Posts Tagged ‘Hello Cupcake


Who makes the best cupcake in DC?

There’s nothing like a massive cupcake taste-off to help you visualize yourself in that projectile puking scene from Stand By Me–with cake vomit standing in for pie vomit, in this case.

This shot was taken before disgusting amounts of cupcake consumption commenced. Photos by Ms. Pie.

Last weekend, Ms. Pie, Mr. x-sXe, Greenie, Token Vegan and I set out to determine who makes the best cupcake in DC. According to The Washington Post cupcake wars from 2008, the winner was the chocolate ganache from Georgetown Cupcake. Since then, quite a few more cupcakeries have cropped up around town, so it was time for a re-match.

The red velvet contenders, clockwise from 5 o'clock: Sticky Fingers, Sprinkles, Georgetown Cupcake, Crumbs.

Aside: If you want to take all the pleasure, joy, and fun out of cupcaking, try tasting 30+ cupcakes between 4.5 people (the .5 being Token Vegan) over the course of 3 hours. While OD’ing on cupcakes like this may put most people off cupcakes for the foreseeable future, I was hitting the freezer for leftovers within 24 hours. Appalling but true.

Appearance-wise, Red Velvet Cupcakery's cupcakes are the woman grocery shopping in sweatpants.

The Methodology: We pitted 7 DC bakeries/cupcake shops against one another. Asterisks indicate national chains.

1) Sprinkles*

2) Georgetown Cupcake

3) Baked & Wired

4) Red Velvet Cupcakery (not to be confused with red velvet cupcakes)

5) Hello Cupcake

6) Crumbs*

7) Sticky Fingers (vegan cupcakes)

We taste-tested 3 mainstay flavors side-by-side: red velvet, chocolate-on-chocolate, and vanilla-on-vanilla. Hello Cupcake doesn’t do a red velvet, and Baked & Wired was out of that flavor the day we went, sadly.

The chocolate contenders, clockwise from 6 o'clock: Hello Cupcake, Red Velvet Cupcakery, Sticky Fingers, Georgetown Cupcake, Baked & Wired (in parchment), Crumbs.

We also tasted 3 wildcard flavors:

1) Vegan peanut butter blossom from Hello Cupcakes

2) Menage a Trois from Baked & Wired (chocolate cupcake with raspberry filling, cream cheese icing, and cringeworthy name)

3) Chocolate marshmallow from Sprinkles

The wildcard flavors, clockwise from 7 o'clock: Sprinkles chocolate marshmallow, Baked & Wired Menage a Trois, Hello Cupcake Vegan Peanut Butter Blossom

Cupcakes were scored on a 10-point scale (with 10 being the best) based on:

  • Appearance
  • Frosting
  • Cake
  • Taste
  • Overall

Let the chest-beating begin: The winners

Red Velvet: Sprinkles. Score: 7.75. The cream cheese icing was exactly the way you’d want it to taste–the tangyness comes through, perfectly paired with a fluffy, moist cake. Crumbs took second place with 6.25.

Chocolate-on-chocolate: Baked & Wired. Score: 7.25. The chocolate icing is a creamy consistency (did I detect a hint of coffee in there?) atop a dense cake with a hefty crumb. Sprinkles wasn’t far behind, with a score of 7. Note that we tested the dark chocolate from Sprinkles, which some taste-testers found “too rich.” And while Ms. Pie noted that “Hello Cupcake’s chocolate cupcake is like the Platonic ideal of what a cupcake should be,” they tied for third with Crumbs at 5.25.

Vanilla-on-vanilla: Baked & Wired. Score: 7.25. Crumbs was second, with 6.25. Overall we were most underwhelmed by the vanillas. Maybe that’s why the word vanilla is used as an insult? But we also tasted them last, giving them an unfair disadvantage, since we were ready to swear off cupcakes by then.

Wildcard: Baked & Wired, Menage a Trois. Score: 7.25. A thimbleful of raspberry filling complements the chocolate cake and icing nicely. Hello Cupcake was neck-and-neck with a score of 7.2. Actually their peanut butter blossom was a sleeper hit–much tastier than any of us anticipated. And by “tasty,” we don’t mean “tasty for a vegan cupcake.”

The aftermath. By this point we were feeling very, very ill.

