Monday, May 31, 2010

Why Not-So-Red Velvet

It's amazing to me that red velvet is as popular today as it is. I mean, I'm a Sex in the City girl too, and I have no beef with the flavor of the cupcake (tangy buttermilky, light chocolatey, topped with cream cheese or vanilla frosting) or Magnolia's bakery (who truly is responsible for it's return to the younger masses), I just have a beef with the "red" part.

I am old enough (groan!) to remember the Red Dye 2 (made from yummy coal tar) we ate as kids, and it's removal from the shelves some years ago for toxicity. But in the meantime, a new one has popped up in its place. And though the FDA has given it the greenlight, it's safety in humans is not all that clear to me.

It's not that hard to find info about red dye; I lifted this from Wikipedia:

"Allura Red AC is a red azo dye that goes by several names including: Allura Red, Food Red 17, C.I. 16035, FD&C Red 40 [1][2], 2-naphthalenesulfonic acid, 6-hydroxy-5-((2-methoxy-5-methyl-4-sulfophenyl)azo)-, disodium salt, and disodium 6-hydroxy-5-((2-methoxy-5-methyl-4-sulfophenyl)azo)-2-naphthalene-sulfonate. It is used as a food dye and has the E number E129. Allura Red AC is one of many High Production Volume Chemicals. Red AC was originally manufactured from coal tar but is now mostly made from petroleum."

PETROLEUM??!! Is that really an improvement from coal tar??!! I took a look to see whether the oil-based red stuff was legal. Back to Wikipedia:

"In Europe, Allura Red AC is not recommended for consumption by children. It is banned in Denmark, Belgium, France, Switzerland, and Sweden...."

Is it possible that only European children are at risk - and not the children of other nations and continents?

But what does the European Union, the major economic body of Europe, have to say about red food dye:

"The European Union approves Allura Red AC as a food colorant, but EU countries' local laws banning food colorants are preserved."

WTF???!!! Well that means that it's OK in the poorer Eastern nations in Europe, but banned in the richer, Western Democracies.

"In the United States, Allura Red AC is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in cosmetics, drugs, and food. It is used in some tattoo inks and is used in many products, such as soft drinks, children's medications, and cotton candy." (Wikipedia).

Ah ha - so it's OK for America and poor European countries, but banned in the Western part of Europe.

OK, so maybe it's just those crazy Europeans getting all activist-ey, is there really anything wrong with this red stuff?

Well, according to studies in Europe, it has been linked to hyperactivity in children (hence the ban in the rich European countries); "The study found that increased levels of hyperactivity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and lower IQs were observed in children." (Wikipedia).

But it's dangerous effects have also been noted here in the US:
"Children are most often the ones who have sensitivity to red 40, whether or not their parents have realized it or not. Reactions include temper tantrums, hyperactivity, aggressive behavior, uncontrollable crying and screaming, kicking, nervousness, dizziness, inability to concentrate and sit still among other findings. Physically you may get frequent headaches or migraines, upset stomach and feel ill after ingesting this additive. Often when Red 40 is eliminated from the child's diet a remarkable change is noticed immediately." Lifestyle on-line.(


I tried to make my cupcakes with organic, strawberry-based dye but it took too much to get the signature color - end ended up tasting of strawberry. Same for beets - although the resulting taste was much more earthy. So I have decided to make my velvets not-so-red. And it is amazing the effect this has on people. They really want to see the red. So do I, truth be told. But I can't in good conscience, color them red with Red 40.

Friday, May 28, 2010

About Our Coffee

Cups offers 100% organic espresso and coffee beverages for the coffee afficionado. All of our coffee is locally roasted at San Diego-based Caffe Calabria, which has developed a customized organic espresso blend to compliment our cupcakes.

Cups' custom espresso blend is comprised of 50% Organic Sumatra, 25% Organic Guatemalan, 15% Organic French, and 10% Organic Mexican to create a complex and flavorful taste. This exceptional blend is prepared in the classic Italian style as we pull ristretto shots. “Ristretto” literally translates to “restricted” in Italian. A ristretto shot is a shot pulled to ½ to ¾ oz volume in 22-28 seconds to ensure that only the best qualities of the coffee are extracted. We also use the classic La Marzocco espresso machine, which is handmade in Florence, Italy.

