San Diego’s vibrant beer culture is so pervasive that it seems like a perfectly natural place for a bakery like Pubcakes — where you can get cupcakes made with beer. The combination may at first seem strange, but after sampling several different flavors, I can confidently say that not only does the combination of beer and cake work, it’s magical.
The five flavors we sampled were Irish Carbomb (a deep chocolate cupcake frosted with Guinness and chocolate whiskey ganache), Stone Portzilla (made with Stone Smoked Porter, a coffee ganache, and caramelized coconut), Top Ten Cake (with Karl Strauss IPA and sweet and spicy cherry frosting), Cup ‘O Hefen (with Ballast Point Wahoo Wheat and a citrusy icing), and one of the newest cupcake creations, a ManzaNeed It! (with Manzanita’s Gillespie Brown Ale, black pepper, and Nutella buttercream).
It’s pretty tough to really mess up a mocha. When you’ve got three ingredients (espresso, milk, and chocolate) — all of which are good on their own and even better together, generally you’re either going to create a great drink, or a really great one.
Cafe Bassam, an artsy cafe in Banker’s Hill, makes a great mocha. The cup of creamy steamed milk and espresso was covered in froth and bubbles, and topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a surprise — a drizzle of buttery caramel syrup.
Croissants are an exercise in simplicity. Comprised of only a handful of ingredients, the difference between a good croissant and an average one comes down to the quality of the ingredients and the preparation. There is an expansive world of difference between the crescent-shaped bread puffs masquerading as croissants in grocery stores and a truly excellent, authentic French croissant — and the chocolate croissant at Darshan’s ($2.95) is most definitely the latter.
I’ve been on a cookie kick lately — both at home (experimenting with new recipes) and by testing store-bought cookies. After raving about the 33 cent cookies from Albertsons, I thought it was only right to sample a gourmet cookie on the opposite side of the spectrum — in this case, a massive chocolate chip cookie from Ghirardelli.
$4 is a lot to spend on one cookie, but since we’d just run out of cookie dough at home, it seemed reasonable to splurge a cookie big enough for two people to split.
I have no problem admitting that I love a good cookie as much as I love a good deal, and that’s why one of my favorite cheap thrills (ie: treat under $2) is Albertsons cookies. Part of me feels like I should be keeping this my secret, because I’ve already found that by noon, the best flavor (double chocolate chip) is often sold out. But ultimately, these cookies are too delicious to keep to myself. Especially because you can get three of them for under $1.
Bakeries like Azúcar can be daunting. With a dizzying array of treats on offer (including cookies, cupcakes, and bars), it’s tempting to take the whole store home. On my latest visit, I wanted something truly indulgent, so I headed directly to the display case with filled with individual-sized cakes. After some heated deliberation, I settled on the Azúcar Tiramisu ($6).
A recent Friday night dinner at Sessions Public made me extra grateful that when I encounter legitimately lip-smacking food, my stomach capacity magically doubles, allowing me extra real estate to indulge. After polishing off their CAB Natural Buger, which I wrote about for Serious Eats, I ordered the orange scented beignets with Mexican “coco sauce”.
While the dessert was being prepared, my constant dining companion and I speculated on the size and amount of the beignets. I envisioned a pile of small, squarish pillows of pastry covered in powdered sugar, but what emerged from the kitchen was completely different. The dish contained five large, round, golden brown orbs of dough that were so fresh they were literally steaming.
Having a cupcake shop located near your apartment can be a blessing or a curse. When a craving for sugar hits, it’s great to be easy walking distance to the cure. On the flip-side, being too close to a shop that caters to your weakness can slowly chip away at your willpower. For me, this is a constant battle.
Heavenly Cupcake, a cupcakery located in downtown San Diego, sells cupcakes that are equally as beautiful to look at as they are worth indulging in.
In Hillcrest, San Diego’s gayborhood just north of the downtown core, dessert options are abundant. One of the best places to satisfy a sweet tooth is Babycakes, a cafe/bar that serves some of San Diego’s biggest and most frosting-laden cupcakes.
Cupcakes come in a mind-boggling variety of flavors, including classics like vanilla, chocolate, and red velvet, plus inspired flavors like blood orange, guava mango, and peanut butter and jelly. For $3.50 you get a larger-than-usual cupcake topped with a towering swirl of icing.