Second chances are important. Chefs change. Recipe change. Owners change. Good thing too; an unfortunate by-product of the food industry is that everyone - quite literally - wants a piece of the pie. Or wants to make the pie, no matter how good or bad it may be. Channels like the Food Network and the exponential proliferation of celebrity chefs have glamorized this world to the point of glossing over the every real blood, swears, screams and red-faced rending of garments that so often courses through commercial kitchens like some sort of supercharged life-blood.
And so, everyone wants to make that pie. Such was the case with cupcakes earlier this decade, when everyone and their dog was opening a cupcake bakery. This perplexing obsession with small sweets defied logic and held on for an impressive tenure. Marlow Moo and I even sought out the best cupcakes in the city, and found that the competition was woefully deficient. Garneau-based Whimsical Cake Studio fell somewhere in the middle of the pack. Forgettable at best.
There was little reason to return until baker extraordinaire Darcy Scott assumed the reins this past winter. Those unfamiliar with her handiwork would do well to visit her shop quickly; this is not the work of the bakery's previous owners. Case in point: cringe-worthy Red Velvet has been usurped by Vanilla Velvet. This version eschews the namesake food colouring (that imparts little other than a crimson hue to the batter) and allows the full spectrum of heady, fragrant vanilla to shine.
This is an enviable cupcake. Moist crumb, slightly chewy cap, judicious crown of ever-smooth cream cheese icing that actually tastes of cream cheese, rather than some murky and not-quite-identifiable edible oil product. God forbid. Nearly microscopic flecks of vanilla bean are speckled throughout. Each bite balances the correct ratio of cake to icing. Really, this cupcake alone is reason to revisit Whimsical.