Category Archives: Cupcake Excursion

Tulu’s Gluten-Free Bakery.

Date of excursion: 06.07.10

Summer is upon us! And boy what a summer it is.

Feelin’ hearty, healthy and  contentious, the two arch nemeses, Choco-Choco Chip and Vanilla, decided to truce for the evening in the name of all cupcakes.

V.S.

(Unfortunately, Gangrades Cappuccino Swirl and Lemon Meringue were not able to join them in holy cakerimony that day.)

The calming, pastel-filled atmosphere of Tulu’s Gluten-Free Bakery called to us like a phone to the phoned. As we made our way in, an owl hooted from a nearby cupcake tree.

“Stop that!” Vanilla growled.

The owl showed no remorse.

Aha! Another chance to dance with our friend, the mini-cupcake, eh? Lovely to make your second acquaintance, mes petits. Although, we must say, readers, that while the flavor choice seemed abundant for our miniature friends, the flavor choices for our larger ones left much to be desired. Namely, more flavor choices.

“Where the choco at?!” Choco-Choco Chip foamed. Vanilla snickered to the side. To no one … at all.

After much debate, much hesitation, and much salivation, we decided on our flavors, and prepared for the glorious potlatch* that was about to commence.

Figure this out: Chocolate Vanilla Cream Cheese

(Blur-tastic image brought to you by Hungry Bowels, the makers of the Impatient Gluttons II: Air Force Mach Four.)

A new frosting flavor in our midst! Vanilla + Cream Cheese? That sounds like a Choco-Choco Chip paradox — all the hate of hatred plus all the goodness of Philadelphia? Could this be real?

Indeed it could be, cupcakers. The frosting was miraculous — light, whipped, fresh, but with all the density and soury-sweet goodness that cream cheese lovers adore. Its chocolate base had a nice grit within its overall moistness, adding texture and depth to an otherwise bland cake. The grit absolved the bland in this tale about Chocolate “Precious” Vanilla Cream Cheese Jones — a sweet kid, a little crumbly around the edges, but with a heart of gold and lots of love and encouragement** from her peers. And she’s been off gluten all this whole time.

We double dare you: Vanilla Strawberry

Another new frosting! Tulu’s, Tulu’s, Tulu’s. You crafty, crafty, crafters.

[“Proud to Be an American” musical interlude.]

Light, whipped, and fresh again! This strawberry frosting knew what it was doing. Vanilla argued that the strawberry taste was strong, but this is comin’ from a cake that don’t like no strawberries. For Choco-Choco Chip, the taste wasn’t as strong, and the after-taste left a nice, melony, strawberry-type-o’-feelin’. The base complemented this frosting well — all while being free o’ gluten! In sum: the happy pink frosting matched the happy pink walls which matched our Happy Pink Sentiments.***

Wh-wh-what would you do?: Chocolate Peanut-Butter

And yet another new frosting flavor! Can you say Funtrepeneur of the Century?*****  Nutty, airy frosting, light, earthy consistency — Tulu’s doesn’t try to mask the essence of peanut in this little number. It’s bold, raw, and out there. And very delicious.

(500) Days of: Red Velvet

Upon cutting into this baby******, we realized that, no matter what this tasted like, it was no true red velvet. The color inside resembled more of a rusty iron, if anything.

“If your name was Dustin, would you go by Dusty?”*******

“…………… no.”

Yes. A rusty iron color, indeed.

Wow! What a fantastic texture all around (although not very chocolatey, as we should have expected from mini # 1). But with cake so moist and cream cheese icing so wonderous, this cupcake represented a wonderful example of commensalism — the cake was greatly improved by his cheesier ally, while the cream cheese icing could have probably ran a few solo laps around the ol’ red stumparoo. But all in all, a great take on a classic flavor combination. ********

So, what to conclude? Our experiences with gluten-free cupcake products have not been totally tainted.  Tulu’s Gluten-Free Bakery represented the true combined strengths of frosting and texture, and how a Manhattanite coeliac need not live in a world without cupcakes. For that, friends, is something that we shant even wish upon our greatest enemies.

*(1) A celebration held by some Native Americans, during which the host gives away gifts in accordance with each guest’s social status. The feast may entail destruction of sprinkles and wrappers for rivalry groups. (2) A synonymn for “feast,” re: thefreedictionary.com .

**You get ’em!

***Available for purchase.****

****But not from us.

*****Do not attempt this on Wall Street.

******A PERSONIFICATION.

*******Dusty : Dustin :: Rusty : ________

********Otherwise known as a “cake-take.”

Location:

338 East 11th Street
New York, NY 10003
(212) 777-2227

Hours:

Mon-Thu 10:30am-10pm, Fri-Sat 10:30am-10:30pm, Sun 10:30am-9pm

Average cost of cupcake: $3.00

Rocco’s Pastry Shop and Espresso Cafe.

Date of excursion: 10.20.09

Ghouls, goblins, gremlins, and gout! That’s what the month of October is about!

… That, and cupcakes.

And what a beautiful fall evening Zeus had bestowed upon us. And so we set sail for Rocco’s*, in hopes of making the most of the blessed weather.**

Upon successful traversing*** of the New York streets, we found a place to sit with our cupcake selections. And we even saw an Andy Garcia look-a-like along the way!****

“These cupcakes do not look worth the money,” someone noted immediately. Ouch!

