Paris = macaron. New York = cupcake.
I seriously considered doing a cupcake taste test like I did for macarons during my Paris trip, but I was just too overwhelmed by the sheer size of the task. There were just too many bakeries (and too many subway rides to get to all of them) and too many flavors. Plus, while I can wolf down four macarons straight (the petit ones, of course), the same obviously can’t be said about cupcakes. I didn’t want to leave NYC 20lbs heavier, nor did I want to just throw out half-eaten cupcakes. So no cupcake taste test for me.
But I still had to have some cupcakes. It would be a shame to not try at least a few in the city that started the trend in the first place. So I marked a few of the best bakeries on my map and the plan was to drop by any one of them if I happened to be close by and up for a sugar rush (which is probably always).
And so I ended up at Two Little Red Hens in the UES after an afternoon at the Guggenheim.
I was so glad they offered mini-cupcakes as that meant I could try multiple flavors. With the help of the girls behind the counter and my previous research, I settled on the following flavors (clockwise from the top): Brooklyn Blackout, which was the Village Voice’s #1 cupcake in NYC; Red Velvet; Peanut Butter and Chocolate and Yellow Cake and Fudge.
By a long shot, the standout among these four flavors for me was the Chocolate and Peanut Butter cupcake. While the Brooklyn Blackout and the fudge icing on the yellow cake needed a deeper, intenser chocolate flavor for me, the chocolate on this one was on point. The darker chocolate contrasted perfectly with the salty-sweet peanut butter in the frosting AND in the peanut butter mousse in the center. THIS was my favorite cupcake from Two Little Red Hens.
That all changed, though, as I was about to leave. I was desperate to try the Key Lime Pie cupcake, but they only had full-sized ones when I arrived. Naturally, when I saw a full tray of the mini versions come out of the kitchen as I was about to exit the store, I did a full 180.
And it’s a good thing I did, because this was perfection. The subtly-flavored frosting was a hint of things to come. The sponge cake was light and airy (almost angel food-like). But what takes this cupcake to a whole new level is the lime custard (curd?) center. Oozy, creamy and wonderfully tart and lime-y, it was eyes-rolling-to-the-back-of-my-head good. It was full-on lime flavor (no watered down, sugared-up lemonade-like flavor here), and I loved it.
And writing this post makes me want one, NOW. Too bad I haven’t found anything locally that even comes close to this bright burst of citrus. Suggestions, anyone? Or do I have no choice but to make my own?