Wednesday, March 26, 2014

BCupcakes - Winter Park, Florida

Spring has finally arrived and with spring comes festival season! The Winter Park Art Festival took place this past weekend and my mother and I decided to attend. On the way to the festival, I noticed a cupcake bakery I had never seen before (which isn’t surprising considering how little I visit Winter Park), BCupcakes. A few days after the festival, I went back to check out just how BCupcakes stood up to the competition.

The variety of cupcakes available ranges from traditional vanilla and chocolate to 21+ flavors like Kahlua, Baileys, and Rum Snowball. Along with the traditional Red Velvet, I decided on the German Chocolate cupcake.

When I bit into the red velvet cupcake, the first thing that stood out was the creamy texture of the cream cheese frosting. It was a great balance between sweet and creamy. The cream cheese flavor was not too overpowering but could definitely stand on its own compared to any other cream cheese frosting I have tried. I was so impressed with the creamy texture of the frosting and the taste of it, I didn't think to pay attention to the cake.

Unfortunately, I knew almost right away this wasn't the red velvet to rule them all. When I took the cupcake out of the box, it felt harder than necessary, almost burnt. When I took my first bite of the cake alone, the cake was very dry. The bottom was a bit spongy, but overall it was a letdown in terms of texture. It was almost as if the cake had dried out during the day, which may be factual. The taste was okay, however it lacked the traditional chocolate flavoring I have been searching for.

Sadly, my search and confusion continue.

Price: $3/cupcake
Cake: heavy, dry, overcooked
Icing: Creamy, smooth, not too sweet, not overpowering in cream cheese taste
Decorations: Simple
Overall: 3/10 sprinkles

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Cupcake Fairies - New Orleans, Lousiana

After the hullabaloo that was my brother's engagement party, I was treated, by him, to a cruise to Mexico. The cruise departed from New Orleans, Louisiana giving me an opportunity to explore another city in my attempt to find the perfect red velvet cupcake.

My journey took me to the French Market in the French Quarter area of NOLA. The market was lively and filled with scrumptious scents, from traditional Louisiana dishes to sweet deserts, including cupcakes!

I found a booth for the Cupcake Fairies, a local establishment specializing in cupcakes in a plastic cup.

Red Velvet Cupcake in a Cup
According to the Cupcake Fairies legend, "two very special magical fairies create unique, beautiful, and delicious cupcakes for your pleasure. Using the finest ingredients, we craft moist, seriously addictive cakes topped with rich, creamy frosting. Cupcake Fairies offers personalized service, and we guarantee that each handcrafted cupcake is a delicious reflection of your event theme. Delivered fresh to your door, our cupcakes offer you a unique way to celebrate and share. We deliver magic to offices, homes, special event locations, birthday parties, or anywhere you want cupcakes." Their specialties also include the traditional King Cake served during Mardi Gras season. I was interested to see how that was worked into cupcake form, but there were none on display at the French Market location.

The cupcake looked delicious with layers of frosting and cake. I was very excited to open it up and dive in with my spoon, but when I took off the top, the top layer of frosting came off with it.

While this caused me to hesitate, it did not stop me from completing my test. I tasted the top portion of the frosting and was hit with a blast of sugar. I instantly felt more awake but was disappointed the bakers didn't use a traditional cream cheese frosting for the top. The frosting itself was sweet and smooth, much like a traditional birthday cake icing or frosting. When I tasted my first bite of cake, I was greeted with a bread-like denseness that I was not expecting. There was also a dryness to the cake that was surprising. I did find a hint of chocolate, which was pleasant. Once I broke through the first layer of cake I was welcomed by the traditional cream cheese frosting hiding in the middle layer of frosting. It was creamy and smooth, though the cream cheese flavor was a bit over powering.

Overall, I felt that the idea of a cupcake in a plastic cup was novel and I enjoyed the concept. The cake itself was okay. It was beat by the sweetness of the icing and the surprise of the cream cheese center. In the end, I was left still craving that classic light and fluffy red velvet cupcake.

