terminally uncool but worth it

Let me get this out of the way: I don’t mean to feed the dragon. The Washington Post beat me to this realization two years ago, and I only had my first taste last weekend. I am in fact late to the party. Furthermore, I know cupcakes are over. We have entered the cupcake backlash period. Macaroons are the next big thing, if donuts don’t get there first.

BUT. Let me just tell you. Georgetown Cupcakes — specifically their “Chocolate Squared” cupcake, is:

  • The best cupcake I’ve ever had
  • Better than any New York equivalent
  • You know, probably a “Top Five All-Around Dessert”

Friends, let’s dig a little deeper. Cupcakes attained It status within the last ten years, and in no small part thanks to the iconic Sex and the City scene of Miranda and Carrie wolfing down Magnolia’s and dishing on crushes. It was a New Yorky thing to non-New Yorkers, and that made it cool outside, and it was a West Village thing to New Yorkers, which made it cool inside, too. Then cupcakes got too cool for their own good. One reason: some bakeries got too big for their britches, and decided to expand to Los Angeles or Dubai, and is anyone really surprised that the buttercream’s not as fresh when the owners are also drafting a five year plan for the United Arab Emirates? No. Another reason: it’s cool to hate on the trend for being trendy.

But before cupcakes were the zeitgeist, and being the zeitgeist brought them down, they were perfect. Here’s why: small cakes. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like cake. But who wants to make or buy an entire cake when it’s just you? Or when half your guests like vanilla, and the other half wants chocolate? (This happens. I took advanced requests before bringing birthday cupcakes to my third grade class. What, this is just me? Moving on.)

Cakes are harder to share with coworkers or classmates. They never cut cleanly, or evenly, and the third or fourth slice always gets messed up because frosting’s collected on the knife blade, so it just drags through the cake and sort of squishes it in a depressing way. There are often leftovers. Cakes just look like a giant mass of calories, staring you down. But dammit all if cakes aren’t just the best tasting thing ever.

This is why cupcakes are great. You don’t have to cut them. They’re easy to share with groups. They’re frankly portable, and who isn’t constantly stricken with the thought, “I’m having a lovely day, but I really wish I had a small, portable cake to nosh on right now”? You can make a batch of six, or forty eight, and why stop there in fact, you can make thousands, as Georgetown Cupcakes does. They come in any flavor cakes do, and are customizable beyond that. They are CUTE and PRETTY.

All that is why we first fell in love with cupcakes. And one more thing. Although some cupcakes are overly sweet, or not perfectly soft around the outside, or topped with air-hardened frosting — the best cupcakes are truly the center piece of a cake, the sweet spot of perfect frosting application and evenly set, crumbly-moist batter. And Georgetown’s chocolate squared cupcake happens to be cut from a outstanding, intensely chocolate cake. Lots of butter, sifted flour, and undertones of coffee that intensify the chocolate. SO MUCH CHOCOLATE, but it feels lighter than air.

And that, in a nutshell, is the giant success of the chocolate squared. I’m going back, and I don’t even care if it’s uncool!

93 responses to this post.

  1. cupcakes will always be cool to me! if theyre not in vogue then you can just say they’re retro ;) xx

    Reply

  2. Mmmm…these look SO GOOD! Now I need to hit the bakery…thanks! :)
    http://www.denwrites.com

    Reply

  3. I will never hate on a cupcake. Because I want to eat it.

    Reply

  4. Posted by adventuresomeentrepeneur on July 15, 2010 at 9:16 am

    Cupcakes are totally awesome! I thoroughly enjoyed them when I was a kid!

    Reply

  5. Oh yum! This post (and your pictures) are making me hungry. Now I want a cupcake (or 5!)

    Reply

  6. Wow. Totally missed that cupcake trend. Instead of taking it to UAE they should have brought it to Sweden. Swedes are DIE HARD trend followers. And they do not mess around. They are serious about that shit.

    Reply

  7. I’ve never seen Sex and the City. I had no idea how this whole cupcake craze got started. I just looked up and found myself surrounded by gourmet cupcake shops — not that I was complaining! I just didn’t know why there were suddenly so many of them. Thanks for telling me!

    http://www.toddpack.com

    Reply

  8. Posted by athenapearl on July 15, 2010 at 9:56 am

    Cupcakes are AWESOME, whoever thinks they’re uncool is…well, uncool!
    The big thing over here seems to be whoopie pies…having grown up in PA, abouta half hour outside ‘Amish country’, they’re not that big a deal to me. But to the British–wowza, its a cake sammich!

    Reply

  9. I love cupcakes! Great post.

    Reply

  10. I love cupcakes. I went to the Best of Washington Washingtonian party a few years ago and had Georgetown Cupcakes there (I won tickets from DC101). So tasty!

