drink like you just got out of prison, and conquer the city’s top brunch and dinner places like a viking. Yeah, I want you to live it up. Not just because you only live once yadda yadda, but also because you paid good money for that train/bus/flight to be in the nation’s civic hub, so your weekend better be great. And with this Inauguration guide, it certainly will be.

Follow Bonnie on Twitter here

Hostess Is Going Out Of Business and It’s All Our Fault

Thanks a lot, Obama. I gave you my vote and you couldn’t even save the Hostess cupcake plants from shutting down? But seriously, my Twitter feed is blowin’ up this morning with the news that the maker of Twinkies, Ding Dongs, and those really delicious cupcakes with the cream inside of them (What are they called? Cupcakes? Hostess was really on top of that trend, y’all) will be shutting down. 

This news comes at the heels of a massive strike among Hostess bakery workers:

Hostess, which has about $2.5 billion in sales from a long list of iconic consumer brands of snack cakes and breads said it had suspended operations at all of its 33 plants around the United States as it moves to start liquidating assets.

"We’ll be selling the brands and as much of the infrastructure as we can," said company spokesman Lance Ignon. "There is value in the brands."

Hostess said a strike by members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union that began last week had crippled its ability to produce and deliver products at several facilities, and it had no choice but to give up its effort to emerge intact from bankruptcy court.

The Irving, Texas-based company said the liquidation would mean that most of its 18,500 employees would lose their jobs.

First of all, thanks a lot, Twitter friends, for not mentioning the Hostess bakers strike before it was too late. Don’t you all know that Twitter is where I get my news? As always, we don’t know what we’ve got ’til it’s gone. For shame, my friends. For shame! Oh, and R.I.P. Wonder Bread. (Also, is this going to be a slow news day or what?)

Follow Tyler Coates on Twitter.

Top NY Dessert Spots to Bitch About a Break-Up

Breaking up sucks. You lose a friend, a conveniently-located place to crash, someone to eat the other half of your fries so you don’t, and semi-regular sex. But the one thing you gain? The right to eat and bitch as much as you very well please hell fucking YES.

Here are our top dessert spots to bitch about a break-up, all across New York. Grab your best friends and the best cookies, cupcakes, pastries, and ice cream in town, and let it allll out. 

Cupcake Wars Redux: While Magnolia Was Sleeping, Sprinkles Was Creeping

Well that didn’t take long. A rep from the new Sprinkles bakery in New York just dropped off two dozen BlackBook-branded red velvet cupcakes at our offices, and within ten minutes every one of those bad boys has found its way into our collective bellies. Every one except for this one, that is, which I set aside for myself and will commence munching … now.

When I see a cupcake, I immediately regress back to childhood, when cupcakes emerged at birthday parties and kids ate only the icing because it was the only good part. But these Sprinkles cupcakes are good all the way through, with a juicy, flavorful, spongey cake and cream cheese-based icing that’s just the right amount of sweet. Paired with a cup of unsweetened coffee, it’s the perfect afternoon pick-me-up. Health, shmealth.

Cupcakes have been a thing in New York since Carrie and Miranda sat in front of the West Village’s Magnolia chatting about boys. Weekend lines still wrap around the corner, spurring a slew of imitators, some more successful than others. But Sprinkles represents some serious competition if this dreamy and rapidly-disappearing number on my desk is any indication. As it happens, Owner Candace Nelson is quite the cupcake Yoda, focusing on nothing but cupcakes in her shop and appearing as a judge on the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars.

The shop, located by Bloomingdale’s on Lexington Avenue between 60th and 61st Streets, boasts more than 50 different flavors, including banana, chai latte, and dark chocolate. They offer vegan cupcakes for those who eschew animal products but still like to get down with sugar, and they’re even sensitive enough to have gluten-free versions as well, a fact much appreciated by my colleague Liz, who gazed upon our gluten-filled cupcakes with a mix of envy and sadness.

If this bold entry into the New York cupcake market sets off another frenzied cupcake war, so be it. Send all the fallen soldiers to our offices at 29 E. 19th Street. We’ll give them a home.

