Sunday, April 7, 2013

House of Cupcakes, Princeton, NJ

My birthday passed rather uneventfully this year. No crazy complicated recipes were attempted. No cake was made. I didn't want to add to the chaos (and the sugar high) of Easter weekend by adding further demands on my time once I got back home. I also wanted to take advantage of Jersey Shore restaurant week, which started on Friday. I can only justify so many calorie splurges in one week.

Instead, Jeff and I stayed home, grilled up some turkey burgers and went out for dessert. I demanded some cupcakes, so we drove up to the House of Cupcakes in Princeton shortly before they closed for the day. We'd been inside once before just to check it out, but this was our first time sampling their wares. The online reviews I read were pretty positive, although one lamented their use of a pre-made frosting base. I figured I'd check things out and draw my own conclusions.

Jeff and I decided to get three cupcakes and split them (from left to right in the above picture): salted caramel, Boston cream and peanut butter cup. When I went to cut them, I noted the sticky, gooey frosting on the first two. The cake itself was light and fluffy with a gorgeous even crumb, but it wasn't really substantial enough to hold up to that heavy frosting. Their top-heaviness showed when I cut them in half and they attempted to flip over.

I went for the salted caramel first. The frosting was gooey and too sweet, but had a nice caramel flavor. I didn't really get a salty flavor from it, but the crunchy peanuts on top were a nice touch. The cake was deliciously soft and chocolatey. Because the frosting was trying to secede from the cupcake, I ended up tearing off the bottom and making a cupcake sandwich, thus improving the cake-to-frosting ratio.

I tried the Boston cream next. It, too, had a very thick, overly sweet frosting but with a deep, rich chocolate flavor. Jeff said it reminded him of the frosting layer on a Hostess cupcake. The cake was, again, delicious and light and the cream wasn't bad. I thought it was a little insubstantial for pastry cream, but a good consistency for the cake that surrounded it. It was a decent cupcake, but a better frosting would have made it pretty awesome.

The peanut butter cup was by far my favorite of the three. Its chocolate frosting was not thick and gooey, but light and fluffy to better match the cake beneath. The crumbles of peanut butter cup on top were a perfect compliment to the chocolate layers below. I'm glad I saved it for last, because that was a great cupcake.

I would definitely go to the House of Cupcakes again - the cake itself was outstanding - but I think I will be a bit more discriminating in the future. The thick, shiny frosting looks nice in the case, but is too gooey and sweet for my taste. Next time, I'll be picking out the ones with fluffier frosting and going home happy.

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