Posts Tagged reviews

There Are Cupcakes In Tacoma Washington!

Hello, Cupcake - Interior

Hello, Cupcake, in Tacoma Washington.

There’s nothing more warming to the soul when you’re working twelve hours days at a convention and can’t stomach telling one more person where the lunch buffet is, than receiving a box of cupcakes. So imagine my joy when a box of cupcakes from Tacoma Washington’s Hello Cupcake (not affiliated with the DC version) appeared in our makeshift convention office this week – the gift of a very kind and thoughtful husband of one of our board members.

Hello, Cupacake - Vanilla Chocolate

The vanilla chocolate cupcake. I heart those pink flowers.

My coworkers and I loved the cupcakes so much that we stole away for half an hour on Saturday to get an even dozen. We had to protect them from wandering conference participants.

Hello, Cupcake - Warning

Stay out of our cupcakes!

Hello Cupcake is right on Pacific avenue, near the Tacoma Museum of Glass, the University of Washington Tacoma campus, and the Chihuly Bridge of Glass. The store itself was charming, with a clean, bright interior, and beautifully displayed stands of cupcakes. I always forget how much space there is on the West Coast – the store was probably twice the size of Georgetown Cupcake, and felt very spacious.

Hello, Cupcake - Cupcake Display

I love the clean, clear cupcake displays.

The cupcakes themselves were excellent. My favorite was the chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting and sprinkles. The cake was moist and chocolatey, but the frosting was really something special. It had the creamy texture and lightness of a buttercream, but the rich chocolate flavor of a ganache – exactly the kind of chocolate frosting that I want to make myself.

Hello, Cupcake 2

I want to figure out how to make the chocolate frosting on these cupcakes! It was perfect.

I was also a big fan of the coconut cupcake, which managed to taste of coconut and vanilla, without being too sweet. The carrot cake was also top notch – the cake was nicely spiced, and the cream cheese frosting had the creamy consistency and tang that I look for in a good cream cheese frosting.

Hello, Cupcake - Carrot Cake

A lovely carrot cake cupcake.

I also liked the rich coffee flavor of the coffee frosting on the mocha cupcake.

Hello, Cupcake - Mocha

The coffee frosting had a strong coffee flavor - appropriate in the Pacific Northwest.

I was not a fan of the vanilla cupcake. The vanilla cake with vanilla frosting was way too sweet – the only thing that I could taste was sugar.

Hello, Cupcake - Vanilla

Too sweet - it needs to actually taste like vanilla to qualify as a vanilla cupcake.

And I wasn’t a fan of the peanut butter chips in the cake portion of the peanut butter cupcake.

Hello, Cupcake - Peanut Butter

A good peanut butter cupcake doesn't need peanut butter chips in the cake - just a good peanut butter frosting.

Overall, I was very pleased with the cupcakes over at Hello, Cupcake, although it would have been nice to have a few more seasonal offerings. The store shows a real commitment to quality products – the cake was moist, the buttercream was creamy, and the flavors were (almost always) spot on. A visit to the store would be a perfect way to top off a visit to Tacoma’s excellent Museum of Glass, but it would also be worth a detour on your way to Seattle. And it was the perfect mid-convention pick-me-up.

Hello, Cupcake - Our Dozen, Minus a Few

Almost all of our dozen cupcakes. Just a few fell pray to wandering hands.


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Yogi Berry – Cleveland Park Embraces the Fro-Yo Phenomenon

Yogi Berry Yogurt 1

Yogi Berry original with raspberries.

Two of the biggest trends to sweep the DC dining scene last year were cupcakes and high-end frozen yogurt. Thankfully for my waistline, only the yogurt trend has made it to my neighborhood so far. Yogi Berry, a frozen yogurt shop that’s high on style and light on calories, opened up in the Cleveland Park strip mall back in November, 2008. Over the past month, Wonk the Plank and I have visited our resident Yogi Berry three times to see if this frozen yogurt trend has any teeth, and we’re generally pleased with this tasty, if slightly overpriced addition to the neighborhood.

