Turn That Frown Upside Down

One of the things in the coldness of the real world that ought always turn a frown upside down is cupcakes. They have a duty! How did the Trophy Cupcakes cupcake of the month do at fulfilling its duty?

Pineapple Upside Down Cupcake
Pineapple Upside Down CupcakePineapple • Vanilla • Brown Sugar
This decadent favorite starts with moist vanilla and caramelized pineapple cake (yes! a mini pineapple upside down cake). We top it off with heavenly ruffles brown sugar buttercream and a cherry.

Amber: Before I even attempt this, I need to come clean. I don’t dislike pineapple upside down cake, but I can’t think of a time I’ve chosen it when there were other options. It’s fine. Just not something over which I get excited. I have craved pineapple, I have craved cake, but I have never craved pineapple upside down cake. Also, I cannot think of a time when, aside from aesthetics, I have been excited about maraschino cherries. Which means I am going in with a strong bias, an expectation to think , “Meh,” and move on. Got it? On to the cupcake itself…

First, to be nit-picky, the reason the pineapple upside down cake is called that, in case you’re not familiar with that dessert, is that one puts the pineapples in the bottom of the pan, pours in the batter, but then turns the baked cake upside down (so pineapples are on the top) for serving. As you can see from the picture, that’s not the case here. It’s not an upside down anything. At this point, I’m not sure whether that’s a noteworthy criticism or just me being way less generous than I ought because of my general disinterest. Right. Food in mouth now.

Look…the cupcake is, overall, fine. It’s tasty white cake. The frosting is quite yummy. Taste-wise, the pineapple is fine…but it looks ooky. And it’s on the wrong side of the cake, as I already pointed out. Plus, not to be purist, but that cake ought to be yellow. Not white. (Cat and I spent a lot of time being critical and talking about how we’d do it differently. But you don’t need to read that. Just know that that was our reaction to this cupcake.) Overall, as I said, it’s fine. But I wouldn’t get it if it weren’t for this blog. And the Cupcake Royale offering is definitely this month’s winner. Frown not turned upside down here.

Cat: Whenever I went camping as a kid, my dad would concoct his Dutch oven specialty: pineapple upside down cake. It was never in my top desirable desserts list, but something about the open air and the carbon leavings from the Dutch oven made the powdery yellow cake mix and the oozing pineapple slices not just palatable, but comforting. A taste associated with open skies, smoky fires, and a seasoned camper of a father cooking in his element.

It’s a flavor and a sensation that should stay outdoors, miles away from civilization, because this cupcake (while perfectly fine on the being-a-cupcake scale) completely fails at evoking pineapple upside down cake, to rage-inducing levels.

The first noticeable part of the utterly-wrong presentation is the perky little maraschino cherry at the top. Cherries are an integral part of a traditional upside down cake, but ideally they are halved and placed in the center of the pineapple ring on top, creating a happy little target of yellow and red to brighten up the presentation. Trophy has kept the cherry as a color-brightener by placing a whole cherry on top. Listen, I’m lukewarm on maraschinos at best, but the whole cherry-on-top, stem included, is my absolute least favorite. It makes me irritated when I have to separate garbage from my food. Add that to the whole irksome sexy-baby thing of tying the stem in a knot with your tongue, and then the sickly sweet radioactive syrup taste of the cherry itself, and it’s a bad start to an already questionable cupcake.

Which, again, suffers by not adhering to its inspiration. The pineapple on bottom (so not right! not right at all!) is more like caramelly-pineapple sludge. It’s a slice that has suffered through the indignity of being browned, forced underneath cake, and left to sit unloved on the shelf, resulting in a fruit component that slips and slides down the gullet. It doesn’t technically taste bad, but texture-wise it’s an ordeal. And it’s the only hint of pineapple in an otherwise typical cupcake, so having the one discerning factor be so thoroughly depressing is a letdown and a half.

Other than the disappointing title flavors, the cupcake is fine. The not-right white cupcake is a tasty cupcake. Trophy’s frosting is always delightful, capturing the perfect smooth fluffiness frosting should have, and the brown sugar incarnation is delicious. But none of it lives up to an already tricky dessert name, which makes the entire experience a bummer. I’ll save the pineapple for my next camping trip, not my next cupcake excursion.

Salt of the Cake

Oh, pistachio, you can be a tricky taste. But who doesn’t like this little green beauty? After some troubles even getting a chance to put one of these in our mouths, we simply hoped it wouldn’t be a disappointment. How did Cupcake Royale do? Is this cupcake salt of the earth…err…cake? Read on!

