Taste Test: Red Velvet Cupcakes at Crumbs, Sweet, and Cakeology

Does newcomer Crumbs do a better job than the locals when it comes to red velvet?

From left: Red velvet cupcakes from Cakeology, Crumbs, and Sweet. All photos by Fiona Coxe.

Earlier this year, rumors swirled that out-of-town cupcakes bigwigs like Georgetown Cupcake, Sprinkles, and even Magnolia would be setting up shop in Boston, proving that the single-serving cakes are here to stay. While most have yet to open, the first to arrive on our turf has been Crumbs, the New York-based chain known for their enormous, stacked-with-toppings take on the popular dessert. In order to find out how the new shop compares with its local, fellow downtown counterparts Sweet and Cakeology, I decided to pit the three against one another to see how they compared. To keep things fair, I decided to stick with comparing classic cupcake flavor, red velvet, at each location.

Crumbs: I started out at the new Financial District outpost of Crumbs. I was served a gigantic cupcake, which was topped with a dome of white cream cheese icing and covered in white sprinkles and red velvet crumbs. The cake was moist and had that wonderful subtle cocoa flavor that’s expected in a good red velvet cake. The texture of the cake was exactly what you’d want in a cupcake; it was crumbly without being dry, and tender without being greasy. The icing was tasty as well, though it lacked the tang I was expecting from the cream cheese.
$4.23, 176 Federal Street, Boston, 617-345-9200, crumbs.com

Sweet: Next up was the Boston-based chainlet, which turned out to be the biggest disappointment of the group. The cake was dry with a strange empty taste to it, and had no discernible flavor other than sugary sweetness. The icing had a nice, smooth texture, but it also lacked the cream cheese flavor I was hoping for.
$3.25, Various locations around Boston, sweetcupcakes.com

Cakeology: My expectations for a fantastic cupcake were high as it took three repeat visits before I could find a red velvet cupcake in stock. The frosting here did not disappoint, and it was rich and tangy with cream cheese and a bit of lemon zest. The cake itself, however, was mediocre. It wasn’t as dry as the version at Sweet, but it lacked the moisture and rich cocoa flavor of the version at Crumbs.
$3.25, 45 Province Street, Boston, 857-239-9507, cakeology.com

The winner: In this challenge, top honors goes to Crumbs Bake Shop. The flavor of the cake was spot on for red velvet, a detail that just cannot be overlooked. Crumbs is a welcome addition to Boston’s cupcake scene, and I have a feeling that it’s already giving the other shops around town a run for their money.

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