Monday, July 15, 2013

Bakery Review: Frost Cupcake Factory

Frost Cupcake Factory - visited July 1, 2013
I've been writing my blog for several years now - unbelievably, it'll be 4 years this September; my, how time flies when you're baking.  I feel like I've been doing much the same thing for awhile lately: try a new recipe, taste it, take a picture, write it up and post.  Nothing wrong with that but I feel the need to mix things up a bit.  So, with that in mind, I'm going to do a series of "bakery reviews" in the upcoming months.  I want to try local bakeries and eateries and do an honest assessment of what I think of them and how I find their products.  I've pretty much started that with my write up of Stan's Donut Shop and, to a lesser extent, Tartine.  I'm just formalizing it into my summer project. Which could also bleed into fall, winter and spring because I'm fortunate enough to live in a food mecca and it's hard to run out of new places to try.  The only theme I'm going to try focusing on is patronizing and writing about small businesses as much as possible, not just to help promote them but to encourage everyone to try out the small businesses in their own local area - you never know what hidden gems you'll find in your neighborhood.

Remember Cookie Palooza and the dozens of baked goods I made for my coworkers for our volunteer event last month?  After we volunteered at RAFT, we did a team lunch at an Indian buffet restaurant nearby.  Although there were 16 of us who made it to the lunch, we got seated at 3 different tables.  At my table of 6, we discovered an affinity for good food and sweets; recommendations of places to try started flying around the conversation.  Which morphed into "hey we should take a field trip to some of these places and check them out."  See why I like my coworkers?

Our first field trip was to Frost Cupcake Factory. Since I have a tendency to watch Cupcake Wars like a sugar-starved maniac in a candy store, I knew Frost had been a winner on Cupcake Wars (the Space Shuttle Endeavor episode) and I'd always wanted to try them.  So a few of us packed ourselves into my car during lunch one day and set out. Frost is located in a cute little shop in downtown Campbell and the first thing that strikes you when you walk into the cupcake shop is it smells divine.  Like I almost didn't need to eat a cupcake because my olfactory senses were so fulfilled.  Fortunately, almost is the operative word here.
Left to right, top to bottom: Banana, Salt 'n Sweet, Rose Velvet, Coffee Toffee Crunch

We were fortunate that we happened to go in on a Monday because it turns out that on Mondays, you can buy mini cupcakes 3 for $5.  Regular-size cupcakes are $3.25 each.  They have some amazing flavors listed and I wish I had taken a picture of their display cases with mouthwatering-looking cupcakes but at the time, I hadn't planned on writing up this post.  Anyway, after some dithering, I chose a regular-size cupcake of their Salt 'n Sweet which was a chocolate cupcake filled with salted caramel topped with chocolate ganache and drizzled with caramel. I also bought 3 minis: Coffee Toffee Crunch (chocolate cupcake frosted with chocolate buttercream which was covered with chocolate-covered toffee bits), Rose Velvet (red velvet with cream cheese frosting) and a banana cupcake topped with frosting and a banana chip.  4 cupcakes might seem like a lot to consume, albeit 3 of them were "mini" size but the sacrifices my waistline, running shoes, treadmill and I make in the name of research....

I really, really want to say these were the best cupcakes ever and it was no wonder they won Cupcake Wars.  Unfortunately.....I can't.  I cringe to even write those words because I really want to be supportive.  But I also have to be honest.  The regular-size Salt 'n Sweet cupcake was dry.  The caramel was good but the chocolate cupcake itself was dry and I wasn't hit with a lot of chocolate flavor.  The Coffee Toffee Crunch in the mini size was more moist but again, not a lot of chocolate punch.  I'm not fond of a lot of frosting on my cupcakes so I scraped off most of the frosting (it was light and airy so if you're a frosting person, I'm sure you'd enjoy it) and ate the toffee crunch bits which were the best part of the cupcake.  The Rose Velvet wasn't very moist either although it wasn't as dry as the Salt 'n Sweet.  The banana cupcake was "okay", not quite moist but not quite dry.  Instead, the texture was a bit tough, like it had been overmixed.  I honestly don't know if I just tried Frost on an off day but in my defense, my coworkers who came with me and got other cupcakes in different flavors had the same view of their cupcakes: most were on the dry side and nothing really stood out in terms of flavor.

After that road trip, I went home that night and re-watched their episode on Cupcake Wars.  I discovered 2 of the flavors they had on the show were also in their display case that day: Tear-I-Miss-You (presumably a tiramisu cupcake) and Peanut Butter Moon Pie.  It was too bad I hadn't tried either of those cupcakes, just in case those were really knockouts.  I'm willing to give Frost another try and see if they do have cupcakes that would blow me away because I want to like them and promote them but they're a bit of a drive so I don't know if I would go there just for the express purpose of getting a cupcake.  It'll have to be when I'm there "someday" for another reason.

Oh, and in case anyone does want to try them out, they just published their summer flavor calendar.  Similar to Sprinkles, they have certain flavors they make every day and some flavors they only make on certain days of the week.

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