A Cupcake Tasting Kind of Weekend

The past few days have been bliss. I’ve done just about everything that slaps a smile on my face and I’ve eaten just about everything that…well, I’ve just eaten everything. Two full summer days outside- picnicking on patios, strolling tree-lined streets, sitting in lawn chairs outside my lovely little neighborhood coffee shop (which is infinitely more lovely because of said lawn chairs), explored farmers markets and Pike Place (a Seattle landmark), sang “California Gurls” one too many times for my neighbor’s comfort, painted my toes a splashy fuschia, and took not one, but two, day trips to the beach. And by beach I mean Target. Close.

Here is a photo journey through Pike Place, a sprawling indoor/outdoor market here in Seattle. Famous for the farmers’ stands full of local produce, the trinket carts, the fresh seafood, butchers, bakeries, handmade cheeses , and most importantly, the place where David from Real World Seattle got a job throwing fish. Guaranteed that’s their store’s tagline.

I even paid homage to my fifteen year old self: Loitering outside public establishments.


If those activities weren’t enough to feed my body and soul, this one surely did. Cupcake tasting. You see, I’ve been propositioned to test the cupcakes at each of the top ten bakeries in Seattle. Who propositioned me? Jesus.

Never one to turn down an offer, this weekend involved two different bakeries’ crumbly frosted cakes. The first: Wink Cupcakes in upper Queen Anne. A ten on the precious spectrum- the decor very pink, cutesy, and clean.

I applaud them for the creative specials, but for testing purposes, I need to try the classics: Chocolate with chocolate frosting, vanilla with vanilla frosting, and red velvet with cream cheese frosting.

Adorable, right? Here’s the unfortunate news: They weren’t very good. Let’s start with the vanilla: I appreciated the apparent custard flavor, but couldn’t get passed the dry, overbaked texture. The buttercream had a light, whipped texture but lacked the proper amount of sugar. Too heavy on the unsalted butter flavor and without the requisite sweetness.

The chocolate was similarly dry, but the strong kick of coffee flavor helped to bring out the richness of the cocoa. The frosting tasted of mocha- a coffee/chocolate blend which complimented the cake nicely, but again lacked enough sugar. Nothing is worse than a slick of unsalted butter left on your tongue. Toss some sugar down your gullet when that happens.

The red velvet was the best in terms of cake moisture and flavor. The tenderest of crumbs. But the cream cheese frosting was a little too tangy. Not in that “cream cheese frosting is deliciously tangy- I’d like to take a bath in it” sort of way. More of a “we added a little too much lemon juice and ran out of powdered sugar.” The whole little red number was just okay.

Wink’s overall review: Cute, but not worth your taste buds’ time.

Next stop on the cupcake tasting tour? Cupcake Royale.

Interesting information, and while I do like to see that something is local, organic, or sustainable, for tasting purposes, I disregard all prior information. Taste is the test.

The first cupcake I tried: Chocolate with Chocolate frosting. Moist, tender-crumbed, and fabulously fudgy. Outrageously chocolatey, especially in combination with the dark chocolate butter icing. Like a whipped ganache almost. I’d call this cupcake a chocolate lover’s dream. Rich, velvetty, and luscious.

On to the vanilla. This fair-hued confection was light, moist, and almost angelic in it’s delicate crumb. The cake itself had a faint vanilla bean flavor and was beautifully balanced by the buttercream. Sweet, creamy, and rich. Thick enough to have some heft to it. Whipped frostings can be nice, but they’re not quite right for lots of cake varieties. You want something with more body. This was perfect in that way.

Cupcake Royale’s overall review: Very good. I’d recommend these tiny cakes to everyone.

Two cupcake bakeries tested, eight more to go.

And with that, the weekend was over. Forty eight hours came and went, and here I sit now, coffee in hand, wondering if Trophy Cupcakes in Wallingford is open at 7:30am. Even if it is, I would never eat one this early. I wait ’til at least 9am for dessert.



32 thoughts on “A Cupcake Tasting Kind of Weekend

  1. Cindy

    I saw a video on Pike Marketplace once at, of all places, a work seminar. It was on the fish market. How they all worked together and made it fun.

    SO aside from the “point” of the little video, I FELL IN LOVE with the market place and so now I am totally jealous you live nearby!

    okay, and then there is the cupcake tasting job you have! Please ask Jesus if I can apply too!