Sea-Salted Pistachio Cupcake

Sea-Salted Pistachio CupcakeAvailable May 1st – 31st only – Our vanilla cake, swirled with pistachio frosting, sprinkled with sea salt, and topped with a pistachio

Amber: Before I even took a bite, I was super pleased to see this was built on their white cake. Yay for Cupcake Royale’s white cake! I was also inordinately excited about the salt part because I have a salt issue (salt is my birthright…all salt belongs to my tongue!). The pistachio flavour they use is a correct flavour…For some reason, with pistachio treats, I live in constant fear that they’ll use something called pistachio but that is like that aggressive flavouring that some candy makers call banana (which isn’t a bad flavour, it’s just disingenuous to say it’s banana). That’s important. I was afraid I’d be so disappointed that I’d need to go binge on some pistachio pudding and/or gelato. Nope. All this proper pistachio flavour is in the frosting, which was its own surprise. The frosting is their buttercream but…liquidier. Only slightly. And that’s not a complaint. It totally worked for me. I might even prefer it this way. The salt also did not disappoint. There was, for my tastes, just enough salt. Which means there was definitely more than a slight hint…It was a substantial component. The crunch of salt was the only interruption to the sweet smoothness of cake and frosting. It gave a perfect tang, a nice counter to the sugary goodness of the rest. And the overall texture of this cupcake is really welcoming to my picky tongue (picky about texture, to be clear…probably not picky enough about other things). My only complaint is that, whilst the cupcake tastes lovely, I’d really like more pistachio flavour. Maybe use the frosting to fill it as well? Oh! Or just give me a spare cup of it so every bite has more more more! If you’re looking for something that is quite light and subtle (aside from the saltiness), this might be your answer.

Cat: My name is Cat, and I am a salt-aholic. This desire for delicious salted goods extends to almost every variety of nuts, most especially pistachio (there was one time as a child where I snarfed an entire bag of pistachios and had some regrets, but mostly felt victorious), so I was pretty stoked for this month’s cupcake. Upon first glance, I had a good vibe about this. The cake was clearly the incredibly dense white cake, which is promising and always feather-light on the tastebuds. Dipping into the first bite proved my anticipation correct, as I was swept into a smooth pistachio dream. The star, now and always, was the frosting. Let’s talk about the frosting for a bit. This stuff is fascinating. In Brookstone and high-end toy stores recently, they’ve been shilling this sand-clay substance for kids. It’s all sand, natural and chemical free, but it forms a moldable clay that feels distinctly otherworldly. It’s a sensation that feels weird for a plaything, but I swear, the frosting on this felt exactly the same, and it was AWESOME. I just kept poking at it, feeling how smooth but firm it was? I guess liquidier is the right term. I loved it. The pistachio flavor was spot on. The combination of the buttery smooth pistachio-ness with the sprinkles of sea salt conveyed the perfect illusion of nuttiness (nut-like taste sensation, not eccentricity). If this was something like a cake pop, where the entire white cake was covered with the mysterious and enthralling frosting, I would have been perfectly content.

Put the Lime in the Coconut in my Mouth

For as long as I’ve been paying attention, Cupcake Royale‘s April Fools joke is to bring out the Compost Cupcake. And, apparently, it is a real cupcake that some people actually enjoy, so it is really and truly and actually their usual April flavour of the month. I don’t recall what that cupcake is like, but I do recall that, at least the one time I read the description, it did not sound appealing to me. (Though Cat has pointed me at the description for this year, which sounds mostly good, so perhaps I don’t know what I’m talking about.) As April approached, I confess that I had some slight dread over having to try this cupcake. (The version my brain told me was real. Not the version currently posted on their site.) You can imagine my relief when, instead, the following cupcake was posted as their April flavour of the month.

Toasted Coconut Lime Cupcake
Toasted Coconut Lime CupcakeAvailable April only – Coconut cake gets a tart and tangy swirl of real lime buttercream. Finished with toasted coconut.

Amber: Cut in half, this cupcake looks lovely and spongy and light. I’m more excited than I thought I’d be for something with no chocolate. It’s lovely that they use coconut shavings and not the cheap stuff that you’ll find at my flat. As usual, the buttercream frosting proportions look good. Now, to put it in my mouth…Oh my stars. It is, indeed, lovely and spongy and light. And the lime is a bright burst of flavour. There’s nothing overwhelming here. The coconut is subtle. Yes, I love the flavour of this cupcake. I might like more coconut flavour, but I don’t need it. As it is, and whilst it’s not the sort of bold and stand-out flavour that I’m likely to pine over when the month is ended, this is delightful. I would like to eat about a million more right now, please.

Cat: I think Cupcake Royale is trying to make up for February’s overload, because, ever since, they’ve had flavors that feel specifically geared towards my tastes. Fluffy mint and chocolate? Don’t mind if I do. Coconut cake? Well sure, of course. Lime frosting? TAKE ALL MY MONEY, YOU NOW OWN MY TASTE BUDS. I was actually nervous to taste this cake, along the same lines of my nerves with last month’s Samoa cupcake, because it was so much of what I like it was doomed to fail, right? Wrong. This was delicious and delicate and owned up to everything I wanted it to be.

