Tuesday, July 27, 2010

First Cupcake Review - Kara's Cupcakes . . . .

Before I get into my review for Kara's Cupcakes, just a few words on how this aspect of my blog will work.

When I review a cupcake there will be no quilting talk, so if you aren't interested in cupcakes, and see "Cupcake Review" in the header, you may just want to come back another day.

I've decided on a rating system, because after tasting four cupcakes, from 2 different bakers, I don't think I'll come across a cupcake that I don't like, and blogging, "it was a great cupcake" doesn't really make for interesting reading.

So I've developed a 50 point system that works as follows:
The Cupcakery - maximum points available - 5
Cupcake Selection - maximum points available - 5
Packaging of Cupcakes - maximum points available - 5
Cupcake's Appearance - maximum points available - 5
Cake Portion of Cupcake - maximum points available - 10
Frosting Portion of Cupcake - maximum points available - 10
Overall Cupcake Taste and Consistency - maximum points available - 10

So a cupcake awarded a point value of 50 would be, in my opinion, and according to my taste, a perfect cupcake.

The store and packaging points will be a little tricky for the home baked cupcakes. I'll worry about that another day, and for you folks who invited me to your home for cupcakes, I hope to give you enough notice before I show up to enable you to get your kitchen 5 point worthy!!

I waffled on how many points to assign the overall appearance of a cupcake, but in the end decided it was somewhat important, but I would prefer to eat an ugly delicious cupcake as opposed to a beautiful tasteless one. And since it really is all about the taste, the taste categories have a higher point value.

I came up with the overall taste and consistency category because if the cake portion is great, and the icing is great, the two flavors together should also be a good match, since I eat the cake and icing at the same time. So a poor cake and icing combo could cost the cupcake some points.

Since this whole experience is a new one, I may change this up as I go along.

So now, my first official cupcake review!!

San Francisco California

There are five Kara's Cupcakes locations in California, I visited the San Francisco bakery located in Ghirardelli Square. Visit Kara's Cupcakes for all the locations.

The store was adorable, but they would not let me take pictures inside the bakery, I was only able to snap a picture of their signage. All the questions I was peppering at them must have made them think I was an undercover cupcake spy. But I still loved the look and feel of the store, their colors are brown, pink and green, but mainly pink. There was no place to sit and eat inside the bakery, but there were plenty of tables and chairs outside.

Since I had just eaten a hot fudge sundae at the Ghirardelli Ice Cream Shop, I got two cupcakes to go.

They were packed in a bakery box and then put in this sack, which I saved, because it's so darn cute!

I think up until this point, I had been in only two Cupcakeries, so I was a little out of my element the day I stopped in, plus the place was packed with customers, and fresh cupcakes were being delivered and I didn't really have a plan as to what cupcakes I wanted. I really like yellow cake and buttercream icing, but those cupcakes are pretty common, since I wouldn't have the opportunity to stop back by this store anytime soon, I wanted to get something different and popular.

So with the help of the clerk working the counter, I chose the Chocolate Velvet cupcake - " a chocolate cupcake with a velvety bittersweet chocolate buttercream frosting".

And the Fleur De Sel cupcake - "a chocolate cupcake with caramel filling, ganache frosting and fleur de sel". Fleur de Sel is a special sea salt.

Each cupcake was $3.25 and packed into this adorable pink box for two!

I hopped into a cab, rode back to my hotel, smiling ear to ear, delicately holding my adorable Kara's Cupcakes bag.

We had tickets to a baseball game so I left the cupcakes sitting in my hotel room, waiting for my return. During the whole game I prayed for no extra innings and didn't eat a thing, knowing those cupcakes were waiting for me.

So I get back to the room, open the lid of my lovely pink box, and find this,

UGH!! What happened to my cupcakes that I lovingly and carefully carried to my hotel!!! What a disappointment, I was crushed and heartbroken, until I started eating them.....yum!! They were so good, I scraped the icing off the sides of the box with my fingers, then licked them clean. Very Un-Thelma like...I'm a little bit prissy, sometimes, a girl's got to do what a girl's got to do!

