Tag Archives: cupcakes

Cupcakes, It’s What’s For Breakfast

4 Nov

I discovered a cupcake the other weekend that would be sure to brighten any morning!  There’s no shame to eating cupcakes before noon, right?  Cupcakes are like donuts (small cake + frosting), and donuts seem to really have made a name for themselves in the breakfast department.  So I’m thinking a cupcake for breakfast every once in a while shouldn’t be frowned upon?  If you’re up for it, I’ve got just the cupcake for you – the French Toast cupcake at Smallcakes Cupcakery.

Smallcakes started in Kansas City, but opened an Atlanta location this September.  If you’re a fan of the Food Network’s show “Cupcake Wars”, maybe you saw the episode with Smallcakes owner Jeff Martin as a contestant.  Once I got wind of that little factoid, I was all geared up to go meet Jeff and hear all about the wonderful world of Food Network!  And Candace Nelson.  I sooooo want to sit next to Candace Nelson at the judges’ table and eat cupcakes and smile.

Smallcakes - Buckhead's Newest Cupcakery

Well, it just wasn’t in the cards for me to meet (and squeeze info from) Jeff that sunny Sunday.  My consolation though – a free cupcake!  It pays to follow Smallcakes’ twitter and facebook pages.  Freebies to be found!  My other consolation – the French Toast cupcake!  It’s exactly how you would imagine comforting, cinnamon-y french toast in cupcake form.  Fresh, spongy (we gotta think of a better adjective for spongy!) cake filled with cream and topped with a cinnamon buttercream / cream cheese hybrid.  Go, folks.  Get their French Toast cupcake (call first to make sure it’s available that day) and start your day with a frosting-induced smile.  Just a heads-up, they open at 10am…maybe eat a little fruit or cereal beforehand to tide you over.

Aside for the commendable moist cake, I’m sorry to say the rest of our cupcake loot – the Peanut Butter Cup, the Fudge Sundae, and the Vanilla-n-Chocolate – was kind of forgettable.  The French Toast cupcake’s deliciousness could, however, have Top 10 potential.

Let’s bring on the break down now, shall we?!

Smallcakes / 2955 Peachtree Road Atlanta, GA location / other locations include Overland Park KS ~ Olathe, KS ~ Lee’s Summit, MS / www.smallcakescupcakery.com

1. Price: $3

2. Room temperature:  Yes

3.  Size:  Standard

4. Cake to Frosting Ratio: Socially acceptable

5. Vegan or gluten-free options: No…bummer

6. To-go packaging: Standard box with cupcake dividers inside and logo sticker on top

7. Milk for sale?:  Negative on the milk.  Affirmative on the bottles of Coke, Sprite, Diet Coke, and Coke Zero

8.  Other treats for non-cupcake enthusiasts you may have in tow: The only edible treats are the cupcakes.  T-shirts and water bottles are available for purchase, but those seemed to be emitting cupcake enthusiasm.  Oh well…


9.  Ambiance: This was kind of a let down, like something was missing.  Or a bunch of things.  There wasn’t any where to sit, which I’m thinking hinders the whole “Welcome!” vibe.  There’s a long counter along the window that you can stand and eat your cupcakes at.  But again, I just wasn’t getting that “Yay, you’re here! Stay a while!” message.  The cupcake counter, the main attraction, was kind of sad in its slenderness.  While the cupcakes were very attractive, they only displayed one of each variety and the rest were herded away from us on the bakers rack behind the counter.  Can you tell I’m hungry as I write this?  Which means I’m grumpy, and maybe a little too honest.  But I want to give Smallcakes (ATL) the benefit of the doubt since they had just opened this location, and say that they’re in the process of implementing cozy seating, mood music, cheery decor…


10. Service: Socially acceptable

11.  Three words to describe the Smallcakes experience:

1) Uneventful 2)  Sparse 3) FrenchToast (can we still count that as one word?)

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Smallcakes: A Cupcakery on Urbanspoon

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Going Back To Our Cupcake Roots

28 Oct

I hope you’re not too terribly disappointed with me (Doug, Becky, and Carla) for my failed attempt at a “reader’s choice”.  Last month, when I ventured to NYC for one night, I had high hopes for hitting a least one of your three suggestions, if not all.   But by the time I reached the Big Apple, I was sleep deprived and quite soggy (it rained the whole time I was there).  I did, however, muster up enough energy to walk over to Magnolia Bakery, which was just five blocks from my hotel.

