Cupcakes have never been gender specific. Or have they?
From meticulously made icing flowers sitting atop your cup of cake, to pastel colours and “girly” names such as “Diva” and “Koo Koo”, surely there must be a target demographic. So, is it women? Not anymore.
Enter Mancakes Bakery, a cupcake shop that comes across as sexist, but that simply has the intentions of introducing bold and adventurous flavours to consumers. Flavours that are often associated with men, I suppose, and that may make one grow a little hair on their chest.
Buffalo wing? Superbowl and beer.
Rum and coke? My ex-boyfriend from high school.
King Kong? Who every man aspires to be…?
I recently sat down in their new (four months old) shop on Robson Street to test out the Van Eats Mancakes Madness package. Because I have the attitude of “all I want is everything”, I upgraded the package for $6 so that I could test out all of the flavours. Why have six, when I could have twelve?
It was a daunting feat to eat them all, so I opted for half of each in this particular sitting. With two cups of coffee (a bold and jitter-inducing “Death Wish” and 49th Parallel’s medium roast) to erode the sugar coating my mouth after each half cupcake, I slowly made my way through them all. Geoff Hamilton, co-owner of Mancakes, graciously offered words of encouragement along the way as he tuned into Zoolander on the television, tidied shop and tended to customers.
The company, which has existed online for two years, has made their way into the hearts of many who are seeking a unique way of satisfying their sweet tooth.
Mancakes Bakery claims that they don’t care about appearance and how good the cupcakes look. It’s true. Yes, they look like a man made them. And I mean that in the nicest way possible. They’re certainly not the prettiest cupcakes on the market, but that’s their schtick; it’s all about taste, even if the flavour combinations won’t necessarily appeal to everyone. You may be a Chocolate Red Wine kind of gal, while I’m a Chicago lady.
The bases are dense, moist and generally hold their own when it comes to flavour, while the icing is dolloped on messily, but moderately, which is appreciated; there is no need for a mound of icing on a cupcake, when half of it ends up up being scraped off anyway. The “stuffing” is meant to add a burst of flavour to match the theme of the cupcake, be it potatoes, apples or ancho chili chocolate ganache.
As I sat there chowing down on my plate of cupcakes, I noticed that many of the contributing flavours (particularly inside) were very subtle, with some of them not noticeable at all. I spoke with Geoff about this “dilemma” that I was having, who confirmed my thoughts that the flavours are much more pronounced in the regular size cupcakes due to the concentration of filling and the surface area for icing. I found the least noticeable flavours to be the chili, whiskey and brie. Let me know what you think though!
My solution for the minis? Dip your finger in the middle and taste it on its own. Or, “be a man” and just order the big one…
CHICAGO (sweet, savoury, delicious): Vanilla base with a caramel filling, cheddar cheese buttercream and caramel corn topping.
BUFFALO WING (unique, especially when doused with Frank’s – do it): Spice base filled with tangy blue cheese cheesecake mousse, topped with a hot sauce buttercream and crispy chicken crumble.
PINK PEPPERCORN GRAPEFRUIT (minis need more peppercorn, but I love the pink grapefruit filling and shortbread topping): Vanilla base filled with a blast of pink grapefruit, topped with vanilla buttercream, a diamond of short bread, and ground pink peppercorn.
TEQUILA PINEAPPLE (it makes me feel tropical and ready for a vacation): Spice based filled with pineapple cream, topped with tequila buttercream and toasted coconut sprinkles.
MY LEAST FAVOURITES
BACON CHILI CHOCOLATE (I’m so sick of bacon in/on desserts): Chocolate base filled with ancho chili chocolate ganache, topped with vanilla buttercream and crumbled bacon.
RUM & COKE (associated with years of consumption of the beverage): Vanilla base filled with strong cola cream, topped with rum buttercream and crushed coke candy.
KING KONG (though it’s a top-seller, the banana filling reminded me of a medicine I used to have as a child): It consists of a chocolate cupcake filled with a banana cream that is topped with an espresso marshmallow and chocolate shavings.
GUINNESS FOR STRENGTH (I dislike potatoes…even though I have Irish ancestry): A chocolate base with a potato cream inside (just like Mom’s chunky mashed potatoes), a Guinness marshmallow on top with a crunchy potato chip topping. All of this combines to make a cupcake worthy of Irish admiration.
Geoff Hamilton spent over five years working at Gforce Gym before realizing that he was a “Cupcake Prodigy” and co-opened Mancakes.
Jeremy Wong went from being the President of Stromen International Auto Group for nearly three years to taking on the entrepreneurial world with Geoff.
Together they built the concept, and with the help of their pastry chef Tyler they have created a static menu and continue to create limited time flavours (such as Guinness for Strength). “We brainstorm together, then collectively we taste the good…and the bad,” explained Geoff.
Check out the high resolution photos on Flickr.