CakeSpy Note: This is a guest post from Rainy Day Gal (a.k.a. Jenny Miller), a fellow Seattle blogger with a major sweet tooth.
The fam and I are back from a visit, and a ski trip, with Husband's folks in Colorado. High, dry, cold Colorado.
Here's a few things I learned about living at 10,000 feet:
1) You always feel dehydrated, even after downing 3 gallons of water in one day. Yup. I counted.
2) It's dry. Your nose will bleed. Your skin will chap. You feel like you can never breathe quite right. You will look like you have pneumonia when you don't.
3) It's freaking cold. Our first day on the mountain the wind chill was -12. Husband wore one of those embarrasing but effective neoprene face masks. I may have laughed at him a little. And then my throat froze so I stopped.
4) It makes for some fantastic damn skiing. and, finally:
5) It's hard to bake anything correctly. Cupcakes collapse into hockey pucks. Cookies melt right into the baking pan. And a chocolate cake will turn out more like a pan of brownies.
That last part being said, I was curious: how great could bakeries be at this altitude? Even if you make all of the flour, butter, and baking time adjustments, would the baked goods two miles high measure up to those down at sea level? Lucy, my dear ma-in-law and I bundled up and set out on a quest.
Part 1: The Adventure
Our first stop? Clint's.Our concierge pal Nate tipped us off that they had some rockin carrot cake. And if you've ever met me you know that I could eat my weight in carrot cake any day of the week. It's a cute two-level sort o deal, with sweets and coffee upstairs and the more savory junk downstairs. I think all restaurants should be divided this way. I would always know exactly where to sit. I was a bit taken aback at the pastry case---everything was wrapped in cellophane. I don't know about you, but to me saran wrapped baked goods are a bit drive-thru coffee stand. It then dawned on me that this was a result of the dry atmosphere in this neck o the woods. Those loverly croissants would dry out quicker than a wino in jail if not for that tacky yet effective cellophane. But we weren't here for the pastries, my friends. We were here for the goods.
And this big ol' slab-o-cake (pictured at the top of the post too) did not disappoint. It was perfectly moist, despite all of the obstacles to keep it that way. The cream cheese frosting walked the fine line between too sweet and too cream-cheesey with ease. The side was coated with chopped walnuts, which I adore. It gives it such good crunch and texture, plus cuts the sweetness of the frosting nicely. The frosting-to-cake ratio was perfect. Nothing bugs me more than too little frosting over too much cake. Nate, thank you for bringing this carrot cake into my life. Clint's, kudos for a job well done. With our bellies full of sweet, nutritious (a main ingredient is carrot, after all) cake, we put our jackets back on and ventured to our next destination.
Mary's Mountain Cookies. It's a cute little shop, and by little I mean about 6 feet by 6 feet. They make cookies and nothing else. I always admire that in a bakery--stick with what you're good at. Diversity is overrated. They had the usual suspects: snickerdoodle, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter. But they also had intriguing sandwich numbers stacked with buttercream frosting, and these naughty dipped cookies that weighted a quarter pound each (pictured above). Holy fat cookie, Batman.
In the end, we took home three varieties: cranberry white chocolate chip, double fudge white chip, and a "White Out"--two snickerdoodles hugging a hefty dollop of vanilla buttercream. Being that our palates were still sugared-out from carrot cake, we decided to wait for the troops to come back from skiing before sampling these beauties.
Meanwhile, we moved on. Word on the street was that there was a cupcake joint in town that was not to be missed. And I'm always game for a new cupcake joint. But, sadly, it was not our day. Our path was blocked by a man-eating, frosting-throwing, Jaba the Hut-sized Snow Cupcake! It took all of our efforts to dodge his attempts to devour us in his huge, snow-frosting-blob of a mouth. Then we moved on...
...and arrived at Breckenridge's own Rocky Mountain Cupcakes. It's a sizeable shop with a rustic, ski-lodge sorta feel. They had quite a few varieties to choose from--all beautiful, perfectly frosted, and topped with something interesting. Ready for some cupcake porn? Here we go. They had flavors including chocolate coconut...
...strawberry snowflake (have you ever seen a cuter cupcake?)...
...and the cutest red velvet I've ever laid eyes on. Which ones to pick? We debated a while.
In the end, we settled on strawberry (because it was cute, plus I wanted to know if it actually tasted as pink as it looked), chocolate chai (for my dear ma-in-law, who loves her some chai), key lime (pretty, and an intriguing cupcake flavor), and "Double Diamond" (for husband--double chocolate).
Part 2: The Tasting
We meandered home, and set the bakery boxes on the counter, warmed our toes, and then twiddled our thumbs and waited for the gang to get home so we could sample our loot.
Lu and I drifted off into a warm mid-afternoon nap, dreaming of skiing cookies and snowboarding cupcakes. When we awoke, much to our dismay, one of the cookies was missing. Gone. Finito. Never to be seen or heard from again.
It was, sadly, the double chocolate white chip. The one I had picked out for myself. The one I had been looking forward to all afternoon. Scanning the fam, they all had mysterious chocolate crumbs at the corners of their mouths. Little devils.
Luckily, the other two cookies more than made up for it. The cranberry white chocolate chip was amazing--buttery and soft, crunchy at the edges, with hints of cinnamon and vanilla. The "White Out" was absolutely insane: two of the best snickerdoodles I have ever had sandwiched with a vanilla buttercream, emphasis on the cream. It was delicious. It was divine. It weighted about two pounds.
We had no trouble finishing either cookie and moving on to the cupcakes.
The chocolate chai was the obvious winner. Moist, rich chocolate cake covered with a creamy chai-flavored frosting. Totally yummy.
The strawberry? Let's just say it tasted very, very pink. I'll leave it at that. The key lime and the double chocolate were fairly yummy, although both left something to be desired in the cake department. Overall? Decent cupcakes. Not spectacular, not terrible. Middle of the road. Except for the strawberry. That was far off the road in the ditch. But the others? Inventive, pretty and just fine.
The final word? When we go back to Breck next year, I will do two things:
1) Eat my weight in Clint's carrot cake.
2) Sample every cookie Mary's has to offer. They know how to make a seriously yummy cookie, even at 10,000 feet.
Well, I'm off to recover from traveling with an 11-month old, hit the grocery because last night we had to eat bratwursts from 2007, and hopefully put a dent in the mountain of laundry we brought back from the mountain. Thanks to the lovely bakeries of Breckenridge, CO for the delicious treats. I will not thank you, however, for my post-vacation waistline.
Clint's Bakery and Coffee House, 131 S Main St Breckenridge, CO
Mary's Mountain Cookies, 128 South Main St., Breckenridge, CO
Rocky Mountain Cupcakes, Main Street, Breckenridge, CO
For Jenny's full review, visit her website.