Thoughts of failure lingered still with this game plan, as I had visited Magnolia Bakery months before.  But because it was months before Cupcake Crusade’s establishment, I decided to carry on.  Here’s what went down…

Notice the baker in the window, frosting a cake.

The Magnolia Bakery that I visited (1240 Avenue of the Americas) is smack dab in such an iconic part of Manhattan – Radio City Music Hall, the Rainbow Room, Rockefeller Center, Saks Fifth Avenue (actually on Fifth Avenue), are all just a stone’s throw away.  Yet, stepping off the bold and  bustling streets of NYC and into Magnolia Bakery is a complete transformation.  Did I somehow teleport to Charleston, SC…circa 1950?  The store is decorated in a sweet, southern, shabby chic style that I would love to model my entire house after.  Pastel pinks and blue, sea-foam green subway tile, creamy white bead board, black and white tile floors, chalk board menus, silver cake stand after silver cake stand filled with thick and fluffy cakes – heavenly!  And their cupcakes definitely matched the store , being the pretty little confectionery clouds that they were. 

Quick digression…Magnolia Bakery was one of the forerunners on the cupcake scene, opening its doors in 1996 in Greenwich Village.  Originally, cakes took center stage here but they often found themselves with leftover batter.  One day, one of the owners decided to put that batter to use!  Colorful cupcakes soon decorated their windowsills, and voila!, the cupcake craze was ignited!  Then, when Magnolia Bakery was featured on a Sex and the City episode back in 2000, the craze really lit ablaze.

Ok, back to business.  Knowing that I had to catch my train home shortly, I decided to get four cupcakes to go (so as to enjoy later with my husband and in-laws).  They packaged them up nicely for me in a box, and off I went.  Fast forward about 6 hours later, and the feasting commenced.  (I must note that I did not take photos of my cupcakes.  After bumping along for hours in the box, they didn’t look as pretty as they did in the store).   After cutting each cupcake into four pieces, we each had our own tidbits of Red Velvet, Lemon, Truffled Chocolate, and Classic Vanilla cupcakes.  Unfortunately, that’s all that I remember!  Well… that, and that my family and I were not impressed and maybe even a little disappointed.  Now, the bakery does have this disclaimer on its website:  “Magnolia baked goods are meant to be enjoyed fresh from the oven.  If you plan on storing them, we recommend placing them in an airtight container at room temperature only.”  If only I had had an airtight container with me on that trip and we might’ve had a completely different story to tell here.  But that may very well be the reason why these cupcakes were so underwhelming, too much time had lapsed from oven to mouth.  I should mention though that when I visited Magnolia months before Cupcake Crusade was born, I consumed the cupcake within 30 minutes of purchasing and I vividly remember swooning.  Was this because they really are swoon-worthy only when fresh out of the oven, or because I had not yet been exposed to all the amazing cupcakes that are now on my Top 10 list?  This keeps me up at night.  No, not really.  But maybe it’s reason enough to go back to Magnolia next time I’m in NYC.

Let’s break it down now, shall we?!

Magnolia Bakery / Rockefeller Center location -1240 Avenue of the Americas, New York /  www.magnoliabakery.com / Other NYC locations include Bleeker Street, Columbus Avenue, and Grand Central Terminal.  Can also be found in Los Angeles and Dubai (yup, Dubai!)

1. Price:  Classic cupcakes (vanilla and chocolate) = $2.75.  Specialty cupcakes (Red Velvet, Lemon, Devil’s Food, etc.) = $3.25.

2. Room temperature:  Yes, indeed!

3.  Size:  Standard

4. Vegan or gluten-free options:  I could only find a flourless chocolate cake on their menu.

5. To-go packaging:  Cardboard box with dividers, pretty logo sticker on top.  Or you can purchase 12 mini cupcakes (vanilla or chocolate), which come packaged in a classic egg carton.

6. Milk for sale?:  Yes – cold or steamed!  Chocolate and soy, too.  As well as coffees, teas, and apple juice.

7.  Other treats for non-cupcake enthusiasts you may have in tow:   Specialty cakes and pies, icebox cakes and pies, mini cheesecakes, brownies, cookies AND banana pudding (I should’ve gotten some of that to eat on the spot!).  Breakfast items include muffins and coffee cakes.  Don’t overlook their t-shirts (they were very cute), as well as cookbooks, aprons, eco-friendly bags, and sprinkle jars (“Magnolia’s own pastel palette of hand colored sprinkles”).

