Cupcakes Aint Just for Kids: Big City Cupcakes and Original Cupcakes
Once a childhood treat, now cupcakes are a glamour item like sexy Louboutins or cute Coach wristlets. The bonus is you can eat them. Cupcakes first became a fad in a famous scene from Sex and the City when Carrie and Miranda sat outside Magnolia Bakery in New York discussing Aidan. Magnolia Bakery is now the key destination on the Sex and the City tour in New York City. Their cupcakes are gorgeous, and by the way that Carrie and Miranda quickly gobbles them up in a 3 minute scene, you can tell these cupcakes are moist, crumbly and delectable. In a lesser famous show, Lipstick Jungle, Victory Ford is having a rough business trip in Tokyo, only to be whisked home by her millionaire boyfriend, who sends a driver to her hotel, delivering a single white cupcake on a silver tray.
Coming in all shapes and sizes, a variety of flavours and decorated to the nines, cupcakes are the perfect dessert for the me-culture society. Single-serving cakes, customized for every occasion: it is quite common and very chic nowadays to order multiple tiers of cupcakes to be served as a ‘wedding cake’ at the wedding banquet. The Food Network show, Cupcake Wars is all about creating new flavours of cupcakes and building large-scale displays for cupcakes to be showcased and eaten at events like car shows or museum openings.
Before you ask, cupcakes are not just muffins with frosting. Muffins are a quick bread with less sugar and butter. Cupcakes are literally miniature cakes, fluffier and often times more buttery than muffins.
The main difference between Big City Cupcakes and Cupcakes is that Big City Cupcakes features cupcakes with fillings. Their cupcakes are also sold in coffee shops like Blenz or Cookies Of Course at Harbour Centre.
However, my favourite flavour at Big City Cupcakes is one of their non-filled cupcakes called The Red Carpet which is one of the most moist red velvet cupcakes I’ve ever tasted. The cake literally melts on my tongue, it’s sweet, seductive and rich to an extreme. Brilliantly red with a sexy pouf of cream cheese icing on top, like a stylish facinator with sprinkles of glitter, this cupcake is as attractive as it is tasty. I am biased towards red velvet though: both the concept and the taste.
Red velvet cakes originated from the Depression era when cocoa was rare and expensive. Bakers in the United States started mixing beets into their cake batter for texture, colour and flavour, and in place of cocoa. Thus the red velvet was born. Traditionally, red velvet cakes are covered completely by white cream cheese frosting, hiding its bright red colour. It’s not until the first slice is cut is the wildly red flesh of the cake revealed in all its drama and glory.
My second favourite Big City Cupcake is the New York Chocolate Cheesecake featuring cheesecake filling inside the cupcake and topped with cream cheese icing. This cupcake is decadent, not only is the chocolate cupcake itself dense and rich but the cheesecake filling is also incredibly creamy and heavy, combined with the cream cheese topping, this little cupcake is a whole dessert in a small package.
Another tasty Big City Cupcake is the toffee with a sweet and sticky toffee filling encased in a moist vanilla cupcake. The pretty swirl of butter cream frosting on top is also drizzled with toffee that leaks down the sides of the cupcake.
Big City Cupcake’s Lemon Drop cupcake is also amazingly moist and filled with a tangy and sweet lemon curd.
Seasonal Big City Cupcakes include the Hot Chocolate cupcake, piled high with chocolate drizzled mini marshmallows, the top of this rich chocolate cupcake is sealed with a delicious hard chocolate shell.
Cupcakes is the famous bakeshop featured on the show, Cupcake Girls. I’ve been a fan of their store long before the show launched. Cupcakes has been opened on the West End near English Bay for as long as I can remember, and I always look forward to their seasonal displays: the cool Halloween display with orange and black cupcakes with pumpkin shaped sprinkles or the Valentine’s Day display with pink, white and red mini cupcakes featuring heart shaped sprinkles. Cupcakes, like Big City Cupcakes features a long menu with regular and seasonal cupcakes, also with cool names and even cooler flavours.
Not on their regular menu are maple bacon cupcakes featuring maple syrup icing with real bits of bacon on top. For a special occasion, we ordered these for delivery. The bakers at Cupcakes were extremely accommodating and worked hard to create this custom flavour for us. I was very impressed. This makes Cupcakes the very first bakery in all of Vancouver to make maple bacon cupcakes! This flavour is definitely not on the Big City Cupcakes menu.
As soon as I cracked open the box, I could smell the rich maple syrup. Upon biting into the cupcake, I found the cupcake soft and extremely moist. The icing was rich and nutty in flavour, genuinely tasting like real maple syrup. The bits of bacon were crispy and salty and were a perfect foil to the sweetness in the icing and the cupcake. I know Cupcakes makes Canucks cupcakes, but if they ever decide to put maple bacon on the regular menu, I think they should name it the Canuck cupcake. Everything about the rich maple syrup flavours and hearty bacon screams Proud Canadian.
The red velvet cupcake is not as brilliantly red as Big City Cupcake’s Red Carpet, but there is one thing Cupcakes has over Big City Cupcakes. They store very well. You can stick a dozen Cupcakes in the fridge or freezer and they’ll taste pretty much the same for days. With a Big City Cupcake, you must eat it the moment you buy it. The next day, it’ll be as hard as a rock. No joke. I’ve tried to put Big City Cupcakes in the fridge or on the counter in a box, whatever I do, Big City Cupcakes always mutate into hard lumps the next day. It’s such a shame too because Big City Cupcakes are so moist and wonderfully scrumptious when they’re fresh.
Cupcakes on the other hand can taste fresh for more than one day. Their red velvet is lighter and fluffier than Big City Cupcakes. Their cream cheese icing is also more airy and delicately creamy.
Both Big City Cupcakes and Cupcakes have their merits. And both bakeries are proof that cupcakes have come a long way, evolving from a sugary children’s food to a fashionable and sophisticated dessert. Cupcakes are certainly not just a kids’ snack!