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Cupcakes: Little pastries with big plans

December 30, 2009

Two cupcakes side-by-side

(l-r)- Pineapple Upside Down Cupcake, Red Velvet Cupcake

I don’t trust cupcakes.  They’ve got a chip on their shoulder because they want to be ‘real’ cakes.  Well I’m on to them, and now you are, too.  Plus, I’m really a pie kind of guy.  Unless you’re talking German chocolate…    but I digress.

Heedless of my feeling towards the little treats I ventured in to the new Mini’s Cupcakes at La Encantada.  My first impression was of the openness of the space.  There are a couple of tables, a bar along one wall, and the counter with its small display of cupcakes.  The colors were pleasant blue & green with natural wood floors & bar (ok – they may not have been natural wood – I just can’t tell sometimes).

The counter at Mini's

The openness & counter

Walking up to the counter I asked the young guy working there what the specialty is.  He told me that it would probably be the red velvet cupcake (probably fightin’ words, eh Red Velvet Cupcakery on University?) with cream cheese frosting, but he was partial to the pineapple upside cake with buttercream.  He also listed the other flavors out right then: coconut rum, double chocolate, carrot cake, strawberry champagne, and maybe one or two more (the full range of flavors is on their website).  I wanted to try the two different types of frostings, so I went with his recommendations.

I’m really not that much into cream cheese, so I wasn’t looking too forward to the red velvet.  The cake itself was moist, not too

The bar at Mini's

The bar at Mini's

crumbly, with a fairly mild chocolate flavor.  The frosting had the expected tang of the cream cheese, but it was mellower than most.  Nonetheless, the frosting kind of overpowered the cake itself, which was too bad.  Also, it looked like something had fallen on that particular cupcake (you can see the indentation going across the frosting).  That bothered me a little since I don’t like the thought of foreign objects touching my food after it’s been prepared, but I ate it up to that point anyway.

The pineapple upside down cupcake really made me happy, though.  It had a little piece of pineapple in the bottom, with a bit of melty brown sugar down

Two half-eaten cupcakes

Is it gross to have pictures of half-eaten food? Let's hope not.

there, too.  Again, the texture of the cake was very nice, and so was the buttercream frosting.  It was not overly sweet, but nicely balanced.  I ate most of that one, and I only meant to have half.  I mean really, should one person order two cupcakes and just sit down and eat them?  I think not.

The service was very attentive, especially considering that it’s counter service.  Everyone was more than happy to answer my questions, which wasn’t too surprising considering that I was the only one there for a good portion of my visit.

But here’s the thing that concerns me:  $3.50 seems a bit steep for a cupcake.  I mean, they’re high-quality and baking is intense, but I’m not sure how long the market will bear that.  For their sake I hope that others find that to be a reasonable price point.  If not, I hope they have some flexibility built in.

So have you been to Mini’s?  How about Red Velvet Cupcakery?  What did you have, and what did you think about it?  Where else do you like to get treats around town?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. Cat permalink
    December 30, 2009 1:28 pm

    Excellent review! The Mr.’s aunt brought us some cupcakes from Mimi’s on Christmas Eve. We all enjoyed them but everyone balked @ the price. My Dad quipped that he could buy a whole gallon of milk for the price of 1 cupcake and, even though he’s a cheapskate, he had a good point. I think I enjoyed them a little bit more knowing someone else had paid for them. ~Cat

    • December 30, 2009 2:35 pm

      Thanks, Cat!

      Yeah, I do think they’ll end up coming down a bit on the price, but it’s a lot easier to start high and come down than the other way around.

      I’m glad you were able to enjoy them even though you could have been drinking a whole gallon of milk instead!

      Thanks for your comment!
      Kevin

  2. December 31, 2009 10:20 pm

    I think the price is too high. Sprinkles is the same price but their cupcakes are much, much bigger. I was surprised to see how small the cupcakes are at Mini’s. I just could not bring myself to pay $3.50 for a small cupcake. Plus, i stopped by right after opening hours and they were putting the cupcakes out, pulling them from a long plastic container; it kind of turned me off.

    • January 1, 2010 11:21 am

      Hi Jacquelyn,

      I can see why that would be a little off-putting. When I was a baker (many, many years ago) I would sometimes put out day-old product to make the cases look fuller while I was getting new scones and muffins ready to go. All I can say is that the two cupcakes I tried were fresh, but can’t really speak for what happens there in the morning…

      I actually haven’t been to Sprinkles – I’ll have to give them a try next time I’m up in Scottsdale. In fact, since I haven’t been to any other cupcakeries (is that a real word?), so I should at least swing by Red Velvet to see what theirs are like.

      Thanks for leaving a comment – I really appreciate it!

