Up until a week ago, there were a few things that I thought didn’t exist in Shanghai.
1) Good Pho
2) Good Air
Good Red Velvet Cupcakes
I love cake in all forms, especially cupcakes. But I’ve always been a discerning cupcake eater. If it’s not perfectly moist and luxurious, why bother eating it at all? Back in my hometown of San Francisco, I regularly visited my favorite bakery in the Marina for my red-velvet cupcake fix. In 2011, I professed my love to them on Yelp, where after scarfing down 4 cupcakes I vowed that they would make the most important cake of my life (my wedding cake), after I found a man of course (secondary problem). Well, 3 years later, I found him and I kept my word to the bakery, ensuring that we had my favorite Red Velvet cake and also Coconut Funfetti cake, Salted Toffee Chocolate cake, and Cookies n’ Cream cake on our wedding day.
When I moved to Shanghai a few months later, I started missing all the scrumptious Red Velvets from back home (Susiecakes, Sprinkles, Kara’s, etc.) I thought about them so often, I began a quest for Shanghai’s best cupcake… which failed weekend after weekend. Let’s just say there were a lot of 30 RMB hands played and lost at the betting table. And moist Red Velvet? More like dry Brown Velvet. My husband joked that it was like watching a comedy on repeat: Super Happy Hopeful Amy beaming at a beautiful cupcake, followed by Super Sad Disheartened Amy after each first bite. To me, more of a horror movie. I was sure I’d have to fly back to the U.S. to eat my next real cupcake.
Then one day, I stumbled upon a link to Babycakes. “Conceived in Chicago, Born in Shanghai.” I was intrigued. Reading on, I found out the owner, Jodi, was a former prosecutor! An ex-DA, just like me? I got excited. There were not many of us, especially on this side of the world. It takes a special kind of person with a lot of passion, heart, and toughness to be in that line of work. Somehow, I had a feeling these cupcakes were going to be badass…
I received one of each kind: Chocolate, Rose, Vanilla, Pink Mint, Cinnamon, Carrot Cake, and of course – Red Velvet. Babycakes currently delivers through Sherpa and Mealbay, but unknowingly, I had placed my order through an old link. Still, Jodi responded immediately, honored all my requests, and personally delivered the cupcakes to me. Since this was my first time ordering and I had forgotten to include one of the new flavors, Jodi took it upon herself to box an extra one for me to try. The sturdy packaging was not only adorable, it was meticulously-designed to ensure zero cupcake damage.
Next, I started my cupcake taste test. I could not believe it. Each bite was moist, satisfying, and simply put – on point. Every cupcake flavor blew my mind. I’ll be honest, I never expect much from “regular” Chocolate or Vanilla, but these were extraordinary in taste and hefty in texture! The fact that they were made with imported, organic ingredients and baked in small batches before delivery, truly made Babycakes a first-class cupcake experience.
Unlike other cupcakes where frosting looks different but all seem to taste the same, Babycakes has carefully planned the subtle nuances of each combination. The Chocolate Cupcake had a “pink vanilla buttercream” frosting whose sweetness perfectly complimented the less-sweet but rich chocolate cake. The Vanilla Cupcake was made with Buttercake that seriously tasted like a caramelized-honey muffin-top that I couldn’t get enough of. (Yea… I have a bad habit of only eating the tops off of muffins.) The Rose Cupcake was not only beautiful in color but had an essence of fresh roses; again, its “sweet cream” topping was a well-thought-out match for the fragrant cake. The Cinnamon Cupcake had cream cheese frosting with just the right amount of spice and is perhaps my new favorite. Next, I didn’t expect to like the Pink Mint Cupcake for fear of it being too minty, but the peppermint frosting was a sweet buttercream that tasted like my favorite Andes Mint in celestial form. Very easy on my tastebuds. The Carrot Cupcake was just as amazing as the others. I’ve ordered carrot cake at cafes and restaurants all my life, and Babycakes’ version competes with the best of them.
And finally, the much-anticipated Red Velvet Cupcake. After one bite, my search was over. Ladies and gentlemen, I think this is the best Red Velvet cupcake in Shanghai. Since our frozen Red Velvet wedding cake obviously didn’t make it in our move from San Francisco to Shanghai, I’m happy that I can now order a fresh batch from Babycakes for our first anniversary this month.
My “taste test” culminated in me eating 5 whole cupcakes before wrapping up half a Red Velvet, and half (ok maybe a quarter) of a Carrot Cupcake to save for my husband. When he came home the next day from his business trip, he took one bite and said “OH MY GOD.” Yea, who gets the last laugh now in my little cupcake comedy?
The Verdict: From the packaging and customer service, to the quality and taste of the cupcakes, Babycakes is a one-of-a-kind gem in Shanghai. No more tossing 30 RMB after 30 RMB after lost cupcake dreams. These Babycakes cost less than that and taste infinitely better. The only thing that could make me happier is if they came out with a black sesame cupcake someday. Jodi and I may eventually go back to being lawyers and DAs, but for all our sakes, I hope she never stops baking Babycakes.
Something in these cupcakes brings out my creative side: “Terracotta Warriors, Wine, and Babycakes.”
Babycakes / Delivery Only / www.babycakeschina.com