I love my daughters. They are great people.
We were out of town recently, and they were interested in taking a chocolate/pastry tour with Omaha Culinary Tours. So, Stephanie and Mallory offered to do a post for the blog.
What troopers! Travel around town in an air-conditioned bus and eat chocolates and pastries. Then, talk about it. Rough life. LOL.
They enjoyed themselves tremendously. They enjoyed the tour, too.
Starting at Cuppycakes in northwest Omaha, they sampled four mini cupcakes.
Cuppycakes has made cupcakes for several celebrities visiting Omaha, including Katy Perry, Zac Brown, Selena Gomez, Bruno Mars and Maroon 5.
The first cupcake they tried was a Mayan cupcake. It was chocolate with a tinge of cayenne pepper. Mal thought the cayenne pepper gave it a nice kick.
The peaches and cream cupcake had a dollop of peach in the middle, with a dabble of peach jam in the center. The cupcake was ringed with whipped frosting.
Steph enjoyed the coconut cream cupcake. It had toasted coconut on top.
The last cupcake they tasted was a chocolate caramel with sea salt. They liked it, but thought there could have been more caramel or sea salt to stand out.
The store has competed in the TV show “Cupcake Wars.” This was actually before they had the storefront. Prior to the store, Cuppycakes operated out of a local family entertainment center – Sempeck’s.
Cuppycakes has a deal as the pastry provider for Bucky’s gas stations in Nebraska, Wyoming and Iowa. They plan to expand to the Chicago area.
The girls are interested in going back, because they have a cupcake based on Sprite soda that sounded intriguing.
Next up on the tour was a trip to Paris, France. Not really, it may have seemed like the tour was in the City of Lights with a stop at Le Petit Paris, in northwest Omaha.
This was the girls’ favorite stop, they said.
The tour guests sampled salted caramel brioche, almond croissant, apricot croissant, pained raisin, and pain au chocolat – chocolate chip bread. And they tried a regular croissant.
Cedric –the owner of it and LeVoltaire – gave a tour of the bakery kitchen. They have a pastry chef and baker (actually French) and a baker apprentice. They were making croissants for special orders – spinach artichoke and bacon ones.
One cool thing was their mixer had two prongs (special order) – common in France, but not here – which give more air in to the dough. This helps the dough to stay light and airy, and helps with layering. When looking at a croissant, you want to see lots of layers.
Le Petit Paris doesn’t put a ton of ingredients into croissants – there should be flavor, not dense.
They use three proofers – instead of adding bunch of yeast and water. They put the ingredients into proofers, set to start at 3 a.m. and auto shuts off. This makes the dough ready when they get in, which is typically between 3:30-5 a.m.
Le Petit Paris makes Opera cakes. These French cakes are made with layers of sponge cake, with coffee syrup, layered with ganache and buttercream. They are covered with a chocolate glaze.
Steph bought items for a couple of breakfasts while there – an apricot croissant and Epi– twisted seeded baguette. She made fresh butter for dinner the next day to use with the Epi.
The girls plan a return visit.
Next on the itinerary was a trip to downtown Omaha and Culprit Café. Located at 16th and Farnam streets, it is a block from the Douglas County Courthouse; thus, its name.
Culprit has an open kitchen, which means customers can watch the staff work on orders.
The restaurant uses free trade coffee and fermented tea.
There was a heavy dose of chocolate at this stop.
They started with a chocolate mousse inside a chocolate cup. The mousse was light and airy, with a slight taste of honey.
The café makes its own bread and cannolis. The owner is not a fan of cupcakes. Both girls would like to visit again and try the cannolis.
A former record producer, he sought out doing something new and something he loved. He made his own treats as presents for artists and others. So, that naturally carried over to starting the café.
Their fourth stop was a place I am aware of in the Old Market – Bliss Bakery. We visited this location on a previous Old Market restaurant tour.
Bliss experiments with pretzels that are “to die for,” according to Suzy, one of OCT’s owners and tour leaders.
The bakery also owns Aroma coffeehouse.
The chef basically lives at the restaurant, the girls said. He gets there at 1 a.m. everyday.
Bliss favors European-style dessert making – Swiss frosting (meringue with butter added afterward).
A cupcake they tasted was delicious, the girls said. It was made with lemon juice. It had a nice balance of density and silkiness of frosting. Dense cupcakes can be dry, they said.
The strawberry lemon cupcake they tried had lemon curd on top. Tasty.
While the restaurant competed on “Cupcake Wars,” the chef never watched the episode and stayed in the kitchen during the viewing party.
Bliss sells cupcakes offsite at Tea Smith and Black Oak Grill.
Steph is looking forward to a return trip for the pretzels. Something tells me dad will tag along on that trip.
The final stop was where the tour started.
Everyone met at Market Basket at Countryside Village shopping center. The bus-provided tour started there and then concluded with a visit to the Basket.
They started with a chocolate transportation cake – fudge brownie base with hazelnut and chocolate cream. The cake supposedly transports well – thus, the name. It was topped with a sliced strawberry. Steph thought it had a nice bitter chocolate balance.
Market Basket has a full menu – deli salads and wine bar. They have a white wedding cake they sell for desserts, as well as chocolates, cupcakes and cookies. Cookies are seasonal – they switch design and shape – graduation to flip flops and flags with almond frosting.
You would think that five stops with bunches of chocolate and pastries would be more than enough for everyone, right? Nope. Omaha Culinary Tours gave every guest a white cupcake from Gina Stearns’ bakery. These cupcakes are awesome!
The neat thing about the chocolate and pastry tour is that no two tours are the same. They have so many locally-owned establishments they can visit, that each tour may hit different spots.
The girls had a great time, as did the other guests (some were from Michigan, Iowa and South Dakota).
Steph and Mal both agreed they would take the tour again. One thing they do recommend: bring some pretzels to cleanse your pallet between stops.
Disclaimer: Thanks to Omaha Culinary Tours for the complimentary tour. However, all opinions and views are ours.