Saturday, May 1, 2010

Esther's Cupcakes

Esther's Cupcakes on Urbanspoon
When it comes to food trends, the cupcakes are not only not in, they are pretty much out. Don't tell that to Esther. She might be behind the cupcake trend, but she's making cupcakes that say, "We're not going anywhere!"

The first word I had heard of this new cupcake shop was from Garrett at Vanilla Garlic. He tweeted that he was in love with her buttercream frosting. Another cupcake store only now opening in Sacramento? But that sweet tooth of mine insisted that if Garrett liked it, it had to be worth checking out.


I found the tiny store in the small shopping complex kitty corner from Loehmann's Plaza at Fair Oaks and Munroe. It's stilled draped in "Now Open" banners. The storefront and interior and nicely designed with an elegant flair built on her EC monogram. The glass display cases are nice and high so you don't have to bend over to see the flavors. The cupcakes are evenly placed out without cramming them on sheets.

The cupcakes are $2.75 each and range from the standard chocolate and vanilla to strawberry shortcake and Meyer lemon. The specialty flavors, though, are the standouts. Earl Grey with lavender icing and green tea with mochii icing. Everything is topped with buttercream frosting. Yum! They use nothing but all natural ingredients and everything is made from scratch. People don't realize that there are cupcake stores out there that are using premade cake batters. Not Esther.

Here's another big critique and pet peeve I have when it comes to cupcakes stores - I want cake! I get so angry when I'm expected to pay $3 for a cupcake and find that the cake doesn't even reach the top of the liner! Instead there is a gigantic pile of frosting on top. What a rip off!

Not so at Esther's. You can see from the pictures that the cupcake is high above the top of the liner and the frosting, while generous, is an embellishment to the cake and not the feature. Each of her cupcakes has a different decoration, swirl, or garnish atop. The strawberry shortcake, for instance, is topped with the strawberry buttercream, a little sugar cookie wafer and a sliced fresh strawberry.

I ordered the two tea flavored cupcakes since I always opt for the unusual flavors. They were placed in printed boxes with the cupcake supporter inside. That's another sign of a quality cupcake shop. There's no way that delicate buttercream is going to be messed up in transport.

Temptation got the best of me and I had to dip my finger to taste the frosting as I sat at a stoplight. I was hit by the sweet taste of the lavender buttercream and smiled. Thing is, up to now I have never really found anything where I liked the taste of lavender. And yet this lavender buttercream is the bomb! Silky, sweet with a strong, but not overpowering flavor of lavender. Better yet, these are cooked buttercreams, making them more decadent and rich than uncooked versions.

When I finally got to eat the two cupcakes I was happy as can be. Moist and flavorful in a subtle way. After all, tea flavored? Each was light and distinct.

If you like cupcakes and you demand quality in them as well, then you need to go to Esther's. It has my vote for the best in Sacramento. As for the dying cupcake trend... all I can say is, "Esther, why didn't you get here sooner?!"

Added gluten-free note: Esther introduced her gluten-free cupcake at SactoMoFo and it was delicious! Made with almond and coconut flours, it was grainy, yet moist, like a good European pastry. She topped it with chocolate ganache. I highly recommend it for any diet, not just those who go gluten-free.
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