Cupcake Commentary: Cupcakes Actually

Cupcake Commentary is going to be about our journey to find the perfect cupcake! It may sound like an easy thing but there are lots of cupcakes out there and we plan to try to find the best ones in our area and anywhere we travel! Cupcakes are our favorite sweet treat so we take this seriously!

She Said: Cupcakes Actually

I love cupcakes. I like them because your portion size is already there. And if RJ gets one, too (which he always does) then we can share and it feels like I get two because we share them.  I really wanted something sweet and we had originally headed out for Pinkberry. But, it was so cold when we were out that we decided we might give Cupcakes Actually another try. Yes, that’s right we have a history with Cupcakes Actually. We started going there a little over a year ago and initially we really liked their cupcakes. It’s a cute little shop in Fairfax Town Center, which I adore. I love that the cupcakes set on little glass pedestals, and they are so cute. I became enamored with one of their signature items that I had never seen before- the dipped cupcake. It was awesome, sort of like a best of both worlds answer to the question how to marry a cupcake and a Dairy Queen ice cream cone.  I loved them.

But, ours was not meant to be a happy long-term romance. I quickly discovered several big problems with Cupcakes Actually.

They don’t always have a cupcake that you want, especially if you visit them before the end of the day. It’s really disappointing when you have a craving for something and you can’t get a good facsimile of it. I really didn’t like it when I would go in wanting an Actually Dipped (chocolate cake, butter cream, and more chocolate) and I would have to get a Vanilla Bean cake (which was not very vanilla and very dry)

Another problem is alas with the dipped cupcakes themselves. If they get pulled from the freezer too quickly they taste very heavy. You lose all the delightful mousse quality and get a really strong sweet taste that isn’t very pleasant.  It turns out I only really appreciate a dipped cupcake under the best of circumstances.

I sometimes think that the great flavors of the frosting mask what is a very mediocre cake flavor. And I think a cupcake should be great because of cake and frosting not just one of good element.

So we decided in the face of wanting something sweet and freezing (and the fact that Pinkberry still hasn’t gotten Salted Caramel back yet) that we would try the cupcakes again. Maybe we had just gotten a bad batch, or maybe we just needed to stick with profiles we know we enjoyed. Well, we tried them again. We tried tastes we know we like and they were gross.

We got a Caramel Delight, which consisted of a very weird tasting, bland cake and a vaguely caramel frosting. It was almost impossible to find the caramel on the inside of the cupcake and when we did it tasted like bottled ice cream sauce. I love Caramel so this was a huge disappointment. But I figured the Actually Dipped Peanut Butter would be good. Wrong! A practically chocolate less tasting chocolate cake with a too stiff, not thawed, enough peanut butter block on top.

And we got all this yuckiness for 9.19 (including a bottle of water. They have barely any seating and were set up to do a wedding cake tasting which occupied what seating there was. Be prepared to take your cake and run. ) I’m so done with this place. I can find better and yummier things for almost ten dollars.

Kari’s Rating 1

photo of actually dipped peanut butter from cupcakesactually.com

photo of caramel delight from cupcakesactually.com

He Said: Cupcakes Actually

Cupcakes Actually is definitely better in theory than in practice.  I always want to like this place.  It’s a cupcakery right in an area where Kari and I find ourselves frequently.  We love frozen yogurt, but what if it’s too cold?  The first problem is always availability.  Despite having several flavors available at a time, there’s typically only one or two that I’d be interested in.  They usually only have one flavor that of their signature dipped variety, and most of the other flavors seem odd.  We were fortunate this time that we found two flavors that looked tasty.

The Caramel Delight was a no brainer because Kari had wanted salted caramel frozen yogurt and Pinkberry didn’t have it.  I really like caramel, but this was too much, and not enough all at the same time.  Everything was just too sweet.  Tasted the frosting, a little over sweet, but didn’t taste like caramel.  At first bite, the cake itself taste interested me, but after a couple of bites it too seemed too sweet.  The cupcake was described as filled, but it took me a couple of bites to get to it.  I take pretty big bites.  That means there was very little filling.  The filling was also too sweet, and tasted store bought.  Taking a big bite through it all was way to sweet, and had no balance whatsoever.

The Actually Dipped Peanut Butter disappointed greatly as well.  I really enjoy their dipped cupcakes, but the execution was very flawed this time.  This cupcake requires the buttercream to be frozen before being dipped in chocolate.  If done right, this can give you a delicious and decadent twist on a classic, with some great texture that you don’t get too often.  In this case however, that didn’t happen.  The cupcakes weren’t given adequate time to return to room temperature, so the buttercream hasn’t thawed.  What should have been silky with just a little bite at the top was a hard mass.  That textural difference messes with the flavor too.  It’s a shame too, because that one is a personal favorite of mine.  Maybe it’s a victim of it’s own success because needing to turn these over to fast killed them in my opinion.

RJ’s Rating 3.

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