Vegan Cupcake Crusade: Nami vs. 24 Carrots
German chocolate and "blueberry and some kind of beer or rum or something" vegan cupcakes from Nami
Do you guys know how hard it is to find a vegan cupcake on the fly in this town? And I'm not talking about special ordering a dozen or waiting till the second Saturday of the fourth month or going to Sprinkles -- I'm talking about purchasing one cupcake of the vegan variety on a moment's notice for a birthday surprise for your vegan friend or for yourself (or for a battle).
It's a challenge.
After calling countless bakeries, one of which wasn't even quite sure what "vegan" meant and told me that making cupcakes without eggs was "way too difficult," I was finally able to find two places that sold these elusive vegan treats.
And for the record -- vegan means no meat, no dairy, no eggs, no animal products whatsoever, and a cupcake is a small or individual cake.
In One Corner:
2014 N. 7th Street
The Set Up: Situated in an adorable restored 1920s brick bungalow, Nami is Phoenix's first and only 100% vegan coffee shop. (Coming soon, however, to 15th Ave and Roosevelt: Treehouse Bakery.) Every day the little shop pumps out a variety of vegan sweets including "Winkies" (vegan twinkies), oatmeal cream pies, cookies, brownies, truffles, and cupcakes.
Pros: The two options available on the afternoon of my visit were German Chocolate and what the girl behind the counter referred to as "Blueberry beer or rum or something. I know it's blueberry and alcohol." (Helpful.) The chocolate cake was moist, and the coconut pecan frosting was tasty and hid the taste of soy well. The blueberry cake also had a nice texture, and the flavor was interesting. Both cakes looked beautiful.
Cons: Both cakes were so dense it was difficult to get past the second bite. The frosting on the blueberry cake tasted like straight vanilla soy, and the chocolate cake was on the bland side and needed more chocolate.
Cherry Chocolate Chip and Mini Mango Cardamon cupcakes from 24 Carrots
In The Other Corner:
24 Carrots Natural Cafe & Juice Bar
6140 W. Chandler Blvd.
The Set Up: Just off Chandler Blvd and Kyrene in a strip mall next to a Subway sits this little juice bar/vegan bakery/brunch/sandwich spot. The independently owned cafe will be celebrating its fourth year anniversary this May. You may have tried their vegan cupcakes at the Cupcake Love-In this past October or at Ignite Food last month.
The Pros: After three visits, I finally got my hands on one of their cherry chocolate chip cupcakes, and as a bonus, two of their mini signature mango cardamon cupcakes. The mango cupcakes were delicious. The cardamon complemented the mangoes perfectly, the frosting tasted like frosting, and the tiny cakes were moist and not too dense. The cherry chocolate chip was packed full of cherries and had the same delicious frosting on top.
The Cons: The cherry chocolate chip was dry and dense. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing, and I think that if they lightened up on the add-ins, the cake might have been better. And, unlike Nami's cupcakes, these cakes probably won't be winning any beauty contests (although, to be fair, the girl behind the counter was a little rushed since she was frosting them as I waited).
The Verdict: Out of the four cupcakes, 24 Carrots wins this round with their craveworthy mango cupcakes. I could eat an entire dozen of those little guys in one sitting. Nami's cupcakes were really pretty, but I would rather have one of their "Winkies" or an oatmeal cream pie.
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