      Kevin

  3. January 1, 2010 3:55 pm

    Thanks for the great review, Kevin! I’m the store manager at Mini’s, and you directed me here through Twitter. I’m so glad you enjoyed the cupcakes (even if the frosting kind of overpowered the red velvet).

    It’s good to know how people feel about the price; fortunately for us, we’ve been nearly sold out at the end of almost every day so at this time I don’t think we’ll be lowering it! We do, however, sometimes have specials. Today, for instance (New Year’s) we’ve been far slower than we expected (actually, we really didn’t know what to expect!) so we’re selling our cupcakes at buy one get one free.

    Thanks again for the review – I appreciate what you have to say, and we love hearing from everyone. As a brand new store, we need all kinds of input to become the best!

    -Danielle

    • January 2, 2010 3:25 pm

      Hi Danielle –

      Thanks for your response. I’m happy to hear that business is going strong, and hope it continues! Please keep me in the loop with any updates and changes, and I’ll make sure to let folks know.

      Happy New Year!
      Kevin

  4. Emily Marigold permalink
    January 3, 2010 5:18 pm

    I would be very interested in trying Mini’s, your review makes it sound great (being a strong advocate of the cream cheese frosting)!

    I have been to the Red Velvet Cupcakery and while the the store itself was very cute, the selection was very limited. Also, the prices were very high (I dub it chronic cupcake-pricing sanity deficiency disorder, or C.C.P.S.D). I went with my sister and we walked in, saw a small, half-empty display case, looked at the prices, and walked back out. Although, I have heard nothing but good things about it, so maybe we misjudged it…

  5. Christina permalink
    January 6, 2010 9:32 pm

    Hey! You have a blog. That’s awesome. I hope all is well with you. Seattle is good.

    Christina H

    • January 7, 2010 6:20 am

      Hey Christina!
      Yes, you are correct that I have a blog – and you have stumbled your way onto it. It’s just a little outlet for my repressed creative side.
      Things are good here, and I hope you’re managing to keep out of trouble in the great Pacific Northwest!
      Take care,
      Kevin

  6. Deborah Daun permalink
    January 7, 2010 8:20 pm

    There is another cupcake store in the shopping center on the northeast corner of Swan and Grant. When I walked by it a few weeks ago, the word that came to mind was “sparse.” And from a distance, everything in the display case seemed very much alike. When I go out for a cup of coffee and something to satisfy my sweet tooth, I don’t think “cupcake,” I think “surprise.” I like to not know exactly what I will find in the dessert case. That happens, for example, when I peruse the selection at Raging Sage on Campbell, the Bline on 4th Ave., The Cup at Club Congress, Village Bakehouse at Oracle and McGee, El Rio Bakery on Grande near St. Mary’s Road, and La Baquette at Campbell and Prince. Best, Deborah

    • January 7, 2010 9:39 pm

      Hi Deborah!

      I, too, am a big fan of ‘the surprise’. However, I also like to walk in to a place and know what’s going to be good. And you know what’s going to be good at a place that does cupcakes? Yep, cupcakes. At least one would hope so.

      On that same note, though, I know that pie at the B-Line is going to rock, as will anything made with choux pastry at Village Bakehouse, and any fruit tart from Beyond Bread. I guess it’s all in becoming familiar with and trying different things at the places where you feel welcomed and want to go back to.

      But now I’ll make a confession: I’ve never been to La Baguette. But on your recommendation, I’ll check ’em out. I do like a surprise, after all.

      Thanks for leaving me a note!

      Kevin

  7. Stacey permalink
    January 26, 2010 10:44 am

    Try taking a toddler (ie, HUGE cupcake fan) to a cupcake store on a weekend afternoon, only to discover that they have no cupcakes! We stopped by on Saturday afternoon and the small case contained only bran muffins. Sigh. We were told that chocolate cupcakes would be ready in about 30-min but alas, a half-hour is an eternity for an almost-three-year-old! Doubtful we’ll be back anytime soon…

    • January 27, 2010 10:31 am

      Stacy,

      I’m so sorry that we were out of cupcakes when you stopped by on Saturday! Because of the weather, we thought we would be much (much, much!) less busy than we were. I want to make it up to you, if you’re willing to give us another shot – I’m off today, but tomorrow morning I will leave a note in case you come in when I’m not there: One free cupcake for Stacy, and one free cupcake for her little one. Hopefully you can forgive us, and give us another chance!

      Danielle
      Mini’s Store Manager

      • February 3, 2010 8:50 am

        Hi Danielle,

        That’s very nice of you – I hope Stacey was able to take advantage!

        Kevin

    • February 3, 2010 8:56 am

      Hi Stacey –
      Sorry you had that experience. Once they’ve been around a little longer they’ll probably get a more accurate at predicting traffic!
      Kevin

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