Like Amber noted, the cake was a lovely sponge, most similar to the buttercake base of CR’s Lavender Cupcake. There might be a coconut twinge to the cake itself, though, if so, it’s too subtle for my palate. Which is not a slight—the cake is delicious and doesn’t make me feel over-indulgent. It’s just not smacking me in the face with tropical sensations. The coconut love comes mostly in the form of the thick-cut coconut shreds on top. What a delight to look upon something that bears a resemblance to the actual source food. No flitty slivers of spun sugar disguised as coconut for these folks! But the lime frosting. Oh, the lime frosting. It’s slaying me. The frosting carries the lion’s share of the cupcake flavor, and it does it in such a way that I want to treat it real nice, if you’re catching my drift. It’s a pure lime flavor, not diluted or a false, electric green copycat (I might be betraying my bitterness at whatever lime syrup they use in the magic multi-flavor Coke dispensers, but, good news: that mysterious radioactive flavoring is nowhere to be seen in this cupcake). It makes me think of summer, of long drives with the windows down, of music, of joy, and I want all my food slathered in this frosting from now on.

It’s Lemony Fresh!

Happy housewife with a lemony fresh cupcakeWe hate to use clichés that are most often employed in describing cleaning products, but we drove away from Trophy Cupcakes with our thoughts on sunshine and brightness. We blame the flavour of the month.

Lemon Meringue Pie Cupcake
Lemon Meringue CupcakeLemon • Graham Cracker • Lemon Curd • Meringue Frosting
Pucker up for Lemon Meringue Pie! This tangy treat is our fresh lemon cake filled with house made lemon curd atop a buttery graham cracker “pie” crust. It’s topped off with a Hi-Swirl of toasted marshmallow meringue frosting. Lemony and Luscious!

Amber: In spite of the fact that it looks like the dreaded marshmallow from last month’s cupcake, what you see on that cupcake is meringue. Meringue that is just the way it’s supposed to be when on a lemon meringue pie, piled high and not dry. Lovely and wet in a way that still feels light. And that bottom crust? I was worried. Crust and I have a difficult relationship, especially things like graham cracker crusts. I can get a bit sad about crusts that ruin the softness or creaminess of whatever they’re holding, and graham cracker crusts are usually the worst. And, honestly, a graham cracker crust on an actual lemon meringue pie would just make me weep disconsolately…But the crust on what I put into my mouth was slight…so minimal that I didn’t really notice it. A mere hint of crust. Well done. The cupcake, itself, was quite a nice vehicle to get the lemon curd filling into my mouth. And that’s all I wanted. You see, I have a strong fondness for lemon curd. And, whilst I would not have turned down more lemon curd, they didn’t skimp here. This cupcake was a lemony, not-too-tart, not-too-sweet delight. That both cupcake places chose bright citrus flavours and executed them well this month was a beautiful gift for my mouth.

Cat: On my rankings of dessert and dessert-related bakery items, anything lemon is near the top (underneath cheese-related dessert items, but miles above any other fruit). Give me a lemon square and I’m indebted to you forever. It’s just how it works. When I saw this month’s Trophy flavor, and furthermore, when I saw it involved sweet, sweet lemon curd, I was sold. That being said, the meringue was enough to give me pause. As Amber noted, it was reminiscent of the S’more cupcake’s marshmallow topping, right down to the scorch marks, and that made me shy away from total open-armed acceptance. I needn’t have worried. The meringue was no sticky substance, but a smooth cream stirred into sweet, sweet satisfaction. It was like slurping ambrosia, a perfectly thick yet light topping for a deliciously lemony cake. And that cake. Perfect texture and perfect flavoring, real lemon goodness without being overtly strong. But it was still distinctly lemon, and I could have eaten ten of them. The custard was more liquid than I expected, but that’s not an offense. The thinner viscosity just allowed the bright golden filling to cascade over the rest of the cupcake, filling every bit with a jolt of tartness, all the better to accompany the meringue. Overall, there was no clear winner this month. I want all the lime frosting from Cupcake Royale, and could snack on cake and curd for days to come. Happy April to me!

Made With Real Girl Scouts

Let’s start with a moment of gratitude for Wednesday Addams, who forever changed my mental state when Girl Scout cookies come up.

Now, let’s get to the insanity. The tempered insanity. Because, like the mature beings we are, we really did learn our lesson and, until someone pays us to do it or we forget not to do it, we won’t eat loads of cupcakes at once. (And couldn’t really if we’d wanted to, given Trophy Cupcakes doesn’t have every flavour every day…) One week, two trips, four cupcakes.

On their Facebook page, here’s what Trophy tells us about the four flavours they’re promoting this month in honour of Girl Scout cookie sales:

Enjoy these ‪#‎GirlScoutCookie inspired flavors:
Thin Mint (with a real GS Thin Mint baked in) – M, W & F
Samoas (happy 40th birthday!) – Sun, T, Th & Sat
Dark Chocolate PB (like a Tagalong) – Th & Sat
S’more (inspired by our founder’s time at Girl Scout Camp)- Sun & Mondays

See our reviews below for the details, but do note that Thin Mint was only available until 3/15. We posted a note on our assorted social media outlets to let you know, and we hope you saw and acted on that! (If others have limited availability, it’s not noted on the Trophy site.)

