My Frosting Frenemy

Sweet Arleen's - Cinnamon Chocolate Hazelnut

Sometimes we have to confront the past to grow.

After a year of avoidance, I decided it was my time. Time to face my frosting frenemy – a blend of friend and enemy. 

It’s the appropriate word to describe my feelings toward Sweet Arleen’s. This 3-Peat Winner of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars left an indelible impression with me last summer.  

They provided my first taste of French Buttercream.

Some of you may recall it did not go well. In fact, I was so startled I described the cupcake experience as Faux Frosting.

My post started an international discourse on Twitter. Who knew types of buttercream was such a polarizing topic? 

Since then, I’ve developed as a connoisseur. Though American Buttercream and cream cheese frosting remain favorites, I’ve learned to appreciate Swiss Buttercream and whipped cream when executed well. 

Hence, I would give Sweet Arleen’s another try. They did make delicious cake. If I could get past the frosting, I thought they might be good for my Flavor of the Month series.

This time around, I didn’t have to travel as far. In addition to their store in Westlake Village and mobile truck, they recently opened a store in Yorba Linda, California.

I studied their website thoroughly beforehand, taking note of my preferences. If they weren’t available, I knew to ask questions.

There would be no buttercream surprises for this Frosting Fanatic.

It was a late weekday morning when I arrived at Sweet Arleen’s new store. No doubt had I not been familiar with their product, I would’ve been impressed by the allure of assorted cupcakes. They looked delightful. 

However, I knew better.

Focused on my notes, I found the desired flavor for $3.75 each.

As a repeat customer, I was ready for the price and paid without any internal dialogue.

I had selected their featured flavor, Cinnamon Chocolate Hazelnut. Cinnamon is infused into chocolate cake that’s topped with Nutella fudge frosting, and then garnished with candied hazelnuts.

Anxious to begin my critique, I transferred the large cupcake from its box to a plate soon after arriving home. 

A smidgen of frosting had adhered to the side of the box during transit. I removed it with my finger. 

The associate at Sweet Arleen’s said it was Swiss Buttercream. 

Ooh, the taste and texture were sumptuous.

Greedily, I took a chunk of cake and frosting with my fork. 

The cake was perfectly moist and chocolaty, with a cinnamon finish. The cinnamon notes were warm and lingered between bites.

Then, the Nutella frosting, so incredibly smooth…the amount was ample. Still, I wanted a huge bowl to myself. 

Finally, the sprinkle of hazelnuts was a crunchy contrast against the sleek frosting and enhanced its nutty flavor.

The cupcake didn’t last long. The only thing that slowed me down was the moments I took to savor the cinnamon.

In disbelief, I looked at my empty plate. 

Once again, I was disappointed. However, the reason was different. 

I should have purchased another.

It was one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve ever had, from flavor to frosting to chocolate intensity.

Sweet Arleen’s had redeemed themselves, and then some. 

Armed with knowledge and experience, now I was ready to explore more of their menu.

Who knows? With the right choices, perhaps we can become friends.

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