Aprons for sale (tutu not included...I think)!

8.  Ambiance:  Vintage sweetness.  See my ramblings above, paragraph 3.

9. Service:  Very pleasant.  The woman who packaged my cupcakes was friendly and patient.  And now that I think about it, the store was very clean.  I’m sure they get a lot of foot traffic/tourists here, but everything looked well stocked and tidy.

Even though the cupcake craze can be traced back to Magnolia Bakery, I’m a bit dismayed to say that it didn’t place on my Top 10.  Maybe next time…

Magnolia Bakery on Urbanspoon

Edibles Incredible Lives Up To Its Name!

23 Oct

Over in the Reston Town Center, which is a fun mixed-use development, you’ll find all kinds of things to suit your fancy (I always enjoy Sephora, Anthropologie, and the ice skating rink in the winter).  They’ve got great dining too, even a chic gelato café, so I figured surely there is a cupcakery here!  Two friends had suggested checking out Edibles Incredible, which I’m now thinking is one of Reston’s best…actually a lot of people must be thinking this too, because they were voted Best Bakery, Best Kids Cakes, and Best Chocolate Shop in Northern Virginia Living Magazine (2009)! 

Once I arrived and expressed interest in the cupcakes, the woman working that day handed me their “cupcake menu” where the daily selections were highlighted in yellow.  The overall menu is quite impressive – about 30+ classic and creative flavors like Fluffernutter, Banana Cream Pie, and Tropical Breeze.  On the day of my visit, they probably had about 15 flavors to choose from.  I finally settled on the Black & White and the Strawberry Delight, and headed home to eat with my husband (even though he keeps telling me to stop bringing him cupcakes)!

 

The Black & White consisted of a chocolate pudding cake with butter cream frosting and chocolate sprinkles on top.  The cake was oh so moist, and had an excellent cake/frosting ratio.  The butter cream was light and fluffy, but not too sweet.  This could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your sweet tooth level.  For me, a dash more sugar would have been ideal but no biggie.

The Strawberry Delight was comprised of a strawberry cake, a strawberry jam filling, and strawberry butter cream.  I do love strawberry jam (it tastes so good on so many things.  Did you know that strawberry jam is fantastic on chocolate chip cookies?!)!  Now, Steve on the other hand is not a strawberry jam fan.  In fact, he’s pretty much anti-jam.  No P&Js for him, just P.  After I cut the cupcake in half and the jam filling was revealed, he grimaced.  Being the good sport he is, he ate it anyway and we were both surprised by how much he liked it!  I did too, yum yum.  Neither the cake or butter cream were overly sweet so the jam filling plays well with the mix.  Hmmm, I think this would be really good for breakfast – what a way to start the day!

Cool feature – their gourmet desserts can be shipped nationwide!  In addition to wedding cakes, their specialties include dessert buffets!  I, for one, would like to attend more events that feature dessert buffets.  I’m just sayin’!

Let’s break it down now!

Edibles Incredible Desserts / Reston Town Center, 11917 Freedom Drive, Reston VA & Brambleton Town Center, 22855 Brambleton Plaza #103, Brambleton VA / www.ediblesincredible.com

1. Price:  $3.75 and up.  These are on the pricier side of the spectrum, but they’re HUGE!  And they definitely are suitable for sharing .  Split it with someone and you’re looking at $2 per person.

2. Room temperature:  Depends.  Some flavors are in a cold case and others were on a baker’s rack behind the register.  Come to think of it, majority of the flavors were on the baker’s rack so your chances for a ready-to-eat cupcake are good! 

Cold Case

Baker's Rack

 

 

 

 

 

3.  Size: Jumbo!  These are pretty much on par with the Costco cupcakes.

4. Vegan or gluten free options:   There are a few gluten-free items on the menu to choose from (made with their “own proprietary blend of gluten-free flours”) and include Devil’s Food and Ginger Spice cupcakes, triple chocolate chip mint cookies, and chocolate chip cookies.

