Small-ish cylinder of cake. Large-ish dollop of frosting. You’re talking cupcake my friend. And that’s my language.
I’ll admit to being turned off by the trendiness of cupcakes. In general when something becomes popular I become more averse to it. (Hence my bad luck at investing but that’s another story.) But trendiness aside, there is simply no denying the appeal of a cupcake. In general, as human beings, we are wired to like the small, the tiny, the miniaturized. And a tiny cake with frosting for one is adorable.
But adorable is not enough to win the day. Seattle may not be Manhattan but we have a decently competitive cupcake scene nonetheless — and Trophy wins the day. I have two main criteria by which to judge a cupcake. They are cake, and frosting. Duh. The single biggest crime when it comes to cake is that it’s too dry and not flavorful. Trophy has moist flavorful cake. Their Hummingbird cupcake, which is banana cake with bits of pineapple and nuts, is almost like a super moist muffin. In fact, why aren’t more muffins like this? The straight up chocolate and vanilla are the dictionary definitions of chocolate and vanilla cupcake cake. Their warm round smooth unintrusive flavors fill your mouth while the frosting smushes everything together with creamy goodness.
When it comes to frosting there are two paths — the typical sugar bomb, or the more intense buttercream approach. While the sugar bomb can be all granular and really belongs only on supermarket cupcakes, I have to admit that buttercream can be too waxy and oily tasting. And at least in my experience, that’s true of most buttercream frostings I try. Not the case at Trophy. Their frosting has a dense center, but it’s neither greasy nor heavy. It’s frosting with depth but the flavor is up front as opposed to the fat.
On the creativity front, Trophy is no slouch either. The keep things simple, but well executed. Nothing too crazy. Just a focus on clean simple combinations like Lemon and Coconut, or S’mores, or mint and chocolate.
If I had to pick on one thing about Trophy it’s that they don’t sell their mini-cupcakes except for special orders. If you thought that miniaturized cakes with frosting were adorable, what about miniaturized miniaturized cakes with frosting. That’s called double adorable in my book. [Note: there is no actual book.] But small is not enough. The trick is the ratios. Trophy’s competitors have mini-cupcakes too, but the ratios are off. The cake is a little too big. Bitesize is really the way to go with just a dollop of frosting on top. Luckily I happened to stop by Trophy one day when they were having some kind of open house and they were handing them out. It seemed like I ate a hundred of them. (It “seemed” that way to the lady counting the number of cupcakes I ate and giving me dirty looks.)
We used to get cupcakes at the cupcakery near our house. Since we started eating Trophy’s, we’re stuck driving all the way to Wallingford (or now University Village) to get our cupcake fix. I suggest you do the same.
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