Tuesday, June 02, 2009

A Cupcake Worth Crying For

Dear Ella,

When you read this as an adult, maybe with a glass of wine as you snuggle next to a special someone, let me tell you about your very first birthday.

A group of family and friends of your parents (you know them, David and Ann) gathered on an unseasonable cool Sunday at a park in Berkeley across from the rose garden. We were all ready to party, but you had other plans.

I don’t blame you for not being a fan of birthday parties. I don’t like getting older either, and I’ve had decades to get over that. Some people were saying it’s normal for kids to cry on their first birthday. I guess the thinking is that the more you cry on your first birthday, the fewer tears you’ll shed in life. If that’s the case, let me say Ella that you must be whooping it up as an adult.

It’s too bad that you weren’t that into your party because it was a fun one, especially because of the food. Well, more specifically, your birthday cupcakes.

Your parents ordered ladybug-decorated cupcakes (it was a ladybug theme for your picnic) from a place called Braxtons’ Boxes in the East Bay. Your mom says she read about them from Yelp (you might remember them as the old online consumer review site that most likely gets closed down in the future from an avalanche of lawsuits) and she liked that Braxtons’ Boxes delivered.

I, personally, had never heard of Braxtons’ Boxes but I totally fell in love with the cookies-and-cream cupcake at your picnic. The light vanilla cake was topped with a frosting filled with little bits of cookies, which tasted so incredible that I nearly cried myself.

As you know, every year since your first birthday, your dad and I constantly “debate” over whether that cupcake was indeed vegan. Your mom ordered a few vegan cupcakes for other kids who might not be into dairy yet, but your dad insists that the entire tray of cookies-and-cream cupcakes were also vegan.

Even a professional baker who was at your party had doubts that it was vegan, although your dad is still very adamant about it. I can’t say whether it was or wasn’t, but if it was vegan, it was the best vegan cupcake ever!

There were also chocolate cupcakes with rich bitter chocolate frosting, but in my eyes they didn’t compare to the cookies and cream. Since Braxtons’ Boxes didn’t have a retail storefront at the time, I continued to encourage other friends planning parties to order cupcakes from them and to invite me so I could enjoy their wonderful custom-decorated cakes.

A brief mention about the other food. Your parents also ordered sandwiches from Bakesale Betty, which you’ll remember is the little corner bakery in Oakland on the same street where you grew up that you’d go in for pastries and their strawberry shortcakes! (Remember that lady with the blue hair?)

At your picnic, everyone gorged on Bakesale Betty’s famous fried chicken sandwich. I took a picture of one so you’d know what I’m talking about, but as you know and I’ve told you many times, you should never ever eat deep-fried foods.

So instead I ate one of the few egg salad sandwiches, and I have to say it was real simple but so so good. I don’t think there was even any mayonnaise in the egg salad, just some boiled eggs cut up in chunks and placed between a bun. But they were seasoned so well and mixed in with arugula, which really made it very enjoyable.

Here you are with your dad. I’m sure he’s found every opportune time to publicly tell the story about how you cried throughout your first birthday. But Ella, know that on that day you were just a tiny speck of tear in a pool full of love, and delicious cupcakes!

With love,

Uncle Ben

Braxtons’ Boxes (catering only), call 510.708.7089. www.braxtonsboxes.com
Bakesale Betty, 5098 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. PH: 510.985.1213. Open daily. www.bakesalebetty.com


SteamyKitchen said...

awww cute! happy birthday little Ella!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Uncle Ben! That was the best way to start my day....even though it made ME cry...=)

Much love,
Ella's Mama

Kim said...

So sweet!

John said...

It looks so good and beautiful.
Thank for sharing

foodhoe said...

awwww, cute little girl with a big square shaped mouth... well now I want a ladybug cupcake too. I'm always astounded at how elaborate first birthday parties are, and as the child ages and develops their own taste, the parents move on to Chuck E Cheeses and Elmo cupcakes from Safeway bakery. Looks delicious!

David K. and Ann C. said...

Braxton's Boxes confirms the cookies n cream were vegan:

"We just read the great reviews on the food blog and we thank you. The vegan cupcakes are 100% vegan. After many, many attempts we finally came up with a good recipe consisting completely of ingredients that never had a face. The big secret is using the right soy milk and vanilla extract."

Melissa said...

What a neat post...I wish someone had written me a letter about my first birthday. Those ladybug cupcakes are super schweet!

Mrs. L said...

Very cute. I remember my little friends 4th birthday...which the day of she decided she wanted nothing to do with. I plan on showing her the photos when she's twenty :)

KathyV said...

Nicely Done, Ben!!
You capsulated it perfectly: "...a tiny speck of tear in a pool full of love..."!!!

Great party Ann & David! We had a lovely afternoon and we are beaming over Ella on her first birthday!

Kathy (and Johnny too)

Single Guy Ben said...

Foodhoe, I think everyone will agree the first birthday is really about the parents more than the child, with the parents wanting to mark that first major milestone. The later they let the child decide, which takes them to Chuck E Cheese!

David, how do we know that quote really is from Braxtons'? Ha! Just kidding. OK. I believe you. Like I said, it was amazing even more so being vegan. Does that mean it's lower in fat too since there's not dairy? I guess that means we can eat more of vegan cupcakes than normal ones, right? ;-)

Jenster said...

Dang, why don't I ever get invited to kids' birthday parties like that? Most of the parties I go to involve pizza and juice boxes.

Although there was a few years ago when my son got invited to a classmate's party at a park and the birthday girl's family started grilling a variety of meat and veggie kabobs! Unfortunately, we had already eaten, since we anticipated pizza and juice boxes.

Dazy said...

Hey I too tried baking cup cakes and fairy cakes just after my exams got over. I go weak in the knees with a mention of muffins and cakes.