In conclusion: the best overall cupcake in DC is the red velvet from Sprinkles, but the best bakery overall is Baked & Wired. They also offer the best value, with cupcakes weighing in at 5.7 oz. ($3.50)–or as Ms. Pie puts it, “the Quarter Pounder of cupcakes.” To put that into perspective, a Georgetown cupcake ($2.75) weighs around 2 oz.

Sticky Fingers, a recent Cupcake Wars winner, was disappointing considering their big victory, although Ms. Pie is rallying for them to bring back their flower cupcakes.  Their scores were consistently at the bottom along with Red Velvet Cupcakery (“frosting like a stick of butter”).


Cake versus cake preview

What do you get when you bring together 35 cupcakes from 7 DC bakeries, with just 4.5 people to eat them?

Stay tuned for the results of our taste-off, where we’ll be revealing who makes the best red velvet, vanilla on vanilla, and chocolate on chocolate cupcakes in the city.


A second life for decapitated cupcakes

It’s not an atypical office scenario. There’s a basket of Au Bon Pain/Corner Bakery/Starbucks muffins left over from a client meeting sitting in the kitchen. A coworker comes along and twists the top of off one, leaving only the bottom to some hapless schmuck to follow. Is it just me, or is that bad form? If you’re not going to take the whole thing, can’t you at least cut it vertically?

The Hello Cupcake pie. Battered from being jostled in my purse, but still delicious.

Which brings me to Hello Cupcake, who’s taking day-old cupcakes, cutting off the heads, and gluing them together with icing. In other words, makeshift whoopie pies for $2 each. Anyway, for my money, these are the best whoopie pies in DC. The cake-to-icing ratio works well. They’re also much easier to eat on the go than any cupcake. And there’s no compunction from leaving the bottoms to someone else.


Cupcakes that are quintessentially DC

Hello Cupcake is holding a cupcake decorating contest (click on the photos to vote). Here are my two favorites.

For some reason (maybe because I’ve watched too many episodes of “Ace of Cakes”), I have a thing for cakes that look like other foods. The mini half-smoke and bowl of chili are adorable.

“Larry Craig,” “bathroom stall,” and “wide stance” aren’t things you’d normally associate with cupcakes, which is what makes this so brilliant.


Interview with the folks behind Hello Cupcake, Georgetown Cupcake, Baked & Wired and Something Sweet

Click on the photo to check out an interview with the ladies behind some of DC’s favorite places for cupcakes, from NBC4.


Cherry blossom cupcake vs. cherry blossom cupcake

This weekend, I bought the seasonal cherry blossom cupcakes from Hello Cupcake and Georgetown Cupcake to see whose was better (and to give myself another excuse to eat cake).

Last time these two DC cupcake shops faced off was during our coconut cupcake battle, which was a draw. Read it here.

Georgetown Cupcake's version

Hello Cupcake's take on the cherry blossom cupcake

Back to the cherry blossom cupcakes. The version from Hello Cupcake ($3.50) is a Meyer lemon base filled with cherry preserves, topped with vanilla cream cheese frosting.

The Georgetown Cupcake one ($2.75) melted in transit, which is why the poor thing looks so mangled in the cross-sectional photo. I thought I detected some cherry flavor in the icing. Bits of cherry are incorporated into the cake, which has a different crumb from their other cupcakes–it’s more moist and doesn’t break apart when you bite into it. In fact, the cake is pretty similar to their white chocolate raspberry seasonal flavor, which also incorporates fruit into the batter. I’m not sure what Georgetown Cupcake fans will make of the different cake texture.

Who emerged victorious? Pie has yet to weigh in, but I’m going to have to give the tiara to Hello Cupcake on this one. Theirs is more expensive, but it’s also larger and more pimped-out. Guess I have until the end of April to hoard these.

Hello, cherry preserves!

Cherries are baked into the cake at Georgetown Cupcake.


January’s seasonal flavor at Georgetown Cupcake: salted caramel

While Georgetown Cupcake is good, the products often don’t live up to the endless hype (making me wonder if they’re paying off publications like The Washington Post and Washingtonian magazine). So I was on the fence about trying this new flavor.

Is the salted caramel trend here to stay, or will it go the way of the pork belly?

