Saturday, March 6, 2010

Cupcake Challenge: Violet's Cakes

Our first Pasadena Cupcakery to be evaluated is Violet’s Cakes! (If you're unfamiliar with my cupcake challenge, please read my cupcake criteria at this link: Pasadena Cupcake Challenge).

Violet’s cakes is a retro shop located on Holly Street near Pasadena’s downtown. The first thing to greet you at Violet’s is the red pin-up girl pimping baked beauties that charms the window and is the establishment’s logo. White walls with retro-red polka dot trim welcomes you as you enter, and a simple display case sits to the right next to a cash register. Perhaps the most interesting part about the Violet’s interior is the fact that you can see straight into the kitchen where pink mixers turn, and an employee’s preps baking batter.

Violet’s closes at 3pm, and my visit is at 2:30, which accounts for the shortage of cupcake choices, only four or five selections remain. My birthday buddy Miss Bobbi-baby and I decided on two flavors to taste:

1) White Chocolate Peppermint: A white cake with a candy cane peppered frosting and center.

2) The Elvis: A banana cake with peanut butter frosting (so named after Elvis’ obsession with peanut butter and banana sandwiches).

We compliment all cake with the palette pleaser milk. In our opinion Violets measures up as follows:

Moisture: Five Stars
These airy creations are light on the palette, yet creamy and moist. With a somewhat similar texture to box mixes (meant as a compliment), these silky sweets tantalized the tongue.

Frosting: Five Stars
Fluffy and delicious, both butter cream frostings were plentiful and pleasing. The peanut butter frosting in particular was ravenously rich!

Flavor: Four Stars
Hands down, we both thought the Elvis cupcake was a more creative and tasty treat. And yes, the white chocolate peppermint pick was yummy as well, but we felt white chocolate was too subtle, and the dessert was more of a single note experience.

Presentation: Three Stars
Lacking in frosting finesse, these cupcakes were simple in presentation. A classic frosting swirl and a few shakes of sprinkles that you might find characteristic of a supermarket confection. But what they lack in fashion, they surely make up in flavor.

Atmosphere: Three and a Half Stars
The retro flair is fun, but the white walls lack in overall design décor. Cute cupcake paintings fill some space, but the seating area is cramped and craves design dazzle. The ability to see the kitchen is interesting, but sometimes it’s best to leave the magic to the man behind the curtain. Meanwhile, the cupcake-ista was pleasant, but lacked the sweet smile I want from a peddler of pastry. Show us some teeth, sweet seller of the sucrose!

Selection: Two Stars
I must again merit the mention of my half-hour-before-closing visit. The lack of selection is indeed a reflection of freshness, and the unwritten guarantee that cake is baked daily. If you’ve got leftovers – well those go down the throat of some begging bloodhound out back, not saved for tomorrows treat seekers. So yes, there were only four or five cakes to choose from, and had a heftier selection been brought, it would indeed entice repeat visitage. The moral of the story? Next time show up early.

Violet’s Final Tally: 4 Stars
Violet’s is surely worthy of your cupcake cravings, dimes and dollars.

Up Next: Dot's Cupcakes and My Sweet Cupcake

Special thanks to additional taste tester and fantastic photographer Russell Gearhart who provided documentation of this fun event!

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