If you listen to the Mouse Chat podcast, you know we like to get a little silly and snarky. It’s sort of our thing. A few episodes ago, we discussed Babycakes NYC as a news item, and given our personalities, we had a good time talking about cupcakes made without butter, flour or . . . fun. All joking aside, I knew it wasn’t true and I felt a little guilty considering that I have good friends who are vegan and one of my favorite food blogs is about eating gluten-free. Still, I’d never really had a gluten-free dessert and my experience with vegan desserts, while good, was limited.
A couple of weeks ago, I had the delicious opportunity to find out just how good a vegan, gluten-free cupcake could be. We weren’t even planning on going to Downtown Disney on this trip, but ended up there by a happy accident and made our way over to Babycakes NYC. The store, which is on the site of the old McDonalds with two other eateries, also has branches in Los Angeles and New York City. I’d heard that the manager of the Downtown Disney branch was a huge Disney fan who had relocated to Orlando from New York, so I was already slightly biased toward loving the place. I mean, how great is the story of a big city girl moving nearly a thousand miles to bring vegan cupcakes to the bright sunny south? I had to check it out.
Babycakes has a cute, pink and white counter in one corner of the building.
Treats come in paper boxes, not Styrofoam.
The packaging alone pleased me a great deal.
We ordered the red velvet cupcake and a chocolate donut. Happily, both tasted exactly like they were supposed to taste, with a nice texture that belied the fact that they were made without butter or flour. You will notice a slight difference in the texture of the frosting, which is not as creamy or airy as that made with butter, but this was minor. The donut in particular was memorable. It wasn’t fried so it didn’t have a crispy exterior, but the flavor was outstanding, right down to the slight citrus taste to the donut. The chocolate glaze was very chocolaty and not masked with a lot of sugar the way some cheaper chocolate desserts are. You can tell they’re using good ingredients and making these desserts in small batches. The human touch that is so important in baking is very present here.
Now, I love to bake. Besides Disney it’s my absolute favorite hobby, so I know how difficult it can be to use exotic flours like teff or rice and make a dessert that resembles what we’re used to seeing. Add to that the fact that they use absolutely no animal products at all, and you have a baking challenge. If you go to the back of the building you can see Babycakes’ bakers through a window in their immaculate kitchen, which is separate from the other kitchens in the building so there’s no cross-contamination, an important consideration for people who cannot consume gluten or dairy due to health reasons. Huge kudos to these bakers, who are skilled enough to take these slightly unusual ingredients and turn them into something that’s delicious, even for those of us who do consume gluten or animal products. This care and skill shows in their product and I hope more Disney guests find their way over there to give it a try.
If you’d like to read about my cupcake showdown between Babycakes and Starring Rolls, a Disney bakery located in Hollywood Studios, please go here.