We have a new cupcake shop in our neighborhood.
I am no cave-dweller: I understand that shops selling cupcakes are the new thing, very trendy and urban-chic, which seems to have started in New York at least six years ago. But why CUPCAKES? I liked them at birthday parties as a kid, sure, but the things have basically three ingredients: white sugar, white flour, and white shortening. Have you ever seen a recipe for professional buttercream frosting? Crisco and sugar, I kid you not. Plus lots and lots of air.
Many years ago, when my husband was in graduate school in Toronto, we discovered that Canadians love donuts. There was a donut and coffee shop on every corner, and on the corners where there wasn’t a donut shop, there was one that sold over-sized muffins. For poor kids like us, muffins were a terrific and fairly cheap treat, and if we bought them “take out” we avoided the 15% sales tax, too. We could make a whole dinner out of a muffin.
My husband and decided to investigate the new shop today. Mostly it seemed to be candles and cards and other cutesies, but eventually we saw a small assortment of cupcakes to choose from, too. They all looked like… cupcakes. There were no prices, so I bought four, one for each of us, and it cost me over thirteen dollars. We brought them home and ate them. They tasted like cupcakes too, pretty much just as Betty Crocker invented them.
I don’t get it.
Muffins are infinitely variable, and they’re so good they don’t need sugar and shortening glopped on top of them to make them edible. They can be light and fluffy or spicy and dense. You can feel them in your mouth as you eat them. They linger on your tongue and on your tastebuds. Muffins have a personality. For that matter, so do cinnamon rolls, croissants, and danish. Scones slay me. Cheesecake is amazing. I also like pie, crullers, and cookies. Bakeries that sell these things, especially if they also have good bread and maybe serve lunch on the side, these are among my favorite of things.
But cupcakes? Someone, please explain this to me.