Friday, November 28, 2008

Cupcake challenge!

So this is a little late, but.... Kris and I went around Chicago for our own little cupcake tour. I made it my mission to find the best Red Velvet cupcake in the city. We went to Molly's Cupcakes, Sweet Mandy B's, Twisted Sister and More. We got more than red velvet, of course. Who am I to pass up sweets?

Our first stop was actually Chicago Cupcakes on Briar, but they were closed. I was pretty disappointed since their website was the most visual... But I should have looked at the hours. It is pretty clear they weren't open on Sundays. :(

We went to Molly's next. Kris and I each had a cupcake to eat there and then we each took home 4 more.
The shop is very cute and there was actually a few tables to sit at. We managed to get a table once we were done ordering, which was perfect timing.
I had the Carrie's Campfire, which was a chocolate cupcake topped with marshmallow fluff, hot fudge and graham cracker crumbs. It was good. Although I could have done without the graham cracker crumbs, but that is totally my personal opinion. :) The chocolate cake was great. It was very rich and moist. And I heart marshmallow fluff.
I took home a banana caramel cashew cupcake, turtle cupcake, tiramisu cupcake and a red velvet.
I had the banana caramel cashew later that day, it was okay. The banana cake was again very moist and had great flavor. It tasted more like real bananas than that fake candy banana flavoring that some have. I'm not sure what the frosting was supposed to taste like, but it was bland and really greasy feeling. I ended up taking it off. The caramel filling was really rich and I couldn't finish all of it, so I saved the other half for later.
My mom had the turtle and my dad had the tiramisu. They liked theirs, but offered no help whatsoever for me to give to you. Kris had the tiramisu for home too and she said that it really did taste like tiramisu cake, so that's got to be good right?
More on the red velvet later...

So next was Sweet Mandy B's. It was a really tiny space. We had a hard time actually being able to see the display case to see what we wanted. I gave up and ordered a strawberry muffin and a red velvet cupcake. Honestly, I really wasn't too impressed. It was cramped and unorganized. The strawberry muffin was not good at all. It was actually undercooked. I took a couple bites out of it and it tasted floury and doughy. When I pinched a piece together, it stretched instead of stuck to my fingers. Not good.

We went to Twisted Sister next. Even though Kris insisted there was always parking available, we went up and down the streets until we finally found parking about 6 blocks away. Being that it was so cold and we were walking against the wind, it sucked. But it was worth it when we got there. Kris did her internship there so we got to chat with everyone and it was nice. The place itself is really cozy and there was alot of sitting room for a smaller place. I got a red velvet cupcake, a mini fruit tart and warm caramel apple cider. Yummm.... The apple cider was so good. Tart and not too sweet. The fruit tart was phenomenal. They had a thin sweet dough shell that was a little less than an inch thick. The shell was filled with pastry cream. Real, fresh, vanilla beany pastry cream. A great difference from the tarts that just have a thin layer of the fake stuff. On top there were fresh strawberries, kiwi, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries. When I bit into it, the pastry cream didn't all fall out, thankfully, but by the time I got halfway through it, it was all over my fingers. Which of course I didn't mind b/c then I got to suck it all off. Yum.
Later, Kris brought me one of their banana tarts. The shell was hard to fork into, but it was decent. The caramel was a bit different tasting and I'm not sure I liked with with the tart, but to each their own. Kris made some of her own a bit differently this past weekend and we shared one. It was much better than the stores. Sorry!!

Lastly we went to More. I got a red velvet, bacon maple and salted caramel. First, the salted caramel. The frosting was bland and waxy, so I took it off. The cake waas dry and tasteless. The caramel tasted like the caramel from taffy apples more so than real salted caramel. Kris liked it, but I was def not impressed.
The bacon maple. Hmmm..... bacon maple..... I really liked this one. The frosting was again, bland and tasteless, so it came off, but the cake. They folded in real pieces of bacon into the batter. The texture was more like a scone than a cake or muffin, but it literally tasted like pancakes and bacon w/ a hint of maple syrup. It was delicious. I savoured it for a good 20 mintues before work the next morning. Which made me near late to work, but oh well. I didn't want it to end. The prices were too much for me to want to go back, but I am now determined to find/make my own recipe for them. Determined.

On to the red velvet cupcakes.
I had a hard time picking my favorite. So I'll start with the ones I didn't like.
Twisted Sister. I'm sorry Kris, I know you love them, but the cake was too buttery and really heavy. The frosting, which is the most important part to me, was too sweet and very grainy, like you can feel the powdered sugar grinding against your teeth. It didn't even really taste anything like cream cheese. I was really disappointed.
Sweet Mandy B's. The frosting, just like Twisted Sister, was grainy and too sweet and didn't taste like cream cheese. The cake wasn't bad. It was the only one that actually tasted like chocolate, rather than just buttery. B/c of the chocolate, the red part wasn't as bright red, but it was still yummy, and honestly, I think that it is okay not to be bright red. It was a burgundy color and that's good enough, right? :)
More. Hmmm... More. Well, honestly their red velvet was the only one that I ate all of it, as opposed to just the cake or half of it. The cake was moist and buttery. There was def no cocoa flavor in the cake. The frosting was smooth and creamy and tasted just like cheesecake.
Molly's. Probably my favorite. The cake was buttery and moist like More, but a bright, almost pinkish red color. No real flavor, just very rich and buttery. The frosting was smooth and creamy again, but had even more of a cheesecake taste to it.

In all honesty, I would rather make my own cupcakes than pay $4 a piece somewhere else. But it was a fun trip.

If anyone has a good bacon maple cupcake recipe, let me know!


kristine said...

you forgot to mention that i was the one who made that wonderfully delicious fruit tart from twisted sister! i am convinced that the banana and fruit tarts are not gonna be as awesome since i left.

NikiTheo said...

Haha, yeah probably not! That fruit tart was delicious! So was the banana tart you made last weekend.

Anonymous said...

Cool blog Niki.
Greetings from Greece.

Ivy said...

Sorry I haven't visited for a while. I've been very busy with BloggerAid. Hope you can join us. It seems that you had a great time.