Tuesday, October 18, 2011

New York City Vegan Cupcake Party

The Power Players: Chocolate cupcakes from Babycakes, Lifethyme, Terri's and Champs.
With a panel of six omnivores, we tasted and reviewed all four of these lovely cupcakes.

Surprisingly, the Babycakes selection turned out to be the Bill O'Reilly of cupcakes. A unanimous complaint was dry, crumbling cake. An unpleasant aftertaste was noted by one reviewer.  (Monica's note:  I'm slightly biased toward Babycakes since they were the first vegan bakery cupcake I had ever had and they were heavenly.  However, this time the cake was a little drier than I remember.  Don't count them out though because they have delicious baked goods.)

"Good mouth feel."
"Dry and crumbly.  Frosting ok, but a little greasy."
"Pretty presentation"
"Taste was good - very chocolatey"
"I liked the cake better than the frosting, which was kind of thin." (Our fault on the frosting, we didn't keep it in the refrigerator.)
"Good amount of frosting."
"Did not fall apart but not as moist as I wanted."
"Cake good, firm and moist"

Terri's cupcake, a chocolatey coffee flavored cake with a vanilla frosting.  We got some mixed reviews on this one.  Some people thought the cake was bland, others liked it.  Some thought the frosting was too sweet, others said it wasn't sweet enough.

So here are some quotables:
"Moist cake and good consistency"
"Frosting not sweet enough"
"Frosting good texture and stiffness, confusing flavor"
"It was easy to bite into"
"Frosting much sweeter - good to me!"
"Good frosting to cake ratio"

The Lifethyme cupcake was unfortunately destroyed by poor handling during transit (Tara quote: "I effed up.") Tasters recoiled at the frosting, which was said by the majority to be the flavor and consistency of mayonnaise.

Appearance aside (and they did look amazing at the store before Tara got her hands on them), these were delicious cupcakes.  The cake was really good, however the frosting was a little iffy.

"The texture was nice of the cake"
"Frosting was kind of funky"
"Cake was really good."
"Best cake so far."

Hooray for Champs, swooping in at the last minute to delight everyone! The cake was richly chocolate and moist. The frosting was a light, refreshing vanilla (as taster Natasha noted, "Frosting was the bomb.com.").

This cupcake definitely got the best reception.  A slightly denser cake than the other three with a delicious wonderfully textured frosting.

One review card said, "moist cake, flavorful frosting, cake to frosting ratio perfect."  Pretty much sums it up.

Some more quotes:
"Great frosting - texture + taste"
"Best all around"
"Nice presentation"
"Best non-normal cupcake ever" (I'm assuming that a compliment from a non vegan.)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

In Search of Cupcakes...

On Saturday, October 8, 2011 blog 'scuse me set out on a mission to find the best vegan cupcake in NYC. (I think we can safely assume the best cupcakes on earth are all vegan.)  The plan was to travel to Babycakes, Lifethyme Vegan Bakery, Terri, Cowgirl's Baking, and Champs to buy only chocolate cupcakes and throw a party at the end of the day with a handful of taste testers.

Everything went according to plan except for Cowgirl's moving out west.  They had really amazing cupcakes and New York will miss them terribly.  Oh, and their vegan fish tacos were insane. 

Below are some pictures and commentary from our jaunt around the city to vegan bakeries and eateries in search of vegan cupcakes.  Stay tuned for the party post to hear our reviews.

Team 'Scuse Me started at Babycakes on Broome Street in Manhattan. A crowd stood at the counter and tried to decide which breakfast treats it wanted as we ordered our first set of chocolate cupcakes and, out of physical necessity, threw in a couple of scones and coffees.

Strawberry cream scone and Stumptown coffee. The scone was oozing with fresh delicious jam and sweet cream cheese filling. For those who haven't yet tried Stumptown coffee, run for it if it's closeby. You'll savor the magical robustness.

Lifethyme is a natural market with its bakery nestled at the back, so it proved more distracting than Babycakes. If anyone has tried the tofu quiche, please confirm that it was as delicious as it looked.

The spread screamed "return visit". Tons of sweets and savories ready to be torn apart.

We tossed in a couple of Wild Card Cupcakes (banana chocolate swirl).  We didn't eat them at the party, but these we amazing.  Banana and chocolate cake swirled together with tiny chocolate morsels inside.  Their entire bakery is vegan, so good luck not getting something here.

Terri's Sandwich Shop is fresh delicious food served up hot and fast in a basket. (I hope we can one day scream that line in a public access commercial, but everything rests on whether these guys return my calls.)

Terri's has a variety of  sandwiches, wraps, salads, smoothies, fresh juices and baked goods.  Their sandwiches are nothing short of perfection.  I may be embellishing a little, but I wish I lived closer to this place.

Terri's bacon chicken cheddar ranch sandwich. The assumed "wheat meat" chicken was sizzling and phenomenal. Ranch sauce is an easy thing to botch, vegan or otherwise (puke) but this one is on point.

Champs Bakery/Diner in Brooklyn was our last stop. The chocolate cupcakes sold here can rescue a party, so show some respect.  Also, the coffee here is excellent and they serve breakfast all day.  We got food here, but inhaled it before we thought to take a picture.  However, expect a brunch post in the not too distant future.

To Be Continued...

Monday, October 3, 2011

VeganMoFo Field Trip Report: Papa Ganache

To kick off VeganMoFo 2011, we took a road trip to visit Papa Ganache, a wonderful vegan bakery in Keyport, NJ.

Box full of goodies!!

Obscene close-up of the Cookies n' Cream. The frosting was so amazing. It was so light and airy. It complemented the cake perfectly without taking over. I have never had a frosting that was almost as light as whipped cream. It was lush and delightfully different.

S'more cupcake. And yes, that's a graham cracker crust on the bottom. Not to mention a dollop of chocolate ganache just waiting for you on the inside.

Pumpkin cheesecake cup. This was dense and sweet with an impressive pumpkin pie/cheesecake balance. The uppercut of chocolate was a lovely touch. A great option to slap on the holiday dessert table. One bit of constructive criticism: This would work best served chilled so it can properly set.

Papa Ganache's menu labels this "The Best Brownie Ever", which will not be argued considering it's a fudgey, chocolate-chip-packed brick of effing yum ready to fool omnivores everywhere. This would be a challenge to finish in one sitting (definitely not a bad thing).

Peanut butter cup...cupcake. Forget the awkward description - this takes the traditional "peanut buttery yet candy-sweet" concept of the Reese's treat and translates it vegan-style to a delicate, whipped frosting. The generous spoonful of ganache saves it from the mediocrity of "yum-o buuuut..." - a little sugary peanut butter flavor can go a long way, and the additional layer of chocolate fabulously complements.