Friday, January 23, 2009


I registered in 2005 (don’t bother going to the site, I never did anything with it – ha!). But I knew, absolutely, that cupcakes were going to be big. My initial concept was to start a business delivering cupcakes to downtown offices for birthdays – you know – like instead of the proverbial office birthday cake. Limited delivery area, minimum quantity AND the best cupcakes anyone had ever tasted. I won’t turn this into a therapy session to whine about all the reasons I was too chicken to do it but mostly it was (is) because I’m not a professional pastry chef and I was just a tad intimidated by the whole “commercial process”. But I do make a mean cupcake (see pics from my friend Sarah’s “Cupcakes, Cocktails and 80’s music” birthday party a few years ago). So … I’m picky and pretty particular about spending money on somebody else’s cupcake, though I’m always excited about trying somebody’s cupcake. Unfortunately I’m rarely impressed.

The Dessert Gallery has been around a long time and I so appreciate that they were ahead of their time in terms of a “dessert place”. I love their brownies and “monkey bars” and their chocolate chip cookies dipped in chocolate … and I think their cupcakes are pretty good. They’ve gotten with the program somewhat since the cupcake-craze has set in and they offer more of a variety now.

I was really, really excited about Sugarbaby’s. I would stop and check the progress of the store, pray that the delays would stop and they would open … “OPEN!”, I would yell inside my head ... I just knew they would be fabulous. Not. I tried twice and was literally sad about the dry cake and tasteless frostings. But it’s such a cute place and the cupcakes are so pretty that I guess lots of people actually love this place. But I’m not wasting the calories on these ‘babies’.

When Crave Cupcakes came onto the horizon, I tried not to have high expectations. I knew it was meant to mimic Sprinkles (of California fame) in the scheduled daily variety and gourmet flavors. I've heard mixed reviews about Sprinkles and hear they are coming to Houston soon to battle for top cupcake in H-town.

My first visit to Crave found the space to be very appealing in a modern yet homey kind of way. The presentation of the cupcakes with their consistent, color-coordinated decorations, displayed on angled trays behind glass was gorgeous cupcake porn. I became even more excited when I learned about the pure Madagascar Bourbon vanilla, European chocolate, locally sourced milk, no hydrogenated oils and "no preservatives" along with their "made today/sold today only" policy. I began to get excited ... but could I really allow myself to hope? One bite of the strawberry cupcake with cream cheese frosting and I almost wept. It was so right-on. Moist white cake with chunks of fresh strawberries along with the delicate pink cream cheese frosting sent me straight to cupcake heaven. Next I tried the dark chocolate cupcake with dark chocolate frosting. Again, extremely moist and not-too-sweet dark chocolate cake and dark chocolate buttercream frosting with a markedly different texture than the cream cheese frosting on the strawberry cupcake. Was I dreaming? Would it remain this good after the initial opening? Fortunately the answer is a resounding YES!

Since the opening I have experienced many flavors (hey, I’m just doing the work so others can benefit, right?). I have yet to have something I didn’t enjoy … from the luscious red velvet to the peanut butter chocolate, and my most recent discovery … dark chocolate with coconut frosting. I am way-hooked. Good thing Uptown Park isn’t really convenient (I avoid 610). Also the service is very warm and friendly. These folks are passionate about their product and it shows.

For those whining about the $3 price tag – quality ingredients cost more than cheap ingredients and I’m willing to pay. For me, if I’m going to have dessert, it has to be worth it. I don’t waste my time (or calories) for anything sub-par. So … if you want just any cupcake, you can find those most anywhere. If you want a really excellent cupcake, get to Crave!

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