Thursday, January 17, 2013

Cat & the Cream Cupcake- Chocolate, Mint & Raspberry

Forewarning: This cupcake is gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan.  I am not any of those things, so it was with some skepticism that I approached this treat from Whole Foods. Gluten free didn't scare me, I've had plenty of desserts that just-so-happened to be gluten free, and they were usually just as tasty--nice and dense, made of ground almonds and chocolate.  Vegan and dairy-free however, were a bit more hard to swallow when it comes to delicious cake. Get it? Swallow? Ah, you get it.

Not much of a smell to the cake, which is fine, I understand that a more 'natural' sort of item will 'naturally' be less pungent than an artificially flavored thing. The frosting looked a bit wilted and the cake was lopsided, but again, all of these things aren't dealbreakers for me, especially considering the cake had been out for a couple hours and withstood a couple train journeys.  The frosting to cake ratio was just about perfect, but I like it to be about 60/40 cake to frosting, so if you are more or less of a frosting fan take note.

The first bite was mostly frosting, as is often the case with cupcakes, and it was pretty good. Nice and strong raspberry flavor, but a bit grainy.  I take it this might be due to the lack of dairy products, as milk gives buttercream-style frosting such as this a nice smooth consistency. I wonder what they used instead? Outside of the initial grittiness, the frosting didn't leave any gross faux-butter film on the roof of your mouth, and seemed nicely whipped and fresh. My husband was a big fan, and thought it tasted like brown sugar and raspberries--he also loved the graininess.

The chocolate sponge was a bit dry, and it wasn't particularly chocolatey--it kind of tasted smokey.  I wondered if maybe it was carob instead of chocolate. It certainly wasn't bad, and I think I'm particularly hard to please when it comes to cake. I think it has to do with the 'sponge' distinction. In the USA, all cakes unless otherwise noted tend to be moist, dense, and flavorful. Whereas here in the UK there seems to be a lot more airy, 'spongey' textured cakes that have a delicate flavor. I tend to think of them as being more like angel food cakes, than a dense sheet cake like you'd get at a big fat American birthday.

So far, the cake is a bit dry and bland and the frosting is grainy. Not exactly mind blowing, but then again, I'm grading it based on my experiences with glutenous, egg-and-butter loaded confectionery--not based on what a vegan and dairy-free cake is like, so it is a bit unfair.

The mint fondant in the center however, was extremely good.  Really bumped the cake up in my esteem.  It didn't seem chocolatey at all, it just seemed like a solid chunk of fresh, herbal mint sweetness. Combined with the raspberry frosting it was delicious!

If I was a vegan, or a dairy-free...associate, I'd be really glad to have something as nice as this. I think if you were just gluten free, however, you could find better cakes and brownies. 

I think I would try another variety of these cakes, I really appreciate that they are taking risks with flavor combinations (see here), and the non-chocolatey sponge wouldn't be an issue at all in a vanilla cupcake!

In the end, kudos goes to the Cat & the Cream for making interesting cupcakes that are pretty good for egg-and-dairy freaks such as myself, and potentially amazing for vegans and such.


  1. Great review - I love all the descriptions. My brother is vegan so I always keep an eye out for vegan products and I often buy them for myself too. They taste different but good in their own way. I've never tried "Cat & The Cream" cupcakes but I'll be sure to look out for them next time I am in Whole Foods.

    Thank you so much for adding me to your Blogroll, I've added yours too :)


    1. Thank you for adding me back! :) Yeah, I'd definitely go for one of these cakes next time you're at Whole Foods. I'd be curious to know what you thought, and your brother too--I would guess someone who was vegan might be more forgiving of the little textural things that threw me off.