Monday, April 5, 2010
Cupcake Panel Summit
Some of the taste panel notes taken.
When we have a Cupcake Panel Summit we take lots and lots of notes, usually on green index cards handed to participants. These cards are the most incisive thoughts written on the food they are experiencing at that very moment. And they really take it seriously. We brought together a brand new taste test panel for this summit that really proved to be a fantastic and interesting team.
Some of the new flavors from SWEET Cupcake Bakery we sampled.
As many of you know, we sample the new flavors of SWEET Cupcake Bakery several times a year. This panel had a lot of insight on every aspect of what we sampled but, as usual, there are always two or three flavors that emerge as the clear winners. Before we get to that, however, let's meet the panel.
We assembled a great group for this Cupcake Panel Summit including Luis Colon of Future Chefs, Dean Igoe of Salem State College and very special guest Kerstin Sinkevicius.
Kerstin is the author of the very popular food blog Cake, Batter and Bowl . I would highly recommend that you check out her site for some great recipes and absolutely mouth-watering photos. It will really inspire you to get in the kitchen right away and start cooking. Kerstin is also a Food Network star! You can watch her on Sunday April 11 at 9:00 PM EST where she will appear on Ultimate Recipe Showdown with Guy Fieri. That particular episode will focus on cakes and desserts so she was the perfect fit for our panel.
The very popular Cheesecake cupcake. The panel found that this had much more cheesecake flavor than the Cherry Cheesecake cupcake.
Onto the flavors. We were provided with eleven new flavors. Among them: Chocolate Rhubarb, Chocolate Caramel, Peeps, Banana Split, Cheesecake, Cherry Cheesecake, Jelly Doughnut, Chocolate Iced Doughnut, Chocolate Coconut and Lemon. Not all were winners. So what do you want first, the bad news? OK let's get it over with. Dean, who was very eager for the Chocolate Rhubarb found it lacked any rhubarb flavor at all. Either you are a Peeps lover or not. None of us were but we did check the bottom layer of frosting as it looked like it might be marshmallow. It wasn't. A marshmallow cream frosting might be a nice idea. The chocolate Coconut cupcake was our least favorite with comments ranging from "chemical flavor" to "tastes like sunscreen".
The Lemon cupcake. A mild lemon flavor with pale yellow buttercream frosting.
After multiple tastes and palates rinsed with bottled water we continued on, taking notes and lingering over the flavors. Everyone was unanimous in their love for the Jelly Doughnut. A slightly crispy, perfectly golden crown dusted with cinnamon sugar and injected with real doughnut jelly it was virtually an improvement on an actual jelly doughnut! This was clearly in the top three. Next was the Cheesecake. Packing much more flavor that the Cherry Cheesecake (maybe the cherry dilutes the flavor) it was moist and delicious. The graham cracker sprinkle was the perfect touch. The absolute winner, all agreed, was Banana Split. Packed with a full-on banana cream flavor, the ganache and cherry worked perfectly and the whipped cream frosting made it stand out over and above all the others.
Luis serves up the cupcake portions for sampling.
A couple of comments I thought were really ingenious but if there ever was a professional cupcake taste panel this was it! One suggestion was to provide versions of cupcakes with less frosting. Panelists agreed that it would be nice to have a large cupcake with about half the frosting as an alternative. Another suggestion was to add a sprig of fresh mint, or lavender to the Lemon cupcake.
These flavors are all available at SWEET cupcake bakery, with two locations, Back Bay and Harvard Square. Visit their website by clicking here.