Thursday, April 15, 2010

Pregnant Woman v. Food: The Cupcake Edition

[Edited 4/17/10]
I’ve been on a cupcake kick for a few years now, but for obvious reasons it’s been really bad over the past few months.  So I figured I would test out a few of the areas cupcakeries to see how they stack up.  Over the past week I have tested cupcakes from Alexandria Cupcake, Cake Love, Fancy Cakes by Leslie, Georgetown Cupcake and Lavender Moon Cupcakery.  I contemplated trying more, but after consuming way more cupcakes than any one person should eat in a week, I cried uncle.  Lavender Moon was a late entrant.  I originally was going to stick with the first four, but was guilted/shamed into trying Lavender Moon.  As I live in Alexandria, I had to give it a fair shake. 

I am hardly a foodie, but when it comes to cupcakes I know what I like. Basically my dream cupcake has to have a moist, spongy cake and rich, fresh tasting icing.  Pretty simple criteria, right?

Here are the results of my completely unscientific experiment:

Georgetown Cupcake
3301 M St NW, Washington, DC
(202) 333-8448

Bethesda, MD location
4834 Bethesda Avenue
Bethesda, MD 20814
(301) 907-8900

Cost per cupcake: $2.75

Georgetown cupcake opened in 2008 in a small side street shop in Georgetown, they recently moved to the corner of 33rd & M. 

Tested a peanut butter fudge cupcake and a red velvet cupcake with cream cheese icing.  The peanut butter fudge cupcake was yummy. Chocolate cupcake with fudgy center and peanut butter icing.  Moist and delicious -- but I didn’t love it love it.  I think that’s because I then had the red velvet cupcake.  The cupcake itself was utterly moist and spongy.  Oh and the vanilla cream cheese icing…utterly delectable.  It was creamy and rich and truly some of the best cream cheese icing I’ve ever had.  I mean damn, usually the cupcake is ok and the icing is the big hit but this was the whole package. 

Alexandria Cupcake
1022 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 299-9099

Alexandria Cupcake opened its doors in Old Town Alexandria in January of this year.  It sits in a townhouse right on King Street. 

Cost per cupcake: $3.00

Ok so I also tried two cupcakes here.  A red velvet cupcake and a dark chocolate cupcake.  The red velvet cupcake was…ok, it hardly knocked my socks off.  It wasn’t as moist as I’d like and it was sort of dense as well.  The cream cheese icing was good, not great.  On the other hand, the dark chocolate cupcake with vanilla bean icing was pretty fantastic.  The  dark chocolate cupcake was not as spongy as I usually like but it was moist and really delicious.  The vanilla bean icing was a perfect complement to the strong cake, it wasn’t overpowering—it just worked perfectly. It tasted fresh and creamy.

Cake Love
1506 U Street, NW
Washington, DC 

Other Cake Love locations:
Shirlington, Fair Oaks, National Harbor, Tysons Corner & Silver Spring

Cost per cupcake: $3.00

Cake Love has been around since 2002.  When I worked in the city we would always get cakes from Cake Love’s U Street bakery for any office event.  However, I didn’t have a Cake Love cupcake until 2008.   Cake Love has six or seven locations but as I live in Alexandria, I went to the Shirlington location.  I ordered a red velvet cupcake and a strawberry buttercream cupcake.  I followed their directions and let the cupcake warm to room temperature and then dug in.  To be completely honest I have had Cake Love cupcakes before, but not since 2008, so I was hoping this go around would be better…but it wasn’t.  The cupcakes were very very dense, muffin like, and I didn’t get good flavor out of either.  The icings were hard and tasted lardy to me like I was just eating plain butter.  I don’t mean to be so negative, but I’m just not a fan.  To be totally corny---I’m just not feeling the (cake) love.

Fancy Cakes by Leslie
4939 Elm Street
Bethesda, MD 20814-2905
(301) 652-9390

Cost per cupcake: $3.25

Ok, so I sort of cheated on this one.  I didn’t actually go to the Fancy Cakes Bakery in Bethesda to try a cupcake. I sampled the cupcake at the Bump it Up Pregnancy Pampering Event at the W last weekend.  Their big thing is, well, fancy, and I mean really fancy (and pricy) cakes.  Ok so at the event I had a…what else? A red velvet cupcake.  Pretty damn good!  Not as amazing as Georgetown cupcake’s rv, but moist and rich.  I probably should have tried another but didn’t want to stuff my face during the preggo fashion show.

