Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Our own mini cupcake competition - a birthday celebration!

After mulling it over for months, we decided to finally do our own "DC Area Cupcake Competition!" As I've posted before, the DC area has had its own cupcake explosion in the past year and we thought, well, who wouldn't want to take part in it?

My birthday also just happened to be this past week, so we decided to make it a birthday celebration as well! "Cupcakes and Bubbly" (which turned out to be cupcakes and hot mulled apple cider with a touch of rum) gave us a chance to invite our friends over for a cupcake showdown. (Check this out for some savory treats I cooked up for the party -- baked brie with apricot preserves and antipasti bites!)

Guests were asked to bring half a dozen cupcakes from a local bakery/cupcakery or a bottle of bubbly for sampling. Each guest's set of cupcakes were then assigned a number so the whereabouts of where the cupcakes came from would be left a secret (a blind tasting!). Mini scorecards were provided, asking guests to score the cupcakes from 1 to 5, 5 being the highest score, and to mark down any comments on the flavor, texture, presentation, etc.
After a very successful tasting by discerning judges (and many leftover cupcakes remaining), I tallied up the scores. Here are the results!

(1) Carla's Cupcakes
Score: 5
Price: Time, love, and $3.75 for cake mix and frosting.
Flavor: Yellow cake with chocolate icing
Coming in first, my friend Carla's homemade Dunkin Hines cupcakes!! They received one vote of FIVE OUT OF FIVE and accolades of "simple, sugary, & so my fave!"

(2) Georgetown Cupcake
Score: 4.375
Price: $15 for half a dozen
Flavors: Chocolate strawberry, vanilla squared, chocolate cubed, chocolate coconut, and chocolate ganache
With eight scorecards entered, Georgetown Cupcake (my personal favorite) was a winner for many of the guests for both flavor and presentation. The chocolate ganache and chocolate strawberry were the preferred flavors. The vanilla icing was viewed as being a little bit too "cream-cheesy" -- but this was a plus for some! Comments ranged from "amazing!" and "by far the best" to "Love it, except a little too much frosting" and "vanilla frosting too cream cheeesy but the look of them was elegant."
(3) Buzz
Score: 3.67
Price: Researching
Flavors: Bumblebee (Yellow cake with a chocolate cake surprise inside!), Carrot Cake, Chocolate
With six scorecards entered, Buzz came in third with its ADORABLE cupcakes. A favorite of the group was their "Bumblebee" cupcake ("Un-bee-lieve-able!") with a cute little fuzzy bee coming out of the cupcake. Comments included "loved the cupcake, too much frosting," "good but not awesome," yummy!," "too rich for my blood," "so cute! and great chocolate surprise in the middle."

This was actually one of the bakeries I hadn't heard of so I went to their website and also went to my favorite cupcake blog, Delleicious DC, to see if there was some info there. This tasty bakery is in Alexandria, VA and offers a wide variety of baked goods including also pies, brownies, and cookies (and chocolate!). Buzz is part of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group (for instance Rustico, Vermilion, Tallula). Also see these cute doggy cupcakes that they baked up for the Washington Humane Society's Sugar & Champagne Affair.

(4) Safeway
Score: 3.66
Price: $7.29 for a dozen
Flavors: Vanilla icing with yellow cake, vanilla icing with chocolate cake
Coming in a very close 4th (only 0.1 off of Buzz!) are grocery store brand Safeway's cupcakes! These were $7.29 for a full dozen, only about 60 cents a cupcake! The feedback included "nice, light, fluffy," "love the sprinkles and good frosting (which is key!)," "icing is a little too sweet," and "fluffy, sugary, but nothing spectacular." Looks like a good bet if you have a sweet tooth!

(5) Whole Foods
Score: 3.166
Price: Researching
Flavor: Vanilla icing with vanilla cake

"Small but filling," these cupcakes wowed guests with their icing ("great icing!" "icing good" "love the icing" "amazing icing"). The cake part itself however fell a bit short, garnering comments such as "a little dry," strange flavor and weird texture," and "not fresh."

(6) Cakelove
Score: 3.14
Price: $3.25 each; buy 6 get one free
Flavors: Strawberry, Coffee/Latte, Carrot Cake, Vanilla Cupcake with Lemon Icing

These particular cupcakes came from Cakelove's Baltimore branch and were the least favored of the group. Despite being one of DC's most well known bakeries, their cupcakes lacked some appeal (although the cupcakes were slightly better than other times I've tried them!). The cupcakes drew a mixed bag of comments from "frosting is awesome, but cupcake is not fluffy enough," "a little dry" and "not as moist as I would have liked" to "good cake, frosting TOO GREASY," "icing too buttery," and "cupcake great, icing strange" to "delicious, presentation could have been better."
Cheers to a fun party, great company, and, of course, cupcakes!


5 Star Foodie said...

How fun! I would love a taste of all of those cupcakes :)

Jackie said...

It was so much fun! There are still so many more cupcake places to try ... not that that's a BAD thing!

Tangled Noodle said...

A Cupcake-Off! What a fun way to celebrate your birthday. I would happily eat any and all of them.

Lo said...

Mmm. Look at all those fabulous cupcakes. What a great event!

luckytastebuds said...

This was SUCH an awesome idea!! You are so creative it's awesome! So glad I found your blog. :) I'm a cupcake lover, but have never made one myself despite claiming to be a "baker".

The Duo Dishes said...

We remember getting the lowdown on the competitive cupcake scene in D.C.! They all look tasty.

Jackie said...

Thanks for all your happy thoughts and comments! I am thinking of doing another event later this year when the weather gets a bit warmer out. There will likely be even more cupcake places opened by then.

lindsaymeyer said...

Must do this for my next birthday party in January!