I have loyal FoodGal reader, Ann, to thank for this.
Seems she got wind of a new cupcake stand, Sweet Passions, that opened at Westfield Valley Fair Shopping Center in San Jose three weeks ago. Of course, she wanted me to try it first before she made the trek.
So, Ann, your wish is my sweet command.
Sweet Passions Bakery actually is a full-fledged bakery that’s existed in San Jose’s Alum Rock neighborhood for about 22 years. It makes only cakes — for weddings, quinceaneras, birthdays, or everyday occasions. It was started by Dilanthi Perera, who used to impress her friends with her homemade cakes, before she started her bakery.
At Valley Fair mall, you’ll find the Sweet Passions kiosk in the middle of the mall between J. Crew and the Body Shop. No baking is done on site. Instead the cupcakes are trucked in directly each day from the Alum Rock bakery.
Unlike cupcakes at other shops, the ones here are refrigerated. That’s because the cupcakes are not only cream-filled, but heavy cream also figures prominently in the frostings.
There are 44 flavors (take that, Baskin-Robbins), but only about six are available each day.
The cupcakes come in two sizes: mini ones for $1 each; and huge, jumbo muffin-tin-sized ones for $3.50 each that come already packed in individual, plastic clam-shell containers.
I decided to buy a Chocolate with Mocha Cream, a Carrot Cake with Whipped Cream Cheese, and a Banana with Vanilla Cream. I had high hopes for the cupcakes since they were from a bakery that specializes in nothing but cakes.
All of them were moist, fresh-tasting, and with a light-textured crumb.
But I think they all suffered — to various extents — from the refrigeration. The chill of the fridge changes the texture of the cakes. The once-crispy tops soften dramatically. And the once airy textures compress and get a little gooey.
The carrot cake cupcake was most victimized by the cold. The cake — with nice shards of carrot in it — got gummy. The frosting had a hint of cream cheese flavor, but was quite light and fluffy in nature because of added heavy cream whipped into it. It’s not the super thick cream cheese frosting you usually think of with carrot cake.
The chocolate cupcake had a nice flavor, with a subtle coffee-chocolate whipped cream top.
The banana cupcake was definitely the best of the three. The banana flavor in the cake was prominently front and center, like homemade banana bread, but not as dense in texture. Swirls of whipped cream covered the top, along with a dried banana chip that had turned soft.
Whether you like these cupcakes will depend upon how much you like chilled cakes. If you love the texture of a Sara Lee chocolate cake defrosting in the fridge, Sweet Passions cupcakes may be right up your alley. If you love a lot of whipped cream on your cake, you’re sure to like these, too.
Me? I prefer my cupcakes unrefrigerated. I would love to try a just-baked cake from Sweet Passions that hadn’t seen the inside of a fridge. There’s definitely a talented baker behind these cakes. It would be a treat to experience them in all their glory without first subjecting them to the ravages of a temperature change.