Monday, August 1, 2011

Cupcake Stop: Including a Detailed Comparison to Crumbs

Upon initially hearing of the CupcakeStop truck, I thought to myself, “Good try, but I have Crumbs, cya never.” I have always been beyond satisfied with each experience I’ve had at Crumbs, so what could possibly convince me to break my ties of loyalty to something I value and treasure so much? Something that I hold on the highest pedestal and will drive 20 minutes one way to obtain?

Well, the answer was simple: location. One Friday afternoon I was strolling back to the office when I spotted the truck. Of course I’d heard of it, as I like to consider myself a knowledgeable and well-informed cupcake connoisseur. It was late in the day, I was fading quickly and needed an afternoon pick-me-up. The price was right - $2.50 per cupcake (that’s equivalent to the price of one subway ride. I don’t know about you but I’d rather be stranded and with a cupcake instead of being where I’m supposed to be and without a cupcake). I had an in-depth conversation with the lady who was lucky to have a job which entails sitting in van full of cupcakes about which cupcake a person on their maiden voyage should try. She sold me hard on red velvet, but obviously I’d already consumed a red velvet from Crumbs earlier in the week, so I went for plan B and selected an Oreo Crumb. I exerted all of my willpower and waited until I got back to my office while I mentally prepared for what lay ahead on my cupcake journey.

Fret not my loyal readers - the cupcake was fantastic. The cake achieved that ever-challenging balance between moist and dry (dry = that Baked by Melissa garbage) while being topped with a truly unique frosting, that was more sugary and sweeter than a cream-cheese based frosting. The perfectly textured cake combined with the silky, melt-in-your-mouth frosting blended together to form an unforgettable bite of dessert. The success of the balance of cake and frosting can be attributed to the perfect size of the cupcake. Often, I find myself facing a challenge when eating the larger, gourmet cupcakes. I end up alternating between bites of cake and frosting as the cupcake is too tall for my jaw. The CupcakeStop chef has conquered this first-world problem by baking his cupcakes into an ideal size. They are just large enough to satisfy your sweet tooth and your hunger, without being so large that the consumer overeats. On the other hand, they are big enough that they don’t blueball you into wanting more, like that sneaky betch Baked by Melissa (not that I’d ever want more of such nonsense). The simplicity of this dessert is what really sets these cupcakes apart. Often I find that cakes try to hide behind their poor excuse for dessert through gimmicks like fancy frosting (see Dean and Deluca). CupcakeStop needs no fancy frosting or other disguises because they are selling a quality product.

Since my original Oreo Crumb purchase, I have obviously been back for more. Here is a quick breakdown:

  • Oreo Crumb: Vanilla cake with oreo frosting. Great for someone like me who wants the oreo flavor but isn’t a big fan of chocolate cake.
  • Chocolate Mint: The mint was a little strong, I would have preferred a sweeter mint frosting. However, the contrast of the sweetness of the cake evened this out, so I’d say it’s solid provided your bite ratio to is proper.
  • Chocolate Caramel: Almost the opposite of the Mint Chocolate. The caramel frosting was very sweet, and with a proper bite of cake it was perfect.
  • Cannoli: Amazing. Best, as well as most unique. Vanilla cake with chocolate chips baked in, with a ricotta cheese frosting (like the filling inside a cannoli, duh). Beautiful.
  • Vanilla Chocolate: A classic, done right.

After it really sunk in how much I enjoyed the original cupcake, I began to feel extremely guilty. I felt like I had cheated on my lover Crumbs. Crumbs has been there for me through good times and bad, celebrations and hangovers. It felt like my identity was crumbling (pun intended). And then I realized, Crumbs didn’t open a Soho location, but CupcakeStop is consistently parked on the corner of Varick and Vandam. Who am I to say no to a midday dessert? Sorry I’m not sorry.

So, I’m sure you are all wondering what the differences between these cupcake masterpieces might be. As previously mentioned, the size difference greatly affects the entire cupcake experience. Because CupcakeStop cupcakes are smaller, the ratio of frosting to cake is perfected. With Crumbs, I sometimes face the aforementioned cake/frosting alternation process. On the other hand, I’ve found CupcakeStop cupcakes to be less travel-ready than Crumbs. I recently purchased a Vanilla Chocolate cupcake when I passed the truck as a snack for myself during an evening showing of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2. The wear and tear of being tossed around my bag was entirely too much for the poor fellow, and the frosting slid right off, thus throwing off the cake to frosting ratio. A bit disappointing, but a valuable lesson learned. Crumbs cupcakes, however, have this magical protective shell on the frosting that keeps it intact through all kinds of terrain, including 4 hour drives to Virginia. However, this elusive shell layer does nothing to detract from the the taste or flavor of the cupcake. It simply provides for a less messy, neater eating experience. I like to think of this invisible shield as being similar to how Harry is protected from Voldemort through the shield of his mother’s love. We can’t see Lily Potters love, but we sure can see the results in a duel. A third key difference between these cakes is price. Cupcake Stop is $2.50 per cupcake, which I find rather reasonable. Crumbs is $4.50 per cupcake. While the cupcake is also much bigger, I have a harder time digesting paying $4.50 for a snack. In my mind, CupcakeStop is a reasonable snack, while Crumbs is a luxury treat. Perhaps that is the intended message of their respective marketing departments. A final key difference, which coincides with my reasonable snack/luxury treat conclusion, is the amount of variety. Crumbs consistently has a treasure chest of unique and magical flavors that I can barely wrap my dessert-fantasized brain around. CupcakeStop sticks to the classics, most likely due to lack of space on a truck (although according to the website the store has many more options).

What do all of these differences mean to the average connoisseur reading this extremely witty and well-written blog? The cupcake you purchase depends on the situation. If you need an aesthetically pleasing and tasty gourmet gift for someone I’d recommend Crumbs. If you are walking back to your office trying to find any way to salvage the torture that is the rest of your afternoon of doing an 18-tab spreadsheet, I’d recommend CupcakeStop. But either way you can’t go wrong (unless you go to Dean and Deluca).

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