Friday, March 7, 2008

Elizabethan Desserts (via Quail Botanical Gardens)

Last Saturday was one of those fabulous days to remember. The weather was good, the day was busy and fun, and the eats were fabulous. Of course.

We started at Quail Botanical Gardens in Encinitas.

It was a perfect day for walking around. Overcast, but not cool. The gardens are lovely and, while they're not expansive, there's plenty to see and we spent about 3 hours there.

Flowers are gorgeous, but desserts are even better. On the corner of Encinitas Blvd. and Quail Gardens Drive is Sunshine Nursery. Inside the nursery is Elizabethan Desserts.

Heaven. Absolute heaven. I used to be a fervent member of the church of Karen Krasne. She's the mastermind behind Extraordinary Desserts. I used to go all the time until I realized that the desserts weren't that great. I believe they gradually went downhill and now they're just over-sweet and excessively decorated piles of cake. No distinct flavors other than the overpowering sweetness.

Thank goodness there's Elizabethan Desserts. Still gorgeous, but plenty of quality beneath the surface. They specialize in American desserts... cupcakes, pies, cookies, and the like. The cupcakes:

Everything else:

I'd heard great things about the red velvet cupcakes on Chowhound and I'm still on my red velvet binge, so those were a no-brainer. I was surprised to find that, instead of a mild chocolate cake, it was a light and eggy buttermilk cake dyed red. Very nice. The cream cheese frosting was amazing. Whipped to a puffy cloud, it had barely any weight but packed a lot of flavor.

D. had the black and white cupcake, which was a take on the black and white cookie. With the frosting dipped in chocolate, it looked like a cone from Dairy Queen. D. said it was excellent and he's not a man for hyperbole.

E. and J. tried the banana cupcake, which also received rave reviews. Ok, nothing here sucked. It was all fantastic.

I didn't take a photo of S.'s Magic Bar, but it's a cookie bar with 4 types of chocolate, pecans, and coconut. Also very well-received. Another cookie bar available was the peanut butter s'more bar. Another one of those everything-Moowie-loves concoctions.

The top was toasted with a butane torch right after it was taken out of the case. Homemade marshmallow over layers of peanut butter praline, chocolate, and graham cracker crumbs. Really, can it be any better than that?

Last, but certainly not least, was a chocolate-toffee cookie. I used to make these during undergrad and it's a recipe I should resurrect and refine. I love toffee, which works so well with chocolate.

I'd be insane to never come back. Unfortunately, Encinitas is kind of far from where I live. I guess that's what the ol' Camry's for.

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