Tonight I went out with some friends to an art show at my favorite local coffee shop. I’ll admit I had alterior motives for going. I mean sure, I like art and all, but this particular show had an additional draw: cupcakes! That’s right, the artist not only paints but makes adorable cupcakes, cakes and truffles as well. And let’s face it, my favorite kind of art is edible.
Considering this is a fairly small local coffee house which already puts out a pretty darn tasty variety of treats (scones, muffins, cookies, brownies, etc), I wasn’t sure sure what to expect. But Cory Shutters, the artist and creator of Sweet Ass Cupcakes had quite a spread for everyone. There were samples of every flavor of cupcakes she makes as well as most of her truffle flavors. While I generally have no qualms about making a pig of myself, since I was out in public and I knew other people would want to share in the sugar-coated goodness, I limited myself to four mini cupcakes and one truffle.
It was not easy to pick which flavors to sample. My choices were chocolate, white almond, lemon, yellow, Kahula, carrot cake, Bailey’s Irish Cream, Mojito, vanilla chai, spiced chai and red velvet. After looking at both tables, I went with Mojito, vanilla chai and red velvet. I also picked up a Bailey’s Irish Cream truffle.
I started off with the vanilla chai cupcake. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect . Usually when I pick a cupcake, I go for chocolate with some sort of fudge frosting. However, I adore chai. I grabbed the vanilla version because I didn’t realize there was a spiced version. Spiced chai is my drink of choice when I go to the coffee shop, so I knew a chai cupcake was a must for me. It was good, but it didn’t remind me nearly as much of chai as it did of spice cake, which makes a lot of sense since chai is a spiced tea. Now, I do like spice cake, so I didn’t mind that it didn’t taste much like my yummy hot beverage. It was a little drier than I usually like, but then again, I find spice cake in general to be a bit dry. I think it’s the nature of the beast. Plus, these were mini-cupcakes, and those are never quite as moist as their bigger brothers.
My next cake was the red velvet. I make it a point to always try any red velvet offering. To me it is a measure of excellence. Not only do I think these cakes are pretty to look at, but I also am intrigued by anything that has a chocolate taste, but doesn’t look chocolatey. So many bakers claim to have a red velvet cake that ends up tasting like, well, nothing really.This particular cake was moister and fairly tasty. Not overly chocolatey, but I still liked the taste of it. The frosting was also tasty. It was creamy and not too sweet. It also wasn’t piled sky high, which is a mistake I think most makers of gourmet cupcakes make. They give more frosting than cake, and let’s face it, they are cupCAKES. This particular frosting really helped to balance the sweetness of the actual cake.
Before I tried the next cake, I decided to nibble on the truffle. It had a really cute pink candy swirl on top. The inside was incredibly fudgey. The texture wasn’t as stiff as some truffles I’ve tried. It was a bit more liquidy, but it was quite creamy and even though the center looked like it might be a dark truffle base, it wasn’t a bit bitter. It also didn’t have an overwhelming alcohol taste that so many alcohol based truffles too. For example, as much as I love Godiva, their liquer based truffles have a definite alcoholic kick to them that isn’t flavorful, just powerful. This one, however, didn’t at all. It was just creamy and good.
My final cupcake was the Mojito. This one was the cutest to look at. I loved that it was topped with a tiny slice of real lime. I had to taste that first and I’m glad I did, because it really set the tone for the cupcake. The cake was fairly moist with little bits of lime in it. The actual cake wasn’t nearly as limey as the frosting. When the frosting hit my tongue, I got a little bit of that sweet/sour lime taste. It was pretty yummy.
Since my dear friend Eee was with me, she let me taste two of her cakes as well. I tried the lemon with the pink topping. The lemon cake was very lemony, but not in an artificial way. The frosting was a little higher than I’d like. For me the frosting on this one was a bit much, especially sincre it was that overly sugary decorator’s buttercream. I also took a taste of her spiced chai cake. It tasted very similar to the vanilla chai cake I’d had. I actually couldn’t tell a difference at all. Since my taste was so tiny, I didn’t get too much of a comparison. I would have liked more, but like I said, I didn’t want to make a pig of myself.
Not that my pig fears stopped me from trying one more cupcake. After all, this is chocolate Monday, so I had to actually try one of her chocolate cakes. I have to admit that this was my favorite. I know, I know, I’m a traditionalist. The fruity flavors are cool, but really, it all comes back to the chocolate for me. This little tasty treat didn’t have tons of frosting on it, which I liked. The frosting it did have looked like dark chocolate to me, but I was once again pleasantly surprised when I tasted it and it was not even remotely bitter. It was rich and if I’d had an entire one, I would no doubt have needed a big glass of milk. I do, however, have two small complaints about this cupcake. First, it wasn’t nearly as moist as I’d hoped it would be. Like most of the tiny cakes, it was a bit on the dry side.
My second complaint was that it was topped with a white fondant star. I am not a huge fan of fondant. I know how pretty it looks and I know that most real cake artists use it, because for them, the design is the art. However, I’m a taste person first and foremost. While I can appreciate a pretty cake, if there isn’t an amazing taste to go with the look, why bother? Fondant is fairly tasteless. To be fair, I nibbled it, but then pulled it off. With it came a lot of the frosting off the cake, which made me sad. I would have rather left the star off and kept the frosting on. It was what made the cake good. The fondant star did nothing for it.
Although I didn’t get a chance to try any of her full size cakes, looking at her website, her Facebook page and her brochure, they do look mighty pretty. Sure, they are fondant, but detail on them looks awesome. I specifically like the skull cake.
I wish I would have gotten to try one of her full size cupcakes. Don’t get me wrong, I like the option of variety, but for anyone who has ever baked mini cupcakes (or muffins or even cookies), they tend to be drier than their counterparts because the time to cook them doesn’t change much, but the surface area does, so they get a bit overcooked. I would be interested to know if all the cupcakes are a bit dry or if it’s just the mini versions. After all, I like a really moist, melt in my mouth cake, and I only really got that from one of the cakes I got to sample.
One downfall, is that if you aren’t local, the cupcakes might be out of your reach. If you are local though, you should check them out. Not only are you getting some tasty cupcakes, but you’ll be supporting a small business onwer (and artist).
Value: 7/10 (about $2 to $2.50 per full-sized cupcake, which is reasonble, but closer to $3.00 for a truffle, which is pricey)