    Reply

  11. This is a great post – except now I’m really craving a cupcake! Great job.

    Reply

  12. The cupcakes look lovely. But the chocolate one in the last photo looks like it has a dog-turd on top….

    Reply

  13. Posted by hannahfergesen on July 15, 2010 at 10:19 am

    I don’t know, I think pie trumps cupcakes any day…and I fully expect to get an ear full for that remark!

    Reply

  14. They should try making that chocolate cupcake in the Big Top Cupcake they sell on TV. It’s bigger than the regular cupcake size.

    The Codger

    http://thecodger.wordpress.com/

    Reply

  15. I didn’t know cupcakes were uncool. Who would turn one down if offered? And my sister in law just had her wedding in December and they had cupcakes instead of cake. Yes, nice and neat and all to yourself. Delish.

    Reply

  16. YUMM! It looks soooo good! Always a winner! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!!

    evelyngarone.com

    Reply

  17. Posted by asdasda on July 15, 2010 at 11:39 am

    I love cupcakes

    Reply

  18. Oooo, it sounds really delicious! It looks delicious too. :) Great pictures.
    Kristen.

    http://supersecretlyawesome.wordpress.com

    Reply

  19. Cupcakes are amazing and always will be! I LOVE making cupcakes, they’re so adaptable and just plain lovely!!!

    http://sylviangirl.wordpress.com/

    Reply

  20. It might be in part of the new show, “Cupcake Wars” too airing on FoodNetwork. Once a food group gets its own T.V. show that is probably when it can be a little too much. I don’t have any great cupcake shops near me… which is both a good thing, and a bad thing. Good because I’m not eating extra calories, bad because I really like them too.

    Reply

    • Posted by iowasthinking on July 15, 2010 at 12:47 pm

      Yes, and I think Georgetown Cupcakes in “starring” in a mini-series on TLC later this summer.

      Reply

  21. Posted by Classic on July 15, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    I’ve never read a blog where cupcakes are discussed in such a devoted fashion;both highly amusing and appetite-inducing
    –H

    Reply

  22. I won’t give up on cupcakes yet either. I love them! I don’t make them too much because I end up eating the whole batch. Great post, with lucious photos.

    Reply

  23. Enjoyed your post immensely! I can relate to your sentiments. Next time I’m visiting D.C., I’ll stop by and check out Georgetown Cupcakes. Thanks for sharing! ;)

    Princess Gourmet

    http://princessgourmet.wordpress.com

    Reply

  24. Well, that is the best looking cupcake I have ever seen at least. I wish I had one right now. Great post and congrats on being featured on Freshly Pressed. ;)

    Reply

  25. I had no idea that cupcakes were supposed to be uncool, or that they’d ever been cool, for that matter. I do know that cupcakes can perk up a bad day like nothing else.

    Reply

    • Posted by iowasthinking on July 15, 2010 at 1:44 pm

      RE: cool factor, that’s probably a sign that I follow trend forecasters and gossip blogs like Jezebel way too closely. For me, cupcakes never lost their luster.

      Reply

  26. I saw the promo for the Georgetown Cupcake reality show. Yum.

    Reply

  27. Hey, congrats on making Freshly Pressed! I really like your humor.

    I LOVE cupcakes, but prefer the red velvet with cream cheese frosting. To die for.

    Reply

    • Posted by iowasthinking on July 15, 2010 at 1:43 pm

      Red velvets are some of my favorites, too. The ones at Georgetown Cupcakes are great, but not out of this world. Chocolate squared is really the way to go there.

      Reply

  28. I should have known better than to read this at 3:00pm. Now I want a cupcake. damn.

    Reply

  29. Someone mentioned pie in one of the comments. Pie and cupcakes are giving me mad inspiration. Thanks for the great post. Congratulations of being Freshly Pressed!

    Reply

  30. Posted by molleereitz on July 15, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Of course I would read this right after a work out… I want a cupcake!
    Also, this was very well written; I enjoyed reading it :D

    Reply

  31. ok, i’ve been hating on g’town cupcakes lately (though i’ve welcomed the fro yo craze around here with open arms), but you write a nice defense!

    Reply

    • Posted by iowasthinking on July 15, 2010 at 3:18 pm

      Georgetown Cupcake is always too crowded, including with the dreaded summer tourist hordes. Admittedly, visiting it doesn’t bring that rush of in-the-know delight that a secret, neighborhood shop does. But whenever I get frustrated – with the lines, with the over-exposure – and thinking about marching out of line, I think: but it’s so good. And I stay.

