This week’s review will be the first not from The List. Every once in a while we’ll throw out a few places that tickle our fancy, and this is one such place. Also “The Place” section will be 100% Kristina because if you could see the look of sheer excitement in her eyes you wouldn’t give any input either 🙂
Thanks, babe. Oh man, where oh where do I begin? I can’t help but to get incredibly excited about this weeks post. Ever since the first time I went to Sift Cupcakes in Napa, I became a committed, lifelong customer. Little did I know, one was popping up in my own city! Casually strolling around Lower Pac Heights of San Francisco last Friday night, my dreams came to life when from a distance I saw Sift Cupcakes on the corner of Fillmore and California. I pointed, screamed and then ran across the street to see if it was really “the” Sift Cupcakes I always have to visit when I go to my parents. Even though the two people who were working were incredibly nice and excited to be working there, I’m pretty sure they thought I was nuts based on my level of excitement and unlimited word vomit about how much I love this place (and I hadn’t even had the oh-so sweet treat!).
For me it goes beyond the actual cupcake. From the setting, to the desserts, to the packaging, Sift has it figured out. Andrea Ballus, Wedding Planner and Cupcake Master, took her talent to the test when she went on the famous Food Network’s, “Cupcake Wars”. Blowing the judges away with her unique yet tasty and well balanced masterpieces, Ballus took the title while creating The Battle Royale, Pink Champagne and Samoa cupcakes. Their first shop opened in Cotati, then Napa, then Santa Rosa, now San Francisco (as of 2 weeks ago) and they’re expecting to open a 5th location in Petaluma shortly. All of these shops have opened over the span of just a couple years. Being a local to San Francisco I have noticed quite the cupcake trend. There are so many cupcake shops in this city! In every district, on every corner, in every apartment building…(kidding)! To say the least, competition is steep. I feel bad for the cupcake shops that have been fighting for the title; they have no idea what they’re in for.
Stud Muffin – Having had a couple of “bad” bacon desserts, I still wanted to give this one a try. A brown sugar beer cake with salted caramel frosting and cayenne dusted bacon on top. Upon reading the description of the cake, Alex and my suspicion and curiosity prompted our decision instantaneously. The Stud Muffin is more like a muffin, than it is a cupcake. The cake itself is a little more moist than I typically prefer (reason why I say it’s more like a muffin) but not so moist that there were any crumbs left behind. The frosting is creamy, caramelly and a tad bit too sweet for my liking. Again, not a deal breaker. What really ties this cake together is the b-b-b-bacon. The idea of salty/sweet is quite attractive, but has led to disappointed in the past. Normally it’s burnt, too crunchy and there’s no meatiness to it; the flavors just haven’t completed the each other. Not the case with the Stud Muffin. The bacon is really what blew my whistle. Nice and thick cut, high quality and meaty! It really tied all the flavors together perfectly and the struggle of perfecting that salty/sweet combination was achieved. Definitely won’t be the last time I order this cake.
Ooh La La – Where do I begin? All I want to say is this cupcake is the reason why I am such a huge Sift advocate, but there’s no way I can stop there! I haven’t tried all of the cupcakes, but I have tried quite a few, and this one is definitely my favorite. Ooh La La is just your standard red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, but there is something (many things) about this one. I remember the first few times I had a red velvet cupcake or a piece of cake I found myself wondering, “what kind of cake is this supposed to be?”. I always felt like it was “supposed” to taste like chocolate, yet I tasted…..no chocolate. My mom is actually the reason why I even ordered the Ooh La La the first time I went (thank you mom!), because with all of those wonderful flavors and beautiful presentations, Ooh La La probably wouldn’t have been the first on my list. The cake itself has a rich chocolaty flavor and is the most moist, most dense, most rich Red Velvet cupcake I have ever tasted. Topped with the creamiest, smoothest, gooiest frosting and crunchy red candy crystal sprinkles, the textures and flavors flow perfectly together. Beautifully piped frosting and exquisite execution every time. I have made countless numbers of different cream cheese frosting recipes and I can never get it right. They’re either way too sweet or way to sour. Ballus has this frosting perfected. Not too sweet, not too sour, and a whole heck of a lot of it. So much that I actually scraped some off of my first cupcake and then instantly regretted it once I was halfway through the cake. Don’t be discouraged by the amount of frosting on these cupcakes; you’ll be licking your fingers before you know it. Ooh La La definitely takes the cake on this one!
I also suggest checking out their Food Network winning cupcakes: the Pink Champagne, Battle Royale, and Samoa
I am not going even going to try to match Kristina’s description of the Ooh La La, just know that I completely agree with her. That is by far one of the best cupcakes I have ever had.
However, I do have some notes on the Stud Muffin. You say the word bacon and things begin to get fuzzy and I start to drool, so the Stud Muffin was getting ordered from the get-go. I mean c’mon, brown sugar? Beer? Salted caramel? BACON!? Now I’ve had good sweets involving bacon and I’ve had bad, well, mostly bad. This one settles right into the upper deck of good. The bacon is not overdone and adds the perfect amount of baconosity (yeah I made up a word, so what) to complement the sweetness of the salted caramel. The cake portion itself is sweet, though not overly so. The frosting is just downright heavenly. It’s so good that they actually sell frosting shooters in small cups. My only down comment is that it’s close to being too moist, more like a muffin than cake. Having said that they could turn this into a shake (which they do!) and I’ll suck it down.
What do you think? Yes, go now, right now. You don’t want to waste another minute of your life not having experienced a Sift cupcake.
A & K