5. To-go packaging:  Interesting system they have at Edibles – each of my two cupcakes got their own Chinese take-out box.  To get the cupcake in/out – they put a long strip of wax paper underneath the cupcake, and then you pull up on the ends of the strip to lift the cupcake out of the box.  Never encountered this before, but got a kick out of the effective ingenuity.

6. Milk for sale?:  Umm…so,  I forgot to look again.  Darn!  I need an assistant! 

7.  Other treats for non-cupcake enthusiasts you may have in tow:   Oh my, yes!  Fudge, cookies, brownies, pies, cheesecake, pastries, and cakes…speaking of cakes, these looked amazing!   Some of the ones on display were humungous!  I would love to order one for a special occasion (about 25 flavors to choose from).  Their website says that they can do three-dimensional cakes, too.  I don’t think their trying to be the Ace of Cakes or Cake Boss of DC, but if you want a Maserati-shaped cake, they say they can do it!  A “special line” of ice cream is also available at the Brambleton location.

8.  Ambiance:   It’s a little small.  More of a fudge/candy shop atmosphere.  But at the Reston location, you’re really close to the outdoor fountain that has nice outdoor seating around it.

9. Service:  Very helpful!  She patiently helped me through my indecision and suggested the Strawberry Delight.  She steered me right, that’s for sure!

Final verdict:  Make room Top 10 list, the Strawberry Delight is moving in!

Edibles Incredible! on Urbanspoon

Duel at Dulles!

22 Sep

The other weekend, my husband and I got to hang out with our super cool cousin, Alexis, who also has a cupcake appreciation.  To commemorate her birthday, we thought a cupcake feast was in order!  So, we headed over to Dulles Town Center Mall (21110 Dulles Town Center Circle) where not one, but two establishments sell these fine confections and the “Duel at Dulles!” was born! 

Sweetz Bakery Kiosk

We arrived at the mall and did a preliminary assessment – located Cuppies & Beans, reviewed the inventory, scoped out the seating, then made our way upstairs to the food court to do the same at Sweetz Bakery.  By this point, I’m so ready for a cupcake that I suggest ordering three cupcakes each…at each establishment.  Thank heavens for my wiser company, who figured one cupcake each was sufficient! Our first purchase was at Sweetz, which consists of a kiosk / cold case filled with jewel-like cupcakes.  And an impressive variety, I might add.  Something about each cupcake packaged in its own little clamshell mesmerized me – they look very, very special this way.   (Note: they’re kept cold because the frosting is whipped cream-based.)  We each picked out a flavor, and walked away with a Butter Raspberry, a Chocolate Turtle, and a Boston Cream Pie.   

We took our stash downstairs to the table right by Cuppies & Bean, and selected the following three cupcakes: Choco Mocha, Cookies n Cream, and Chocolate Ganache.  The selection here favored the more traditional flavors, and not quite the variety that Sweetz offers. 

Once settled at our table, Alexis was designated cupcake cutter (it’s not easy cutting a cupcake in thirds!) and we dined on each treat, one by one.   And here’s what we have to say about that: 

First up:  Cuppies & Beans (since they were sold at room temperature).  

Cuppies & Beans Cupcakes

 The Cookies n Cream was yummy.  The frosting had a teeny cream cheese flavor to it, so it wasn’t overly sweet.  Then the cake almost had a muffin-like consistency.  This was S & A’s favorite out of the three from Cuppies & Beans.  The Choco Mocha was tasty – nice chocolate cake with mocha flavored frosting, topped with a coffee bean (speaking from personal experience, I don’t recommend eating that coffee bean).  Again, moist cake and not overly sweet.  The Chocolate Ganache cupcake was very rich and (appropriately so) chocolatey.  I personally really liked this one, the ganache was great.  Steve and Alexis liked it, but liked it the least out of the three.  All in all, their cupcakes tasted really fresh and yummy.   

