I Passed On Cupcakes. What’s Wrong With Me?

12 Aug

Yesterday, I journeyed the five miles or so to check out the newly opened Whole Foods in Marietta.  I strolled all the isles, checking out this and oooohing over that.  Good times.  (Sidenote:  when I was little, I asked my mom if I could have my birthday party at the grocery store.  For some reason or another, grocery stores do it for me. Side, sidenote:  the grocery store birthday party never went down.  Thanks to my  mom, I still have friends.)  Nearing the end of my self-guided Whole Foods tour, I came upon the bakery section and this case of delight!:

Crafty cupcakes

Look at those puppies!  Jumbo works-of-art cupcakes – beautiful!  So you know what I did next?  I took these pictures and walked away. Huh?  So now I keep asking myself, what’s wrong with me?!  Here are a couple of theories:

Theory #1:  The $3.49 price tag was too steep for my penny-pinching ways.

(Thought Bubble: I’ve been on tight budget for a year now and shelled out $$$ for a quick fix on several occasions.)

Theory #2: My personal trainer of a husband is brain washing me while I sleep.

(Thought Bubble: No way, man!  My brain is too strong for his shenanigans.)

Theory #3:  The thought of wearing a bathing suit publicly in a few weeks is affecting my eating habits.

(Thought Bubble:  No way, man.  I love cupcakes too much to let that stand in my way.)

Theory #4 – the most terrifying of them all:  I am starting my decent into cupcake burnout land.

(Thought Bubble:  Not possible.  I bleed frosting)

So that, my friends, is what’s swimming around my brain lately (once I’m done strategizing economic recovery and contemplating farm subsidies).  Anyone out there care to weigh in on what the heck is wrong with me?  Feel free to toss in a few other theories.  Just don’t concur with Theory #4, okay 🙂

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Hello There Cupcake, Nice To Meet You!

29 Jul

Our latest cupcake adventure takes us to “the heart of Georgia”!  Located about 85 miles southeast of Atlanta and smack dab in the middle of the state (hence “the heart…” nickname), is none other than Macon, Georgia.  Allow me to geek out for a moment here.  (Feel free to join me, or skip ahead to the part where we pig out on five cupcakes).  This city of the South is home to the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, the Allman Brothers Band Museum, the Ocmulgee National Monument, over 5,000 National Register of Historic Places-listed structures (including this beauty -wow!); and was once home to Otis Reading, Little Richard, and Oprah’s “Favorite Things” episode (2007).  Another thing going for Macon – Hello There Cupcake!  Which is just what I exclaimed (in my head) when I walked through their doors!  Yup, Macon has got an authentic cupcakery in its midst.  The store is pretty, the cupcakes are pretty, the cupcakes taste good and were a good price – what more could a (cupcake-obsessed) girl ask for?

I was flying solo on this mission, and actually looking quite the opposite of the store’s appearance.  Inside Hello There Cupcake you’ll find glittering chandeliers, chic decor, perfectly “coiffed” cupcakes, and spotless floors and tabletops.  Me, on the other hand, not so coiffed.  I was in town helping a friend paint their house, so I had spots of paint all over me (including my hair) and entirely un-chic apparel.  Alas, Hello There Cupcake still welcomed me through their doors and loaded me up with lovely cupcakes.   Despite the gnarly appetite all that painting created, I was good and only picked out four (our self-designated allotment for each mission) cupcakes.  Well…I was good for about 55 seconds.  I did pick out four cupcakes at first!  They kindly packaged them up for me so I could take them home to eat with Steve, and as they were ringing me up… I caved.  I just had to have the coconut cupcake also!  And in it went, into its own individual box as I grinned mischievously.  Steve would never have to know I strayed and I could stuff that beautiful cupcake in my mouth in sheer delight as I drove home.

Fast forward through my 1.5 hour drive home, a quick scrubbing shower, a little dinner, and we had the following cupcake feast laid out before us!

