Glitz, Glamour and Cupcakes

Photo courtesy of Casey's Cupcakes - Smokin SmoresWhat do you look for when you select a cupcake? Are you all about the taste? Are more you more interested in its design? Is it a combination of both?

If you’ve been paying attention to my blog, I don’t really talk about appearance much.

Yes, great photography will get my attention. Once I’m in your store, its ambiance and the overwhelming presence of frosting might make me giddy. However, when it comes down to it, I care more about taste than appearance.

Casey’s Cupcakes in Riverside, California prides itself on serving customers “delicious, beautifully decorated cupcakes.” Appearance shares center-stage with taste. With locations in Orange County as well, each shop is inspired by a classic Parisian café with a Hollywood twist, incorporating splashes of pink with black accents.

Photo courtesy of Casey's Cupcakes - Laguna Beach StoreI confess this wasn’t my first Casey’s Cupcakes experience. As a Food Network’s Cupcake Wars Winner, initially, I discovered this shop in 2011. Back then, I thought I had found a worthy cupcakery in my backyard and returned a few times – until Spring 2012.

I don’t recall the flavor, but I wasn’t impressed with the taste. Sure it looked pretty, but that’s not what I paid for. Since it was my second such encounter with the bakery, I stopped going.

Fast-forward to present day, when I decide to see if time makes the palate grow fonder. After all, with five locations and nearly 14K Facebook fans, Casey’s Cupcakes must be doing something right.

Determined to start our relationship anew, I tried different flavors from what I remembered. I started with July’s Flavor of the Month, Smokin S’mores Cupcake. It’s a vanilla bean cupcake with marshmallow filling and milk chocolate frosting, decorated with dark chocolate curls, a chocolate drizzled graham cracker, a Hershey’s chocolate piece, chocolate drizzled marshmallows and gold glitter.

The cake was moist and had a light texture. The frosting was incredibly generous. From a physics standpoint, I don’t know how it stayed balanced atop the cake! It was chocolaty without being overpowering and marshmallowy (I consider that a word). The s’mores accompaniments on top were an extra treat. I loved this cupcake!

Photo courtesy of Casey's Cupcakes - Peanut Butter PizzazzNext, I tried Casey’s Peanut Butter Pizzazz Cupcake. It’s a peanut butter chocolate chip cake, topped with peanut butter cream frosting, a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and milk chocolate curls.

When I order a peanut butter cupcake, I expect a rich dessert. This cupcake had the allure, but didn’t quite deliver.

The cake was moist, the texture was light, and the peanut butter flavor was subtle. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the frosting. It was generous, but tasted more whipped cream than buttercream. Since I feel whipped cream has no place in frosting, this was a negative. Moreover, the peanut butter was too understated. Admittedly, the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and chocolate curls helped make it taste interesting.

I rate Casey’s Cupcakes 3.5 out of 5 stars. That’s enough to renew our relationship. I’ll be sure to keep checking their cupcake of the month flavors. I also discovered they have Happy Hour specials on Mondays and Tuesdays: buy 2 cupcakes, get 1 free. That’s another incentive to return.

Sometimes distance is a good thing and can help us get some perspective, even when it comes to our palate. I’m glad I gave Casey Cupcakes another chance. It would have been a shame to miss such a delicious experience.

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