Sugar Sweet Sunshine

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So this little shop is iconic in New York City. Forever creating cupcakes with creative names, like Sexy Red Velvet. Yes. Cupcakes can be damn sexy. They are always on the top of any “Best of New York” list so of course they are on mine.

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The day I visited this little shop in the Lower East Side it was actually my birthday. Of course, one eats cupcakes on your birthday. Especially if you are 30-something going on twelve. And this was post-pancakes from Clinton St. Baking Company. I mean, I was in the neighborhood AND it was my birthday. So bring on the cupcakes. In my attempt to branch out from chocolate, I went with a super sexy Red Velvet.

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Tu-Lu’s Gluten Free Bakery

I have a mixed relationship with the gluten. And an even more tumultuous history with the gluten-free trend that has happened in recent years. Yes, I realize for some people it’s not a trend, but for many more people it is. I, like a lot of people, turned to the paleo and gluten-free life to feel better about my body, perform better in my sport, and make smarter food choices. Expecting to have more energy and completely curb my sugar cravings was something I looked forward to. So when that didn’t happen, I wasn’t just annoyed, I was pissed. Mostly I was cranky for the lack of grains in my life. And I was hungry. Always hungry. All of these “amazing” effects of giving up bread just weren’t happening to me. And I felt sad and depressed. My body needs the grains.

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But everybody is different and the gluten-free lifestyle works for some. Especially those that will DIE if the they eat bread. And it is for those people that I’m glad Tu-Lus exists. I dabbled in GF baking but there really is nothing I can do with coconut flour to make even edible. So thank God for this East Village bakery.

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Magnolia Bakery

Here we go. I know this is what you’ve been waiting for. Magnolia Bakery: the spot that put New York City cupcakes on the map. And they are still as popular as ever. I have a long history with these famed cupcakes. When I first moved the big city I live in the hip, cool, nabe of Greenwich Village which is home to the original. And it was here that I discovered the power of the cupcake. Lose your¬† MetroCard, wallet, and keys in the same day? Have a cupcake. Escape an awful first date? Cupcakes to the rescue. Celebrations of all kinds call for a cupcake. So I thank you Magnolia for instilling such important life lessons. I only wish you tasted have as good as you used to make me feel.

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Upon the first bite into that perfectly frosted cupcake my thoughts are, ” Oh GOD. My teeth are going to fall out.” This is one sweet cupcake. And not saaaweeeeet, a delicious cupcake. More like, sweet Jesus. So that’s where all the sugar went. Nice job for having a fluffy, cupcake with a moist crumb. I just wish it had some flavor. This is a vanilla cupcake. It should taste like vanilla. The frosting is cloyingly sweet, and although it was perfectly thick and creamy there was no balance. I did like the cake:frosting ratio since there was slightly more frosting than cake, which is exactly how it should be. But I didn’t pick up on an subtleties that should be present in the perfect cupcake. Everything reminds me of box cake mix and canned frosting. Which definitely have their place, but not as the Queen of New York City cupcakes.

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But a 5-year-old will probably love it. Just be prepared for the crazy sugar high and crash that inevitably follows consuming so much sugar at once. Magnolia cupcakes are not for the #adulting crowd. But their banana pudding is insane. And that is something everyone can get behind.

A part of being a grown-up is graduating from SUGAR SUGAR SUGAR and finding comfort in a well balanced flavor combination. Maybe it’s possible that I can do this adult thing after all.

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Magnolia Bakery*

1240 Avenue of the Americas (@ 49th Street)
New York, NY

Flavor: Vanilla Buttercream

Presentation: 5/5
First Bite: 2/5
Cake: 2.5/5
Frosting: 2/5
Cake:Frosting Ratio: 4/5
Overall: 15.5/25

*Other Locations

401 Bleecker Street and W. 11th Street
New York, NY

1000 Third Avenue (Inside Bloomingdales)
New York, NY

Grand Central Terminal, Lower Dining Concourse
New York, NY

Penn Station
1 Penn Plaza
Lower Concourse

200 Columbus Avenue at 69th Street
New York, NY