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 • 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.