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Sweet Treats in Honolulu


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The Results: A Taste Test

Cupcake Thunderdome

Six cupcakes enter, all get devoured. The cupcake trend continues, no matter how many cupcake-fatigued food writers proclaim its death. While there are a baker’s dozen of cupcakeries without storefronts, we narrowed the field to brick-and-mortar bakeries.

For consistency, we ordered—as closely as possible—the same thing at each place: chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting, though Let Them Eat Cupcakes does not yet make a chocolate frosting. For fun, we also threw everyone’s childhood favorite, Hostess Cupcakes, into the tasting arena. In a blind taste test, seven staffers gave up to five points on three aspects of each cupcake: the cake, the frosting and overall quality, making the total possible score 105. Here’s how they fared.

First Place

Cake Couture

Total score: 87  //  Price: $2.75
Weight: 4.2 oz

A gorgeous cupcake, with a moist, rich cake and fudgy frosting. It tasted slightly soapy, however, from too much leavening. 820 W. Hind Drive, 373-9750, and 841 Bishop St., 585-9750, cakecouture.com.


photos: Mike Keany
 

Second Place

Poppy’s Coffee

Total score: 83  //  Price: $3.50
Weight: 6.1 ounces

This cupcake, from a shop unknown on the cupcake circuit, was huge, twice the weight of some cupcakes. “Nice balance, good flavor, moist and delicious,” one taster said. 745 Keeaumoku St., 941-8285.

Third Place

Hokulani

Total score: 71  //  Price: $2.50  
Weight: 3.1 ounces

“Cake not very rich, but good frosting consistency.” Restaurant Row, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 4-B, and 900 Fort Street Mall, 536-CAKE, hokulanibakeshop.com.

Fourth Place

Let Them Eat Cupcakes

Total score: 65  //  Price: $2.50  
Weight: 3.2 ounces

The frosting was light like whipped cream, but tasters found the cake dry and rubbery. “Is this from a health food store?” one taster asked. 35 S. Beretania St., 531-2253, letthemeatcupcakes808.com.

Fifth Place

Cakeworks

Total score: 64  //  Price: $2.25
Weight: 3.2 ounces

The slight almond flavor to the cake was intriguing, but the cake and frosting weren’t chocolate-y enough, and the top was dry and crusty. 2820 S. King St., 946-4333, cakeworkshi.com.


 

Sixth Place

Hostess Cupcakes

Total score: 46  //  Price: $2.60 for two-pack
Weight: 1.8 oz

It tastes like nostalgia, one taster said, but unfortunately, nostalgia also tasted “cloying and industrial topped with a waxy frosting.” “Processed. Bleh,” said another.

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Honolulu Magazine February 2018
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