Posts Tagged ‘Red Velvet Cupcakery

29
Jan
12

Afternoon tea, served 2 ways

That's a baby scone mounting a cupcake. "High Tea" cupcake from Red Velvet.

When I’m in Gallery Place, I feel compelled to cruise past Red Velvet Cupcakery to see what the special flavor is. They’re always coming up with incredibly creative concoctions, some of which deliver on flavor (like their Dark & Stormy, inspired by the drink) and some of which fall flat on execution (see their cheddar apple cupcake).

The current special flavor is called “High Tea.” It’s a cake with a ton of black tea baked in, orange cream-cheese frosting, and a tiny scone on top. Yes, that’s a tiny scone—not a piece of a scone, but a scone baked to be Smurf-size. While adorable to behold, the cake part tasted odd. Mr. X-sXe thought it was because they chose too smoky a black tea. I couldn’t put my finger on what I didn’t like about the cake part. All I knew is that it’s the sort of thing you consider interesting but aren’t dying to eat again.

While visiting my parents over the holidays, my mom and I went for afternoon tea at Washington Duke Inn in Durham, NC.  If I were a stay-at-home trophy wife, I’d make a point of going to afternoon tea every few months. It’s relaxing, fun, and something about the assortment of tiny goodies makes you feel like Kirsten Dunst in Marie Antoinette. In reality, I go maybe once every couple of years. Point is, it’s kind of like the Melting Pot: a meal for a special occasion. You’ve gotta go with someone you can stand to stare at for a few hours, and definitely not on a first date. After all, it takes time for your body to acclimate to all that sugar. Plus, hot water refills for your teapot are free.

Washington Duke offers a fairly traditional tea service—cucumber sandwiches, tiny pastries, fancy chocolates. The best part is the freshly baked pecan scones with lemon curd, strawberry jam, and crème fraiche. So save a little room, if possible, because those come out last.

There were only a few other tables of afternoon tea diners. Most of them looked like tourists, not the genteel southern types in oversized hats that you’d expect. It didn’t make for good people-watching, but at least there’s plenty of food to keep you preoccupied.

15
Mar
11

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”).

13
Mar
11

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.

29
Aug
10

Pie in cupcake’s clothing: cheddar apple

This was today’s flavor of the day at Red Velvet Cupcakery. Yes, that’s grated cheese on top.

While admirable for its bold foray into pie territory (a moist apple cake topped with cheddary icing), I could stomach no more than a bite. I’m usually a fan of salty-sweet combinations, but have never been into the apple-pie-topped-with-cheese thing, even if it’s baked into the crust. On the other hand, Mr. X-sXe enjoyed the piquant cheesiness of the icing and happily polished the rest of the cupcake off.

We couldn’t actually tell whether the icing was a buttercream or a cream-cheese base. Mr. X-sXe swore it was a buttercream, although I thought it tasted like cream cheese (and logically that would make more sense).

27
Mar
10

Why is Georgetown Cupcake so successful? Let’s take a closer look.

Pie and I were talking yesterday, as we munched down on cupcakes from Red Velvet. Why is it that, even though some of their cupcakes (and those at other cupcakeries) could go toe-to-toe with Georgetown Cupcake’s, they don’t get nearly the same amount of publicity or business? 

Here are some of our observations, for what they’re worth. 

  • The sisters who own Georgetown Cupcake both have business backgrounds, which translates to a lot of marketing savvy. Look at their packaging, for instance. You see someone walking down the street with that bright pink box, and you know exactly what’s in there. A visual shortcut that tells you there’s something covetable inside, evoking a Pavlovian response in sugar fiends like me. Kind of like what Tiffany’s blue box does for women in general. Ok, not quite. But you get my drift.
  • To that point, the sisters are telegenic and PR-friendly. They’ve been on TV (their own reality show, Cupcake Sisters, is currently filming, though I’m wondering how they’re gonna bring the dramz), in newspapers, magazines, and more. They milk the PR machine, something the other DC cupcake places don’t do as well. They take full advantage of social media. Check out their FB/Twitter promo giving out free cupcakes. Plus they have fabulous names like Sophie LaMontange, which makes her sound like a French countess.

Georgetown Cupcake's lime flavor is my favorite. See the flecks of lime zest in the icing and cake? But it always leaves me wanting more cake to balance the amount of icing out.

  • Georgetown Cupcake was “first to market”–before they hit DC in early 2008, there were bakeries that sold cupcakes–Cakelove, Baked and Wired–but none that specialized in just cupcakes. (Readers, correct me if I’m wrong here.) In business, that’s important in establishing market dominance. Or something like that.
  • Their cupcakes are moist, which is what the people want. There are different preferences out there–some like Cakelove for the old-school dryness because it reminds them of their grandmother’s homemade cakes. But overall, we’re a generation raised on  Betty Crocker mix, which means moistness.
  • Their cupcakes are less expensive than some of the other places. Hello, Red Velvet. A dozen there costs over $39 after tax (whoa). At Georgetown Cupcake, I paid $31.90 after tax last month. No, not cheap, but not unreasonable for boutique cupcakes.
  • They won The Washington Post cupcake wars a while ago with their chocolate ganache cupcake. I don’t think it’s their best, but hey–chocolate’s a crowd-pleaser. When was the last time you heard an American say they hated chocolate?
  • Their prime locations. When I’m in Georgetown Cupcake (or any cupcake place), 75%+ of the customers are women. And women go shopping in Georgetown and Bethesda, their two locations. Add to that the college kids from GWU/Georgetown, and you’ve got a captive audience.
  • They ship around the country, helping to build their brand nationally. (E.g., they were featured in a Wall Street Journal article.)

And that, in part, explains why they’re pulling in millions of dollars a year from suckers like me 😉 

As more players enter the DC cupcake market (Sprinkles, Crumbs), it’ll be interesting to see whether Georgetown Cupcake can maintain its edge. But for now, they’re the queens of the DC cupcake scene.

12
Mar
10

$50 at Red Velvet Cupcakery for $25

I’m all over this Living Social deal of the day. They’re offering a $50 gift card to Red Velvet’s E Street location for half price. While I don’t recommend the lime flavor (the icing reminds me of Crisco), the other flavors I’ve tried are pretty tasty. Plus it’s rare to get a cupcake in this town for less than $3!

http://bit.ly/9HGr0y

Photo via princeofpetworth.com