Thursday, June 16, 2016

Sift Dessert Bar

Update Review, May 2016

A while ago, I reviewed some fairly mediocre cupcakes from Sift Dessert Bar.  I was not impressed.  I didn't seek Sift back out, but, I was at an event recently that was catered by Sift.  I avoided the cupcakes given my past experience, but was pleasantly surprised by everything else.

Sometimes, giving a place a second chance is a good thing!  I'll gladly try more of their creations now.
Cupcakes, Whoopie Cookies, Macaroons.
The array of choices at this event was impressive.  Cupcakes in an array of flavors.  Macaroons in every flavor Sift makes.  Whoopie cookies.  Rice crispy treats.  Even a few cruffles hidden amongst the macaroons.

Since I remembered not liking the cupcakes much before, I skipped right past them, and moved on to the other goodies.  I also skipped the macaroons, because, well, I never generally care for macaroons, although, I'll admit, some of the macaroon flavors did sound interesting, like churro, margarita with salt, and  piƱa colada.
Rainbow Sugar Whoopie Cookie. $3.
"2 Rainbow Sugar cookies filled with vanilla buttercream frosting "

The first item I grabbed was a cookie sandwich, dubbed a whoopie cookie, basically a play on a whoopie pie, but made with regular cookies rather than standard fluffy cake-like whoopie pie cookies, and filled with regular frosting.  I grew up with whoopie pies, so, I was a bit skeptical of a "whoopie cookie".

I also realize this is a bit of an add move in general, since I don't generally like cookies all that much, but, it caught my eye.  Perhaps because it was so colorful, you couldn't help but notice the rainbow sprinkles.  But really, I wanted it because it was stuffed with frosting.  My general aversion to cookies isn't that I don't like cookies themselves, it is just that they are so boring that way.  Why would I ever want just a cookie?  But I also don't generally like cake.  Its dry and boring.  The only reason I eat cake is for the frosting.  I could easily do without the cake part.

Enter the cookie sandwich.  Do away with the dry boring cake and still get the frosting.  Jazz up a cookie significantly.  This has potential.

Sift makes 3 varieties of cookie sandwiches: classic chocolate chip, rainbow sugar, and salted caramel white chocolate chip.  The later sounded the best to me, but, when I approached the display, they only had chocolate chip and rainbow sugar cookie sandwiches out.  Of course, just a few minutes later, the ones I wanted came out, but I had already taken this one and felt rude going for another.
Rainbow Sugar Whoopie Cookie: Inside.
So, how was it?  Well, it was about what I expected.  A decent sugar cookie, not too hard, not too soft, and sweet.  The rainbow balls were a fun touch for color and crunch.  The filling was just plain white frosting, also sweet.  Sweet on sweet, which I guess is to be expected.  The frosting made the cookie more exciting, and the cookie served as a vessel for the frosting.  But, still not that amazing.

The salted caramel white chocolate chip whoopie cookie uses salted caramel buttercream, which certainly sounds more flavorful.  And the chocolate chip one uses cream cheese frosting.  Had I realized the frostings inside were different, I certainly would have gone for a different one.

Overall, I'm glad I tried it, and I certainly liked it more than I would have liked a plain cookie or a piece of cake.  But, not really my dessert of choice.

Cookies are $1.25 each, and whoopie cookies are $3, basically, $0.50 for frosting.
Pink Champagne Cruffle.
Cruffle: "Cake and frosting blended together.  Hand dipped in chocolate."

I also managed to grab a cruffle, one of very few, mixed in with the macaroons.

It took me a little while to figure out what a "cruffle" was.  The answer?  Cupcake + truffle = cruffle.   Cruffles are basically cake pops, without the stem.  Sift makes them in the same varieties as the cupcakes.

I had no idea what flavors I was getting, but this one turned out to be the cruffle version of their Pink Champagne cupcake.
Limonatta and Pink Champagne Cruffles: Inside.
Pink Champagne (right):
"Moist raspberry cake with a delicious champagne frosting."

