Move over Pillsbury, I have a new favorite Doughboy

A good cup of joe and a good cupcake will do wonders for the soul. Trust me.

In New York— Manhattan specifically— I am, at any given moment, within a 45-second walk from a cupcake selling establishment. And this is ok with me. It’s more than ok. It’s marvelous. I like my cupcakes delicious, plentiful, and easily accessible, so the abundance of cupcakes shops in this city works well for me.

Perhaps the most famous cupcake hot spot in the neighborhood is Magnolia Bakery, which is about two blocks from my apartment, but it’s almost always packed and sometimes, when people are feeling especially batty, there’s even a line snaking out the door. But when a new place called Doughboy Bake Shop opened up a few months ago, also just a couple of blocks away, and they turned out to have really fantastic cupcakes, I was all about them.

On a recent lazy Saturday, I decided what I needed to put some pep in my step was a bit of caffeine…and hell, why not, a cupcake to go with it. First of all, a note on their coffee: it’s from Mud, which if you’re in New York, and you like coffee, you should have this coffee. It’s pretty phenomenal. As for the cupcakes, I’d had them before and they were always great, moist, fluffy with lots of icing.

On this particular weekend I went with an Oreo cupcake, which with it’s tall, fat swirl of creamy frosting and whole Oreo on top already looked intense, but little did I know just how serious it would be. I took it home so we could have some privacy (i.e. so I could unhinge my jaw like a python and practically swallow it whole) and as I was peeling off the baking wrap from the bottom, I discovered something awesome. Baked at the very bottom of the cupcake was…wait for it, waaaiiit for it… BAM! an entire OreoJust sitting there, waiting like the delicious little surprise that it was. I’ve had plenty of Oreo cupcakes, some with Oreo crumbles, others with chunks, but never an entire Oreo inside the cupcake.

A whole Oreo... INSIDE the cupcake. My kind of surprise.

I love that there are cupcakes everywhere in this city, but I especially enjoy that one of my new favorites is so dangerously close to my place, and that inside some of their delicious cupcakes are ENTIRE freakin’ Oreos waiting to be eaten!

Doughboy Bake Shop on Urbanspoon


When two desserts love each other very much…

Is it just me or does everyone have freakin’ baby fever these days? Good grief, babies are popping out everywhere! From friends, coworkers, old classmates, celebrities (Blue Ivy anyone? What what!),  even on the damn PATH train! But not from this girl. Not with my fear of stretch marks, cracked nipples (oh, the horror) and screaming children with steaming diapers.

But recently, I did meet a love child I was excited about: the sweet love child between a cupcake and creme brulee. Yea, I know. It’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it, when two great things come together to make a really fantastic thing. That’s what happened at Molly’s Cupcakes in Greenwich Village, where I first had the creme brulee cupcake.

Oh baby! Creme brulee cupcake, yum.

 Now, this particular cupcake isn’t a creme brulee flavored cupcake. It’s not a cupcake with a mound of icing that tastes like creme brulee. It’s an actual cross between the two sweet treats to make one new and improved super dessert.

Creamy custard core? Yes, please.


Instead of the usual plop of frosting on top (which I have to admit is usually my favorite part), this particular cupcake has the same sugary shell that creme brulee has, made from caramelized sugar, and with the same oh-so-satisfying snap when you crack it with a spoon. Underneath is a moist, buttery cake, much like a traditional cupcake, and to tie everything together a sweet core of creamy custard with the smooth silkiness of a creme brulee.

Now, that’s a bundle of joy.

Some sparkle with my sugar

Mini cupcakes from Kingdom Cake

I swear it’s not that I go looking for cupcakes. The cupcakes find me

Well no, I guess that’s not entirely true. I’ve definitely gone in search of cupcakes on many a lunch break or a Friday after work or on any other number of random occasions. BUT several times it’s happened that I’m not even thinking about them or about food at all (yes, it happens that I sometimes think about other things), when all of a sudden I bump into some new place that I just have to stop at and check out.  Because as the old adage goes, don’t leave for tomorrow what you can do today, right? (Ok, so maybe that’s not what it was referring to but I’m applying it here anyway.) Continue reading

Don’t forget to stop and taste the cupcakes

Nothing says take-a-break like a bunch of cupcakes

I had been walking without a break for the better part of two hours. With no particular destination in mind, I just kept roaming, occasionally checking in with my map to get an idea of where I was.