Lemon Love ~ lemon cake with cream cheese frosting, topped with the cutest little sugar daisy you’ve ever seen!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ~ chocolate chip cake with cookie dough frosting, topped with mini chocolate chip

Strawberry Dream ~ strawberry vanilla cake with strawberry frosting

Turtle ~ chocolate cake with pecans, caramel Italian buttercream with caramel drizzle and pecans on top

Snowball ~ coconut cake with cream cheese frosting, topped with shaved coconut

When I opened our box of goods, I found myself exclaiming yet again “why, hello there cupcake”.  They were just so darn pretty!  Overall, all cupcakes were tasty and fresh (they bake from scratch every morning and never sell a day old cupcake), yet landed on the denser side of the spectrum.  The cake-frosting ratio was skewed only slightly, and for me a tad bit more frosting on my fork is fine in my book.  I didn’t have a stand-out favorite, but enjoyed the Strawberry Dream, the Lemon Love, and the Snowball equally.  Steve awarded Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough best-in-show.  The only downside amongst this spread – the Italian buttercream on the Turtle cupcake.  It wasn’t a favorite in our household.  I didn’t think it was that bad, maybe just a bit bland, but Steve was not pleased with its “watery” consistency.  This might be a delectable that needs to be eaten right away and not sit around for a few hours.

And now, let’s down a stroll along the break down…

HELLO THERE CUPCAKE / 4524 Forsyth Rd. Macon, GA / www.hellotherecupcake.com

1. Price:  $2.50 each  / $27.50 dozen

2. Room temperature: Yes!

3.  Size:  Just a wee bit bigger than standard

4. Vegan or gluten-free options:  Not at the moment they said, so maybe this means it’s in the works.

5. To-go packaging:  Square, pink cardboard box (sans adornment) with standard dividers inside.

6. Milk for sale?:  Indeed!  + coffee, water and Coke products.

7.  Other treats for non-cupcake enthusiasts you may have in tow:  Frosting shots for 50 cents!  I’ve heard about this phenomenon and it intrigues me.  How exactly do you shoot frosting?  I can’t imagine it slips right into your mouth.  I can just picture it now – head tilted back, lips wrapped around a shot glass, mouth-watering, and just waiting….and waiting….and waiting for the frosting to eventually fall out.  I may have this all wrong, so I’m now determined to partake in frosting shots next encounter.  I walk on the wild side…sometimes.   In the mean time, any one out there ever given this a go? I’d love to hear about it!  Hello There Cupcake also sells greeting cards, birthday kits (package of 2 candles, matches, a bow, and confetti), t-shirts, and hats.

8.  Ambiance: Minimalism meets glamour.  I gotta give props to whoever designed the store!  The size of the space was just right.  The decor was creative without being clutter and sparkled without being flashy.  I walked in and had that “oooooooh, how pretty!” moment.  There were a few places to sit (yay, no need to eat on the sidewalk)Plus, everything seemed super clean and tidy.

9. Service:  There were two people on staff the day of my visit, so everything seemed to be running ship-shape.  No long line,  cupcakes well stocked, and (like I mention above) the shop was spick and spanBonus: they answered all my questions and gave good recommendations.

10.  Three words to describe the HELLO THERE CUPCAKE experience:

1)  Clean 2) Enchanting 3) Pretty

Even though we don’t have a Top 10 game-changer here, I still look back on my time at Hello There Cupcake fondly.  It was like a Cinderella moment – I went into Hello There Cupcake  looking bedraggled, but eating their cupcakes made me feel pretty.  Now, that’s my kind of fairytale!

Hello There Cupcake on Urbanspoon

p.s. Macon-dwellers (and coming soon to Warner Robins) ~ check out their facebook page to learn more about giveaways and cupcake debuts!

Piece of Cake Takes a Piece of My Heart

19 Jul

We’ve got a top contender for Atlanta’s best cupcake (in my book, at least)!  The recommendations, high ratings, and online accolades did not go unnoticed, and I finally made it to sweet, PIECE OF CAKE (you can read of my failed, first attempt here)!  And let me just tell you, everything I read was true.  Heavens to Betsy,  their cupcakes rock the house!

I met up with a friend of mine, who had the beautiful idea of a mid-week, mid-day sugar snack.  Which couldn’t have come at a better time, seeing as I was suffering from an acute case of cupcake withdraw.  Two and a half weeks I went without cupcakes!  May be a new record…that I’m not at all proud of.  Another record breaker that day – the weather.  Lord Almighty, I’m pretty sure Wednesday July 13, 2011 was the hottest day of my life.  Turns out it only hit 96, but I can now say that whole Hotlanta thing is no myth.  You’d think that a popsicle, frozen yogurt, ice cream, what have you, would’ve hit the spot, but oh no!  A half-dozen of Piece of Cake’s small cupcakes put a skippy skip in my step.