The salted caramel thing is everywhere now, from Haagen-Dazs to Coco Sala, but the balance of salt-to-caramel is only sometimes done right. I actually really liked the buttercream frosting on this because I could taste both the salt and the caramel. Mr. X-sXe thought it was too much like eating a stick of butter, though.

Like Heidi Montag after her latest round of plastic surgery, this flavor-of-the-month is top-heavy.

Georgetown Cupcake is now a wildly successful local chain–the Bethesda store opened at the end of last year, and the Georgetown store moved to larger digs on M Street in December. But for what it’s worth, my favorite cupcake in town is still the Gianduja at Hello Cupcake.


dc cupcake wars revisited: georgetown cupcake and hello cupcake face off

In response to the lameness of the Washington Post cupcake wars last year, we’ve been conducting our own rematch. So far, Hello Cupcake’s Gianduja (chocolate hazelnut) flavor is in the lead.

Both Hello and Georgetown Cupcake offer a coconut flavor, so we pitted them against one another.

Icing: The coconut on Hello Cupcake’s icing was toasted (left and top in photos), which made Mr. X-sXe prefer theirs, but I didn’t think it added that much flavor. I missed the tartness of the cream cheese in Hello’s icing and preferred Georgetown’s (right, bottom).

Cake: Hello’s was dense and drier, but seemed to have coconut bits in it. Georgetown’s was moister and lighter. Again, I preferred Georgetown’s, while Mr. X-sXe voted for Hello’s.









The Winner: It’s a draw. Honestly, the judges could not come to an agreement. A numerical evaluation proved fruitless. We didn’t think it would be so tough to decide, but there you go. These are the Venus and Serena of cupcakes. Either one could come out on top.


Best thing I ever ate, DC edition

Not like Food Network asked. But here it is anyway.

Cake: Caramelita at Les Halles DC (RIP). If anyone knows where the Les Halles pastry chef is now, I’d like to hunt her/him down just for this cake.

Runner-up: White chocolate mousse cake, Watergate Pastry, Foggy Bottom

Chocolate mousse: Patisserie Poupon, Georgetown. Comes in a crunchy chocolate shell.

Cookie: Lemon drop cookie, Praline Bakery, Bethesda, MD. Buttery cookie with tangy icing.

Cupcake:  Gianduja, Hello Cupcake, Dupont Circle. At room temperature, the ganache icing eats like a rich pudding. Refrigerated, like a chocolate truffle.

Croissant: Pain au chocolat, Patisserie Poupon, Georgetown. Authentic and baked fresh. No weird aftertaste from the butter/oil from the pastry, as with lesser versions.


Egg tart: Portuguese natas at Nando’s Chicken, Gallery Place/Dupont/etc. The bruleed egg custard is so good. 

Frozen yogurt: Green tea, Tangysweet, Dupont Circle/Gallery Place. Hints of honey and lemon set this flavor apart.

Ice cream: Coconut gelato, Boccato Gelato, Arlington, VA. With toasted coconut bits.

Macaroon: Praline Bakery, Bethesda, MD. Generously sized, great selection of flavors.

Mango sticky rice: Kanlaya, Gallery Place. Your fork cuts through the mango like buttah.

Milkshake: Toasted marshmallow, Good Stuff Eatery. The toasted marshmallow flavor permeates the whole shake. Order one more than you think you want. People will become reluctant to share.

Peach cobbler: Teaism (seasonal), Penn Quarter. A flaky, buttery shortbread sits on top of perfectly spiced peaches for just $3.

Pie: Key lime, Ray’s the Steaks, Arlington, VA. Best key lime pie I’ve come across so far.

Runner-up: Chocolate silk, Wildfire (seasonal), McLean, VA. A chocolatey filling in a chocolate cookie crust.


dc cupcake wars revisited: hello cupcake’s de lime & de coconut

Note: this is a multi-part series in response to the Washington Post Cupcake Wars last fall, which was clearly a farce.

The breakdown, icing: Cream cheese icing with coconut flakes. More sweet than tart.

The breakdown, cake: Fragrant, lime-infused cake (lime zest is visible throughout the cake. Those are the specks in the cross-section photo below). A wee bit on the dry side.

Random note: This used to be my favorite Hello Cupcake flavor, until I tried Gianduja. This flavor is the cupcake personification of the Coconut Lime Verbena line from Bath and Body Works. In other words, it tastes the way that stuff smells.

Rating: 8.2 out of 10.