Thursday, June 29, 2017

Baker's Treat Chocolate Cup Cakes with Creamy Filling (Aldi)

BAKER'S CORNER CUPCAKES
"Good", but small and still overpriced.
I’m going to start this off with an uncomfortably personal anecdote: One of the few memories I have of my father back from when I was a child, was walking to the gas station down the street, a Clark store if I remember correctly, and getting the national brand cupcakes for the walk home. I don't know how that image stayed in my head after all these years, but I remember it pretty clearly (we haven't talked in about fourteen years for reasons that I will obviously not get into on this blog.)

Ever since those days, I've pretty much avoided those cupcakes—not at all because of the memories, but because now that I'm paying for things myself, I'm not going to pay the inflated prices they want for cheap cupcakes. That's money that can be better spent on other things. Yet on a recent trip to Aldi, I noticed that they carried these. Have they had them all this time, and I just haven't noticed them? Or have I just always subconsciously passed on them? Either way, it had some pretty snazzy packaging, which is what first caught my eye, and after a little internal argument with myself about whether or not I wanted to waste money on these, I came up with the answer of “yes”. Good call, too, because they ended up being a tasty little addition to my lunches at work.

The chocolate kicks things off and it’s pretty close to how I remember the national brand being all those years ago. In paying attention to it, though, I can taste the fake artificiality in it…it might just be this brand, but it reminds me of those really cheap boxed brownies with the multi-colored chocolate candies on top. Don’t get me wrong, I really like those things, but let’s be real here: the chocolate taste really isn’t all that accurate. The texture and appearance are largely spot-on, right on down to the white icing swirls, so I appreciate the aesthetics.

The “cake” portion is appropriately moist and inviting, with a taste that once again tastes off, when compared to normal chocolate cake, but I have a feeling it's spot-on when compared to the product this is attempting to replicate. Rounding everything out is the cream-filling, which, in terms of mass-produced confections, is a thing of absolute beauty. It's soft, fluffy, and ultra-sweet, which is exactly the kind of characteristics you're looking for in a dessert like this, and it tastes better than the cream-fillings I've had from award-winning local doughnut shops. It really rounds this out and makes it a tasty little treat.

I do have a couple of knocks, and they're the same ones that pertain to the streusel cakes that I review below: These are very small. Again, that can always be construed into a good thing, because it helps to limit caloric intake, but I remember the size of them when I was a kid, and these are probably around half of that. Which leads me to the same knock as before: price. These are, again, $2.49 for a package of eight, which just doesn't feel like the right price to pay for something like these. It also makes it pretty clear which of the mass-produced dessert companies is making these for Aldi, because these aren't a whole lot cheaper than their own overinflated products. This is around the low-end price-point for Specially Selected products, which at least give off the appearance of being “gourmet” in nature, so it seems kind of pointless, at least for me, to spend this much on some crappy cupcakes. Maybe once we have a kid and lunches start becoming a thing, this might make a little more sense, but as long as it's just my wife and I, I don't see a reason to get these often, if ever again. There are much better sweets and treats under an Aldi roof for around the same price; in some cases, even cheaper.

Overall: 5.5/10. Same pros and same cons apply to the streusel cakes reviewed below. They taste pretty accurate to the national brand, which is definitely a plus, even down to the cheapy, low-quality chocolate flavor. The icing is fluffy and super-sweet, but oh so delicious, and the trademark icing swirl on the top completes the replica. However, each cupcake is much smaller than I remember them being as a child, and there are only eight in a pack for a whopping $2.49. That may be cheaper than the national brand, but this is Aldi—you can get much better desserts and treats for around the same price. If you're a huge fan of the original, then this is a good way to get your fix for a little cheaper; otherwise, you're better off spending the money on something else.

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