Piece of Cake is a bakery veteran.  They’ve been around 26 years and that time has served them well.  They’ve perfected cake consistency to a T.  We’re talking soft, spongy, fresh, moist, flavorful cake that doesn’t crumble apart in your hand – that’s a piece of art.  Their cake/frosting ratio is respectable.  It’s as, I believe, cupcakes were intended to be.  No risk of frosting shock found here.  But boy of boy, there’s just the right amount of sugar stirred (and love, I’m guessing) into those cupcake creations to make any sweet tooth sigh with relief.

So back to my half-dozen, small cupcakes – I selected the Caramel, Coconut, Lemon, Orange, Red Velvet and Yellow (w/chocolate frosting) Cupcakes.  Three were had on the spot, well, on the pretty patio of Henri’s Bakery just a short distance away.  (Gotta give my props to them for not shooing us away, considering they sell cupcakes too! )  I went to town on the Carmel Cupcake first – sweet Mary Jane, that thing was good.  Next up, the Coconut Cupcake – hold the phone, this cupcake is not messing’ around.  At this point, I’m thinking “why, oh why, did I go with the small cupcakes?!”  I wanted more.  So I went in for cupcake #3, the Vanilla (w/chocolate frosting), which is like edible nostalgia.  Later that evening, I presented Steve with his half of my Piece of Cake catch.  I sat right by his side as he sat down to enjoy, and asked for a bite the second he bit into each of the three cupcakes.  What he calls mooching, I call research.  The goodness continued, and the only downside I observed was the Lemon Cupcake lacking that zesty zing.  Overall, Steve commended the cake consistency as well and deemed them tasty!  When I threw out the bold statement of these being Atlanta’s best, thinking he was right there with me, he surprised me with his nod to CamiCakes.  Soooo,  you know what that mean folks?  A blind taste is in order!  Let’s do this (insert dramatic music here)…maybe next week, stay tuned for that endeavor.  Until then, Piece of Cake still has a piece of my heart as well as spot on the Top 10!

Allow me to break it down for you…

PIECE OF CAKE / 3215 Roswell Rd. Atlanta, GA / www.pieceofcakeinc.com / Other locations = 10971 Crabapple Rd. Suite 1300 Roswell, GA and 307 E. College Ave. Suite A Decatur, GA

1. Price:

Large = $2.75 each / $14.75 half dozen / $29.50 dozen

Small = $2.25 each / $12 half-dozen / $24 dozen

Mini = $16.50 dozen

2. Room temperature:  Yes

3.  Size:  The large cupcakes were definitely on the plump size, but not plump enough for me to share half of graciously.  The small-sized cupcakes look awfully similar to mini cupcakes…maybe a smidge bigger than your average mini.  And I didn’t spot any mini cupcakes on the day of my visit, so I’m afraid I can’t report back on that department.  Anyone out there ever have a mini cupcake from Piece of Cake?  In terms of size, what would you compare it to?   

4. Vegan or gluten-free options:  Not in cupcake form.   But they do have a case full of gluten-free goodies (frozen) from Pure Knead, a “dedicated bakery specializing in allergy friendly fare”.

5. To-go packaging:  White cardboard box with red bow print on top (cute!) and dividers inside.

6. Milk for sale?: No beverages, so you gotta take your thirst somewhere else(I say that in the nicest way possible.)

7.  Other treats for non-cupcake enthusiasts you may have in tow:  For on the spot enjoyment, there’s chocolate chip cookies, shortbread cookies, tarts, brownies, cheese straws, slices of cake and pound cake.  Then you can either order (and ship if need be!) layer and/or pound cakes, as well as pick up a gift of chocolate-covered peanuts, bag of malt balls, jar of gum balls, yogurt covered pretzels, mini chocolate chip cookies, pimped out popcorn (i.e. drizzled with chocolate and the like).  Candles, napkins, paper plates, and greeting cards are all available for your party needs, too!

8.  Ambiance: It’s a darling little shop filled with sunlight and sugary aromas.  Stepping inside feels familiar even though I’ve never been before.  No place to sit though (bummer),  so you do need to plan on eating elsewhere.   May I suggest your car?  Because it’s just wrong to wait more than a minute to eat these rock star baked goods.

9. Service:  Excellent!  I loved how friendly/down-to-earth/easy-going the staff was.

10.  Three words to describe the PIECE OF CAKE experience:

1)  Darling 2) Sunny 3) Delicious
Piece of Cake on Urbanspoon

Thanks K, for the fun idea and good company!

