The Cupcakes and the Copywriter

ImageWhat follows is a writing experiment, designed to see how the ardor of my copy might persuade someone (you, for example) to make a purchase.

I chose my three favorite cupcakes and decided to write a rhapsody about each. Multiple-choice quiz to follow.

Joan's on Third

At a time when the cupcake craze has prompted all manner of ante-upping, rococo touches (bacon garnish, persimmon-conserve filling, liveried footmen with silver platters, etc.), Joan's vanilla is a testament to the power of less.

The white butter-cream frosting, adorned with white jimmies, doesn't exactly scream for attention. You could buzz by the smallish, seemingly humble vanilla and snatch up some fancy Red Velvet or jelly-impregnated petard instead. But that would be a mistake. This cupcake sings a siren song of whisked eggs and sugar-grit and mystical amber bottles weeping drops of vanilla essence, of little Jewish bakeries, of holiday kitchens sweltering with desserts-in-progress.

There's a vague brittleness as it surrenders to the bite, but it melts dreamily on the tongue.

The smell of its glazed dome recalls childhood meanderings in the candy aisle. It has an almost meringue-like crust — I can run my finger across it without disrupting its surface; there's a vague brittleness as it surrenders to the bite, but it melts dreamily on the tongue. A translucent, reddish-brown layer runs across the edge where the golden cake meets the icing. It intrigues me.

The cake has the eggy density one associates with pound cake or even a Madeleine. Its sweetness is balanced with a cornbread-like savory note, although, unlike many cornbreads, it has sufficient integrity to cleave neatly in two when I pass a knife through it, leaving nary a crumb. It's a classic of balance, a piquant ode to baking tradition. And oh dear, I seem to have popped the whole thing in my mouth.

Auntie Em's Kitchen

ImageIn all the stories of all the world, what better emblem exists for adventure than the gingerbread house? It's composed of every delectable thing you could ever want, but there's a witch inside who thinks you're pretty toothsome yourself. Heady stuff, whether you're a tiny kid or an enormous Freudian.

Auntie Em's has built the gingerbread house, and like said building's legendary occupant, IT could eat YOU. This is one ferocious dessert.

Its richness is almost annihilating, like being touched inappropriately by an angel.

The house is disguised as a carrot cupcake. Its roof sports a hibernal homburg of cream-cheese frosting adorned with a spray of candied-carrot ribbons. The frosting chills to a matte hardness, but at room temp it deliquesces into a lather of sweet, sweet goo with a slightly tart finish. Its richness is almost annihilating, like being touched inappropriately by an angel.

And oh, that cake. A spicy, gingery, obscenely moist, light-brown cake studded with walnuts, sultanas and shredded carrot, it's just as I imagine the walls of that witch's house. I'm stuffed before I know what's happened, sopping up the supernatural ooze with a few spicy chunks before I can eat no more; the cupcake has gotten the better of me.

Colleen's Caramel
Lark Cake Shop

ImageCaramel fudge. That's pretty much the only way to describe the slate-like confection that flat-tops this white-cake creation, which slightly resembles a rounded-off, inverted pyramid; the frosting extends beyond the edge of the base, an elegant solution to the timeless quandary of having more cake than frosting.

That Colleen, whoever she may be, chose to sprinkle kosher salt granules on top leads me to believe she's some kind of provocateur — it's like waving a red flag at my salivary glands. The sweet-savory ratio throws an arc of golden light across my pleasure center, recalling the dulcet burn of maple-sugar candy or Penuche.

The cake — airy, moist and finishing with a sweetness of remarkable subtlety — is simplicity itself. So I'm all the more mystified by the profound sense of fullness (verging on rotundity) I feel when the last of the caramel ridge evanesces in my mouth.

Based on the above, which of these treats tempts you most?

EXTRA CREDIT: Which words or phrases influenced your choice?

(a) Vanilla
(b) Carrot
(c) Caramel

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