Thanks to Sarah K. for providing us with actual Girl Scout cookies to taste as we ate these cupcakes. We aren’t going to do comparisons based on old memories!

Thin Mint

Trophy Cupcake: Thin MintChocolate • Mint • Girl Scout Cookie

Everybody loves Girl Scout Cookies — especially in the form of cupcakes! Our Thin Mint cupcake features rich Valrhona chocolate cake with a real Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookie baked into the bottom. It’s filled with mint buttercream then hand-dipped in heavenly, minty Belgian chocolate ganache. Available Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays, February 27th through March 15th only!

Days Available: Monday – Wednesday – Friday

Thin Mint cupcake cross-sectionAmber: Look at all that lovely mint! I honestly didn’t expect so much…Okay…Let’s start at the top. The chocolate ganache is darker and more dominant than I’d like. I’m pleased there’s a lot of mint flavour over all, but definitely recommend not eating it in a way that the ganache is turned towards your tongue or all you taste is darkness. And not in a sexy vampire way…heh. The cookie doesn’t really seem to add anything…it just sort of disappears into the cupcake. And because it’s sitting under a moist cupcake, it hasn’t even got any crunch. Bummer. Does the cupcake taste like the cookie? Basically, though that chocolate ganache actually makes it taste a little too dark. Remove that and, sure, I’d buy it as the parallel flavour. (However—and I wouldn’t normally make this a competition, but…—I did just try the Cupcake Royale Grasshopper cupcake last week, and I’d take that one over this if I were going for a chocolate mint cupcake. Sorry, Trophy.)

Cat: The Thin Mint cookie definitely feels like the epitome of Girls Scout cookies, right?  It’s not necessarily the first, and it’s not necessarily the best, but it feels like the most ubiquitous by far.  And it does go down awful smooth—before you know it, you’re left with an empty box of cookies and vague feelings of regret (and joy, of course).  That’s because the cookie is crisp and smooth and just dissolves in your mouth like the faintest wisp of magic.

The cupcake, unfortunately, doesn’t have the same effervescent success.  I blame the ganache.  The ganache made it weird.  It’s way too dark, even when offset with the delicious mint cream.  If anything, the mint cream becomes lost, falling victim to rich, black flavor.  A flavor which, by the by, is so not in the cookie that it’s startling the cake would go that route.  Thin Mints aren’t dark cookies!  They’re tiny bits of nothing-there light chocolate!  The ganache even overshadows the actual cookie in the cupcake.  The cookie bottom barely even registers.  Uncool, ganache.  Way to be an attention whore.  Cupcake Royale wins this round.

Chocolate Graham Cracker (aka S’more)

Trophy Cupcake: Chocolate Graham CrackerValrhona Chocolate • Graham Cracker Crust • Toasted Marshmallow

Our S’mores-inspired cupcake was created especially for Martha Stewart when we appeared on her show. It stars rich Valrhona chocolate cake topped with a Hi-Swirl of toasted marshmallow meringue frosting on top of a bittersweet chocolate and graham cracker crust. She called them “utterly delicious!”

Days Available: Sunday – Monday

Amber: I realised, as I pondered making a s’more in order to compare flavours, that I’m not really keen on s’mores. They’re okay, but I far prefer banana boats or just plain old toasted-over-flames marshmallows. If I have s’mores, I’m settling or I’m humouring someone. Also, at best, I find graham crackers to be a barely-positive taste experience (and that’s if they are the sort made with loads of cinnamon sugar or that are actually little sweet biscuits like Teddy Grahams). So, the cupcake already has an advantage here. But I’m going into this dubious. I feel I ought to be honest about my bias before I get all review-y on you. Right. Cupcake.

There’s a lot of marshmallow here…Actually, this cupcake is okay. I feel like the flavours come together well for me and the graham cracker is pretty much sublimated (no significant taste impact, no crunchy or grainy bits), which is a good thing in my book. But the marshmallow…there’s a bit too much of it, which makes the whole thing sweeter than I actually appreciate. I think I’d prefer this as a slice of cake I can eat with a fork (to help with the marshmallow messiness…and, no, I can’t just eat a cupcake with a fork, you heathen!) and, again, less marshmallow. I didn’t think this cupcake was anything special; it was fine but nothing I’d choose over other favourites. That said, I definitely prefer it to an actual s’more.

Cat: Doing a monthly sweets reflection is revealing all my strange texture hang ups.  Marshmallows?  Definitely fall under the “ughhh” part of that label.  I don’t even mind s’mores, but I’m absolutely the kind of person who burns their marshmallow into charcoal and loads up the chocolate.  That way, I get way more crunch than your typical fluffy, goopy, weirdly manufactured marshmallow.  Which is all to say this cupcake did not do it for me.  I dug the chocolate cake, and I really like the graham-y sweetness, but the marshmallow functioned just like the Stay Puft man.  It demolished everything, the airy white fluff covering everything with its stickiness and spun sugar taste.  Also, it tasted a little like they tried to infuse the marshmallow with smoke flavor?  I couldn’t figure  out if that came from actually torching those orange lines in, or if it was the same smoke-in-a-bottle from CR’s smoked chocolate.  Overall, this thing was strange, all sponge and stickiness and no, thank you.

