Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sweet Cupcakes: Good Eye Candy

Sweet is one of the prettiest cupcake shops you will ever go into. A white and pink jewel box with tall glass jars of candy, gleaming display cases, with lightly stenciled curlicues here and there on the wall. It's the kind of shop that looks like it belongs on Newbury Street, a cool, lovely retreat from a day of window shopping. While I was there, basking in its ambience, I observed a family come in with two young daughters who fairly attached their faces to the glass case and hoovered their way down the cupcake line, debating which gem would be theirs.

What kid wouldn't want this? You can't buy that kind of wide-eyed wonder; and it's only fair and right that Sweet should inspire it.

So you can imagine, as I ordered a box of sweet cakes and hot cocoa cupcakes, that I was hoping to love and adore them. But in the back of my mind was this worry: Why only 2 to 3 stars on Yelp? How could something that looked this pretty be a disappointment to the taste buds? But I put aside my worries, laid down $15 for 5 cupcakes and happily walked back onto Newbury street with a very pretty box of bakery goods.

Once home, I set out the lovelies and gleefully proceeded to devour them. "It's for my job," I told myself, trying to justify the eupohoria of unabashed sugar consumption.

I first tried their vanilla "sweet cake," a vanilla on vanilla creation with a pretty little pink bubble on the tiptop. Within two bites I realized why they were low on the Yelp stars. Mind numbingly sweet frosting and almost no taste to the cake. In fact, as I sampled the first cake and then the second and then the third, searching for some kind of flavor register, I finally conceded that baking soda and an aftertaste that I associate with cake mixes was the only thing I could distinguish. It's not that the cupcakes are bad...I have no doubt those two girls in the store consumed their goodies with complete glee. But for a foodie, it will be immediately obvious that for $3 they might as well have bought a box of Betty Crocker and made an entire batch of similar tasting cupcakes. What's missing? Vanilla and butter. For $3, when I bite into a vanilla cupcake, I expect to taste, what else, vanilla. And it was missing.

I don't regret the experience, however, of visiting their store. Will I be buying their cupcakes again? It depends on who I'm with...if it's tutu and butterfly-wing time with a gang of little ones, I might just swing by and let them press their noses to the case.

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