If you give a boy a cupcake…

By Aaron Rosenblum

A cupcake is a unique experience. Every bite is different depending on when, why, and how you’re ingesting the precious construction of cake and frosting. As such, this cupcake review is not so methodical. I ate these cupcakes on a whim and encourage you to do the same. I did focus primarily on vegan cakes, but don’t be afraid if you’ve been bred on milk and butter, the traditional cupcake’s dairy-free cousin is just as sweet and delicious as anything else.Cake Eater bakery, located at 2929 East 25th Street in Minneapolis, opened its doors on April 3rd offering coffee, tea, treats, and a large variety of cupcakes that changes on any given day. It was friendly, sunny, full of picnic tables and smiling people. I choose the “Mexican Hot Chocolate” and “Coconut Coffee,” both vegan.

They came in a pretty little cardboard box that protected them well as they bounced home in my backpack. Sharing with friends we found the Mexican Hot Chocolate had the tastiest cake, though some thought it was a little too spicy (yes, a spicy cupcake!), though the icing was described by Lynn Cohen ’10 as “good but grainy.” However, the frosting on the Coconut Coffee blew everyone away, a synergy of coffee flavored icing with sprinkled coconut flakes left us begging for more.

Hard Times Cafe (1821 Cedar Avenue South, Minneapolis) is a bit less posh than Cake Eater. No outdoor seating, louder music, and a lot more grunge. Hard Times has such a great selection of cheap awesome food (best vegan muffins ever!) that I’d never thought to try the cupcakes. For $2.50 I had a heaping mass of vegan chocolate cherry goodness. The inside was moist and chewy, though its clear caroby flavor is a take it or leave it gesture in the cupcake world. One taster Maura Puscheck ’13 describes it as “dense and earthy.” Nonetheless, I was charmed by the pretty design on top, and everyone agreed that the frosting was delicious.

Though I would’ve hoped for a bit more cherry flavor, its whipped consistency crossed with just the right amount of sweet combined with the chocolate dribbles painted on top helped save this cake. Hard Times tends to have a different variety of cupcake everyday though so I imagine it is often hit- or- miss, but they are of such girth that even two of the most voracious cake-eaters may be satisfied by splitting one.

To be honest, this last cupcake was completely off-the-cuff. As I was painting a picture inside my head of the city’s best vegan cupcakes, I rode my bike past A Piece of Cake (485 Selby Avenue, St. Paul) and was struck by the most total and complete urge to eat a cupcake. Quickly selecting a Lemon/Lemon non-vegan cake ($3.50) from the five or six available varieties, I rushed outside to stuff my face.

In my haste I noted both cake and icing as the special creations that they were. My only complaint, that with a dollop of icing embedded in the cake, along with the heaping mound of its lemony sibling on top, there was just too much icing and not enough cake. I ended up shoveling off about half the icing from the top and eating it alone at the end as the cherry on top of my quickly deteriorating health.

If you were crazy and visited all these places step-by-step as I’ve listed them, you’re probably keeled over in pain and/or passed out on the nearest sofa right now. If not, here are some more fabulous cupcake resources:

Non-Vegan-Centric Twin Cities Cupcakes: http://heavytable.com/twin-cities-cupcakes-a-local-taste-test

A less chaotic, less vegan friendly review of Twin Cities cupcakes, probably with more pictures.

Bake Your Own: Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

Title speaks for itself. Forward written by Sara Quin from Tegan and Sara. Try the Red Velvet.