Friday, July 23, 2010

When The Cupcake Crumbles: Review of Coastal Cupcakes

THE HEARTS: location, packaging, close to free parking, cream cheese frosting, decent chocolate cake

THE FARTS: dry cake, bad chocolate frosting, few options, frosting too dense, no seating inside, too small

Young Old Fart says...

Friends, family, and people I don't even know, often ask me why I am single. Why don't I put myself out there? Why don't I pick up guys while I'm downtown? Heck, in their opinion, if I threw on some lipstick and spritzed some perfume, I could probably get some schmuck at the grocery store. Every time I am reprimanded with suggestions, such as these, I retort with my Buddhist/inner-soul-searchy/really deep answer: Why do I need a man when there are cats, Grey's Anatomy, and most of all... fattening foods? I know ladies, I know...I just blew your minds and potentially changed your lives forever.

So, this past week, I was in need of some lovin', and what better way to fill both my heart and tummy than to shove several cupcakes down my throat? I had been hearing about this joint Coastal Cupcakes for quite some time. While some of my friends recommended it, I also heard some not so great reviews. Either way, I really wanted to give it a go (if not for my own curiosity than for the support of a local business).

The outside looked really promising, it exuded "cute, local eatery." However, when we stepped inside, I was underwhelmed by the choices and size of the cupcakes. IMHO, bigger is ALWAYS better...but, I figured the petiteness simply translated to OUTSTANDING flavor. Boy, was I wrong.

I love coconut, so I chose the coconut cupcake with cream cheese frosting. Since my mom picked one with chocolate frosting, I figured I would test out their vanilla. To my utter shock, there wasn't one cupcake with regular vanilla frosting (weird). Alas, I threw in the towel, and picked chocolate with cream cheese frosting.

First off, the box they came in was adorable. Unfortunately, don't
judge this book (I mean cupcake) by its cover (I mean box). My mom and I wanted to give a complete and fair review of all the cupcakes so we split the four. Before I begin with mine, I'll say right now that my mom's chocolate peanut butter one was my absolute least favorite. The cupcake literally crumbled when I cut it in half. The cake was very dry, the frosting was way too dense and fell off the cake, and it just lacked flavor. As far as the red velvet goes, the cake was dry (yet again), tasted like cornbread, and while the frosting was the best part it was still too dense.

The chocolate with cream cheese frosting had the best cake. It was the only somewhat moist one out of the four. While I thoroughly enjoyed the tangy, not overly-sweet cream cheese frosting, it absolutely did not belong with the chocolate cake. Again, where was their vanilla icing? It was a worse pairing than Drew Barrymore and Tom Green.

The coconut with *SURPRISE* cream cheese frosting was the best overall. The cake was still dry and definitely was NOT coconut flavored (YAH thinks it had a lemony undertone). However, while the cake wasn't terrible, it certainly wasn't good. Luckily, the cream cheese frosting with the coconut shavings overpowered the "eh" base.

All in all, I really hate to say this because I SO wanted to love this place, but I won't be purchasing Coastal Cupcakes again. I suggest they increase their size, offer more options (maybe some with vanilla frosting?), add some pizazz to their offerings (sprinkles, anyone?), completely redo their cake recipes (dry cake is NOT acceptable), spread their frosting over THE WHOLE cupcake (share the love people), and lighten up the density of their icing. Basically, unless CC changes nearly everything, I cannot give them a thumbs up. The worst part are starting to look good to me now.

Kittens and fudge,

P.S. Do any of you know where I can get a good cupcake?

Young At Heart says...

Right out of the gate, I have to admit that I am not the cupcake fanatic in our family. That crown belongs to YOF. I will eat cupcakes (any cake for that matter) as a second choice when it comes to desserts. My heart belongs to say…chocolate mousse, creme brulee, fried ice cream and other goodies such as these. But, I am definitely very familiar with cake offerings from top notch bakeries. I have been fortunate enough to experience well known NY bakeries as well as a few in California. OK, if you haven't guessed it by now, I am trying to figure out a way to deliver my critique of our newest adventure without sounding overly harsh.
I want every single business to survive, and even more so, prosper and thrive. However, in this case, it baffles me as to how CC is making enough money to stay in business, let alone, warrant opening a second location. Perhaps there is a strategy or audience in their business plan that is not apparent?

On the positive, the location downtown is definitely a winner. Even though parking can be a challenge at times, they were smart enough to select a location that does have a parking garage around the corner ( it offers 1 hour of free parking!). Great start!

Upon entering the business, one is greeted by a glassed display case with their offerings. Meager is the word that came to my mind. I mean really, their only product is cupcakes and yet on this given day, I only saw a small portion of each flavor that they were selling. And the size of the cupcake is also another element that baffles me. I would like to think that perhaps their business plan was written for a gourmet bake shop, but unfortunately, I did not find the flavors or the presentation as an indicator of gourmet. And if they are not trying to be gourmet, but rather an old hometown cupcake shop, then by all means….kick it up a notch! Offer larger-sized cupcakes, fully iced, with garnishments that entice the eyes, and put out a few tables with pretty tablecloths to inspire eating on the premises.

Okay, onto the critique. I purchased the peanut butter cupcake (one of their specials for that day) and their standard red velvet cupcake iced with cream cheese frosting. Neither one impressed me. I will say, the cream cheese frosting was well done. It was flavorful and the consistency was right. The red velvet cake itself was dry, and although I am not a professional baker (and never attested to being one), I would think that icing the entire surface of any cupcake would allow the eater to taste both the icing and the cake in one bite and help to keep the cupcake from drying out (which was a problem with all the cupcakes we purchased). Also, the peanut butter cupcake center, in my opinion, should have been more like a peanut butter mousse rather then a small peanut butter cup. When I bit into the cupcake, it fell out. Put the peanut butter cup on top for both presentation and flavor.

I can only hope that as this business continues to try and grow, it looks outside of Wilmington for ideas to inspire its growth. Sometimes it is best to step outside the box for a different view.

Crumb KISS,


  1. ...or maybe step outside the flour and into something liquid? I mourn for your experience, because when I need a good baked good,and it doesn't taste good after that first bite, I want to cry tears of sugar! sounds like it's family money keeping them in business or some investors who have not tasted their investment. I bet CC employee(s)don't even eat their cupcakes! cupcakes

  2. I think alot of it is paradigm. If one doesn't have something to compare it to, one might think it is OK. Like YOF said, "I really wanted to love this place". If they are able to improve some, I would try them again...YAH.

  3. o.k. maybe I was hard on 'em...cupcakes are a serious matter to me. lol

  4. Heck no! Dry cupcakes go! Heck no! Dry cupcakes no!

    We cupcake lovers need to stick together.

  5. Cupcakes are not my thing, but I like your entertaining approach. Keep it up!

  6. Thanks so much! Hope to see more comments from you! At some pt, we plan on doing a photography post on the downtown area...maybe that will be more up your alley!