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter (aka Tagalong)

Trophy Cupcakes: Dark Chocolate Peanut ButterValrhona Chocolate • Peanut Butter • Belgian Chocolate Ganache

It doesn’t get more decadent than this. Our Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter cupcake is inspired by the Girl Scouts Tagalong cookie. It features rich Valrhona chocolate cake filled with peanut butter buttercream and dipped in rich Belgian chocolate ganache. To make you swoon, it’s topped off with a sprinkling of chopped salted peanuts.

Days Available: Thursday – Saturday

Amber: First concern here is that the cookie has milk chocolate and the cupcake is dark chocolate. (I’ve never had a Tagalong before. It’s good, but in a cheap way. Comforting like something I would have thought was fancy as a kid.) Fortunately, the ganache on this cupcake isn’t as dark as that on the Thin Mint. But it’s still a little dark and rich in comparison to the cookie it’s meant to parallel. The peanut butter flavour is much subtler than I’d like and certainly subtler than the cookie. Once again, I’d like to posit that the cupcake would be better with more cream. That said, whilst the chocolate isn’t milk enough, the peanut butter evokes the same sphere of taste as that in the cookie. What I can taste of it. But it’s still too lightly flavoured. And, once again, I feel like I’m eating an amped up Hostess cupcake. Is it the ganache? (Reminder: I don’t actually mean anything negative when I compare this to a Hostess cupcake.) Though the salt on top deserves a shout out. That was a nice touch!

Cat: First things first. I’m not a peanut butter girl.  I’ll eat it for quick energy, and who am I to turn down a Reese’s, but overall it’s low on my list of sweet indulgences.  Which is why this cupcake, this lovely surprise of a cupcake, startled me so much.  It was awesome.  Need I say more?  Sure I do.

I’d also never had a Tagalong (see again: not a fan of PB, especially in desserts), so my first upset was when the cookie turned out better than I’d imagined.  I’d never actually purchase it, because Thin Mints and Samoas exist, but I wouldn’t kick it out of the house for showing up unexpectedly.  The cookie had that cheap confectioner’s peanut butter that’s weirdly good, maybe because it’s a throwback to second-rate chocolate holiday candy.  Whatever.  I liked it.

But it made me all the more nervous when we pulled out a dark chocolate cupcake, covered in thick ganache.  I feared a Thin Mint situation.  I worried that an already unpleasant flavor sensation was about to get worse.  I steeled myself to force it down.  All that, and so needlessly.  First, the ganache wasn’t as dark!  Saints be praised!  Also, there was no straight peanut butter, it was peanut butter whipped into a cream.  Cream is much easier to handle.   The cake was topped with peanuts and salt, which rocked my world.  Salt and chocolate are born to be together.  Salt and me are born to be together.  How pleasant, to end up enjoying this cupcake a trillion times more than I expected.

Samoa

Trophy Cupcake: SamoaValrhona Chocolate • Caramel • Coconut

Inspired by our all-time favorite Girl Scout cookie, Trophy’s Samoas cupcake starts with a rich Valrhona chocolate cupcake filled with caramel cream. We top it off with dreamy coconut buttercream rolled in toasted coconut and a drizzle of house-made caramel and chocolate ganache. Happy 40th birthday Samoas!

Days Available: Sunday – Tuesday – Thursday – Saturday

Amber: Oh. My. Stars. I haven’t had one of these cookies in years. In spite of the fact that I’m a big mint chocolate fan, this is probably my favourite of the Girl Scout cookies. So, y’know, no pressure, cupcake. (Yes, I remembered the cupcake was the important part.) Now, I don’t want you to die of shock, but I actually think that, for what it’s trying to do, this cupcake has too much cream. We were too excited to remember a cross-section picture, but there’s both the buttercream inside and a massive amount of buttercream on top, under that tasty caramel and coconut. And, as much as I would really like this cupcake (and the cream in satisfying quantities) in another, non-comparison context, that cream is doing a lot to make this less like the cookie. One of the things I love about the cookie is the chewiness and the taste balance. This cupcake needs more of the chew and more of the coconut and caramel (and less of the cream) to be more like the cookie. (Also, a frosting like this but peanut butter-flavoured would have been better for the Tagalong cupcake.) Though the Cupcake Royale Grasshopper cupcake still wins my month, this is really a good cupcake, probably my favourite of the Trophy flavours for this month, Just don’t eat it at the same time as the cookie by which it’s inspired.