First up: Vanilla-Vanilla (vanilla base, vanilla frosting)

“This cake is quite lemon-y,” Lemon Meringue noted.

(WE GET IT, MERINGUE. PUT YOUR MIRROR DOWN EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE.)

But it was true. A “vanilla”-vanilla, indeed, Rocco’s! Perhaps you should brush up on your binomial nomenclature before you stand amidst the fire of the notorious milk-curdling Cupcake Gang!

Although, we do admit, this vanilla base had a nice Angel-food consistency (if you’re sick of Demons-food, we suppose).

Next up: Chocolate-Vanilla (chocolate base, vanilla icing)

(It’s time we shared a little secret with you, the cupcake-craving community. What do you do if you are trying to cut a cupcake (perhaps into fourths), and have no knife at your disposal? Using a simple plastic fork technique will make a curved edge, giving some of your cupcake brethren a larger piece.

So, we have devised a technique, the origin of which dates back to the days of Euclidean geometry and Nanopets: the quadruple-cut yin-yang*****. Just cut halfway into your cupcake with the curve of the fork facing one direction [dir#1], and cut the other half with the curve facing the opposite way [dir#2]. For cutting into fourths, then proceed to cut your current pieces using this same method, only cutting with dir#2 on your dir#1 piece, and dir#1 on your dir#2 piece. Get it?! Harmony!)

Whoa-hoa-hoa! What did we have inside this little rascal? Surprise chocolate mousse filling?! Rocco’s, you just went up a notch in our book.******

“What horrible filling-placement!” we noted. Indeed, this delightful dark chocolate mousse center was not evenly distributed within the cupcake. For sooth!

Third up: Vanilla-Chocolate (vanilla base, chocolate icing)

“Thick, ganachey icing,” Vanilla noted (we thought she was referring to the cupcake, but it turns out she was hypothesizing names for her new cat).

Upon digging in, we then discovered that this cupcake had that same lemony-consistency as the Vanilla-Vanilla. (What is going on here, Rocco’s?!) And it was also was extremely messy to eat.

“Some cupcakes were meant to be eaten with hands. Some with forks. This, on the third hand, requires a spoon,” the Gang concluded, just as a shooting star soared past Orion’s Belt and into the mouth of Ursa Minor (which promptly collided with the sun).

Fourth up: Red Velvet (red velvet cake, cream cheese icing)

After much discussion of thyroids and songs people play at middle school dances, Red Velvet finally walked through the door. Our last experience with Red Velvet left much to be desired (namely “good taste”) — so we tried to prepare ourselves.

“This icing looks gross,” Choco-Choco Chip noted. Let’s hope it’s actual cream-cheese icing, and not pretend cream-cheese-icing-that-is-actually-made-of-vanilla-carpet-bags (COUGH Re: Crumbs).

Wow! Rocco’s Red Velvet — we hereby extol you in the highest regard of exceeding-extremely-low-expectations. Sure, it may have been the worst cupcake cut in history*******, but that real, genuine cream-cheese icing sure made up for it.

Although the cake was a kind of dry.

And so, another adventure came to an end (or perhaps just a poorly-done beginning).

Our ode to Rocco’s: It wasn’t the greatest, it wasn’t the worst, and luckily the cake did not leave us in great thirst!

But it was expensive.


*After failing at Crumbs. And Amy’s Bread.

**Making the most of any type of weather always involves cupcakes.

***Oh yeah — you just got literated.

****We are in no way saying, !!!! –>Andy Garcia chooses Rocco’s.” <– !!!!

*****TM.

****** Titled The Cupcake Gang: A Requiem of a Memoir in a Million Little Pieces.

*******The worst cut is the deepest.

Rocco’s Pastry Shop and Espresso Cafe

Location:

243 Bleecker St. (Between 6th and 7th Ave.)

212.242.6031

Average Cost: $2.50

REVISITED: The Cupcake Cafe.

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Date of excursion: 10.10.09

New addition: Indeed, Cupcake Colleagues! We would like to present you with a new installation to our extensive cupcake-reviewing process — revisitation. We’ll be sporadically revisiting ghosts of cupcakes past in order to provide you with the most up-to-date, representative, and abridged analyses of your favorite (and not-so favorite) treats.
“… Does that place still sell that cupcake?!”
“… Are the prices still the same?!”
“… How has the service changed over the years?!”
Answers to these questions (and more!) in our new “Revisited” series!

***

The Cupcake Cafe, take two, eh? Our stomachs were prepared for what we deemed to be one of the more delicious cupcakes/cupcake-eating atmospheres we’ve encountered in our happy trails.

But we couldn’t just slap a “Revisited” on you without some style.

That’s right, ladies and gentleboys, it is time for the long-awaited, [twelfth of a] feature-length documentary on yours truly: the Cupcake Gang. (Directed by resident Francis Ford Cupcake-ola-expert, Choco-Matzo.*)

“Look at that depth of field!”

(Shut up, Vanilla.)

So we arrived at the Cupcake Cafe (forks ready) and chose our flavors — flavors of which have now come to be known as staples in the Cupcake Community**: chocolate vanilla, chocolate chocolate, vanilla chocolate, and, once again, the sultry stylings of the holy maple walnut.

