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Williams-Sonoma $6.50 cupcake and other food items

Turns out one of Oprah's 2007 favorite things is cupcakes made by Perfect Endings of Napa, Ca. Nine cupcakes $59.

They aren't gift wrapped but you could buy a set of four monogrammed cupcake boxes for $29 to put them in.

So is there anything amazing food-wise and worth it price-wise at WS

- the wild smoked salmon collection (15.75 oz. $149)
- Burrata Cheese from Texas (8 oz $32)
- Acetaia Malpighi Tradionale balsamic vinegar (3.38 oz $175)
- Vanilla sugar (6oz $18)
- Frozen heat and serve arancini (rice croquettes ... 1 1/2 lbs $39)
- Martini Olive Puffs (36 - $69 ... that's puff pastry around an olive)
- Fresh Live Maine Lobsters, Set of 2 (1 1/2 lbs each $135)
- Rustic Bread Collection Bay Bread (2 1lb loaves $19)
- Rubicon Bakery Dulce de Leche Cake ($69)
- Ciao Bella Gelato Truffles, Set of 12 ($69)
- Empanadas, Set of 8 (4 oz each $49.95)

Ok, I'm being a little silly by pulling out some of the more, uh, creatively-priced items ... especially since some of those are local to me and I'm aware of the quality and actual prices.

However, some of the stuff in the catalog looks good and seems priced appropriately.

Any recommendations?


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  1. rw, what are the things you are interested in that you think aren't the w-s rip-off?

    6 Replies
    1. re: alkapal

      I think I've read the Assumption Abbey fruitcake and the pannetone is good. I'm really up in the air about that Buche de Noel by Perfect Endings ... the same joint as the pricy cupcakes. Partly because even though Perfect Endings is local to me, they only bake by special order and mainly special occasion cakes. While that is pricy for a Buche de Noel, for this particular bakery it is not so out of line ... on the other hand it comes frozen. The few Yelp reviews on this bakery haven't had the high opinion of it that Oprah does.

      My taste in food and Oprah's rarely are in sync. I still have a lousy $7 tea bag sitting in the cabinet that was a favorite of hers one year. If she were a Chowhound poster, I'd ignore most of her posts. Her friend Gayle is a different thing. She's serious about food and I've had some good food tips there.

      The Rubicon peppermint marshmallows sound good but I think I can buy them locally. The bakery is just down the street from where I live ... though they only sell wholesale to local markets.

      Tempted by the Moravian Gingersnaps and stollen

      1. re: rworange

        these blogs talk about fruitcakes and one poster says it is cheaper to order directly from the abbey. abbey's site sells it for $28, s&h included. (but a whopping $39 at w-s, plus shipping!!!!)


        pannettone never sent me over the roof, so i am no help.
        order your own specialty cake buche de noel directly from perfect endings.... why pay a middleman when it is nearby!
        i think i just saw peppermint marshmallows....ah, but where? maybe w-s store in tyson's corner mall. again, buy at local markets.

        w-s is overpriced on most of their food items -- and other things too. i do like the sales, though.

        1. re: rworange

          The pannetone is pretty good, and makes fantastic french toast. That said a good Itialian deli will have the same for half the price. The moravian cookies are really addictive too.

          You have to realize that even though O probably does try many of the WS products she endorses, WS tells her what to recommend. She gets a kickback from this.

          1. re: Hoosierland

            I am fairly confident that companies are clamouring to get their product on Oprah, given the financial rewards that they can reap. And I do not believe for a minute that Oprah "discovers" all of the "favorite things" herself. Sure, she probably comes across some of these things as gifts or who knows how else, but I am sure that the vast majority of the items that show up on her show are found by staffers and I would not be shocked at all if a supplier(whether W-S or some other company) suggested which item(s) in their product line or catalogue to feature. That said, I am curious about your source for the remark that Oprah gets a "kickback" in connection with products she "endorses." It would not surprise me if companies paid for product placement, but that's not per se a kick-back, especially if it's admitted to. There apparently was a "Behind the Scene" show explaining how the products were selected, but I don't generally watch Oprah and did not see the show. It would be interesting if Oprah said the companies do not pay to be on the show and it turns out that they do.

          2. re: rworange


            Was just at the Maryland Christmas Show with the MIL. Bought 1 lb of Moravian Gingersnaps for $11 (not in a tin). W-S charges $24 for 13 oz?!?!? Ridiculous!

            Here's a link to Mrs. Hane's Moravian cookies and a small bit about them...


            They charge $18 for a 1 lb. tin.

            Just as good as what W-S is selling (I've had them before) if not better!!!

            1. re: Axalady

              For just a second I got confused... W-S is also actually how Winston-Salem is often referred to... which is the home of Old Salem, the place that has the Moravian bakery where all those cookies are made. That being said, if anyone lives near Winston-Salem (NC), you can buy the cookies in bulk much much much cheaper by going to the bakery. That's what we do every year. Guess I am lucky enough to only live an hour an a half away though!

        2. Their frozen croissants are pretty good - my mother has ordered them at Christmas (not much in the way of a decent bakery in her neck of the woods).

          1. totally agree. ordered a chocolate torte once a long time ago.... fran's flourless torte got taken in by the hype. it was small almost tiny for $ 42 never again. its much easier to go local. ws is good for sales on stuff, recently found a couple of pans on sale pretty reasonable also my staub cocotte but rarely get food products from them.

            1. Vanilla sugar is wonderful - but it's so easy to make it yourself that I can't see why anyone would pay that kind of money for it!

              1. We were given a box of their frozen chocolate croissants one year as a gift. They were terrific. You set them out the night before to defrost and rise.