Cat: The Samoa cookie is my ultimate, my everything.  There is nothing quite as good.  It’s the perfect marriage of flavors.  It makes coconut taste good, and can convert nearly anyone into a bonafide coconut lover (fact: this cookie is the reason my favorite cake is German chocolate.  It opens doors, people).  Naturally, this was the cupcake I was most excited for.  My first impression?  It needed more coconut and caramel.  The drizzle with the flakes on the top were the best part, and I think it would have worked better—and been more like the cookie—if those things were closer to the base portion.  The frosting is very good, although I didn’t get a huge smack of coconut flavor.  It was more like a light caramel-ly cream, more akin to dulce de leche than caramel coconut.  And, to echo Amber, there was way too much of it.  The chocolate, the delectable caramel and coconut, all fell victim to frosting and unfortunate cookie comparisons.  The cookie crunches, it has caramel chewiness, and the crunch and chew were lacking in the cupcake.  I think this would have been fine if it was just a monthly special underneath a different name, but once you conflate it with the cookies, those poor cupcakes are just born to lose.

 

Hop Into My Mouth

From what you’ve all told us since last month, your favourite post was the one where we suffered the most. We’re discussing the potential of some moderate suffering later, but we’re going to disappoint you this week. We’re sorry, but Cupcake Royale had just one flavour of the month. Just one. And, actually, we’re not sorry.

The Grasshopper Cupcake

Cupcake Royale: The Grasshopper CupcakeAvailable March only – rich chocolate cake topped with Seely’s peppermint buttercream frosting, dunked in housemade chocolate and topped with green and white sprinkles and chocolate curls. Also available in Gluten Free.

Amber: Mounds of mint visible. I’m optimistic! And there’s something that excites me about a crisp chocolate shell (probably tied into a childhood fascination with liquid toppings that hardened into crisp chocolate shells on ice cream). My mouth tells me that they did this correctly. Perfect cool mint, the sort that makes the whole thing taste light in spite of the fact that this is a dense chocolate cake. And that chocolate…present enough to hold its own, but not overwhelming. The cake seems slightly less moist than last month’s cakes, but this isn’t a bad thing, as it means the cupcake is somehow reminding me of my mum’s non-cakey chocolate-mint brownies…though the cake isn’t fudgy, so don’t expect that, readers. (Dear Mum, these are tasty enough that surely they are available in Heaven. Please try one and see what a compliment this is for both you and Cupcake Royale.) Also, that crispy shell? Just the perfect thin layer for holding in the mint whilst it awaits your mouth. Hop in any time, grasshopper.

Cupcake cross-section...mounds of mint frosting ahoy!Cat: Well this is just lovely.  Anything with chocolate and mint equals heaven in my book, so even the slightest glance at the cool green peeking from beneath the smooth chocolate shell is enough to send my soul into spasms of joy.  First things first: the chocolate cupcake base.  Cupcake Royale knows how to do a basic chocolate (at least when it’s not a rich Valentine’s chocolate coming at the tail end of a sugar overload), with this great crust that’s somehow chewy and highlights the proper cake-iness of the cake.  I adore the mint frosting, which manages to be light without being too reminiscent of toothpaste, and the slight, the ever so slight, crunch of the chocolate coating.  When those are combined with the chewy crust, it’s a cookie-like sensation I treasure.  But better, since it’s a cake and there’s so much more than your basic flat cookie.  It’s got substance!  I’m absolutely savoring this cupcake.  It’s a culinary experience I don’t want to end.  I’m dragging it out as long as possible, then grasping at crumbs on the counter.

Sweet, Merciful Moderation

You may recall from last week that our first cupcake outing was…somewhat daunting. So you can imagine our relief when our trip to Trophy Cupcakes involved only one cupcake of the month. Of course, given the paranoia induced by our previous Really Smart Outing, we bought a lovely and light lemon cupcake to share afterwards. Just in case our tastebuds needed rescue.

Dark Chocolate Raspberry

Trophy Cupcake: Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cupcake

Available daily through February

Valrhona Chocolate • Raspberry Buttercream Filling • Belgian Chocolate Ganache

Our Valrhona Cupcake is filled with Raspberry Buttercream then dipped in bittersweet Belgian chocolate ganache and topped with a pretty red heart. Nothing says “I Love You” like Dark Belgian Chocolate and Raspberries!

Amber: What I’m about to say is meant in the best possible way. Understand that Trophy Cupcakes is, to my mouth, as good a cupcake as Cupcake Royale, but they’re different. They’re smaller and denser, which is sometimes exactly what I want. Their frosting tends to be a lighter texture (not applicable to ganache, like we got this month). But they have the same high quality of ingredients and tendency towards excellent taste that Cupcake Royale has. Keep that in mind for the next sentence. This cupcake tastes like an expensive and high quality version of a Hostess cupcake, but the cream filling is raspberry flavoured. Which means that I ate with eager and childish delight. The only thing I’d change is that I’d want more cream filling. I always want more cream filling. (See picture proof that my desire for more cream filling might not be reasonable.) This straightforward beauty has made my mouth fall in love with cupcakes again, something I was worried about after the assault by cupcake earlier this month.Creamy cupcake inside

Cat: I was incredibly skittish going into this cupcake experience.  The last taste day had left my mouth wounded, broken, unable to look chocolate in the eye. Seeing that this cupcake had a dark ganache and a fruit filling (a.k.a. the bane of any dessert), I thought “not my bag.”

