The Search For the Perfect Cupcake

I know it's been a while since I've posted (forgive me) but I'm so excited to tell you about, and launch, my new project.

All over the blogosphere you'll see people reviewing food, fashion, restaurants, neighborhoods- the works. One blogger whom I follow pretty regularly, Erica's Sweet Tooth, has been doing a bakery tour of the 5 boroughs where she visits all sorts of bake shops and samples everything they have to offer ranging from cookies, cake, bread, rice krispie treats and even cronuts. Her posts are wonderful and they've inspired me to hit the streets.

While I'm a big fan of everything dessert, my weakness is cupcakes (duh). This morning on my way to work I gazed longingly at rows of perfectly arranged cupcakes in some of my neighborhood's bakeries. And just like that, it hit me! I needed to try all of these cupcakes, figure out which was "best" and more importantly I definitely needed to share my findings with you. Voila! The Search For the Perfect Cupcake was born.

This isn't a revolutionary project, nor is it likely the first one of it's kind, but as a lover of icing, cake and the perfect balance, I knew I had to take this on.

I'll be starting this week and will be visiting the following bakeries over the course of the next several months. I'll test one cupcake every other week (gotta be mindful of the waistline) and will post its score for all to see. At the end of my travels, I'll decide on a winner and will hopefully inspire everyone to try some cupcakes along the way.

Bakeries to be visited
You may notice that two well known NYC cupcake shops are missing from my list: Magnolia Bakery & Crumbs. The reason behind this omission is that I've already tried both of these and don't think they are anything special.

Magnolia is probably my least favorite cupcake in NYC. The cake is dry and the frosting is overly sweet- and that's saying a lot from a self proclaimed sugar addict. Crumbs is a different story. I'm actually a fan of their cupcakes and think their specialty flavors really set them apart. However, their size is just a turn off for me. They are so big that it's almost impossible for me to even buy one without feeling guilty, and their large scale distribution makes it feel more corporate than cozy. 

The Score Card

I will assess these cupcakes on a set of serious qualities. 
  • Cake- this is obviously a key component in the perfect cupcake. I like the cake to be moist but still have a nice crumb. Anything too dry completely ruins a cupcake for me and too dense, I get overwhelmed quickly. I'm like the princess and the pea and I make no apologies.
  • Icing- I think we all know my dedication to icing. In my opinion, the more the merrier. But it has to be more of the right kind. Too many times I have delved into a slice of cake, or a cupcake, only to be met with fake buttercream (the kind that leaves a waxy coating along the roof of your mouth) or GASP whipped topping. Real butter is the only way to go, and lots of it.
  • Icing Ratio- There's nothing worse than getting to the fifth bite of your cupcake and realizing all that awaits is a tower of cake, just as there's nothing worse than being left with a blob of icing. I tend to lean towards the latter, but the perfect cupcake leaves nothing to be desired. Perfection is a cloud of icing piped high atop the cake.
  • Taste- this is an obvious one. Do they leave you wanting more? Make you want to lick the paper? Or do they make you shrug and reach for a glass of water. I'm looking for the former. We don't eat cupcakes for their health benefits.
  • Presentation- while this may seem like a no-brainer, the way a cupcake looks is not always spot-on. Sometimes the frosting is too thin, or sloppy, or the cake is lopsided or even burnt (major no-no). Sometimes the cute decorations are not edible, say what? and other times they look so divine you can't wait to dive in. The perfect cupcake will dazzle my eye and make me want to jump the line.

Let the games begin!