Friday, July 9, 2010

Cupcake Critique: Baked by Melissa

Baked by Melissa is one of those places that people have constantly been talking about and who wouldn't get excited by the promise of yummy, bite-sized cupcakes.

All the chatter piqued my interest, and when exploring their mouth-watering website, I noted you could order cupcakes for delivery but the minimum quantity was a 100 cupcakes. I certainly do love cupcakes - but a hundred of them?! These must be really good cupcakes.

I finally got the opportunity to venture to Soho and trial these renowned goodies last weekend. The store is by Broadway and Spring and more of a booth than a store - you could easily miss it if you weren't on a cupcake crusade. They offer a handful of flavours including Peanut Butter and Jelly, S'mores, Tie Dye and are approximately the size of a quarter. We got a box of 6 that included Red Velvet, Cookie Dough, PB&J, and Tie-Dye.

First off the bat - I wish we could have had more! They were fantastic -  Sweet little bites of heaven.  Furthermore, because they were so tiny, they unlocked a secret to my understanding of the perfect cupcake formula; entice not overwhelm. However they are so small you feel you need at least 6 to experience them completely.

Now back to my formula, technically they did not have a basic vanilla buttercream flavour and so it would be unfair to compare them to the others but their closest option was the tie-dye which was light, sweet with a delicate dribble of frosting.  Here's my review:

Here are some pics to tantalize your tastebuds:

Their website is also must-see! I particularly love their 4th of July cupcake flag concept!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Cupcake Critique: Magnolia

Magnolia is probably one of the most famous bakeries in New York after being approved by Carrie Bradshaw and featured daily on the Sex and the City tours. There's speculation that they are arrogant and that the SATC Tour is dropping them but I'm not here for the gossip - I'm here for the goodies.

Magnolia's cupcakes have undoubtably the best texture - feather light and melt in your mouth - it's like a little taste of heaven. The icing unfortunately lets the whole magic down - big time. It's not that the icing tastes bad, it's just that there is so much of it and it is so so rich. Too rich. Too much. It doesn't balance with the lightness of the cookie and takes the whole fun out of eating the cupcake because you almost feel nauseous after you've tried to eat the whole thing. (p.s. don't try eat the whole thing)

If you don't go for the cupcakes at Magnolia, please do yourself a favour and try the banana pudding. It'll change your taste buds.

Magnolia, your buttercream cupcake can eat this:


Friday, June 18, 2010

Cupcake Critique: Sugar Sweet Sunshine

Sugar Sweet Sunshine. I had heard so much about it. People are especially passionate about this one so it was quite fortuitous that we were in the area after brunch. A large group of us made the pilgrimage to the famed store on Rivington and crammed inside. The store has charm with a gorgeous chalk board giving you fun justifications to eat cupcakes. This set the mood for a perfect cupcake and Sugar Sweet Sunshine did not disappoint. Certainly the best cupcake in my crusade so far - light yet deliciously flavourful and definitely the best icing in my journey to date.

Here's the score:

126 Rivington Street
New York, NY 10002-2300
(212) 995-1960

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Randomness and late night typing: Insomnia

Heavy eyes and tired limbs yet my mind buzzes like the neon on the Las Vegas strip. Thoughts inside rattling like a creaky door. Why can't I sleep? The exhaustion filters out any semblance on the images running through my head and so I lie, confused and frustrated, watching this movie randomly reel on. Insomnia leaves me cold in the warmth of my blankets. Insomnia leaves me dazed during the daylight. A bright light in the dark womb of midnight. Insomnia does not leave me.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Cupcake Critique: Crumbs

Crumbs. Crumbs.
Uber-creative with their decorations, mouth-watering flavours and clever with their tasting mini-cupcakes, Crumbs should a staple. Unfortunately, their icing is waaaaaay too much and there's just something about the cookie that I don't like that I just can't put my finger on. The cookie is very dense and very rich and so that's probably it and so unfortunately I find their plain vanilla average.

However, don't rule out Crumbs all together. Their other flavours are fantastic. I have tried the tasting tray and enjoyed most of the flavours although generally can say that the icing is super rich.

Crumbs, here's your rating:


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Cupcake Critique: Two Little Red Hens

So, first step on my journey - research, research, research.
What I have found out early during my cupcake crusade, is that New Yorkers in general are exceptionally spoilt for choice and are very opinionated about their cupcake preferences. You ask one person for their favourite cupcakery and soon you'll get someone else jumping in and proposing another. People are loyal to their bakeries and will give you a hundred reasons why their cupcakes are better than the others. Word of mouth = constant job.

Furthermore, I am a bit of a Google geek and no crusade could be considered a crusade unless I've poured through searches and online reviews. That's what brought me to the bakery of this first review, Two Little Red Hens. To say people raved about the place on multiple online review engines, is probably to underestimate the level of passion for the place. So anyway, excited about a new place, I headed to the Upper East Side and purchased a box of cupcakes.

Before I even continue, I must mention that I measure the make of a good cupcakery by it's plainest offering - the vanilla/buttercream option. To ensure fairness, this mission will compare like with like and I will only moderate vanilla cupcakes at this stage. Once all the vanilla buttercreams have been evaluated and a clear winner is announced, shall I move onto a new flavour fetish. Ok, back to the Two Little Red Hens.

So, let's set the scene - it was a beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon. We took our cupcake laden box to Central Park and unwrapped the sweet treat while we sat watching the tennis courts. The first impression was good - plain and simple. Little coloured dots scattered the surface of the icing. I bit in and expected to lose myself in light buttery goodness but unfortunately there was some kind of taste that didn't mesh with me. The actual cookie and it's icing was not sweet. It was not.. just... not... *Sigh*

Two Little Red Hens, here's your score:

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Pursuit of the Uber-Cupcake

Once you'll get to know me, you'll soon learn that I am a foodie. Obsessed with food, the enjoyment of exploring all your senses with delicious dishes, and yes, pursuit of finding the best places to eat. Since my recent relocation to the Big Apple, I have made it my mission to explore and taste all that the city has to offer, and since I am especially passionate about cupcakes - I have decided to focus here on the pursuit of New York's best cupcake.

You may question my aptitude for this mission and whether I have the skills and qualified tastebuds to take on this mammoth task - but fear not for I am an ardent baker and am know exactly what is required to make people's eyes widen with surprise and glee and how to titillate their tongues. So please join me on my journey across the Big Cupcake!