Last week I met with Warren Brown via a Yelp event at the Shirlington location of his bakery empire, CakeLove, for a cupcake tasting. The catalyst for this cupcake tasting was that in the last 6 months, CakeLove had been listening to customer feedback and re-doing some of their recipes (See: My original review for CakeLove, the Tysons location). We were offered around 8 different types of cupcakes, a slice of strawberry shortcake, and a delicious sugar cookie.
I can really tell that the cupcakes have changed for the better (except the chocolate cake, which is still a bit lacking in flavor and moisture). The cakes are lighter and the frosting is more balanced. Yay for no more cold, cornbread-y cupcakes or separated frostings!
What I sampled, in order of preference:
- Custom sugar cookie with icing – Perfectly soft with a strong hit of citrus and vanilla while still tasting balanced
- Strawberry on Vanilla – *New* Vanilla cake with Strawberry buttercream. The cake and frosting were both light and moist. Some people said the buttercream was a bit oily and coated their tongue in an unpleasant way; I thought this could have been solved by putting a little less frosting on.
- The King – *new* banana cake, peanut butter frosting, chocolate ganache. Moist and flavorful cake with a nice surprise of peanut butter under the ganache cap.
- Red Velvet – *New* Red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. Could use to be a little moister, but it had a nice crumb and the tang of the cream cheese frosting was refreshing.
- Toffee Crunch on Chocolate – chocolate cake, cream cheese (?) frosting, crunchy toffee topping. The frosting paired with the crunchy topping was a bit too sweet, but I enjoyed the textural contrast. Even though the chocolate cake was a bit too lack-luster, the topping saved it.
- Salted Caramel – *New* Vanilla cake with cream cheese (?) frosting and salted caramel drizzle. The flavor balance of this cupcake was a bit too far on the sweet site.
- Chocolate Chip Cheesecake – chocolate cake, cream cheese frosting, chocolate chip & graham cracker ganache. The frosting, topped with chocolate chips and dusted with graham cracker crumbs are good, but the cake lacks a deep chocolate flavor and is light brown.
- Chocolate Fuzzy Wuzzy – chocolate cake, chocolate buttercream, chocolate curls. The same issue as the other chocolate cakes, but the frosting is a bit too soft and reminds me of supermarket frosting. The chocolate curls on top did offer a good textural contrast.
- Strawberry Shortcake – layered pound cake, vanilla buttercream, fresh strawberries. The buttercream was too chemically tasting, but other than that, was just okay.
The chocolate cake hasn’t been re-worked yet, so that’s why they were at the bottom of the bracket. I also didn’t care for the frosting on the strawberry shortcake, but others loved it.
I really felt special sitting at one of the 10 spots in the Shirlington CakeLove location listening to Warren geek out over cupcake recipe and formulation changes. He seemed to really value our feedback. It was also interesting learning about the business perspective he has and how he’s grown as a business owner and baker to be able to listen to his customers and set his own ego aside a little bit.
I loved being able to share my opinions on cakes (I have a lot of them), and be in the audience with fellow cake lovers!
You also get a lot for your money. I compared the cupcakes in size to one of my green tea cupcakes, made at home in a standard muffin tin, and they’re almost double the size!