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Baked by Melissa

May 16, 2011

A cupcake shop that I’ve been told time and again to try is Baked by Melissa. With four Manhattan locations, all of which opened in the last two years or so, this place has really taken off. Melissa’s sells teeny tiny (I mean it) cupcakes at a dollar a piece. As cupcakes are a fairly high margin product to begin with, it’s no surprise that at these prices, this bakery has had success.

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My roommate and I decided to splurge and get a dozen cupcakes for $10 (what a deal! not…). I’ve been to bakeries where some flavors rock while others disappoint so I always try to try multiple flavors wherever I go. Luckily, Melissa’s has a 11 flavors, so we got to try them all! And frankly, these little guys are so small, that even though we split a dozen cupcakes between the two of us, we probably consumed just as many calories as having one regularly-sized cupcake each!

 

THE FLAVORS

Top Row

      • Cookie Dough: THE BEST ONE! It’s lucky that we got two of these, because they were seriously delish. The best part? An actual chunk of real cookie dough on top of the cake and another one inside!
      • Mint Chocolate Chip: Blegh! While I’m usually a fan of chocolate/mint combos, the frosting on this seriously tasted like toothpaste.
      • Chocolate Chip Pancake: This one was just okay. Neither of us could taste the pancake flavoring though, so we were kind of let down.
      • Cookies & Cream: Yummy! Just like a nibble of Oreo cake.

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Middle

  • S’mores: Pretty good, though I wish there were more distinct marshmallow and graham cracker flavors.
  • Cinnamon: Awesome flavor. Why don’t more places offer cinnamon cupcakes? Would definitely get it again.
  • Peanut Butter & Jelly: Not terrible, but we had higher hopes for this guy. We both agreed too much PB and not enough J!
  • Peanut Butter Cup: A classic! It was good, but it’s also pretty hard to mess up a chocolate & PB combo.

Bottom Row

  • Another Cookie dough!
  • Strawberry: Whoa! This one was great, and I really wasn’t expecting it. The strawberry flavor is definitely there, yet it’s not grossly overwhelming. Chocolate drizzle on top was perfect!
  • Red Velvet: Not the best ever, but still pretty damn good.
  • Tie-Dye: Pretty good. I believe it was basic vanilla on vanilla with dyes and sprinkles.

 

Overall, the cupcakes were really good. Despite the fact that their size and price are pretty disappointing, the actual cake and frosting were great! I guess the small size allows the cakes to stay spongy and moist, which I loooove.

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If you haven’t tried Melissa’s yet, definitely go for it. I’m not sure if I’ll go again though. Price aside, the cupcakes aren’t too unique or unbelievably scrumptious. If I ever decide to go on a portion-controlled cupcake diet (ha!), Baked by Melissa would probably be my go-to spot though. Bite-sized dessert!

 

Baked by Melissa

109 E. 42nd St. (btwn. Park & Lexington )

New York, NY 10017

(212) 842-0220

http://www.bakedbymelissa.com

Free Cupcakes in NYC!

May 4, 2011

Hey ya’ll!

I think most NYC cupcake lovers are anxiously awaiting the opening of Sprinkles next Friday, May 13.

sprinkles.com

The LA-based cupcake shop (the Crumbs of the west coast!) will finally be opening in the Big Apple. With flavors like Chai Latte, Peanut Butter Chocolate (made with peanut butter CAKE!), and pumpkin, I am seriously going to be drooling for the next week and a half until I can get my hands on some.

To celebrate the grand opening, and help out droolers like me, Sprinkles is giving out FREE CUPCAKES across the city for the next week. Follow them on Twitter (@sprinklesmobile) to find out their location for the day and get yours! Only the first 500 people will get one, so get on it!

sprinkles.com

Best Red Velvet in NYC….CONFIRMED!!!

March 22, 2011

Remember the awesome Red Velvet cupcake I had at Two Little Red Hens?

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I believe I declared them “the best I ever had!” And to this day, that remains true.