Cupcakes on Canton Street

6 Jul

For our latest mission, I decided to keep it simple and local!  A little side note:  (that whole brevity thing from last week just didn’t stick with me)  I have a tendency to make choices that end up making my life waaaaay more complicated than they need to be (the thought of day-tripping to Tennessee JUST for cupcakes did cross my mind), which I believe is the reason why I now DREAD making decisions.  But every once in a blue moon…or once a year, I’ll make a good decision.  Good decision of 2009 = marrying Steve.  Good decision of 2010 =   not taking $500 out of savings to fly to California to audition for Wipeout.  Good decision of 2011 = going to KellyKakes (in hometown Roswell) for cupcakes on June 26 instead of driving to Tennessee.  Since Steve and I were in full-on lazy Sunday mode, the less-than-one-mile commute to get our cupcake on seemed wise. 

Once we arrived, we were caught a little off guard.  KellyKakes isn’t really your typical bakery.  It’s a “boutique cake studio”, which extends into Party Chic, which is a nice restaurant/lounge.  I don’t think I’m explaining this well.  Let’s roll tape in hopes that’ll clear things up!

Those $4 cupcakes are no joke!  With me floating in a happy sugar bliss combined with the magical verandah air, Steve nearly had to roll me outta there.  Can you imagine if we partook in the bottomless mimosas (more on that below…)?  I can’t even imagine!  Well, I sorta can.  And it ain’t pretty!  Anyway!  The cupcakes made me happy.  The cake was SOFT, people.  Almost cupcake blanket soft!  So, eating this delicate treat with a fork is recommended.  Everything tasted fresh.  I vaguely remember reading somewhere that KellyKakes cupcakes are frosted upon ordering, and it did seemed like our selections were freshly topped.  The cookie dough cupcake didn’t have as much frosting as the german chocolate cupcake (and as much as Steve would’ve liked) but the sweet and creaminess of the buttercream along with mini chocolate chips seemed to provide enough coverage for the spongy vanilla cake.  It took me a few bites to pick up on the cookie dough flavor – it just tasted like a rich vanilla at first.  But if you stick with it, that cookie dough tastiness will make a welcome appearance.

And now, dum da da dum…the break down!

KellyKakes (in conjunction with Party Chic) / 953 Canton St.  Roswell, GA / www.kellykakes.com

1. Price:  $4.00 – blimey!  Most expensive yet?  I think so!  (Edibles Incredible was another budget breaker, but both of these places do have large n’ in charge cupcakes.)  BUT, if you check out the KellyKakes website, it looks like you can order cupcakes ranging from standard ($1.50 – $2.75) to jumbo size ($3.50-$4.25).

2. Room temperature:  Yes

3.  Size:  Jumbo.  Definitely splitting in half material.

Cookie Dough & German Chocolate Cupcakes

4. Vegan or gluten-free options:  No such luck.

5. To-go packaging: Not sure since we dined in.

6. Milk for sale?:  “Yup, yup, yup!”  (<—-two points if you can name that movie quote!)  Along with tea (hot or cold), lemonade, Coke products (do they even sell Pepsi in Georgia??), coffee (iced, hot, or flavored), hot chocolate, and San Pellegrino.  (WARNING!!  MUST BE 21 OR OVER TO READ THE REST OF THIS PARAGRAPH!!)  There’s also a whole menu dedicated to martinis as well as wine and beer.  And if you go on a Sunday, you can enjoy bottomless mimosas for $10.

7.  Other treats for non-cupcake enthusiasts you may have in tow:  You could totally get away with an undercover cupcake mission to KellyKakes/Party Chic with a non-cupcake enthusiastsWith full-on lunch and dinner menus, you could just say you’d like to meet up for a sandwich, drinks, the live music (Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings), etc.  and then nonchalantly order up your cupcake goods while they unsuspectingly feast on everything else.

The scene inside Party Chic by KellyKakes

8.  Ambiance: It’s quite striking in that it has a little whimsy mixed with historic charm and a dash of cool sophistication.  For short – whimsy with a dark side.  Dark hardwood floors, black beadboard ceilings, fun/dramatic chandeliers here and there.  I bet it casts a very romantic glow in the evening. If it’s a nice day out, I  HIGHLY recommend sitting out on the pretty verandah where you get a great view of folks strolling along Canton Street.

9. Service:  Great – you saw what a trooper our server Carol was!  And it wasn’t just when the camera was rolling, she was that hospitable the whole time!

10.  Three words to describe the KellyKakes/Party Chic experience:

1)  Charming 2) Unique 3) Festive

Though the Cookie Dough and German Chocolate didn’t find a spot on the Top 10 board, I still enjoyed them!  Plus the whole experience was a delight, so I’d definitely recommend this outing to all!

