Black Hole Coffee House isn't just a relaxing cafe to sit for a while over a book and smooth creamy latte. It's also a place to get cupcakes. Yeah, cupcakes. You wouldn't know it unless you followed the coffee shop on Facebook, or visited every single day.
At the start of the year, kitchen manager Tiffany Ma made a resolution to make a cupcake every day and post a picture of it on Facebook. While the coffee shop has missed a few days here and there, and repeated a few top-sellers, the kitchen staff has made and posted pictures of more than 200 cupcakes since January 1, 2014. That's a lot of cupcakes.
What started as a joke has become a goal for Ma to achieve, and her competitive drive will probably make her do it again next year so she can exceed the number of cupcakes made in 2014. She says the previous kitchen manager had already been baking cupcakes daily, so when she took over as kitchen manager, she kept it going.
On the day of my visit to Black Hole, the featured cupcake was a lemonade cake with a fluffy lemonade buttercream frosting topped with rainbow sprinkles. The cake was moist and served as an excellent base for the light-as-air frosting that initially tastes like butter on your tongue, but leaves you with a slightly tart finish.
Some days it's a simple cupcake, like the lemonade one, and sometimes it's a bit out of the ordinary. It really depends on the kitchen staff's cravings or what they think customers are looking for. Oh and the recipe is thought of the same day they are baked; these treats aren't planned weeks in advance.
"When I first started -- I haven't done this one again -- [I did] a take on pickles and cream," Ma says. "I was having a craving of just dipping pickles in ranch and I was like 'this is so good but would be so disgusting as a cupcake.' I tried to figure out a different way to make it and we made pickle cupcakes. I am pretty sure they sold out when we made them last. Out of curiosity, I am pretty sure people bought them just to figure out how they taste. I had some people say it tasted like a cheeseburger, which is a little weird. Some people tasted sour and for me it was like a tart cupcake. It was still good, just different. Very interesting."
But, not all of the cupcakes feature a foreign ingredient like pickles. Recently, Ma made a spiced chocolate cupcake topped with honey vanilla buttercream, and the week before that, she made bourbon espresso cupcakes with a tall swirl of condensed milk buttercream, as well as pineapple bottom amaretto cupcakes finished with vanilla bean buttercream frosting. Each day she starts with either a chocolate or vanilla batter as the base, then transforms it from there.
Ma says she has also done a few bacon-themed cupcakes, such as the Grand Slizzam Cupcakes with vanilla maple cake topped with citrus buttercream and a piece of bacon. But, even though bacon is a popular flavor, the crystal meth is where it's at, and by crystal meth we mean blue sugar crystal sprinkles.
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"The top two [flavors] I can think of are the Crystal Meth one for Breaking Bad -- we made cupcakes and we topped it with blue crystal sugar sprinkles and everybody went wild for those," Ma says. "And the next one would probably be our cafe sua da Vietnamese coffee cupcake and we put a doughnut hole on top of that one. I am pretty sure those sold out pretty quick too."
The kitchen staff makes at least nine full-size cupcakes to sell in the coffee shop each day, but if they think it's going to be a great flavor, they'll double the amount they bake. Follow Black Hole Coffee House on Facebook and get an inside scoop on the daily cupcake offerings. And send in suggestions, too. Maybe you'll inspire the bakers to make one of your creations.
"We love it when we see people share our posts and making suggestions. It's nice to read a lot of the comments when people post, 'I missed it today! I wish I could bike over there,'" Ma says. "This week someone posted coffee cherries on our last post, and it looks like pink peppercorns from a glance and it reminded me that I want to incorporate pink peppercorns into one of our cupcakes. This week we are going to try to get our pink peppercorns and get that into a cupcake."