Yogi Berry is one many frozen yogurt shops that popped up after the enormous success of Pinkberry, the LA-based frozen yogurt store that became a trendy must-have after it opened in 2005. Unlike the frozen yogurt of my youth, this new wave of frozen yogurt is supposed to taste like real yogurt, with a tangy flavor that isn’t overly sweet. Pinkberry also serves its yogurt in well-designed spaces, featuring high-end touches like pebbled floors and Philippe Starck’s Victoria Ghost chairs.

Yogi Berry 6

Either these really are Philippe Starck's Victoria Ghost chairs, or they look just like them.

The Ghost chairs – or a reasonable facsimile thereof – has made it to the Yogi Berry in Cleveland Park, but I found that not all the yogurt was as tangy as I expected. Still, tangy or not, almost all of it is pretty delicious.

Yogi Berry 3

The store has nice design touches, like this textured wallpaper.

Yogi Berry serves up four yogurt flavors: original, green tea, berry, and chocolate. The original yogurt, which was my favorite, does indeed have a tangy flavor that predominates, although it’s not quite as sharp as the tang of actual yogurt. The yogurt has a sweet finish, with berry and citrus undertones that round out the flavor. To me, this yogurt is closer to ice cream that in it is to Greek yogurt, with a light, creamy texture that reminds me of soft-serve. I found it delicious enough that I could enjoy it on its own – no topping necessary.

Yogi Berry Yogurt 3

Our selections last Saturday. Note the Wonk's Women's Information Network t-shirt in the background.

The green tea, my second favorite flavor, has a little tang, but is sweeter than the original and tastes mostly of, what else, green tea. But because the green tea is a “specialty” flavor, it also costs an extra dollar per serving. Yogurt prices at Yogi Berry start at $2.95 for five ounces (toppings are an additional $0.95 each), and I’m not sure if the green tea was worth $3.95 for a small.

The other two yogurt flavors, berry and chocolate, taste exactly like conventional frozen yogurt – if there was a tang, then I couldn’t taste it. Still, berry flavor ended up being Wonk the Plank’s favorite, and I thought it was very tasty as well. The berry yogurt tastes strongly of blueberries, with raspberry and vanilla undertones. The chocolate, which was my least favorite, tastes exactly like normal chocolate frozen yogurt. It was fine, but undistinguished.

Yogi Berry Yogurt 2

Wonk's berry yogurt with blueberries.

All four of the yogurt flavors are low calorie – the original yogurt clocks in at approximately 122 calories for a small serving. If you want to up your yogurt’s caloric heft, the store serves an impressive variety of toppings, which run the gamut from the uber-healthy pomegranate seeds to the much more nutritionally dubious Captin Crunch. Wonk and I played it safe on our visits – I got raspberries and he got blueberries – and every time the fruit was fresh and flavorful. The store was much stingier with the raspberries than the blueberries, however.  I only received six raspberries on my last visit, while Wonk’s yogurt was nicely covered in blueberries.

Yogi Berry 5

The topping bar, as you can see, is huge.

Wonk and I had an excellent time each time we visited Yogi Berry, although I do think that the prices are a little high for what it is. At the end of the day, paying four dollars for five ounces of frozen yogurt and some fruit is spendy. But, considering that I’ll happily pay that for a latte at Starbucks and not even blink, Yogi Berry’s pricing isn’t all that outrageous. I’m very pleased that the fro-yo trend has made it to my area, and Yogi Berry has already become one of my regular neighborhood haunts.

At least, that is, until a cupcake shop opens up in Cleveland Park.

Yogi Berry 7 -exterior

Yogi Berry's Cleveland Park shop is one of three stores in the DC area.

Yogi Berry
Sam’s Park and Shop
3515 Connecticut Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20008
(202) 362-9644

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DC Cupcake Odyssey: Red Velvet Cupcakery Keeps it Classic


Red Velvet Cupcakery, DC's Newest Cupcake Joint.

