Friday, June 27, 2008

The Great Cupcake Perlustration of 2008

OCD is defined as "characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts and conscious, ritualized, seemingly purposeless acts."

I have chocolate cupcake OCD. Probably medication-worthy. It's intense.

It all stemmed from the impending 30th birthday party of my husband, Dr. Handsome. I innocently asked "what kind of cake would you like?" and he innocently replied "I like chocolate cake with chocolate icing." Fine. Simple enough.

Now, were we back in NY where I have my grown-up kitchen, I would have produced a lovely chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. It would have been tasty. It would have been eaten. I am quite cocky about my baking skills, so of this proclamation I am certain. However, being that we are out in Waltham in a pre-furnished short-term-stay apartment, I have no mixer. No wooden spoon. No salt. OK, I have salt, but no cocoa powder. And I'm just not going to stock another kitchen for one cake.

So on the cake I choose to fixate. I must acquire the ultimate chocolate cake with chocolate icing. This requires taste testing, many layers of analysis, and likely at least one Gant Chart and one Ven Diagram.

The other day I worked to define my methodological approach. After extensive deliberation, I decided on a cupcake-based trial system by which I try 1/2 of one chocolate cupcake from each of the top bakeries. I take the other half home to my husband, whose opinion I then disregard.

This week I tried Lulu's. I will fill you in on my cupcakular experience then update with any further cupcake experiences I may have.

I read several reviews before making my jaunt to the North End, Django in tow, to try this miracle cupcake of which everyone speaks so strongly. People love it or hate it. "Greasy" was a word that came up a lot, which needless to say made me a little nervous. How could a cupcake be greasy? Eeew! Wouldn't "greasy" equate to "buttery" and hence "deliciousy?" Unless they were using suet or tallow and this was not actually a human bakery but rather a bird bakery or perhaps a soap-making shop. Whatever the case, there were enough raves about the place that I decided to give it a shot.

Whoever wrote "greasy" needs to be punished. Punished severely. Are there still stocks somewhere in downtown? If so, that's where s/he needs to go. The reason s/he thought the cupcake was greasy was that the buttercream frosting is actually made with *gasp* butter! No crisco, no stinkin' Wesson. Butter. B-U-T-T-E-R. Yeah, you heard me.

While insanely rich (I couldn't have eaten more than my half) it is absolutely wildly delicious. Wildly, I say! So what they do with the chocolate frosting is that they make the standard buttercream (BUTTER) and then add in some chocolate ganache. No joke. So you get that buttery deliciousness of a buttercream frosting with that bittersweet seductiveness of the chocolate ganache. (I have never written the word "butter" so many times in my life.) Mmmm. It's a tiny bit grown-up, but not so grown-up that you can't get a little frosting stuck to the bottom of your nose.

I've been waxing poetic about the frosting, but the cake was jsut as good. Totally moist as all heck. Crumbly, and so flavorful that you will want to pick the crumbs off your shirt and yes, eat them. It holds together quite well for a hand-food, as I'm sure we've all had cupcake-gone-wrong moments where half of the confection tumbles from our paw to the ground while we try to choke back tears and figure if the cupcake is worth the potential progeria or rickets we could pick up if we eat the dropped piece anyway.

So if you want a cupcake, for now I strongly recommend LuLu's. The staff is also wicked nice and gave me water for the pooch (who then ate the cupcake paper... ick) and explained their "baking philosophy."

I'll keep you updated on what else I find....

1 comment:

BigBad George said...

I suggest Linda's Chocolate Layer Cake... 4 layers, chocolate cake, chocolate icing, chocolate sprinkles. Yes, it's 1,700 calories per slice, but it's well worth it. The cake is available at the Cheesecake Factory.