Cake Nouveau, Ann Arbor, MI

I’m surprised at myself for not having written a review of Cake Nouveau sooner. I’ve been a follower and champion of their cupcakes for a couple of years and they are my hands-down favorite place to get a cupcake in the area. This bakery specializes in fondant wedding cakes, too. They carry four cupcake flavors each week, including their two classic flavors: Vanilla Beany and Chocolate Truffle. The other two cupcakes are always an interesting rotating set of flavors and they also have slices of delicious cake for sale. You may have seen owner, Courtney Clark, compete on TV in a number of Food Network Challenges.

Last week I had a Pomegranate cupcake that was one of the best flavors I’ve had at Cake Nouveau. The pomegranate flavor was intense with its unique notes of berry and citrus with a nice pomegranate “cream” in the center. I also love their Caramelized Banana and Vanilla Beany flavors. Their frosting is always light and airy with a perfect amount of sweetness. So many bakeries use a sickly sweet heavy frosting that just doesn’t jive with me. I also love the denseness of the actual cupcake while still maintaining a moist interior. The balance of light frosting with the texture of the cake is a great textural experience every time.

Cake Nouveau was previously located in Kerrytown near the farmer’s market. I used to make a tradition with a friend of stopping by the farmer’s market, but making a side trip to for a cupcake each time we went. Now that they’ve settled into their new location on Packard next to Morgan and York I really appreciate the ease of parking, not to mention it’s a couple miles closer to where I live! The new space has also given them the room to offer classes and take on more orders. If you haven’t checked out their new store make sure you do soon!

Molly’s Cupcakes – Chicago, IL (Lincoln Park)

A friend of mine recommended we stop at Molly’s Cupcakes in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. I was pleasantly surprised to find them open at 9:30pm on a Sunday night. They have an option for you to “create your own cupcake” while you wait (they actually do the ‘making’ for you), but we each chose one of their famous pre-made center-filled selections. I opted for a Cookee Monster — a vanilla cupcake filled with an artery (not just a vein!) of chocolate chip cookie dough and a light buttercream frosting with mini chocolate chips and a  mini chocolate chip cookie! Very messy and gooey, but sooo good!

Just Baked, Livonia, MI

I had heard great things about Just Baked cupcakes for a while, but didn’t get a chance to try it for myself until recently. While I was in Livonia last week, I stopped by their original store at Seven Mile and Farmington.

I picked out a Fat Elvis cupcake for me – banana cake with a pillow of peanut butter frosting then dipped in their chocolate ganache; and a Chocolate Peanut Butter cupcake – chocolate cake with peanut butter butter cream, dipped in chocolate ganache topped with Reece’s Pieces candy. I can attest that both were quite tasty as I stole a bite of my husband’s, a woman’s got to do a little direct research for her blog, right? The cakes were nice and moist, the ganache was an unusual touch that made it more interesting and it wasn’t too rich. The peanut butter buttercream ‘pillows’ were a nice light texture and the right balance of sweetness just under the ganache glaze. Believe it or not, I saved half of a cupcake for the next day and it was still moist. I’ll have to remember that next time I’m in because the sell day-old cupcakes for $1.

When I was in the store the case was stocked with most of the flavors they show on their website, at least 20 the day I was there. I scoped out their ‘menu’ online beforehand and was a little sad that they didn’t have the Sweet Potato Pie flavor when I was in, I’ll have to try that next time. There’s a wide variety to choose from and the choices play on dessert favorites, such as Oreo Cookie, Cinnamon Donut, Peach Cobbler and S’more. You’re likely to find something to fit the pickiest of palettes and the child in you.

Just Baked also has a location in Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi, and, I’m excited to say, are opening up a location very close to me in Ann Arbor around Febuary or March as well as another shop in Royal Oak.

UPDATE: NOW OPEN IN ANN ARBOR!
24633 West Stadium
Ann Arbor, MI 48103