With Ashley Snyder
For many, birthday parties and celebrations are among the greatest joys of growing up. The expectation of ingesting copious amounts of sugary treats usually puts a smile on kids’ faces.
At The Northern Light, random celebrations and birthday parties tend to be accompanied by homemade cupcakes, so for the final installment of Anchorage Food Quest, TNL scoured town for the best chocolate cupcakes from locally owned shops.
It was TNL’s most difficult mission in Food Quest, since few of Anchorage’s bakeries and pastry shops offer cupcakes on demand. Here’s what we found:
Sugarspoon – PB&J Cupcake: This cupcake is, by far, the finest cupcake sampled in this round of Food Quest. It’s a chocolate cupcake with raspberry jelly filling and peanut butter frosting, garnished with a few shavings of chocolate on top. It is as close to perfection as TNL can envision it. The chocolate cupcake is moist and flavorful, and the raspberry filling is rich and light at the same time, complimenting the chocolate. The peanut butter frosting is very strong, but it doesn’t overpower the rest of the components, instead meshing with them to create a blended taste. Unfortunately, Sugarspoon only offers cupcakes on Wednesdays; it’s worth it though. Sugarspoon is located next to Bella’s Boutique on Spenard Road.
Cake Studio Bakery and Boutique – Grasshopper Cupcake: The Grasshopper Cupcake is a chocolate cupcake frosted with green mint buttercream frosting and a light drizzle of chocolate syrup on top. The cupcake itself is the most moist of the ones sampled, and both the cake and the frosting very nearly melt in your mouth. The mint flavor in the frosting is very strong, but not overbearingly so. It does, however, overpower the muted chocolate taste in the cupcake itself. Nothing tastes badly here, but the cupcake could have used a bit more of a chocolaty flavor. Cake Studio is located downtown on 4th Avenue next to the 4th Avenue Theatre.
Superstar Pastry Design – Chocolate Rush: The Chocolate Rush features a chocolate cupcake with fudge filling, buttercream frosting and topped with M&M’s. Unlike the Grasshopper Cupcake, the Chocolate Rush is more flavor-heavy on the actual cupcake, rather than the frosting. The cupcake isn’t as moist, but the flavor potency almost makes up for it. The frosting has a consistency similar to that of Cool-Whip, and is nearly as bland as it too. The fudge filling, however, is as expected – rich, thick and very chocolaty. Superstar Pastry is located behind the City Diner on the corner of Minnesota and Benson.
L’Aroma Bakery – Chocolate Cupcake: The cupcake at L’Aroma is easily the most simple of the cupcakes sampled, consisting of a chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting and topped with a tuft of chocolate mousse. It is moderately moist, but dry and heavy enough to resemble more of a muffin than a cupcake. The frosting is conservatively applied, but is thicker and more rich than the others, appearing to be more like hardened cake frosting than the light buttercream of the others. Despite appearances, the frosting is actually moist and soft. The blend of flavors is consistent as well, so as plain as it is, at least it’s well put together. The L’Aroma Bakery branch sampled is located inside the midtown New Sagaya on Old Seward Highway.
The Flying Dutchman – Chocolate Custard Cupcake: TNL’s least favorite cupcake has to be the Chocolate Custard. There isn’t much going for this Flying Dutchman creation, despite their reputation for wonderful pastries. The cupcake itself is so dry it nearly crumbles between the eater’s fingers. It is also nearly impossible to unwrap from the paper cupcake cup because it sticks so badly. The frosting is so tasteless that TNL can’t determine what flavor it’s supposed to be, and the sprinkles are so numerous that it looks like a bag of them ripped open on top of the cupcake. The custard is a strange component, and both the flavor and the consistency don’t fit with the cupcake. It also leaves an awkward aftertaste. Numerous reports say great things about The Flying Dutchman, but stay away from their custard cupcakes. Flying Dutchman is located on Abbott Road in the Independence Shopping Center.