As DC was readying itself for the Inauguration, Red Velvet Cupcakery in Penn Quarter was preparing for its grand opening on Thursday, January 15. The store, which shares a space in Penn Quarter with a new TangySweet gave away 500 free cupcakes for its grand opening. Even though I didn’t have a prayer of making it in time to nab a free cupcake, I was determined to extend my DC Cupcake Odyssey to DC’s newest cupcake shop. So a friend and I braved the bitter cold that Thursday night to see how DC’s newest cupcake shop stacked up.


The inside of the store is minmalist, with a clean design.

Red Velvet Cupcakery’s space is small and pristine, with a minimalist feel. There’s a large blown-up photo of cupcakes against a white background that adorned one wall, and one bright red wall behind the counter with pricing information. A large display case showcasing the cupcakes, a cash register, and a small row of bright-red stools at a window counter complete the space.


A large photo of cupcakes greets you as you enter the store.

When I heard that Red Velvet Cupcakery shared a space with TangySweet, I envisioned a food court configuration. But the side-by side storefronts are actually separate, at least for consumers; you have to walk outside to get from the TangySweet to Red Velvet. This was a good decision on the branding front, since cupcakes and fro-yo don’t exactly mix. But I was sad that we couldn’t take advantage of the ample seating space in TangySweet.

Instead, my friend and I took our cupcakes down to the Rocket Bar so we could sample our wares in the comparative peace. I tried three cupcake on my visit: the coffee-flavored Morning Call, the Red Velvet, and the Peanut Butter Cup. Each was $3.25/piece,, or $36 for a dozen.

The cupcakes were well made, with the exception of a small technical difficulty. All the cupcakes I sampled had a hard, slightly bitter, crust on their tops, as if they’d been left in the oven too long. But that problem is easily fixable, and may just have been opening day jitters.


The Peanut Butter Cup, in the case.

My favorite cupcake, by far, was the Peanut Butter Cup – a chocolate cake topped with a slightly salty, rich peanut butter frosting. The cake was tender and had a deep chocolate flavor, but the frosting really stole the show. It had a fluffy texture, with a rich salty-sweet peanut butter flavor. I love the combination of chocolate and peanut butter together, and this cupcake was really to die for.


Red Velvet cupcakes, in the case. The sprinkles are a cute touch.

The Red Velvet was also a strong contender – the cake was fluffy and tender, and had that deep red color of a proper red velvet cake. The cream cheese frosting was the right balance of tangy and sweet, with a smooth texture.


The Morning Call - espresso cake with mocha buttercream.

The Morning Call, an espresso-chocolate cupcake with mocha buttercream, was my least favorite. I didn’t taste the espresso in the espresso-chocolate cake, although it had a rich chocolate flavor and tender crumb. The frosting tasted like a classic buttercream – it tasted strongly of butter, had an oily texture, and was overwhelmingly rich. To be fair, the mocha flavor was well balanced, and the richness and the texture are all things I’ve encountered in buttercreams before. But I’m not a huge fan of classic buttercreams, so my dislike of the Morning Call may be more a matter of personal taste than anything else.

I was pretty happy with Red Velvet Cupcakery – just writing this makes me want to make a b-line for the store so I can get that Peanut Butter Cup cupcake again. But I also think that Red Velvet has some room to grow.

Red Velvet’s flavor combinations are classic, but seemed a little boring and expected – as though they took a gourmet dessert menu and adapted it for cupcakes. This isn’t a bad thing, but Red Velvet Cupcakery is competing with stores that are passionate about cupcakes, and which offer daily rotating menus in addition to seasonal offerings. Doing classic flavors well just isn’t enough to compete.

In this ever-crowded field, a bakery’s individuality, creativity, and execution are what makes them stand out. Red Velvet has good execution, but I’d love to see them ramp up their menu offerings, start making some seasonal cupcakes, and offer more creative flavor combinations.

My advice to Red Velvet Cupcakery: have fun with it. Take your cue from DC’s other cupcake shops and start varying your menu. See if you can make a cute cupcake for Valentine’s Day that’s a little outside the box. Mix it up. And see what happens.

