Saturday, April 4, 2015

ManCakes (and Man Crates)

ManCakes Bakery on Urbanspoon It's Fan Expo weekend and ManCakes doesn't have special cupcakes for the Fan Expo. But they have them for Easter. Is something wrong here? Has Hello Kitty done some sort of corporate takeover on this cupcakery?

It's a small store, with your choice of low tables in a lounge-like space, or bar seat and a narrow table at the windows. If neither appeals, get ready to have them to go and maybe try finding space around or in the Vancouver Public Library.

Cupcakes are standard sized and $3.75 each! At that price, to be honest I'm looking for more than interesting. I'm looking for perfect. What ManCakes offers is definitely interesting.

Each cupcake has one of their standard "bases", like chocolate or spice. On top and injected inside is a complex cream, and then any sprinkles go on top. As cupcakes go, the bases are good, though maybe a bit too fragile, especially after the injection of cream into them. There is a chance that just tearing off the paper cup will cause it to crumble, which was the case with our Buffalo Wing cupcake. This is obviously irritating, but if the cause is giving you more tasty cream, it's hard to fault.

Buffalo Wing - Spice base filled with tangy blue cheese cheesecake mousse, topped with a hot sauce buttercream and crispy chicken crumble. Frank's Hot Sauce drizzled on top is optional.
  • My first try and maybe I put too much hope on this being interesting. I was totally not getting any strong flavours at all, and when it's advertised as having blue cheese, hot sauce, and crispy chicken, I expected some of those flavours to really come through. Nope.
Chocolate Red Wine - Chocolate base filled with mascarpone mousse, topped with port cherry red wine buttercream, a dark chocolate disk and a red wine gelée.
  • Best of the lot that I tried. Clear wine flavour but not overdone.
  • Is this for GQ metrosexual gays? The flavour combo here has an elegance suitable for classy peeps of any gender.
  • Probably one of the safest choices in the store.
King Kong - Chocolate base filled with a banana cream, topped with an espresso marshmallow and chocolate shavings.
  • The marshmallow plopped on top was gross. To begin with, it's not a cream and the shape looks more like something that fell out of King Kong. Then there's the clammy texture.
    • They get points for trying marshmallow on a cupcake, though.
  • Flavour wise you do get some banana, but flavours are weak here.
Overall, you definitely get something interesting and you get something to talk about if you bring in a platter of mixed ManCakes to a potluck. For that reason alone it's definitely worth a look. For me, the interestingness isn't matched by flavour unless you pick the right ones (like Chocolate Red Wine). It's so hit-and-miss that I recommend you get one of their mini-cupcake sampler packs for a wide sampling instead of going for the standard cupcakes, unless you already know what you are doing.

As for the "manliness" of ManCakes, the branding is already diluted by some girly looking Cupakes such as Pink Peppercorn (Vanilla base filled with a blast of pink grapefruit, topped with vanilla buttercream, a diamond of short bread, and ground pink peppercorn). This means if you are looking for interesting cupcakes, ignore the name and just walk in and have a look. There'll be something for everyone.
Man Crates does a much better job of "manly branding" with such products as the Zombie Apocalypse Crate and the New Dad Tactical Bag

For me, the worst aspect of ManCakes is the price. They get points for interestingness, but price is a bit high to really compete with the options. Cartems Donuterie gives you a bigger product that is easier to eat, equally interesting, perhaps more tasty (but we are comparing cupcakes to donuts here, obviously) -- and cheaper at $3.

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