Next up:  Sweet Bakery

Sweetz Bakery Cupcakes

(They went last since they’re kept in the cold case.)  We probably let about 20 minutes elapse from the time of purchasing to the time of consuming, and they were still a wee bit cold.  Despite the chill, they were still impressive.  The Boston Cream Pie tasted just like an actual boston cream pie.  I’m usually not a fan of that particular pastry, but am definitely now a fan of this cupcake!  The Butter Raspberry consisted of a butter flavor cake with a raspberry mousse-like frosting.  Now, I’m always a fan of mousse so you can probably guess how I felt about this cupcake.  Lastly, the Chocolate Turtle – chocolate cake and a light, but very sweet frosting.  It wasn’t bad by any means, but all three of us felt it was our least favorite.  Steve and Alexis picked the Butter Raspberry as their #1 and Boston Cream Pie as #2 (you could really tell that they’re related with their similar tastes!).  For me, it was a tie between the Butter Raspberry and the Boston Cream.  I must say though, that all three of the Sweetz cupcakes were very, very spongy and light. 
 
And then came time to crown a winner.  It was an honorable duel…but for Steve and Alexis, Cuppies & Beans came out ahead.  For me, Sweetz won me over with that super spongy cake and mousse-like frosting!  To top it all off (literally), they were really pretty – the sweet shade of pink and white whipped cream topping on the Butter Raspberry, then the cool white chocolate, star/swirl design in the Boston Cream Pie’s ganache topping.  So, I want to find room on the Top 10 for these two delights!
 
Either way, if you’re headed to Dulles you are sure to find a cupcake to suit your needs!
 
Here’s the break down (again, in dueling fashion!):

Cuppies & Beans (CB) / Dulles Town Center Mall (1st floor main entrance), Dulles, VA / www.cuppiesandbeans.com 

vs. 

Sweetz Bakery (SB) / Dulles Town Center Mall (kiosk in food court), Dulles, VA / https://sweetzbakery.com 

1. Price:  

CB: $2.79 

SB:   $2.86 / dozen: $36 

2. Room temperature:  

CB: Yes -ready for the eaten’ 

SB: Nope, you need to sit tight for a couple of minutes 

3.  Size:  

CB:  Standard (one of our three picks was a tad smaller than standard). 

SB:  A tad bit larger than the standard “standard” size.  But wait -they also have mini cupcakes!   I didn’t actually see them, but they are on the menu – $12 / dozen 

4. Vegan or gluten-free options:  

CB: A chocolate vegan cupcake was available the day of our visit.  You will find gluten-free chocolate, vegan chocolate, and vegan mocha express on their menu. 

SB: Gluten and dairy free, and vegan are available daily.  Gluten and dairy free flavors include vanilla, red velvet, chocolate raspberry, yellow chocolate, double chocolate, and strawberry shortcake.  Vegan is offered in either chocolate or vanilla. 

5. To-go packaging:   

CB:  We carried our cupcakes right to our table, but I noticed some brown and pink cardboard boxes that just may be used for “carry out”. 

SB:  Individual, plastic clamshell. 

6.  Milk for sale?:  

CB: Why, yes!  Which we enjoyed in a biodegradable cup (made from corn).  Kudos for that!  Sodas, coffee, and espresso based drinks (hence, the “beans”) were also available. 

SB: No, but you’re pretty much in the food court so you’re not really left high and dry…or thirsty. 

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

CB:  Not that I spotted. 

SB:  I was completely fixated on those individually packaged cupcakes and didn’t notice anything else.  Check out their online menu though.  It looks like they’ve got some great cakes (including wedding cakes), cookies, brownies, cream puffs, and “fluffy pancake mix”.  Yup, that’s right – pancake mix for $2! 

8.  Ambiance:   

CB:  Mall atmosphere, with two or three tables near by for those ready to chow down (like us)!  They have a groovy pink and brown theme going for them, with some nice pendant lighting above the counter. 

SB:  Mall atmosphere here too.  Being right by the food court, you have lots of seating available. 

9. Service: 

CB:  Super nice and helpful! 

SB:  Very kind and patient! 

Sending my sincere thanks and happy belated birthday to Alexis, for her fun company and respected expertise!

A Scientific Experiment of Sorts

8 Sep

This week, you’ll have to excuse my diversion from the typical review (but hopefully you find it to be an entertaining diversion).  I’ll be back on course again soon, I promise!

Last week, I had the pleasure of hanging out with my niece and nephew for the whole day.  Despite all the fun that was had, I also put them to work.  And by “work”, I mean participating in a blindfold cupcake taste test.  You see, over at Tysons Corner mall, there are two vendors selling cupcakes right across the hall from each other – CakeLove and Cinnabon (yup, Cinnabon now sells cupcakes too!)  It’s like a cupcake showdown, going on everyday right there at our local mall!  Something needed to be done about it, so here’s what we did…

My niece (8), nephew (5), and I looked at both inventories to find a matching flavor, and found that both CakeLove and Cinnabon sold a chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting.  We purchased two cupcakes of this variety from each store and headed home.