      Reply

  32. I do think it’s strange how a delicious-tasting bakery product has caught on in popularity. I mean they’ve always been tasty and the perfect alternative to slabs of cake but how they have got fashionable, well the mind boggles. That something I noticed coming from England to Canada, in Calgary I’ve found cupcake shops (Crave springs to mind), nothing like that in England to my knowledge.

    Craving for cupcakes….now acting on it!

    Reply

  33. If not loving cup cakes is cool, I don’t ever want to be cool! I need a cup cake now!
    http://www.blessedwest.com

    Reply

  34. Just today I saw this bumper sticker that said “Muffins are just ugly cupcakes.” All I can say is that in my life I have never seen a cupcake or a muffin too ugly to eat :D
    Btw, great post.

    Reply

  35. If cupcakes are uncool, then I am the uncoolest which I’m cool with :) Who doesn’t love a small cake is right. I just wish I didn’t love a big cake too! Thanks for the laughs and the tip…now I gotta go buy some frosting… :)

    Reply

  36. Posted by epv on July 15, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    you’re right! cupcakes are so much easier to share and eat than cake. love the photos. thanks for sharing :)

    Reply

  37. Posted by Bamola on July 15, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Loved your post. I have been craving cupcakes for a couple of days now. Our local spot, Camicakes.com, has divine cupcakes. I even have one of their cupcake as my background right now. This is nuts! That’s how much I want one. Btw, I am not a chocolate fan but your pic makes me want a luscious chocolate one right this instant!

    Reply

  38. One of my favorite consequences for the cupcake revolutions is the word “cupcakery.” Wonderful word.

    Great post. Better late than never.

    Reply

  39. Well gee, now I’m hungry. I have to say I’m a closet chocolate-cupcake-whore. :) Great pics, too!

    Reply

  40. Posted by jterrill on July 15, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    I absolutely LOVE cupcakes! But not just any cupcake. They must be from the best bakery in Houston, Texas… CRAVE CUPCAKS….. cool or not…they are the perfect size cake!!!

    Reply

  41. Fantastic! I love Georgetown Cupcake. Regrettably, I can’t eat chocolate but I have SMELLED them. I have had a lot of their non-chocolate flavors, though. Heavenly.

    Macaroons are the next big thing, huh? That’s good. I love macaroons, too :)

    Reply

  42. Man you make me hungry! Great post on such a simple thing. Isn’t that the best thing in life when you can make the small grander and sweeter to the world~! Ok, I’m getting poetic now…I just thought I might add to these myriads of comments.

    Reply

  43. Am I the first to notice everything you say about cupcakes is also true of donuts? What TV show can we convince to elevate the humble donut to cult favorite?

    Reply

  44. I think a lot of people in Atlanta would a) love that you’re back on the Cupcake Bandwagon and B)disagree that they’re uncool. It’s a total scene in this town…and so far, cupcakes are still all the rage. And I, like you, am very happy for that. Because after all, who the hell needs an entire cake? :)

    Reply

    • Exactly!

      I’m not sure what’s more unsettling, that people put desserts through “Hot/Not” seasons as though they were fashion trends or technological gadgets, or that anyone could be persuaded to believe consuming this sweet thing is cooler than that sweet thing. They’re all sweet treats. You eat what you prefer whenever you prefer.

      Now, if only more patisseries and bakeries would offer gluten and wheat-free products….

      Reply

  45. Ha! My sister and I were totally talking about this the other day…I mentioned I felt there was a need for a really good cupcake place in our ‘hood. She said “No, cupcakes are totally out!”
    I completely agree with what you…cupcakes were trendy and are maybe no longer trendy like they were before. But who the heck cares! Unlike a stacked heel or over-sized pair of sunglasses, cupcakes will always be delicious! Nobody doesn’t love a good cupcake. Just now we have to go back to stuffing them in our faces behind closed doors. lol

    Reply

  46. Cup cakes will be forever cool! How can you hate a miniature cake? Anyone who doesn’t like them is seriously missing out! That’s probably redundant. haha oh well :D Great Post

    Reply

  47. Forget trends, cupcakes are amazing and will always be cool. :D

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  48. This is such a beautiful serenade to cupcakes. I concur.

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  49. cupcakes and muffins are great! :) the last one looks perfectly moist (and very chocolatey).
    we had an overcrowding of doughnut shops sprouting up all over our island in the past couple years, and macarons have become the ‘It’ sweet-gift. ..so it’s nice that cupcakes remain easy to make and most-easily-appreciated :)

    Reply

  50. I love this! Very creative!

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  51. Totally in Love with Cupcakes :) And Yes Macarons are on the way up. For those interested in Australia on our Masterchef programme we just had a Macaron Tower as a challenge for the contestants. It was amazing you can check it out here :)

    http://bit.ly/bOywvK

    Reply

  52. jeebus thats one heck of a decadent chocolate cupcake! :)

    Reply

  53. People will eat any cake in India. Cakes were never a rage in this part of the world. The Cake revolution (If I can use the term) started in India, say around 15 years back. Till that time, cakes need not be a part of a baker’s or a bakery’s repertoire. People avoided cakes as they feared it contained eggs.