We offer a Central American Organic Swami's Blend for our house brew that is multi-dimensional and flavorful. Come pair a $2.00 cup with the Tiramisu cupcake, or the PB Cup for a fantastic taste experience.

Our Organic Decaf Espresso is processed with the Swiss Water process which adheres to our policy of using no chemicals or pesticides. This unique process consists of “washing” the coffee beans to remove the caffeine, instead of using chemicals to do so. This results in a higher quality and better tasting decaf espresso.

We have specially trained baristas at Cups who will skillfully prepare your custom espresso beverage with care and flair. Come check out our latte art!

Cups can cater to your every coffee desire in most cases, so just ask our baristas if you have any special preferences or questions.


Swami's Blend: Our House drip coffee boasts plenty of Central American Flavor ($2.00).

Espresso: Two ristretto “short” shots of our custom Cups Blend served in a demitasse cup ($2.50).

Macchiato: Two ristretto “short” espresso shots combined with steamed milk and foam served in a demitasse cup ($3.00).

Brazilian Coffee: Two cardamom-sugar spiced ristretto “short” espresso shots served in a demitasse cup ($3.50).

Cafe Americano: A traditional American cup of coffee prepared Italian style with ristretto “short” espresso shots ($3.50).

Cafe Au Lait: Our Swami's Blend drip coffee paired with steamed organic milk and foam ($3.50).

Red Eye: Our Swami's Blend drip coffee with two ristretto shots added, for those who need a real “kick!” ($4.00)

Cappucino: Two ristretto “short” espresso shots of our custom Cups Espresso paired with steamed milk and foam. ($3.75)

Cafe Latte: Two ristretto “short” espresso shots paired with velvety steamed milk. ($4.00)

Thai Coffee: Two cardamom spiced ristretto “short” espresso shots Americano style with heavy cream ($4.00)

Latte of the Day: Ask our baristas! ($4.50)

Cafe Mocha: Two ristretto “short” espresso shots paired with our House made chocolate sauce, steamed milk, chocolate sprinkles, and whipped cream ($4.50).

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Cups Culinary, Cups' teaching kitchen located at 7857 Girard Avenue, will open for public classes, starting June 5, with a kid- friendly baking class, featuring the recipes from two of Jill O'Connor's award-winning cookbooks, Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey: Desserts for the Serious Sweet Tooth and Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey Treats for Kids. Come in and get your hands messy with some of Jill's most popular recipes, modified for this class only with all organic ingredients. Her luscious desserts have been enjoyed the world over; now is your chance to come in and try them yourself, under her expert supervision. The hands-on class is open to both kids and adults. $100 for parent and child, $25 for each additional child; $70 for solo adult. Max 24. Class will be held on June 5, 4:30-7:30 pm, with book-signing afterwards. Warwicks will provide both books for sale after the class.

June 6, 13, 20, 27 - Market-to-Table featuring Chef Jesus Gonzalez, Former creative Chef for Rancho La Puerta and Golden Door Spas
Have you ever wondered what some of the beautiful produce you see in the market is, or if you know what it is, what to do with it? Do you know what a Buddhas Hand is? Or what to do with those beautiful, fragrant squash blossoms? Join Jesus on a tour of the La Jolla Farmer's Market, as he identifies and describes the summer bounty available at the market that day. The class will then collectively choose items to purchase from the market for Jesus to cook in Cups Culinary demo kitchen. Recipes will be provided to all participants in this instructional class with an expert in using the freshest local, seasonal ingredients. Lunch prepared and provided from the market's bounty. $65. 11 am-2pm. Wear comfortable walking shoes. Max 24. This class will be offered every Sunday through the summer.

June 10 - Vegan Cupcake Baking*
Have you crossed over to the vegan life? Are you getting tired of the same old recipes? Come see how to jazz up your healthy lifestyle with cupcakes! Learn vegan baking techniques with Cups pastry chefs. Hands-on class will prepare batters and frostings for three different vegan cupcakes, bake and decorate. 4 Cups per guest, take-home carriers provided. Suitable for all skill levels. $70. 6-9 pm. Max 24.