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A Machiavellian cupcake clerk soured the mood of sweet consumption/filmmaking at once. She may have had good intentions, but her ability to instill fear into a Gang as tough as ours was astounding — so we bowed our heads in sorrow for her disdain for the visual arts (and probably puppies).

“The cahsier was nicer last time,” someone muttered.

He sure was.

And so we sat down at a lovely table (adorned with highly-appropriate rat-rabbit hybrid designs), and began our second take on the Cupcake Cafe.

First in the spotlight***: Chocolate Vanilla.

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Not a bad choice at all, cupcake fans. Cut nicely, and a welcome addition to our previous experiences with bad chocolate vanillas.**** But, then again, even though it was good, it’s still nothing to write Gramma about.

Second up: Vanilla Chocolate.

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That beautiful cut! That icing! That moist cake! That exquisite flower! And the way it just melted in your mouth and —

“Can we eat the next one now?” Lemon Meringue mhehw-ed.***** (The movie lights and Hollywood fame were getting the best of our patience.)

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Third up: Chocolate Chocolate.

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Oh, dear.

This cupcake was twelve different kinds of scary.

“The pollen on the flower looks like bird feces,” Choco-Choco Chip noted.

“It looks more like a coccoon,” Cappuccino Swirl replied.

“…. Lemon Meringue hates snails,” Vanilla added.

And not only was its appearance offsetting, folks. But the taste — oh how it crumbled over everything in sight! How it failed to cohesively blend into a medley of chocolate depth and ecstasy in the mouth! How the icing was just so plum[b] melty! The camera crew almost buckled over in tears at the sight of a cupcake gone so terribly wrong (but they couldn’t, owing to the fact that insurance is costly and does not cover NaCl and lysozyme tear-seepage into equipment).

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We can only hope that you, the Cupcake Craving Public, should never experience the chocolate-squared travesty we experienced at that moment. (And we suppose it’s not completely your fault, Choco-Choco Chip.)

Fourth up: Maple Walnut.

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Oh!******

There are no words.

There are too many words.

No! There are words — “this cupcake is delicious,” to be precise.

We can only thank the Lords of Film (and Cupcakes, of course) that this glorious gift to all of Cupcakedom was documented on film. Still images alone cannot capture its mapley goodness.

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What an informative revisit! Laughter (maple walnut), tears (Machiavelli), and plenty of crumbs (Chocolate Chocolate).

With that said, we hereby extend not just a wonderous, frosting-coated “thank you” to Choco-Matzo and Company for handling our delicate evaluation process with such care, but also a cordial invitation to join the Cupcake Gang on any upcoming journeys through fiery pits of brimstone, soot, and grime — all in the hopes of discovering the best cupcakes in the world (or just New York).

In conclusion:

Look before you leap.

Party hearty.

And eat cupcakes.

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“… we were being filmed?!” Vanilla roared.

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*And his swift n’ sassy crew of cupcake trainees: Tres “the Pinto Bean” Leches, Tiramisu, and Colombian Coffee.

**A prosperous society of peoples just outside of Simsbury, Connecticut.

***Hip and showbizzy diction!

****Vanilla and Choco-Choco chip are rumored to share a cousin — Chocolate Vanilla. Choco-Choco Chip has demanded a cousinternity test.

*****Think of a cat’s face. Think of a sour cat’s face. Think of the type of “meow” it would make. That’s what this noise is.

******One shot?!

Whole Foods Market.

Date of Excursion: 3.8.08

The gang headed over to Cappuccino Swirl and Choco-Choco Chip’s box. They decided to play “Name That Dorm Room”, “Name X Amount Of Countries That Start With The Letter I’m About To Give You” (“name” pronounced “neighm” [in an “uptalk” manner]), and “What Would You Do With $1,000?”. For the last game, Cappuccino Swirl wanted a fancy hotel; Choco-Choco Chip wanted a jacket (and approximately $950); Lemon Meringue wanted filmmaking equipment; Vanilla wanted to analyze the modern-day effects of the century-old notion of “Orientalism” in Japan. The room was abuzz. After Vanilla collapsed from all of the excitement, the gang decided it was time to mosey on down to to get some cupcakes, for a good, old-fashioned cupcake boogie-down.

The gang decided to evaluate the cupcakes of local grocery stores. But which store to pick? It was a regular case of Goldilocks and the Three Bears: Forever 21 was quite warm, and apparently only sold clothes; Trader Joe’s was closed, and could only be reached after trudging through the cold rain; the only other options, it seemed, were Food Emporium and Whole Foods.

The decision was tough. To expedite the process, the gang decided to undergo mitosis, and split up. Cappuccino Swirl and Lemon Meringue stayed at Whole Foods, while Choco-Choco Chip and Vanilla (enemies) went to Food Emporium. After a heated debate, some bloodshed, and the reconcilatory exploding high fives, the gang decided to buy the Whole Foods cupcakes. The porridge was just right.

After the cupcakes (Vanilla Vanilla and Chocolate Chocolate) were purchased, it was again time to head back to Cappuccino Swirl and Choco-Choco Chip’s box (owner Mrs. Haversham).