                I don't know what they cost, but we considered them a very nice gift. Rarely find them as good, even here in NYC.

                4 Replies
                1. re: comestible

                  Trader Joe's now offers something that is exactly like this. Since they tend to have items labeled for their chain I wouldn't be surprised these are from the same place.
                  About $4 for 4

                  1. re: MrPhil

                    Wow -- that is great because I love the WS croissants. The only ones I've had that are in the same ballpark are Patisserie Claude's in NYC and some in Paris.

                    This blog states that they are indeed the same croissants. Unfortunately, I greatly prefer plain croissants, but supposedly mini plain are coming soon.


                  2. re: comestible

                    Has anyone tried the Hazelnut croissants? How do they compare with the Chocolate. Can the croissants be individually thawed and prepared or do you have to make the whole batch?

                    1. re: elainew

                      I haven't tried the hazelnut, but they look good. Generally, I'm more a fan of the plain, since I don't like the taste of the croissant to be overshadowed by other flavors. I bought some of the TJ chocolate croissants, though, and had one this morning -- very good, imo.

                      You can prepare the croissants individually; however, my croissants have always arrived a bit stuck together. I usually let them sit out for a bit and then slide a knife in between them to separate and wrap each individually in plastic wrap and then place them all in the freezer. In the summer, when the temp inside the house is warmer, the croissants get very puffy during their overnight thaw/rise and they take on a slight fermented/sour quality, which I love.

                  3. I have had the Lemon Cake Mix (very good and perfect for a bundt pan) and the WS Brownie Mix. Both were good.
                    I tried the WS Stuffing and Gravy as well. The Stuffing seemed good- sagey, sweet. The gravy would be good as a "starter" to which you add herbs, pepper, drippings to.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: stellamystar

                      We found the Foccacia stuffing sitting on the sale table over the weekend for $.99. What the heck for $.99 we had to try it...made it last night with a roast chicken. Not bad at all...woudln't pay the original price for it(I think it was originally around $10) but it was a steal at $1.

                      I regularly buy French lentils at W-S as I haven't found anywhere else near me that carries them. We used to buy Carbon's waffle mix there as well but Cost Plus is now carrying it at a lower price. I also buy veal demi-glace there.

                      1. re: ziggylu

                        99 cents?????!?!?! I am so going to see what other goodies I can get. The post-Christmas sale is also a good one.

                        1. re: stellamystar

                          Our WS had the foccacia stuffing, and also the pumpkin-pecan and vanilla bread mixes for $1.99 each. I wouldn't pay $10 for a quick bread mix, no matter how good, but for $2, they're very nice breakfast breads.

                        2. re: ziggylu

                          Several months ago, when I was at a W-S outlet, I picked up what I now think was the foccacia stuffing, for about $3 and I think the original price was about $8. It could have been another type, but I don't think so. I was not impressed and would have been really ticked if I paid $10, added all sorts of additional ingredients and it ended up tasting not so great. But you are right, you take your shot for a buck, or three...

                            1. re: stellamystar

                              I know of two locations:

                              (1) Woodbury Common Premium Outlets in Central Valley, NY (about an hour or a bit more, north of Manhattan http://www.premiumoutlets.com/outlets... Tanger Outlet Center in Riverhead, NY (eastern end of Long Island)http://www.tangeroutlet.com/riverhead

                              The outlet center in Central Valley is larger by about 100 stores, but the store in Riverhead is larger and connected to a huge Pottery Barn outlet. I am sure if you poke around on the company sites for the outlet centers, you'll probably find other locations.

                      2. Vanilla Sugar for $18, 9 cupcakes for $59, monogramed cupcake boxes for $29???? I'm sorry, but am I the only one that finds Williams-Sonoma overpriced? I can get great cupcakes from a local bakery for a lot less (even the ones that I baked today all the ingredients combined cost less than $59) ,one of my local gourmet shops sell high quality vanilla sugar for 8 oz for almost half that, I can get wonderful cheeses. I'm also lucky enough to live near a lot wonderful of ethnic shops that make wonderful items for a much less than what Williams-Sonoma sells them for.

                        Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-corporate chain stores, I'm just anti overpaying for something I know I can get for less. Then again Oprah doesn't have to worry about budgeting. BTW one of her favorite things was the chocolate cake from a local dessert-cafe in my neighborhood.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: MrsT

                          I agree with you about not getting ripped off, but there are a lot of people who have neither the time nor the inclination to search out the things that those of us who are more industrious might take the time and/or trouble to do. 99% of the time I am not one of them. Perhaps one can look at catalogues full of ridiculously-priced food gifts as a source for ideas to find the items either locally or direct from the manufacturers.

                        2. For a markup reference, 8 oz. of that burrata runs something like 8 dollars here in Dallas. The price i read on the WS website was 36, and i assume shipping is extra. It's very good cheese. $36? not even if I won powerball.

                          1. Is it just me or do these prices seem ridiculous to anyone else? An hour ago I saw a coffeecake in a catalog for $39.95 (for one coffeecake). This begins to remind me of The Emporer's New Clothes. BTW for panetonne lovers, the Trader Joe's panetonne I bought last week is delicious, VERY fresh, and cost $6.99 for a big 25.5 oz one; I am going back tomorrow for a couple more.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Querencia

                              sooooo ridiculous, these prices.... shameful, really.

                              1. re: alkapal

                                Look, I don't mind paying premium prices for great gourmet products but these products really are just conspicious consumption. I can make a dozen oversized cupcakes with Valharona cocoa, butter and madagascar vanilla for less than 1$ a cupcake. WS is a corporate yuppie brand for people who have more money than brains.