But then I saw something across the street and realized the time had come for a break—a cupcake break. Continue reading

New cupcake on the block

Cake & Shake at Washington Square Park

Some people think the cupcake craze should end already. They say it’s last year’s trend. A trend period. Something cool till everyone does it and then it becomes overdone and out of fashion.

I am not one of those people. I love cupcakes, always have and always will. Which is why when I saw a cutesy, baby blue truck selling cupcakes near Washington Square Park this weekend, I stopped to check it out. Cake & Shake is one of a billion different places in the city to get cupcakes but unlike some of the others it also boasted having organic ingredients and biodegradable, eco friendly packaging. The truck itself was even powered by solar powered panels.

The Rich Guy

The menu sounded promosing enough and when I saw something with figs (which I have been eagerly anticipating lately) in it, I thought, yup, that’s the one. Name of this cupcake, you ask? A Rich Guy.

“Hi, yea, can I get a Rich Guy please?”

Jokes aside, the Rich Guy wasn’t bad. It wasn’t fantastic either, but it was decent. The mandarin cupcake was a little hard for my taste but the fig mousse (which was more like jelly than mousse) gave it a bit of the moisture it lacked. The cream cheese frosting and candied walnuts were pretty good too, although a overall little firm, like it wasn’t the freshest cupcake. In their own defense, it was early evening, toward the end of the day, and so probably not the best time to go looking for fresh cupcakes.

But like I said, it was good. I’d go back and try a different one. After all, I’m all about propogating the cupcake craze.

“Where butch meets buttercream”

When I first read about Butch Bakery, a New York cupcake shop specializing in so-called manly cupcakes, I was pretty curious. Their cupcakes, so proclaimed the website, weren’t what you’d call cute. No sprinkles. No pastel-colored frosting. Nothing girly. These were cupcakes for men. Tough men. Manly men. Men who eat cupcakes, dammit.

I thought it was hilarious. Then I read the description of “The Driller.”

“Fill ‘er up with our maple cake topped with crumbled bacon and loaded with milk-chocolate ganache.”

Whaaaat?! Where is this place? I need one of these right now. Right. Freakin.’ NOW.

I was fully prepared to take an early lunch break and go wherever it was that they were churning out these manly cupcakes  but stopped myself when I read that they didn’t have an actual shop yet. Delivery only. So, I whipped out my credit card and immediately ordered The Short Round, Butch Bakery’s assortment of four cupcakes.

Unfortunately, the set comes with four flavors that aren’t substitutable and The Driller wasn’t one of them. But after reading about the cupcakes I’d soon be getting, I was ok with that.

About a week after I put in the order (who receipt was signed “Butch it up, buttercup”) a gruff-voiced man delivered my manly cupcakes. Upon first inspection, they were just as funny as their names. Each one, instead of being covered in fluffy, sugary icing, was topped with a thin chocolate disk. Each disk had a “manly” pattern or design, woodgrain, houndstooth, checkers and my personal favorite, camo.

The first one we had was the Old-Fashioned, which like the other three in the box, was named after an alcoholic drink and was fittingly infused with alcohol. Underneath the checkerboard chocolate disk (which was crisp and tasty, a nice contrast to the softness of the cupcake below) was a fat dollop of sweet, sugary icing. The orange soaked whiskey cake was fluffy and moist, with just a subtle hint of alcohol. At the core of the Old-Fashioned was a zesty, creamy burst of flavor from the lemon curd filling.


Next on our tour de cupcakes, was the brandy soaked lemon cake Sidecar. The orange-infused white chocolate filling in the middle was a smooth, creamy complement to the almost spicy zest of the brandy and lemon.


Our third booze and testosterone inspired cupcake was the Rum and Coke. While I usually dislike the drink, the cupcake version was delicious. The rum soaked vanilla cake wasn’t overpowering like rum cake can sometimes be. Instead it was sweet with just a slight aftertaste of rum. With the cola bavarian cream filling and a snap of the chocolate on top, each part of this cupcake worked together perfectly to make a delicious little treat.