    I actually did go and try a nearby cupcake establishment…you’d be proud of me!

    and they were all totally amazing!
    what a great weekend Andrea!
    now go have an equally amazing week!

  2. Lindsay

    Pleeza no squeeza is so funny! No squeezing those avocados I suppose. The ingredients for the second cupcakes are fabulous. It shows every type of establish can be conscious to the ingredients they use. Red velvet is my favorite so I had high expectations for you when I saw it. Bummer is was no bueno. :(

  3. Shanna, like Banana

    Surely you should not brave this task alone. I will be on the next flt from Cali to seatac and share his burden with you. Yeah I’m just that nice ;)

    Love Pike Place but hate the smell of fish :-/

  4. Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman

    My biggest beef with bakery cupcakes is that they’re always dry. I never get vanilla because that tends to be the worst. Red velvet is always the best when it comes to staying moist. But on a whole I’m usually more disappointed at the staleness than the awesome flavors.

    By the way, that’s the biggest farmers market I’ve ever seen. So cool!

  5. malpaz

    i would KILL to have a farmers market like that down here… our food markets/choices are SO INCREDIBLY bad in Missssippi…no wonder we are #1 for obesity… lol

    the cupcakes are adorable!!

  6. Tina

    That is such a nice looking market. I want to order a White Choc Blueberry Mocha now. AND a lemon cupcake. But only if it comes from Cupcake Royale and not the other place. Nothing worse than dry cake!

  7. Erica

    The famous market!!!!!!! So gorgeous. Love the flowers, fruits, veggies (and the no squeeza sign). The mexican veggie and bean plate looks just freaking awesome too! Owww cup cakes. Love that you get to select your icing. Very cool

  8. Faith

    That market is gorgeous! It looks like they sell a little of everything…I love places like that, I could literally spend days there and not get bored! ;) The cupcakes look divine!

  9. Nora@LifeLifeEatRight

    Oh My…..Seattle is my meca. I was talking to my parents last weekend about traveling and told them I want to go to France, Greece, California (wine country) and Seattle. They were skeptical about Seattle but now I’m sure they know why. The Public Market and Cupcakes. Life is good :).

  10. Jennifer

    haha thanks for the cupcake review! I have always wanted to go to a cupcake specialty shop. In fact, it’s funny you did this post because after I run my first half marathon, I had planned on me and the hubby going to get cupcakes. I mean after running 13 miles, what better time to eat cupcakes!

  11. Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine

    I love that you actually went on a tasting tour. I feel like I should do the same thing in NYC, but it would take forever! Cupcake Royale sounds like an absolute winner…that chocoalte cupcake is making my mouth water! Hope you have a wonderful day love!! xoxo

  12. Christine @ Grub, Sweat and Cheers

    OH I’m so envious of that market. I would dearly love something like that locally. Reminds of this fab one I was in in Barcelona years ago.

    Cupcake testing? Poor you. I love the muffin tops of the second ones…and that they tasted better.

    The last bought cupcakes I tasted were awful – tasted like Duncan Hines or some such rubbish. I made a Nigella Lawson cupcake recipe for my little one’s birthday last week – just a basic fairy cake recipe – and they were great – only 6 ingredients or so – you really can taste the difference.

    1. Can You Stay for Dinner

      Oh, Christine I’m so glad the fairy white cupcakes turned out well! That Nigella…she knows a thing or two about good baking. And I am in complete agreement about the taste difference between boxed cake mixes and homemade. It’s unbelievable.

  13. dianacheung

    omfreakinggoodness….I need you to take me along this cupcake tour whenever I go to Seattle…ridic…cupcakes are my favorite thing in the whole world…and that lox and creamcheese thing? LOOK AT IT!! It’s screaming delish!

  14. Healthy Coconut


    I’m a new reader and catching up on your posts.

    I went to Seattle for the first time last Fall and I went to Cupcake Royale and I do agree, it is really good. I like that they serve mini cupcakes, not like Sprinkle’s where the serving is a little large for my taste and have to save half of it another time, it’s so dense too.

    One thing we didn’t get to do during our trip was do the “Theo’s Chocolate” tour. I will come back to Seattle just for that and oh maybe to run for a race.

    Anyways, I’ve enjoyed your blog.


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