a little cupcake adventure

Saturday morning, Len and I headed out to Georgetown Cupcake for a little taste test. You may remember my mentioning this shop last week. It’s owned by two sisters, Sophie and Katherine, who’ve now become quite famous all over the country for their award-winning chocolate ganache cupcakes. Research is hard work, but somebody’s gotta do it.

It was a gorgeous day, and everyone was out and about, bicycling, roller blading, walking their dogs, and window shopping. We had no problem finding the shop on the corner of M and West Potomac Streets NW. Since we got there about 20 minutes after it opened, the wait line wasn’t long at all.

It’s such a teeny tiny place; it’s hard to imagine they sell between three to five thousand cupcakes a day, at $2.75 a pop. I was surprised at how many people kept streaming out of the shop with goodies (and smiling, of course). When I finally made it to the top step, I saw this:

Yum! Flood of excitement and happiness. Cupcakes = childhood, celebrations, good times. A friendly college student took my order, while two others carefully packed my cupcakes in lovely pink boxes — one for us, and one for Len’s cousin, Liz, who lives in Georgetown. It was her birthday, so we thought we’d surprise her with some cupcakes. What? No, we weren’t using Liz as an excuse for buying cupcakes. You think? No, couldn’t be. What guilt?

Turns out, though Liz has lived in Georgetown forever, she didn’t know about Georgetown Cupcake. But she squealed with delight at her box: red velvet, chocolate ganache, lemon berry, cherry blossom, and vanilla.

Len got quite possessive with the other box — almost the same selection as Liz, but with mocha and coconut. (Len is fanatical about all things coconut.)

So Liz put on the tea kettle, while we sat at her dining table, with fresh, spring air wafting in through the open windows. We chatted about “John Adams,” little birthdays, and preserving her mother’s handwritten recipes. Oh, and we tested our little cupcakes!

Observations:

Overall, the cupcakes were smaller than I expected, and had too much frosting.

But having said that,

Len’s coconut cupcake was supremely wonderful — the cake was very moist and the frosting was pudding-ish with coconut flakes that weren’t overly sweet.

Cherry blossom was my favorite cake — a slightly chewy texture because of the added cherry pieces, and delightful layers of flavor that really made me sit up and take notice.

Lemon berry was “interesting,” as Liz and I agreed. It was a surprise to taste tangy lemon in a fuschia-colored frosting.

Red velvet was just okay.

And the much-touted chocolate ganache? The cake by itself was nothing exceptional. The ganache frosting was superb, and is really what “makes” this cupcake. But — it reminded me of my own chocolate midnight cake, which has a vanilla pudding filling, and a cooked chocolate frosting.

My conclusion: it’s loads of fun to taste gourmet cupcakes, but there’s still nothing like a fresh, homemade cake, lovingly baked from scratch, especially from a recipe that’s been handed down via family or friends. I prefer my aunt’s red velvet cake to GC’s red velvet cupcakes, but I am curious to see how those chocolate ganache cupcakes would turn out if I made them myself (recipe is here).

Hmmm — on second thought, I can’t really stop here. Far more research seems warranted. There’s Swirls in Beverly Hills, and Atlanta Cupcake and Kara’s in San Francisco . . . because you just can’t top the look on someone’s face when you show up at their door, and announce, “We’ve got cupcakes!” 

To see a video of Georgetown Cupcake, click here.

And Sophie and Katherine are now selling a sterling silver bracelet with cupcake charms of some of their popular flavors. Yes, I want!

31 thoughts on “a little cupcake adventure

  1. *drools*

    There’s this little cupcake shop here in Nashville that I’m wanting to try, probably just for the novelty of it. Honestly, I’ve never had a cupcake that I just fell over for…these gourmet cupcake shops are intriguing though. I have to say, I know I’m in the minority, but I’m a CAKE girl, not a frosting girl…so the cupcakes are usually so overwhelmingy frosted that I don’t really enjoy them…if you think GC has a lot of frosting…check out this place in Nashville, I know I’d be scraping off most of the frosting. (My sister would kill me for that)…
    http://gigiscupcakesusa.com/

    PS…did you ever say if you wanted Moon Pies? lol

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  2. People stand in line here for cupcakes, too–muffin-sized cakes with frosting to Jesus. Urgh, I think I’d be sick after eating all that sugar. But wow, they sure are purdy!

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  3. Jama’s Cakes

    I think Alexandria, VA could use YOUR recipes in a cake bakery!
    I’d love to taste your chocolate midnight cake. What time is tea? I’ll be free after this conference. Maybe you, me and Anne Marie can find a date to get together.

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  4. Oh, it was sad. They were doing the interviews the day she was flying home from here post Easter. She was hoping the other interviews would flop, unable to do math or something, but… maybe it will work out later. We need those cupcake pictures!

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  5. I’m with you — the cake part is the most important. The frosting should complement the cake but not overpower it.

    You should try Gigi’s and report back! Jules of 7-Imp mentioned Magpies Cakes in Knoxville, too. Looks like lots of cupcake fans live in Tennessee.

    Thanks for the offer of moonpies, but I think I’ll have to pass (my ever-expanding waistline is showing too much evidence of all my food research)!

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  6. I think I was surprised at the small size of GC cupcakes, because I’m so used to seeing those giant muffin sized jobs in the supermarkets. Yes, definitely too much sugar! But like you say, they are pretty to look at🙂.

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  7. You know I’ve been drooling about your cupcake book for quite some time now. The bracelet charms are quite adorable, but at $45/each, they’re a serious investment.

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  8. Re: Jama’s Cakes

    LOL! No, I don’t think the professional bakers need any of my recipes.

    It would be fun to meet you and Anne Marie sometime (she’s a good baker from what I hear).:)

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  9. Hee! I really thought of you with the whole frosting thing because I know that’s your favorite part. It’s all subjective — or maybe it’s a sign of age. Len agreed with me that there was too much frosting. At least it wasn’t the overly sweet kind you sometimes find in grocery store cupcakes.

    Still, I “judged” each cupcake by eating the cake by itself first, then together with the frosting. With the chocolate ganache, the combination was delicious, but the cake didn’t stand up on its own, which, IMHO, is problematic. Frosting should never be there to “compensate” for a so-so cake.

    But if you ever get a chance, the chocolate ganache frosting would definitely make your eyes roll back!😀

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  10. Three to five thousand cupcakes A DAY are sold? Whoa.

    I’m glad Liz enjoyed those…mmmmmm. I think cupcakes need to be in my future and that they don’t just need to be for special occasions…(though my father-in-law brought over Krispy Kremes today, which of course made me think of your quiz!)

    Jules
    7-Imp

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  11. Okay, this post just about killed my post-Easter-basket-diet resolve. I truly love cupcakes! But I’m with you. I think I’d rather have a simple home-baked cake, like my mother’s pineapple upside down cake or coconut cake, both recipes from her mother.

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  12. Cupcakes

    Elaine M.

    I’m getting an aching feeling in my sweet tooth from looking at those pictures of cupcakes. I usually just bake “whole” cakes–but I do have one cupcakes specialty: muscovites. I bake sour cream chocolate cupcakes, turn them upside down and top with a mound of homemade whoopie pie filling, and then coat with fudge sauce. They’re a family and friend favorite.

    There are few things in this world that can beat chocolate!

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