Omaha's best cupcake - Omaha.com
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Our winner, Bliss' chocolate cupcake with chocolate butter-creme frosting and toffee pieces.(JEFF BEIERMANN/THE WORLD-HERALD)


FOOD PROWL

Omaha's best cupcake
By Sarah Baker Hansen
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER


VIDEO: Best cupcake in Omaha

* * *

The best cupcake in town is Bliss Old Market Bakery's chocolate cupcake.

There is such a thing as a bad cupcake, in case you were wondering.

It turns out that some of the cupcakes I tried with three tasters for the May Food Prowl just weren't very good.

The Tasters:

Erin Golden, amateur baker and Omaha World-Herald business reporter

Sara Wilson, amateur baker and food blogger at stalkmykitchen.tumblr.com

Patrick McDermott, former owner of Delice Bakery

______________________________________________________________________________________

The Winner:

Bliss Old Market Bakery's chocolate cupcake ------------------------

1031 Jones St.

402-934-7450; blissbakery.com

Though the two components of a cupcake seem simple — just frosting and cake — it turns out they're much more complex. Complex enough, and so easy to mess up, that even a professional and two amateur bakers found only one that stood the test of tasting.

“The frosting at Bliss was perfectly rich,” Sara said. “Not too chocolatey. Not too sweet. The cake was moist. Together, it was just perfect.”

The chocolate cupcake was fantastic, moist and dark with an amazing frosting that was light and deeply fudgy at the same time. It took Sara back in time again, this time to her mom's chocolate sheet cake.

I liked that it wasn't overly sweet. We shared, but I think each of us could have easily polished off a whole chocolate cupcake. Bliss also gave us the cupcakes on real china with real forks, knives and napkins — something we wished we'd had at every shop.

FOOD PROWL:

Food Prowl is a yearlong look at what the city's restaurants have to offer. We'll choose our favorite foods in a dozen categories.

The stories won't be comprehensive — we can't try everything. But they'll include our food writer's opinion, and the opinion of other Omaha food lovers. We'll eat together, and then collectively make the call on what we like best. We invite readers to chime in online and tell us their favorite places, too.

Click here to read past Food Prowls.

-----------------------------------------------

Food Prowls so far

>> January: Reuben
Our Pick: Crescent Moon's Blackstone Reuben

February: Pho
Our Picks: tie between New Gold Mountain and Saigon Restaurant

March: Spaghetti
Our Pick: Papardelle Bolognese at Dante Ristorante Pizzeria

April: Falafel
Our Pick: Falafel sandwich at Amsterdam Falafel and Kabob

May: Cupcake
June: Taco
July: Cheeseburger
August: Fried chicken
September: The Old Fashioned (cocktail)
October: Chicken Tikka Korma
November: Eggs Benedict
December: Ribeye

Bliss' chocolate cupcake has a secret ingredient. See what it is.

________________________

The Other Contenders:

Jones Bros. -------------------------

2121 S. 67th St.

402-884-2253;jonesbroscupcakes.com

We began at what's probably Omaha's best known cupcake shop: Jones Bros.

The restaurant had just come off its first win on the Food Network's “Cupcake Wars,” and the winning trio of cupcakes were in the case. It made sense to try one of them, and we went with the strangest: Pancetta honey crisp.

We also tried the cafe's more traditional vanilla bean and a chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting.

Erin, Pat and Sara all liked the moist chocolate cake.

“It tastes what a chocolate cupcake should taste like,” Erin said.

But everyone agreed it had too much frosting. In fact, the frosting top was the same size as the cupcake itself.

Jones Bros got points for atmosphere: It was the largest, fanciest shop we visited and the cupcakes came prettily presented on a bright red plate with real silverware.

Sweet Stop ----------------------------

156 W. Broadway,

Council Bluffs

712-256-4264; cbsweetstop.com

At Sweet Stop, in downtown Council Bluffs, we found cupcakes with loads of whipped frosting dyed unappetizing hues of tangerine, acid green and shocking pink. Two of the three — the chocolate with chocolate filling and frosting and the vanilla with bright green frosting — were ice cold. A third, margarita-flavored cupcake had a hint of lime flavor but was dry.

