Original post here: Dessert Tourist Takes On Cupcakes & Co..
Have you ever met someone whose primary diet consists of carrot cake and banana nut muffins and ice cream? Whose sweet face belies her even sweeter tooth? Meet Dorothy, our resident Dessert Tourist. Dorothy will be Audrey’s resident Dessert Tourist, zipping in and out of bake shops and dessert cafes to share with us some of LA’s sweetest. Today’s stop: Cupcakes & Co.
Cupcakes are all the rage, but Asian inspired cupcakes? Most likely not even available in Asia. However, you can find cupcakes inspired by Asian tastes and flavors everyday at Cupcakes & Co. in downtown Burbank.
Cupcakes & Co., created by Asian American Maryanne Tongka, is a unique bakery offering all-American desserts with a fusion of Asian and European influences. All of their cupcakes are lighter than their traditional counterparts, a characteristic of cakes found in Asia. This lightness is due mostly to the light, whipped, frosting used. Instead of traditional American buttercream, Cupcakes and Co. uses Italian Meringue Buttercream, which is amazingly silky and not as sweet as American buttercream. I myself have always preferred Italian Meringue Buttercream over American buttercream. But beware: because of the lightness of these cakes, you can easily eat two or three of these in one sitting (and these are jumbo sized cupcakes).
They start out with 9 flavors each day (call ahead for the day’s flavors), but offer 30 unique flavors in total. Every flavor is available every day – the girls are more than happy to bake you a fresh cupcake on the spot. You might have to wait to get your cake, but it’ll be worth it. They will even create a cupcake based on your palate, with your preferred cake and frosting flavors. Just let them know what you like, and they will whip it right up. How’s that for good customer service?
Cupcakes inspired by Tongka’s Asian heritage include De Luscious, a cupcake celebrating juicy Philippine mangoes, and Violet Ube, a purple yam cupcake with ube cream. The Zen cupcake is a true fusion cupcake – green tea cake, a distinctly Asian flavor, is paired with the very Western cream cheese frosting. They also offer a Cheese Cupcake, which resembles one of those “cheesecakes” found in a cute little café in Japan or Korea. This unfrosted cake has the texture of a soufflé that’s been mixed with a muffin. A true treat for the taste buds!
Chocolate with Italian Meringue Buttercream: This is my favorite cupcake from Cupcakes and Co. Incredibly rich, moist, devil’s food cake with super silky Italian Meringue Buttercream. The chocolate flavor is fantastically rich and deep in this cupcake. Its obvious that its made with very high quality chocolate. Maryanne quickly whipped up this cupcake for me when I told I adored Italian Meringue Buttercream (this cupcake is usually paired with chocolate ganache and chocolate buttercream). She even frosted it as a cute puppy to match Downtown Burbank’s Halloween mascot.
Wicked: Chocolate cupcake with a cream cheese topping, dipped in chocolate ganache, and rolled in chocolate and white chocolate curls. The chocolate here is not quite as rich and dark as the Chocolate
cupcake mentioned above, but its still incredibly flavorful and moist. This lighter chocolate works to the cupcake’s advantage, as the cupcake is already quite rich with the cream cheese topping and chocolate ganache. The cream cheese topping is reminiscent of cheesecake, but much lighter.
Banana Caramel: Light, fluffy cake with great banana flavor and whipped cream cheese frosting. My favorite part? The generous caramel buried underneath the whipped cream cheese frosting, right between where the frosting meets the cake.
Red Velvet: Love the cream cheese frosting – light, tangy, and not too sweet. Its more of a cocoa-based red velvet as opposed to a tangy buttermilk red velvet. The cake itself was a tad dry for my taste.
Pumpkin: Great spicy pumpkin flavor, with whipped cream cheese frosting. Frosted like a pumpkin, which I found adorable.
Strawberry: Maryanne’s favorite cupcake. A very light, fluffy, strawberry cake with whipped cream cheese frosting. You can even see bits of real strawberry in the cake.
Cupcakes and Co. sums it all up in their motto: “inherently international, uniquely traditional, amazingly
wonderful cupcakes!” These cupcakes are definitely recommended for those that prefer lighter desserts, Asian desserts, or anyone who wants to try something different.