    There were a few bakers who would claim their cakes are egg free and a lot of vegetarians would throng to that bakery. But in reality, they would use egg, but somehow concealed its aroma. (I was shocked to see it in one of friend’s bakery) Years later, these bakers, learnt to prepare cakes and other delicious bakery items without the use of egg. ‘Eggless Cakes’ by far is the biggest revolution of cakes in India. Today, my parents dont mind cakes as they know that it can be 100% veg!!!

    Reply

  54. would be realy great to taste that choclate cupcake looks delicious!!!

    Reply

  55. Mmmm…. cupcakes are yummy! I especially love VEGAN cupcakes (when they taste JUST like non-vegan cupcakes)! But are healthy for you, right? ;-)

    With Love and Gratitude,

    The Intentional Sage

    Reply

  56. Posted by Gypsy Heart on July 15, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    My sister and I are HUGE cupcake fans. She is going to New York later in the year and is purposefully losing 2 dress sizes so that she can eat at least one cupcake per day for the 10 days she is there without feeling bad.

    Reply

    • Posted by iowasthinking on July 16, 2010 at 11:13 pm

      THAT is dedication. Tell her to check our Sugar Sweet Sunshine on the Lower East Side! Some of my favorites come from there. (I reviewed them somewhere around here . . . do a simple search if you’re interested.)

      Reply

  57. Thanks. Now, at 9:32 at my house I want to go for a 1/2 hour drive to our local cupcake spot. The photos are great and the writing captures why it shouldn’t matter what’s “it” for desserts. Cupcakes are delicious.

    Reply

  58. Great cupcake.I like it.

    Reply

  59. I’ve always found that cupcakes are too messy to eat; I always try to get some frosting with every bite, but the shape of the cupcake just doesn’t allow for that. I often compromise by just eating the frosting. I’m a reasonable person, after all.

    Reply

  60. Posted by Vodka and Ground Beef on July 16, 2010 at 12:56 am

    Need and want a cupcake now. Really bad.

    Reply

  61. WOW! I like cupcakes!

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  62. Great cupcakes and good idea.

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  63. what is the diffs between cupcakes and muffins?
    Cos I think I started the trend back in 1992 just quietly .. :-p @ Carrie and co..

    Reply

  64. wow, i was just there last week for the first time ever, too! i tried the hazelnut chocolate, which was also amazing :)

    Reply

  65. Loved this post and I’m looking forward to follow your blog from now on!

    / Mr. Freelance (http://mrfreelancesthoughts.wordpress.com)

    Reply

  66. Posted by zabetheli on July 16, 2010 at 5:16 am

    love cupcakes, cute small allows so much creativity whe decorating and they are just conveniently portable and just the right bite size without feeling guilty.

    Reply

  67. The’re simply called cakes or buns in the United Kingdom. Bakers shops make speciality one’s for Easter, Valentines Day, Halloween, and Christmas time.

    Reply

  68. You won’t be alone!! Huge fan, geekiness be damned.

    Reply

  69. … And now I have an intense craving for cupcakes. To the bakery I go!

    Reply

  70. that looks really good

    Reply

  71. Posted by sayitinasong on July 16, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    Love cupcakes, and loved your post. My absolute favorites are ones with cream cheese frosting… yes they are a huge mass of calories… but sometimes you just gotta go where the tastebuds take you…

    Reply

  72. Me want cupcake now!

    Reply

  73. macaroons are the next IT food, but donuts will beat them to it. Not too many Americans know what a macaroon is. We had a macaroon dessert table at our wedding reception.

    Reply

    • french macarons are popping up everywhere in my town. my friend actually has a home bakery business completely dedicated to macarons and cupcakes…sadly, i think the doughnut will have to wait a bit longer before become the next big thing.

      Reply

  74. Cupcakes are one of my all time favorite pastry. And I’m pretty sure it will always be considered one of America’s top favorite pastries.

    Reply

  75. Great idea, thanks for this post!

    Reply

  76. From South Korea: I hate you.

    Reply

  77. This is just great!

    Reply

  78. […] Always home and uncool Chronically uncool Team Uncool fashion Painfully Uncool Studiously Uncool By the Uncool hunter Uncool mom Vote: Cool or Uncool, Lady Gaga at John Lennon’s piano Terminally uncool but worth it […]

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