Come on Down to Canton Street!

Oh, I almost forgot!  Check out this cute passerby that Steve was able to quickly capture from our verandah view…

Party Chic:

Party Chic on Urbanspoon

Fluffy (after)Thoughts

22 Jun

This week, I’m trying brevity on for size!  Which is fitting for a review that I should’ve done two months ago…and didn’t take copious notes like a good cupcake crusader would, especially since my memory can be about as reliable as Cosmo’s horoscopes.  So, brevity it is!  Why do I feel like I’m already failing at this attempt?

When Steve and I traveled back to DC in April, a good family friend had dropped off a dozen cupcakes from Fluffy Thoughts Cakes (in McLean, VA) that were waiting for us upon our arrival.  Talk about a happy homecoming!  

I think it was about 11 PM when I first laid eyes on this feast of wonder, but that didn’t stop me from gettin’ piggy with it –  I will eat cupcakes at all hours of the day (I’m a copious cupcake crusader in that sense)!  But after that is where my memory gets kind of fuzzy.  I can say that Fluffy Thoughts’ cupcakes sure were pretty! ~ tasted fresh ~ were on the denser side of the spectrum ~ some were filled (filled cupcakes are where it’s at!) ~ and had good frosting to cake ratio.  The whole family enjoyed that box of goodness over the course of the weekend (thank you, D)!

Later on that trip, Steve and I were passing through downtown McLean so we made a pit-stop at Fluffy Thoughts to take a  peak inside and snap some quick pix (forgive me, we only had Steve’s iPhone) .  From the outside, you’d never guess there was this glittery little confectionery boutique inside but there IS!  Custom cakes may be the headliner, but I still counted about 40 cupcake flavors on their online menu.

No Top Ten placer here, but I give mad props to Fluffy Thoughts for representing the cupcake scene in my home town…and representin’ well!

Even though it’s been a while, I’m going to try my best at breaking it down

Fluffy Thoughts Cakes / 1320 Old Chain Bridge Rd. McLean, VA / www.fluffythoughts.com

1. Price: $2.50 for classic flavors, $3.00 for specialty flavors / minis! – $1.50

2. Room temperature:  Nope, they’re kept cold

3.  Size: Standard

4. Vegan or gluten-free options:  Gluten-free cupcakes are available on Fridays. They can also make an eggless cupcake if you fancy!

5. To-go packaging:  Our dozen cupcakes were packed up in this cool, jewel-toned blue box with dividers inside

6. Milk for sale?:  Not that I recall, but coffee is available

7.  Other treats for non-cupcake enthusiasts you may have in tow:  Aside from the custom cakes, they had some good lookin’ cookies for sale. Oh, and they have about 8 varieties of cheesecake cupcakes!  Maybe this is one kind of cupcake a non-cupcake enthusiast could come to love.  It’s worth a shot, right?

8.  Ambiance:  Despite it’s very business-like exterior, it’s a very pretty and cozy place inside.  But be aware that there is not an eating area – this is another dine-out cupcakery. 

9. Service:  Our friend, D, who purchased our treats will have to field this question.

Okay, I’m stopping now!  How’d I do on that whole brevity-front??  It’s not my strong suit, is it?  (picture Steve shaking his head woefully “no” at this moment).

Thank you, D, for such delicious and thoughtful surprise!!

Taste Test Extravaganza!

15 Jun

The other weekend, Steve and I hit the road!  We didn’t cross any borders this time around…unless county borders count.   Our destination – Augusta, GA!  Yup, hometown of Woodrow Wilson, James Brown, this little ol’ golf tournament called the Masters, and last but not least my aunt, uncle and cousins.  Oh yeah, and in case you were wondering,  Hulk Hogan was indeed born here.

I’ve always loved visiting Augusta.  Right along the Savannah River, it’s really rich with history dating back to the early 1700s.  With 9 neighborhoods on the National Register of Historic Places, there’s always something to catch your eye if you’re a preservation geek like me.  And if you also happen to be a cupcake geek like me, do not fear – Augusta has plenty to offer in that department, too!

On my last visit to Augusta (some time this past winter), I noticed a cupcakery on the verge of opening, so Neapolitan Cupcake & Gift Shoppe went on my radar.   When making plans this time around, my aunt mentioned that she spotted another cupcake shop in town, Sweet Cups!, and a cupcake taste test a la Augusta-style was born!  But it didn’t stop there, oh no!  My aunt then heard from my cousin that a local Mennonite bakery makes amazing cupcakes, so the Lil’ Dutch Bakery was added to the ballot too.  And that’s how the cupcake taste-test-extravaganza came into being.

