Archive for December, 2009

Cupcake Royale

December 20, 2009

Who makes the best cupcake in Seattle? The battle between Trophy Cupcakes and Cupcake Royale is a heated one, but I’m happy to withhold judgment and keep doing taste tests forever.

Cupcake Royale, with locations in Cap Hill, Ballard, Madrona, and West Seattle, is great for everything from coffee-cupcake dates (they serve Verite coffee) to late-night cravings (the Cap Hill and Ballard locations are open most nights till 11:00). The real question is… which flavor? There are many to choose from, including classics like vanilla-chocolate and red velvet, original creations like lavender, or seasonal creations (the December ones included Figgy Pudding and Eggnog. As usual, I took my sweet time (no pun intended) to choose.

Since I’m not a big fan of holiday desserts like eggnog and peppermint, I avoided the seasonal selections and opted, randomly, for the carrot cake – I was enticed by the cream cheese frosting and wanted to avoid the buttercream concoctions. My second choice was easy – I love ganache frosting so I chose the vanilla cake – chocolate frosting.

Perhaps because I chose the cupcakes that were particularly suited to my tastes, they received mixed reviews from everyone but me. My friends liked the carrot cake for its rich taste and moist texture, but not so much the cream cheese frosting (which I loved).  They were disappointed by the vanilla-chocolate cupcake, complaining that the cake part was too bland. I realized, too late, that I should not have shared… to me, the vanilla cake was the perfect foil for the rich, fudgy ganache frosting – exactly the way it should be!


Cafe Besalu

December 9, 2009

If you’ve ever spent any time in Paris and then searched in vain for pastries of the same caliber here in Seattle, Cafe Besalu in Ballard has your answer.  But be prepared to wait your turn: there are often lines out the door and table space is limited (as are the cafe’s hours).

Once you taste the pastries (including croissants, quiches, turnovers, and twists) you’ll understand the reason for Besalu’s popularity. But first, be prepared to make some difficult choices:

Since I knew I’d never be able to choose just one item, I split several with a friend (after we each downed a slice of quiche). I chose the chocolate croissant (pain au chocolat), the fruit danish, and the cinnamon twist and we tucked in.

Naturally, I liked the chocolate croissant the best, followed by the cinnamon twist (I’ve never been big on fruit desserts – they seem too much like health food!). Some people have complained on Yelp that there isn’t enough chocolate in the croissant, but in my opinion more chocolate would just overwhelm the buttery flavor and flakey texture of the pastry. Perfect as it is… this man would know:

Cafe Besalu is at 5909 24th Ave NW in Ballard.