We've all seen Food Network's Cupcake Wars, right? It's the show that puts four bakers up against one another to see who can make a few batches of cupcakes worthy enough for the queen of cupcakes herself, Miss Candace Nelson, owner of Sprinkles Cupcakes and the king of macarons, Mr. Florian Bellanger, owner of the MadMac macaron bakery. It's pretty great, if you're into cupcakes and all.
Anyway, two of the contestants that managed to impress the judges just happen to be from The Valley of The Sun and we thought it was about time to put them up against each other, Chow Bella Style.
So which baking team really has the best cupcakes? Let's find out.
In This Corner: The Coffee Shop
The Set Up: This Gilbert oasis opened back in 2006 on the outskirts of the lush Agritopia neighborhood and offers up a variety of coffee drinks, iced teas, sandwiches, breakfast burritos, and baked goods from the Cuff and Flowers families.
In December of 2010, Jessica Cuff and her sister, Jenna Flowers, competed on Food Network's Cupcake Wars and ended up rockin' their way to a party for the Ace of Cake's 100th episode party -- and lined their pockets with $10,000 with their winning cupcakes.
The Coffee Shop doesn't make their winning cupcakes on a regular basis and our options were a bit limited when we stopped by on a very busy Saturday morning so for the battle we snagged one Cherry Sweetheart and one Lemon Glam cupcake.
The Good: Sparkles!!!!! These pretty cupcakes are totally bling'd out with lots of sparkly edible glitter, which makes them not only eye catching but super fun to eat. The Cherry Sweetheart cake had bits of maraschino cherries and tasted very similar to the classic cherry chip cake mix that I'd grown up with. The cake's bright pink frosting wasn't overwhelming and had a nice, smooth texture. The lemon cake was dense and had a nice crumb with just the right amount of sweet lemon frosting.
The Bad: There are two types of cupcakes in this world -- adult cupcakes and kid cupcakes. These cupcakes are totally kid cupcakes. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that if you like super sweet, bright, almost toy-like cupcakes (which, sadly, I do not). The lemon cake tasted a bit too artificial and the frosting could have used a tiny bit more of a lemon kick. The cherry had just a little too much almond flavoring and was so sweet I could almost feel a cavity forming.
In The Other Corner: OllieCake (aka Urban Cookies)
The Set Up: Back in 2005, husband and wife team Shaun and Brady Breese opened their little cookie shop/bakery on 7th Street just south of Camelback. Over time, the little shop grew, new members joined the duo and they started making cupcakes while still maintaining their old-fashioned values and commitment to using only the freshest and highest quality organic ingredients.
Just over a year ago, Brady Breese and his lead baker, Salvador Garcia, stepped into the Cupcake Wars kitchen and walked out $10,000 richer after winning the battle with their collection of cupcakes which included the infamous Tomato & Grilled Cheese cupcake.
Since the bakery doesn't produce any of the four winning cupcakes on a daily basis, we settled on the Orange Blossom and a Lemon cupcake for the battle.
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The Good: Like we said before, there are adult cupcakes and kids cupcakes -- these guys definitely fall into the "adult" cupcake category. The sophisticated cupcakes were beautifully decorated with just the right amount of frosting to cake. The lemon cake was light and moist with just a hint of real lemon flavor. The lemon frosting was super fluffy and was pleasantly flavored with just the perfect amount of lemon. The Orange Blossom cake had that same nice texture and mellow flavor.
The Bad: As much as I loved the actual cake on the Orange Blossom, I hated the frosting but that's only because I am not a fan of mixing floral flavors with desserts. The orange frosting was nice and fluffy but it tasted like I was eating a bouquet of roses. I know that some people are really into eating lavender- and rose-flavored foods but I feel those flavors should be reserved for bath soaps and perfumes.
The Verdict: Even though it was sweet I still liked the Cherry Sweetheart cupcake way more than OllieCake's Orange Blossom. But, I also liked OllieCake's Lemon way more than The Coffee Shop's Lemon Glam. So what it really came down to in this battle was presentation and The Coffee's Shop decorating could use some work. That said, OllieCake squeaks out this win with their uniform and delicious looking cupcakes.