“I’d rather be pleasantly surprised than fatally disappointed.”
― Julia Glass
If given a choice, what would your preference be, surprise or disappointment?
Without a doubt, I would choose to be surprised. Yet, continually I explore new bakeries with conscious or subconscious expectations. Inevitably, leading to letdowns.
Such was the case of my mission to Patty’s Cakes in Fullerton, California.
I’ve known about the shop since its early beginnings. However, I never went because they specialized in a light and airy mousse icing. Being a fanatic of American buttercream, I was suspicious.
Much has changed since then. It’s been voted Best Cupcakes on the OC Hotlist from 2012 – 2014. Moreover, my palate has broadened and I’ve come to appreciate additional frosting varieties when done well.
Thus, a visit to Patty’s Cakes seemed worthwhile.
Despite the cluster of customers around the counter, there were no cupcakes on display when I arrived.
Instead, cupcakes were ordered using their menu. It was a most unusual arrangement.
I commented on the setup as I made my choices. The associate explained their cupcakes are baked fresh in the back and covered. Flavors could also be customized, just mix and match according to their options.
That made things a little more interesting. So I purchased two menu cupcakes, and one custom at $3 each.
Once home, I didn’t even wait until dinner. Opening the box, I selected the Banana Split Cupcake. It’s a banana cake with pineapple filling and strawberry mousse frosting.
The pineapple dominated. Sugary sweet, it layered the top, and stuffed the middle. I would’ve preferred less, and more of the moist, flavorful banana cake. As far as the frosting, it was forgettable – like strawberry Cool Whip with a drizzle of chocolate syrup.
Thinking back to all the accolades from Yelp and wedding magazines displayed at Patty’s Cakes, I wondered if I was missing something?
I reached for my custom cupcake, Lemon Raspberry. It’s a lemon cake with raspberry filling and cream cheese mousse frosting.
The raspberry filling was generous, but didn’t saturate the cupcake like the other. Its flavor was more artificial than natural. The lemon cake was average and the frosting was a better version of Cool Whip.
After two cupcakes, not only was I baffled, I didn’t even feel like I had dessert. Where was the richness, the satisfaction? Admittedly, I wasn’t in the mood for chocolate during my visit. Perhaps, only their chocolate fudge could be indulgent.
I put my fork down and returned the next day for my last cupcake, Butter Pecan. It’s a butter pecan cake filled with apple, topped with cream cheese mousse and garnished with toffee.
This was the best cupcake from Patty’s Cakes.
Ample filling overshadowed the cake, so I tasted more apple than any butter pecan. Nonetheless, the toffee and caramel drizzle complemented the apples nicely, and added depth to an otherwise shallow mousse.
Staring at the empty bakery box, I felt left out on some secret. Had my expectations really been that high? Or was my taste that dissimilar to the majority of Yelp and OC Hotlist?
I still don’t know what they see. I only see 3 out of 5 stars for Patty’s Cakes.
As a connoisseur, I’m disappointed for allowing myself to be so caught off guard. I should learn to expect everything so that nothing comes unexpected.