It was ... pretty awesome.  The raspberry flavor was sweet and flavorful, really quite delicious.  I loved the texture of the inside, dense from the frosting blended with the cake.  While I don't really like cake, um, I do like cake pops, or, in this case, cruffles.

The white chocolate shell was sweet and the perfect thickness.  It had a nice snap to it.

Overall, the cruffle form factor was great, and honestly, makes more sense than a cake pop anyway.  Everyone knows its more fun to eat with your fingers!

Limonatta (left):
"Lemon cake, lemon curd filling topped with Meyer lemon buttercream"

When I circled back through a while later, I saw a few more cruffles set out.  Given how delicious the first one was, I grabbed another, again, not knowing what it was.

It turned out to be the limonatta.  Darn.  I don't really like lemon desserts.  But, I still loved the texture and the sweetness of the shell.  For a lemon treat, it was a good one.

Cruffles come in boxes by the dozen for $24.

Original Review, January 2015

My office does funny things to motivate us sometimes.

For background, we have the most incredible pastry team, who regularly churn out desserts that rival, and generally surpass, those of top restaurants.  This is impressive in its own right, but even more insane given that they never repeat a dessert from day to day, offer up multiple desserts every day, and produce them for 1000+ people at a time.  Our pastry chefs are my heroes.

But this isn't about them.  This is about our "reward" for being good during a fire drill.  Yes, for real.  In the past, to encourage us to properly exit the building during fire drills, they set up a Ben & Jerry's stand at the designated meeting point across the street.  People did leave, but I think they generally grabbed ice cream, and then kept on going, not returning to the office.  So this time, they did something a bit different: the gave us cupcakes, but, they didn't give them to us until we came BACK to the office.  Doh.
Cupcake Display.
They didn't bake the cupcakes in-house, rather, they sourced from Sift Dessert Bar in San Francisco.

Sift has several California locations, plus they ship nationwide.  Sift's main focus is cupcakes, including gluten-free or vegan options if necessary, although they also make a few other standard items like macarons, cookies, brownies, pies (including a kahlua chocolate pie that I'd love to try), and cakes.  They also get creative, offering up cupcakes a la mode, cupcakes blended into ice cream shakes, and fascinating sounding frosting shots.

We had an assortment of four cupcakes waiting for us: Berry Good Cheesecake, Ohh La La, All for the Cookie, and Snickerdoodle.  I tried all except the Snickerdoodle.  None were very good.
Berry Good Cheesecake.
"Vanilla graham cracker cake, filled with raspberry jam and topped with cream cheese frosting".

This one was the most pretty, so I started with it.
Berry Good Cheesecake: inside.
In the base of the cupcake was graham cracker crumbs, as you can see here.  They were just crumbs, not bound together by anything, which was a bit strange.  If you took off the wrapper, it would have crumbled apart everywhere and made a mess.  Protip: do not fully unwrap this cupcake!

The cake was very dense, almost ... gummy.  I didn't care for it.

The jam inside was clearly raspberry flavored, but not particularly interesting.  I did like the cream cheese frosting.

Did this remind me of a cheesecake though?  Besides the cream cheese frosting ... no, and besides the frosting, I didn't really want this.
All For the Cookie.
"Chocolate cake topped with cookies n' cream cheese frosting".

I got the chocolate offering for Ojan, named All For the Cookie, but obviously tried it myself first.

It was also a very dense, moist cake.  Again a bit gummy.

The frosting was ok, sorta Oreo-tasting.  But very meh overall.

[ No Photo ]
Ohh La La

"Our famous red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting".

Unsatisfied with the other choices, I also tried the Ohh La La, even though I never like red velvet much.

I didn't care for the cake, as it was all homogenous.  I like a moister interior and a crunchy top, and this was all just the same, and a bit dry.

The cream cheese frosting was the same as in the Berry Good, very sweet, a bit too sweet, but good enough.  Overall, meh, but I liked the frosting.
Sift Dessert Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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