June 12 - Ricotta Cheese-making with Cups Chefs Michelle Ciccarelli and Jesus Gonzalez
Learn the easy steps to making wonderful, fresh ricotta cheese, which you can easily do at home, in the demo portion of this class. Then, join in the fun in the hands-on portion in preparing a 4-course meal with the fresh ricotta, including appetizer, salad, fresh ravioli, and Limone Ricotta Cups. Recipes provided. $70. 2:30-5:30 pm. Max 24.

June 17 - Chocolate Art with Cups Pastry Chef Jeff Bonilla
Wake up your inner dessert artist! Learn how to temper chocolate, master chocolate decorating techniques, and prepare an assortment of chocolate sweets, including truffles and cupcakes, and an assortment of chocolate-dipped treats in this part demo/part- hands-on class! Suitable for all skill levels. $50. 6-8pm. Max 30.

June 24 - Gluten-free Cupcake Baking*
Yes you CAN have delectable desserts on a gluten-free diet! Learn gluten-free baking techniques with Cups pastry chefs. Hands-on class will prepare batters and frostings for three different gluten- free cupcakes, bake and decorate. 4 Cups per guest, take-home carriers provided. $70. 6-9 pm. Max 24.


June 8, 15, 22, 29 - Fun with Cupcakes
This class is for kids only, age 5 and up, who want to try their hand at cupcake decorating. Frost and sprinkle, pipe buttercream, play with fondant, and dip in chocolate to your heart's content. 4 full size cupcakes per child; take- out boxes provided for kids to bring home their masterpieces. Suitable for any skill level, and so much fun, parents will want to stay and play too! Drinks provided. $30. 12:30-2. Max 30. This class will be offered every Tuesday through the summer.

June 11, 25 - Parent's Night Off - Cupcakes and a Movie
Come and decorate cupcakes while watching a kid-friendly, G-rated movie. Kids-only decorating class, 2 cupcakes per child, with lots of buttercream and sprinkles to experiment with during the movie. Drinks and snacks provided. Kids age 5-9. $25. 6:30- 9pm. Max 30. This class will be offered every other Friday through the summer.

* Hands-on cupcake baking classes will be offered every other Thursday.


VANESSA@CUPSLJ.COM OR (619) 609-3082

Monday, May 10, 2010

Cups Wedding Catering

To add a decidedly unique and unforgettable flavor to your next special occasion, call Cups Wedding Catering. Whether it be a wedding or an elegantly themed bridal shower, there's no better way to elevate your special day than with an assortment of freshly baked, delectable cupcakes made from the finest organic ingredients. Cups will tailor the flavor combinations to match your theme, cuisine and wine pairings. Whatever the occasion calls for, we'll do it with a distinct style perfectly suited to your event and taste. All-natural and organic have never been so deliciously indulgent.

Give each of your guests more than just a slice of the celebration by unwrapping the unlimited possibilities of cupcakes. It's your wedding. You deserve your own special flavor, as individual and unique as your love for one another.

And it's more than just icing on the cake, so to speak. All organic, baked fresh on your wedding day. Customized flavors to suit your discriminating taste. Virtually unlimited design - if you can dream it, we can create it. With such innovation, isn't it time to break old tradition? Let them eat cake at every other wedding. At your wedding....cupcakes. Cups Wedding Catering will help make your special day unforgettable.

To speak with your personal pastry chef/wedding Cups designer, give us a call 858.459.2877 or stop by Cups Lounge in the village of La Jolla. We look forward to being apart of your special day!

The Cups Team

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mother's Day in full bloom at Cups

Suprise your mom this year with a beautiful bouquet she can sink her teeth into - a bouquet of Cups, planted in a reusable terra cotta pot, ready to be picked and enjoyed. Includes an assortment of Cups' most popular cupcakes, decorated like fresh roses, planted alongside chocolate-dipped strawberries.