Molly’s Cupcakes

I love cupcakes. There, I said it. If you’ve been reading this blog for any period of time, you probably know that already, but I had to put it out there again.

Knowing I love cupcakes, someone once gave me a gift card for Molly’s Cupcakes that she couldn’t use. (She’s gluten-free and Molly’s offers nothing edible for her.)

molly's cupcakesLocated in the West Village down on Bleecker Street (by Carmine and Sixth Avenue), Molly’s Cupcakes brightens up the block with its bright yellow exterior and delicate sign with “Molly’s Cupcakes” emblazoned upon it. When you peer inside, you’ll notice a banquet up against the right wall with a number of tables and grade-school chairs in front of it. What will steal your attention are the swings, right smack in front of a coffee bar. I wasn’t so sure about the swings–can I really take a cupcake place seriously if it has swings indoors?–but the last time I went to Molly’s, I saw a number of people enjoying their cupcakes and coffees while merrily seated upon them. Swings work.

More important than the swings are Molly’s eponymous cupcakes. They’re incredible. Priced at a whopping $3.75 per serving, the cupcakes are dressed to impress. As My Dining Partner contended, the cupcakes involve a great deal of care and preparation, more so than those of Magnolia or Sugar Sweet Sunshine, making their high price point more palatable. Why so much care and preparation, you ask? If you get up close to the display case, you’ll notice an array of flavors, first of all. Molly’s is not about your standard vanilla/chocolate permutations. No, Molly’s is all about variety. Kahlua, Nutella, Peach, Red Velvet, and Cake Batter  are just a handful of the flavors you’ll find. And they’re beautiful. Hand-frosted and -decorated, Molly’s cupcakes are each filled with a corresponding substance (such as the frosting that’s on top of the cake) that delights the eater once he or she gets to the center of the cake. I know I was surprised the first time I bit into one, and even on my most recent visit, when I had forgotten about the prospect of filling, I found myself overwhelmed by the stuff in the middle.

kahlua and cake batter

kahlua and cake batter

So, how do they taste? In a word, delicious. Recently, we tried the Kahlua cupcake and the Cake Batter cupcake. The Kahlua cupcake is chocolate with Kahlua flavoring and a light chocolate-Kahlua-y frosting. In the center, the liquid filling tasted of Kahlua–a dream for any drinker. The Cake Batter cupcake was too big to finish (but I did anyway), and tasted of Funfetti with a rich buttercream frosting. Cake batter–that must have been injected post-oven–filled the middle and seeped out of the bottom of the cake. The real winner at Molly’s is the Peach cupcake. It’s a vanilla-peach cake topped with a white frosting and a wedge of peach perched on top. The peach was sweet and the frosting was creamy. It was fantastic.

If you’re tired of Magnolia’s hum-drum sugary offerings, you’ll want to try Molly’s. Mix up your cupcake consumption a bit with a giant, expensive, fun-filled (literally) cupcake from a cupcake shop that will steal your heart.

Molly’s Cupcakes

228 Bleecker Street (by Sixth Avenue)

West Village, New York

Take the A/C/E/F/M/B/D to West Fourth Street and walk south on Sixth Avenue.

Magnolia Bakery::City wide

MAGNOLIA BAKERY

I know, I know. The cupcake revolution has passed. It’s all about doughnuts. Momofuku soft-serve. Dessert Trucks.

I get it.

If that’s true, why must I step around snaking queues of eager patrons outside of every Magnolia location?

Because the cupcake is still on–whether you like it or not.

Magnolia, the quintessential cupcake purveyor of the city, has had its chance to cultivate a new post-Sex and the City Manhattanite clientele. Instead, they’ve chosen to cater to tourists without discerning palates, who are, more likely than not, cupcake shop virgins. The novelty of it all.

Well, Magnolia is spreading its wings and landing in Grand Central’s Feeding Area. Their new location will overtake the Little Pie Company (overpriced and underwhelming), a few steps from the Two Boots counter. An ideal audience.

That doesn’t mean I’ll go there … even though I love that Two Boots counter.

It’s a Love Story

Goody Bathtub and I visited the original Magnolia on Bleecker Street. It was nearly empty, eerie. The serve-yourself style at Magnolia works well on quiet days, even though I sometimes catch customers groping for chocolate frosted vanilla cakes with their bare fingers. Shudder.

magnoliacupcakeHaving tried all of their cakes, I selected what I consider to be their ultimate creation: the vanilla-vanilla ($2.50 each). Ordinarily, a boring choice, but Magnolia has found their balance in this cupcake. The chocolate frosting boasts a sweetness that pains my face to swallow–too much confectioners sugar? And their chocolate cake tastes dry and stale.

In contrast, the vanilla cake wasn’t too sweet. It didn’t steal from the frosting’s perfection, but finely complemented it. At Magnolia, one cupcake is more than enough.

Also, I like the decorative (and, obviously, edible) sprinkles.

Another Menu to Burn

Goody Bathtub ordered the legendary Banana Pudding ($4.50 for small, $5.50 for large). It’s not what your grandmother makes. Think of the thickest, creamiest pudding parfait you’ve ever had. Add whipped cream, Nilla wafers, and freshly sliced bananas. Sounds good, right?

magnoliabananapudIt is …. but because Magnolia makes vats of the stuff well in advance the bananas change and infuse their sugary ripeness further into the pudding, thus–in my mind, at least–corrupting the velvety pudding mixture. It’s best when fresh. (Try making it here.)

Please take this warning: Do not, under any circumstance, visit the Magnolia in Rockefeller Center. Madness^25. They have three ordering areas: Beverages, Non-cupcake confections, Cupcakes. The space can’t be bigger than my living room and most people are so thrilled to finally experience Magnolia that they’re willing to trample over innocents such as myself.

So they’ve gotten in the line for beverages but want a dozen cupcakes? Why not storm forward and push patient patrons up against the ineffective (and harsh) glass partition at the cupcake area!

Tied Together With (or Without) a Smile

Magnolia’s Magnolia. No denying that. But they’re not the best in the city. Sugar Sweet Sunshine is number one in my book, but there’s cupcake shops I haven’t tried. If you know of any, please tell me. I’m dying to try something new.

You live in the city? Yeah, take your out-of-towners to Magnolia. “This is the one from Sex and the City,” they’ll giggle as they step up to the line on 11th Street. It’s worth $2.50, for sure. I’ll give it that much.

Magnolia Bakery
various locations