Price $5 cupcake in a cup
Cake - dry, heavy, almost like bread/Hint of chocolate
Icing - more like sweet frosting/icing with middle layer of cream cheese, slightly overpowering
Decorations: none
Overall: 5/10 sprinkles
Website: Cupcake Fairies Website/Cupcake Fairies Blog

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Sweet! By Good Golly Miss Holly - Orlando, Florida

A few weeks ago my family celebrated my older brother's engagement. The party was small and intimate with family and very close friends. What the party lacked in population, it made up for in food and drink. The quantities of both were easily twice the number needed for the amount of people we had...but I digress.

During the entire party, I found myself gravitating to the dessert table. It was filled will goodies from far and near. Baklava, Indian sweets, chocolate cake, s'mores cookies, and of course cupcakes! My mom had the foresight to get mini cupcakes from Sweet! By Good Golly Miss Holly, the leading cupcake bakery in Orlando, Florida. I've always meant to try the cupcakes from this THREE TIME Cupcake Wars champion, but never got the chance. Luckily my brother's engagement provided me with the chance.

Miss Holly makes a variety of classic and original flavors (see full menu here). There varieties also include gluten free and vegan recipes. She has two locations, the first in Orlando and a second in Jacksonville, Florida.

Hollis's career started with a "sweet beginning". "Hollis' career as a chef took off when Max Mutchnick (the creator and producer of Will and Grace, as well as other major television shows) "discovered" Hollis. It was with his encouragement and connections that a star was born. She began cooking for the biggest television shows and celebrities in Hollywood. Her client list read like an invitation to the Oscars with names such as Demi Moore, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, The Osmonds, Michael Jackson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Annette Benning, Bruce Willis, Warren Beatty, Jay Leno, The Rolling Stones and even Mikhail Gorbachev!" 

(see Hollis's full story here)

My first exposure to Sweet! was on Cupcake Wars on the Food Network. It was her first time and I was proud a Floridian won the competition. That was when I committed myself to visiting her establishment. When I saw her mini cupcakes on the dessert table, I noticed there was a great representation of the variety in her cupcakeries. My eyes went straight for the red velvet minis though, duh! I could not wait to try it.

Mini cupcakes from Sweet! By Good Golly Miss Holly

The red velvet cupcakes stood out from the crowd. The contrast between the white cream cheese frosting and red color of was so strong, I knew I was in for a treat.

Red velvet mini cupcake

When I finally got to try the cupcake, I noticed right away the light, fluffy texture of the cake. It felt nice and spongy, but not too airy when I took my first bite. The frosting was soft and creamy. With the addition of the chocolate flakes, it added to the quality of the taste. After a few seconds, I noticed I didn't taste any chocolate in the cake.


I didn't really know what to think. Maybe the cream cheese was overpowering the cupcake? I decided to take a bite of the cupcake itself, no frosting. Still no chocolate.

Now, in my mind a traditional red velvet cupcake is a red chocolate cake. Was I wrong? After all, this cupcakery won Cupcake Wars three times! They have to be good, right?

I decided I had to do some research. Now I know Wikipedia isn't always used as a valid source for research, but I thought in this case it would be okay.

According to Wikipedia's Red Velvet Cake page "Red velvet cake is a cake with either a dark red, bright red or red-brown color. It's traditionally prepared as a layer cake topped with cream cheese or cooked roux icing. The reddish color is achieved by adding beetroot or red food coloring. Before more alkaline "Dutch processed" cocoa was widely available, the red color would have been more pronounced. Common ingredients include buttermilk, butter, cocoa, and flour for the cake, beetroot or red food coloring for the color."

Apparently the cocoa was missing from this batch of mini cupcakes. I'll have to go back and see if their normal cupcakes are true to the traditional red velvet flavor. 

Until then, I can only say I'm slightly disappointed and confused.

Red velvet a little dressed up

Price: $2.50/cupcake; $1/mini cupcake
Cake: Light, fluffy, moist
Icing: Soft, sweet, could taste cream cheese
Decorations: simple
Overall: 5/10 sprinkles