Style :: Food/Drink

Georgetown Cupcakes :: A New Home for Sweet Treats on Newbury Street

by Kilian Melloy
Tuesday Jun 19, 2012
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"We’re not letting anyone in until six o’clock," a bouncer-looking fellow told EDGE.

The time was 5:50; it was a lovely afternoon in Boston, and streams of shoppers were thronging all up and down Newbury Street. A few curious onlookers glanced at the new storefront at 83 Newbury, the latest home of Georgetown Cupcakes, the smash phenom that started in 2008 with a gourmet cupcake bakery near the nation’s capital and quickly spawned a memoir/cookbook titled "The Cupcake Diaries," and several more outlets in Bethesda, SoHo, and now Boston. (A Los Angeles location is slated to open in the Fall.)

Ten minutes later, right on the dot, two female greeters with clipboards appeared. So did a long line of guests, all chattering excitedly about the new store.

"This be good advertising," one man allowed, looking around. "There’s a line out the door for their cupcakes!"

Yes, and this was two days before the store’s grand opening. Boston has no lack of sweet treats, and cupcake fiends can slake their hunger at several area boutique cupcake bakeries, including an establishment at Harvard Square in Cambridge and even a cupcake truck that haunts the precincts of downtown Boston. But there was something about Georgetown Cupcakes that promised a higher level of bliss.


Beauteous and Bountiful

Maybe it was the store’s bright, airy look, with gleaming surfaces, including gleaming silver trays on which were stacked an array of cupcakes, visually delicious treats displayed in luscious ranks. You just know at a glance how good these gourmet snacks are going to taste.

And there are so many flavors to choose from, all of them tantalizing. Chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting; vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting; hazelnut, peanut butter fudge, red velvet, Boston cream (with a green shamrock on top, no less), even caramel. (The "Chocolate 2" and "Vanilla 2" match frosting flavor with the same cake flavor, proving there’s no such beast as too much of a good thing.)

Then there are unique flavors like the "Lavender Earl Grey teacake," or (chocoholics, prepare to tumble right off the wagon) the chocolate ganache and lava fudge.

The cupcakes are moist and substantial; you can really sink your teeth into them. And the buttercream frosting is stunning, as such things go - rich, but not overly sweet.

But that’s not all. The Boston cream and caramel, among other flavors, contain a dollop of fresh, delicious filling.


Good Things, Clever Packages

It’s not just on the inside that beauty resides in these cupcakes. The buttercream frosting comes in a variety of hues, and different flavors sport different motifs. Those green shamrocks that mark out the Boston cream cupcakes are beautifully rendered, but they are only part of the picture: Chocolate drizzles, tiny sugar flowers, and other applications detail these treats. It’s a visual as well as gustatory feast to enter into this buttercream paradise, where high-end ingredients like Valrhona chocolate and Madagascar bourbon vanilla are starting points, rather than embellishments.

The attention to presentation doesn’t end at the shop door, either. Take home a box (or several boxes) of six cupcakes and you need not fear these tasty treats will get mashed, crumpled, balled together, or mangled. The boxes are cleverly designed so that each cupcake sits in its own little niche, secure and intact.

Or maybe it was the staff that made the place seem so inviting--handsome young people wearing black T-shirts emblazoned with the company logo. Some staff members waited on customers behind the counter, while others circulated with trays of mini-cupcakes and flutes of champagne.

Then again, maybe it was the Kelly-green professional-grade mixer, bedecked with green spangles that sat near the entrance, prominently displayed on a tabletop visible through the window. This dazzle-encrusted appliance transcended kitchen drudgery and spoke of culinary magic, not to mention defiant, confident style. Lady Gaga might have something like this in her own kitchen.


Buttercream and Bling

Sisters Katherine Kallinas and Sophie Kallinas LaMontagne, the visionaries behind the chain of upscale bakeries (as well as authors and stars of the TLC show) were on hand, greeting guests and well wishers effusively and making sure everyone felt welcome.

They made it look easy. The sisters are instantly likeable, possessing that rare quality that makes you feel right at home even in a press of people. Their store was mobbed, but Katherine and Sophie brought a feeling of leisure and ease to the occasion.

Katherine chatted with EDGE while standing next to the sparkle-encrusted mixer. "This is the Green Monster," she said, laughing. "It started with our location in SoHo. Sophie thought it would be nice to give me something unique, so she came up with a pink mixer covered in sparkles. We put it in the store, and people just love that blingey mixer!"

The theme of the unique and individualized runs deeply into their products. Cupcakes, Katherine said, are such a hot item right now because they are "so individual, and can be individualized. It’s a different feeling than if someone gives you a donut."

Sister Sophie agreed. "Cupcakes are more whimsical," she told EDGE. "And they’re personal. You get a single portion. It’s not like other foods, like ice cream."

Personal indeed, especially to the sisters. Katherine fondly recalled how they would spend days baking cupcakes with their grandmother.

Two days later, the new store was the site of another fun-filled event: the location’s grand opening, where patrons received one complimentary cupcake each. The day was filmed for the sisters’ TLC series, "DC Cupcakes." If you missed the action, tune in later to see what the fuss was about - or stop by in person for a taste.

Cupcakes might be the moment’s "in" snack food, but there’s no evidence that they’re ever going to go out of style.

Georgetown Cupcakes, located at 83 Newbury Street, is now open for business.

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Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor, writing about film, theater, food and drink, and travel, as well as contributing a column. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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