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Cupcakes Take Fairfax

13 Aug

 This week, my husband and I set out to explore Fairfax Corner a bit – a newer, mixed-use development complete with movie theater, restaurants, shops, interactive water fountain, etc.  It’s seemed like a fun place to shop and stroll.  And what really completes this scene is the cupcakery, Cupcakes Actually. 

Cute and cool is how I would describe the shop, nestled on one of the main street-style blocks.  It’s a petite space, but they really made it beautiful.  We must of given away the fact that we were newbies because of all the “oh my”s and “oh, look at this one”s we exchanged.  The customer at the cash register seemed to be a regular and gave a rave review.  Some things we learned about Cupcakes Actually…

-Their signature cupcakes are the “dipped” selections.  They take a vanilla or devil’s food cupcake, top it with butter cream, and then dip the rounded top into chocolate ganache.  Looking at these, I felt a nostalgic pang for Dairy Queen’s dipped cone. 

-The “Simply Red” is their take on the universally popular red velvet, which is also a Cupcakes Actually top seller.  I thought the little red heart topping was a sweet touch.

-They’re currently offering a “Kid’s Cupcake” -each week is a new, fun theme (available Mon.-Wed.).  Also specially featured is a “Poolside Drink Cupcake” – envision pina coladas and margaritas in cupcake form.

So, having my husband with me did not expedite the decision-making process.  In fact, it probably took longer as I bounced ideas off of him.  I think 3 or 4 other people came in and ordered during our powwow. 

We finally settled on the “Actually Dipped Peanut Butter” and the “Mojito”.  Like I mentioned, the “Actually Dipped” cupcake had a devil’s food cupcake that was topped with peanut butter butter cream enveloped in ganache.  Divine!  The cake was perfect consistency, the butter cream was sweet but not too sweet, and the ganache  pulled in all together in perfect peanut butter / chocolate harmony.  The “Mojito” was almost too pretty to eat, with its little sprig of mint sitting right on top of the pillowy, pale green icing.  Again, the cake was just right!  And the whole combination was…interesting.  Not interesting in a bad way.  Just…hard to describe I guess.  I was telling Steve that my taste buds were confused – the icing tasted of creamy, mint ice cream but wasn’t cold like ice cream.  I’m not so sure I’m ready just yet for the “Poolside Drink Cupcake” – my taste buds aren’t ready for that type of complexity.  On a side note, both cupcakes we chose were $3.75 – the pricest cupcake I’ve had to date.

Let me jump in to the breakdown

Cupcakes Actually / 11944 Grand Commons Ave. Fairfax, VA / www.cupcakesactually.com 

1. Price:  Ranges from $3.05 to $3.75 (but their online menu has a few priced at $3.95 and $4.00.  Speaking of their online menu – there are a ton of different kinds of cupcakes (w/photos) listed on here, it’s quite impressive!)   Also, buy 5 cupcakes and you get 1 free!

 2. Room temperature:  Yes, and ready for the eatin’!

3.  Size:  Seemed to be sized just right – not too big, not too small.  I’m sounding like the goldilocks of cupcakes here.  Since we’re on the topic of cupcake size (excuse me as I digress again!) – in this month’s issue of People Style Watch, the mag claims that regular sized cupcakes are out because “they’ve become expected”.  Mini cupcakes are said to be much cuter.  As for me, I’m all for cupcakeries incorporating mini cupcakes. I mean, I REALLY have a hard time choosing just one flavor.  Or even narrowing it down to two.  With minis, you could experience so many more flavors in one visit.   And yeah, they are pretty darn cute! 

 4. Vegan or gluten free options:  Their flourless chocolate cupcake seemed to be a top-seller, and their website does advertise a “weekly gluten-free cupcake”.

 5. To-go packaging:  Cardboard box with cupcake holders – kept everything nice and tidy. 

6. Milk for sale?:  Yes, as well as coffee, tea, and Hank’s sodas 

7.  Other treats for non-cupcake enthusiasts you may have in tow:   Just cupcakes here.  Well, hang on…they do have t-shirts, aprons, hats and such.  Does that count as other treats?

8.  Ambiance:   They did a great job on the design given a smaller space – like something out of an ELLE Decor magazine.  I loved all the blue tile work, the jazzy (blue-lit) menu, the glass and silver cake stands.  (I appreciate how their website picks up elements of this design, as well!)  The only thing missing was some cool, breezy music.  Not really a place to linger over your treats though – there’s one table inside and two outside.      

9. Service:  Excellent!  There was one woman working the front, and she was not only efficient but very friendly.  She offered up all kinds of information about the cupcakes.

 Final verdict:  The Actually Dipped Peanut Butter was the unanimous winner between me and my husband.  With the steep price as the only drawback, this cupcake will be landing at the #5 spot on the “Top 10” list.

Cupcakes Actually on Urbanspoon

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