Cupcakes, hand-size bites of delight, are big business today,
Just look at Crumbs. The national chain, sells 1.5 million a month through 35 stores, including one in Huntington. And don’t forget the Food Channel’s “Cupcake Wars” show.
Huntington residents certainly appear to crave these diet busters.
And today, it’s not just cupcakes flavored with chocolate, vanilla or strawberry. Cupcake specialists offer dozens of flavors, many of them stuffed with fudge or other goodies. Reinwald’s variety is more abridged.
Fist-sized cupcakes sell for $3.75 at Crumbs, while more-traditionally sized ones at Crumbs and Reinwald's sell for $2.75 and $2.55 each, respectively.
Who makes the best? I set out recently to find out.
I purchased three cupcakes at each shop recently – a vanilla, a chocolate and a top seller. At the cupcake-only shops, which stock a multitude of flavors, red velvet cupcakes are bestsellers. At Reinwald’s, I was told, the cookies and cream has the most appeal.
Helping me judge was a panel of sweets lovers (my adult kids, one an advanced amateur baker and cake decorator). We judged appearance, shape, size, and crust, proportion of frosting to cake, color, texture, moisture, flavor and the consistency, flavor and taste of the icing.
If you’re just casually scarfing down a cupcake, you probably won’t notice any differences. But judging them critically found both good points and flaws in our samples.
Many tasted dry. We had no way of knowing how fresh these samples were. Tasters generally gave the highest overall marks to Reinwald’s, with two top finishers, largely because of the decorating, creamy frostings and overall flavor and appearance. Crumbs, our No. 2, fared well with its chocolate and vanilla versions. Cupcake Gourmet came up short; some tasters said the cakes reminded them of Play Dough or tasted like sugar cookies.
Here’s a rundown on the varieties:
Crumbs Bake Shop. Chocolate richness and fudge center wowed tasters. The icing reminded one taster of Entenmann’s frosting. 80/100.
Cupcake Gourmet. Mealy cake. Icing tasted like a stale Tootsie Roll. 40/100.
Reinwald’s Bakery. Pretty with overly soft, fluffy pink frosting. Classic chocolate cake taste. 63/100.
Crumbs Bake Shop. Simple white frosting piled high with sprinkles. Cake has lemony character. 72/100.
Cupcake Gourmet. Undercooked, dry, dense cake. Sweet vanilla icing.. 52/100.
Reinwald’s Bakery. Nicely decorated, but buttery icing was too soft. Cake was golden and moist. Could be sweeter.. 82/100.
Crumbs Bake Shop. Thick sugary icing. Dry, crumbly cake. Unevenly baked, 52/100.
Cupcake Gourmet. Resembles a sugar cookie. Flavorless pink cake. 41/100.
Cookies & Cream
Reinwald’s Bakery. Oreo crumbs piled high atop fluffy icing. Nice cake flavor, though a tad dry. 72/100.