In recent years, locally there has been an influx of home bakers who have taken the step into turning their hobby into something more lucrative. With the help of technology, it has not been difficult for them to get a home-based cupcake business off the ground. People can now sell cakes, cupcakes, and a slew of other baked goods online. I think that’s pretty cool.
A week ago I got an e-mail from one such home baker named Espie of Sweet Maria. Espie reminds me of myself somewhat because like me she started baking as a hobby and eventually fell in love with it. But while I enjoy making yeast breads the most, Espie’s favorite thing to create is cupcakes, although of course that isn’t the only thing she knows how to make. After much encouragement from her friends and family, Espie got the push she needed to take her love for baking to the next level. Now she runs an online pastry shop based in San Juan which she soon hopes to turn into an actual shop! I’m very excited for that!
Anyway, as the story goes, Espie sent over a box of assorted flavours and asked for my feedback. I decided to ask my brother to review the cupcakes with me because I trust his tastebuds.
I think the biggest challenge in running a cupcake business is figuring out the flavours– finding the right combinations, as well as finding the right balance between the cake and the frosting.
Looking at the selection Espie has given me, it looks like she’s got the combinations down pat. The cupcakes are also very elegant and straightforward; not at all super flashy, and that’s the way I like them to be honest. Opening the box, I was overcome by my usual moment of weakness for cuteness, which every well-decorated cupcake is. They always look too good to eat!
Alas it was time to bite into these pretties to test for flavor.
A very classic flavour combo, this is the one we tried first. Eaten together, the sweet frosting has a tendency to overpower the chocolate cake. I find that though I liked the texture of the cake, I felt it was a bit short on chocolate flavour. We love chocolate over here so we might just be nit-picky, but we feel that the deepness of it was not quite there yet. However it was good enough for a quick cupcake fix.
These cupcakes were pretty but the cupcake bases were a bit overbaked and browned, but they weren’t dry at all. These were my Mother’s favourites as they were very pleasant to eat, especially that tiny bit of filling in the center of the cupcakes!
Basically the opposite version of the cupcakes above, these cupcakes had the moistest texture among the chocolate cupcakes in this box. There’s definitely a fudge surprise in the center of these too, but the cupcakes themselves were reminiscent of chocolate fudge. I think that’s the best part about them. I recommend this be eaten with a fork! Though this was yummy, I still feel like this was one of the sweetest cupcakes in the bunch, so I was more than glad to share this.
And now for my favourites!
So much has been said about red velvet and yet I fail to appreciate the novelty in these bright red food coloring riddled cakes. That’s why when I sliced into these cupcakes, I was pleasantly surprised by how much the lovely chocolate colour of the cupcakes were maintained in these cupcakes. Espie did not turn this into a glaring red monster, and instead it looks like the red velvet was swirled into a decidedly chocolate cupcake. It made for a very pretty cupcake indeed! As with her other cupcakes, these are not super moist, but the crumb is tender and fluffy. The chocolate flavor isn’t super deep but just right. My second favourite cupcake in this set, it was delicious with the punchy cream cheese frosting. So so good!
These were wonderful! I loved how the vanilla cupcakes complemented the bits of Oreo inside the cake. It tastes like a “lightened” version of Oreos, or maybe an Oreo cookie that has thinner chocolate cookies and a thicker vanilla filling. My only qualm was how messy it was to eat, because the crushed Oreo crust kept showering down.
This is my absolute favourite in the bunch. It’s literally like an Oreo cookie from top to bottom, with crushed Oreo cookies as a crust at the bottom. The cakes themselves taste like Oreos, and the frosting tastes like the white Oreo filling but with more dimensions in flavour. Even though it was a tad dry, my Dad and I both still loved it a lot. These would be perfect with a cake base that is more moist, but the taste is just spot on! I still recommend it.
All in all I enjoyed these cupcakes a great deal! Despite some minor issues with texture and sweetness of some of the cupcakes, the consensus is that they’re definitely delicious. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend these, especially to my friends living in the San Juan area. If you’re interested in trying these cupcakes out, contact Espie using the number below. Or visit the Sweet Maria booth in the Tavola Bazaar at the ABS-CBN compound on September 23-27, and September 30 to October 4.
77 Rivera St., 1500 San Juan, Philippines
Check out the Sweet Maria Facebook page for prices lists, flavor selections, and any ordering concerns. Enjoy!