Recently, I had the pleasure of attending the 2014 Inland Empire Cupcake Fair in Riverside, California.
Mind and stomach were one, as I meandered through the convention hall sampling cupcakes from amateur and professional bakers.
Admittedly, I went to the event with an agenda. I knew Viva Los Cupcakes was one of the bakers. It’s a cup-catering company that draws inspiration from Mexican regional foods and desserts to create unique cupcake flavors.
I first heard of them last year through an OC Weekly story and I had tried to catch them at a Southern California event ever since.
My mouth watered in anticipation as I approached the table. Owner, Karina Jimenez was there with her parents, offering her artisanal creations to attendees.
To my delight, in addition to their Jamaica sample minis, they were selling full-size cupcakes as well.
I chose two flavors, based on Karina’s recommendation and instinct. She packaged them to go and soon after, I left the fair to enjoy her cupcakes at home.
Later, I started with the Tamal con Mole. It’s a corn cake topped with a frosting of nuts, seeds, chilies, and chocolate.
This flavor was Karina’s recommendation and won 1st place Most Unique Ingredient at the IE Cupcake Fair.
The cake had a sweet flavor and its dense consistency was more like a tamale than a cupcake. The frosting had a rich chocolaty start, and then a spicy finish. I adored the juxtaposition with the sweet corn cake.
My only complaint – it was gone too soon.
Next up, the Margarita cupcake. It’s a lime cake with tequila and a margarita mix frosting with a sugar/salt rim.
I’ll confess lime isn’t a favorite flavor when it comes to baking. However, the margarita part was too enticing to walk away.
Turns out it was another winner, 2nd place Best All Around.
From the first bite, I could see why. The lime infused cake was refreshing. Its flavor was obvious, but not tart. The margarita frosting was creamy and generous. Again, there was no bite, rather a pleasant tang.
I can’t be certain I tasted the influence of tequila. Nonetheless I liked the cupcake so much, I didn’t mind.
I give Viva Los Cupcakes 4.5 out of 5 stars.
From the sample mini to my full-size purchase, each cupcake was a unique sensory experience.
In a market that many say is saturated, Karina’s cupcake style sets her apart from the rest.
I do hope we meet again. There are still more flavors I’d love to try.