by Tanna Chong
upcakes are not merely pick-me-ups anymore. With a popularity boost in the market, dessert lovers can now indulge in the smell and taste of the sweet delights and at the same time enjoy the memories and characters combined with them. Numerous possibilities are hidden inside the tiny cupcake which is originated from the United States. Flavours vary from traditional ones like chocolate, to innovative ones like red velvet. Also, the decorations can go as far as your imagination. There can be butter cream roses or even your faces.
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Complete Deelite, a shop selling specialty cupcakes in Lan Kwai Fong since 2004, provides a photo printing service for customers. Cupcakes can be personalised. “It is extremely popular because people are interested in seeing their faces or company’s logo on the cakes,” the shop owner Jacinta Yu said. Yu said personalised cupcakes are popular in the United States. “People eat it as a symbol of memory and celebration. People enjoy cupcakes on various occasions like weddings, birthdays and farewell parties,” Yu added. Galise Hung, a housewife buying the shop’s cupcakes for the first time, said her daughter loves them and asked her to order cupcakes instead of a cake for celebrating her sixth birthday. While the shop provides photo printing service to attract customers, Bar of Soup, a new shop in Soho, combines innovative cupcakes with soup to form a concept café. David Yit, the owner of Bar of Soup, said the shop wants to provide comfort food for customers to enjoy. Therefore, they merged cupcakes with soup, which suits the concept most. The price of the cupcakes ranges from HK$17 to HK$35 each, which is more expensive than cakes of similar size in other bakeries. However, more people are willing to pay for it.
Cupcakes with rose frosting (left) and tulip frosting (right) on top.
The café initially catered to foreigners because the concept is westernised, but now it has grown into a broader market. Even local students go to buy cupcakes after school. Bar of Soup’s customers are attracted by the beautiful floral cupcakes in the café. These cupcakes have colourful and threedimensional flowers made of frosting on the top. “All the floral decorations like roses, lavenders are handmade. They can be combined into a bundle of flowers,” Yit said. The cupcake bundle is very popular on the Valentine’s Day. The shop is trying new flavours like putting dried flowers or floral essence into the cupcakes to make a floral series. Ms Lui, an administrative assistant, said cupcakes are nicelooking and taste good. “Most cupcakes vary in frosting. Maybe shops can add different fillings to them too,” she added. Petits by Deschamps, a fivemonth-old cupcake shop at Elements in west Kowloon, sells cupcakes with fillings different from those found in other shops. They include fruit jam, cream and cheese. There are 22 different flavours, including cinnamon apple, white peach, bloody orange and mango cheese. The dark chocolate truffle flavour is popular. Dark chocolate
filling is embedded into the spongy sweet muffle base. “I like chocolate. The cupcake allows me to enjoy two different tastes of chocolate. The bitter dark chocolate fillings and the sweeter spongy chocolate crust give me a special feeling. It is yummy,” Joey Wong Cho-yee, a university student said. Carol Lau Ka-yan, the account manager of the shop, said the Sea Salt Chestnut flavour is also popular. “As sea salt is added as filling inside the cupcakes, there is a salty taste together with the sweet taste of the spongy cake. This makes the flavour so special.”
L ifestyle While selling the American flavours like cookies and cream, blueberry and dark berry, the shop also provides innovative exotic flavours to attract customers. Thai Tea Burger flavour originates from Thai tea, Kaya flavour from the Kaya jam in Singapore, and green tea flavour is from Japan. The innovative flavours are popular. The shop sells 500 to 600 cupcakes per day on weekdays. Sales volume doubles at weekends. The cupcakes are commonly bought as tea-time desserts or snacks for watching films. While many shops aim at variation of flavours and designs, Sift, a high-end shop in Soho, emphasises authenticity and natural ingredients. “We do not use artificial ingredients. Even the pink frosting of the strawberry cupcakes comes solely from the strawberry puree,”
shop owner Jennifer Cheung said. They do not use artificially coloured butter cream or sprinkles. Sift changes their flavour combinations as seasons change. There was a Valentine’s edition white chocolate cupcake, which turned out to be very popular. “The most traditional flavour in the United States, red velvet, is also well-liked,” she said. Red velvet is a red-coloured chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting. The colour comes from natural food colouring. Chantal Wong, a customer who visits every couple of months, said she liked the natural ingredients and authentic taste. “I prefer simple flavours without so much colouring. I will not try all the new flavours because I think some of them may not be good.” Health-conscious customers are concerned with the flavour of the
cupcakes, and also the ingredients and the content of sugar and oil. Mr Wong, a businessman, said that although cupcakes are new and the designs are very attractive, but he will not eat them too frequently because of the presence of fatty ingredients like butter and sugar. Joyce Kwan, a registered dietician of Tetra Nutritional Consultation Center, said cupcakes contain too much sugar, which is equivalent to that of a bowl of rice. The excess sugar mainly comes from the frosting and butter cream decoration. “Cupcakes also contain calories which are not desirable for our health. We often consider them as junk food as they cannot provide any useful nutrients,” she added. Still, she said cupcakes can be catered as an occasional indulgence. “Occasional means at most once per two weeks,” the dietician said. TANNA CHONG TANNA CHONG
38 (from left to right) Cupcakes in red velvet, strawberry and chocolate flavours.