Well, tonight I headed down to the Union Square Barnes & Noble for a book signing that my FAVORITE FAVORITE celebrity Bethenny Frankel was doing. I seriously love this woman. She is just so real. (No longer a real housewife, though! She said tonight, “I was tired of seeing women rewarded for bad behavior.”) And funny! And snarky! Just, everything she does….is awesome.

Anyways, the evening involved a Q&A session before the signing. I think Beth talked a little too much in her introduction though, and there was hardly time for questions. Out of literally FIVE people who did get to ask though, one of them was MEEEEEE!

Any good Bethenny stalker fan knows that this girl loves her red velvet cake. She practically threw a fit when she found out her favorite bakery on the UES wouldn’t be able to make her wedding cake. I’ve been trying to figure out the unnamed bakery for almost a year now, and after trying TLRH, I definitely thought it might be the one. So I asked!

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And it was! She claims that she must be their best customer because she goes so frequently. Uh, I kind of doubt that because this woman is a total Skinnygirl, even smaller than she looks on TV. But who knows!?!

Either way, it has been confirmed. Head to Two Little Red Hens to get the best red velvet cake in New York!

 

EDIT: Apparently this article, posted three days ago in the NYT, beat me to the punch. Still glad I asked though!

Cowgirl’s Baking

March 15, 2011

So, the non-cupcake loving, but still blog-supportive boyfriend came for a visit down from Boston this weekend. Fun ensued. Central Park, Broadway show, cupcakes, the usual!

We had plans on Sunday to head down to the East Village for lunch, and figured we’d check out a cupcake place in the neighborhood. DUH! Through Yelp, we found Cowgirl’s Baking.

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Unbeknownst to us, this place was brand-spankin’ new and had just opened earlier last week! I seriously knew nothing about the bakery before (aside from the most important menu item!), and I kind of liked going in without any prejudgements from things I might have heard or read. Cowgirl’s is a vegan bakery with other fun, non-bakery items like burritos and sandwiches. In addition to cupcakes though, they had lots of other baked goods that I honestly wish I could have tried, like a PB&J bar and vegan doughnuts! Also, the interior is so fresh, clean, and white! It felt like springtime in there!

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After discussions of all things good like cupcakes and blogs with the guy working (whose name I TOTALLY wish I had asked, he was so nice!) and happy customer Olivia (hey girl!), we got to picking.

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Like many other small shops, Cowgirl’s has a large cupcake menu that rotates daily. (According to their website though, daily flavors are updated via twitter, so definitely check that out.) They had the basic vanilla and chocolate, but I picked out my favorite flavor combo ever of chocolate and peanut butter!

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The boyfriend picked one out that I think was called something like Chocolate Doughnut (?). I actually don’t remember at all though, and I can’t seem to find a fitting description of it on their website, so maybe it was just a specialty cupcake of the day? Anywho, it was a chocolate cake base with creamy chocolate frosting and some chopped walnuts on top.

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We tried his first (by the way, I could NOT tell it was vegan) and we both really liked it! The chocolate cake was very rich, more so dark chocolatey than milk, and it had actual chocolate chips mixed into the batter. So fun! The frosting was awesome and super creamy. In fact, I just can’t believe there is no milk or butter in it. I need vegan recipes!

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A few hours later I dug into the chocolate peanut butter cupcake with my roommate and was blown away! I expected something pretty similar to the first cake, but this one seemed denser and more moist. I think I remember being told that they bake the cupcakes through the day, so maybe the first flavor we tried had been sitting out a bit longer, because the second one seemed to be a teeny bit fresher. They were awesomely delicious though and I really should stop nitpicking! Both cupcakes were really crumbly, but in a good way.

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Overall, I would say I’d definitely love to go back to Cowgirl’s Baking sometime before I leave New York. They were so friendly and seemed to have lots of unique flavors and treats to try. Cupcakes were $3 each and I imagine other bakery items would be fairly priced as well. The shop is TINY and the seating situation is two stools and a window seat, but I’d say grab your cupcakes to go and head on up the street to Tompkins Square Park for a day in the springtime sun!

