January 8, 2012

Cupcake Review: Crumbs Bake Shop

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I am a very happy girl this weekend. For Christmas, my mom got me tickets to see "Seminar" with Alan Rickman, on whom I have the hugest celebrity crush (for me, talent and attractiveness have a direct correlation). I invited her along and we went to see it yesterday. I hadn't heard anything about it, so I was very pleasantly surprised to find that it was about a group of writers taking a seminar with a crotchety old genius author/editor. As an amateur writer and NaNoWriMo veteran, I'm sure that I found humor and sympathized with the characters in a few places that most of the audience did not (though I resent to being called as uncivilized as a group of feral cats). I especially felt my heart in my throat when Martin handed over his manuscript and said, "Here's my soul, in a neat, printed package. I trust that you'll handle it appropriately." (I'm paraphrasing, but you get the idea). Alan Rickman was brilliant, which is to be expected, but the rest of the cast was as well. Especially the actor playing Martin, Hamish Linklater. Jerry O'Connell was wonderfully pretentious as Douglas, and Lily Rabe and Hentienne Park were hysterical as Kate and Izzy. I totally recommend seeing it.

Since yesterday was such a nice day, we walked from Penn Station to the theatre on 45th St. On the way there, I spotted a cupcake shop, right on Broadway. I convinced my mother that we had to stop on the way home to get cupcakes. We almost missed it on the way back, having somehow gone a block up and walking along 7th Ave, and considered stopping at Baked By Melissa in the Fashion District. However, it was glitzy and glamorous and I just had my heart set on the slightly homier feel of the bake shop on Broadway. I'll save Baked By Melissa for another time.

Image from the Crumbs website: www.crumbs.com Source
This turned out to be Crumbs Bake Shop, and the location we stopped at was smack dab on the Great White Way, between 37th and 38th St, just a few blocks from the 34th St. station. We forgot to bring cameras, and my phone takes craptastic photos, so we didn't get any pictures of the place itself. But it was super cute, with big, picture windows, and a couple of cafe tables to sit at. They've got coffee and other beverages, and while they specialize in cupcakes, they had cakes and cookies and other small pastries, so it would be a good place to sit and study or get a special treat for breakfast.

The customer service was excellent. The girl behind the counter was helpful and friendly, and didn't try to rush us even though we took our time deciding.
I fell in love with this little guy, who might be a logo or a mascot or something. But how do you go wrong with a jester juggling cupcakes? I mean really. He's just too sweet.
We ended up getting half a dozen cupcakes and a Black & White cookie to share on the train home. The cookie was massive, which isn't unusual, but crazy thick, and it weighed about a pound by itself. This is why we still had some cookie left to take a photo of. I actually preferred this the day after, when it had gone a little stale. It was a bit too cakey for me fresh, although my mother loved it.
The cupcakes come in three sizes: taste, classic, and signature. The taste size cupcakes are minis and the signature size are jumbo cupcakes (above). I didn't see the classic, but the site says they're about the size of a grocery store cupcake, so they're probably standard sized. The signature sized cupcakes were about $4 each, which when you consider the size of them, isn't a bad price. Plus, they're beautifully hand decorated, and many of the signature sizes have fillings.
They got a bit jostled on the train ride home, but they still look pretty!
My mother and I dithered when it came to selecting the cupcakes, wanting to get a good sampling of flavors. I immediately knew I needed the red velvet and the cookie dough, while my mother insisted upon the coffee toffee. She also got the carrot cake because that's one of her favorite flavors. I picked out the peanut butter cup, because I love peanut butter, and we both decided on the grasshopper as our final flavor.
Let me say this up front: the cakes themselves are wonderful. They're moist, tender, and flavorful. I also loved the fact that they didn't pile on the frosting, as most places do. The amount that they put on was just enough.

Red Velvet
Red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, decorated with white sprinkles and red velvet cake crumbs. These days, everyone has a red velvet recipe. The one at Crumbs is fantastic. I'd prefer a little more cocoa flavor, but that's a personal preference. The cream cheese frosting had a very mild flavor, and isn't too sweet, which is usually my problem with it. I'd definitely buy this flavor again.

Coffee Toffee
Yellow cake with a caramel filling, topped with coffee frosting and toffee bits, and drizzled with more caramel. Holyohmigoodness yum. It sounds tooth-achingly sweet, doesn't it? It ends up being just sweet enough. The yellow cake is delicious, and the coffee frosting is not very sweet which balances the sweetness of the caramel and the toffee bits. This was our favorite flavor.

Peanut Butter Cup
Chocolate cake, with peanut butter filling and frosting, decorated with peanut butter cups, chocolate chips and chopped peanuts. This cupcake was crazy rich. You definitely need a glass of milk with this one. I'm not usually a chocolate cake fan, but I did like this. But not a cupcake I could even imagine finishing on my own. Definitely good for peanut butter and chocolate fans.

Chocolate cake with a chocolate filling and mint frosting, decorated with chocolate chips. Not my favorite, but a good choice for chocolate lovers. I could have used a little more mint flavor. A mint chocolate filling would have made this for me. An overall good cupcake, just a bit of chocolate overload.

Cookie Dough
Yellow cake with chocolate filling, vanilla frosting mixed with cookie crumbs, topped with a chocolate chip cookie. I have to say, this cupcake had me the most disappointed. I expected to be wowed, and I wasn't. The frosting was too sweet, and I was missing its cookie dough namesake. The cake itself is excellent, but I'd have preferred it without the filling, and with plain vanilla frosting. Not a flavor I'd buy again.

Carrot Cake
Traditional carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and decorated with chopped walnuts. I don't like carrot cake, so my family tested this, and the result was an overwhelming meh. They said it was okay, but not the best. It was boring and slightly dry (!!!), with too many raisins and walnuts, and not enough cake. I didn't believe my ears when they called it dry, but the three of them all agreed. The frosting is the same as on the red velvet, and they had mixed reactions. My brother liked it, my mother liked it, but said mine was better, and my father wasn't a fan.

Overall, I'd rate Crumbs Bake Shop an A-. Two of the flavors we tried were outstanding, two were great, and the two duds were still okay cupcakes. I would definitely go back there, and I'd definitely recommend it. Tasty cupcakes for a good price, and good customer service? What more can you ask for?