And surprise-surprise-puppy-surprise, a bottle of sparkling lemonade suddenly appeared! This was sure to be a feast for kings.

After opening the cupcake boxes, we soon realized how relevant Plessy vs Ferguson still was to this day.

But nonetheless, we decided to dive on in. We toasted: “Un brindis para el mundo” (enunciated heavily).

We tried to eat Vanilla Vanilla and Chocolate Chocolate in one bite. It was wild.

We found ourselves a bit saddened by the fact that, at Whole Foods, we could only choose between Vanilla Vanilla and Chocolate Chocolate. So what did the creative, crafty, cool, clever, cunning, and attractive cupcake gang do? We began to contemplate what vanilla/chocolate and chocolate/vanilla babies would look like. How would this even be accomplished? Via a squishing mechanism*? Via transplant**?

After choosing the latter strategy, we finally decided to operate. We dipped into the box o’ knives in order to surgically manipulate their phenotypical data. Dr. Choco-Choco Chip made a seamless incision (you know, her father always wanted her to go to medical school). And what did Dr. Frankenstein create (after several clumps of frosting falling– due to the whispery, panda-ness of the Vanilla, especially)? None other than Vanilla Chocolate and Chocolate Vanilla.

The sinister music began to play.

After consuming these, and noting the surprisingly urine-like appearance of the sparkling lemonade, we concluded that perhaps the grocery industry may be good for the overall purpose of feeding one’s family, but when it comes to the noble cause of delicious cupcakes, it falls slightly flat. Don’t get us wrong– the cupcakes were not toxic. They were not made of rat droppings. They did not have the consistency of sand. However, the general rule seems to be: eat one, leave the rest for another time. Perhaps for a tea luncheon with your nanny and/or posse.

Or maybe our somewhat negative feelings are simply a result of the fact that the mass produced may simply not mesh with the our delicate pallettes. But seeing as how we of the [threatening] non-threatening Cupcake Gang are just like you viewers out there, and we consequently have similar, tolerant pallettes, this is unlikely. We apologize, Whole Foods. It’s not your fault that, as a grocery store, you cannot focus all of your energies onto cupcakes (even though they are a staple food).

Overall

Vanilla Vanilla

Cappuccino Swirl: Vanilla Vanilla. Not harmonious with my pallette.

Choco-Choco Chip: The vanilla icing was VERY stong and VERY sweet. Unlike the Vanilla we know.

Lemon Meringue: The frosting was a bright white.

Vanilla: Dey so kute. 2cayoote.

Chocolate Chocolate

Cappuccino Swirl: The swirl of the forsting was jivin’ to Cappuccino Swirl’s taste. Smooth.

Choco-Choco Chip: The cake was a bit crummy (PUN 100% INTENDED, dizzle). The icing was luxurious-ish. BAM.

Lemon Meringue: The frosting was nice and the chocolate cake was what you’d expect from a mass-produced cupcake.

Vanilla: One effin’ bite.

Vanilla Chocolate (Vanilla icing, Chocolate cake)

Cappuccino Swirl: Sha-bam-jazz. I was not lost in the chocolatey smoothness.***

Choco-Choco Chip: I don’t like when my icing tries to kidnap my mouth. I want my mouth to feel whatever it wants. This icing didn’t let me feel. And the cake? Can you say “sub-par carnival?”

Lemon Meringue: I’ll leave the commentary about this chocolate-vanilla cupcake to Choco-Choco Chip and Vanilla. Because I can.

Vanilla: Integration of people: good. Integration of cupcakes: maybe not.

Chocolate Vanilla (Chocolate icing, Vanilla cake)

Cappuccino Swirl: Too much for Cappuccino Swirl. ‘Nough for now.

Choco-Choco Chip: The icing was delightful–but I liken the cake to Bobby Brady from “the Brady Bunch”– seemingly innocent, but actually a tad disgusting, perverted, and childish.

Lemon Meringue: I won’t leave commentary to Choco-Choco Chip and Vanilla. This was a successful experiment in integration.

Vanilla: What did I just eat?

*A squishing mechanism, also known as a distal glucose compression, involves fusing two cupcakes together via their own respective icings. The result is a mass of cupcake, very similar to what a Now 16! CD looks like (if we knew what a Now! CD was). Sometimes, swanky music accompanies a distal glucose compression.

**The process by which frosting and cake combinations are switched, often resulting in psychological trauma/post-traumatic stress disorder in mentally-unstable cupcakes. This is also known as frosting reassignment surgery (FRS).

***Highly “paraphrased.”

Whole Foods Market

Cost of the box of 12 cupcakes $4.99

1) Union Square

40 E 14th Street

Fax: 212.673. 5393

2) Bowery

95 E Houston St

Fax: 212. 420. 1360

3) Chelsea

250 7th Ave212. 924 .9923

4) Columbus Circle
10 Columbus Circle
Ste. SC101
Fax: 212. 823. 9610
 

Crumbs.

Date of excrusion: 2.23.08

The Cupcake Gang was watching a scary movie about a girl who must have had rabies (or maybe she was a thirteen-year-old) when they got a hankering for some cupcakes. They trekked over to the nearest cupcakery– Crumbs.

It had a large window which beckoned us like a beckoner to its beckonee.

