Cupcake News

Now that CoCo's in Shadyside and Dozen in Squirrel Hill are both open, how do their cupcakes compare? I made a cupcake run just before Christmas, but neither store had ramped up for retail, so I missed out. One correspondent, however, recently visited both stores and sent me this review:
"Coco's chocolate cupcake won hands down. Both cupcakes had exceptionally good frosting, but the cake of the Dozen's cupcake was quite dry and simply unacceptable for a $2.50 cupcake. By contrast, the cake portion of the Coco's cupcake was moist and flavorful. Coco's also has a larger number of tables and chairs in a more spacious and inviting eat-in area."

Is CoCo's the best in (cup)cake? Are there other local upstarts vying for the crown? Traditional or long-time cupcake suppliers whose taste can't be beat?

Fear not; commenting will not brand you as a member of the Cupcake Class.


20 Responses to "Cupcake News"

Bram Reichbaum said... 1/17/2007 11:03 AM

They're called donuts. DONUTS!!! Look into them.

I can't see these stores thriving in the Pittsburgh mileau.

Kim said... 1/17/2007 12:01 PM

I haven't tried Coco's yet but I can comment on Dozen. The mint meltaway was heavenly and worth the steep $3. The vanilla I had tasted like it had been made the day before and was disappointing.

I will try Coco's before heading to New York in Feb. I want to see how they both stack up against Magnolia.

shawn said... 1/17/2007 3:52 PM

having sampled the fare of both establishments, i can personally say that i much prefer dozen. the cupcakes themselves are excellent, but i also admire their dedication to brand identity and marketing. it's wonderful seeing something like that pop up in pittsburgh.

but i do agree, an upscale doughnut shop would possibly do better in the pitt.

Beth said... 1/17/2007 4:43 PM

So far I've only been to Dozen. I had the cosmo cupcake, which I loved, while my husband had the chocolate cherry vegan cupcake, which was okay. The quality in both stores probably varies by the flavor. There should be a taste-off between the two. I'd be happy to participate on the panel :)

ClarkBHM said... 1/17/2007 5:11 PM

I'm not really a cupcake fan, so I don't really see how either location will do well... Maybe expend into other pastries and relocate to central Oakland near the students and you've got a business plan...

Anonymous said... 1/18/2007 11:14 AM

i found the opposite of your correspondent: a little dry at Cocos and the mlik chocolate cupcake at Dozens was the single best cupcake of my life. I hear that Coco's is cool with byob, which is awesome.

Jefferson Provost said... 1/18/2007 1:53 PM

Heh. The reports from several people randomly receiving dry or seemingly day-old cupcakes confirm my suspicion that the "upscale" cupcakes at these places are not, on average, of significantly better quality than cupcakes you would get at, say, a Giant Eagle bakery -- though maybe the variance in quality is higher at the upscale places.

It's all about the perception of quality. If I'm paying $4, it must be better, right? The same principle explains why hazing rituals are so effective at inducing loyalty in members of fraternities and other societies.

Of course, my wife spends $4 for a latte that we could make at home for 50 cents. ;-) (or I guess I should have spelled it "lattè", as all the local espresso bars seem to think it's spelled.)

Anonymous said... 1/18/2007 2:35 PM

Haven't been to Coco's yet, but last week I had a disappointing "Elvis" at Dozen. The cake was VERY dry and the supposed shot of Nutella in the middle of the cupcake was little more than the size of a dime. For over $5 (after a carton of milk), I expected better quality.

C. Briem said... 1/18/2007 4:36 PM

Wasn't there supposed to be a Krispy Kreme right next to the Whole Foods in East Liberty?

Michael King said... 1/19/2007 3:05 PM

I used to always say I never met a cupcake I didn't was i wrong!! I attended an event in mid-December that featured dozen cupcakes I was quite disappointed they tasted like they had made them a week in advance! I then tasted tasted CoCo's Cupcakes when they opened and I have not had a cupcake that I have not liked! I go there almost every day.

Anonymous said... 1/21/2007 3:35 PM

I've been to Coco's several times; however, I have not yet been to Dozen... Coco's cupcakes are fabulous and the atmosphere is great too. The only thing is that I like super sweet magnolia style icing. Although Coco's icing is very tasty, it is not very sweet. This could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your preference. All in all Coco's makes the perfect ending to my day.

Ms. Monongahela, Ms. Chief Editor said... 1/21/2007 9:43 PM

You should see the Krispy Kreme on Route 51 in Pleasant Hills.

