Friday, March 25, 2011

We Need Your Help To Make This Work

Tell everyone you know...friends, family, neighbors, acquaintances - heck even complete strangers! Torilyn's Cupcakes is back, but we desperately need your help! Please find it in your heart to donate what you can...we can't do this without you. Forward our website and/or blog to everyone you know. If you can't make a donation...maybe you can help in another way: marketing, business contacts, office supplies, commercial baking space, supply donations, what are your ideas - I would LOVE to hear from you. I'm so excited to be back in business...I'm grinning from ear to ear :)

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Well, it's about damn time.....

That's right.....time to start blogging again!

With a new year, comes new ideas and I've got a few things up my sleeve. I haven't really forgotten about my beloved blog, I've just been planning.....yes, since AUGUST!! Okay, maybe not for five months, but I truly have been dreaming up ways to provide you with just the right mix of daily doses of whimsy, knowledge and cupcake-ology. All I can say is.....I'm back!!

So, did you know that.....this is School Counselor Week?

I'd like to say that I never got the chance to know my children's counselor because they were such well behaved little darlings, but alas, this is not the case. My daughter, who is now a sophomore in college, made it through unscathed. The worst thing I remember hearing about is her constantly leaning back in her chair in 6th grade (we love you, Mrs. Barta and, no, she has yet to break the leaning habit). My little pumpkin came home complaining that she had her chair taken away all day and she had to sit on her knees all day long - tee hee hee - serves her right! I also recall a conversation with a certain middle school teacher that my daughter dared to roll her eyes in class (hello.....she's 13.....she rolled her eyes at me so often, I began to wonder if she would cause irreparable damage!). The boys, well I'm inclined to pass on those two little munchkins since I prefer to keep this blog "G" rated. But, suffice it to say that school counselor's get a bad rap. Not because of who they are, but because we usually never hear from them until our little dumpling has gotten themselves into hot water! I'd like to propose that we turn over a new leaf, as the saying goes. Let's take the time to thank our child's school counselor for dedicating their career to the well-being of our kids.

Whatever does any of this have to do with cupcakes, you ask? Well, don't you think it would be a wonderful gesture to call up a certain cupcake bakery (oh, I don't know.....a place called Torilyn's comes to mind) and order up a batch of cupcakes and hand deliver them to your child's counselor? I regularly deliver cupcakes to my son's high school (yep, that's the one that I can't discuss due to the "G" rating) and, trust me, they go a long way in smoothing things over! Teachers, principals, assistant principals, secretaries, substitutes and those sweet ladies in the attendance office have all earned those tasty little cakes. And let me tell you.....they are gonna miss him when he graduates this year. But, never fear wonderful high school staff.....there's another one on the way!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Oven problems.....

Well, I have had to temporarily postpone muffin testing until the oven is fixed. It is probably just the heating element but, nevertheless, I must be patient and hold off until we are back in working order! So hard.....I hate waiting and, even more, I hate not being able to bake!!

In the meantime, I made some doctor and nurse cupcakes for a customer of mine and I think they turned out well. I have never worked with fondant before, but I couldn't find any "medical" embellishments that I could purchase so I decided to make my own. I got the idea from a web picture from Australia. I liked her nurses a bit better (mine kind of look "clownish"), but not bad for a first attempt :)

I will update everyone when we are up and running in the kitchen again - hopefully it won't be too long!!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Food = love!

Day 6 of muffin testing and it's going well. I have a couple of dents in my confidence armor, but I'm a pretty tough cookie (or should I say, muffin!) and it will take more than a couple of 1's and 2's out of 10 to keep me down. Thus far, we have tested White Chocolate Raspberry, Coffee Cake, Orange, Apple and Almond Poppy Seed. Today is Oatmeal. Sorry for the generic names - once the muffins make the final cut, they will have new names and identities!