And yes, I’ll be visiting soon for another Peanut Butter Cup.

Red Velvet Cupcakery
675 E. St. NW
Washington DC 20004
Phone: (202) 347-7895
Fax: (202) 347-7894

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DC Cupcake Odyssey: Georgetown Cupcake Lives Up to the Hype

Georgetown Cupcake - Red Velvet

Georgetown Cupcake's Red Velvet Cupcake. As pretty as it is good.

Last month I took a break from the holiday baking craziness and visited Georgetown Cupcake with my coworker. This was a belated stop on my DC cupcake odyssey, which started with my review of Hello Cupcake soon after its opening, and continued with my CakeLove review back in October.

I had my doubts about Georgetown Cupcake, because all I’ve heard is how great they are (after all, isn’t that the biggest criticism of Cake Love? That it’s all hype and no cake?). And I was annoyed that The Washington Post didn’t really “review” so much as “drool over” their cupcakes during the Cupcake Wars.

For those of you who don’t know the story, Georgetown Cupcake is DC’s first cupcake shop, and was founded by sister baking team Katherine Kallinis and Sophie LaMontagne. Considering that the DC area now has three cupcake-only establishments (Hello Cupcake, Georgetown Cupcake, Lavender Moon Cupcakery) and recently added a fourth (Red Velvet Cupcakery), it’s pretty shocking that DC’s oldest cupcakery opened back in February 2008, less than a year ago.

Georgetown Cupcake - Busy Shop

A busy night at Georgetown Cupcake.

My coworker and I went to Georgetown Cupcake on a Friday night in December. Georgetown’s streets were less crowded than usual due to the upcoming holidays, but there was almost a line out Georgetown Cupcake’s door. The store at 1209 Potomac St. N,  just off M street, isn’t much bigger than a cupcake box, with just one table that served as a bag-dropping station while customers placed their orders. If you’re looking for a place to have your cupcake and eat it too, then head across the street to Dean and Deluca.

The cupcakes were beautifully displayed on different cake stands, adding to the fairy-tale charm of the store. I had planned to only buy two cupcakes, but the spirit overtook me and I ordered up a whole half dozen: the Red Velvet, Chocolate2, Chocolate3, Vanilla, Vanilla and Chocolate, and Carrot Cake.

Georgetown Cupcake - Cupcake Stands

Georgetown Cupcake's Display.

I was pretty much won over the moment I saw the beautiful presentation—the cakes were small, just peeking over the edge of their wrappers, with nary a muffin top in site. The frosting was perfectly piped in appealing swirls, and the fondant decorations were perfectly centered. From the presentation alone I could tell that this sister baking team cares deeply about its craft. And according to The Washington Post, the sisters pipe the frosting onto every cupcake themselves, which may be why they looked so pretty.

And as for the cupcakes themselves? I was absolutely blown away. First off, the cake is exactly what I’m looking for in a cupcake—it’s extremely light and tender, with the moistness of an oil cake, but the full flavor of a butter cake. The flavors were rich and deep—the vanilla cupcake tasted like it was infused with vanilla beans, and the chocolate cupcake tasted like the cake version of a chocolate bar.

Georgetown Cupcakes  - Grouping

A plate of Georgetown Cupcakes, a little battered after a rough trip home the night before.

But my favorite part was the frosting, which I liked even more than the cake, and has taken hold in my mind as a Platonic, ideal version of frosting. It was extremely light and fluffy, and free of that teeth-shocking sweetness that frostings often have. The flavors were intense and balanced. The vanilla frosting really tasted like vanilla beans, and the cream cheese frosting was the perfect balance of sweet and tang, lightness and flavor.

The chocolate frosting had a deep, rich chocolate flavor that rivaled that of a ganache, but without being as heavy. I’ll admit that the chocolate frosting was so intensely chocolatey that it completely overwhelmed the vanilla cake in the Vanilla-Chocolate cupcake, but is that such a horrible thing? My favorites were the Vanilla Squared (vanilla cake with vanilla frosting, simple but extremely well done) and the Chocolate Squared (chocolate cake with Chocolate ganache).

