Warming up for Valentine's Day

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Cupcakes are HOT! These tasty little treats have taken the world by storm. In fact , cupcakes are so popular the have inspired games (Cupcake Frenzy, Cupcake Maker and millions of others), various perfumes from people like Jessica Simpson and companies like Vitabath as well as a television shows like Cupcake Wars, The Cupcake Girls and DC Cupcakes.
However , not all cupcakes are the same. I got a chance to learn this when I visited I Cities Cupcakes in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Cities Cupcake is a locally owned bakery in the heart of the Bearden district. Located next door to Abloom florist , they are easily spotted by the giant fabric stuffed cupcake in front of their store.
Walking in the door the first thing I noticed was the menu boards explaining the various cupcake offering and specialty goods they have available. The first board describes their Top Ten Cities Flavors. These flavors are always available for pick up. The second board described their monthly flavors. Each month, Cities Cupcake offer four specialty flavors. The last board described their specialty items they carry

 Each of their cupcakes are named after a city hence the name Cities Cupcake. Each city has a special unique feature that is highlighted by the cupcake that represents it. For example there is a cupcake called the “Dubliner” which is described in their brochure  like this “Irish mouths are smiling with a bite into our Bailey’s Irish Cream Dublin Cupcake. The cupcake is made with real Bailey's in both the brownie and the espresso butter-cream frosting. Dunked in chocolate sprinkles and crowned with a chocolate covered espresso bean, the Dublin Cupcake is a sophisticated flavor trip.” Trust me, when the Dubliner comes on the monthly flavor board, I am definitely going to try one. I will let you know how great it tastes !!
After studying the various flavors of cupcakes I decided to try three ; two from the Top Ten Cities Flavors, Knoxville and Cincinnati and one from the January flavor selection called Half Moon Bay Cupcake. I also got one called New Orleans from the Top Ten Cities Flavors.
The Knoxville is a moist orange cupcake topped with sweet vanilla butter cream sprinkled with bright orange sugar sprinkles.

 Now I have had your standard orange cupcakes before but they were no comparison. Sadly most orange cupcakes out there have little to no orange flavoring to them. The Knoxville has a nice sweet orange flavor that is not so overpowering that is distracts from enjoying the cupcake.
 The butter cream frosting is a sweet creamy frosting that balances nicely with the orange taste of the cupcake itself. This butter-cream frosting was smooth and creamy unlike some butter cream frosting that develop a firm hard crust to them. The bright orange sugar sprinkles are a fun touch to the cupcake .
The actual cupcake was my favorite part of this cupcake, This cake is good enough to eat without frosting! I can imagine some of these in a mini cupcake size unfrosted served with coffee at a brunch.
The next one I tried was the Half Moon Bay. This is a lightly spiced pumpkin cupcake with sweet cream cheese frosting and a dollop of orange marmalade. Now, I’ll be honest and tell you all I am not a pumpkin fan. I decided to take a chance on the Half Moon Bay and I am glad that I did so. 
The Half Moon Bay has a taste similar to an old-fashioned spice cake. I could taste a hint of clove and cinnamon in the cake. These would be great no matter what month is it.One of these and some hot cocoa...

 The sweet cream cheese frosting was surprisingly not as sweet as I expected. I was expecting a super sweet cream cheese frosting akin to what you would find on the frosting aisle of the . Thankfully this was far from the frosting topping the Half Moon Bay cupcake. Instead a overly sweet frosting, the Half Moon Bay has a nice and gently sweetened cream cheese frosting , Surprisingly the orange marmalade on top added a nice balance to the frosting.
Chocolate…That’s right the next cupcake I tried was a Cincinnati. This is a German chocolate cupcake with the traditional coconut-pecan frosting.
 The Cincinnati’s cupcake was a lighter version of the heavy traditional chocolate cake that is used for German chocolate cake. A nice hint of vanilla helped to bring out the chocolate favor of this cupcake.

I have always loved the frosting for German chocolate cake and this frosting did not disappoint! This was a wonderful frosting with toasted pecan and loads of coconut in it. If I could, I would order a batch of the Cincinnati’s frosting to eat straight out of the container.
 And by the way if you ever are having a craving for just the frosting, Cities Cupcakes sells “Frosting Shots”. Yep, you read correctly. These are little shot glasses filled with the Cities Cupcakes signature frostings. Imagine the frosting from the Dubliner or the Johnson City which is made with Dr. Enuff  (which is a lemon-lime energy boosting soda) as a treat for yourself.

All great things have to come to end and my last cupcake was the New Orleans. This is a red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting and for a fun touch little funfetti dots on top.

 The cupcake was a very moist traditional red velvet cake. This was definitely a super moist cake that is far superior to the cardboard boxed mix from the grocery.
Depending on where you are come from is what determines what type of frosting your red velvet cake will have. Where I come from in Virginia we use a cooked frosting made with flour, sugar, milk, shortening and vanilla. Probably not the healthiest thing to eat but hey red velvet cake was served at special occasions like birthdays, receptions and church dinners not everyday
When I moved down here I learned that cream cheese frosting is frosting of choice. I admit it took me a while to get used to the cream cheese frosting school of thought.
 The cream cheese frosting on the New Orleans was the perfect balance for the red velvet cupcake.  This was a very smooth and creamy frosting with the right amount of sweetness to it. The funfetti dots were a nice crunchy sweet added bonus to the New Orleans’ overall  flavor.
 Cities Cupcakes are incredibly amazing. The owner , Linda Hurst, truly loves creating delicious cupcakes and her passion shines through in each of her flavors of cupcakes she offers.
In case you’re wondering , yes they do offer gluten-free cupcakes . They also would be more than happy to talk to you about helping you plan what the best cupcake would best suit you.
 The next time you are in the Knoxville area make it a point to swing by Cities Cupcakes in Bearden. Their hours are:
10:00am - 6:00pm
10:00 am - 4:00pm
Be sure to checkout their website : https://www.citiescupcake.com/index.html . Where you can learn all about their cupcakes, specialty items and follow them on Twitter as well as like them on Facebook.
The photos of the half cupcakes are from the Cities Cupcake's website since they are so good that I ate them before I got a chance to photograph them. I will take a photo of every thing I review from now on.
Until next time…

From the store windows

To the store front

To the giant cupcake in front of Cities Cupcake screams
"Cupcake" everywhere you look


Von Koenigsegg said...

Great, now I'm hungry.... Yummy yummy I got cupcakes in my tummy.... Sorry folks but you should have seen these things, they looked incredible and they smell great too. And to watch her eating them ever so delicately well lets just say it was torture... I'd highly suggest if your local stopping is ASAP you'll be glad you did....

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