As time goes on, it becomes clear to me that food really is personal. That's the only reason why the same recipe would receive a "1" (the lowest score) and a "10" (the highest). Food is about love and life and memories. Just like my previous entry about the orange muffin, I had an image etched in my head and a certain taste lingering on my tongue and nothing was going to do except for the real deal. It had to be exactly the same as I remembered. Because I wanted to bite into that muffin and feel what I felt 20 years ago. What did I feel? Comfort, stability and love. Maybe that seems silly, but at the time, I was pregnant with my first child and I craved comfort food. I was only 21 years old and newly married and was scared about what was ahead of me and concerned about doing the right thing for this baby growing inside of me. Eating that muffin every morning made me feel like I was doing the right thing for myself and the baby. With such strong emotional ties to a particular food, it's no wonder that it had to be an exact replica of the original and it's no wonder that we all feel so strongly about what we eat!

As I continue tasting, testing, researching and analyzing feedback, I hope that I continue to find recipes that take my testers back in time to their own happy food moments. After all, food really is all about love!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Temper tantrum.....

It was bound to always does! Two days into muffin testing, I had my first temper tantrum. Most of you that know me will not be surprised - I'm the short fuse but get over it quickly type.

The recipe for day one was White Chocolate Raspberry. They turned out very nicely and, overall, were well received by my testers. The recipe for day two was Coffee Cake. This is a new recipe that I have just started working with. It's actually supposed to be for a coffee cake, not muffins, so it took some adjusting, but I really loved the combination of ingredients. I've been experimenting with some new ingredients that I don't normally use (like vanilla bean paste - YUM!!) and was feeling really good about this recipe and....then it happened. My muffins are in the oven, the fragrant smell of orange and cinnamon wafting out and spreading the delicious smell of home-baked goodness throughout the kitchen. I peek in about halfway through (don't open the oven door!!) and all looks well. I check again a few minutes later and, sure enough, they've fallen. Not fallen like they just don't have that pretty dome anymore, but flat-out caved in. They kind of look all of us girls hope our stomachs will look like after we work out like madwomen and don't eat for two weeks to fit into that perfect dress. What's the word - oh, I know - CONCAVE. My muffins were completely and totally concave!

That's okay - shit happens! That's how we learn. And, as much as I am known for my temper, I am also know for my persistence and perfectionistic nature. So - no biggie - I'm starting over. And over.....and over.....and over!! No matter what I did, the little buggers wouldn't rise. Usually when this happens, it's the kids fault (or the dogs on certain rowdy days). Any novice baker knows that you can't be jumping around when baking - it will flatten out the most well-intentioned cake, cupcake, muffin or bread in two seconds flat. However, the kids weren't home, and the dogs were outside. And although I'm not the most graceful gal on the planet and I certainly wouldn't be referred to as a waif - I know it wasn't me.

So, I am on a mission! I am going to find out why these darn muffins won't cooperate. I don't like flat muffins and, from the feedback that I have gotten thus far from my testers, neither do they and, let me tell you, they are a tough crowd. I don't pick my testers because I know they like muffins and will love having home-delivery for a month. I pick them because most of them are long-time friends of mine and I know that they will be brutally honest. I knew as I was boxing up my little muffin-y friends that I would hear about their flat domes and sure enough - the flack is flying in the door faster than I can say "miserable muffin".

I won't give up until I figure it out. You are all welcome to submit your thoughts about why and what you've done to resolve the dilemma (no, I won't leave Colorado and it's havoc-wreaking altitude!!). When I figure it out, I will let all of my readers know the outcome. Then I will re-make the Coffee Cake muffins and deliver them again with my tail between my legs hoping to redeem myself. After all, when it comes to baking, persistence always pays.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Today is a day if infinite possibilities! Well, actually, every day is - but today feels special. I am about to begin a new chapter in my baking - MUFFINS! Everyone says that muffins are the ugly stepsister of cupcakes, but I beg to differ. Yes, cupcakes are colorful, showy and glittery, but muffins have a quiet beauty all their own. It's kind of like the difference between your silky, lacy lingerie and your old faithful flannel pj's. You've gotta have them both and either one can be your favorite depending on how you feel. I think muffins are the comfortable friend that you sit down and share your paper and morning coffee with. With muffins, you know you can just sit, relax, take your time and enjoy the moment. Whereas, with cupcakes, the second you see those dazzling domed beauties, you know that there's a party right around the corner and, let's face it, sometimes we just aren't in that mood. The point is, we've gotta have both.