Can you tell that the cupakes completely won me over? It’s no wonder, with this really fabulous product, that Georgetown Cupcake has become a DC media darling. Not only did they win the Washington Post Cupcake Wars, (and, by the way, they even gave out the recipe for the Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes), but they’ve appeared on the Martha Stewart Show and have been favorable reviewed in the New York Times.

The only thing that could have improved my experience was the customer service. It’s possible that it was an off night when I was there, but the cashiers seemed much more interested in gossiping than getting the huge line of customers taken care of. Considering that Georgetown Cupcake’s branding promises a chic, professional, and “couture” product, the service didn’t quite fit with their carefully crafted brand.

Still, I’m now a big fan of Georgetown Cupcake and I can’t wait to go back. You heard it here, folks—this is no CakeLove. Some things really can live up to the hype.

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Review: The Scorned Cake Love Gets A ModernDomestic Look

Love Cafe Sign

Love Cafe, Part of the Cake Love Empire

As I mentioned in my Hello Cupcake review, the DC Cupcake boom has inspired me to check out DC bakeries, in a personal quest to better know the District’s cupcakes. First on my pilgrimage was DC’s Cake Love, a local bakery chain that rose to fame on a tide of “all natural” cakes and founder Warren Brown’s compelling personal story.

I’ve written about the Cake Love controversy before, so I’ll spare you a big giant rehash of why people love, and love to hate, Warren Brown’s baby. Ask any Washingtonian who’s past the “I just moved here and am drinking myself into a stupor every night in Adams Morgan” stage and, believe me, they’ll have an opinion on Cake Love.

The taste-test took place a couple of weeks ago at Love Cafe, which is part of the Cake Love empire. It’s down on U-Street and fifteenth, right across the road from Cake Love itself.

Line at Love Cafe

The line at Love Cafe

At first I intended to just try the cupcakes, but one look at the bakery display case changed my mind. The cupcakes looked like afterthoughts compared to the cakes. The cupcake flavor choices looked fine, but very basic (flavors included vanilla with raspberry frosting, chocolate with lime frosting, chocolate with chocolate frosting, and vanilla with raspberry frosting, among others). And the presentation (a flat muffin-topped cupcake with a thin layer of frosting) was very plain, as if the cake decorators had forgotten about them. The cupcakes couldn’t hold a candle to the cakes, which were incredibly enticing (I guess that’s why they don’t call it Cupcake Love). I mean, what would you rather eat – a vanilla cupcake, or a slice of Heavenly Hazy with Coffee Buttercream

Mocha Cake

Slice of The Mocha Dream

My fellow testers and I tried two slices of cake between us, each of which rang in at around $8.00 (to be fair, the slices were huge and could easily feed two or three people). I got a slice of The Mocha Dream, a chocolate cake with mocha buttercream—the cake sang a siren song to the coffee fanatic in me that I was powerless to resist. My fellow tasters had a slice of the Brown Velvet cake, Cake Love’s all-natural take on Red Velvet, which often gets it red color from food coloring. I also got some cupcakes to take home—a chocolate cupcake with chocolate ganache, and a vanilla cupcake with raspberry buttercream.

Despite my good past experiences with Cake Love, I approached my cake with a critical eye. After all, Hello Cupcake has raised the bar for all of DC. But even though I was prepared for a mouthful of ash, what I found was much better than that. The cake was rich and fudgy, although it was a tad too dense for my taste. The frosting was very nice—creamy and smooth, with just the right amount of coffee flavor. The two together were a bit much—the richness of the cake and the frosting together was overwhelming. But I thought it was overall a good piece of cake.