I thought wrong.

Yes, the ganache was dark, but it was thin and perfectly complemented by the raspberry cream filling.  That filling.  That’s the way to put fruit flavor in a dessert.  A way that’s light, whipped, and creamy.  Not gelatinous goop, but airy creaminess that makes your tongue float.  This was the cupcake that made everything else OK.  It healed my wounds.  I want to eat sheets of the ganache and bathe in the filling.  Thanks for the new fantasy, cupcake.

Oh, the Cake-manity!

One of the things we like best about this world is its food. I mean, we like other things, but we knew immediately that we were going to need to make our “goal” to try the monthly cupcake flavours at two local shops that are sort of The Big Deal in cupcakes part of what we talked about in this blog. We don’t want to come off as completely hating this world. So, every month, we’re going to have (at the very least) posts for the monthly cupcake flavours at Cupcake Royale and Trophy Cupcakes.

By some great twist of fate, our very first month is a month where Cupcake Royale has five special cupcakes and another special individual-sized cake. Those of you who hate Valentine’s Day must at least acknowledge that, given it has caused this excess of cupcakes and the Deathcake Royale, the day is not entirely without merits. Because they make quality cupcakes and because we are ridiculous, we made the stellar and mature decision to try all five special flavours and the Deathcake in one sitting. Okay, maybe the most mature decision in this outing was to share cupcakes instead of eating five whole cupcakes, and a Deathcake, each. (Hurrah for the lady behind the counter for labelling things well for us! And for suggesting we also get some water…Not pictured.)

All our cupcakes and the Deathcake on our tableAre you ready for this? We thought we were….Here’s what we ate, in the order in which we ate…

(We’ll start each of the bits below with the picture and description of the cupcake from the Cupcake Royale site. And then we’ll tell you what we thought based on notes we wrote in the moment. No credit for the professional pictures goes to us. Definitely not.)

Caramelized White Chocolate

Caramelized White Chocolate cupcake. Picture by Cupcake Royale.Available Jan 29th – Feb 28th.

“We’ve done it, we’ve caramelized white chocolate and, man, is it GOOD! Vanilla cake filled with a salted caramel sauce + whipped cream cheese frosting + caramelized Vahlrona white chocolate crumbles.”

Amber: Light, not too cloying or sweet. Both the caramel and the white chocolate flavours are subtle and the caramel filling is perfectly soft. The frosting is so light and airy, in spite of being creamy. This might be what clouds in Heaven taste like…

Cat: This had me from the beginning. Say caramel, and I’m there. Add salt to that descriptor? Why isn’t this already in my mouth. But it’s the top that makes this cake. Lightest. Frosting. Ever. The cake itself is solid, your basic delicious morsel, but it’s the whipped frosting and gentle softball-stage caramel in the middle that makes this an amazing cupcake.

Malted Milk Chocolate

Malted Milk Chocolate cupcake. Picture by Cupcake Royale.Available Jan 29th – Feb 28th.

“Vanilla cupcake with chunks of milk chocolate topped with Theo malted milk chocolate buttercream + housemade malted meringue.”

Amber: As with any Cupcake Royale cupcake, the texture is moist and awesome. And this is a tasty cupcake, but the only malt appears to be in the frosting. And I would probably like this more if I had extra frosting.

Cat: Nothing gave this away as malt before I tried it. There was no smell, no obvious crumbs or chunks in the cake, and that was the first warning sign. All the malt flavor was manifest in the crumbled malt bits on top and some slight flavor gently folded into the frosting. The rest of the flavor was from the milk chocolate chunks. Good quality chocolate, but I expect to drown in the taste of Whoppers when I eat something malted, not to be grasping for flavor.

 

Chocolate Dipped Strawberry

Chocolate Dipped Strawberry cupcake. Picture by Cupcake Royale.Available Jan 29th – Feb 28th.

“We’ve combined two of our favorite desserts to create the Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Cupcake.  Chocolate cake filled with fresh local strawberry compote and topped with Woodblock Chocolate buttercream”

Amber: With these five flavours, I know they’re going for something fancy for Valentine’s Day. And this one is definitely that. For some reason, I didn’t enjoy that sense of fanciness here. I liked their strawberry filling, but didn’t feel there was enough strawberry taste to the whole cupcake. It was good but not one I’m probably buying again.

Cat: Ugh. Now this is a mouth sensation I cannot abide. Jam in cake is an abomination to my palate. It’s all goop, slimy texture combined with whipped buttercream. The strawberry flavor is strong–I would say too strong. It’s the kind of sticky sweetness that permeates the Valentine’s holiday. It’s the saccharine cake equivalent of an insipid box of chocolates with grocery store roses. It fits the festive bill, but feels uninspired. It’s the first cupcake I don’t…no, I can’t…finish.

