Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Great Cupcake Search

Opie and I are on a mission to find the perfect cupcake.  Which may seem like an odd mission but we're odd people.  In any case, here’s how it all started:

Short version:

Getting ready for Thanksgiving is a huge pain in the butt.

Most cupcakes are awesome but some flat out suck.            

 Long version:

For the first time ever Opie and I decided not to go home for Thanksgiving.  Apparently spending 16 hours in the car with a neurotic Rottweiler, a motion-sick cat, and a new puppy does not make Opie feel thankful for anything except the sweet release of death.

So this year we decided to celebrate Thanksgiving here in Oklahoma by ourselves. “It’ll be great,” Opie said. “I’ll just smoke a turkey and everything will be easy.”

There was one small problem with this arrangement: since he made the turkey, I made the sides. And a traditional Thanksgiving dinner includes approximately 1,436 side dishes…ok, slight exaggeration but still there were potatoes and corn pudding and green bean casserole, and bread, and stuffing, and salad, and cranberry cocktails and on and on and on…a veritable cornucopia of side dishes.

Which is why, although I like to bake, I decided to kill 2 birds with 1 patriotic stone by  purchasing our Thanksgiving dessert at a small cupcakery.

“It’s the perfect solution,” I told Opie. “We get delicious cupcakes and support Small Business Saturday a few days early.”

Which is when Opie made his fatal error.

“You know that cupcake place you like is a national chain, right?” He asked.

No, as a matter of fact, I hadn’t known that.

“It’s not a big deal,” he said quickly.

“Oh, it’s a big deal!”  I assured him.  “We support SMALL BUSINESSES in this house.  We support the working man!  We don’t just throw our money at Corporate America! We support the community that supports us!”

And he tried to point out that the community in which we live is not actually the community that supports us since we both work elsewhere…but I have never been one to let logic and reason sway me from a newly developed obsession.

Humming the national anthem to myself, I began searching the Internet and finally found a bakery on the edge of town that made cupcakes.  Or, to be perfectly precise, had pictures of cupcakes on its Facebook page.

“Do you have any of the chocolate caramel cupcakes?” I asked the owner when I went in and didn’t see any in the display. “Or the espresso ones?”

“We don't carry cupcakes,” she said.
And I was pretty sure she was lying to me as part of some nefarious cupcake hoarding scheme because, as I pointed out with as much calm as I could muster, there were pictures of cupcakes on the window of the shop not to mention all over their Facebook page.
She nodded. “But you have to order those in advance,” she said. “Could I interest you in some nice cake balls instead?”

Cake balls?  CAKE BALLS? Tiny balls of cake with less than ¼ of the delicious icing that is liberally slathered across a cupcake? Seriously? The whole thing made me insane with rage. I mean, ok, I bought 12 cake balls and ate 4 of them on the way to the car but I wasn't happy about it.
Then, still muttering to myself about duplicity in advertising, I stormed to the only other local small bakery. And they not only had cupcakes but chocolate cupcakes with a borderline obscene amount of red frosting.


Which probably seems like a pretty anticlimactic ending unless you were there on Thanksgiving day when I actually bit into one of them.

“That isn’t chocolate!” I spat out the foul mouthful and began yelling about poison and duplicity and cursing the bakery owner.
Which was apparently a little unnerving for a man who was just trying to relax after a huge Thanksgiving “What's the matter with you?” Opie demanded, running into the kitchen.  

“This cupcake is awful, it’s the worst thing I’ve ever tasted! It’s like DEATH in my mouth!” I shouted, rinsing away the taste with a liberal swallow of cranberry mojito (it’s possible that the mojitos are at least partially responsible for what Opie considered an “overreaction” to a culinary surprise).

In any case, Opie tried one and we realized that instead of chocolate, the cupcakes were actually anise…which a lot of people call black licorice flavor...but I spent the rest of that day calling “anus” and “ass-flavored death” and a variety of other, even more offensive things.

Especially when I realized that storing the stupid cupcakes in the same tin as the aforementioned cake balls had caused bizarre osmosis of flavors and the cake balls were now infected with the disgusting taste of black licorice death.

I did NOT handle this well…although, again, I suspect the mojitos share some of the blame for my poor behavior.

You would think that this would be enough cupcake drama for a lifetime, not to mention one little holiday weekend…but my life is always a little more bizarre than the average bear’s.  So, instead of shopping on Black Friday, I became determined to find a decent cupcake. I threw the “small business” requirement to the winds and focused on “locally owned” heading to our local grocery store.

“I’m desperate for a good cupcake,” I told the clerk at the bakery.

At least, that’s what I thought I said.

Apparently, what she heard was “I’m desperate for a cupcake that you guys probably made Tuesday night, hoping to sell on Wednesday, and has now been sitting in your display case for 3 days getting drier and drier.”

Because she sold me 2 absolutely gorgeous chocolate cupcakes with caramel filling and chocolate buttercream frosting…2 gorgeous cupcakes that Opie and I could have used to cut glass.

“This is unbelievable!” I yelled. “Who do I have to kill to get a decent cupcake in this town?”

At which point Opie suggested that, perhaps, I was overreacting to the whole situation.

“I’m not overreacting,” I told him. “I’m just motivated. I’m finding a good cupcake.  I’m finding a great cupcake.  In fact, I’m finding the BEST FREAKING CUPCAKE in the free world.  I’ll find it OR DIE TRYING.”

In the intervening months, we have been searching, reviewing, and tasting as many different cupcakes as humanly possible. And though we haven’t found the perfect cupcake yet, we’re ready to start sharing our observations…and we’re open to suggestions…let us know where we can find a great cupcake by clicking here or by leaving a comment below and stay tuned for more cupcake drama!

elleroy was here


  1. I'm so sorry; that anise episode sounds positively TRAGIC. I'm generally of the school of thought that if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. I think baked goods are a prime example. I'd just buy a box of Funfetti mix, personally.

  2. I should make my own but then I end up with waaaay more cupcakes than we need for 2 people. Not that I have any trouble eating all the extra cupcakes...

  3. Never underestimate the power of a good cupcake!

  4. The best cupcake I ever had was in London, at Peggy Porschen's Cakes. If you think of pounds as dollars, you could almost say it was a reasonable price. But of course you should multiply by two to get the US dollar price. It was still worth it.