Friday, November 20, 2009

Cupcake Review

I dressed up as a Cupcake Queen (or fairy, depending on how you look at my costume) for Halloween this year. The cupcakes in the photo are ones that I made especially for Halloween--Caramel Apple Cupcakes.

Imagine: an apple cupcake, frosted with a caramel cream cheese icing, and topped with a mini caramel apple (with tiny toothpick sticking out of it). They were brilliant and tasted really, really good. Next year I might take a stab at making my own caramel or putting caramel in the middle of the cupcakes.

My point is, of course, that I make really tasty cupcakes (I promise I have testimonies to back me up!). And there aren't really tasty cupcakes to be found commercially in Fayetteville. So when I heard that Bliss Cupcake Cafe was opening in our small town, I got excited. Cupcake shops are something that one usually finds in places like New York City or Washington D.C.

Bliss opened yesterday afternoon; since I was at work, I did not get to experience it directly, so I will only be giving a partial review based on the cupcake that was brought to me. (I plan to go experience for myself and post another review in a week or two.) I got the Pumpkin Maple cupcake: a pumpkin cupcake topped with a maple buttercream and a few toasted pecans. Lance got the Cinnamon Toast, and JH got the Chocolate Marshmallow. They told me that it was a long wait because it was busy, but I'll blame that on opening day problems--I'm sure they'll get it figured out.

Lance tells me that both the Cinnamon Toast and Chocolate Marshmallow were a bit crumbly on the cake--he wanted a moister, denser cupcake. Some folks like the crumby cake, but I prefer a tender, moister crumb myself. The marshmallow topping was really, really good, but the chocolate cake itself was fairly standard. The cupcakes were a bit small but definitely fresh.

My own cupcake--the Pumpkin Maple--was pretty tasty, but while I was eating it, I kept thinking of how my own cupcake would be better. I've made pumpkin cupcakes before, and the ones I've made are full of flavor while still being moist and a little more substantial. The cake was very moist and tender and light as a cloud--but I felt it could have offered more on the flavor end. It disappeared too quickly and didn't encourage careful, contemplative bites. I've made pumpkin cupcakes before, and the ones I've made are full of flavor while still being moist and a little more substantial. I like a cupcake that you can savor, and the cake was too airy and not flavorful enough to do that.

The maple frosting was good in concept--but I'm not a huge fan of buttercream (all sweet, not much flavor); I think a maple cream cheese frosting would have actually been better on this particular cupcake. Since the cake itself was so airy and insubstantial, a heavier and creamier frosting would have balanced it out. The pecans on top was a nice touch, though cinnamon candied pecans would have taken it up to the next notch. My overall impression of this cupcake was that the flavor was too subtle, the sweet was the major note, and it disappeared far too quickly.

Lance, JH, and I think that Bliss definitely has some potential--but they need to work out their kinks. Apparently some of the cupcakes overflowed their cups a bit or were flat--signs that the bakers didn't vary how much they filled the cups based on which recipe there were using. If we're paying roughly $3 for a cupcake, we want something special. And I want something that would inspire me to play around in my own kitchen. I look to the Cupcake Bakeshop blog for inspiration for the kinds of cupcakes I would pay good money for (I'd probably pay $4 or more for one of hers!), and I just don't know if Bliss is at that level. I will, of course, be trying again in a week or so after some of the opening kinks have (hopefully) been worked out.

Any readers try out Bliss Cupcakes? What are your thoughts?

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