Cowgirl’s Baking

259 E. 10th St. (btwn. 1st  & Ave. A)

New York, NY 10009

(646) 449-0469

www.cowgirlsbaking.com

Buttercup Bake Shop

March 11, 2011

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Hi all! I really do wish I could update this blog more often, but too many cupcakes = a tight waistband. On Monday I decided I was going to try and eat healthier and by Wednesday I was dining on these beauts:

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Reasoning that I needed to do a new blog post, I went to Buttercup Bake Shop and got some cupcakes to share with friends! At $2.25 a pop, we got three different kinds!

From left to right: the Hummingbird ( bananas, pineapple, pecans, and cream cheese frosting), Buttercup Golden (the original–yellow cupcake with vanilla buttercream frosting), and Red Velvet (yellow cupcake with a hint of cocoa, dyed a deep beautiful red, frosted with cream cheese frosting).

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Guess what? Boys love cupcakes too!

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That would be Brian and Joe. Cupcake tasting buddies, blog enthusiasts, and generally pretty cool guys. We split each cupcake three ways and tasted together. First up was the Buttercup Golden. I think we all enjoyed it, but agreed that there really wasn’t much special about it. I mean, basically anyone can make yellow cake with vanilla frosting from a Pillsbury box….right? Next was the Red Velvet. I personally wasn’t a huge fan (I mean, after 2LRH, nothing really compares), but B said this was his fave. I thought the cake was too crumbly and did not have much substance to stand up to rich and yummy cream cheese frosting! It turns out that we saved the best for last, though:

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The Hummingbird wins! We all agreed that the cake was like really moist, really delicious banana bread. I don’t think anybody really noticed the pineapple (? seriously I don’t recall this), but the banana and walnuts were oh-so-good. Topped with sweet cream cheese frosting, this cupcake seriously rocked. I’d say if you go to Buttercup, where most dessert items are pretty standard, go for one of the more out-of-the-ordinary flavors like this one! (P.S. Buttercup also has an Upper West Side location, with different specialty flavors like PB&J!!!)

Something else I really liked about the cupcakes here? They are actually appropriately sized! Like, as if I made them at home. Not the mega-monster cakes you can get from Crumbs. Old-fashioned, traditional cupcakes. In general, Buttercup is a pretty standard American bakery with classic desserts. Nothing too crazy here.

I don’t know if I should be saying this, but those of you who have tried Magnolia Bakery…these two places are REALLY similar and reminded me a lot of each other. Right down to the pastel-colored frostings and not-so-common banana pudding as a menu item. From my experience, I honestly think Magnolia is WAY overhyped. Magnolia offers decent cupcakes, but they aren’t quite as OMG! as people make them out to be (and seriously, Carrie Bradshaw may be fabulous, but she doesn’t quite strike me as a cupcake connoisseur). Buttercup Bake Shop is essentially the same (and actually was started by one of the original owners of Magnolia…). Both make for great places for a quick treat, but I wouldn’t say they are worth a trek across town. If you are in the neighborhood though, in search of a classic bakery that won’t break the bank (or belt buckle!) then I would definitely advise you to head to Buttercup!

 

Buttercup Bake Shop

973 2nd Ave. (btwn. 51st & 52nd)

New York, NY 10022

(212) 350-4144

http://buttercupbakeshop.com/

Cake & Shake

February 28, 2011

After hitting up Shake Shack for the BEST BURGER in New York this afternoon, I knew it was cupcake time. (By the way, we hit up the UES location and got through the line in less than five minutes! And got a place to sit.)

After wandering around and apartment shopping (pointing at random Park Ave. beauties and declaring, “I want that one!”) in the east 80’s, we ended up at the Met! Not for art, but for cupcakes!016

I love all of the street food vendors in New York, but I’ll be honest- I never actually stop at any. Until today! Gourmet and organic cupcakes, anyone? Welcome to Cake & Shake! An adorable little food truck that offers lovely cupcakes and original shakes!

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I browsed Cake & Shake’s website before going, and I was totally overwhelmed by all of the original flavor combinations they offered! 20 different types of cupcakes and even SAVORY cupcakes! Can I get a WHAT!?! I’d try the Sunrise—>cornbread cake stuffed with chicken, chilis, and cheese. They had really delicious-sounding shakes as well like Salted Caramel and Madagascar Vanilla. I’d love to come back for those! The prices were pretty fair, too. $3/cupcake and $5/shake. Other drinks (coffee, hot chocolate, bottled water) were $2.

