Friday, October 3, 2008

Sweet Cakes Bakery

935 N Damen, Chicago

Chocolate cupcake with white chocolate buttercream frosting

Price: $2.21

Weight: 4 5/8 oz (131g)

Value: $0.478/oz

Frosting The frosting is smooth and greasy, with no hint of graininess. Regarding the taste, I have to say that after having tasted a few white-chocolate flavored buttercreams, I have decided that there is no place in a buttercream frosting for white chocolate. The flavor combination just doesn't seem to work in my opinion, and here is why I think so: Buttercream is made with butter, right? And despite the name, white chocolate isn't actually chocolate at all. It's actually a substance that is extracted from the "chocolate liquor," a thick liquid of fermented cacao seeds that have been ground up. By pressing this liquid, it separates into cocoa solids and cocoa butter, which is also known as white chocolate. The cocoa butter is essentially the vegetable fat of the cacao bean. So you're really just mixing two fats together with a white chocolate buttercream; it's kind of like making the buttercream frosting with part butter and part Crisco. The white chocolate flavor doesn't even really seem come through the buttercream or give it any distinctiveness, other than perhaps to make it a little greasier. The taste and texture of this frosting was kind of like biting into a cool stick of butter. There was some sweetness, but it was mostly bland. So let's just agree on this one thing: bakeries should just cease and desist on the white-chocolate flavored buttercream. Rating 5.0/10

Cake Oh, the cake. After the experience with the frosting, I wasn't expecting this. Possibly the best chocolate cake I have ever tasted. The chocolate flavor was rich, deep, sublime. The texture was moist, chewy and substantive. It is just so unfortunate that they paired it with a mediocre frosting. It merits a perfect rating. Rating 10.0/10

I might have to re-evaluate my rather simplistic rating system. Basically, my Overall Rating is just the unweighted average of the individual ratings of the frosting and cake. I guess I can't decide if I like that method in this particular case. I liked the chocolate cake on this cupcake more than any other so far -- in my view it was almost off the charts. But the frosting was disappointing. In the end, my Overall rating is 7.5, but I'm left wondering would I really prefer this cupcake -- this particular cupcake -- over, say, a Dinkel's cupcake (7.0) which I like very much and which doesn't have any drawback like this one did?

So, I didn't like the frosting on the Sweet Cakes cupcake, but while it was a distraction to the overall experience, it wasn't totally awful. This is where the numerical rating just doesn't do a very good job, because if I had a choice between this particular cupcake and the average Dinkel's cupcake, I would take Dinkel's. Sure, I could always lower the frosting score so that the Overall Rating would be lower than 7.0, but I didn't feel that the frosting deserved a 4.0 rating, for example.

Oh well, I'm too lazy to come up with anything more sophisticated, so I guess I'll settle for imperfect. Besides, it's only a cupcake. And I can't believe I've even written this much. Is anyone still reading?
Overall Rating 7.5/10.0

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