Well, if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that Sunday of last weekend was the day Middle Chip and I had been waiting for: Cupcake Crawl 2011!!
And here it is, in all its recap glory…read on for cupcake gluttony!
Middle Chip and I did not embark on this adventure alone. We were joined by two family friends, also sisters, who are almost exactly our ages. Our fathers went to high school together, so we’ve grown up attending one another’s milestone celebrations and visiting on holidays, despite the fact that they live about an hour away. The four of us have a shared love of all sorts of sweets, and when a tour of some of New York’s finest cupcakeries was proposed…well, are you surprised Middle Chip and I were all over that idea?
Our first stop of the day was in the West Village, an adorable place with a devious name: Sweet Revenge.
Sweet Revenge actually markets itself as a cupcake, beer, and wine bar (I know), so their menu lists all of their recommended pairings based on the flavors of your chosen cupcake. They have both bar-stool seating and an assortment of tiny, cute tables–we were feeling casual, so we opted to pull up stools at the bar (we also knew we’d be taking tons of photos, hah).
Check out their display case: the Crimson & Cream, which is a raspberry red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, and the Mayan Chocolate, a cinnamon chocolate cake with cinnamon chocolate buttercream. Did I almost press my face up against the glass? Why yes.
My first cupcake of the day was the signature house special: the aptly named Sweet Revenge. It was a peanut butter cake filled with a chocolate ganache core, frosted with peanut butter fudge and sprinkled with some roasted peanuts. Hooooly peanut butter, Batman.
Now, I am a Frosting Girl–I can eat the stuff with a spoon, straight, no cake necessary. So, understandably, the frosting to cake ratio of this peanut butter behemoth was a delightful surprise. I was surprised that they called it a “peanut butter fudge,” though, because to me the taste and consistency were a lot more like buttercream–quite sweet, whippy, not too thick. Despite the semantic confusion, the frosting was definitely my favorite part of the cupcake.
The cake itself was (sadly) a tad dry–it crumbled a little bit when I split it with my fork and had trouble supporting its granddaddy of a frosting dollop. The ganache core was delicious–and was a nice chocolatey complement to what was a very peanut buttery cake–but it was, weirdly, colder than the rest of the cupcake. It stayed in its little core shape and didn’t really meld with the surrounding cake, which meant I wound up eating most of the ganache in solitary bites rather than integrated with the rest of the cupcake experience.
Middle Chip picked the Dirty: a Valrhona chocolate cake with dark chocolate truffle frosting, dusted with cocoa powder. Not for the faint of chocolate heart.
I tried a bite of this and even I was surprised by the intense flavors of the bitter dark chocolate. It was delicious, for sure, but I don’t know if I could have consumed a whole cupcake’s worth. (Plus Middle Chip and I both agreed–the liberal amount of cocoa powder dust upped the bitter ratio by about a billion percent. Definitely a taste you’ve got to be looking for, and we were both a bit so-so on it.)
Does any of this mean we had any trouble finishing our cupcakes? Heck no.
The favorite cupcake from Sweet Revenge was unfortunately not captured in a close-up photograph! Our friend chose the Mayan Chocolate cupcake (I got a side view of them in the refrigerator picture, above), which Middle Chip and I both sampled. Verdict: I am going back to Sweet Revenge and having that cupcake. No ifs, ands, or buts. Wanna come? Good, it’s a plan. The cinnamon/chocolate combo is a total knockout.
Stop number two took us back uptown a bit into the Greenwich Village area, to (the original) Magnolia Bakery.
If you’ve ever watched Sex and the City, Magnolia Bakery is the shop where Carrie and Miranda get cupcakes in this episode(and Sarah Jessica Parker has actually been seen there a lot as well!). They have a few locations in New York, but since this is the original there’s usually a line around the corner (like there was on this particular Sunday). Then they let a few groups in at a time to pick their goodies (and get out before someone elbows you in the face).
Middle Chip selected the more traditional vanilla cupcake with vanilla buttercream (and sprinkles!), while I opted for the chocolate cake and chocolate buttercream (the mid-bite version is pictured at the very top of this entry. After my peanut butter explosion at Sweet Revenge, I needed some chocolate to balance it out! That’s mathematically sound, right? Exactly).
The four of us headed to a little park across the street, where we grabbed a couple of benches and made a picnic snack out of our cupcakes. One of our friends’ assessments? “Buttah. Like buttaaaaah,” which she then translated to mean that this buttercream didn’t skimp on its eponymous ingredient.
Middle Chip voiced her preference for Magnolia over Sweet Revenge–she said she found her cupcake moister and liked the icing a lot better. I definitely agree with her about the moistness of the cake, although my two cupcakes had such different flavor combinations that it’s difficult to dub one “better.” I think I’d say that Sweet Revenge is more of a “gourmet” cupcakery–we didn’t do the pairings since it was 4 pm on a Sunday, but I definitely plan to order a glass of wine or a bellini the next time I’m there! So I’m not surprised the cupcakes are a little fancier. Magnolia, I think, appeals more to the bake sale cupcake kid in all of us.
Stop number three took us across town to Crumbs, which has become totally ubiquitous in New York but can’t be left off a list of sugar coma-inducing baked goods. (Plus, their cupcake of the month for July is S’mores, which is Middle Chip’s favorite cupcake possibly ever.)
It was fun to see all of the summer cupcake decor Crumbs had set up, but we were in for a not-so-pleasant surprise–they were sold out of the S’mores cupcakes! Middle Chip was super disappointed, and I didn’t want to get something for myself when she wasn’t going to be able to get her favorite, so we wound up leaving empty-handed.
Originally, our Cupcake Crawl came to an end after this trio of cupcakeries. But after the Crumbs letdown, I took myself and Middle Chip on a little detour on our way to the train…
We stopped at Baked by Melissa!
Now, I’ve postedabout these little quarter-sized beauties before, but Middle Chip had never sampled them. We got a sampler box of six, three each: I chose s’mores, peanut butter and jelly, and cookie dough, while Middle Chip went for s’mores, cookie dough, and red velvet (yes, we are indeed sisters).
I was glad I could cheer her up from her Crumbs disappointment–she loved hers! My minis (pictured above) were as sweet and perfectly bite-sized as I remember from last time. Thanks to Baked by Melissa for helping us end our day on a high note rather than a low one!
The verdict? Cupcake Crawl 2011 was a huge success. Middle Chip and I (and our intrepid fellow cupcake tasters) are already planning our next adventure…perhaps an Ice Cream Crawl? Thoughts??
(An editorial note: Today, July 17th, is actually Middle Chip’s birthday! Happy Birthday to my wonderful sister. <3)