this post is all about the best cupcakes i’ve had so far in london. i took kellin to visit the adorable and wonderful broadway market during her last hour in london before returning to italy. stuffed from our borough market visit, we brokenheartedly turned down wild mushroom risotto, ghanaian food, and roast hog with crackling sandwiches. but we decided to treat ourselves to ONE mini cupcake because they were so ridiculously cute, and obviously brownie mountains and fresh strawberries with jersey cream were not quite enough dessert for the morning.
so we stopped at the happy stall of violet cakes and bought the enticing rhubarb and rosewater mini cupcake, a pale pink and perfectly formed little turkish dome of dessert. it was, quite honestly, ethereally delicious. so light and smooth yet so intensely flavored, like having the essence of rose petals in your mouth. such a tiny bite yet such a concentrated burst of taste! we promptly returned and bought another.
salted caramel this time. buttery, sweet, reminscent of birthday cake but with just a tiny hint of saltiness to give it a grownup edge. so good that we actually stopped walking, turned around and returned for a third. we ended with elderflower, which i’d only had in cocktails until then (side note: apparently you can go elderflower foraging in london, as evidenced by the locally grown cocktail served at sunday’s rambling restaurant. more on that coming soon!). lightly perfumed, vaguely herbal, fresh-tasting and summery. truly incredible.
chatting with the cupcake sellers a bit, we discovered that the cupcake base is all the same – a light vanilla sponge cake – and the variations come from the perfectly symmetrical florettes of buttercream frosting lovingly squidged on top. apparently the colors and flavors of the frosting are all natural; according to their sign, they use ‘pure fruit purees, flower essences, vanilla pods, Valrhona chocolate, dark caramel, or freshly brewed espresso’ to obtain those beautiful shades and unbelievable flavors. so gloriously delicious and also organic and all-natural. my mind is boggled that the intense purple hue of that candied violet cupcake isn’t made with food coloring!
trying to find out the genius behind these cupcakes, i’m stymied yet intrigued by the mysterious nature of violet’s website. all you see is a massive gorgeous photo of cupcakes and no information. but google says that the company was started by claire ptak, a former pastry chef at chez panisse. this explains both the all-natural-organic thing as well as the oh-my-god-you’re-amazing thing. chez panisse appears to have that effect on people.
i’m going to go out on a limb and say that i think i’ve just discovered the best cupcakes in london. and i haven’t even tried that many cupcakes in london. but i’ve ravaged the most famous and highly lauded new york cupcake shops like a japanese movie monster takes down tokyo – magnolia, sugar sweet sunshine, billy’s, and babycakes, to name a few – and based on these three incredible bites, violet just might be better. but you know what – it’s much too soon to say. clearly this is just a hypothesis that can only be verified with a great deal of dedicated and thorough research. violet cakes, i’ll see you next saturday to begin my study…