Friday, June 21, 2013

Cupcake Love or Hate?

Homemade (It started as a clock for New Year's Eve)

It seems like there are two definite camps when it comes to cupcakes: you either love them, or you hate them.  I am not ashamed to admit that I am a cupcake lover.  Cake, in general, is my favorite dessert mostly because I love frosting.  I was that kid at the birthday party who wanted the corner piece with all the icing flowers.  I still remember the day with horror that I discovered a cake with whipped cream frosting.  Why would you do that to me?

A hidden gem.  Almond joy bite baked into a vanilla cupcake with chocolate ganache but dry cake ruins everything.

Cupcakes have the potential to have the perfect cake to frosting ratio.  When they don't, it's devastating.  But far worse is dry cake.  My second job ever (if you don't count working for my parents) was in a bakery where I learned all kinds of horrifying secrets for cutting corners vs. good quality.  Most bakeries freeze their cakes before icing them.  If you start with an already dry cake, freeze it, ice it, and let it defrost before selling it, you have a nice block of sawdust.

A dozen from my old favorite.  Wish I had more pictures of what they looked like before.  These are actually pretty sorry looking to me.

I found the best little independent cupcake shop in Old Town a few years ago.  I loved the place so much, I had them make my wedding cake (not a cupcake cake by the way).  Shortly after, the owner sold to another couple who had done a good job keeping the quality the same.  A few weeks ago, A and I stopped in to buy a few and were devastated to find that the quality had really changed.  Hoping it was just an off day, we went back and bought two more, but no, the cake tasted like it was from a mix, and it was very dry.

Too little icing on the top cupcake, and the cookies and cream was just not moist.  Notice there is no glossiness to the cake.  The smores cupcake had too much going on: toasted coconut and a chocolate drizzle on top, an actual graham cracker sticking out from under the frosting, no noticeable marshmallow flavor, and the cake was dry.  Combined with the graham cracker, it was sawdust.

This really upset me.  When I get attached to things, I really have problems letting go (as my sister and mother can attest).  I remembered reading about a cupcake shop called Polkatots and went the very next day to pick some up.

So pretty!

Delicious cake, just the right amount of frosting, a really nice staff, and great cupcakes.  This is our new cupcake place for sure.

We tried to get similar flavors to do a true comparison.  No smores, so we chose the coconut, which had a subtle hint throughout the icing and the cake.  I love that the coconut on top is so fine and only lightly toasted, so the texture doesn't take away from the cake.  Moist and delicious.  The cookies and cream is frosted with cookie butter buttercream!  The cake is so moist it stuck to my fingers.

Pistachio.  Perfect frosting to cake ratio, notice how glossy the cake is showing the moistness, and the salty pistachios are the perfect contrast to the sweet icing.  Delicious.

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