Once home, I blindfold my niece and nephew and lead them to the kitchen table.  I then unpacked Cupcake #1, put it on a plate, and guided their hands to the treat.  The feasting began and I jotted down notes of their impressions like “it smells good”, “i love chocolate”, and “it’s just delicious”.   Cupcake #1 was eaten quite fast.  Not a scrap to be found (which I was secretly hoping for).

My trusty participants

Next up, Cupcake #2 was placed on the plate and Round Two commenced.  More observations noted like ” really creamy frosting”, “it has a lemony flavor”, and “i need a drink”.  Cupcake #2 was not completely consumed by my test subjects (I took one for the team and finished the job) – was this because they were full or because it wasn’t as good?   

Well, before the big reveal I asked for their favorite and the choice was unanimous, Cupcake #1…which was purchased from….Cinnabon!

Interesting stuff here, considering Cinnabon’s cupcake was cheaper – $2.79 vs. CakeLove’s $3.25.  Another thing going for Cinnabon – their cupcakes were at room temperature (ready to be eaten), where CakeLove  instructed us to wait 10 minutes (their cupcakes are kept cold).  But, Cinnabon talks a big game, folks.  On their website, Cinnabon boasts that they make “the world’s best cupcakes!” and that “anything else is just a cupfake”.  I don’t know about you, but that sounds like some serious smack talk (or is it trash talk??)

Now CakeLove has a cool story behind it’s origins, and a lot more cupcake flavors to choose from.  And I really like that they bake from scratch using natural ingredients.  They have reason to toot their own horn, too – they were voted Best Bakery in 2009 by Washington Post’s Express

So, perhaps this posting will inspire your own blind taste test or to try out one of these two vendors.  Or maybe it will just provide a bit of guidance, should you happen to be passing these two dueling cupcake displays with kids in tow.  Whatever it may be, I hope you eat a good cupcake!

Thanks A & R for your hard work – great job!  Thanks C for allowing me to experiment on your kids!

Cinnabon (Tysons Corner):
Cinnabon on Urbanspoon

Grocery Store Cupcakes Need Love, Too.

31 Aug

And a particular cupcake at Wegmans has captured my heart.   For my birthday weekend, my husband surprised me with three cupcakes from this wunderkind of a grocery store.  I know Wegmans is it quite large (I favor cozy) and most often found in far & distant suburbs (not usually a fan of driving 20-30 minutes to grocery shop), but it really is a spectacular grocery store.  It’s like the grocery store equivalent of Busch Gardens. 

On Monday, Steve and I sat down  and feasted on these cupcakes.  The very first thing you notice about Wegmans’ cupcakes is the icing technique.  This was a new style that I’d never seen before…like little, individual mountain peaks covering the entire cupcake top.  After taking note of this and appreciating the overall cupcake decor, we dug in!  The “meal” consisted of a vanilla cupcake with chocolate icing, a vanilla cupcake with peach raspberry icing, and (the unanimous favorite!) a chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting.  This last one was YUMmy!  I might be drooling a wee bit just thinking about it.  The icing was heavenly, and the cake was very chocolatey.  The icing/cake ratio was right on.

 Since I didn’t buy these, the break down may be lacking in some areas.  I’ll give my best and then get Steve to fill in the holes.  Here we go! 

Wegmans / 11620 Monument Drive, Fairfax, VA / www.wegmans.com 

  1. Price:  $2 – that’s a deal!

 2. Room temperature:  These are kept at room temperature at the store, but should be refrigerated if you don’t plan to eat them that day (if you do hold off, I really admire your self-control!).  

3.  Size:  These cupcakes were a bit above average…let’s say they’re plump sized. 

4. Vegan or gluten free options:  I couldn’t get a final answer on this one.  Next time I’m at Wegmans I’ll be sure to investigate.

5. To-go packaging:  These were sent home in a plastic clam shell with dividers so it was sturdy cargo.   Don’t forget to recycle! 

