I try to approach restaurants with impartiality but the cold hard truth is I don't like cupcakes. The white sugar, white flour, and unnatural colors turn me off. They're the adult version of Barbie dolls. I prefer my sweets more rustic. So when Goodie Girls Cupcakes opened their second store in La Cañada (the first is in Glendale on Broadway), a store decked out in bright pink stripes and mini-chandeliers, I stayed away. But in the interest of readers who do like the treat and because I needed some energy for more Christmas shopping, I stopped in for a holiday-themed cupcake.
It was delicious.
I chose the Gingerbread-Eggnog cupcake with its cute little gingerbread man decoration. The brown, ginger-scented cake edged closer to muffin territory, which I liked, and the fluffy, buttery Swiss meringue frosting had the slightest flavor of eggnog. It was light and well-balanced and came in an adorable, probably expensive, pink box which I am having trouble throwing away. At $3.50, it's a splurge, but no more than a cup of Starbucks with the same amount of pick-me-up.
So I determined to test every one of their products at a PTA party I was hosting the next week. If you call at least 48 hours in advance you can order dozens of mini-cupcakes in whatever flavors they offer. Classic flavors are $20 a dozen and Luxe dozens go for $24. The cupcakes looked adorable on the table, each one with its own distinctive decorative touch such as a tiny heart on the red velvet variety. They created quite a stir among my friends.
The Lemon Luxe cupcake was a favorite with its lemon curd surprise inside. So was the fudge-filled Teddy and the Peppermint Hot Cocoa with just the right amount of crushed peppermint candy. The Peppermint and the Gingerbread are available only during the holiday season, as is the Cinnamon Roll cupcake. I did not enjoy that one or any of the white crumb cupcakes, but I think little kids would love them.
Goodie Girls also sells full-size cakes with liberal amounts of gorgeously piped frosting. The colors are bright but not garish. They have other petite treats like Cake Pops ($3) and the clever Cake Ups ($3.75), a cylindrical chunk of layer cake, like a geological sample, that pushes up for a no-mess treat. Perfect for kids' parties. The La Cañada store also sells coffee drinks and ice cream treats.
Annette Starbuck, owner and head chef of Goodie Girls, is a visionary with ambition and a great sense of style. A local girl from Glendale, she was the winner of the premiere episode of Food Network's third season of Cupcake Wars. She caters to industry events and shows like "The Big Bang Theory" as well as celebrities including Daniel Radcliffe, Debi Mazar and LL Cool J. And she gives what little extra time she has to philanthropies like Love is Louder, a movement to stop negative words and actions.
When you're looking for something sweet for yourself or a cute gift for a friend, think of Goodie Girls. In my mind, the Gingerbread-Eggnog cupcake reigns supreme but there's something there for everyone.
What: Goodie Girls Cupcakes Where: 637 W. Foothill Blvd., La Cañada
When: Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
More info: (818) 790-7718, backsideonline.com www.thegoodiegirls.com
--LISA DUPUY welcomes comments at LDupuy@aol.com.