How do you start your day? With coffee? Perhaps you should try a coffee cupcake. It seems that I've developed a bit of a reputation in social media circles for discussions of cupcakes. That's because I know where to get the good stuff. It's right here in Orlando at a little shop called Sweet! by Good Golly Miss Holly. Don't worry, you don't have to say the entire name. We just say we're going to “Sweet” or “Holly's” and folks know what you mean.
Not all cupcakes are created equally. Holly's cupcakes are at the top of the pile. I've tried cupcakes all over the place, even Georgetown Cupcakes in Washington, D.C. Those folks make good stuff, but I still keep coming home to Holly's cupcakes. I share these with other folks and the reactions are uniformly full of astonishment. Perhaps the best line came from a wise man in Tampa:
Simply put the best cupcakes I have ever eaten!
I don't even go anywhere else now, but I do have another outstanding fallback if I need one. The next best cupcakes I've ever had were from The Dessert Lady, also here in Orlando. We're becoming a mecca for cupcakes in Central Florida. The Orlando Sentinel reported on the phenomenon yesterday and listed a number of bakeries featuring cupcakes. In other news, we're also becoming a burger mecca, but that pales in comparison to delicious buttercream frosting.
Looking at the list of places to get cupcakes that the Orlando Sentinel provided, I've tried about half. Perhaps there are some other great ones out there. However, there are also some on that list that failed to earn my return business. Not because of any problems or attitude – everyone was very friendly. It's just that their product didn't measure up to Holly's cupcakes – my gold standard for comparison.
My Cupcake Criteria
So what was wrong with them? Sometimes it was the icing. Sometimes it was the cake. Sometimes the whole thing was a damn mess. Mostly, it was because they failed to truly understand what makes a good cupcake. Here's my list:
- Moist, consistent cake – I've bitten into too many cupcakes that were either dry or had different texture with each bite.
- Smooth, creamy icing – This one is harder to explain. Some icing tastes like it was made in an industrial factory next to spackle (I'm looking at you, Walt Disney World). Others were too thin, without the rich, creamy fullness of a good icing. Work on your buttercream skills, people!
- Don't Overdo Icing – I don't want a mountain of icing. I have to bite into your cupcake, so don't make me stretch my mouth like a snake swallowing a rat.
- Decoration – People like pretty cupcakes, but I'm looking for quality food before I want art. Just because you can decorate doesn't mean you can bake. Put the emphasis on the quality of your cupcake, not the decoration of the cupcake.
- Size matters – I want a treat, not a meal. One of the things I like about the mini-cupcakes at Holly's shop is that I can get a few different flavors to try, a bite here or there.
That's all I want from a good cupcake. Holly's shop does it consistently. She makes some wonderful decorations, but they never overwhelm the quality of the food itself. You want people to like eating your cupcake even more than they liked seeing it. Think about what a let down it is if you see a beautiful cupcake, bite into it, and then want to spit it out. That's happened to me at some places (I'm still looking at you Walt Disney World).
So what's you're favorite cupcake place in Orlando? Who else meets my criteria? I'll be happy to give them a try.