Friday, July 30, 2010

"I--think--I--can, I--think--I--can" to "I thought I could, I thought I could."

A few weeks ago on a Friday night, I decided to organise a Taste Testing event for some of my VIP'ers to taste some of my new cupcake flavours. I mainly organised this for one reason, because I am lazy. Yes, I am too lazy to bake all these new flavours that I have floating around my head. This is because after all the baking I do during the week for my cupcake orders, during my downtime I would rather sleep, go on youtube, read blogs and basically procrastinate. So I thought this would be a good way to motivate me to getting all the new cupcake flavours created.

I initially only wanted a small gathering of about 10 people, including some of my best cupcake fans, then realised perhaps I need to get some more objective feedback from others that weren't cupcake lovers to see what they thought. About 40 people turned up on the night and the whole bar was filled with people that came for cupcakes. Even a few people I hadn't met in person and only through Twitter, Blogger and Facebook came along. It was awesome and... it was also a little hectic. I was not prepared enough to ensure everyone was catered to and the venue was also quite dark being it was a bar/lounge so it was hard for my guests to identify the cupcakes. I really wished I was better prepared and ran the event more smoothly by making it easier for everyone to taste test the cupcakes, instead of having 20 people crowded around a large communal table trying to get a taste test. [Note to self, make sure grand opening day and week is planned well in advance.]

So here are the new cupcake flavours. Instead of re-writing everything, I've cut and pasted my notes on each cupcake from my Flickr and Facebook page.

Tres Leches Cupcake (pronounced Trr-es Le-chay)

A three-milk cupcake that is sweet, sticky and served cold. It is soaked with evaporated milk, condensed milk and whole milk, topped with whipped thickened cream and cinnamon.

Personally, this was one of my favourite cupcakes as it brought me back to my childhood as mum used to bake egg heavy cakes and the condensed milk reminded me of all the Asian desserts she used to make with it. Quite a few people like this cupcake whereas some didn't quite understand how it was supposed to taste as it does have a soggy texture as it is 'basted' in the 3-milks to absorb all that milkiness. It can also be on the sweet side which is offset by the unsweetened whipped cream on top.

Cherry Pistachio Cupcake

Vanilla cake with black cherries and chopped pistachios through the cake, topped with black cherry and cherry brandied frosting with pistachio nuts sprinkled on top.

I love cherry, it is my favourite flavour in the whole wide world. I love fresh cherry flavours and artificial cherry flavours (sadly I LOVE the latter more). If I go on a trip to the U.S again I will buy everything and anything cherry candy flavoured. So I wanted to incorporate one of my favourite flavours with another flavour I have been wanting to use in my cupcake for a long time. So I thought, hey these two flavours could possibly work. And work it did!

This cupcake, along with Salted Caramel scored the highest points on the night. This is definitely on our menu!!

Hostess Cupcake

A chocolate cupcake filled with fresh whipped cream in the centre topped with dark belgian chocolate ganache with a signature Hostess squiggle.

A traditional hostess cupcake has a squiggle on the top, a few didn't like the design however the signature squiggle has a bit of a story. This didn't really win points with many people as it is a bit of a basic flavour.

Lemon Meringue Cupcake

Lemon cake filled with zingy homemade lemon curd, topped with soft meringue that has been slightly toasted.

Mixed reviews with this cupcake, some loved the super sour hit of the lemon curd and others didn't. The cake itself, I would've loved to make it fresh and more moist. Unfortunately I didn't have the time to bake all the cupcake flavours on the one day and this was baked 24 hrs prior and was drier that I would've liked.

Salted Caramel Cupcake

Dark Belgian Chocolate cupcake filled with homemade salted caramel topped with salted caramel frosting and sprinkled with pink sea salt flakes.

I'm more of a salty-foods person, if I really had to choose. It's bad I know, but I love salty salty foods - like olives, anchovies and capers. So I wanted to try mixing salty and sweet in a cupcake and salted caramel was a safer option to go than a bacon maple cupcake.

This went off the charts! Almost everyone I spoke to loved this cupcake and raved about it. I was really surprised and also happy as it was my first time making caramel and I did caramelise it a little bit more to give a slight bitterness to it...I loved it but not sure what others would think.

So this is definitely going on our menu.

Vegan Red Velvet Cupcake

A completely vegan cupcake meaning there is no dairy or egg used in this cupcake at all.

This was a little tricky to balance the cupcake and 'soy' taste. I, myself, can't tolerate too much dairy especially in my lattes so I often enjoy soy lattes. The soy I used wasn't particularly creamy and wished I had used Bonsoy instead. Not many people enjoyed this cupcake, especially if they're Red Velvet fans, as there is no cream cheese frosting on these. It was a vanilla frosting with soy milk.

However, I will still keep refining this recipe as this will definitely be added to our menu to cater for Vegans.

Chocolate Malt Cupcake

Dark chocolate and malt cupcake topped with malted vanilla frosting.

This scored quite averagely, perhaps due to the malt not being dissolved enough when I added it to the frosting. Not one of my favourites either, I didn't like the malted chocolate cupcake base recipe I used and probably needs more refinement.

All in all, it turned out to be a fantastic night with everyone providing us with fantastic critique and feedback that we will use to keep improving our cupcakes and business as a whole.

We also noted that not many people liked our re-branding and new logo but it was hard to explain how it would tie in with the design of our shop without having something to show them. We are really looking to do something different with our Cupcake bakery and set ourselves apart from the rest and even though it will be risky I think it's a risk we need to take to be able to show our own personality, uniqueness and in a way, pave the way to becoming a market leader rather than a market follower. I know I might sound a little precocious at times and perhaps a little over optimistic. I certainly don't mean to sound arrogant but I think for our goals to manifest, we need to have this sort of optimism and positive outlook to be able to even start achieving them. Sort of like the old childhood story of The Little Engine That Could. Hopefully one day I will be able to say "I thought I could, I thought I could".


  1. I would love it if you had some vegan flavours regularly on your menu! I am allergic to dairy and constantly am frustrated that I can't get my cupcake cravings catered for! :)

  2. I love your philosophy of optimism and putting positive vibes out there - you're absolutely right, you need to be like that for anything to work.
    I'm looking forward to visiting your shop once it opens, and although I'm incredibly jealous that I'm not in my own shop yet (I was thinking before - well Danni, you've only been in business 12 months, and a side business at that - but then read, you've only been in business that long too!) I'm also incredibly happy for you!
    Danielle x