Thursday, September 2, 2010

Let Them Eat Cupcakes

It’s no secret that I love cake.  I especially love cake in the cup form.  Perfect bite size morsels of chocolate, moist goodness topped with sweet and cheerful, (thank you food colouring!) icing.

Therefore, I gave myself a mission to find the best cupcakes in New York City. I love giving myself assignments.  Especially food ones, because, like vacations, work assignments do not have calories!

Mr. Mop embarked with me on my cupcake adventure - you thought the pink bike was cute?  Check this out!  

Mr. Mop sat happily in the front basket as we wheeled down Brooklyn's tree-lined streets - I so wish I had rode a bike in BK earlier, it is positively the best place to cycle at my leisurely pace.  And there are no hills.  

Back to Mop.  The wind blew threw his ears making them stand up on end.  He loved it!  Well, until I lost my balance and/or he tried to jump out which sent the bike flying as I jumped off to catch my beloved dog before I ran over him.  I scooped him up as three bystanders came to my rescue, gathering up my bike, my purse, and, unfortunately a sadly crumbled cupcake.

So we will judge this cupcake first.

This cupcake is from Baked which is top of the list to any NYC in the know cupcake conniseur.  I couldn't believe I had never had one before!  Then again, it's quite a mission to get there.  Unless you have a car or a bike there would be no reason or ability.  Red Hook is a weird area.  Mostly old warehouses and factories from the days when tycoons used Brooklyn to get themselves rich due to the fact this area is right on the water.  They have a promenade with an amazing view on Lady Liberty and a super cool grocery store.  But that's about it.

Oh and crabby ladies who yelled at me on my bike.  I still don't know why but I yelled at her to 'leave me the hell alone' - sometimes I am so New York

And of course Baked, and their famous cupcakes.

This place is packed in the morning.  I have no idea where these trendy people come from because there appears to be no housing around the area.  My expectations were set very high.

Baked gets kudos for decor and creative baked goods.  The 'Brookie' is a chocolate chip cookie baked into a brownie.  Ummmm, YES!

They also get price points:  $2 for a cupcake. And nice service, iced coffee and air conditioning.

The cupcake?  Meh.  It was okay but not the best cupcake I have had in the city.  And certainly not worth the ride out to the somewhat dodgy area.  But that could have been the fact it was somewhat squished and I was sweaty.  

Damn sweat, it always gets in the way of my eating.

Located in the East Village on one of my favourite eating streets, 7th Street.  

I had high expectations due to the adorable website and cute music. Plus, like Baked, it rates high on NY mag lists.

The shop is cute, clean and you get a ton of simple choices.  Like your favourite cake flavour and your favourite icing flavour.  I was supposed to get chocolate on chocolate, or vanilla cupcakes to keep the playing field open.  But I couldn't resist the coconut icing because coconut icing rocks.

Thoughts?  Again, meh.  First of all, the service was terrible.  One of those places that makes you feel like a loser for entering their awesome domain.  Maybe I hit them on an 'off' day.  The cupcake wasn't exactly dry, but it had a dryish texture.  It was weird.  Also, they come in at $3 so on the higher end of cupcakes.  Except now that I write it, that doesn't seem to be too much. 

I still encourage you to check out 7th for all the amazing restaurants and shops - just head somewhere else for a cupcake!

Next we have to very famous Magnolia Bakery made famous because of 'Sex and the City' and the fact it was pretty much the first bakery to jump on the cupcake trend. Oh wait, that means Magnolia started the cupcake trend.

These cupcakes are sadly, meh.  And my 'meh' is actually pretty  good. Cupcakes are the same as pizza for me, even if they aren't that great they are still pretty yummy.

I believe Magnolia was excellent several years ago when the blonde cupcake lady was still in charge.  I had one in 2004 and it was amazing in my recollection.  Plus the Village location is adorable.  But then blonde cupcake lady sold the business to someone else and now they are overpriced, manufactured-tasting concoctions.  There are several locations in Manhattan to serve you and they are under $3 - so that is good!  If you are hell bent on a SATC experience, head to the village, snap up a vanilla cupcake and sit on a bench.

The other chain of cupcake stores that dot Manhattan (as well as parts of California) is Crumbs.  

At Crumbs they have the basic cupcakes that are normal size but are fairly pricey ($4.50) and they are pretty good.  But if you are trekking to Crumbs, you want to try their larger cupcakes that come in fun flavours.  Like Cookies and Cream - which has crumbled oreo and cream cheese icing with two oreos shoved on top.  It is quite delicious.

I also enjoy the Blackout that is stuffed with chocolate buttercream mixed with ganache and then iced with more ganache.  It's A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. It is also huge and not exactly easy to eat whilst walking through Union Square.  These are less cupcakes and more large cake desserts.  So perhaps not exactly on the cupcake tour that I am taking you on.

Now I am sure there are still more cupcakes to go, but I had to stop somewhere.  My legs were suffering from the friction of my thighs rubbing together in the heat.  

But I did save the best for last.

Sugar Sweet Sunshine located on the Lower East Side on Rivington (so bonus points for being in my favourite area).

Now this is the cupcake bakery that I would return to again and again.  So should you!

First off, it's cosy and adorable.  Secondly the staff are super sweet and lovely - I talked to them about cupcakes for about a half an hour.  They gave me samples of all the different flavours so I could try their range.

And it was good.

The cupcakes are moist, sweet and taste JUST LIKE GRANDMA made them!  Like I thought I was 6 years old again at my birthday party when I bit into the chocolate cupcake with vanilla icing. Happy memories tickled my tastebuds.

All for $1.50!  A DOLLAR FIFTY!   I thought she had made a mistake.  

My lovely baker made me try the Bob - a yellow cake with almond buttercream icing.  I thought that would be a weird combo but it was AMAZING.  The almond added a lovely flavour and cut the sweetness from the cupcakes.  

I took home a Sunshine, the basic yellow with vanilla buttercream, and Black and White done Right, chocolate with vanilla buttercream.  They were so delicious and happy and wonderful that I actually wiggled my toes in utter satisfaction.  I can't stress enough how great these cupcakes are!  They taste homemade (which they are) and are filled with love :)

Honourable mention:
Babycakes a vegan bakery on the LES that uses no sugar!  But it's not fair to compare a sugar-free cupcake with a sugar-filled one.  They are pretty good for being good for you - in fact they are pretty damn good. And expensive.  

I just ate a nectarine.  It was sweet and juicy but it wasn't a cupcake.  

Now I am on the mission to find the best cupcake in Vancouver before cupcakes go out of style (they are on the 'out' list).  And the best cake.  And burger.  Cheese.  Dumplings.  Coconut buns. Really, the list just goes on.

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