So I shouldn't be allowed to handle cupcakes.
After a week of getting to work half an hour earlier than the week prior and getting off work half an hour to an hour later than I should be, I managed to get off work early as everyone was getting ready to move next door to the shiny Sheldon Chumir building (where I'll get my own student cubicle!)
Instead of heading home right away, I decided to enjoy the sunny weather and walk the few blocks to 17th Ave to do something I've always wanted to do—a side-by-side comparison of Crave and Buttercream Bake Shoppe cupcakes.
I knew I couldn't finish two full cupcakes on my own, so I bought a mini (or "baby", in Buttercream Bake Shoppe's case) cupcake of a flavour that I knew both would have. I chose Crave's "signature flavour", Crave-o-licious, a chocolate cupcake with blue vanilla buttercream icing, and tucked it under the coat on my arm to walk the 2½ blocks to Buttercream to make my purchase there. It started off fine because the icing had hardened a little to the point where it didn't smear on my coat, but once the little bit of body heat kicked in I'd wrecked the beautiful baby blue swirl (and the inside of my jacket.)
In retrospect I guess I should've waited right before I went in to tuck it under my coat.
I was happy (and unsurprised) that Buttercream Bake Shoppe had their own version of the cupcake called Dreamy Blue. As I exited the shop, just as I felt bad that I was giving Dreamy Blue an unfair advantage appearance-wise, it slipped from my grasp, falling sideways onto the pavement.
So that's how I came about stuffing my face with these two smushed mini-cupcakes as I walked to the bus stop to head home after quickly snapping a few photos on the patio of Buttercream (their chairs were all chained to the fence for the winter). And how did the two fare? Well let's see...
Price: Both of my mini-cupcakes cost $1.75, and regular cupcakes cost $2.95 at both places. Once you start buying half-dozens, dozens, or multiples of dozens, Crave will start hurting your wallet a little more. Winner - Buttercream Bake Shoppe
Appearance: Ignoring what they looked like after being mishandled by yours truly, I must admit I was a little disappointed that while the regular versions of these cupcakes had chocolate shavings, the small ones did not. (The little "sprinkles" you see on the Dreamy Blue cupcake is dirt from me dropping it, not chocolate) Seriously, the chocolate shavings are not so huge that you can't fit them on a mini cupcake. That being said, I loved the colour of the Crave-o-Licious icing more; the blue of the Dreamy Blue cupcake was not dreamy, but off-putting, and I had to read the little sign to make sure that my icing was going to be vanilla-flavoured. Winner - Crave
Icing-to-Cake Ratio: As you can see in the photo (and considering any losses left on my jacket), Crave-o-Licious had way more icing than Dreamy Blue. While some people like that, I thought it was a little too much and made things messier than they could've been. Winner - Buttercream Bake Shoppe
Taste - Icing: I ate Crave-o-Licious first and was prepared to declare it the loser for having sickly sweet icing until I tasted Dreamy Blue, which was equally sweet with a strange flavour undertone. After some consideration, I decided the difference was that the Dreamy Blue icing was less "creamy" and less vanilla-y. Winner - Crave
Taste - Cupcake: What I learned yesterday is that all that sweet, pretty icing is hiding some crappy bases. Though I'll have to give credit to the fact that both of the cupcakes were nice and moist (as opposed to dry and muffin-y), they're disgusting taste-wise. Alone, the cupcakes have barely any sugar. If they're going for a "dark chocolate" sort of idea, the chocolate is not coming through and the cakes are bitter and bland with a touch of salt. If they're going for the fact that they know their icing has shit-tons of sugar, then fine, but wouldn't it be better if you took some of the sugar out of the icing and into the cake? Tie
Considering just the cupcake itself, it looks like Crave wins, but if you also consider price for multiple purchases, then it's a tie. To be honest, I was cheering for the underdog, and in that spirit, here are two advantages of Buttercream Bake Shoppe over Crave you should keep in mind:
- Crave closes shop when it runs out of product, so even though they supposedly don't close till 5, you'll sometimes come back emptyhanded even if you try going at 4.
- Buttercream Bake Shoppe has a four week cycle of 32 flavours (eight per week), plus the basic four and the monthly special. I SO want to go for their pumpkin spice before the month is up (even though they put a gross-looking Jack-O-Lantern sugar candy on top). Crave only has nine flavours, and not all of them were available when I went yesterday. Plus, although the I ♥ Crave Cupcakes Facebook group claimed that the Craving of the Month" is also pumpkin spice, the glass dome with the "Craving of the Month" sign had nothing under it.
120 815 17 Ave SW
Calgary AB T2T 0A1
Calgary AB T2N 3P2
103 1019 17 Ave SW
Calgary AB T2T 0A7