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Sprinkless-In Search of a Cupcake

Hi, my name is H. And I’m addicted to Gimmee Jimmy’s Cookies‘ cupcakes. I need help. Badly.

The big problem is that I’m here in Southern California and Jimmy’s delightful goodness is about oh, 2,790 miles away. So what’s a girl to do?

Well, since I am a ruthless researcher, I start trolling the Web, reading foodie sites, comparing notes, and conducting follow-up interviews with various foodies in my circle. My pages of notes led me straight to one place: Sprinkles cupcakes in Newport Beach.

Hubby is a darling man. If I mention I have a foodie need, he’s right there with me. So Saturday evening we pack up Munchkin No. 2 (Munchkin No. 1 was busy with a birthday party), and made our trek.

As we pulled up, the strip mall seemed like a mecca. This is an upscale area, and the poshness added to our excitement. Park the car. Unload Munchkin. Head down the walkway. We see the sign! There’s a LINE! OUT THE DOOR! Wow, this has got to be good, right??

We get on line and begin entertaining Munchkin to keep him happy while we eagerly await our fix. As the line inches forward, we get our first glimpse of nirvana. Cute and quirky, modern and chic. The list of luscious lovelies goes on and on. I see words like “chocolate” and “peanut butter” and “lemon” … and then there it is!

“Red Velvet”

The anticipation initiates a saliva intensification process in our mouths. This is it! This really is it!!

Now, mind you,  I think in the back of our heads we both believed that this wouldn’t quite live up to our beloved Jimmy’s red velvet loveliness. But something close. That’s all we wanted. That’s all we needed.  …

The First Sign

We placed our order. First warning sign – pretentious – becomes apparent. Evidently, you place your order, step aside, and wait while they put the order together. Then, they call your name, you pay, and you get your cupcakes. We can see the cupcakes behind the window, all neatly lined up and waiting. How difficult is it to grab a few, let us pay, and commence consumption?

The Boxes – the Second Sign

At first the boxes seemed cute. I mean, four cupcakes will set you back about fifteen bucks, but they will package it up in a brown cardboard box. Good things come in boxes, right? Gifts, surprises, leftover chinese food…. On the other hand, anything that requires excessive packaging is trying to hide something. Meanwhile, the buzz around the store is overwheling: People telling others how they have waited for this, how the red velvets are the best, how good the cupcakes are…

Hubby, munchkin, and I load back into the car and take the 20 or so minute drive home. The anticipation is palpable.

Here Comes the Milk

Just like a fine steak dinner deserves a bold glass of wine, a good cupcake deserves a cold, fresh cup of milk. The cupcakes themselves look like pieces of modern art. The frosting on the red velvet has been heaped on top of the cupcake and rounded to perfection. In the middle is a circular confection, specifically indicative of this cake’s variety. All the cupcakes in the box seemed identically formed in terms of size and frosting amounts. That is impressive. But the taste…..

I sit examining my precious, and then I finally dig in. The cream cheese frosting is a huge let down. The frosting is much more of a butter cream variety, with not even a hint of cream cheese flavor. I’ve made cream cheese frosting, so I know if you don’t put enough in there, you miss that subtle twang. Too much, and it’s overwhelming. My frosting is pretty good. Gimmee Jimmy’s….. Well, let’s just say they are the gold medal! Sprinkles? Not in the ballpark.

The cupcake itself was pretty good. It has an intense warm buttery flavor; it’s rich  and moist. Not much in terms of chocolate flavor, but a subtle hint of cocoa. Again, nothing like Jimmy’s. The cupcake was much smaller in size, less rich, and Jimmy, the lil’ devil (or angel!) that he is, sprinkles mini-chocolate chips in his batter. Oh my. I need a moment just thinking about it!

 The Verdict

 Was it the worst cupcake I ever had? Nope. Was it worth the drive, the cost, the wait, the hoopla? Nopers. It was an ok to good cupcake, but not worth all that.  And, I think I can check off “Sprinkles” from my to-do list.

Epilogue: “Want Something Done? Do It Yourself!”

The above line from one of my favorite movies pretty much says it all. I can’t quite fly back to Jimmy’s, but I’m a decent baker, and so I took the task on myself.  I read all about the history of red velvet cupcakes, differing philosophies on baking, etc., and finally decided on Elisa Strauss’ recipe as posted on the New York Times (posted all over the web, but see this one, for example). And, because Jimmy is my hero, I sprinkled some mini-chocolate chips into the batter. Instead of the one noted online, I used Ina Garten’s cream cheese frosting, since I had tried it before and liked it a lot. (I did use a touch less sugar and omitted the almond extract and coconut.) I read in a few places you should put the cupcakes/cake into the fridge to help the frosting set a bit, and that worked out nicely. It “matured” the flavor of the cupcakes and the frosting looked better.  And they were delish. Ok, not as good as Jimmy’s, but it pretty darn fantastic! =)

Case closed.

 

 

 

May 19, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment