Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Cupcake Wars - Week III

Are we really halfway through the Cupcake Wars already??? When I opened the Food & Dining section of the Washington Post this morning, I was super excited because this week Yonan and his team broke down two of my favorites, Georgetown's Baked & Wired and Alexandria's Lavender Moon.

Photograph by James M. Thresher for the Washington Post
Baked & Wired's Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcake

Baked & Wired is a favorite spot because of all the flavors I've tried, there were only two I didn't like (Red Velvet - just because it didn't taste like Red Velvet - and Vanilla, because it was dry). The rest of the flavors more than make up for these two, like Carrot Cake and Strawberry, which are good enough to make you seriously consider eating two in a row. Their cupcakes are rich and moist and their staff is cheerful and nice. This is where our DC/Metro Cupcake Group had our first meetup!
Lavender Moon is one of the newest cupcake spots to hit the DC cupcake scene; I just visited for the first time about two weekends ago. I thought the flavors were really original and tasty, especially the Peach Meringue Pie which I proceeded to take down like Kobayashi in a Hot Dog eating contest. Yonan and his team didn't agree with my take on Lavender Moon, giving it a lower score than Buzz Bakery! Take a look at what Yonan had to say on Lavender Moon:
"These were too much, and not in a good way: too much (messy) frosting, too much going on generally (the peach has a bottom crust, cake, filling and frosting) and too many off-putting flavors. The suntan lotion we thought of when tasting the coconut and the perfumed sachet brought to mind by the chocolate-lavender caused us to break our silence-during-tasting rule by gasping and groaning uncontrollably."

Photograph by James M. Thresher for the Washington Post
The "Suntan Lotion" cupcake from Lavender Moon
It's interesting they were overwhelmed by the lavender in the Chocolate Lavender flavor, because when I tried this flavor a couple weeks ago, I commented in my posting that I didn't even taste the lavender! Yonan and his team thought the Triple Callebaut Chocolate "with its soft cake and airy, whipped frosting" was the "Best of the Bunch." You can see a picture of it below. In the end, they gave Lavender Moon a lowly 5.3 out of 10. Last week Buzz Bakery landed a 5.8! I have been in total agreement with Yonan's and his teams reviews thus far, but I don't agree in the least that Buzz is better than Lavender Moon.

Photograph by James M. Thresher for the Washington Post
Lavender Moon's Triple Callebaut Chocolate

On a more positive note, Baked and Wired finally pleased the team, scoring a whopping 8.6 out of 10. This I agree with. Delighted with finally finding some cupcakes worth eating, Yonan exclaims "Hallelujah, these are cupcakes! We love the folded parchment liners, which make these easier to unwrap. And then we love what's inside: buttery, mostly moist cakes with good, simple flavors and a nice, thick layer of not-too-sweet, fresh-tasting frosting. The vanilla cakes tended to be a tad dry, perhaps from overbaking, but all in all, it was a selection we'd be happy to tuck into again."

Photograph by James M. Thresher for the Washington Post
Baked & Wired's Vanilla Cupcake, which looks good but tastes dry
So it seems Yonan and I are on the same page with B&W's Vanilla. I would like to put it out there that Vanilla is a very hard flavor to get right. As a matter of fact, I have yet to try a Vanilla cake in all of DC that is not thick and a tad on the dry side. Anyway, the favorite for Yonan's team was the "nearly perfect chocolate peanut butter, which one taster described as "Snickers as a cupcake -- and what's wrong with that?" You can see the Chocolate Peanut Butter cupcake pictured at the top of this posting.

Here's a look at the Cupcake Wars results after 3 weeks of taste testing:

Baked & Wired - 8.6
Buzz – 5.5
Lavender Moon Cupcakery - 5.3
Pastries by Randolph – 3.5
Cakelove – 2.8
Sticky Fingers – 2.1
What are your thoughts on Yonan's reviews of B&W and Lavender Moon?


Erin said...

I completely agree with the Post's rankings so far. I can't wait to see the final results!

Foxyvee said...

Who worte this?

He can beat the bricks. Anyone who says BUZZ is better than Lavender Moon is a maniac.

PhillyGirl said...

Finally tried Lavender Moon this week.. and found them to be just ok... tried four different ones..

1. S'Mores (interesting combo of graham cracker, choc cake, with a meringue topper).. maybe too many textures but the S'Mores flavor came thru

2. Vanilla with choc frosting/choc ganache filling (frosting was "messy" and didn't hold its shape, and the slightly "spicy" flavor didn't do much for the combo).

3. Chocolate Lavender (choc cake/choc frosting) (frosting was "messy" and fell off when the cupcake was tipped to get it out of the box.. but an overall decent flavor)

4. Peanut butter ganache (choc cake/choc frosting/pb filling) (actually a good combo)

I'll be surprised if LMC survives.. the store itself is dreary and they still have no phone, no website, and inconsistent hours. Those are vital to have in this fickle economic time..

Have tried Baked and Wired two times and found the frosting to be the highlight. The choc frosting is a ganache recipe and holds up during transport. The cake is so-so because it is more like pound cake than a cake mix type (soft). But I love their size and their presentation in the wax paper is the best.

Buzz needs to hang up their cupcake hat. They are like day-old bread.. You get excited once you get in there and everything behind the counter looks fresh but once home, you are disappointed.

And no words for CakeLove.. what a travesty and complete waste of money..sigh.. such hopes for that one.

For me, the clear winner was and still is Georgetown Cupcake. The cake is soft but firm and the frosting is decent enough. The product consistency is there and they have the best looking, though smallest, store front.

I'll have to get up to Hello Cupcake and try the new ones coming to the Alexandria Farmers Market...there's always an excuse to try cupcakes!

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