Feb 102009

I have a confession, something I’ve been holding out on: I succeeded in finding good cupcakes in Pittsburgh and I have known about them now since Sunday.  But I didn’t want to go forth and hold a circle jerk in their honor until I tried them again. And again. And once more.

The nirvana in a cup of which I speak so lovingly comes from a small bakery called Vanilla Pastry Studio. I had heard about this place before, but since its write-ups didn’t come attached with a veritable circus of exaggerated superlatives and a carnival of overrated kudos like Dozen and CoCo’s, I never gave it much consideration. Yes, I admit that I allow my intrigue to be tickled by clever cupcake names, marketing panache and hipster-pandering hype. And I admit that even though we had driven past Vanilla Pastry Studio last week, I still decided to patronize CoCo’s because I had heard so much about them.  And look at where that got me.

And so on Sunday, I played the “Oh my god, I am basically perching on the ledge of suicide and nothing will buffet my topple better than a fluffy cupcake, oh please Henry, splurge for me.” (Splurge, not splooge. That’s all in my other blog.)

When Henry got back in the car, he didn’t seem very confident. “What is with cupcakes and pretension?” he grumbled. And then I began tirading about that topic the whole drive home, scoffing at how something so simple as a cupcake now has such an hoity-toity air wrapped around it, and then we got in the house and I swiped a finger across the top of a vanilla bean cupcake with caramel frosting and—-

“Oh my sweet, tender Jesus Christ curing a pack of lepers,” I whispered as the frosting literally melted away into an essense of pure delight and world peace upon my once-angry tongue.  The texture itself was unlike anything that has ever crossed paths with my mouth, and it created a sensation that can only be described as taste buds fornicating with each other to a master mix of Sade upon a King-sized bed coated with the satine finish of this buttercream frosting. It was sexual. I don’t care; if a kid asks me how it was, I will tell them too.

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Mothers should be swaddling their babies in this stuff. I am also willing to bet that the cure for cancer lives somewhere in that recipe.

It was like a mouthful of whipped magic. It made me feel safe and comfortable, like Mister Roger’s sweater was carmelized and ground into the granules of pure sugar, and then rammed into my mouth. I will have to write my own dictionary in order to properly review the wonderment that is Vanilla Pastry Studio frosting.

And the cupcake itself — MOIST. Delicate. Classic. Not a choking hazard. It was sweet and fluffy and light as air, and actually tasted like it was made by a 1950’s-era grandmother.

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It was a Spartan and perfect complement to its piquant pate glaze, secure enough in its simplicity to take a step back and let its topping take the spotlight.

“Now I know what they serve God on his birthday,” I moaned to Henry. Speaking of, even Henry was on board.

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“And! They were twenty-five cents cheaper than CoCo’s!” he said smugly. Bigger, too!

Today, he brought home another caramel, plus a mocha, coconut and chocolate. Yesterday, I worked out twice to prepare for this. Chooch and I stood at the front door, chanting “We want cupcakes, give us cupcakes” until Henry pulled into the driveway. He wasn’t even in the house yet and I had near-mauled the bakery box out of his hands and dashed into the kitchen. (I don’t know why I took it off him, considering I had to wait for him to come in and divvy them up, since I don’t know how to cut anything other than skin.)

Sucking the frosting off a piece of chocolate treasure, I couldn’t stop giggling. Henry tossed an annoyed glance at me, and I laughed, “I can’t help it. They make me happy!” and then I giggled some more. If these cupcakes make this girl happy, imagine what they could do for you. For Iran, even!

If I ever get married, I want to eat these off of hot naked people at my bachelorette party.

I am bellyaching and completely stewing in gluttony right now, but holy shit these are fantastic cupcakes. I want to devote my life to promoting this shop.

And on the website, the owner of the bakery calls herself a Sugar Fairy. Now, typically something like that might tend to disrupt my temper, but April Gruver deserves this title. She is a hero in this quality cupcake-deprived city. She may call herself a Sugar Fairy, but I call her a Sugar Messiah. And then when I gain twenty pounds in the next two months, I will call her a bitch.

  8 Responses to “When Cupcakes Surpass Expectations: A Positive Review”

  1. This is the absolute best food review I have ever set eyes on. Mr. Rogers’ sweater? Brilliant!

    Next visit, let’s go there!!!

  2. Omg. Pittsburgh is saved. There’s at least one good cupcake place around here.

    Seriously, I loved this review. I want to go here with you sometime soon.

  3. I want some- and I don’t even like cupcakes.
    Nice job.

    Nicholas´s last blog post..Strawberries

  4. So uh, when Billy and I venture out for gaming you’re going to have a tower of cupcakes waiting, right? Right!?

    Jessi´s last blog post..lilweirdo: Jeremy came out tonight and got me lost in pursuit of icecream I never got, I did laugh so hard my cheeks hurt though, man I missed him

  5. I work at Vanilla Pastry Studio… The “Sugar Fairy” brought this blog in for us all to read and i literally laughed until i cried! You are awesome and a very good writer! you should tell us who you are next time you’re at the shop, we’re dying to see the face behind the words!

    Heidi (Sugar Fairy in Training)

    • Oh my god, that’s funny that she found this! I’m glad you guys liked it. Thank you for telling me, Heidi!

      I’m completely serious though – I’m kind of a baked goods snob, super-picky. It’s hard to find places that are consistent and bring good frosting AND cake. We’ve been there six or seven times (in an embarrassingly short time-span) and each time has been perfect.

      I even brought my two Michigan friends there two weeks ago and now they hate me for getting them hooked on cupcakes that are made five hours away, haha.

      Next time I’m in, I’ll say hi!

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