Three cupcake shops. One bakery. Six cupcakes. One muffin. This has been an eventful cupcake day. Before we get to the details, a quick note: I decided to cut each cupcake down the middle and only eat half of each one. (This is to ensure that Cupcake Day doesn’t lead to Diabetes Day!) Otherwise, I wouldn’t have made it through the day! These cupcakes were really rich!
Scoring for each cupcake will be five points for three categories (Packaging, Appearance, and Taste), for a possible total of 15 points per cupcake. Since I will judge two cupcakes per shop, each shop might be able to score a grand total of 30 points. I will award winners for best shop (overall score) and best cupcake (highest scoring cupcake for taste and appearance alone).
Let’s begin with some photos of the competing pastries.
First up: Classy Girl Cupcakes
I have to admit: when I walked in, I thought I’d be greeted by a Classy Girl. Instead, I was greeted by Bored Hipster Dude. I decided to order “Peanut Butter Delight” and “Cookies and Milk.” Bored Hipster Dude grabbed both cupcakes roughly and slung them into this plastic container that looks like what cheap cafeterias use for salads. In the process, he chipped the icing of the Peanut Butter Delight, breaking a major rule of cupcake culinary connoisseurs: respect the cupcake.
I couldn’t understand such poor packaging. One cupcake would slide all over the place. Two cupcakes were squished. Any more would be a disaster. Who thought of this terrible packaging?
Total price for two cupcakes: $4.50
The Peanut Butter Delight:
The wrapper peeled away nicely, revealing wonderfully moist chocolate base. Even topped with a peanut butter cup, the peanut flavor was not overpowering. Some might think this meant it didn’t have enough kick, but I actually liked that the peanut butter flavor compliments the chocolate cake, rather than overpowering it. It had a pleasant aftertaste.
Milk and Cookies:
The wrapper peeled away easily, although the cake was tough to cut into. It was crumbly, like a cookie (which had its advantages and disadvantages). The icing tasted like generic vanilla, almost like a Walmart cupcake. It was not as fresh as the other cupcakes. The tiny chocolate drops in the cake kind of make it taste like a Chips Ahoy cookie. The cookie on top tasted almost like raw cookie dough. Rather than adding a “milk” element, the icing seemed to take something away from the consistency of the cupcake. I found myself drinking more water than usual to get rid of the aftertaste.
Total score for Classy Girl Cupcakes: 16 out of a possible 30.
Next up: Miss Cupcake:
Total cost of two cupcakes: $3:64
When I walked into the store, I was greeted by the lovely owner (recognizing her from the information on her website. ). There were so many amazing choices, but ultimately I went with “Fluffer Nutter” and good old “Vanilla.” Unlike Bored Hipster Dude, she handled the cupcakes like a museum curator delicately moving artifacts of antiquity—precisely how cupcakes should be handled! The packaging was in a cute pink box that held the cupcakes snuggly so as not to topple over while giving them enough room so they wouldn’t be squished.
Vanilla (on the left). The smell was like sweet heaven. A huge mound of icing. The wrapper wasn’t too tough to remove. It was like like slicing into butter.
Amazing, fluffy, light, airy icing that melted on the tongue. The nuts added a nice texture that complimented the vanilla. The aftertaste was astounding, like a creamy macadamia nut/vanilla. I wanted to eat a bite, let it melt into my mouth, and just sit back and contemplate the mysteries of the world in perfect cupcake nirvana. This was not a cupcake to be devoured, but to be savored. After eating half of this cupcake i was completely satisfied.
Another huge mound of icing! The smell wasn’t as strong as the vanilla—almost neutral. I removed the wrapper without any cake sticking to the sides. Cutting into this cupcake was very satisfying, especially with the surprise filling! I loved the texture of the cake: the outer edges were crumbly, but the inside was soft! The filling was a peanut buttery/caramel, much like the Butterfinger cupcake, except not as gross (see review below). Once again, the icing was out-of-this world: creamy, and somehow managing to be light and thick at the same time. (That’s the best way I can explain it.) Unlike the Classy Lady Peanut Butter Cup, this one had a bit of an overpowering aftertaste (but again, not as bad as the dreadful Butterfinger cupcake.)
Total Score for Miss Cupcake: 24 out of a possible 30.
Grace and Shelly’s Cupcakes
Total price for two cupcakes: $6.23
The selection here seemed a little smaller, but the cupcakes looked like they were more unique. The packaging was easily the best of all store, with the cupcakes receiving their own individual compartments within the excellently designed cardboard box for maximum protection:
I opted for the Smore and Butterfinger cupcakes.
The smell was amazing—perhaps the best smelling cupcake of the day. It was fairly easy to get the wrapper down and surprisingly easy to cut into. The marshmallow, chocolate, and graham cracker combo for the topping was fantastic! Rich, dark chocolate combined with gooey marshmallow goodness. Unfortunately, the cake itself was rather dry and without taste. it seemed almost like a bran muffin flavor, but lacking any punch. This is definitely a tale of two cupcakes: fantastic topping, disappointing cake base.
I was surprised by the lack of smell here, considering the ingredients and the wonderful smell of the Smore cupcake. It was easy to cut through, with a surprising little filling that dipped into the cake itself.
It had a STRONG peanut butter and caramel taste, very much like the Butterfinger candy, but perhaps to the cupcake’s detriment. Yet another bland vanilla cake base—almost like an attempt at angelfood cake. Even worse, it didn’t quite mesh well with the topping for my palate. Subsequent bites were way too sweet. Imagine a weak angelfood cake topped with a ground-up Butterfinger paste. (Yes, the icing tasted more like “paste” than frosting! Perhaps this is why it tasted so odd.) This wasn’t bad as in poor quality, but it just wasn’t a pleasant taste for a cupcake. (I used to laugh when judges on Cupcake Wars used the phrase “overly sweet.” How that anything be too sweet? I love sweets! Well, this cupcake fits the bill. I actually didn’t even want to finish the half that I cut for myself.) Perhaps this would appeal to kids who REALLY like candy.
Total score for Grace and Shelley’s Cupcakes: 23 out of a possible 30
I also had a muffin from Regina’s Bakery (they didn’t have cupcakes!), but it was so bad that it’s not even worth rating!
Here are the final scores:
Best Cupcake Shop:
Miss Cupcake: 24 of 30
Grace and Shelley’s: 23 of 30
Classy Girl: 16 of 30
Best Cupcakes (only scoring taste and appearance, out of 10 possible points)
Vanilla (Miss Cupcake): 9
Smore (Grace and Shelley): 8
Fluffer Nutter (Miss Cupcake): 7
Peanut Butter Delight (Classy Girl): 7
Milk and Cookie (Classy Girl): 6
Butterfinger (Grace and Shelley): 5
Overall Taste Scores by Cupcake Shop (for those who don’t care about packaging or appearance):
Miss Cupcake: 8
Classy Girl: 6
Grace and Shelley: 5
The clear winner here is Miss Cupcake in every category. (They were even the cheapest!) Grace and Shelley’s had great toppings, but the cake bases were bland, which threw off the balance. Classy Girl had balanced cakes that were consistently above average, but not memorable. They need to give their flavors a boost, have a little more care in their handling and packaging, and be sure not to serve cakes that might be dried out.