Pat said the cakes shouldn't have been served straight out of the fridge. They need to sit at room temperature for several hours.

“I'd rather have a tub of frosting and a boxed cake than this,” he said.

On all three cupcakes, the frosting detached from the cake below in one sugary blob as soon as we started to eat. Not exactly appetizing.

And worst of all, though the shop has a handful of tables, they didn't have plates and the only utensils were plastic spoons. The girl at the counter had to bring a giant bread knife from the back for us to cut the cakes.

Cupcake Island ---------------------------------------------------------

1314 S. 119th St.

402-334-6800; cupcakeisland.com

At Cupcake Island, we again found too-sweet sweets.

Our usual flavors weren't available, so we mixed it up a bit — a vanilla with chocolate frosting, a chocolate with white frosting and sprinkles, and a coconut. We got the three cupcakes on napkins, and strangely, the shop stuck our plastic forks inside the tops of each.

The coconut cupcake just had the shavings on top of the frosting, not inside the cake like we expected, and it was straight out of a refrigerator. The too-sweet vanilla cupcake with gritty chocolate frosting wasn't a favorite, either.

“The frosting is like the filling inside Keebler Elf cookies,” Erin said, and she was spot on.

The chocolate, overly sweet, was forgettable.

“Texturally, it's good,” Sara said. “But it doesn't have any depth to it. The only thing that makes it chocolate is that it's brown.”

Cuppycakes ---------------------------------------------------------

Couture Cupcakes

20902 Cumberland Drive, Elkhorn

402-618-7874; www.cuppycakes.net

Our biggest surprise came at the next stop, Cuppycakes Couture Cupcakes, curiously found inside a bowling alley in Elkhorn.

The choco-taco cupcake, our favorite at the shop, had a bit of caramel hidden inside the center of the chocolate base, and the light, not-too-sweet whipped cream frosting had bits of crushed waffle cone on top.

Sara loved the whipped cream frosting, which also was on the cookie dough cupcake we tried. It was something we hadn't seen at the other places. We would never have guessed it was anything but homemade.

“The choco-taco could have been really overly sweet and too much,” Erin said. “But it had a really nice balance.”

Sara liked it too, though she's generally not a big fan of filled cupcakes.

The cookie dough cupcake didn't have enough cookie dough inside for us — one side had a big blob of the cookie dough filling but the other side was just vanilla cake.

Sweet Magnolias ---------------------------------------------------------

813 N. 40th St.

402-934-6427

Sweet Magnolias had two flavors when we visited, so we tried both — vanilla with vanilla frosting and sparkly sugar on top and a German chocolate.

My quest for the best vanilla cupcake ended there. The one at Sweet Magnolias is fantastic: moist, deeply flavored with vanilla, not too sweet. I'd have eaten more than my quarter if given the choice.

But the whole group was blown away by the German chocolate cake: Dense and rich with a just-gooey-enough coconut topping, it was our favorite of the specialty flavors we tried.

As we finished our last bites, we had a conundrum: Was the fudgy-topped chocolate cake at Bliss better than the two we'd just finished at Sweet Magnolias?

For Sara and Pat, yes.

For Erin and I, yes, with caveats.

Erin loved what she ate at Sweet Magnolias, and she said Cuppycakes, especially the choco-taco, was a pleasant surprise.

I remain mesmerized by the sparkly vanilla cupcake I ate at Sweet Magnolias, and though I did agree that the chocolate cupcake at Bliss was really the best, I had a hard time not casting my vote for Sweet Magnolia's vanilla.

Click here to read the print version of this story.

Video: Best cupcake in Omaha

Contact the writer: Sarah Baker Hansen

sarah.bakerhansen@owh.com    |   402-444-1069    |  

Sarah writes restaurant reviews and food stories for the World-Herald.

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