I liked the Brown Velvet cake even more, mostly because the cream cheese frosting had a really lovely tang that offset its sweetness. The cake itself didn’t taste of much besides sugar, butter and a hint of chocolate and, like the other slice, it was a bit dense for my taste. But none of us thought the cake was dry, and I’m not sure why that is such a huge complaint about Cake Love. I mean yes, the cake was a bit drier than a cake that’s been made with oil, but that doesn’t make it dry. As a fellow tester said, “this tastes like a butter cake. This is what butter-based cakes taste like.” Both desserts were very rich, and we were only able to finish about half of each slice.

A note on Love Cafe itself: while I generally liked the desserts, my overall impression of Love Cafe really left something to be desired. The decor was shabby and cluttered, the menus were impossible to find, the service was slow, and even though it was 80 degrees outside they didn’t turn on the air conditioning. I was going to take the other half of my cake home, but by the time we left all the frosting had melted into a giant puddle, costing me about $4 of cake.

Melted Mocha Cake

Four dollars worth of melted Mocha Dream.

Later that night at home, Wonktheplank and I tried the cupcakes, which we liked. The cupcakes’ cake was fluffier and lighter than the cake slices, and I liked the basic, down-home flavorings of both the vanilla and chocolate cakes. The raspberry buttercream frosting was smooth and creamy, and really tasted like raspberries. The ganache was rich, with a deep chocolate flavor. And both these cupcakes held up to an afternoon of being toted around in 80 degree weather, so they obviously were much heartier than my cake slice.

Cake Love Cupcakes

Cake Love Cupcakes, battered and bruised after an afternoon of shopping

But while these cupcakes were fine, both of us liked Hello Cupcake’s more. “They tasted better. It had the peanut butter” explained Wonktheplank, who is notoriously shy when it comes to expressing his opinion on baked goods. “I liked the way it tasted,” he finished. I personally think that Hello Cupcakes’ founder Penny Karas is really passionate about cupcakes, and her single-minded commitment to making great cupcakes, plus her eye for detail, comes through in her baking.

All in all, I definitely don’t think that Cake Love deserves all the scorn that’s been heaped on it. But I do think I have a better understanding of why some people dislike them so much.

It’s a fine bakery.

It is. It’s fine. Cake Love produces cakes with good flavor profiles and pretty good presentations. And they offer some nice cupcakes.

But Cake Love doesn’t bill itself as a fine bakery. It bills itself as a great bakery. When you read Warren Brown’s inspiring story about how he quit his job as an attorney to pursue his love of baking, you expect great products. When you read about Cake Love’s commitment to using all-natural ingredients, you expect excellence. When you read about Cake Love’s passion, you expect the best.

And what I ate at Cake Love was fine. It was well-made. It was a pretty good product.

But the best? Not even close.

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The Washington Post: Already Strapped for Content In Six-Week Cupcake Quest?

The Washington Post published part two of Cupcakes Wars last week, the latest installment in its six-week quest to sample and rate all the cupcakes the DC-area has to offer. This week the publication featured cupcakes from two NOVA establishments that, in all honestly, I had never heard of: Buzz and Pastries by Randolph.

Now, I’m not obsessed with the DC dining scene, but I do read the Posts’ food section pretty regularly. So I was surprised that I had no idea that these two bakeries existed. It made me wonder if the Post was stretching for content (after all, six weeks is a lot of space to fill with, um, cupcake reviews).

Sadly, I cannot compare the ratings for this weeks’ pastries to last week’s because The Post failed to provide the average rating per cupcake. This may be because the offerings were so all over the map from each bakery—but I really couldn’t tell.

The Post liked Buzz’s vanilla cupcake with vanilla frosting, giving it a 5.5 out of ten rating. They praised the tender cake and fluffy but not overly sweet frosting. Post testers singled out the Bumble Bee cupcake as one that they particularly didn’t like because of its “muddled flavors,” but they didn’t elaborate on what the flavors were, or what about them was so muddled. Details, people! I want details! Now I feel the need to high-tail it out to Alexandria and figure out what happened.

The Post was not at all impressed by the offerings from Pastries by Randolph, an Arlington establishment, calling the cupcakes “grade-school cafeteria” fare. Testers especially disliked the artificial flavors, and described the lemon flavor in one cupcake as “Pledge”-like. The least objectionable of the bunch was the Red Velvet cupcake.