In the interest of time, my aunt and uncle picked up four cupcakes from the Lil’ Dutch Bakery while Steve and I were en route.  Then after our arrival (and some fortifying lunch), we all headed to Sweet Cups! to select another four cupcakes.  It’s a little, unfussy shop tucked off of Washington Road in an assuming shopping center.  Once inside, we were greeted so warmly by the darling baker herself.  She gave us a run-down of the daily offerings, which included minis (cue the cheering) in almost all of the same flavors as the “big kids”.  After our deliberation, we selected the following four (regular-sized) cupcakes: strawberry, key lime, red velvet, and sweet potato.  Mmmm…that’s some sweet, Southern goodness right there!

Sweet Cups! Cupcakes, Confections & Catering

Next stop – Neapolitan Cupcake & Gift Shoppe in the Le Pavilion shopping plaza.  The scene inside is quite a change from Sweet Cups! where cupcakes were basically the main attraction.  But at Neapolitan, with both cupcakes and gifts on the agenda, there’s lots to see.  There was also a flat screen TV complete with leather couch seating area, pink & white striped walls, and a drink dispenser dispensing FREE pink lemonade.  Woo hoo, free stuff!  Double bonus points to Neapolitan for 1) giving free stuff and 2) serving a color coordinated beverage (I don’t know why, but that does something for me)!  I also got to chat with the owner, Molly, whose super sweet personality matched the pretty cupcakes on-hand.

All four of us put our heads together again, and selected the following four cupcakes: lemon, peanut butter, salted caramel, and cookies & cream.  And then we left…without our cupcakes.  I guess I was in sensory overload and just spaced out or something.  Luckily, we didn’t get far and the kind woman who rang us up was standing outside with our box o’cupcakes anticipating our return.  That should teach me a lesson for next time…don’t drink the free lemonade 🙂 just kidding, I have no one to blame but myself.

Neapolitan Cupcake & Gift Shoppe

All loaded back into the sugar-scented vehicle, we headed for home (well, my aunt & uncle’s home).  It was a few hours before dinner and the subsequent cupcake taste test, so my aunt and I had a fun time “photo styling” our cupcake spread.  Check it out!

We made sure the packaging was included in each photo. I'll discuss this element in more detail in "The Breakdown"...

Ok, so fast forward through the arrival of my cousin and his sweet family, playing with my cousin’s cute kids, and a yum yummy family dinner, and you have me frantically (and messily, sorry Uncle L!) cutting up 12 cupcakes into fours and trying to create some sort of system out of it all for a seamless taste test spectacle.   We eventually got all the sweets “plated”, fashioned a blindfold out of my aunt’s pretty blue scarf, and the taste test was underway! (I wish I had photographed the whole scene, especially when the blindfolded taste tester was waiting for me, mouth wide open, to feed them their forkful of cupcake.  The mental pictures I have though make me smile.)

So after five volunteers were subjected to the blind taste test in a controlled environment under scientific eye, we were able to crown the following winners:

Once we concluded the experiment, I jotted down some feedback and then chowed down myself.  I can honestly say there wasn’t a bad cupcake in this bunch.  And something about Sweet Cups! strawberry confection really wooed me – the delicate pink frosting with bits of strawberry, the wonderfully comforting blend of strawberry and vanilla…it’s a darling of a cupcake.  And Sweet Cups! sweet potato cupcake is not to be overlooked. This was one of Steve’s favorites, along with Neapolitan’s peanut butter and salted caramel.

Here are some other comments the gang had to say:

-The cake at Neapolitan was a tad bit on the dry side.

-The Lil’ Dutch Bakery strawberry cupcake tasted like a pop-tart.

-The contest between Lil’ Dutch Bakery’s strawberry cupcake and Sweet Cups’ was neck and neck – it was a close race for those two.

-The Lil’ Dutch Bakery key lime cupcake tasted like lime jello.

-The appearance of the Lil’ Dutch Bakery cupcakes wasn’t much to write home about (along with the packaging), but their deliciousness (and 3 crowned victories) reinforced that whole “don’t judge a book by its cover” philosophy.

*and my little note to self: 12 pieces of 1/4 a cupcake = bad idea.  A cupcake hangover ensued.

