Food fads come and go, but I think cupcakes are here to stay. Seattle is blessed with several fine purveyors of tasty and high-quality cupcakes, with Trophy and Cupcake Royale leading the pack.
Cupcake Royale, open since 2003 in Ballard and now beyond, was Seattle's first cupcake bakery and the first cupcake bakery/cafe in the U. S. outside NYC. They get kudos from me (and many others) for striving to use mostly local and organic seasonal ingredients.
Trophy Cupcakes charged onto the scene in 2007 with the opening of their first shop in Wallingford Center, and got national attention when co-owner Jennifer Shea was invited to bake her cupcakes on Martha Stewart's TV show. Since then they've expanded to four shops around town.
The decor and ambiance of these two competitors is very different. Cupcake Royale shops are noisy and boisterous places full of people buzzed on coffee and sugar. Trophy, however, with elegant and serene blue and white decor, reminds me of a fancy parlor where my fancy grandmother might have gone for tea and petit fours. But of both these brands make killer delicious cupcakes.
On my birthday I was presented with a Trophy chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting. Of course they sell much more exotic varieties like cardamom spice (my favorite), but I always love chocolate and vanilla together. The cake was moist and chocolatey rich, topped with an extravagant dollop of creamy but not cloyingly sweet frosting. Three minutes of nirvana.
|Trophy chocolate-vanilla cupcake|
Just a day later I was gifted with a Cupcake Royale salted caramel cupcake. This cupcake was featured on American Public Radio's The Splendid Table, because, according to famous Roadfoodie Jane Stern, "a great cupcake needs to be celebrated." (Just like my birthday!) Goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway, this cupcake was divine. Equally good chocolate cake, generous swirl of caramel buttercream frosting with a hint of salt and chocolate.
|Cupcake Royale salted caramel cupcake|
So I used to think that Cupcake Royale had better frosting and Trophy had better cake. I think they've both upped the ante and improved because of the competition. These days it's pretty much a draw.
But if I had to pick, today I say it's the Cupcake Royale salted caramel by a sprinkle.
How about you? What are your favorite cupcakes?
Note: In fairness, to round this standoff out a bit, I bought myself a Yellow Leaf Mexican chocolate cupcake. Gotta say, it wasn't in the running. But that's just my taste, maybe yours is different.