The Cupcake Counter: Cupcakes that fail to impress

Cupcakes that fail to impress

I admit that I’m a cupcake snob when it comes to reviewing new bakeries. But after you’ve sampled some of the world’s finest cupcake havens — like The Hummingbird Bakery, or my local favorite Molly’s Cupcakes — it’s hard for bakeries to make a good impression. But nevertheless I always walk through the door with an open mind and an empty stomach, hoping to find a new cupcake gem in Chicago.

After a long day of staring at the four walls of my cubicle, I decide to try out “The Cupcake Counter” on Madison. I am really craving the classic red velvet and can’t wait to sink my teeth into the moist and fluffy center of the most decadent of all cupcakes.

The shop front is quaint with only a small counter and a few scattered chairs. I am greeted with a cheery smile and welcoming small talk from a person I assume is one of the owners. She runs through the two specials of the day and also points out the flavors on the shelves. The cupcake presentation is simple, with just a few sprinkles on top, but nevertheless I can’t wait to get home and dig in.

The hardest part of any cupcake purchase is waiting to get home before you enjoy it. I almost sneak a bite of the red velvet on the train home, but decide that being smashed between two business professionals is not the time to truly enjoy my tasty delight.

When I finally get home the hype is almost too much to tolerate. Unfortunately my excitement is quickly surpassed by disappointment. The red velvet is more like a bad chocolate cake than the refreshing taste of vanilla with a hint of cocoa. The cupcake consistency has what I call the “cardboard effect” where one flavorless bite reveals more starch and grainy sugar granules than a light and fluffy cupcake should have.

The frosting is also a let down. It tastes like a store-bought vanilla frosting with a hint of cream cheese instead of the sweet, rich flavors of the classic that I am so fond of.

Overall, the cupcakes did not satisfy my cupcake craving. My advice, if you’re in the loop and craving a cupcake, take the train north and stop by Molly’s Cupcakes, it’ll be well worth the trip.