 6. Milk for sale?:  Absolutely!  Any beverage your heart’s desire is on location.

 7.  Other treats for non-cupcake enthusiasts you may have in tow:   Craving Chinese food, pizza, or lasagna?  Their prepared food section is impressive.  Then there’s the sushi bar where you can hop on a bar stool and enjoy fresh sushi and some sake.  You can find just about everything here.

8.  Ambiance:   The ambiance at Wegmans is very different from other grocery stores.  The lighting is less flouresent and quite pleasing actually.  I’m thinking they might have a lighting designer on staff.  The aisles are much wider.  Pleasing wood accents abound.  There’s variety around every corner, each department has it’s own unique appeal.  The cupcakes can be found in the “patisserie” department.  If you’re ever in the neighborhood of a Wegmans it is definitely worth visiting!

9. Service: Steve said “Good.  She was a nice lady.”

Final Verdict:  I really loved that chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting!  And it was consumed two days after purchasing, so imagine how even more fantastic it would be on the day of.  This guy definitely places on the “Top 10”, landing in the #5 spot.

(I did some extra rearranging of the Top 10, realizing my favorites at Curbside Cupakes were deserving of the #4 spot!)

The Cupcakery That Ate Georgetown

19 Aug

Visiting Georgetown Cupcake, the subject of TLC’s new show DC Cupcakes,  has been something I was both anticipating and dreading.  There’s just so much hype orbiting this cupcakery that I feared it would cloud my objective.  Plus, I imagined the inevitable line would be somewhat disagreeable on a mid-August evening.  However, deep down I was dying to know – do these cupcakes live up to the frequent “DC’s best cupcake” proclamation?

My husband and I set out for this mission on Monday and arrived on the scene around 6:30 pm.  Enter the first obstacle we encountered on our journey – parking.  Driving down M St. has never been a cake walk, especially during rush hour.  So to navigate the swarms of cars and pedestrians into a (legal) parking spot is no easy feat.  Second obstacle – the line.  A fairly long line, out the door, too.  It probably took about 20 minutes to get up to the door.  Once at said door, we encountered a Georgetown Cupcake employee that some folks have deemed “the cupcake bouncer”.  This gentleman kindly passed out menus and fielded questions, like what the seasonal selections were this month (August = Ginger Peach and Cherry Cheesecake).  When the moment was right, he opened the door and allowed us to pass.  Third obstacle – quickly making your decision amidst all the commotion, beautiful confectionery, and dozens of hot and hungry people standing behind you.  No time to admire or marvel here folks, which is a shame because the cupcakes are certainly worth marveling at! 

The final obstacle may or may not be an issue for everyone  – seating.  There are a total of 3 tables inside the shop, and while they had a delightful, fresh floral arrangement on each, I got the impression that this was not a place to linger.

Steve and I made our selection of four cupcakes, in record time.  We were able to snag a corner table and eat somewhat removed from the masses.  Here’s what we experienced:

~Red Velvet:  I was pretty determined not to like this one, just because it’s so popular and again all that hype.  But, darn it all for winning me and my stubborn ways over.  It was soft and spongey, the red coloring wasn’t that awful stop-sign-red shade, and the frosting was a neat combination of butter cream and cream cheese.  It was topped with a petite, shiny lavender heart, which I thought was a cute touch.  (The “Simply Red” red velvet cupcake at Cupcakes Actually in Fairfax had similar adornment – I can see why these are popular at Valentine’s Day).

~Toffee Crunch:  A vanilla cake with surprise bits of toffee tucked throughout, topped with a toffee vanilla frosting and crumbs of Heath Bar.  This one I could take it or leave it.  I left it actually, after I had my bite, for Steve to finish off since he seemed to really like it.

~Cherry Cheescake:  This was one of the “seasonal flavors”, and its graham cracker crust bottom impressed me.  This was a new concept for me, and I really like it.  The cherry and mascarpone cheese cupcake with vanilla frosting made for a winning combination.

~Milk Chocolate Birthday:  I think it’s official, a vanilla cupcake with chocolate frosting is now my go-to cupcake.  Add a few colorful sprinkles on top and I’m 6 all over again eating birthday cake in sheer delight.  This was a good version, and I especially loved the frosting.  The cake wasn’t overly sweet so it was possible to eat the entire thing without feeling a cavity coming on.