So there you go, folks, another week of cupcake reviews. Since I’m guessing that they’re saving the “hot” DC cupcake establishments for later in the series, we can only guess where they’ll go next for cupcakes. Does Firehook make cupcakes? Maybe they’ll go to Starbucks?

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The Washington Post Gets In On The Cupcake Frenzy

Apparently, The Washington Post continues to covet ModernDomestic’s readership, because they are running yet another multi-part series right up our alley: The Cupcake Wars.

That’s right, the Post is going out to a bunch of DC-area cupcake establishments and taste-testing everyone’s offerings. Some may disagree, but I actually think that this is a legitimate news piece (at least, in the Arts and Entertainment section). After all, DC has had so many cupcake establishments open in the past year, possibly becoming a rival to the cupcake-saturated NYC. Someone has to taste-test them and tell us what the best of the lot is.

The Post testers are rating all the cupcakes on a scale of 1-10, and reporting on details such as cupcake size, cost, and the bakeries’ best cupcake overall. So far, they’ve tested cupcakes from Sticky Fingers, a vegan bakery up in yuppifying Columbia Heights, and the ever-controversial Cake Love, which has seven locations in the DC-area.

Now, once upon a time I would have said that a vegan cupcake is an oxymoron—after all, “cupcake” is a symbol of all that is girly and delicious, and “vegan” is a symbol for . . . um, vegetables (not so girly, sometimes delicious-but in a peskily wholesome way). But then I had CupcakeMonsterLee’s vegan cupcakes, and my mind was completely changed. They were really wonderful and you would have never known you were eating a vegan cupcake.

But Sticky Fingers must not be using her recipes, because they scored a dismal 2.1 on the 10 point scale. The Post marked them down for dry cake, “unremarkable flavor,” and oily frosting. The Post liked Sticky Finger’s chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting the best. I do wonder how the Post review would have changed if they had taste-tested other vegan cupcakes, as a comparison.

However, CakeLove didn’t do much better, scoring 2.8 out of 10. The Post testers found CakeLove’s cupcakes dry, and thought the frosting was flavorless. The testers did think that CakeLove’s chocolate cupcake with cream cheese frosting was a decent offering. I guess the controversy over the quality of CakeLove’s baked goods continues.

I found this series is inspiring—but not because I think I’ll agree with all the Post reviews (when you get right down to it, taste is a personal thing after all). But it got me thinking that it’s high time to check out DC’s cupcake offerings for myself. After all, reviewing Hello Cupcake was just scratching the surface of a town that’s practically buried in cupcakes.

First on my list is the great CakeLove. After all, how can I not go—all the online griping about their cake just begs for a review. And while I liked the cupcakes I had of theirs awhile ago, I think a repeat visit is in order.

Who’s with me?

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Hello Cupcake, Hello World!

Hello Cupcake - Door

Hello Cupcake!

Hello Cupcake opened in Dupont Circle on August 25, and from the beginning it’s been getting great reviews from Washington foodies. So I organized a cupcake expedition last Friday, where eight of us stormed the store and sampled the wares

Hello Cupcake - Cupcakes

Mmmm, cupcakes

Hello Cupcake is the brainchild of Penny Karas, a marketing professional turned cupcaketier. This begs the question: do all DC bakeries have to be founded by former white-collar professionals who follow their pastry-filled dreams?

Hello Cupcake uses all fresh ingredients, natural flavorings, and no trans-fats. The shop offers a wide variety of flavors with really cute names—”You Tart” and “De Lime and De Coconut” were two of my favorites. Some flavors are available every day and some rotate on a weekly basis—you can see their flavors and schedule on their web site. But don’t get too excited about all those flavors; when we were there there were only five or so available (I had really wanted to check out the Maya favorite cupcake, but, sadly, there were none to be found)

The Peppermint Penny

The Peppermint Penny

But how did the cupcakes taste?

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