If there’s one thing I love, it’s corny, slightly tacky, holiday themed candy and baked goods! Forget Guiness and green beer (yuck), I’m celebrating St.Patrick’s Day with one of these guys!
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Now that I have a brand-spankin’-new paint kit I paint them too! In an effort to resurrect my old artsy side, Flaneur got me a set of paints, brushes and canvas boards for Valentine’s Day. Although we joked about having a Titanic moment (sans gigantic diamond) I decided the best and most obvious thing for me to paint would be food, and what better subject than cupcakes! This one is a copy of a painting by Jelaine Faunce. I thought it was better to do it this way because really, there’s no way I could stare at a cupcake for hours and not eat it.
Ah Valentine’s Day. A time for all things red and pink, heart shaped and lovey-dovey. While I’m not a Cupid-hating, I’m-only-gonna-wear-black-today, Valentine’s Day hater I do think it’s somewhat overrated and a bit artificial. I’ve never been one for red roses, I hate those little chalky hearts, and I can’t stomach most of the things Hallmark writes inside of those saccharine cards of theirs.
I do however, LOVE cupcakes— on Valentine’s Day, the day after and every other day of the year. So in honor of this weekend-o-love, Flaneur and I decided to share a Crumbs Ooh-la-la cupcake, the perfect symbol for the occasion: pink, topped with a heart, and deliciously, over the top sweet.