Lavender Moon Cupcakery
116 South Royal Street 
Alexandria, VA 22314-3328 
(703) 683-0588

Cost per cupcake: $2.75

Ok so my daughter and I swung by Lavender Moon yesterday after receiving some peer pressure for not including it in the original post.  Let me just say flat out: I am so glad I went.  I can't believe I haven't  been here before!  Lavender Moon sits on Royal Street, a block south of King Street.  It is the only "organic" cupcakery in the area that I tested.  The decor feels cupcakery; sort of Alice in Wonderland like, but it definitely put me in the mood for a cupcake (or 4, I was really hungry yesterday).  The cupcakes weren't labeled which wasn't a problem since the owner went over each with me, but I can see how on a busy day the lack of labels could be confusing to people (especially since the flavors change daily).  

I couldn't test my usual red velvet here, since they don't make a red velvet cupcake(organic= no red food coloring).  So, instead I tried: a S'mores,  a devils food with peanut butter mousse, a blood orange dreamsicle, and a vanilla bean lemon curd.  So let me just say that I had to be talked into some of these because I really shy away from fancy/odd named cupcakes.  So here it goes:  I'll start with the S'mores because it was my least favorite.  Shocking, since I love S'mores and even have my own little S'mores kit and burner at home. But it was just a bit too strong.  The cake was moist but tasted burnt (probably by design) and the marshmallow icing didn't do it for me.  The second one I tasted was devils food with peanut butter mousse.  Yum.  The cake was moist but a bit dense, probably to complement the peanut butter mousse...which was decadent.  OMG, I loved the icing, it was truly glorious.  However, you really must be a peanut butter fan to enjoy this cupcake.  Even I couldn't imagine finishing it in one sitting. The third one I tried was blood orange dreamsicle.  I had to be talked into this one because, well, because blood was in the name and that threw me.  I'm glad I got it, it was a pleasant surprise.  The cake definitely tasted more muffin-like to me and had specks of orange peel, but it in conjunction with the icing it was a refreshing treat...and it tasted like a orangesicle.   The final one I tested was by far my favorite: the vanilla bean lemon curd cupcake.  It was like a little lemon lovers dream.  The cake was moist and the center was filled with lemon curd (the filling in lemon meringue pie) The icing was a mix of vanilla and lemon and it was creamy and rich.  Again, if you aren't a lemon lover, this might not be for you.  As for me, I am hoping to get it in cake size for my birthday!  It was extremely delicious and along with Georgetown Cupcake's red velvet, my other favorite cupcake.    

Sidebar: I should note that it was 84 degrees yesterday and this could have slightly impacted my taste test.  I like more fruity flavors on hot days.  Oh and I should also clarify that I didn't eat all 4 (at least all in one sitting).  I tested half of each cupcake and then left the rest for future picking. I am pleased to report that at 9;30 am the following morning there is 1/2  (or 1/4) left of each of the cupcakes. And, yes, I am going to have a cupcake for breakfast, thank you.

I contemplated trying more bakeries (see below for bakeries I didn’t get to sample…this time) but felt pretty gross after eating 7 cupcakes in less than a week.  Trekking around to the bakeries is also a wee bit time consuming!  So in this edition food wins and I’d have to say Georgetown Cupcake/Lavender Moon get the blue ribbon this time around.  But who am I but a random pregnant woman eating mini dill pickles at 10:30 at night?  Go try them for yourself and let me know which you think is the best!

Others not tested:

Hello Cupcake
1361 Connecticut Ave (Dupont Cir)
Washington, DC 20036

Nostalgia Cupcakes
188 Main Street
Annapolis, MD 21401-2008
(410) 280-0660

Sprinkles (Opening summer 2010)
3015 M Street, NW
Washington, DC 20007


  1. How do I get in on your next cupcake adventure? You have to try Lavender Moon - really, really good! They are cash-only and don't open during the week until Wednesday, though.

  2. I seriously might try Lavender Moon today. It's a nice day to take Sophie to OT anyway. I'll let you know the next food challenge in advance in case you wish to partake!