Friday, June 26, 2009

Our NYC Cupcake Tour!

***Forgive me, I can't seem to get a grip on the layout features that allow me to space my photos through the text, so I apologize for the awkwardness. It's a work in progress.

While in NYC we had this great idea to go on a cupcake tour of the city, stopping at various acclaimed bakeries and sampling their wares. Monday seemed the perfect day (and the rain actually stopped to accommodate us!) so Ryan plotted a course and we set off to our first stop - Cheeks bakery in Williamsburg.

It was closed. Permanently. Boo.

So we kept walking across a windy bridge into Manhattan, and the next stop was Butter Lane. I was really excited for this one because Cupcakes Take the Cake raves about it all the time. The outside was adorable - just this little cottage-feeling store front tucked into the side of a neighborhood. They didn't have a big display, just a few pans of cupcakes sitting on the counter. I asked the worker what kind he suggested, and boldly (for me) took his advice - chocolate cake with maple frosting. Ry got white cake with raspberry frosting. They looked adorable.

We split them in half to try both...and didn't really like them. The cake was on the dry side, and the frosting was a little crusted from sitting out exposed to the air. The raspberry was too subtle to taste, and the maple was like chewing on a mouthful of brown sugar. Ugh. Sadly, we weren't very happy with these...and they were out of milk, so we had to wash them down with water. On the up side, they do use all organic ingredients...

Then off we went to our next location, Eleni's in Chelsea Market. What a great shop! They had a long clear display case the length of the store with all clear stands and props, so you really saw the cupcakes and cookies (they seem to specialize in very cute but very expensive themed sugar cookies - like $4 each little baseball bats. Cute, but too rich for my pocketbook). Their sign & accent walls were a cheerful pink, and it was all really eye catching. We again asked what the most popular flavors were, and went with two of them - Oreo and peanut butter cup. The Oreo flavor had an Oreo baked inside the chocolate cake as well as on top, toasted marshmallows, and Oreo-cream-flavored frosting. The peanut butter was also chocolate cake with a peanut butter cup baked inside, topped with peanut butter frosting.

They were AMAZING.

The cake was really moist and light, the frostings were flavorful but not pure sugar, and in general, these got a big thumbs up. Eleni's for the win!

On our way out, we saw another bakery that was not on our list just right next door - "Ruthy's" I think? They had the most elaborately decorated cupcakes I'd seen in a long time, including large flowers, Muppets, and teenage mutant ninja turtles. We admired them, and their nearly $5 price tag, and it slowly began to hit us how much sugar we had already consumed. We didn't stop at Ruth's, but continued on to our next stop, Billy's in Chelsea.

...where we realized we were already starting to feel pretty sick from sugar. I was shocked, knowing how awful my daily diet is, I thought for sure I could pack away close to a dozen before folding...but it was not so. Billy's didn't have very many flavors, and was pretty busy, so we just took a look around and decided to skip it. Maybe we were too old for a cupcake day?

Big Booty was next on our list, and the little logo guy looks exactly like the owner, David. David is beautiful. Reason enough to go in, even if you can't put down another cupcake. They also have a lot of other breads & treats, and I actually went for a croissant, hoping it would turn my cupcake appetite around, and Ryan insisted we try a red velvet cupcake. I was actually surprised we hadn't seen red velvet at the previous bakeries, and perhaps even more surprising - I've never tasted red velvet cake. I'm pretty picky, and usually stick to what I know I like, but I was being daring on this trip, so I bit.

Big Booty's red velvet cupcake was really moist with melty cream cheese frosting (it was getting hot by then) and I think had I been a fan of red velvet, I would have really liked it. As it turns out, I'm just not into that flavor, but I'd be willing to try Big Booty again - and the croissant was WONDERFUL, just what I needed at that point.

At this point you'll note that between the two of us we had only consumed 5 cupcakes + 1 croissant. And we were done. We just couldn't eat any more. I was pretty shocked, but didn't want to push it - especially since we were due to sit in the Letterman audience later that night. So, we abandoned our mission early. On the way to and from the Ed Sullivan theatre we passed our final destination (Sprinkles?Something that was a chain, but I can't seem to recall - I was in a sugar coma at that point) but our cupcake consumption couldn't be forced.

This was a super fun idea, and I LOVED seeing all the pretty cupcakes, but were I to do it again, I think I'd have to space it out, one destination per day over the course of a trip. Though it was great that all our walking CLEARLY burned off any calories we consumed during our tastings :)

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