It took approximately 11.6 years (leap years included) to choose what cupcakes to purchase. There were so many cupcake candidates to choose from, it was like the Democratic primary– so many delicious options (oh, and the cupcakes looked good, too).

Vanilla asked Mr. PimpCake, “What is your favorite cupcake?”

Mr. PimpCake replied, “Well, actually I’m allergic to them, so I haven’t tried any of them. But red velvet is the most popular.”

We examined Red Velvet. Done.

Vanilla asked Mr. PimpCake, “What is your second most popular cupcake?”

Mr. PimpCake replied, “The Artie Lange.” Done.

Sensing an oncoming friendship, Vanilla then asked PimpmasterCake, “What is your third most popular cupcake?”

PimpyCake replied (in a somewhat disgruntled tone of voice), “I don’t keep a list of these things.”

Vanilla, after sobbing on the ground and being escorted to a nearby therapy center, returned to state the original premise of her question: “What would you suggest?”

PimpaZilla replied, “Cookie dough.”

We decided to purchase a vanilla cupcake with chocolate buttercream frosting.

“It smells like a Quizno’s sub,” Cappuccino Swirl stated. No one agreed.

We sat at a table near the windows. We opened our Pandora’s plastic box of cupcakes to undress Cupcake One (chocolate buttercream). As we began to toast our cakes, Cappuccino Swirl noted the incest between our cake pieces, as they began to touch and crumble upon each other in the name of love.

We noted the music taste of the Crumbs staff. We approved.

[Red Hot Chili Peppers Interlude. Sexy.]

Lemon Meringue spilled cupcakes all over the table. The table was 3 inches away from explosion, but Lemon Meringue slurped the crumbs up just in time. Crisis averted.

Then, it was time for Cupcake Two (Artie Lange).

“This cake is in my fingernails,” said Choco-Choco Chip. “It’s like Indian food, without the stains.”

We began to dissect the cupcake. Lemon Meringue taught Vanilla about vanilla intercourse.

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“I enjoy the circumference of this cupcake. It looks like the trim of a skirt,” said Lemon Meringue.

There was an awkward pause as a lady dropped something on the ground. Cappuccino Swirl thought it was a bag of forks. Lemon Meringue thought it was a very controlled shattering of glass. Choco-Choco Chip thought it was a baby made out of newspaper. Vanilla thought.

There’s chocolate filling in this cupcake, we collectively noted. “Surprise, surprise, puppy surprise!”

It appeared that these Crumbs cupcakes required some sort of beverage, as their intense moistness was difficult to handle alone. Milk or water is certainly a must for cupcake amateurs and experts alike. 

Crumbs was certainly an appropriate name for this place, as we noted the increasing moistness of the cupcake that Choco-Choco Chip likens to melting butter. The cake crumbled all over the table, again. Lemon Meringue slurped it up, as explained earlier.

After Cupcake Two was destroyed, we moved onto Cupcake Three (red velvet). Red velvet. So ominous (we likened the inside to blood and guts).

[Plastic fork fight between Vanilla and Choco-Choco Chip. “You’re making fire in my loins,” said Vanilla.]

Cupcake Three was an obstacle. It was tough, not moist. It was red, not… other colors. It was… salty? (No one else agreed with Cappuccino Swirl on this one.)

“It tastes like cloth.”

“It tastes like metal.”

“It tastes like a coin.”

“It tastes like a young woman’s chewed up purse.”

“It tastes like bread. Bad bread.”

“D for disgusting.”

[A water bottle continued to roll off of the table. The table almost exploded.]

Vanilla caught Lemon Meringue on Candid Camera, much to Lemon Meringue’s disappointment. Lemon Meringue likened her photograph to a disgruntled cat. Choco-Choco Chip loves disgruntled cats.

Eventually, Cupcake Three was destroyed. Even though he put up a fight, we still won.

As our journey at Crumbs came to a close, we concluded that there was one common theme throughout every cupcake in the world, whether it was moist, dry, hard, rough, smelly, sticky, drippy, hot, sparkly, scandalous, unattractive, voluptuous, or sweet: each cupcake is individual. Each cupcake is sassy. Each cupcake has a song to sing.

Overall:

Cupcake One (Chocolate Buttercream)

Cappuccino Swirl: The chocolate buttercream frosting was silky smooth*, and the sprinkles added that BAM crunch.

Choco-Choco Chip: The yellow cake is silky-smooth like Akon’s voice. But so silky-smooth that it CRUMBles. The icing was pretty dec[ent].

Lemon Meringue: The fluffy YELLOW cake was adorned with a generous helping of frosting, but could I tell that it was buttercream chocolate? … It was just candies and sprinkles.

Vanilla: I would eat just the bottom.

Cupcake Two: Artie Lange

Cappuccino Swirl: The cupcake made my throat dry like a desert. But it was a decent dessert. I liked the crunchy topping. I’m all for the crunch.

Choco-Choco Chip: Again. A good cake (but very crumbly). I liken the icing to Mike Brady from “the Brady Bunch”: very serious, and linoleum-like. It was cool, but not the cooliest.

Lemon Meringue: After a quick caucus with my taste buds, I found the cupcake to be very rich in chocolate (the top and the filling), but the filling was needed to keep the flaky cake together.

Vanilla: I like cake.

