Friday, October 24, 2008

What's Up With Cupcakes...

Sometimes New Yorkers tend to be a bit snarky (a witty mannerism, personality, or behavior that is a combination of sarcasm and cynicism). One fine day, we were walking down the street and I overheard someone say, "I just don't get cupcakes, what's the big deal?". Of course, the popularity of cupcakes was being called into question by someone residing in New York City. How typical.

Let me share what the big deal about cupcakes is, they are delightful little manageable treats. Cupcakes are portion control at it's finest. Cupcakes are portability at it's finest. Cupcakes need no forks or utensils. Cupcakes need, two free hands, one to peel back the paper wrapper, one to place up to mouth, and one open mouth ready to indulge.

Why in the world do we need to get down on cupcakes, I think they are brilliant. 

So where did I indulge in cupcakes on my New York City getaway? Two places, but I have a third cake experience to throw off the competition. First, the Magnolia Bakery was literally a stones throw away from the place where I was staying. And the crowds were completely unbearable. Every time we passed by, morning, noon, or the wee hours of the morning, drones of people were spilling out of the space. And at their West Village location, the cupcakes are out on the shelves, you hand pick them yourself. Which seems wonderful from a logistical point of view, but I will throw into that reality, EWW- gobs of people breathing and potentially handling my cupcake. Not so much thank you. The eve of my departure I wandered into the Magnolia Bakery in Rockefeller Center, was served right away and purchased a few cupcakes to go. The cupcakes were behind glass for the record. The employees, well they were robots. 

The second bakery where I indulged in the portable dessert, was Billy's Bakery. Now Billy's on the other hand was bustling, but delightfully so. Talk about a kid in a candy store, their layer cakes were stacked beyond my wildest imagination. The employees were beyond friendly, I actually wanted to hang out with a few of them, even when ordering at about 9:45 at night, fifteen minutes before closing on a Sunday. Not one crabby stare down, but rather some very happy employees. Funny enough, on my first visit a few days prior, I was chatting up some lovely NY Police Officers out front, who wouldn't let me buy them a cupcake, but I had a feeling they may inquire for my phone number. It was funny and I regret not getting a photo of that moment. 

My third cake experience, was a beautiful slice of Coconut Cake from Balthazar's bakery. This cake proved why cupcakes have taken the lead in the portable dessert department. I didn't bother to grab a fork, so the three of us just went to town on the cake right out front on the street. I had the meringue frosting and coconut all over my face. My hands were covered in the smooth and rich filling, but it was worth every chuckle and stain. 

And the results? Well, Balthazar won it hands down for me. I regret not indulging in the layer cakes at Billy's or Magnolia's. I know a little unfair of me. The Balthazar cake was moist and delicious, it had a beautiful meringue feeling frosting, like nothing I have ever tasted before. In the cupcake department, my first choice is Billy's. Their cake was moist and the balance of the sweetness of the buttercream frosting was just perfect. For taste testing purposes, I always eat a vanilla cupcake with vanilla frosting. I found Magnolia's cupcakes to be delicious as well, but just a tad too sweet in the frosting department. It tasted as if I was spooning confectioner's sugar straight into my mouth. 

Overall any disappointment, no way! Loved them all. Loved the atmosphere and employees at Billy's hands down. I highly recommend a stop by the next time you are in West Chelsea! Oh and the cupcakes are very well priced, $2.25 at Billy's and $2.50 at Magnolia's. I have paid $2.75 for what tasted like a cupcake from a box in Denver before, which wouldn't even compare to these!

Next time I am in NYC, I must seek out Crumbs. I missed that one completely.Although J has mentioned they boldly opened one just doors down from my Beverly Hill's favorite, Sprinkles. So many little bakery gems, so little time!

Here enjoy a laugh to go, sorry it's not a cupcake...

20 comments:

  1. oooh, now I want cupcakes for breakfast!

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  2. I truly love cupcakes. Loved hearing about your cake adventures!

    My husband ate a pink fluffy desert in NYC in 2001 and we tried to find it when we went in 2005...he can't remember where he had it! He just knows it was the best dessert he has ever had....

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  3. And now I want a cupcake. Grrr.
    ;)

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  4. Great Heading Picture!! One of the best i've seen yet :)

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  5. That looks so yummy! You've made the best argument for cupcakes yet, even though, like you said no one should have to defend cupcakes. :)

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  6. I am with you on the cupcakes, but sometimes I feel like portion control is the problem. When I have PMS like there is no tomorrow I want about 10 and that is just not socially acceptable. So, perhaps a whole cake is in order for those times. Keri

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  7. i am a cupcake fanatic. while i was living in the city hubby (then boyfriend) was a few blocks from magnoalia (before i got big) we would head to dessert there many a night. YUMMMMMMM

    Buttercup bakery is owned by the other lady who started the original magnalia, and they are delish. not as good as magnolia but up there.

    for our wedding we had cupcakes, magnolia does not allow you to order more than 60 a day - so we went to buttercup and had to get a courier to pick them up. It was perfect !!!!!!

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  8. Ha! I love that photo of you!! I agree with you about cupcakes. Loved them as a kid, love them as an adult. What you said was true and I'd also like to add they make you feel like a kid again. I will definitely keep the cupcake bakeries in mind for next time. Great post!

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  9. I think it is Sprinkles that we have in Dallas and I was disappointed. Kinda too sweet and dry. But I love you even more for doing a cake tour. You really need to have a bus next time and invite me.

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  10. Magnolia and Billy's Bakery are way way better than Crumbs. You missed nothing.

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  11. Oh that's not fair. Now I'm craving a cupcake like nobody's business.

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  12. You know me love cup cakes. I know your not a fan but seen as i can't get to either coast happy cakes will have to do for me! Maybe one day...

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  13. Yep. Sprinkles is a big deal here in SoCal. Maybe I should go?

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  14. How can anyone be down on cupcakes...you should have slapped that woman! Now I want one, no two;)

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  15. mmmmm... cupcakes... good thing I just made some yesterday, this post is going to drive me to go eat one!

    and i agree, magnolia is a bit to sweet. very good, yes, but SWEET. haven't had one from billy's yet...

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  16. I'm a NY'er who loves cupcakes. The next time you are in the big apple try coming to brooklyn. Right over the BKLYN bridge there is a bakery called Almodine. These oversized chocolate cupcakes are heavenly.

    And I'm impressed--other than these you found the best our city has to offer.

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  17. So now the question is, what's your favorite Colorado cupcake place? I like Mulberrys and Lovely Confections, but I haven't been to any of the others. And I don't think I've ever met a cupcake I didn't like!

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  18. My family has cupcake tastings whenever we encounter a new place in nyc. I agree with your assessment of magnolia - the icing is too sweet. We love Billy's Bakery (I am generally a white/white person too, but next time you MUST try the banana bread cupcakes at Billy's - the best ever). Crumbs is so so, but you may also like the one's at Amy's Bread (ninth ave. in the high forties and, i believe at chelsea market). While you're at chelsea market, you can also try some of the best brownies you'll ever try - fat witch brownies. Another "portion control, easy to eat treat".

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  19. Thanks...now I'm craving cupcakes! Haha, but really, those places sound great. :)

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