Monday, September 15, 2014

Sweet Ava's - Tampa, Florida

Today I got a treat at work, one of my co-workers surprised me with a red velvet cupcake from Sweet Ava's bakery. I was actually given a choice between three cupcakes, but once I saw the red velvet, it was pretty much a no brainer. I have to saw that there is nothing better than a red velvet cupcake on a Monday morning at the office. Seriously.

Looking at the cupcake, I was happy to see it was the old-school size for cupcakes. I noticed recently a lot of cupcake bakeries are going with the bigger sized cupcakes and it's slightly overwhelming. I'm going to admit, I'm not a big fan of the giant "regular" sized cupcakes. I always try to go for the minis these days, not only are they cheaper but they aren't as filling so I don't feel as guilty for eating one (or more).

So I took my first bite of the cupcake and was greeted with a nice creamy frosting. It tasted more like a vanilla butter-cream than the traditional cream cheese frosting often paired with the red velvet. The icing did pair well the with the cake though. The frosting added a sweetness that was lacking in the cake itself. The cake was slightly dry and dense and like I said, didn't have a certain sweetness that I have come to expect from the red velvet flavor. I could taste the cocoa though, which was a very pleasant surprise! The cake was also extremely red. Now I'm not a huge fan of using artificial dyes in food, food coloring is not my best friend, but I understand that in certain situations, one must use a little bit of coloring. There are always alternatives, but everyone doesn't always have the luxury. With this being said, I have come to notice that most red velvets are a darker red, almost a chocolate red. This cupcake, however, was a real red. It looked like the red of Hawaiian Punch or lipstick. It was a little unnerving to me...

Red Velvet Cupcake from Sweet Ava's
Overall I was pleased with the red velvet cupcake from Sweet Ava's. It wasn't exactly the best cupcake I've had, but it definitely wasn't the worst.

And so I go, onto the next one!

Price: $3.50/cupcake
Cake: dry, dense
Icing: light, sweet, creamy
Decorations: simple
Overall Rating: 6/10
Website: Sweet Ava's

Thursday, September 4, 2014

MNKafe - Mombasa, Kenya

Another throwback post today! On my way back from Uganda I decided to take a few detours, namely some countries in Africa as well as some countries in Southeast Asia. My first stop in Africa was Kenya.

Now, I was in Nairobi for a few days before hitting up Mombasa, so I decided to try and find a cupcake bakery there. I went online and did a search on Google to try and find a place. I happened upon a custom cupcake bakery and tried my hardest to find it. After hours walking and searching for this cupcake bakery that turned out to be order only, I finally found Cake City. Unfortunately there were no red velvet cupcakes so I tried a chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting with almond shavings. The cake was slightly dense but it did not take away from the integrity of the taste. The chocolate frosting was very creamy and smooth making the density of the cupcake barely noticeable.

After the failed attempt I my my way to Mombasa. I wasn't deterred though, I did another search on Google and found a bakery called MNKafe. The website promised an array of choices of cupcakes, so I was quite excited to try it out. Unfortuantely, Mombasa isn't the easiest place to navigate when you don't know KiSwahili. It only took a failed car ride and a tuk tuk (rikshaw) that cost a fortune to find this cafe in Mombasa. Luckily they had red velvet cupcake!

I was a bit skeptical at first given the epic failures in the past. No other red velvet cupcake was true to the name, lacking in the essential chocolate flavor.

Red Velvet Cupcake and Oreo Cupcake from MNKafe

The cupcake was nice and moist, the frosting airy and light (more of a whipped cream) so my hopes soared. To my great surprise I was actually greeted with a chocolate flavor! It wasn't very strong but it was definitely there! I was very excited about the idea that there may be red velvet cupcakes that were true to tradition!

I have to say, this cupcake rejuvenated my mission to find the best red velvet cupcake around. Let the hunt continue!

Price: 100 Kenyan Shillings (about $1.15) per cupcake
Cake: moist, airy
Icing: light, whipped cream
Decorations: simple
Overall Rating: 8/10