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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “UA should be happy to have ‘Red Velvet,’ eat it too”

    A row of Southern Belle cupcakes entices customers at at Red Velvet Cupcakery located  st 943 E. University Blvd.
    A row of Southern Belle cupcakes entices customers at at Red Velvet Cupcakery located st 943 E. University Blvd.

    Red Velvet Cupcakery, the new confectionery on University Boulevard, adds a sprinkling of exactly what the UA needed in late night dessert options: class, sophistication and killer cupcakes.

    So when icy fro-yo in a Styrofoam cup just isn’t working for you, wander past Main Gate Square on the north side of University Boulevard until you are hypnotized by the unmistakable smell of butter cream frosting. The company’s third location, the other two are in Washington, D.C., opened for business Sept. 19.

    There was skepticism at the sign for a new bakery opening where Salud Spa Bar used to be. While there’s not really such a thing as a bad cupcake, a really good one is hard to find.

    The small shop is simple and pretty, with bare concrete floors paired with red accents, glass tables and the cursive Red Velvet logo. The staff is friendly and helpful, and the cupcake selections are both classic and eclectic.

    After perusing the centerpiece of the store, the glass case filled with rows of delicate cupcakes — a myriad of flavors and combinations — I had to ask the question. OK, the shop is cute. And the people are nice. And it smells really, really good in here. But the bottom line, the question that could make or break this well-meant addition to our local block of restaurants: how do the cupcakes taste?

    My first reaction after sinking my fork into the shop’s title confection, a whipped cream-tufted red velvet concoction, was an unintelligible sound of joy. The cake was more angel than devil’s food, with a light chocolate flavor that paired perfectly with the rich cream frosting. The little cake was pretty, dusted with pink sprinkles and placed in one of Red Velvet’s signature boxes, but not so intricate or styled that you’re afraid to take a bite.

    The frosting was a fluffy dream of cream cheese tang, and when paired with the reserved sweetness of the cake itself, the experience was the taste equivalent of going to the park when you’re five: classic, reliable and worth getting really excited about.

    My next selection was a bit more daring: the Summertime Cupcake features a lemon cake with coconut-cream frosting and a sprinkling of coconut on top. The cake was denser and had a noticeable lemon flavor, while the frosting was less rich than the red velvet cupcake, with a subtle hint of coconut. The cake is appropriately named; it really does taste like summer. One bite of this confectionary travel agent, and you can practically hear the waves.

    The peanut butter cup option was described to us by the nice guy behind the counter as tasting “”like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.”” If Reese’s were made by angels and sent down by a higher power to be the most amazing thing that has graced your tongue in recent memory, maybe they would taste like this. The cake is moist and has a rich dark chocolate flavor, but the frosting — oh, the frosting.

    The menu describes it as “”salted peanut butter,”” and it tastes the way hope feels. The airy dollop topped with three salted peanuts has the sweetness of regular frosting, the almost-savory taste of real roasted peanuts and the saltiness of cravings the world over. Take one bite of the solid cake and the ethereal frosting together, and if you have a single working taste bud in your mouth it is impossible not to smile.

    My last selection was picked by the cupcake. After I chose three and paid for my purchases, he said, “”there’s one more space in this box, I’m just going to give you another one.”” He selected the Morning Coffee cupcake. “”It really tastes like espresso,”” he said. It’s like a classic Mississippi mud pie in baby cake form, or the dessert equivalent of those mornings when your cup of coffee comes out inexplicably perfect. For less than the price of a Starbucks mocha, this little morsel gives you both a sugar rush and a caffeine boost that you can enjoy any time, day or night.

    All of Red Velvet’s flavors are available late at night. The shop is open on weeknights until 10 and later on weekends. It should become a new UA late-night staple, and it is a major upgrade from other open-late sweet tooth options.

    If there is a downside to this exciting new shop, it’s that the price is a little steep. At $2.75 each, you might think you could buy mix and make a whole batch at home. Not like this, you couldn’t. The price is worth the taste for the occasional sweet splurge, and you could split one with a friend. The cakes are not large, but some flavors are so rich that a half is more than satisfying.

    Red Velvet is something UA students should be excited about. Whether you see the world as chocolate or vanilla, you can find something to be delighted about in this sweet, airy little shop. If you don’t believe that the taste of these cupcakes can turn your whole day, week or life around, go try one for yourself.

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