Friday, November 28, 2008

Travels with Brownie: Seattle's Trophy Cupcakes

Cupcake and a Latte

Mmm. Post Thanksgiving food coma. While I'm figuring out what do to with my leftovers and deciding if I need another slice of Pear Gruyère Pie for lunch, let me share some deliciousness from Trophy Cupcakes in Seattle...

A couple of months back I took my very first trip to Seattle and cupcakes were high on my to do list. I had heard about Trophy Cupcakes when their Chocolate Graham Cracker Cupcake was featured on Martha Stewart's Cupcake week. I wanted that cupcake sooo badly. Alas, they only feature it on their menu on Sundays and Mondays and I didn't get into town until late Monday night. Too late for Chocolate Graham Cracker Cupcakes. Naturally I needed to console myself by tasting a selection of other available cupcakes when I did get over to Trophy and here's what I tried...

Trophy Cupcake Trio

I got the Chocolate Chip Mint Cupcake while my friends opted for the Lemon Coconut and the Chai Cardamon. We shared the cupcakes all around and each one was delicious. I'm not usually a coconut fan but the flavor here was delicate. I liked the toasted coconut on top. Yum!

Trophy's LemonCoconut Cupcake

The Chai Cardamon was also excellent. I love chai tea and I've been wanting to make my own chai cupcake for sometime. I hope when I do it turns out like this one. The cake and frosting were nicely spiced and neither was overly sweet and everything about this cupcake from the fancy flowery piping to the coordinating brown and white was just gorgeous. Definitely the type of cupcake that would make a really nice hostess gift.

Chai Cupcake from Trophy

The Chocolate Chip Mint Cupcake was hands down my favorite and that's saying a lot as I don't usually gravitate towards chocolate cake based cupcakes. This chocolate cake was a cut above. The cake was moist and super chocolatey. Rich and yet not heavy. And the mint frosting. Oh, the mint frosting. Perfection.

Trophy's ChocolateMint Cupcake

Take note that this cupcake trio is only available on Sundays and Wednesdays. Next time my travels take me to Seattle, I'll definitely make a return trip to Trophy (hopefully for that elusive Chocolate Graham Cracker Cupcake...maybe you could make me some in the meantime, Blondie. Hint, hint...).

Coming from New York where it seems like everyone is selling cupcakes now, it was interesting for me to see how the two big cupcake players in Seattle have carved out a different niche for themselves. Cupcake Royale, which I also had a chance to visit, seems to primarily make vanilla or chocolate cupcakes with different flavored frostings to add variety (vanilla, chocolate, mocha, peppermint, orange, coconut, lemon, and lavender). They also make a carrot cake and a red velvet cupcake both with cream cheese frosting.

Cupcake Royale Kate Cupcake

The Kate Cupcake aka Chocolate Cupcake with Pink Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Lavendar Cuppycake

Vanilla Cupcake with Lavender Frosting

Trophy Cupcakes also works off that basic vanilla and chocolate base model offering five cupcakes that are available everyday: Chocolate Vanilla (chocolate cake and vanilla frosting), Triple Chocolate (chocolate cake and chocolate frosting), Vanilla Vanilla (vanilla cake and vanilla frosting), Vanilla Chocolate (Vanilla Cake and Chocolate Frosting), and Red Velvet, but they also do four to five special cupcakes of the day of which at least three are neither a chocolate or vanilla base--flavors like Hummingbird (banana pineapple coconut cake with a cream cheese frosting), Green Tea (green tea cake with a matcha frosting), and Lemon Strawberry (lemon cake with a strawberry buttercream).

Both stores had a distinctive look. Trophy Cupcakes has one location and goes for the sweet, cozy and charming with everything right down to the pretty teal packaging and the little boxes that perfectly hold one cupcake.

Trophy Cupcakes in Seattle

While Cupcake Royale has multiple locations and at least the Ballard Shop that I went to had more of a funky coffeehouse feel. The space was bigger and more open and there were people hanging out working on laptops enjoying the free wifi.

Seattle's Cupcake Royale

Cupcake Royale's packaging was also more in the funky/funny vein than sweet and charming. Their 1 dozen cupcakes box had cute instructions for the proper care and handling of a Cupcake Royale...

Cupcake Care Instructions

As for the cupcakes...

Trophy's Cupcakes

Based on my limited sample I have to give the edge to Trophy. I wouldn't turn up my nose at a cupcake from Cupcake Royale, but one of my favorite things about cupcakes is how versatile they are and I love the sound of all the unique cupcakes on Trophys' menu. And I love love loved the ones that I tasted. Speaking of unique cupcakes...looks like Trophy has some extra special ones on their menu for the holidays including: Chocolate Candy Cane, Bourbon Eggnog, Gingerbread Orange and perhaps the most intriguing...Candied Yam with Toasted Marshmalllow (a yam cupcake with pecans and traditional fall spices topped with toasted marshmallow meringue--ok, while I can't eat the pecans, it sounds FANTASTIC). Check their website for holiday cupcake availability. Oh, how I wish I were in Seattle...

