In her latest blog post, food writer Carolynn Carreno (co-author of Kenny Shopsin's memoir and cookbook, Eat Me) has a bone to pick with the over saturation of cupcake-centric bakeries in New York City. In her overview of the cupcake craze, she focuses on the uber-popular Magnolia Bakery, calling them "the worst in town." When the most popular cupcakes in the city are far from the best, she sees a problem:
The fact that housewives from Middle America now form a line that wraps around the block waiting for a cupcake whose very existence is to imitate those that we New Yorkers imagine these women made for their children, a cupcake so cloying your teeth ache when you bite into it, a cupcake whose iconic status, really, is based on its mediocrity—that’s where I think that we as a people may be in trouble, or that we might at least want to look at what it is we are looking for in these cupcakes.
As I am a fan of cupcakes, I'd like to put in my two cents. When I get a cupcake craving it's because I want something sweet, quickly and cheaply, involving cake and frosting, but in a single serving size. Regularly cupcakes fulfill this craving quite well; oversized cupcakes are pointless. The cake should be moist and light and the frosting shouldn't make me gag from sugar overload (hello, Magnolia and Billy's Bakery). Any place I have to wait in line for (hello again, Magnolia) isn't worth it, although bakeries with cozy, accommodating interiors are a plus.
My favorite cupcake bakery that fulfills "cheap, quick, and cozy" is Sugar Sweet Sunshine in the Lower East Side, although my pick for favorite overall cupcake might have to go to Nine Cakes. I disagree when Carolynn says, "cupcakes by definition are not good," but it may be hard to find the good ones.