Cupcake Battle Royale - Part 2
September 30, 2008
Don’t you love it when I tell you to “tune in” and then I proceed to disappear? I have great blogging ethic these days don’t I?
FYI: If you are too lazy to read this big long giant beast of a post, scroll down and check out the Pros and Cons cheat sheet at the bottom for a quick easy dummy’s guide to some truly fantastic cupcakeries.
However, if you are bored to death at work and would like to even further postpone your PTS reports by reading part one of this post, you can find it here.
Rest assured lovely chocolate peanut butter addicts, even though I ahem sucked at writing consistently last week, I’ve been in the kitchen a whole lot lately. I’ve actually been cooking more than baking which is a rare thing for me. It’s a bit more effort than I’m used to, but it’s really nice to be able to eat a satisfying, healthy meal for dinner and be able to take leftovers to work for lunch the next day. We now only resort to take-out once or twice during the week whereas before we were doing it a lot more. It’s amazing how much better you (and your wallet) feel when you eat your own home cooked food. I cooked / baked three things yesterday including this absolutely fabulous Smoky-Spicy Tamale Pie, a Chocolate Gingerbread Bundt Cake (OMG!!) and Peanut Butter & Co’s Peanut Butter Cookies with Chocolate Chips (Wooooo). But before we get to those tasty treats, I promised to elaborate on my insane cupcake bonanza last week, so here goes…
- ANALYSIS -
After eating a frightening amount of cupcakes in the last week, I think Magnolia has held up it’s stance as cream of the crop when it comes to chocolate frosting. I’ve never been crazy for their cake, but the frosting is so incredible it almost doesn’t even matter. Yeah it sucks to wait on line, yeah you might have to go against your “can’t be seen anywhere mainstream” policy and go to the popular place, but when you’re busy licking every last bit of their delicious chocolate frosting off your face, you’ll thank me.
LA DOLCE DIVAS
My friend Kate was kind enough to bring over a ton of La Dolce Diva’s cupcakes and despite my heroic effort, which consisted of eating 1 1/2 cupcakes a day for 3 days (and gaining 3 pounds in the process) I still wasn’t able to eat every single flavor. Of the ones I tasted, I really enjoyed the carrot cake and coconut. Here’s what I thought about their two peanut butter flavors:
Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcake
I’ve been curious about peanut butter and jelly cupcakes in general for a long while. Are they good? Does this old sandwich favorite translate in cupcake form? Thankfully it crosses over to the cupcake world wonderfully. This was one of the first cakes I ate out of the La Dolce Divas box and man was that decision a good one. The yellow cake was good and well supported by the tasty grape jelly and smooth peanut butter frosting. I think this might be my new favorite flavor of cupcake. I definitely will be making a batch of PB&Js sometime.
Chocolate Cupcake with Peanut Butter Frosting
I had a bite of the chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting the night she brought them over and remember being really impressed but didn’t get to polish it off until the following day. Sadly it didn’t hold up the next day - the frosting was still reeeeally fresh and moist tasting, but the cake got sadly dry and crumbly. However I can’t fault them too much for this since cupcakes are really treats to be eaten the day of, so I think I need to give it another whirl.
There was actually some controversy at CPBHQ over the status of Misha’s CPB cupcake. After tasting her other stellar cupcakes I expected nothing less than to be blown away. Those aren’t overly high expectations, right? Didn’t think so.
In the end, I thought it was quite good with some faults. Her icing was really tasty at first, but when being directly compared, was pastier in consistency than that of it’s competitors. I was also thrown off by the food coloring. Were you aware when looking at it that pic above was of a CPB cupcake? To me, peanut butter frosting should just be it’s natural caramel brown colored self. But this chocolate peanut butter cupcake had peanut butter icing tinted green. How is anyone that approaches a box of Misha’s cupcakes supposed to know that this is a peanut butter cupcake? Not to mention the danger this poses to all of the people out there with allergies. Also, I was looking away, not at the cupcake when taking a bite and suddently there was an unpleasant hard crunch, which turned out to be the decorative silver ball. While I think it looks pretty, after being unpleasantly surprised by it’s attack on my teeth, I could do without it. That will teach me to mindlessly stuff my face I guess. Shame on me!
I think this was the freshest batch of Misha’s I’ve tasted so far. They have to travel all the way from Florida to get to me, so they’ve either been delivered by hand (via plane) or by mail. I don’t know what kind of fat she uses, but whether it’s butter, shortening or magic fairy lard, these cupcakes actually get better and more moist as the days go on, while cupcakes from the other bakeries got stale and crumbly. How do you do it Misha. How?!
In contrast to my enthusiasm, Taste Tester actually ripped on this cupcake. He didn’t think there was much to it at all. He claimed that the only peanut butter in the whole cupcake was in the chips that were in the cake. I however think he’s wrong - I’m convinced that there was peanut butter in both the frosting and cake. Until I hear it from Misha herself I’m going to stand by my opinion.
I thought Buttercream’s peanut butter icing had a very smooth and similar consistency to La Dolce Divas, but thought the former was a little more pure tasting, smooth, buttery and peanut buttery. Their cake tasted good the first night, but went totally stale by the third day which is when I got around to fitting them in my gluttonous cupcake consuming schedule. I still ate them, of course.
- CONCLUSION -
Magnolia Flavors to try: Vanilla cake with Chocolate Frosting Pros: All the bomb frostings Cons: Average cake, you have to stand on line and look like a tourist
La Dolce Diva’s Flavors to try: Chocolate Peanut Butter, Peanut Butter and Jelly, Coconut, Carrot Cake, Red Velvet Pros: Great frosting and cake, plus it’s in NJ which automatically makes it more awesome. Cons: Got stale after a couple days, failing to defy science and last forever or until I was ready to eat it. WTF?
Misha’s Cupcakes Flavors to try: Chocolate Peanut Butter, Red Velvet & Marble Cake Pros: Very moist cake, good peanut buttery frosting (though slightly over sugary and mildly pasty) Cons: Are all the way in Florida and not next door to my apt, slightly over sugared and mildly pasty frosting, weird silver balls decorating them that are unpleasant to eat when accidentally ingested by unsuspecting gluttonous individual.
Buttercream Flavors to try: Vanilla Peanut Butter, Chocolate Peanut Butter Pros: Really delicious, smooth and peanut buttery frosting Cons: Good but not great cake, didn’t have an SNL skit written in their honor.
After all this comparing, contrasting, taste-testing, note-taking and weight-gaining I’ve decided that it’s not really all that important to choose a favorite cupcakery. The bottom line is that grumpy New Yorkers are lucky to have Magnolia to brighten up their hectic days, Florida has two fantastic bakeries to pick from and NJ is one step closer to ridding itself of it’s reputation as a crap state. It’s always good to have some variety, so try them all!
As a bonus for reading that big long blog post, here’s a recipe from Serious Eats for Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes. Yay!