By: Jessica Moore
Why Start a Cupcake Review Series?
I decided to launch a cupcake review series for two reasons. One, to satisfy my cravings for cupcakes and two, to help Charlotteans find the perfect flavor cupcake based on their preferences!
Not all cupcakes are created equal. A cupcake is just not simply a cupcake, at least not in my world. When I told this idea to a friend of mine, she didn’t quite see the point. I had to be patient since I knew exactly what I wanted this taste test to demonstrate. It’s not just about eating them, liking or disliking them. It’s about which one is the best match for your preferred taste and where to go for that particular cupcake.
For instance, one bake shop might have the absolute best Strawberry Cupcake but another may have the best Lemon or Chocolate Cupcake. Get the idea? And since I can’t quite literally eat all the flavors of cupcakes from all the bake shops in Charlotte in one day, I had to start somewhere!
For the first flavor, I chose the classic Southern favorite, Red Velvet. Now let's get started!
I picked up Red Velvet cupcakes from 7 different bakeries around town. At a few shops I consider myself a regular and at some, this was my very first time. Here they are:
- Suarez Bakery
- Sunflour Baking Company
- Cupcrazed Cakery
- SAS Cupcakes
- Gigi’s Cupcakes
- Melt In Your Mouth Cupcakes
- Polka Dot Bake Shop
I very carefully transport all of these cupcakes over to my best’s house where her roommate will join us in this cupcake experiment. While creating the grading scale we are appropriately drinking Cupcake’s Red Velvet wine, because that just made sense.
We are now full steam ahead for the best girl’s night in a long time. Keep in mind this experiment may have been way more exciting for us than it will be for you reading this. Nevertheless, this review series is meant to be fun and a reason to try new cupcakes.
The Taste Test
There are 3 of us acting as judges. One loves cupcakes but is pretty particular in what she likes, another just loves cupcakes period no matter what, and the other isn’t actually a Red Velvet cake fan.
I think that although we don’t represent an accurate sample, we are all different in our tastes and preferences...and that works for me. So we looked at these 5 traits in each cupcake on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the most ideal.
A. Visually Appealing
B. Decadent Level (overall sweetness)
C. Dankadence (new word for moisture)
D. Density (cake)
E. Texture (icing)
F. Filling (if any)
SAS Cupcakes: overall rating 3.6 A: 2.5 B 3.5 C 5 D 3 E 4
Notes: simple decorations, great sweetness level, density and texture
Suarez Bakery: overall rating 1.9 A 1 B 1 C 2.5 D 4 E 1
Notes: minimal decorations, marshmallow-like icing, good cake density, not very sweet
Melt In Your Mouth: overall rating 2.4 A 4.5 B 2.5 C 0.5 D 2 E 2.5
Notes: unique decorations, low density/cake crumbled, not very sweet
Cupcrazed Cakery: overall rating 3.6 A 2 B 5 C 4 D 4 E 3
Notes: simple decorations, perfect sweetness level, not enough icing
Sunflour Baking: overall rating 1.7 A 4.5 B 1 C 1 D 1 E 1
Notes: classy decorations, not sweet, low density/cake crumbled
Polka Dot Bakery: overall rating 1.7 A 2.5 B 1 C 1 D 2 E 1
Notes: a little too sweet, not everyone likes nuts, super thick icing
GiGi’s Cupcakes: overall rating 4.5 A 5 B 3 C 4.5 D 5 E 5 F 3
Notes: perfect ratio of icing to cake, fun decorations, great density, surprise filling
Much to my surprise, even though this was entirely my idea, I was shocked by how cupcakes that have been my favorites for years didn’t actually score well overall. As you can see, it reveals a lot about what you can expect from a cupcake.
I’m excited to try other flavors from other cupcake shops because I’m sure the results will vary with every single one. Do you have a favorite flavor at a bake shop you’d like me to test out? Let me know! I personally can’t wait to eat some of the most unique ones, like from FuManChu Cupcakes. They don’t make traditional Red Velvet so I had to leave them out this time. I'm coming for that Salted Caramel with Bacon!