Doron Petersan’s latest victory in Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” made us wonder: How well could her vegan creations stand up to the toughest competitor on her home turf?
So we ordered up a battle of champions: Petersan’s Sticky Fingers bakery vs. Georgetown Cupcake, whose chocolate cupcake with chocolate ganache topping bested dozens of contenders in our own Cupcake Wars in 2008.
Tasters in the newsroom were asked to pick a favorite in each of two categories: ganache-topped chocolate cupcake and strawberry cupcake, which we ordered anonymously from both bake shops. It was a blind taste test, with no mention of “vegan.”
When the crumbs cleared, Georgetown Cupcake reigned supreme.
Tasters gave the win to Georgetown Cupcake’s chocolate cake for its “light texture,” though a few found it a tad dry. The Sticky Fingers cake came across as “flat” and “dense.” Georgetown really scored, though, with its smooth, shiny ganache. With no dairy cream in the mix, Sticky Fingers’ vegan ganache had a matte finish and a chewy texture, described by the tasters as “gummy” and “sludgy.”
In the strawberry competition, both cakes were called too sugary. Tasters liked the vegan cupcake’s “fluffy” frosting, and some praised its “bright” taste. But they much preferred Georgetown’s cake, with visible bits of berry and “more real strawberry flavor.”
Was it a fair fight? We should note that the Sticky Fingers chocolate contender had to be special-ordered; the bakery offers chocolate ganache as an optional topping on its cakes but doesn’t regularly put it on cupcakes unless you ask. Still, one of its ganache-topped creations was among the winners in the TV competition, so it made sense to see whether it could hold its own in a really tough face-off.
Against a lesser opponent, one taster noted later, Sticky Fingers would have fared much better. During our 2008 cupcake battle, we sampled many cakes that weren’t as good as theirs. Bottom line: It’s not the best, but it’s far, far from the worst. And the cupcakes are cholesterol-free and made with non-hydrogenated oils. If you’re vegan, you’re lucky Sticky Fingers is around.