And, so here I am, ready to embark on another month of testing. I have to admit, I love testing new recipes. Don't get me wrong, there will be lots of overflowing, half -baked, dry and overall inedible muffins flying around the kitchen in the weeks to come and more than one temper tantrum to be sure, but I love the creation part of baking. As my family will tell you, when I am baking, I don't see or hear anything else around me. The smells, the heat from the oven, the bowls of flour, sugar and butter literally transport me to another place. A place where I am at peace and all of the troubles of the world melt away. It's definitely my happy place! So, although it is bound to be a crazy couple of weeks, if you see me I will be smiling because this is what I do, this is what I love!

First up - White Chocolate Raspberry! Wish me luck cuz' here we go :)

Monday, August 10, 2009

I'd like to tell you a story...

Do you ever have a memory about a certain food and every time you recall that memory, it's almost like you can taste each're literally transported back in time to that particular delicious moment! For some, it's a special dessert and for others maybe it's a perfectly grilled steak or an appetizer that you simply must order at your favorite restaurant. We all have that one food that puts a smile on our face just thinking about it. Well, for me, it's a muffin! I can't remember what it was called, but I remember everything else about it which is amazing because this memory is about two decades old. My children will vouch for the fact that I can barely remember what I did yesterday let alone twenty years ago, so the fact that I am able to recapture details from so long ago is truly a phenomenon!

Here's the story...

Once upon a time, I worked for a law firm in downtown Denver. I lived in the mountains and had quite the commute each day. I was pregnant and not allowed to drive because I had hypoglycemia and would occasionally pass out. It only happened twice and never while I was driving, but the doctors didn't want me to take a chance. So, I would hop (okay, not really hop - I was pregnant after all, but you get the picture) on the bus for my hour and a half joyride. Did I read, sleep or possibly crochet cute little booties and bonnets on my way down the mountain, you ask? Nope. Wrong. None of the above. I sat in my seat and quietly reflected on one thing and one thing only. Yep, you guessed! A muffin to be exact.

I spent all my time thinking about an orange muffin. Not just about what it would taste like, but whether they would have run out by the time I got there (God forbid, and it happened more than once and nearly brought me to my knees) and whether or not I should get three on Friday so that I would have one for Saturday and Sunday. I was truly obsessed about this muffin. I can still picture the little kiosk at the bus station.

And then one day the kiosk was gone! I spent the next six months searching downtown bakeries for my beloved orange muffin to no avail. I got desperate and branched out to the surrounding towns and even went as far as Boulder to try and find a suitable substitute. Nada. I tried to duplicate the recipe for years and never found the right combination. Even back then I loved to bake, but I was still relatively inexperienced at coming up with my own recipes not to mention the fact that I now had a beautiful, precious little baby girl that took up every waking moment that I wasn't at work.

So, what did I do? I pushed the memory aside and simply would not allow myself to think about it any longer. Enough was enough. I had to let it go. I was driving myself and everyone around me crazy over a silly little muffin! And, like all true loves that end tragically, the pain slowly, slowly subsided until it became nothing but a distant memory.

And so, two decades later, here we are and although hidden among the cobwebs, that muffin came back and reared it's ugly (albeit sugar-coated) head when I started throwing around the idea of adding muffins to the menu at Torilyn's Cupcakes. And I want you all to know that after all that, the story has a happy ending. A blissfully, happy ending. I did it! I really, truly and absolutely nailed it. I baked and baked until I finally got it right and, Oh My Goodness was it worth it! It's called the Orange Blossom Muffin and I'm in love all over again!!

I'd love to hear about your favorite muffin memories. Go ahead, dust off the file cabinet in your mind and let the memories flow :)

Much Cupcake Love -