Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Bakery Review: Cake Monkey

Cake Monkey Bakery - order received July 17, 2013
My old college roommate, Caroline, gets points every year for always, always finding a new-to-me bakery to send me a birthday gift from.  Last year it was mini cupcakes from Baked by Melissa.  The year before, cupcakes from Crumbs Bakery.  This year, she sent me mini cakes from Cake Monkey.  I'm always fascinated by all these bakeries she discovers all over the country that ship.  I try to do the same thing when I need to send a present and I have the hardest time finding good ones who ship and (if possible) don't charge an internal organ for shipping.
Cake Monkey makes these mini layer cakes, frosted and filled in different flavors, enrobed completely in chocolate.  Think of them as high class Ding Dongs, just a little taller and a lot better quality (yes, I'm snobby about Ding Dongs too).  On their website, they bill them as individual-sized layer cakes and that's pretty accurate.
Caroline sent me the Cakewich Collection which is 4 cakewiches in 4 flavors: Black & White, Raspberry Red Velvet, Peanut Butter & Marshmallow and Strawberries & Cream.  They come nicely packaged in a sturdy shipping box with those frozen gel packs that ensure the products arrive still cool and not a melted mess, even during warm summer shipping months.

An explanatory sheet lists out the flavors and what's in them so you know what to expect as you unwrap each one.  They're individually wrapped and labeled on the bottom so there's no guessing which flavor you're about to indulge in.  Since even *I* am unable to consume 16 mini cakes in one sitting, I was able to pick out the ONE (yes, just one) cakewich I wanted to try first and put the rest of freezer bags to keep in the freezer until I was ready for the next one.
The packaging is simple and cute with their label on the top and the flavor and ingredients (in tiny type) on the label on the bottom.  You unwrap it and behold a good-sized chocolate-covered, high-end mini layer cake.
The first one I tried was the Black and White.  It's a chocolate layer cake filled with vanilla cream and studded with Valrhona crunchy pearls.  Which I had never heard of before but I discovered I like crunchy pearls.  The cake layers were good and I didn't even mind the vanilla cream (I'm not normally a cream person).  The crunchy pearls were my favorite part of the cake in terms of both flavor and crunch texture.  I also like the cakewich slightly chilled as the cream part seemed more like a chilled pudding or a soft ice cream.
Black & White
I tried the second flavor, the Strawberries & Cream, on a different day and this time I thawed it completely.  The cake layer was still good but I have to admit I wasn't a fan of the strawberry jam.  I don't like jams or jellies and I'm not big on fruit in my cakes or most of my desserts.
Strawberries & Cream
Not surprisingly, I had the same reaction to the third flavor, Raspberry Red Velvet.  I like strawberries more than raspberries and although I liked the red velvet cake layer even more than the vanilla cake layer from the Strawberries & Cream cakewich, I couldn't get into the raspberry jam stuffed in the middle of the cakewich.  I would've probably felt differently if it was caramel but alas, it wasn't.
Sorry for the bad picture resolution on the last flavor, Peanut Butter & Marshmallow but I was in my office, had packed the cakewich for lunch and didn't have my camera with me so the picture taken with my ipad is somewhat grainy.  Again, the vanilla cake layer was good but I'm not into marshmallow and I'm indifferent to peanut butter so this didn't trump the Black & White as my favorite.
Overall, this is a cute gift idea and a great way to try a new bakery.  Cakewiches are clever and a little bit different if you need something beyond the norm.  They have many other enticing flavors so it's not outside the realm of possibility that I would put in my own order to try out their other offerings.  But I thank Caroline for once again broadening my horizons, especially with another small business bakery I can support, even from afar.

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