Before I break it down, I feel the need to justify all the line-goers to those that pass by and scoff.  Yeah, it probably does look pretty nutty to see SO many people lined up for just a cupcake.  But that’s just it, it is JUST a cupcake, a $2.75 cupcake, which is a little piece of luxury that almost everyone can afford.  And now that these cupcakes are featured on a TV series, it adds even more value (and more excitement) to our purchase.  An article on this local hot spot, by J. Freedom du Lac in Tuesday’s Washington Post Metro section, discussed how we’re used to seeing people line up (even camp out) for iPhones and iPads and those all cost a lot more than $2.75.  If purchasing a small baked good at a pretty bakery can brighten up a day without putting a serious dent in your budget, shouldn’t that be something worth understanding?  Ok, stepping down from the soapbox now!  Let’s break it down now…

Georgetown Cupcake / 3301 M Street, Washington, D.C. (flagship store)/ www.georgetowncupcake.com / Additional location at 4834 Bethesda Avenue, Bethesda, MD.

  1. Price:  $2.75!  This was a surprise, given the all the fame surrounding this cupcakery as well as the affluent neighborhood.  I’ll take it though, and appreciate it – under $3 cupcakes are becoming hard to find.  Looking to buy in bulk?  $15 for half a dozen / $29 for a dozen.

 2. Room temperature:  Yes.  Actually…these may have been just a smidge above room temperature.  Or maybe I was still hot from standing in line?

 3.  Size:  Average.

4. Vegan or gluten free options:  None to be found on the menu.

 5. To-go packaging:  Pretty pink box with a graphic b&w sticker.  I loved the cupcake dividers, the nicest ones I’ve encountered, in that they keep the frosting above the dividers.  Loosing vital frosting on packaging can be discouraging.

Interestingly enough, you have to pay 50 cents if you need a box for a single cupcake, and you can choose to “gift wrap” an individual cupcake for $1.50.  Other to-go items:  I have a hunch that their utensils were those of the biodegradable potato starch kind, which gets a big thumbs up from me.  Napkins were no where to be found, so Steve had to ask for some.  Ask and you shall receive napkins!

6. Milk for sale?:  Yes!  They have that, soy milk, Izze sodas, teas, illy coffee (yum!), lattes, espresso – pretty much everything you’d expect at a cafe.

7.  Other treats for non-cupcake enthusiasts you may have in tow:    No, it’s all about the cupcakes at Georgetown Cupcake.  Their name isn’t misleading in the least.

8.  Ambiance:   If  you can see past the gobs of people, you’ll actually notice the interior is awfully lovely.  Hardwood floors, abundance of natural light, cleverly stacked silver cake stands to display the cupcakes, fun Warhol-esque art work on the wall, fresh flowers on the tables.  But the constant stream of people did leave the floors a bit untidy (it’s crumb city down there) and the table sort of dirty. 

9. Service:  They mean business at Georgetown Cupcake!  They’re efficient for sure, but they certainly didn’t seem like they wanted to chit-chat.  The whole process of standing in line and quickly ordering at the cashier made me feel like herded cattle…which I wasn’t thrilled about.  So, this got me thinking.  One of the reasons why I love visiting all these cupcakeries is, as I mentioned above, it’s a little sliver of luxury for me.  I step into each “boutique” and soak up the scents of vanilla, almond, and cocoa.  I admire the unique displays and sugary creations.  I enjoy all the colors of frostings and get excited about unique sprinkles or innovative cupcake toppings.  It’s inspiring and uplifting.  Maybe some people feel this way walking into Tiffany’s, a Porsche showroom, or even the Apple store.  They like to leisurely browse, try on, take a test drive, etc. of this exciting merchandise.  I find this excitement in cupcakes, which is why you will almost always find me ohhhing and ahhhing, waffling back and forth between flavors, asking questions about ingredients, admiring my surrounding, and so on upon entering a bakery.  At Georgetown Cupcake, I was deprived of this type of experience.  That sounds awfully dramatic, I know.  I’m just saying that having a tasty cupcake is very important, but having a tasty cupcake + an enchanting experience while purchasing and eating a tasty cupcake = me coming back for more!

Final verdict:  That red velvet really hooked me, so it will be sliding into spot #3 on the “Top 10”.  The “Milk Chocolate Birthday” was also a contender and can now be found in spot #7.

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