First Up, my rating for the Chocolate Velvet Cupcake

Cupcakery - the store was adorable, pink, clean and efficient. The staff very helpful - I give it a
Cupcake Selection - There must have been at least 15 different varieties available, and fresh cupcakes were being delivered as I was placing my order, around 4 pm - I give it a
Packaging of Cupcakes - I loved the sack, but the round cupcakes holders inside the box did not do the job - I give it a
Cupcake's Appearance - When the cupcakes were setting in the bakery, they looked perfect, after I got them home, not so much. I would think twice about buying a box of a dozen or more cupcakes for a special occasion, what a mess they could be if the box didn't hold up. I give it a
Cake Portion of Cupcake - the cake was a light texture, moist, delicious, perfectly sweet and a nice size - I give it a
Frosting Portion of Cupcake - The frosting was a nice light buttercream with a delicious chocolatey flavor, not too strong or too sweet, tasty but not all that different. Just the right amount of frosting. I give it an
Overall Cupcake Taste and Consistency - The chocolate buttercream frosting went well with the chocolate cake, but again, a little on the common side. I give it an

So the Chocolate Velvet Cupcake earned a total of 39 points.

The rating for the Fleur De Sel Cupcake -

All the categories for this cupcake would be the same as the Chocolate Velvet except for the following three:
Cake Portion of Cupcake - the cake texture was light, moist and the caramel filling out of this world and a great size, not too big, not too little- I give it a
Frosting Portion of Cupcake - The frosting was creamy, rich, with a great flavor. Just the right amount, I give it a
Overall Cupcake Taste and Consistency - Decadently good. The sea salt topping was the perfect touch, really gave it a different twist. I give it a

So the Fleur De Sel Cupcake earned a total of 44 points.

If this cupcake had been sold in a better box, it would have been perfect. On the one hand, I'm kind of sad that this cupcake was so amazing, it will be hard to find a cupcake that tops it, but I'm up for the challenge, the bar has been set very high right from the start.

On the good side, these cupcakes are 2, 150 miles away from me, what a relief, I would be tempted daily to visit that cupcake store if it were near by!!

Be sure to drop me a line if you've tried these cupcakes or plan to, I would love to know what you thought of them.

There must be over a dozen bakeries and cupcakeries in San Francisco, but there were two other specific shops that I had hoped to try but did not have time, Susie Cakes and That Takes the Cake. Both got very high reviews online. Maybe next time!

I'm still getting caught up on my comments and stopping by my favorite blogs, I hope to be all caught up this week, Thanks!


  1. OMG, Thelma, I'm drooling all over my computer! No Kara's Cupcakes around here, either, which is probably best for my hips and thighs. I'll live vicariously through your reviews.

  2. You are a hoot! I love the cupcake rating system you've come up with. I have a definite weakness for anything cake-like or with frosting (except that nasty fake whipped cream stuff they sell in the grocery store), but I have to admit, I can usually resist a chocolate/chocolate combo no matter how good it looks or sounds. Now white frosting on white cake, or chocolate frosting on yellow cake, well then, I'm doomed. And don't even get me started with cream cheese frosting!!!

  3. Thelma, this is awesome! Almost as good as eating them myself! I look forward to more cupcake reviews!

  4. There is a Kara's Cupcakes in Palo Alto where my dad lives. I am going to get one of the caramel filled ones the next time I get up there.
    How disappointed you must have been to find your cupcakes all topsy turvy in the box!

  5. Maybe while you were at the ballgame someone from housekeeping at the hotel accidentally knocked them over. Hard to believe they would have gotten that messed up with you carefully carrying them. The Fleur De Sel sounds delicious. I don't know if we have Kara's Cupcakes in our area or not, and I'm thinking it's probably best that I don't know. I'll be looking forward to more reviews.

  6. Those cupcakes look heavenly but they don't have those kinds of shops around here. I guess that's a good thing or I would be there to often! Sorry they were damaged when you opened the box, but I'm glad you enjoyed them!

  7. You're a doodle, mama.


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