Crazy for Cupcakes
This, my friend, is a Sprinkles Cupcake. It was my introduction to the premium cupcake craze. And what an intro it was. Large, not overly sweet, top quality ingredients, proper icing-cake ratio. Their French heritage came through with each delectable bite. Light, moist, these are cakes that dreams are made of. Red Velvet, a Southern staple with cream cheese frosting, was so satisfying, might make ya wanna smack your mama. (Not really, that’s just a Southern saying…)
If you listen to this quick media clip,you’ll get one framework for cupcake crit. Julia Mosskin of the New York Times lays out the types of cupcakes and frostings that demarcate the camps, as well as a primer on NYC cupcakes.
And when I began to look into the cupcake craze, I learned about Magnolia in NYC. Becks and Posh shared a Brit’s eye view here. Interestingly, her chief complaint is the cupcake to icing ratio. I’ve no clue what a Fairy Cake is, but I’d bet I’d be a fan. Just don’t tell Magnolia’s owner, Jennifer Appel the “Don Corleone” of NYC cupcakes. After a bitter dispute between Allysa Torey and Appel, the two original partners, the buttercream battles in the other big apple spawned many a cupcake bakery.
Read the dishy story here. Hard to know without being a NYC resident what the current state of the cupcake wars is, but I’ll see what I can find out. Didn’t they know the “Sex and The City” bus tours were the kiss of death?
Now, I’ve been asking Candace Nelson from Sprinkles (no teeth-gnashing cupcake wars out there…) to come East. I believe expansion is planned in this area. It gives Kickass Cupcakes a little time to establish their hold. And a little time might be needed.
I requested Kickass samples to review for you, my readers. (A tough job, but someone’s gotta do it.) Since they deliver (a great plus!) and I seldom make it to the PRC (Peoples’ Republic of Cambridge) I called and asked if they could simply tack on a delivery when they were already in the neighborhood.
The call came, the cakes arrived. Among the flavors were The Mojito, S’mores, Cinnamon Chai Pecan Caramel, two different chocolate cupcakes and one, vanilla. Take a look at the staff from this blog about the marshmallows used on top of the S’mores. (Warning: loose scarves and blowtorches do not mix!)
The cupcakes that were my favorite were the Mojito (upper right – though the rum flavor was very mild) and the S’mores (lower right). The SuperChocolate was beautiful but did not compare to the other chocolate one with the striped confections. One or two (maybe three?) were much too dry. The icing to cake ratio was off as well, on a few of them. I was surprised, then, to learn that the owner, Sara Ross, worked at Dancing Deer, which is a phenomenal bakery. I’ve never tasted a single item of their’s that was not beautifully executed. (see sidebar for a Dancing Deer link.)
Kickass is still new and from my research some aspects (service) have improved while others are clearly still being tweaked (the rum flavor profile.) My recommendation is that each of these should continue to be worked on. People will pay a premium price, and even put up with sullen or curt service, but only if the product is worth it. Moist, flavorful cupcakes that deliver in taste, visual appeal and value – that would truly KickAss. I’d even cross the river for them.