Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Divine Cupcake - Eugene, OR

Yesterday I was reading my favorite cupcake blog (Cupcakes Take the Cake) and I noticed a flyer for a grand opening of The Divine Cupcake in Eugene, OR.  My brother Robert lives in Eugene so I quickly emailed him and sent him on an assignment...visit the cupcakery and try the cupcakes. 

Here is his review - with photos!

The place was a zoo! People--and lots of kids, of course--were lined up to get in for the free cupcakes. Quite the festive atmosphere.  Once I got close to the counter, I got to taste one of the freebies--a small chocolate cupcake with chocolate icing. Great chocolate flavor, but a bit dry, probably due to the small size.

My real order was an 8 oz. house coffee (Wandering Goat Coffee Company, a local Eugene roaster--nice!) and not one, not two, but three cupcakes. I had, in the following order:

(1) Lavender, with lavender icing. Yum! This was a real treat. I go loco for lavender of any sort, so I was especially pleased to see this recipe. The cake was perfect, not too sweet, with a very faint lavender flavor. The icing had a stronger lavender flavor, and perfect for food--sometimes lavender food products come across as too medicinal. If I closed my eyes, I was in a summer field of purple in Provence.

(2) Lemon. The cake was nice and moist, but the lemon flavor was minimal. I was surprised, since lemon cakes are a dime a dozen, and it's an easy flavor to do well in a cake. The icing was stronger, but a bit too sweet for me. Overall, a nice cup, very nice crumb to the cake.

(3) Carrot, with cream cheese icing and walnut morsels on top. It was a nice cake, and nicely presented, but the cake was too oily (I assume they are using a typical oil cake recipe) and so tender that it was impossible to hold together once the paper wrapper was removed. It crumbled at once, and my fingers were covered in sticky cake goo. The cake was not offensively spiced, as some places tend to do; the overall flavor was good, and the cream cheese icing was nice, but again, a little on the sweet side for me.

Overall, the pattern seems to be a relatively plain cake with the punch being in the icing. I'd like to go back and try the full-size chocolate to see if that blast of cocoa is maintained in the big boy.

Presentation was a pleasure: all the cakes were attractive and not overly decorated. The opening-day hullabaloo is probably not indicative of the atmosphere the owners are going for; the large plastic tubs of cakes coming from the kitchen were not so gourmet-looking, but the cakes kept coming, and the staff was doing a good job of keeping up with the mob. The five people behind the counter were cheerful and seemed to be learning on the job how to handle the crowd.

All in all, a very nice experience. These are not your granny's cupcakes--no eggs, no dairy, no gluten in most of them (maybe all of them). But they don't taste like the usual vegan bombs. A mother in front of me in line, whose son has food allergies, has bought cakes from Divine before they opened this shop, and she verified that the bakers maintain a strict kitchen with no mixing of nuts, dairy, and other products that could provoke allergies. So yummie cakes for all!

On a future visit I want to taste the ginger cup, which looked deep and dark and rich, as well as the classic vanilla and the peanut butter. They were already out of the red velvet cupcakes, which definitely deserve a return trip!

the crowd waiting to get cupcakes...and doing some shopping

glass cupcake magnets from Jamie Burress
(available on Etsy)

Lavender, Lemon & Carrot a
good cup of Wandering Goat java


Anonymous said...

I would go back and give the Carrot another try. Had one today that was perfect. They have a crew of new bakers, so perhaps that's what was up!

Jo Lynne

@ Carpe Cupcakes

I will ask my brother back to go back and try the carrot cupcake again. I will be in Eugene in May and will get to sample for myself. I can't wait!