Driving past the closed-up shop *is* the ending to my day.

Anonymous said... 1/27/2007 2:35 PM

Maybe Dozen is serving old cupcakes or something. I've tried them twice and the cake has been dry though the icing was tasty. I can't believe that they'd purposely bake a cake that dry, it's just not appetizing. So they must be trying to get rid of old cupcakes or else something is going wrong with their production process. I think I prefer the cupcakes from one of the old school bakeries that still exist around town, they're more like homemade. I don't know, maybe even from Giant Eagle, even Jenny-Lee's are better.

Anonymous said... 1/31/2007 5:00 PM

Its sad that, what may possibly be the most happy food in the world, has become a subject of debate. Dont debate it just enjoy it. if you like it you like it, if you dont you dont. Some people like sweeter frosting and some people dont. But cake was made for celebration not war. So just enjoy cupcakes for what they are….i’ve had Dozen’s cupcakes and they were delicious, and made me smile. Thats the point right?

Anonymous said... 1/31/2007 5:13 PM

Dozen's cake may be a bit dryer than the mass produced lard filled cupcakes that people are used to, but they are a perfect balance for the palate. The buttercream frosting complements the cake proportionately as to not overwhelm the flavour. The problem is that people compare them to commercial cupcakes, when they are not. These are unique cakes that come from a small bakery, not a factory.

Anonymous said... 2/01/2007 6:23 PM

I must admit that I thought Dozen's were mediocre and too heavy. I've had plenty of cupcakes from small bakeries in some different places. Tried Citizen Cake (the best), Magnolia (OK) and now Coco's (pretty darn good). And yeah, I know they're cupcakes, not to be over analyzed--but at $2.50 or $3 a pop, they should be something extraordinary or why not buy ingredients and make a dozen at home for almost the same cost?

SweetJen said... 3/10/2007 1:36 AM

We've only been to Coco's, and it was superb. I tried a Chocolate Bliss on Sunday, and yes, it lived up to its name. The vegan chocolate cupcake I saved for lunch the next day was ridiculously good, too - amazing. Hubby tried the peanut butter & chocolate and the white cake with chocolate buttercream frosting; I took a nibble of each one, and both were excellent.

Coco's cupcakes are moist, full of taste, fresh, and the frosting is fabulous. In fact, they remind me a lot of my grandmother's, and she was a truly exceptional baker. So I say Coco's wins! The staff was friendly and wonderful as well.

Not sure why everyone thinks both shops will go out of business; then again, I'm native to Detroit and just moved here recently. Personally, I think it's a great idea. Upscale doughnuts sound boring to me.

KitchenPrincess said... 3/21/2007 10:13 AM

yesterday a friend brought me a box of Dozen cupcakes and I was so excited to try them.
First I had the Elvis - i love peanut butter. Well as i was chewing the first bite I was wondering 'where is the milk!!" It was more of a banana muffin than a cake.
Another friend ate the milk choclate - she liked the icing - but didn't even eat the cake - too dry.
Took the last two home. My boyfriend ate a chocolate with vanilla icing and asked if they were 'day old' cupcakes. He rated the shamrock cupcakes from giant eagle we had last week much higher.
Finally I ate the Vanilla/Vanilla. The cake is sooo dry and for me the icing is too sweet - although some like it that way. This is a case of the Emperor's new clothes. Novelty may get people in the door, but nobody is going to be developing cravings for these. MAybe they are making their money selling milk. Can't wait to try CoCo's

fletit said... 4/14/2007 11:03 AM

I tried Coco's with my husband and brother. The cake was very dry and the icing was bland. We had the vanilla, vanilla and the chocolate ganache. Even if the icing was not to my liking, the cake portion was extremely dry and tasteless. Having lived in the New York area and tasted delicious pastries, Coco's really needs to step it up. Priory Fine Patries on the North Side was voted number 2 in the post gazette Their cupcakes are delicious and moist. For only 65 cents (they could charge $2.50 anywhere else) at their retail bakery location, you can find a great cupcake that will rival these high-end cupcake shops.

Anonymous said... 5/19/2008 10:27 PM

I'm not particularly a cupcake fan but I had a meeting at CoCo's (they have free wifi and amazing coffee) and was sucked in. I often go there now to work as I enjoy the atmosphere, especially sitting on the patio when it's nice outside. They even have outdoor outlets so I can plug in my laptop when the battery dies. I have tried two cupcakes. The vegan red velvet did win me over (and I'm not a vegan) and the orange with chocolate was also pretty good.

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