Rum and coke

And finally, there was the B-52,  a camo topped madagascar vanilla cupcake soaked in Kahlua, one of my favorite liquors. Like the others, the alcohol taste was very subtle and in the B-52 it merged perfectly with the vanilla. The sweet Bailey’s bavarian cream in the middle made for the perfect filling.


In the end, these cupcakes might’ve been created by guys with guys in mind, but I’m pretty sure these’ll be a big hit with the female cupcake eaters too. Unlike some of the more girly varieties available around town, these weren’t over the top. The frosting was just enough to give you a little sweetness without making your teeth hurt, and the inside filling wasn’t messy or overbearing. No messy sprinkles, nuts or cookie bits, just an easy-to-eat, easy-to-share chocolate.

When Butch Bakery opens its NYC shop, I bet I won’t be the only girl waiting in line to butch it up.

False advertising

Dulce de leche cupcake

I didn’t think this day would come, but here it is: I have something negative (well kind of) to say about a cupcake.

Yesterday was stressful. Deadlines were piling up, I had interviews to do, stories to write, personal issues to deal with, and to really kick everything up a notch, I’m in the middle of moving to a new apartment. (If you live in New York, you know what an immense, flaming pain in the arse this is.) So as I tried to work my way through everything, I realized I needed coffee to give me a much-needed boost, but since the office machine only had decaff (an entirely pointless drink) I decided to get some fresh air and a cup of joe elsewhere. Once I was outside though, I thought, well hell, why don’t I just cut across Bryant Park and mosey on over to Crumbs where I can get a cupcake to go with my coffee.

So I did, and as my eyes bounced around cookie-crumb covered, sprinkle crusted, coconut flake topped cupcakes, they finally landed on the dulce de leche cupcake. Minutes later, cupcake and coffee in hand, I hurriedly made my way back through the park and up to the office.

Where's the dulce de leche??

I pulled the behemoth treat out of its paper bag. It was a fat chocolate cupcake topped with a cream cheese type frosting, and then crisscrossed with chocolate and dulce de leche drizzles.  As a kid in Miami, I developed a serious love for this sticky caramel-like sweet. Even now, my mom sends me packages with snack-size cups of dulce de leche. When I saw the cupcake, I imagined the inside would be oozing with it, each bite a sticky sweet bit of encouragement to keep truckin.’

Yet when I cut the cupcake in half (I was trying to minimize the mess at my desk) there was no dulce de leche to be found. Instead, the chocolate cupcake had a cream cheese frosting core, the same as the icing on top. Now, don’t get me wrong, it was still delicious, and of course I polished it off in a few big chomps, but why call it a dulce de leche cupcake if the only dulce de leche  is a couple of thin drizzles on top? Had I known this, I would’ve bought a different cupcake! There were so many others I thought about getting, yet what sold me on this was one was the promise of dulce de leche.

Being April 1st, I thought it might have been an April Fool’s Day joke, but then that’s not even funny! ::Sigh:: You let me down this time, Crumbs.

Sometime’s you gotta indulge

This place is not for the indecisive.

I walked in with every intention in the world of only buying one cupcake. It was Friday night and I had just left the office after what felt like one of the longest weeks of my life. Work had been super busy, issues with moving out of my apartment had been annoying, and to top it all off I was dealing with the self-inflicted hell of a particularly nasty all-day hangover. I needed a treat for surviving.

Magnolia Bakery, which had been high on my to-do list pretty much ever since I moved to NY last summer, is only nine blocks away from my office.  I had skipped the gym twice this week so I thought an extra 18 blocks added to my walk home was only fair.

I am only getting ONE cupcake. Nothing more. Just one. I’ll bring it home and split it with Flaneur and that will be enough. One cupcake. One. One. One.

And then I opened the door. The warmth from the ovens as they churned out trays of cookies, cakes and brownies and the sugary, buttery aroma wafting in the air all wrapped themselves around me like the warm, comforting hug I had needed all day.

Magnolia was packed with people milling about like ants at a picnic. I couldn’t see the cupcakes or where they were listed but I squeezed into the line figuring I’d just wait till I was closer. Then something happened. I looked to my left at the refrigerated glass case next to me: cheesecakes, all sorts of wonderful cheesecakes. Big ones, little ones, chocolate swirled and whipped cream topped ones. The guy behind the counter saw me ogling them and craned toward me.