Cupcake Three (Red Velvet)

Cappaccino Swirl: Cappuccino Swirl was less than pleased. Taste was a tich salty. Frosting was dec[ent].

Choco-Choco Chip: The cake itself was very tough– it was like chewing a piece of cloth covered with wimpy, flimsy, whispery icing. I liken this cupcake to a sugary con artist– you SEEM delicious, but you are truly quite evil.

Lemon Meringue: If this cupcake were a red velvet carpet, it would be one leading to nowhere. The taste… I couldn’t name it. It had no direction. I say “Make it cake”, and it definite wasn’t made.

Vanilla: FRIENDZ. Not with this one.

*”silky smooth” (as mentioned in Cappuccino Swirl’s comment) and “silky-smooth” (as mentioned in Choco-Choco Chip’s proceeding comment) are completely different phrases–in every way imaginable.

Crumbs (6 locations):

1) The Village: 37 East 8th Street (Between University Place and Greene Street) 212.673.1500 (We went to this location)

Average Cost: $3.25

2) Wall Street: 87 Beaver Street (Between Hanover Street and Pearl Street) 212.480.7500

3) Bryant Park: 43 West 42nd Street (Between 5th Ave. and 6th Ave.) 212.221.1500

4) Upper East Side: 1371 Third Avenue (Intersection of Third Ave. and 78th Street) 212.794.9800

5) Upper West Side: 321 1/2 Amsterdam Avenue (Intersection of Amsterdam Ave. and 75th Street) 212.712.9800

6) East Hampton: 35 Newtown Lane (Between Park Place and Main Street)

Hours:

1) Sunday 10a -9p, Mon. 7:30a-9p, Tues.-Thurs. 7:30a-10p, Fri. 7:30a -11p, Sat. 10a -11p

2) Sun.- CLOSED, Mon.-Fri. 7:30a-8p, Sat.- CLOSED

3) Sun. – CLOSED, Mon.-Fri. 7a-8p, Sat. – CLOSED

4) Sun. 8:30a-9p, Mon.-Tues. 7:30a-9p, Wed.-Fri. 7:30a-10p, Sat. 8:30a-11p

5) Sun. 8:30a-9p, Mon.-Tues. 7:30a-9p, Wed.-Fri. 7:30a-10p, Sat. 8:30a-11p

6) Unavailable

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Cupcake Cafe.

Cupcake Cafe

Date of excursion: 2.1.08

It was raining and pouring. The old man was not snoring.

Vanilla and Lemon Meringue trekked with their Zyrtec (TM) umbrellas*; Cappuccino Swirl’s umbrella was red and Choco-Choco Chip’s umbrella was large and unsightly. They were on their way to the Cupcake Café.

[As a side story, Choco-Choco Chip’s greatest fear (aside from ketchup pee) is when her umbrella blows upward.]

Choco-Choco Chip’s umbrella went insane. It blew upward, and exploded.

Inside Cupcake Cafe

Once we arrived at the Cupcake Café, we noted the friendly amalgamation of a children’s book store and a bakery, conveniently decorated for Valentine’s Day. Children adorned one half of the bakery, while the elderly were sprinkled throughout the other half.

We were greeted by the phrase, “Would you like some free brownie samples?” “Indubitably,” we collectively thought. But “Yes,” we collectively replied.

“Well, milk is five dollars. That’s where they get you,” said the man.

We were afraid to laugh, as we do not get the chance to do that often, given the nature of our work. Apparently he was kidding, so we saw a light chortle to be a fitting response.

We purchased cupcakes, and sat down on the border between Children’s Books, USA and Cupcake Land, Mexico. One might think that we could feel the animosity of bitter rivalry and forced adjacency in these two conflicting worlds. On the contrary–we did not. Instead, it was a magical realm of fairytales and transnational harmony.

The first cupcake we undressed (so-called Cupcake One) was a walnut cake with maple icing. The be-flowered cupcake presented a puzzling mixture of flavors during the pre-tasting stage. However, upon the actual tongue-cupcake interface, everyone was pleased (in different ways). The icing had the consistency of chilled butter (the cupcakes are refrigerated!), but tasted like fresh ice cream, while the cake part was more hearty and bread-like.

“It tastes like maple syrup.”

[independently of this statement] “It tastes like PANCAKES.”

It did.

“Walnuts? Protein? Protein? Protein?”

Next, came Cupcake Two: mocha cake, with chocolate icing. Adorned with two purple flowers, this cupcake, like it’s maple counterpart, was dressed for success (until we got to it). The icing had a similar, fanciful taste.

We debated purchasing a third cupcake, and finally, after a [non-threatening] bloody battle between Vanilla and Choco-Choco Chip, Vanilla reigned blows upon Choco-Choco Chip’s head, stepped on it, and ran to the counter in order to request a vanilla cupcake with vanilla icing.

“The flowers [on the cupcake] look like boobs,” Anonymous said.

An unequal cut down the middle led to disaster. “Someone is not going to get pollen,” Choco-Choco Chip stated. No one seemed fazed (it turns out, the Zyrtec (TM) helped all of us avoid allergic reactions to the pollen, too!).

Cupcake Three had the same icing consistency as Cupcakes One and Two. Meaning? Crazy delicious.

