Before I left the United States on my trip around the world in 2007, cupcakes were a regular snack, or dessert popular at children’s birthdays.
By the time I returned in mid-2009, the gourmet cupcake industry had blown up, and suddenly cupcakes were the hottest pastry in town.
And by town, I mean New York City, Washington, DC and Los Angeles.
During the year I was back in the USA, from 2009-2010, I had the chance to sample gourmet cupcakes in all three cities. My favorite shop was in Fairfax, Virginia.
Cupcakes have also grown in popularity here in Colombia. My first experience with them was at my friend Marcela’s shop in Envigado earlier this year.
Soon after, I was walking around Santa Fe mall when I noticed O-Cake American Bakery.
I stepped inside for a closer look, and immediately began salivating at the options.
Double chocolate, Bailey’s, chocolate mint.
At 4,000 pesos ($2) per cupcake, these weren’t cheap, but judging by the descriptions, they had the potential to be the best cupcakes in Medellin.
During my first visit, I bought a chocolate mint cupcake to eat in the store.
As expected, the rich and sweet mint cream on top was complemented by the same cream in the middle, which was surrounded by chocolate cake.
It was a winning combination, and the cupcake closest to the ones I’d grown accustomed to from gourmet shops in the United States.
For me, the differentiators between an average cupcake, and a gourmet cupcake are:
- Quality of ingredients (the more exotic, the better).
- Execution of the cream toppings and fillings. They should have some weight to them, but not be too overloaded with sugar.
- Include a filling, either of the same cream on top, or something complimentary.
The actual cake itself, to me, is not what separates good from great.
For the most part, every shop can execute on the cake, it’s the frosting and fillings where the battle is won or lost for my hard-earned pesos.
I also bought a red velvet cupcake to go, which I took home in a small cardboard box specifically designed to carry cupcakes (ensuring they don’t slide around).
I felt a little wasteful with all that packaging for a single cupcake I knew wouldn’t last long, but I can barely handle eating one gourmet cupcake, let alone two at a time.
Back at the apartment, I removed the cupcake to photograph, and then eat. Red velvet has always been a hot seller in the cupcake world, and O-Cake nailed this recipe too.
Now that I know about it, I stop by O-Cake almost every time I go to the Santa Fe mall. It’s a small thing, but their cupcakes remind me of the United States.
In addition to cupcakes, O-Cake also sells fresh-baked cookies, brownies, muffins, coffee, and tea. And they are available for catering special events too.