Friday, July 25, 2008

Molly's Cupcakes

2536 N Clark, Chicago

Chocolate cupcake with vanilla French buttercream frosting
Price: $2.20
Weight: 2 3/4 oz (79g)
Value: $0.800/oz

Frosting The frosting is smooth, creamy and very light -- so light that it was almost more like a thick Chantilly cream. While it is certainly sweet, you actually sense the richness and body first as it hits the taste buds in the middle of your tongue. This is one of the best, most sublime buttercreams I think I've had. Rating 9.5/10

Cake The cake is exceptionally moist, soft and light. The chocolate flavor is superb, coming through full and flavorful -- neither faint (like a lot of cupcakes) nor overbearing. Simply excellent. Rating 9.5/10

Overall Hands down, this is the best cupcake overall that I've tasted so far. The frosting is so unlike most buttercreams you'd find on a cupcake, and combined with the moist, chocolaty cake it creates such a full, rich flavor. Not only should you go out and try this cupcake, but you should eat it while sitting on one of the playground swings in the shop. Overall Rating 9.5/10.0

Update: If you go here, pay close attention to the price of what you are getting if you don't want to be shocked at the register. Apparently, $2.00 is the basic cupcake only. For the "build your own" cupcakes, prices can go up to $4.50 -- which the price boards explain. But be aware that even pre-made cupcakes from the display case may be priced at the "build your own" prices (they don't show prices next to the cupcakes in the case). Hence my shock when a friend and I selected 2 cupcakes from the display case, and paid $8.82. The cookies & cream cupcake I got just looked like a simple chocolate cupcake with vanilla buttercream frosting and a 1/2 Oreo stuck in the top. It turned out to be $4.50! I have to admit, after questioning the price at the register and the reaction I got from the cashier, I was a little turned off by this place. To top it off, my Oreo cupcake turned out to be wet and soggy inside, like it was a sponge that had been soaked in water. And it took all of 4 bites to finish. So, after such a great initial review, I'll just say I have reservations now. If you don't mind the gimmicks, then you may like this place.

Friday, July 18, 2008

House of Fine Chocolates

3109 N Broadway, Chicago

Chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting
Price: $1.53
Weight: 2 1/4 oz (65g)
Value: $0.680/oz

Frosting The frosting is smooth, milk-chocolaty, light and flavorful. The texture is just right for a cupcake. Rating 9/10

Cake Moist, soft and light. Rating 9/10

Overall With a name like House of Fine Chocolates, you'd probably think truffles before you would guess that they also have cupcakes. At least I did. This is another one of those unexpected gems. They may not make fancy cupcakes with bizarre or clever flavor combinations, but there's a lot to be said for a really good cupcake at a reasonable price. So if you're walking up Broadway on your way to get a fancy cupcake at Cupcakes, and you just can't wait the 5 more minutes it will take you to walk there, duck into this shop and get one to go. Overall Rating 9.0/10.0

Friday, July 11, 2008

Bleeding Heart Bakery

1955 W Belmont, Chicago

Chocolate cupcake with plain frosting and chocolate shavings
Price: $3.59
Weight: 3 3/8 oz (97g)
Value: $1.064/oz

Frosting Grainy, buttery but not greasy, and a slightly chalky texture...which is not necessarily a criticism. The frosting has a little density to it, and I generally prefer something that feels lighter and more whipped. The chocolate shavings added a nice bittersweet flavor. It was a solid performer, but didn't knock my socks off. Rating 7.5/10

Cake The cake also has some substance to it that you can really bite into. A cupcake this dense without sufficient moistness would have been a disaster, but this cake was very moist. Great chocolate flavor too -- rich without being overbearing. Rating 9/10

Overall I'm afraid to say anything bad about this bakery, because the people who run the place look like they would hurt me. I really don't know how to describe them: a mix of biker/punk/hipster/urban and....I don't know. Heavily pierced, thoroughly tattooed and colorfully dyed.

But none of that should distract you from checking out this bakery. It may be a little pricey, but it by far has the most character of any bakery/cafe I've been to, and based on this cupcake alone I'd say it's a pretty good one at that. Plus, I don't know anywhere else you can get chocolate covered bacon.

Overall Rating 8.25/10.0