We entered the Cupcake Café with high hopes and empty stomachs. We left filled with the hearty bread-like nature of the cupcakes, and the dessert-like airiness of the icing. It was truly a dinner for champions.

Overall:

Cupcake One: Maple Walnut

Cappuccino Swirl: This cupcake was mapley goodness. Cappuccino Swirl was satizfied.

Choco-Choco Chip: It was nutty, but not TOO nutty. It was maple-y, but not TOO maple-y. This is what’s sappenin’. Kazaam!

Lemon Meringue: The icing was the sweet sappiness to my sour.

Vanilla: It’s a muffin. <:)

Cupcake Two: Chocolate Mocha

Cappuccino Swirl: The mocha taste was subtle and smooth. Not as BAM as Cappucino Swirl, but still very jivin’.

Choco-Choco Chip: I completely understand where C2 is coming from. We understand each other. I liken the icing to watching “Space Jam” for the first time–a very positive experience.

Lemon Meringue: It was mocha, but not a bitter coffee.

Vanilla: Huh. I want to go read those children’s books.

Cupcake Three: Vanilla Vanilla

Cappuccino Swirl: The icing was jazzy awesomeness, I would jive with this cupcake anytime.

Choco-Choco Chip: Despite my ongoing feud with Vanilla, I must commit treason against my chocolate brothers. This was the best of the three. It was like dessert, yo.

Lemon Meringue: Cute and yellow. Good.

Vanilla: That’s-a-mah-baby!

*Vanilla, Choco-Choco Chip, and Lemon Meringue went to a Zyrtec (TM)** Paradise in Central Park, one day, based on the false premise of hot chocolate. We did not get hot chocolate, but we sure did get a mouthful of whimsy, free umbrellas, and reggae music.

**Did you know that Zyrtec (TM) is now available over-the-counter?

Cupcake Cafe (two locations):

1) 18 W. 18th St. (between 5th and 6th Ave). 212.465.1530 (We went to this location)

Average cost of cupcake: $3.00

2) 545 9th Ave (between 40th and 41 St.) 212.268.9975

Hours:

1) Sun. 9am-7pm, Mon.-Sat. 8am-8pm

2) Sun. 9am-7pm, Mon.-Fri. 7am-7pm, Sat. 8am-7pm

Magnolia Bakery.

Magnolia Bakery

Date of excursion: 2.14.08

It was nighttime, and our cupcake senses were tingling. After long hours of homework, silence, and solitude in the library, we sent out a text to our beloved Cappuccino Swirl (who could not join us that evening, due to a coffee-related emergency). “Magnolia. 9:42 PM.” Done.

We trekked on a different route to Magnolia. It took approximately three years to reach. But when we did, oh when we did, we were ready to ‘mack on some cupcakes.

Inside Magnolia Bakery

The story behind Magnolia is an interesting one. Two friends started the business years ago, but parted ways. One friend kept Magnolia, and the other made a rivalry bakery– Buttercup Bakery. Magnolia, on the one hand, gained popularity from Andy Samberg and Chris Parnell’s “Lazy Sunday” SNL Digital Short. It was also featured on HBO’s “Sex in the City”, although New York’s “Sex in the City” tour will provide you with Buttercup cupcakes (to eat in front of Magnolia). You could cut that tension with a cupcake knife, or plastic fork, as we like to do it.

Inside Magnolia Bakery

After struggling to purchase our cupcakes through the massive sea of people (as, frequently, the line to Magnolia extends out into the street), and bidding farewell to the Magnolia be-aproned bouncer (yes), we settled ourselves in the park across the street, at one of the quaint chess boards.

Chocolate Chocolate cupcake from Magnolia

Unfortunately, after we undressed our first cupcake (chocolate chocolate), a rivalry gang (we define “gang” in this sentence as a group of people with a common goal to intimidate and/or eat cupcakes) began to bust our chops. “How much did those cost?”, they asked condescendingly. We made no reply. “You just used your American Express card, and said ‘Hey Rico*, keep the change!'” They also mentioned that they had some very nice MySpaces we could look at.**

So as to avoid what would surely have become a street brawl, we decided to pick up our plastic forks, and bounce. We headed over to Cappuccino Swirl and ChocoChoco Chip’s box. The owners of the box gladly accepted our request for a photo.

The

We began to undress the remaining cupcakes. The vanilla icing on Cupcake Two was a pastel green, and the cake was vanilla as well (Vanilla was enthralled). We bit.

Cupcake Two from Magnolia

“This tastes like a Chinese thing I’ve eaten before,” said Lemon Meringue.

Mooncakes?”

We likened Cupcake Two to several things. Cappuccino Swirl compared it to a Betty Crocker mix, while ChocoChoco Chip compared it to Alice from “the Brady Bunch”– wait, no–Cindy from “the Brady Bunch.” “It’s like a big, soft, [panda]. It doesn’t hold up.”

“Do you remember the episode of “the Brady Bunch” with the see-saw contest?

They were trying to see if they could break a record for see-saw-ing, and then this news reporter came to interview Bobby and Cindy… how difficult could that have possibly been?”

“Well, it takes a lot of leg strength…”

“No.”

“Cindy has a lisp.”

Cupcake Two was soon destroyed. We liked “the Brady Bunch” movie.

