Is there anyone out there who doesn't like a good cupcake? Or, really, is there such a thing as a "bad" cupcake?
I'll admit - before recently I never thought of cupcakes as much more than a homemade snack, but like with most everything else we've been trying out just about any food can be taken to the next level with a little bit of desire, attention to detail, and plain old love for the craft, whatever that craft is.
And, apparently, cupcakes have gotten huge - as in, popular and cutting edge. Who knew? There is even a great blog that updates people on cupcake goings on daily and shares recipes (and this one too!), so anyone can try out some of the new and unique combinations in the comfort of their own home - which is handy, because not everyone has one of these fresh new cupcake places in their backyard (that, and cupcakes don't travel all that well).
Lucky for Wifey and I - we both love ourselves some cupcakes - the Northwest seems to be a hotbed of cupcake inspiration, both in Portland and Seattle. The following two places in Portland we've been to multiple times (like, count on your fingers and toes multiple times), and the two in Seattle were from a recent day trip.
Saint Cupcake (Portland): Located on a surprisingly quiet street in the NW section of Portland, on the walk between the trendy Pearl District and the upscale NW 23rd area (they have a second location we have not visited), Saint Cupcake produces all sorts of goodness every day of the week. You can check out their menu and, rest assured, we've tried just about all of them. My favorites are any of their chocolate cupcakes because the cake piece is so most, and I love their cream cheese icing. Wifey gets her hair did not too far away from here, so it's pretty much a guarantee we hit this place up every 6-8 weeks.
Cupcake Jones (Portland): Cupcake Jones is the first of these four we had ever tried and they bring something pretty unique (not completely, but to the area) to the table; they fill their cupcakes. A small amount of cake is hollowed out from the middle and then filled with another kind of filling - not the same as whatever is on top. They have six different cupcakes a day (the smaller versions have no filling, but are otherwise the same) and the menu changes daily - three are the same every day, three change depending on the day of the week, and every month the whole menu switches up. Their Red Velvet cupcakes really are pure decadence, as is the Peanut Butter Cup. We've found that of the two here, St. Cupcake has slightly moister cake than Cupcake Jones, but it's not like Cupcake Jones is really a slouch - their innovation with flavors and combination are outstanding.
Trophy Cupcakes (Seattle): Wifey and I hit up the Wallingford store - only doors away from Fuel - and opted for three cupcakes here: Lemon Cheesecake, Red Velvet, and Chocolate Vanilla (chocolate cake, vanilla buttercream frosting). All of them were good and I'd go back if I was in the area with a hankering for cupcakes.
Cupcake Royale (Seattle): This was actually our first stop of the day, just up the street from Caffe Vita. Here we ordered a Triple Threat (chocolate, chocolate, chocolate) and a Salted Caramel (chocolate cake, caramel frosting, topped with salt flakes). Both were solid cupcakes, but they were probably slightly dryer than Trophy's.
We didn't eat all five of those Seattle cupcakes in one day, which I will admit might play some into our perception of them - things are always better fresh. My feelings on both of the Seattle stores is that they were good, but not outlandishly have-to-drive-up-there-to-get-one good. Both of the places in Portland are just as good and quite possibly better. Which is good, because they are in my backyard...and bad, because they are in my backyard. Yeah, poor us. But it also means on our next trip up north we can try other places (unlike Caffe Vita, which has made it to must-stop status).
So get out there and try some real cupcakes...I promise you, you will never go back to box mixes.