Who knew so much happiness could fit in the palm of your hand?

“Hi,” he chirped. “Can I get you anything?”

“Uhm, yea,” I blurted without thinking. “Can I have one of these, please?” I pointed down at the mini pumpkin pecan cheesecake with ginger snap crust.

Next thing I knew I was back to waiting in line, except now I had a small white Magnolia box in hand, one unnecessary mini cheesecake stored safely inside.

Dammit. So much for my plan.

The line inched up and I was now next to a case full of brownies and cookies. My eye caught one particularly chunky looking brownie topped with white chocolate. I quickly turned my back to the case and decided that the cheesecake had won, but in the battle against the brownie, I would prevail.

Luckily the people in front of me shuffled along and I found myself in front of the cupcake case and another young guy waiting to take my order. I scanned the several rows of cupcakes, some of them neatly placed on a shelf on the case, others still sitting on waxy baking sheets. I decided I had already broken my “one cupcake only” rule so I might as well just throw out the whole idea and get two cupcakes. Choosing one would be too hard right now anyway, and I wasn’t in the mood for tough decision-making.

Red velvet goodness

Another minute later and I was at the cash register, paying for my mini-cheesecake and two cupcakes: one red velvet with whipped vanilla icing and one caramel with caramel meringue buttercream and caramel drizzle.

When I walked into my apartment I waved the white plastic bag at Flaneur.

“Looky what I got!”

We decided that all three things would be too much (even by my standards) to eat before dinner, so we went to work on just the cupcakes. The red velvet was unbelievably delicious and soft, with icing so creamy and sweet that you can’t help but close your eyes and say, “Mmmmmm.” The icing, in particular, tasted simple and home made, not chemical or artificial in its sweetness.

Caramel on caramel action.

Caramel on caramel action.

The caramel cupcake was great too, definitely sweeter and stickier than the red velvet though. The meringue added a slightly crispy texture in between the moist, soft cupcake and the smooth buttercream icing.

Flaneur summarized the experience best when he let out a satisfied sigh and said, “Oh my God, I think I have diabetes now.”

Saturday morning as I stretched in bed and thought about what to eat for breakfast I was struck with a delicious reminder: the mini-cheesecake. With Flaneur still curled under the covers enjoying his last minutes of sleep, I crawled out of bed and went to the fridge. I came back with the small white box and two forks in hand and nudged Flaneur to wake up. It was breakfast time.

Let me say this: If everyone started their mornings with such a delicious treat, the world, especially New York, would be a much happier place. Maybe fatter, but definitely happier. The mini cheesecake had a firmer consistency than pumpkin pie but had the same spicy sweet smoothness as that Thanksgiving favorite of mine. Crushed pecans and a dollop of whipped cream added varying textures and made for wonderful mouthfuls of delicious cheesecake.

Magnolia had lured me into buying three treats, not one, and spending about four times what I had planned on spending, but every bit of it was worth it. Sometimes the best way to welcome the weekend after five exhausting work days, is to treat yourself to something (or in my case three somethings) sweet.

Little sweet things

Every time I go into a cupcake shop I end up having the same dilemma: massive, panicky bouts of indecision.

Ten people get waved ahead of me before I’ve even narrowed my choices down to three or four. Finally, I force myself to go with something and then immediately start second guessing myself.

But now, thanks to a place my friend Vanessa (whose blog you should all read) told me about, I don’t have to wrack my brain trying to pick only one cupcake. At Baked by Melissa, cupcakes are only about the size of a silver dollar, meaning you can get a few of them, without having to deal with the anxiety of committing to just one sweet treat.

Like the cupcakes themselves, the SoHo location of Baked by Melissa, is small. In fact, it’s only a walk-up window.

SoHo location

For $3 (less than the price of just one cupcake at many places around the city) we got three mini goodies. From the nine different varieties to choose from we went with cinnamon, red velvet and cookie dough. The other flavors looked enticing but with three already, I wasn’t complaining. There’s always next time.

The only thing better than one cupcake is three cupcakes.