For those of you with a sweet tooth, a wave of new cake and cupcake shops on the Upper West Side — including a new spot that specializes in flourless chocolate cakes — will make you giggle in that sugar-crazed kind of way. The Upper West Side was already brimming with bakeries, and particularly cupcakes of all shapes and sizes, but in the past month four new spots have opened.
Two of the shops are new Crumbs locations. The chain, which became a publicly traded company this year (stock ticker CRMB for all you stock-pickers, trading at about $3.50 a share), now has four locations on the Upper West Side. One new location at 92nd Street and Broadway, which opened a few weeks ago, gave out 1,000 free cupcakes to celebrate. The other new location, as shown in the picture at right by Melissa Cooper, is at 2814 Broadway around 109th Street.
Then there’s Chocobolo, a new bakery on Broadway between 70th and 71st Streets that sells pastries and chocolate cakes. Their specialty is a chocolate cake “from a secret artisanal European recipe” made from chocolate mousse, crispy meringue, “finished with a luxurious chocolate ganache.” The chain used to be called “The Best Chocolate Cake in the World”, but maybe that was a little presumptuous. Chocobolo, by the way, means “chocolate cake.” I stopped by last weekend and was impressed with the “adult” vibe in the place, (whereas Crumbs will make you feel like a kid again).
Baked by Melissa at 84th Street and Broadway, meanwhile, is all about the “mini” dessert. The cupcakes are much smaller than your average cupcake — the picture below illustrates a cross-section of a cupcake in relation to a quarter. As one reviewer wrote: “When I first walked by Baked by Melissa, I thought it was a joke: they can’t seriously be making cupcakes that small!” But then the reviewer comes around: “one bite and you’ll be hooked.” And hey, just $3 for three cupcakes. The top picture on this post is from their website.
So what’s with the proliferation of cupcake shops? As one West Side Rag reader wrote to me: “Pretty weird cultural response to a serious economic recession, wouldn’t you say?” I personally think people are trading the large indulgences — vacations, say — for small indulgences like cupcakes. But I’m only an amateur sociologist. Does anyone else have another explanation?
That last one is not a cup cake that is a frosting shot.