Trophy Cupcakes
1815 N 45th St
Suite 209
(between N Burke Ave & N Wallingford Ave)
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 632-7020

For more Trophy Cupcake pics check out our flickr set.

Cupcake Royale
Ballard Location
2052 NW Market Street
Seattle, WA 98107
(206) 782-9557

Madrona Location
1101 34th Avenue
Seattle, WA, 98122
(206) 709-4497

West Seattle Location
4556 California Avenue SW
Seattle, WA, 98116
(206) 932-2971

For more Cupcake Royale pics check out our flickr.


Anonymous said...

Oh My. I had no idea that Trophy was doing such exciting holiday flavors. I'm going to watch like a hawk for the yam one and report back. Bourbon eggnog is next after that.

Anonymous said...

Man, that looks great!

Julia from Dozen Flours said...

I went to Trophy Cupcakes on Thanksgiving Day Eve for the first time. I had the lovely cardamom flavored cupcake and was so enamored of the way it was decorated, I went to Seattle Home Cake Supply just to buy the tip they used (they were nice enough to tell me!) I have to say that I loved, loved, loved it! I also really loved the bakery. It was just so cute! The people that worked there were friendly and genuine too. I sat there with my husband just watching them frost cupcakes. It was pure joy!

I can't say the same for Cupcake Royale though. I really want to love their cupcakes, but I don't understand why they are so popular. I get the impression that they use a mix of some sort as their cupcakes are dry and a bit (and I hate to say this) tasteless. Their frosting, which is where the flavor usually lives, is overly sweet and there's just too much of it too. The employees also seem preoccupied and slightly annoyed that I'm interrupting them doing what ever it was they were doing before I came. They do have good coffee though. I really wish I understood their appeal.

For me Trophy Cupcake is my hands down favorite. If I ever opened a little bakery, I would model it after them. It's just perfect!

I'll get off my soap box now...

Great post!!

Brownie said...

@cocoastomp: Please do report back! I look forward to living vicariously through your holiday cupcake consumption! :)

@julia: very well said. I couldn't agree more.

Isn't the cupcake "creation station" at Trophy magical? I was mesmerized by all of the pretty sprinkles... What tip did they use to frost the chai caradmon cupcake? I'd love to try to make them sometime!

Jaime Temairik said...

Hi Brownie,

You might not like this final verdict:

Yam -- the nuts were distracting. The cupcake and frosting would have been good if they were separate. The cupcake was more like a muffin. Delicious and moist, but I felt healthy, not naughty while eating it.

Smore -- maybe I've just built the moment up too much after seeing it on Martha. It was good. But prettier than it was tasty. If you make these you might consider doing the cupcake and graham base as is, but injecting the mallow style frosting into the center of the cupcake and then topping the cupcake with ganache and rolling it in graham cracker crumbs. I was missing a richer frosting and more grahaminess and would sacrifice the pretty torched frosting top for the perfect smore cupcake.

Snickerdoodle -- AMAZING!!! Cinnamon sanding sugar.

Chocolate Candy Cane -- AMAZING!!! Candy cane sanding sugar.

The last two were outrageously delicious. Like eating fairytale cupcakes. It was my birthday, so that is our excuse for eating four cupcakes in a few days :)

I wish I could mail you a Snickerdoodle one. I'll look into it with USPS.

Cuppa Jolie said...

I'm suddenly quite hungry for a cupcake. And, oh...chocolate candy cane. Time to make my favorite cookies...candy cane kissed chocolate (but I still want the cupcake)!

Brownie said...

@CocoaStomp: You are AWESOME. Interesting about the Yam. I so want it to be good. Maybe I'll have to do some experimentation of my own... The Chocolate Candy Cane and Snickerdoodle sound amazing!

@Cuppa Jolie: hey lady! I need to get back to Seattle for some more cupcake adventures! :) Those chocolate candy cane cookies sound super yummy

Unknown said...

I'm so surprised to hear Cupcake Royale's cupcakes compared to a mix! The reason I love them so much is the fact that they DON'T use a mix, nor do they use preservatives, and they purchase from local farms and other small businesses. The cakes are certainly light, and by no means rich or decadent, but I don't think that's what they're going for. To me, it's the perfect little cupcake that tastes homemade, and it doesn't feel like I just ate a brick of sugar and shortening.

I cannot say the same for Trophy. I definitely opt for the old-timey feel of Cupcake Royale's cakes over the heavy, over-priced, "gourmet" renditions at Trophy.

While it seems like every cupcake place is trying to come up with the most exciting new cupcake innovation, I love that Cupcake Royale just keeps they're cupcakes simple and sweet. Even their "fancier" flavors, like my favorite,the Caramel Apple, are still pretty classic and old-school.