Something that kind of sucked was that even though they have all of these different options, they aren’t ALL available every day. This actually worked out pretty well for me because picking out a flavor with 20 different options is nearly impossible. Heck, I had trouble deciding on two of the four offered today!

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I decided though, and got ‘em to go! Bye bye Met! (Even though you are on my bucket list, and I WILL go before I leave New York).

First up today was the Tropicalia. Tahitian vanilla cupcake with pineapple mousse and salted caramel frosting. I loved the frosting, but honestly had to scrape some off because it was so rich! I can’t think of how to describe the cake, except that it was really cake-y. Not airy and light, but actual, substantial cake. I looooved it and I swear the pineapple mousse contained actual chunks of pineapple WHICH WAS AWESOME. I could have eaten this cupcake sans frosting and still been satisfied, but I’m glad it was there because these flavors really worked together!025

I followed this up a few hours later with the Whozeewhatsit. Milk chocolate cake, caramel mousse, and nougat frosting. Wowza! Loved this one! The cake was moist, yet crumbly with just the right amount of chocolate flavor and the frosting and nougat sweeeeeet. I seriously have no complaints! Awesome cupcake!028

Overall, I really liked Cake & Shake. I wish they had an actual storefront, though! Or more locations. Near my apartment. And offered more flavors each day. I guess it’s all about the novelty, though! Appreciate Cake & Shake for what it is….gourmet street food!

Cake & Shake

82nd St. and 5th Ave. in front of Metropolitan Museum of Art

New York, NY 10028

(718) 383-0046

http://www.cakeandshakeny.com

Amy’s Bread

February 22, 2011

Favorite part of cupcake blogging: eating cupcakes

Least favorite part (tie): trekking all over the city to find said cupcakes –and- actually blogging afterwards

 

The other week I was feeling hungry for a cupcake (nothing out of the ordinary there), but the weather was not too pleasant, so I knew I’d have to be stopping somewhere close to my apartment. After some searching, my friend Mike and I decided to hit up Amy’s Bread in Hell’s Kitchen (for the record, they also have locations in Chelsea and Greenwich Village).

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So quaint! (And sanitary.)

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Variety-wise, they only had a few different types of cupcakes. We were totally bummed that they were out of red velvet for the night and even considered getting a slice of their delicious-looking red velvet cake. In the end though, we decided on two different cupcakes.

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First up was the Simply Yellow Cupcake with Pink Icing. ‘Cause yellow and pink are my favorite flavors! Haha….really, though. This was a good cupcake. Pretty moist cake (especially considering we ventured out at about 9 PM and it had probably been baked and sitting there since morning) and sweet, but not too sugary icing. Everything a cupcake should be!

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We also got a Devil’s Food Cupcake with Chocolate Silk Frosting. I enjoyed this one as well, but I don’t think I’d get it again because I’m not really big on the Devil’s Food. And I need chocolate fudge frosting. NEEEED. Silk just doesn’t cut it for me.

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And because he’s such a great friend, I shared with Mike. I mean, he DID walk all the way there with me and patiently waited while I took about 564 pictures for the blog. Thanks Mike!

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The cupcakes are $2.50 each, and I’d say they are priced pretty fairly. Something to realize though…Amy’s is a full-service bakery. This is not a specialty cupcake shop. They have tons of different bread loaves, rolls, scones, muffins, cookies, cakes, café sandwiches, and apparently really good hot chocolate. I’ve also purchased some bread from Amy’s on a different occasion (cinnamon-raisin Challah for French toast! Best ever!) and in both of my experiences I’ve asked the staff for help in my decision-making process. THEY ARE SO FREAKING NICE IN THERE! I mean, I don’t ask for my cupcakes with a side of friendly, but boy is it yummier when it’s served! Go Amy’s!

 

Amy’s Bread

672 9th Ave. (btwn. 46th & 47th)

New York, NY 10036

(212) 977-2282

http://www.amysbread.com/

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