Ok, let’s see if I can handle the breakdown x 3

Lil’ Dutch Bakery  / 3830 Washington Road, Augusta, GA /( no website) 706.228.5336

Sweet Cups! Cupcakes, Confections & Catering / 604 Shartom Drive, Augusta, GA / (no website) 706.922.1300

Neapolitan Cupcake & Gift Shoppe  / 106 Pleasant Home Road 2A, Augusta, GA / http://www.neapolitangifts.com

1. Price:

Lil’ Dutch Bakery – $1.59 each (that’s a deal right there, folks!)

Sweet Cups! – $2.50 each /$25 dozen/ minis! – $1.50 each, 3 for $3.75

Neapolitan – $2.75 each / $30 dozen / minis! – $0.75 each, $10 dozen

2. Room temperature:

Lil’ Dutch Bakery – Yes

Sweet Cups! – Yes

Neapolitan: – Nope, they’re kept cold here

3.  Size:

Lil’ Dutch Bakery – Cake size = grande (or venti, if we’re talking Starbucks lingo) / Frosting size = poquito

Sweet Cups! – Standard

Neapolitan –  Cake size = standard / Frosting size = piled high

4. Vegan or gluten-free options:

Lil’ Dutch Bakery – No, sorry

Sweet Cups! – No dice

Neapolitan – Gluten-free (in chocolate, vanilla, and red velvet) is made on an order by order basis – $18 half dozen, $36 dozen

5. To-go packaging:

Lil’ Dutch Bakery – All four cupcakes were set on top of a styrofoam plate/tray of sorts and covered with plastic wrap

Sweet Cups! – Pink cardboard box with interior dividers and logo sticker on top

Neapolitan – Brown cardboard box with interior dividers and logo sticker on top

6. Milk for sale?:

Lil’ Dutch Bakery – Ummm, I’m not sure.  Aunt T, what say you?

Sweet Cups! – Not that I spotted.  They did have bottled beverages on hand like Snapple, Gatorade, sodas, water, and Starbucks frappuccinos

Neapolitan – Couldn’t find here either, but don’t forget there’s free pink lemonade!  Also available – Cokes, water, and Jittery Joe’s coffee (I’m a fan of this coffee since it started in Athens, GA.  plus it’s yummy!)

7.  Other treats for non-cupcake enthusiasts you may have in tow:

Lil’ Dutch Bakery – I think lots of baked good abound here, but Aunt T will have to fill in the details…

Sweet Cups! – Cinnamon rolls and slices of red velvet cake

Neapolitan – Cookies, cake pops, plus t-shirts, onesie, bath bombs, and other gifts galore

8.  Ambiance: 

Lil’ Dutch Bakery – Not sure, Aunt T & Uncle L picked up our goods.

Sweet Cups! – Unassuming yet welcoming.  Pale green walls, minimal decor, no seating area so plan on cupcake “take-out”

Neapolitan – Vibrant and full of pink!  Like I mention above, there’s a lot to look at – gift items and such.  And plenty of seating (3 tables, 2 sofas) so you could sit and stay awhile (and watch SpongeBob on their tv)

9. Service:  

Lil’ Dutch Bakery – Oh no, can’t answer this one either.  Aunt T, you’re gonna have to be my guest blogger here!

Sweet Cups! – The woman helping us the day of our visit was actually the baker, and she was very kind and fun to talk to.  She seemed to love baking, and I think that shines through in the cupcakes.

Neapolitan – Friendly and especially helpful service (thank you, thank you for coming out to look for us and not throwing out our cupcakes when we accidentally left without them!)

So, I’m sort of skipping #10 here – please don’t shun me!  I’ve just up and run out of steam.  Maybe I need a cupcake

Thanks so much B. Family (Aunt T, Uncle L, P, J, AK, C, and L) for such a fun time, making this happen,  and all your help!

Lil’ Dutch Bakery
Lil' Dutch Bakery on Urbanspoon

Neapolitan Cupcake & Gift Shoppe on Urbanspoon

Meet Miss Mamie!

3 Jun

Cupcake Crusade continues! Still searching for the best, kick-butt cupcake in the country!  Armed with this mission, Steve and I skipped over to Marietta, Georgia to see what Miss Mamie’s Cupcakes, Cakes and Such had to offer.

Miss Mamie’s cupcake menu has 18 flavors, consisting of both the traditional (like carrot, red velvet, and vanilla with buttercream) and the unique (like margarita, rocky road, and the aforementioned Guinness).  For some reason, I was able to pick out my cupcake flavors in record time. It was a proud moment.  Anyway!  Here’s the line-up for our feast of four (4 cupcakes between the 2 us seems to be the magic number)!

