Second Opinion on New York Cupcakes

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Grub Street's cupcake massacre. Photo: Melissa Hom

Food blogger Gracenotes NYC recently attempted to top our massive cupcake tasting with Gramercy Tavern pastry chef Nancy Olson by hosting eighteen of her friends to judge 156 cupcakes from 26 bakeries (compared to our two-woman team taking down over 75 cupcakes from fifteen bakeries). Grace divided her crew into vanilla, chocolate, red-velvet, and wild-card teams. Let’s see how the winners compared to our tasting:

VANILLA
Grace’s Pick: Sweet Revenge
“The cupcake was VERY moist (4.5/5) and was also bursting with great vanilla flavor (another 4.5/5). Also, the judges believed that that Sweet Revenge had ‘very cool sculpted frosting, nice butcher paper type wrapping and crystal sugar on top of frosting = yum.’”

What Olson said:
Ranking: 8: “Really dense. It's a couple-of-glasses-of-milk cupcake. The strawberry is delicious and moist … I like their very unique paper wrapping. The frosting looks a little bit broken, not emulsified.”

CHOCOLATE
Grace’s Pick: Billy’s Bakery
“The cupcake had great chocolate flavor (4.5/5), the texture of the cupcake was slightly crumbly (in a good way), and the icing was buttery, smooth, and soft (not the kind that would get hard and stale if it sat out for a while).”

What Olson said:
Ranking: 11: “It's not a good sign when it's hard to cut into. The cake is dry. There might be a bit of coffee in the chocolate frosting. It can give depth of flavor, but that might not be a pleasant surprise."

RED VELVET:
Grace’s Pick: Tonnie’s Minis
“[E]veryone thought the cupcake was very moist (5/5), was bursting with flavor (another 5/5) and the texture was dense and rich. The icing was slightly running (possibly over-aerated), but it had just the right amount of sweetness.”

What Olson said:
Ranking: second to last, at 15: “Unbelievably moist. The frosting has a weird gummy quality … It's got some nostalgia to it, but totally tastes like what I remember boxed mix being like.”

WILD CARD
Grace’s Pick: Butter Lane
Their “banana cupcake with peanut butter frosting and marshmallows on top) [won] because of the moistness (a full 5/5 from our judges).”

What Olson said:
Ranking: 12: “The cake, while not moist, is moister than it looks. They excelled in the banana. Incredibly sweet frosting. I'm not sure why they call it 'French' frosting. It has the mark of powdered sugar, which is very American.”

To each her own. What do you think of the results?

Gracenotes NYC’s Cupcake Cagematch: The Sweetest Battle EVER [Gracenotes NYC]
Earlier: Gramercy Tavern’s Nancy Olson Rates New York’s Cupcakes