I have a serious obsession about cupcakes. I especially like mini cupcakes – so much flavor packed into one little cake and less icing (don’t care for the sweet sugary stuff and have been known to scrap it off a cupcake to avoid eating it!) to contend with. The bonus is minis are cheaper than the regular size allowing for more flavors to be tried without totally blowing one’s budget and diet. Here are some of my cupcake samplings in the past few months:
Sweet Tweets Cakery – Carrollwood area, Tampa
I didn’t need to visit the shop to do a taste test. Instead, the week I started a diet, a vendor brings these luscious creations to my workplace. They brought the big ones and there were so many flavors to choose from. I chose the peanut butter. By far, the best peanut butter cupcake I have ever eaten – equal in quality and taste to the ones my Mom made when I was growing up. The texture of the cake was perfect, a light yet moist crumb and lightly flavored. The frosting was pleasant tasting, not tooth achingly sweet. Later in the day I tried Amaretto and was disappointed. The cake was vanilla rather that almond flavor, the filling tasted pleasantly of amaretto, but the icing was plain vanilla buttercream. I found it too sweet and yes, I scraped it off. I would have expected more amaretto taste in the icing to complete the theme.
Gigi’s – Tampa
Someone at work said Gigi’s had better cupcakes than Sweet Tweets thus the gauntlet was thrown down. I had to find out if that was true. In the name of research, I visited the shop on North Dale Mabry. It was a little hard to find tucked in a strip mall with a small sign to signal it was there. I visited their website first and signed up for their Rewards Club, netting a free cupcake for the first visit. I chose a Chocolate salted caramel. Chocolate cake tends to be dry, but the dark chocolate cupcake was incredibly moist. To get the full effect of the cake, caramel filling and topping of caramel frosting and ganache with a pinch of sea salt on top, peel back the paper cup and bite down so you get all the sweet and salty layers of flavor at once. Wow!
I decided to try a second flavor (again, for research purposes) and went with gluten free peanut butter. It was very good and did not taste bland and dry like other gluten free ones I have tried at other bakeries. The frosting taste reminded me of peanut butter fudge and the chocolate cake tasted like a fudgy brownie. A very satisfying gluten free treat. I would come back here just to indulge in the gluten free ones.
Sweet! Good Golly by Miss Holly – Orlando
Try as I might, resistance was futile to stay away from this cupcake shop located in Waterford Lakes Town Center in Orlando. I have made 3 visits so far. The majority of flavors are awesome and the cake is moist with the perfect crumb texture. The cupcakes are soooo good! They should be as the owner Hollis (Holly) Wilder is a three time Cupcake Wars winner. The mini cupcakes are a great way to get a taste of several flavors, and there are a lot of flavors to try here. Go on Monday when they are $1 each (usually $2 each or 4 for $7). If I was a judge at Cupcake Wars, my first place would go to the Peanut Butter Chocolate – a perfect blend of the two flavors. I felt something akin to cupcake nirvana eating it. Other favs:
Nutella – featuring European hazelnut spread as the filling in a Nutella cake with a delightful caramel buttercream frosting
German Chocolate – Awesome, especially the frosting – a delicious mixture of caramel, pecans and coconut which is nothing like the stuff that comes out of a tub (Sorry, Betty.)
Pumpkin – I love pumpkin! The flavor was just right and the icing not grossly sweet or overly cream cheese tasting.
Toasted Coconut – needs no explanation
The one failure was the Dulce de Leche. I’m pretty sure this was not a Cupcake Wars winner. When I think of Dulce de Leche, I think of the ooey gooey caramel that comes in a can. That’s not what you get with this cupcake. Its failure is due to using spice cake as the base which detracts from the caramel filling which was the only good thing about it. The frosting was also off – supposedly Dulce buttercream had an odd taste (my first impression was a light orange flavor?!) and was overpowered by too much cinnamon sprinkled on it. An employee even remarked it is a not a very good tasting cupcake. My suggestion for improving this – the cake should be plain vanilla, yellow or a light caramel flavor and use the caramel buttercream that is on the Nutella. You can never have too much caramel.
Join the Sweet Treat Club if you plan to eat here often for special deals including a free birthday cupcake. There is also a day when UCF students wearing Greek frat/sorority shirts get special pricing. They also serve frozen yogurt but didn’t try it. I’m sure I’ll be back whenever I’m in the area. (Just don’t tell my doctor.)
SmallCakes – Oldsmar
Waited for months for this location to open due to construction delays. Made my first visit the night before Halloween. It was 8pm and they only had ½ dozen cupcakes remaining, none of which I was craving, so I left. I returned on Halloween which was the last day they were offering the pumpkin flavor. I had to get the regular size as this shop has not received pans for baking the mini size. (They will be available in the near future.) As cupcakes go it was ok. Nothing outstanding, but not bad either. Like their Facebook page where they post daily featured flavors and specials. This location has had several days when they have sold out (as early as 2pm!) so they must be doing something right.