*A little heads-up: There are two cupcake cases, so be sure to scope out both before selecting your treats!

Lemon Lavender Cupcake (“a sumptuous cake made with fresh lemon zest, juice, and lavender.   Topped with a delicious lemon buttercream and a caramelized lemon slice.“)

This was a dense cake with dense frosting.  I picked up on a subtle lemon flavor, but not so much the lavender.  I was looking forward to that unique taste, but never detected it.  Do you think that the caramelized lemon topping was edible?  hmm…I should’ve eaten it anyway, maybe it would’ve given me that extra lemon zing that I love…next time!

Cheesecake Cupcake

(“white cupcake with cheesecake batter baked inside.  Frosted in cream cheese and topped with a cherry.”)

Nice, spongy & moist cake with a little “pocket” in the middle filled with the cheesecake batter.  Creamy frosting, but not especially cream cheesy.  This one would be good if you don’t have a mammoth sweet tooth like I do.

Cookie Dough Cupcake (“white cupcake with cookie dough baked inside.  Topped with buttercream and an additional chunk of cookie dough.“)

This was probably my favorite out of the bunch.  Buttercream + cookie dough = gold star!  It has been waaaay too long since I last had cookie dough…why am I not eating this on a regular basis?!  And because that buttercream + cookie dough combo ranked high on the sweet-tooth meter, the cupcake’s simple, thick vanilla cake brought  balance to the whole scene.

Guinness Cupcake (“chocolate cupcake made with the Guinness beer topped with cream cheese and mini chocolate chips.”)

I’ve got a little footage of me experiencing the Guinness Cupcake, if you’d like to check it out (btw…this cupcake was my very first brush with a real live, ManCake [I’m blushing!], which I once considered here.)

A common thread between all four of our cupcakes – dense cake and frosting, but fresh to boot.  Not especially sweet, either.  Except  my friend, the cookie dough cupcake.  We didn’t crown a Top 10 cupcake this go around… I must say, it’s getting harder and harder to do the more places we go.  Do you think I should do a Top 50 instead??

Before I break it down, allow me to back it up a bit…what I wanted to say during our little intro (before the train stole the scene!) was that Miss Mamie’s has two cool things going for it, right off the bat –  1) it’s in a historic building and 2) it’s in a quaint, historic downtown.  Gotta love me some historic charm!  And there’s plenty of it encompassing Marietta Square.  I might  have to make another top 10 list, for “top experience” (unique location, cool decor, abounding character,etc).  What do ya think?  Miss Mamie’s would definitely place in that category!

Scenes from downtown Marietta, Georgia

Okiedoke, allow me to break it down for ya!

Miss Mamie’s Cupcakes, Cakes and Such / 156 Roswell Street SE Marietta, GA / www.missmamiescupcakes.com 

1. Price:  $2.50 / Buy 5, get 1 free / $27.50 dozen

2. Room temperature:  Yes, Ma’am

3.  Size:  Standard

4. Vegan or gluten-free options:  No, Sir

5. To-go packaging: We dined in, and had our cupcakes served to us on whimsical mismatched china dessert plates. 

6. Milk for sale?:  Didn’t spot any…but you can get apple juice, bottled water, Pellegrino, ginger ale, Coke, Sprite, Orangina, hot tea, and coffee.

7.  Other treats for non-cupcake enthusiasts you may have in tow: Not readily available (unless you count necklaces, but those aren’t edible).  But they do make custom cakes, awfully pretty ones at that!  (Remember Mamie has an art degree along with her Le Cordon Bleu training! )

8.  Ambiance: Sweet, shabby chic mixed with cozy, historic yumminess.  I appreciated the vintage, floral table clothes; the collection of cake stands used to display the cupcakes; the string of cute aprons hung on the wall; big storefront windows;  and the exposed brick wall!  Oh yeah, and the music!  That’s a Pandora station I would totally tune into.

9. Service:  Kind folks can be found behind the counter at Miss Mamie’s!

10.  Three words to describe the Miss Mamie’s experience:

1) Charming 2) Genuine 3) Relaxed

Miss Mamie's: Cupcakes, Cakes & Such on Urbanspoon

One more thing!  If you do make the trip to Miss Mamie’s and Marietta Square, you might want to swing by “The Big Chicken” while you’re in the neighborhood and check out this quirky roadside architecture.