Smoked Chocolate

Smoked Chocolate cupcake. Picture by Cupcake Royale.Available Jan 29 – Feb 28th.

“Our chocolate cupcake is piled with smoky chocolate buttercream that is smoked in Seattle by Young & Young Smoke Co.…”

Amber: I’m immediately intrigued. Cat told me to smell it before she cut it, and I can definitely smell the smoked flavour! (Break in writing to actually eat.) I have no idea whether or not I like this. My mouth and nose are now flooded with something that makes me think of piles of sauce-slathered meats. It’s so outside my taste experiences that I just…don’t know. (Plus, I’ve already eaten 1.5 cupcakes, so my body is probably in overload.) Maybe a babycake eaten on its own would work? I’m just…unsure…Everything is smoke.

I think I don’t like my cupcakes rich. I think I want even my chocolate cupcakes to be light and fun. I madly love chocolate, but I think my palate, when it comes to cupcakes, is not grown up enough to appreciate deep and/or dark chocolates. This excursion is starting to look like a dubious choice…

Cat: Wow. Is that eau de hickory chip in the frosting? Eating this cupcake is like eating ham-cured chocolate. The cupcake works on the weirdness factor for a while–capitalizing on the novelty of things like bacon maple bars, but fancy-pants-ifying the entire process–but it gets too cloying as I eat more. All I taste is smoke. All I smell is smoke. All I am is smoke.

Black Bottom

Black Bottom cupcake. Picture by Cupcake Royale.Available Jan 29th – Feb 28th.

“When cheesecake batter meets chocolate cake! Chocolate cake filled with cheesecake batter + Venezuelan Chocolate buttercream + marbled chocolate curls.”

Amber: I have no palate left. It has been destroyed by the last two cupcakes. And possibly by the incredibly questionable decision to eat 2.5 cupcakes on a mostly-empty stomach, early on a Monday morning. Yes, my tongue tells me this is a chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting…my tongue also tells me it likes this filling, but can’t for the life of me figure out what it’s supposed to be. (Cat looks it up. Cheesecake? Really? At this point, my tongue and I have no choice but to trust the internet.) So, I like it best of the three fully chocolate cupcakes I’ve just eaten, especially the filling, but I still think the tendency of fancy cupcake shops to lean rich in their chocolates is going to trip me up every time.

Cat: So it’s cheesecake batter. Huh. The combined flavors taste like a high-end chocolate box, all semi-sweet and rich tasting. I think it’s what death tastes like. Every possible flavor on the chocolate spectrum rolled into one. I’m chocolate exhausted. What is the meaning of life? What is the meaning of this taste experiment? How many cake fragments can I leave in the box? I give up. One more bite of cake today will be my death.

Deathcake Royale

Deathcake. Picture by Cupcake Royale.Available Jan 29th – Feb 15th.

“Deathcake is back in it’s original form! We layered espresso chocolate decadence, salted milk chocolate ganache and chocolate cake together…”

Amber: Cat was right to save hers for later. I powered through, because my stubborn determination and the sugar high completely overwhelmed my common sense. One bite though. Just one bite. I wasn’t sure if I was having a hard time swallowing due to laughter (thanks for not snapping a photo, Cat) or my body protesting more sweetness. Moist. Rich. Death. I am pretty sure, if soil were edible, this is what the earth I’m buried in will taste like. I mean that in the best possible way.

Cat: It took 24 hours before I could bring myself to tackle the Deathcake. It might have been a little too soon. I could only take three bites, put it away, wait an hour, take three more, and so on. The slow and steady sugar overdose instead of the massive munching the day before. But on to the Deathcake itself. Yes, it’s rich, but not too bad. I don’t dig the middle espresso layer, personal preference, but the rest? Oh, the rest.  The ganache is swimming through a chocolate ocean. The cake is every bit as moist and flavorful as any cake should be. Unlike the black bottom, where the chocolates battle, these work together for decadent delight. Slow, measured, take-your-time delight.

HereThe mess after we'd eaten what we could of the cupcakes is the resulting carnage…We raced out, so high on sugar and in need of salt licks, that we probably looked like unattended toddlers on Halloween. Eeeeeeee! Overall, we agreed the Caramelized White Chocolate was the best, though we admit that, if we were true scientists, we’d go back to see how much they benefited from being first eaten (though we did try to go from lightest to darkest on the theory that would be best for our palates and fairest for the cupcakes). Fortunately, we are just mature enough to know better than to do this again. Y’know, until there’s another month with five flavours….

UPDATE: It was 5.25 days before Amber was able to eat anything sweet. (She actually salted her whole-grain cereal the morning after this excursion and got slightly ill when she accidentally ingested a little jam 3 days after the cupcakes.) NEVER AGAIN.