The Seattle Cupcake Showdown

I’ve been living in Seattle for the better part of a year now. During this time, I’ve frequented quite a few food establishments, especially cupcake bakeries. Here in Seattle, there are two major cupcake bakeries: Cupcake Royale & Trophy Cupcakes. There has been countless debates from both camps about which is better.  There is no clear winner; but I figure I’d still give my two cents on the topic anyway.  On that note, let the Seattle Cupcake Showdown begin.

First, a few caveats I should mention.

  • For starters, I am in no way a foodie or any sort of professional food critic.  Quite frankly, I have a pretty simplistic palette.  That said, I will try my best to explain my thoughts in a relatively comprehensive manner.  Just don’t expect a highfalutin, expert critique. Save that nonsense for the molecular gastronomists.
  • Second, I’ve begun frequenting Trophy for only the past few (3-4) months; unlike, Cupcake Royale which is in my own neighborhood. So I may have a slightly biased opinion because of that.
  • And third, I’m limiting this to only two basic cupcakes: white cake & chocolate cake.

That said, don’t let this amateur write-up sway you from visiting either place as they have a lot to offer.  Both have a wide variety of other cupcakes you need to try and will definitely enjoy.  And with that…

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Cupcake Royale

This is my default cupcake shop due to how close it is.  The Cap Hill location is fairly spacious with a subtle hipster-esque vibe.  But surprisingly enough, you’ll find a wide variety of demographics here.  It’s quite interesting to see really.  In any case, on to the cupcakes.

The cupcakes are a bit oversized for my appetite.  Generally, I only eat half and save the other for later.  Or I get the mini-cucpcakes (pictured below) which suit me perfectly.  Oh, be sure to visit a few hours before closing time for cupcake happy hour.  You can buy six cup cakes for the price of three (roughly about $9).  That’s practically a steal.   But enough free advertising, here’s the breakdown.

Cupcake Royale Minis

White Cake:  The white cake is really solid and firm all the way through.  It has the perfect texture and sweetness making it an ultimate treat.  The majority of cupcakes I get usually have a white cake base.  The frosting, however, is an explosive sugar overload.  Truth be told, I take off a bit of frosting due to its overwhelming sweetness.  Otherwise, I feel like a cavity deposit is being made with each bite I take.  While we’re on the topic of frosting, the plain vanilla frosting is fine (albeit too sweet).  But there’s something a bit….off with the chocolate frosting.  It has a somewhat ‘earthy’ taste that doesn’t quite agree with me.  I’m assuming this has to do with the all-natural ingredients used.  That said, I still buy cupcakes with chocolate frosting. So it’s no deal breaker by any means, just something worth mentioning.

Chocolate Cake:  Now something just isn’t jiving with me on the chocolate cake front.  The taste, texture, firmness, just everything about it reminds me of the white cake.  There4’s no other way to illustrate my issue. They’re fine, just not my first choice. Again, I think it may have to do with the natural ingredients. But again, I still buy them so it’s not a deal breaker.

Overall Score: 9 out of 10 / Outstanding! This place is just top notch hands down.  I love this place.  Throwing in a few bonus points for their heavy community involvement as well.  There always seems to be something going on whenever I drop in. Though, I will dock a point due to the hyperglycemic sugar frosting content, but that’s just my own little nag.  I know many other people who don’t seem to mind at all.  Other personal favorites include the Lemon Drop, the Tiramisu, and the Gay (a rainbow themed cupcake).  I give this place my blessing. spac

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Trophy Cupcakes

As I mentioned earlier, my experience with Trophy is still relatively new.  But I believe I’ve been there enough to form a fairly, solid conclusion.  A quant little shop, it has a very surreal Stepford Wives vibe going on.  As for the cupcakes…

Vanilla Vanilla

White Cake:  The first cupcake I had was the vanilla vanilla (white cupcake with vanilla frosting).  Not the most flavorful experience.  Overly moist, spongy (almost doughy really), and disappointedly bland. I didn’t want to be too dismissive, so I marked it off as a fluke. So I tried another, the vanilla chocolate (white cupcake with chocolate frosting).  Slightly better, but not by much. On the whole, I find the white cake too moist and slightly bland tasting.  On the plus side, they do hit the mark with an appropriate level of frosting.  Not too sweet or dull, but  just right.  Some types of frosting are a bit buttery; but even then, it doesn’t have that waxy sensation like most standard butter cream frosting.

Dr Seuss' Lorax Cupcake (Vanilla Chocolate)

Chocolate Cake:  This is where Trophy shines.  I generally prefer white cake over chocolate, not this time.  Just like Cupcake Royale’s white cake, Trophy’s chocolate cake has the perfect balance of moistness, texture, and quite frankly tastes really damn good.  Combine that with their delectable frosting and it becomes one perfect cupcake, period.

Overall Score: 7 out of 10 / Decent! I actually like this place, even if atmosphere reminds me of a post modern ‘Donna Reed’.  The prim and proper decor almost feel stifling and a bit uncomfortable.  And docking a few points for the shortcoming with the vanilla cake.  Still a respectable score.  And I’m sure my impression will change with more visits.  Trophy will still maintain my customership, so not all is lost.

And the winner is ….

Cupcake Royale

Even though my time with Trophy is still relatively unseasoned; I believe I’ve had enough to form a fairly, solid conclusion.  But I gotta give the edge to Cupcake Royale for the the following reason: heavy community involvement.  If there is any kind of community event or social movement occurring (especially on the GLBT front), Cupcake Royale will most likely be on board as one of the sponsors.   Not to mention, over half of their ingredients are locally sourced.  How cool is that?  Make no mistake, both are great establishments with much, much more to offer than what I mentioned.  Regardless of what camp you fall in, you’d be a fool not to at least visit both occasionally and enjoy the ride.

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