A box of Sweet Maria’s Cupcakes

In recent years, locally there has been an influx of home bakers who have taken the step into turning their hobby into something more lucrative. With the help of technology, it has not been difficult for them to get a home-based cupcake business off the ground. People can now sell cakes, cupcakes, and a slew of other baked goods online. I think that’s pretty cool.

A week ago I got an e-mail from one such home baker named Espie of Sweet Maria. Espie reminds me of myself somewhat because like me she started baking as a hobby and eventually fell in love with it. But while I enjoy making yeast breads the most, Espie’s favorite thing to create is cupcakes, although of course that isn’t the only thing she knows how to make. After much encouragement from her friends and family, Espie got the push she needed to take her love for baking to the next level. Now she runs an online pastry shop based in San Juan which she soon hopes to turn into an actual shop! I’m very excited for that!

Anyway, as the story goes, Espie sent over a box of assorted flavours and asked for my feedback. I decided to ask my brother to review the cupcakes with me because I trust his tastebuds.

I think the biggest challenge in running a cupcake business is figuring out the flavours– finding the right combinations, as well as finding the right balance between the cake and the frosting.

Looking at the selection Espie has given me, it looks like she’s got the combinations down pat. The cupcakes are also very elegant and straightforward; not at all super flashy, and that’s the way I like them to be honest. Opening the box, I was overcome by my usual moment of weakness for cuteness, which every well-decorated cupcake is. They always look too good to eat!

Alas it was time to bite into these pretties to test for flavor.
Learn more about Sweet Maria! >>

Yes, I’m actually a videogame nerd

Well it’s not a secret, but it’s not something I get to discuss at length. I super love videogames. I love it so much I once made concept art for a game I had an idea for. (Also something you didn’t know about me, I love to draw!) When I was in high school, I played a ton of RPGs on the Playstation 2. Ahhh memories… The downside to RPGs is that it takes time and dedication to finish, and if you’re a perfectionist like me, you try to finish all the side-quests (eg. Finding all 101 Dalmatians in all the Kingdom Hearts games) and unlock all the bonuses, which takes more time of course. Time– it’s something I no longer have much of these days. The real world kind of sucks that way.

Anyway, I wouldn’t be a proper videogame nerd if I didn’t love Super Mario. It’s one of the most iconic games in the history of videogames. One of my favourite ways to play a Mario game is through the Wii. Ever since the Wii was invented, the Mario-verse hasn’t been the same. It’s become even better! As in make-a-cupcake-as-a-tribute-to-Super-Mario-awesomeness better!

Coming across this recipe was pure luck. I knew I wasn’t going to settle for a simple vanilla cupcake and top it with red frosting; it didn’t feel very Mario. So when I saw this Japanese cheesecake recipe, I knew it was “the one”.
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Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes to wish you a very Merry Christmas!

I hope by now everyone has done their last-minute shopping and is taking it easy. It’s the 24th on this side of the globe and I feel positively giddy! The time is near for gathering round the Christmas tree after a hearty dinner, then the gifts will be passed around over and above the chatter of excited family members. I always imagine my family opening gifts around the cozy fireplace, except that having one is vastly impractical when you live here in the Philippines. (In reality, we gather around the area where the cold air from the air-conditioning is most felt.)

I always love that moment when we’re all together, swapping stories over the sound of gift wrap being torn, and the looks on everyone’s faces when they receive their gifts. I for one always obsess over getting the right gift for a particular person, because I’m very sentimental and I always want my gifts to mean something.

These Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes are my virtual gift to you all this year! I like to share, especially around this season, and if only I could work some magic to allow every person who reads this entry to reach into the screen and take a cupcake, I really truly would.
Get the recipe! >>