Our road trip out west (as far as Wyoming) is coming to an end. Ian and I are blazing our way back east to Chicago. This country ain’t big enough for the two of us. But really, it is and we are exhausted. We were gone for 7 days and we camped practically the whole time. It’s time for a long shower, and maybe some “welcome home” cupcakes. One cupcake per letter.
I’d add a cupcake with an “!” to make it an even dozen.
After getting cupcakes in Omaha, NE at Cupcake Island, I made it my mission to find other cupcakeries along our route. I kept my ear open to the scuttlebutt and we found our way to two more cupcakeries—Lovely Confections in Denver, CO and Sweet Peaks in Estes Park, CO. We were headed to these areas anyway so it was like killing two birds with one stone. How did this phrase originate? Did people use to kill birds with stones?
Lovely Confections in Denver is run by a lovely woman, Porche. Since 2008, her mission has been to maximize flavor and minimize carbon footprint by using local, organic ingredients. A good mission, indeed! Baking in Denver, she has to take into account the high altitude. Most of us can blissfully ignore the instructions on the Betty Crocker box for baking at a certain altitude. I don’t always have time to bake from scratch. On our way to visit our friend Samantha and her daughter Maya, we swung by to pick up some organic, high-altitude cupcakes. Once again, we arrived 10 minutes prior to closing and had a limited selection.
Porche was very friendly and greeted us immediately. The corner of Lovely Confections is the bakery section and the rest is open with some seating. It was bright and inviting. From the limited selection, we requested the Bees Knees and the Strawberries and Cream cupcakes.
The Bees Knees cupcake consisted of a lavender cake with a honey lemon buttercream, topped with crystal sprinkles. The description intrigued me. I was hesitant about lavender flavored cake but I’m willing to give anything a try. The flavor was subtle and floral. The problem was that the cake was sticking to the wrapper. Ian and I ended up using forks to try and scrape it off in pieces. However, the honey lemon buttercream icing was fantastic. The honey and lemon flavors complemented the lavender cake and the consistency of the frosting was smooth. Fine as cream gravy. Similarly, the Strawberries and Cream cupcake had a cake that would not come off the wrapper. However, the frosting was again amazing. It was like a thick strawberry milkshake, heavy on the strawberries.
Lovely Confections has a great mission and is obviously successful since they’ve been making cupcakes since 2008 and were practically out of cupcakes for the day. Though the flavors caught my attention, the crumbly cake left me wanting. However, the frosting was worth the trip.
After camping in Rocky Mountain National Park, we drove through Estes Park on the way out of town. We just happened to stop at a Starbuck’s that had a bakery right next store, Sweet Peaks Bakery. Oh, that’s rich! We wandered in and gawked at the selection. They specialize in ”Sweet Treats” including specialty cupcakes, wedding and seasonal cupcakes, gourmet cupcakes, Plain Jane cupcakes, breakfast cupcakes, as well as cakes, pies cookies and more. Um, did I hear cupcakes somewhere in there? The bears didn’t make any cupcakes up in the mountains so I was ready to get my sweets on at Sweet Peaks.
We chose their Lemon Poppyseed and Super Chunk Monk cupcakes. In a hurry, we paid for them and hit the road. Not too long after, I said, “‘Scuse me, while I whip these out.”
The Lemon Poppyseed was chock full of poppyseeds. Enough to make a drug test positive. The cake reminded me of a lemon poppyseed muffin, but unlike a muffin, it was loaded with a tangy lemon filling. And, lots of it. It was then frosted with a thick vanilla buttercream frosting. My only complaint is that the cake was very dry. We got there in the morning, so the cupcakes were probably fresh.
The Super Chonk Monk consisted of a rich chocolate cake frosted with a chocolate buttercream frosting, topped with dried banana pieces, and drizzled with chocolate and caramel. The cake was soft and the banana pieces chewy. The textures and flavors were decadent, but the cake was still too dry for my taste.
Sweet Peaks Bakery is in a prime location with an appropriate name. Their cupcakes had plenty o’ flavor but not enough moisture. I wonder if the altitude could be to blame. Add some moisture and I’d give this place a 4 or 4.5. Plus, they have elegant looking cupcake wrappers and elegant (ahem, crass) is my middle name. Ha!