Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Kara's Cupcakes, San Francisco

I visited the Ghirardelli Square location of Kara's Cupcakes. I was with family visiting from out of town, and I must say that as soon as I finished explaining the Cupcake Quest to them, they were all in favor of visiting Kara's, for "research."

Kara's Cupcakes, it must be said, is the most high-end cupcakery I've ever seen. It looks like a pristine jewelry shop. Kara's gets high marks for brand and marketing, right down to the logo and packaging. It needs to, because cupcakes are priced apiece at $3.75. Yikes! I mentioned that we were getting cupcakes for the blog, and that I'm on a Quest for the best cupcake, but the shop girl wasn't impressed at all (and unfortunately, no free cupcakes were forthcoming. I don't expect free ones, but I'm just saying).

How many and what
Since there were a lot of us, I felt it necessary to purchase a load of cupcakes. This was both spectacularly stupid and also brilliant. It was stupid because there was no way of telling the cupcakes would be good or not--for all I knew they could taste like used motor oil. But that's where the branding did its job--the appearance of the fancy-pants shop assured me I'd be getting a high end cupcake. But getting a lot was also brilliant because as it turned out later, my family and I had a cupcake tasting party and then rated each one. And overall, the cupcakes were good.

I got the following: a Sweet Chocolate (chocolate cupcake with a sugary sweet chocolate frosting), Meyer Lemon with lemon custard filling, Vanilla with vanilla frosting (for control group purposes), raspberry chocolate with raspberry filling, and Strawberry vanilla.

How the cupcakes fared
The chocolate frosting tasted like the dreaded grocery store version--that indescribable lard taste, and I didn't like it (I think this was called the "sugary sweet" frosting). However! My cousin said she liked it because she prefers a lighter, whipped style frosting. So it really depends on your taste. I prefer thick hunks of buttercream on mine. But there was unanimous agreement that the Meyer Lemon cupcake, with lemon filling, was absolutely scrumptious (and it had thick buttercream frosting!). The raspberry was good, as was the strawberry, but the plain vanilla was a little too sweet (and plain). In all, I think we liked the ones with the extra filling in them, but with buttercream frosting.

Perhaps best of all was the way that my family dived into the taste test portion of the Quest. We divided up all the cupcakes into equal pieces and all tried. It was a lot of fun, and a great way to conduct future tastings. So, thank you, Kara's for providing a fun evening for my family.

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