Red Velvet cupcakes are an enigma. Some people die over them while others question, 'What's the big deal?' Red Velvet doesn't really have>"/>
Red Velvet cupcakes are an enigma. Some people die over them while others question, 'What's the big deal?' Red Velvet doesn't really have a distinct flavor. In fact, Red Velvet prides itself on being a chocolate-vanilla hybrid; a cupcake that straddles the two flavors, taking on the neutrality of vanilla and the moistness of chocolate. Foodie types have argued that cupcakes are 'o-v-e-r', just like bacon and food on a stick. Ha! As we all know by now, no food high in fat and flavor will ever go out of style. While pumpkin, carrot cake and egg nog cupcakes are all the rage this time of year, we chose Red Velvet because every legitimate cupcakerie offers the flavor year-round. But when it comes to this southern specialty, which bakery is worth its weight in cake batter and pretty candy decorations?
Wink Cupcakes 1817 Queen Anne Ave. N., 856-1600
1817 Queen Anne Ave. N., 856-1600
We had two options of Red Velvet when we walked into this Queen Anne shop: Red Velvet topped with either nuts or sprinkles. We went with sprinkles, because we will always choose sprinkles over nuts. Wink's Red Velvet cupcake ($3) was incredibly sublime. It was moist and smooth and simply perfection. Wink makes their Red Velvet cupcakes with a splash of cocoa and red dye. Nothing special there. What is special is the frosting. It's absolutely some of the freshest, creamiest frosting we've ever tasted. Maybe we were starved for sugar, but the cream cheese frosting, while not overwhelming by any means, tasted more decadent than most other frosting we've sampled. It was tart and buttery and just...I-want-to-bury-my-face-in-it fantastic.
2209 4th Ave., 441-4240
The Yellow Leaf Cupcake Co.
Even this cupcake hearts Yellow Leaf.
2209 4th Ave., 441-4240
After inhaling our Wink cupcake we didn't think Yellow Leaf would be as satisfying. We were wrong. The Red Velvet cupcake ($2.95) was moist with a slightly toasted top. The piped cream cheese frosting was dotted with sugar pearls, which gave the cupcake some added texture. There was also a bit of a tang to the cake, which we were told could be the buttermilk-vinegar combination. Like Wink, the cupcake was crowned with a rich cream cheese frosting. However, in Yellow Leaf's case, the ridges of the piped frosting added to the crisp texture of the cupcake. It was a pleasant surprise.
This has to be the hardest challenge we've ever had to call. Both bakeries make their cakes with fresh ingredients, love, and tons of skill. The cakes were almost identical in flavor. If we could declare a tie we would. But we're calling Wink the champ on this one for pure personal taste - we love the fact that they slathered their cupcake in a decadent, cream cheese frosting. It was velvety, like the cake itself, without overpowering the petite dessert. After devouring both cupcakes, it was ultimately the combination of the cream cheese frosting and plush cake that made us crave another Wink.