Cupcake Wars

July 22, 2011

With a few days off from work, I came home-home to the BG for some R&R.  The heat wave is still going strong even after six days.  I thought since it poured all night/morning, the temps would go down so I ventured to the nearby suburb of Highland Park to check out two new Cupcake Bakeries.  
located at: 469 Central Ave, (Downtown) Highland Park, IL  
Turtle's Cupcakes and Marla's Sweet Bites both opened earlier this year, about two months apart.  Both were unaware of the other bakery opening just across the street too.  Lucky for me this meant two places to try out!  
located at: 478 Central Ave, (Downtown) Highland Park, IL
I decided on ordering a Turtle's Cupcake to go and eat a Marla's Sweet Bites Cupcake in the store.  Marla's offers cupcakes and also whoopie pies and cake pops.  Their jumbo sized cupcakes are $3.75 each and are about twice the size of a normal cupcake.  

I win for saying the dumbest thing of the day.  I couldn't decide on a flavor so I ask the lady behind the counter what she would recommend.  She asked me in return what I preferred and I answered, "Um..something not too sweet..."  She replied, "Uh...this is a cupcake place..."  Yeah...I'm "special."  Anyway, I decided on the Salted Caramel, which was a vanilla cake topped with white chocolate ganache, caramel buttercream frosting, and sea salt.  
The cake was not dry but not quite moist either.  I can't really describe it.  The cupcake had a good, mild vanilla flavored cake topped with light (in texture) and creamy caramel frosting.  At first it didn't seem that sweet but then after a few bites, I was craving french fries.  The speckles of sea salt brought an added surprise with each bite.  I'm still debating whether I'm a fan of salty/sweet desserts.  

I came home to try out the Gone Bananas cupcake I got at Turtle's.  It was so small looking compared to the gigantic cupcake from Marla's.  Turtle's has three everyday flavors and three special flavors each day.  The everyday cupcakes are $3 while the specials (which included mine) are $3.25.  

Gone Bananas is a banana-walnut cupcake topped with mascarpone frosting.  The walnuts in the cake made the cupcake seem like a muffin.  The cake itself didn't have much flavor while the frosting was tangy but also a lil too sugary for me.  
Mom Chung tested both the cupcakes out and preferred the Gone Bananas cupcake over the Salted Caramel cause it was more moist.  She's mostly shocked at how expensive each cupcake is.  

Is there a clear winner to this Highland Park Cupcake War?  Not really.  Both had their flaws but if you really had to make me choose, I'd pick Marla's Sweet Bites.  The cupcake overall tasted a little bit better than Turtle's.  

Maybe I'm on a sugar overload these days but after a few bites of each cupcake, all I really wanted to eat was the Spam Kim Bhaap (Korean Sushi Rolls) that Grandma made for lunch today.  They're my favorite and ended up being a great snack after cupcake/sugar overload.  

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