Brooke is a classically trained chef who has put in time at ChefMod and restaurant WD~50 with Wylie Dufresne (I kinda love him). Leslie is a mixologist/bartender who has plied her trade getting NYC's best and brightest drunk and drunker. They both found themselves unemployed and broke earlier this year and, as they say, "A chef and a mixologist walk into a bar and Prohibition Bakery was born."
I don't drink alcohol, so I invited a tasting pro, Matthew Stevens coeditor of Dessert Professional magazine to assist me. He loves the pairing of alcohol and sweets and has provided tasting notes for CTTC in the past. And with these cupcakes, there's alcohol in the frosting and filling (!) but not necessarily in the cake. As in, there's no macerating the cakes in alcohol, although they might have the flavor of alcohol, such as the beer baked into the pretzels and beer cupcake.
If you like scotch and spirits, and you like cigars, you will love this cupcake. If, like me, you do not like either, you should stay far away. Let the buyer (taster) beware.
Next up, the Irish car bomb. (No hate mail please, I didn't name the cupcake.)
Irish car bomb (Bailey's, whiskey, stout and chocolate).
Matthew thought this was a very unified, well-married cupcake. He said the flavors combined well to form a delicious package that he ate in one quick bite. The he asked for another one. He found it smooth, and I believe he actually said, "It's like an inside-out Ding-Dong, only better." I tasted a teeny-tiny piece (I had learned my lesson with the scotch and cigar one) and I found it to be pleasant with well-defined flavors and mildly alcoholic. The ganache filling was divine.
For the love of bacon:
Bacon, toffee and chocolate.
As a vegetarian I couldn't taste this one, but I was eager to see what Matthew thought. He confessed early on that he doesn't like bacon in sweets. I let him eat his mini and watched his face. I knew it was a success when he asked for the second one. He said, "I would say this is a successful bacon cupcake." Then he looked confused, as if someone had pulled a fast one on him. He went on to say the common pitfalls found in bacon cupcakes weren't present at all. No oiliness, excellent crisped texture. He said he felt the bacon was handled well, almost like a lardon, with all parts coming together to form a perfect taste.I suspect he would have eaten a third one, if we had it.
Next up, we had no idea what flavor it was but we tried it anyway. By process of elimination, we discovered it was the Shiny Apple (moonshine, cheddar, apple).
Since we didn't know what we were tasting we just make notes on what we thought. We both decided it was good. Very good. Light, no real alcoholic taste or aftertaste, and rich but airy. We loved the topping, which to us had a cheese wafer-type taste. We tasted fruit but decided it might be orange. Or a mixed flavor. Once we went back and ID'ed it, it was like, Ohhh, of course it's apple. *sigh*
Next up was my favorite:
The L'Italino: rosemary cake, cranberry filling, roasted almond frosting.
Delicious! Sweet yet savory. The rosemary was right up there with the first bite, then the almond and then the sweet sugary flavors of the buttercream and cranberry. Not only was this a scrumptious cupcake, it was the prettiest of the bunch. The presentation was wonderful. This cupcake was a good choice for me as it had no meat and no alcohol. It's sophisticated and probably not for kids. I could have eaten a half-dozen, easily.
Next in line was the strawberry daiquiri:
Strawberry daiquiri (rum, strawberry and lime).
This cupcake smells so darn good. It was very very sweet (perhaps like a strawberry daiquiri might taste?) and the strawberry taste came through clearly. The rum was more of a mild finish, an aftertaste that lingered pleasantly on the palette. It's not too rich but rich enough. It's like drinking your cocktailed dessert or eating your alcohol. Yummy. Both Mathew and I liked this one.
Last up was the well-deserved best seller, the perfect pretzels and beer:
Pretzels and beer (pale ale, nutella and pretzels).
This was clearly Matthew's favorite cupcake and my second choice. It was delicious and needed no tinkering at all. The beer was baked into the cupcake lending it the flavor without the alcohol bite. I didn't taste the nutella nor did Matthew but we thought this cupcake was perfection and fought over who would get the last bite. (He won.) We thought it was malty, crunchy, salty and sweet with a perfect texture. I challenge you to find someone who wouldn't enjoy this cupcake! The sugar cuts the salt and the salt cuts the sugar and the chocolate and hoppy taste all come together. Brooke and Leslie, this is your killer cupcake.
Gluten-free minis are in development, no vegan or allergy-free stuff planned as of yet.
You can see the whole set of pictures here, all shot by Stacie Joy for CTTC.