Sprinkles Cupcakes New York opens on Friday, May 13.

Model Diary: Streetwalking the Metropolis

Yesterday was one of those rare days when, by virtue of having no castings and avoiding my part-time internship, I was able to shirk all work responsibilities and take the day off. I finally bought hangers and went for a run in Central Park (two things I’ve neglected to do since I moved here). I also met up with an old professor of mine, and we walked through Riverside Park and up along the Hudson, ending up at the Fairway in Harlem where he insisted the fish is better than at any other grocery store. The walk through the fall foliage was overwhelmingly cinematic, reminiscent of Woody Allen’s Manhattan. Which, in turn, reminded me of the opportunity modeling affords to familiarize myself with this glorious city. Walking from Milk Studios to the Conde Nast building to ad agencies in Soho and photographers’ apartments in Chinatown, I spend the majority of my day navigating the urban landscape and seeing so many interior worlds to which I would otherwise never be privy. This goes for any city I work in, but New York is of course its own breed. I’ve only been here for six weeks, but I’ve developed an intimate relationship with the avenues and buildings and parks in a short amount of time. Because modeling requires me to be a modern-day flâneuse, I get to witness so much of the beautiful and the grotesque in this city. Here’s a list of contemporary urban occurrences that I observed early on, which will probably seem quite normal and ordinary to you long-term New Yorkers.

Five beautiful things about New York:

1. UWS and LES architecture. So humbling in its beauty and history. Keeps me calm and grounded. 2. Cupcake food trucks. The idea more than the indulgence, I’ll admit, but to me they represent the fact that cupcakes are omnipresent in this city, as delicious microcosmic pieces of art that make everyone smile. 3. New Yorkers reading the New Yorker on the subway. This pleased me most when I first arrived, because I was so used to reading the modern-day feuilleton outside of this city, where I skipped over the opening pages in an attempt to stave off cultural longing. Now I get to value them along with everyone else. 4. By-donation admission at the Met. Following in the manner of the London museums. Perfect for an hour or two between castings. 5. Normalized four-coffees-a-day caffeine addictions.

Five grotesque things about New York:

1. Road rage honking. Pointless urban aggression. It’s not going to get you there any faster! 2. Visible dirt particles in the air, especially around Grand Central. Inhaling and tasting the air pollution is like the postmodern function for the kefiah. 3. $12 lunches. No matter how much I try to economize, I somehow still end up spending over ten bucks on lunch. 4. Surprise—the L train isn’t running this weekend! This is the worst, considering I often work weekends. I’ve learned how to deal, sort of, and check online in advance, but it’s still such a pain in the ass. 5. Aggressive male behavior: I don’t ever want to talk to you. Don’t come up to me on the street or in a bookstore and assume that I want to talk to you. I. Never. Do.

Germans Deem New York Nothing More Than a Land of Cupcakes

This is totally Sex and the City‘s fault. Sarah Jessica Parker, Magnolia Cupcakes, we blame you. McDonald’s in Germany are now offering a series of cupcakes named after New York City neighborhoods — Central Park, Soho, Chelsea, and East Village. Because, really now, what is New York now but a series of cutesy cupcake shops?

The East Village cupcake is cappuccino-flavored because, according to German McDonald’s, “Here come from the most famous artists in New York” and also something about Andy Warhol that doesn’t quite translate. A dude in a floppy hat and corduroy pants stands alongside the E.V. cupcake on the German website.

Chelsea is chocolate because it “was once terribly hip, sometimes not, and then again.” It’s paired with a dude in baggy jeans and a rumpled button-down. So un-Chelsea. McD’s, get that guy in some G-Stars.

Soho gets stuck with a vanilla cupcake and a chick who looks like a cute nurse because the only reason to go to Soho and throw some elbows on the sidewalks is Uniqlo.

Central Park gets a strawberry cupcake and a cool chick in jeggings and a vest whose style is more downtown than uptown. German McDonald’s explains that Central Park is where “all of New York hangs out.” Who knew?