Cupcake Three was a Valentine’s Day cupcake. It had chocolate cake with vanilla (pink!) icing. Stabbed through the heart of the icing was a plastic heart stick ($0.50– thanks for that post-purchase memo, Magnolia). There was also a sugar heart embedded into the icing. Vanilla ate it. “Eww.”

Cupcake Three was likened to a Barbie cupcake. Not because it was tall, busty, and had an eating disorder, but more so because it was explosively pink.

Cupcake Three from Magnolia

The sugary pink sprinkles intertwined into the swirls of tufted frosting were a nice touch. It was like a hidden surprise in every bite. Alas, there was another hidden surprise–a sub-par chocolate-cake taste. The frosting, thereby, overpowered the cupcake.

Surprise Surprise! Puppy Surprise! You might get one...YOU MIGHT GET EIGHT!

Sugar heart

We tried to compare Cupcake Three to Cupcake One (in that they both had chocolate cake). We concluded that we could not quite remember Cupcake One– most likely due to all the marijuana that was in the air at the time, emanating from the rivalry gang.

[Marijuana interlude: ten minutes. Discussion topics included smell, identification, and awareness.]

Cupcake Four from Magnolia

Cupcake Four had a vanilla cake with chocolate icing (and rainbow dot sprinkles)! We also likened this cupcake to Barbie. Again– Cupcake Four was not a blonde, plastic, woman who was having sexual relations with a man-doll named Ken, but instead looked more like a freeze frame from a Barbie commercial. You know, when she throws the glitter, and the screen flashes “Barbie”, and it says “Barbie.com, but first ask dad or mom.” It’s really clever advertising.

Neither argument was valid.

[“Dibs not”? Or “Nose goes”? Cappuccino Swirl and ChocoChoco chip debate. Are either arguments valid?]

Cappuccino Swirl claims the cupcake was too stale (due to the fact that, at Magnolia, you serve yourself from a tray of cupcakes they, unfortunately, leave by the constantly-opening door).

Lemon Meringue becomes sour during the traditional cake toast. “Your cake is TOUCHING me.”

Overall:

Cupcake One: Chocolate Chocolate

Cappuccino Swirl: Swirly goodness, but not as hip-happening as I thought.

ChocoChoco Chip: That frosting was on the heazy! I wish I could just slurble it. Choco and choco, yo? I likes the sound of that. The cake itself exploded, by the way. Because it was DYNO-MITE. But not actually.

Lemon Meringue: Lots of chocolate… a little bitter, like lemon.

Vanilla: Frosting. And some uneccesary people. Also– bathroom in bar.***

Cupcake Two: Vanilla Vanilla

Cappuccino Swirl: Cake was like Betty Crocker. I felt like I could make this in my easy-bake oven. The frostin’ was pretty jammin’. The color was chillsville green.

ChocoChoco Chip: (Vanilla)^2? It was really like (Vanilla)^(CRAZY). And it was like red vines.

[drew picture of a bottle, a seal, and a chair.]

Lemon Meringue: The cake was yellow but mushy. Green frosting = good times.

Vanilla: Da best.

Cupcake Three: Valentine’s Day

Cappuccino Swirl: Festive, you know I dig the whole pink thing. Nice decoration. Chocolate part totally normal.

ChocoChoco Chip: The chocolate cake, if he were on a playground, would be last week’s cool kid. But he’s not this week’s cool kid. The frosting was this week’s cool kid. But since the week is over, he’s less cool. The kid had heart and soul, though. I gotta say.

Lemon Meringue: Good presentation. Bad holiday.

Vanilla: I ate the heart made of candy.

Cupcake Four: Chocolate Vanilla

Cappuccino Swirl: It was stale.

ChocoChoco Chip: The rainbow sprinkles added the right amount of crunch. The frosting is slippin’ and sloshin’ like a cocoa waterfall.

Lemon Meringue: I know this is the Barbie-looking cupcake, but where’s the Lemon Meringue-looking cupcake?

Vanilla: Done.

*We are in no way associated with the degradation of minorities, as all the members of the Cupcake Gang are minorities themselves. Yes, even Vanilla is a minority. Not that non-minorities are racists. Just thought we’d add this politically-correct insight so as to familiarize you with the Cupcake Gang’s non-threatening threatening exterior.

**As much as Rupert Murdoch looks like a sour-faced old man, Lemon Meringue is philosophically opposed to MySpace.

***Due to the fact that Magnolia does not have a bathroom, Vanilla was forced to go to a bathroom in a local bar. She was wearing her signature, official Cupcake-Gang backpack, and the bar rats were threatened.

Magnolia Bakery (2 locations):

1) Downtown: 401 Bleecker Street (Intersection of 11th Street and Bleecker Street) 212.462.2572 (We went to this location)

Average cost of cupcake: $2.50

2) Uptown: 200 Columbus Avenue (Intersection of 69th Street and Columbus Ave.) 212.724.8101

Hours:

1) Sun. 10am-11:30pm, Mon. 12pm-11:30pm, Tues.-Thurs. 9am-11:30pm, Fri. 9am-12:30am, Sat. 10am-12:30am

2) Sun. 7am-10:30pm, Mon.-Thurs. 7am-11:30pm, Fri.-Sat. 7am-12:30am