Monday, March 8, 2010

Cupcake Challenge: Dot's Cupcakes

To dots or not to dots? That is the question!

As a self-proclaimed polka-dot lover, it would seem perfectly plausible that a shop that combined my love for cake with my love for dots would be heaven in a cakebasket. And indeed, my Ingrid instincts were right on the spot...or right on the dot...

Dots Cupcakes is the second cupcakery to be tested for my birthday tasting extravaganza (See official cupcake tasting criteria here: Pasadena Cupcake Challenge). It is by far the most corporate cake shop of the three visited. Dots is to cupcakes as Starbucks is to coffee. Dots has the perfect pink set up, pink walls, dot shaped cushions, T-shirts, and polka-dot boxes with pretty pink stickers. If Dot's wanted to franchise, it could, in fact I think they have two locations in Pasadena alone.

Despite Dots' dazzling design, the first welcome we received as we walked in the door was "No Photographs!" So our careful camera wielder had to "shoot from the hip" to give our eyes a peep at Dots' delicious deserts. Shhhhh, don't tell anyone!

At Dots you can purchase both mini cupcakes ($1.50) or full size cupcakes ($2.75), so for more flavor and selection we opted for three mini-cupcakes! Our tastes included:

1) Pina Colada (pina colada cake, topped with butter cream and coconut).
2) Fleur de Sel (chocolate cake with a caramel center, with a bit of salt on top of the frosting).
3) Lemon Drop (lemon cake, vanilla-lemon frosting).

So How Does Dots Measure Up?

Moisture: 5 Stars
Delicious and creamy, these silky cakes were fresh and fantastic.

Frosting: 4 Stars
Their fun frosting was yummy and satisfied the palette, but it was a dense frosting, lacking in fluffy texture. Granted this may all be a matter of taste...literally.

Flavor: 5 Stars
Exotic and well developed flavors were found in this cake-y repertoire! We testers agreed that the Fleur de Sel was a particularly scrumptious combination of chocolate and caramel, with a special salty splash. Yes, salt on cake - who would have thought? But it really helped bring out the flavor, and add an unexpected sensation! I can't wait to try the other flavors!

Presentation: 5 Stars
Dots outdoes all the shops in cake presentation. Including sweet details like fontant flowers, swirling straws, and red cherries glittering like sugar jewels, each cupcake looked beautiful! Fashion forward and so in style!

Atmosphere: 4 Stars
I described the shop as corporate above, but with love. The design of Dots is meticulous to a T. Every bit of trim, sign, sticker, and seat is thought about and crafted with care. The question is if you are into branding or hoping for more of a homegrown happening. Our cake-ista was chipper, but felt a little rehearsed. "Our Vanilla is to die for!" She says through pre-sugared and tightly trained teeth.

Selection: 5 Stars
Dots had so many flavors, you're really happy they sell mini-cupcakes just so you can try more than one. With tongue teasers like raspberry cheesecake and chocolate mint, to marble swirl and pina colada - who wouldn't be knocking down the door for more more more!

Dot's Final Tally: 4.7 - oh let's just round up to 5 stars!

I dare you to come on down and taste only one mini-cupcake. Can you resist? I can't!

Up Next: My Sweet Cupcake
Previously: Violet's Cakes

Special thanks to my hip-shooting cupcake capturing photosmith - Mr. Russell Gearhart! Yes, he shoots more than cake! Visit his website: Russell Gearhart Photography

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