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Friday, 8 July 2011

Search for the Holy Grail of Cupcakes

I have often wondered about the staying power of cupcakes. Are they a childhood treat reborn or are they the Paris Hilton of the dessert world - famous merely for being famous. One could ponder reasons behind their popularity until the cows come home. Or, one could go on a cupcake quest with a cow: Edmonton's favourite bovine, Marlow Moo. We (we being me, Marlow and the brains behind Food, Foodball and a Baby) criss-crossed Edmonton, stopping at six cupcake bakeries. Alas, Sweet Krumblz and Hey Cupcake were closed for the long weekend and were excluded from the analysis.

Quite the task ahead! Marlow's body mass and then some in cupcakes.

Our plan was simple: retrieve both a chocolate and vanilla cupcake from each bakery and rate them on the cake (while considering moistness, lightness, flavour, texture, density, sweetness and whether it represented its flavour properly), icing (while considering the same components as for cake), and whole MOOnit (while considering mouthfeel, flavour, whether icing plus cake were complementary or contradictory, and overall composition).  Full credit to Marlow for devising the MOOnits, I must add.

Ethereal chocolate and vanilla cupcakes from Delish. The winner, hands down.

Long story short (please read Marlow's account of our day for even more detail), we rated cupcakes from Big City Cupcakes, Delish Custom Cakes & Sweets, Whimsical Cake Studio, Fuss Cupcakes, Flirt Cupcakes, and Crave Cookies & Cupcakes.

Lovely chocolate and vanilla offerings from Crave, our runner-up.

Delish consistently scored highest, with Crave a slightly distant second. We were, on the whole, rather surprised at the rampant low scores; we had anticipated a day of agonizing over which was best. Rather, we encountered a multiplicity of issues that included odd aftertastes, dry cake, crusty icing, "phony" flavours, overkill sweetness, and very skewed icing:cake ratios, to name a few. We were seriously wowed, at least, by Delish. Since conducting our analysis, I've already been back several times to sample other flavours.

Below are three graphs depicting the breakdown of scores for chocolate, vanilla, and combined choc/van tally, where L is me, E is Marlow and M is Food, Football & Baby. (Click on each to view larger version)

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