Let Them Eat Cake-Inspired Ice Cream!

Cake and ice cream are a match made in heaven. But you often have to choose one or the other. In DC, you go to Georgetown Cupcake or Crumbs for your cake fix, and then head over to FroZenYo or Pitango for ice cream. In the other Washington, Seattle is not immune to the cupcake craze, and a number of funky bakeries cater exclusively to those who prefer their cake in cup form. One of the most popular cupcake bakeries around is Cupcake Royale, which now boasts six locations in the greater Seattle area. Personally, I’ve never been that interested in Cupcake Royale… even though they offer gluten-free cupcakes for folks like me. At the end of the day, I’d rather eat ice cream than cake. But this year, Cupcake Royale found their way to my heart by launching a cupcake-inspired ice cream line.

Last week, my West Coast work trip brought me to Seattle. And I took the opportunity to schedule some “girl time” with my boyfriend’s mom, Jan. As I’ve mentioned on the blog before, Jan’s sweet tooth rivals mine. So I couldn’t say I was surprised when she suggested an ice cream date. But when she suggested trying Cupcake Royale’s new downtown location, I paused. I wasn’t sure if there’d be a flavor for me; what were the chances that they’d use the gluten-free cupcakes in any of their ice cream flavors? But I agreed to give it a shot, and we set a time to meet. After all, I wouldn’t starve. If gluten-full cupcakes were involved in every ice cream flavor, I could always eat a gluten-free cupcake.

 Cupcake Royale’s newest shop is located right downtown at 108 Pine Street – just a block away from Pike Place Market. I know the area quite well, as I used to walk down Pine Street every day on my way to work. And let’s just say that my figure is glad that Cupcake Royale wasn’t downtown when I lived in Seattle… Because this location offers all 14 cupcake-inspired ice cream flavors crafted by Cupcake Royale. When Jan and I stepped inside, we were both surprised by how ice cream-focused the store was. Since Cupcake Royale is best know for its cupcakes, I assumed ice cream would be a side note and the freezer marginalized to a corner. Boy, was I wrong! Cupcake Royale appears to be giving its ice cream just as much focus and care as they give their cupcakes. Not only do they serve cups and cones of ice cream, but there’s also sundaes, milkshakes, icebox cakes, and macaroon ice cream sandwiches to be had. Oh – and who could forget the red velvet waffle cones?
Jan and I arrived at Cupcake Royale during a rare slow time, so the friendly employees were happy to discuss the different ice cream flavors with us. Some flavors are indeed made with chunks of actual cupcakes, chopped up and mixed into Cupcake Royale’s homemade ice cream. These “Cupcakes n’ Cream” flavors include Peppermint Party (chunks of Peppermint Party cupcakes mixed into organic mint ice cream) and Red Velvet (cupcakes of the same name blended into a cream cheese and buttermilk base). But other flavors are loosely inspired by popular cupcake creations but don’t include cake chunks. Great news for the gluten-free crowd! These “Bakeshop Inspired” flavors include Burnt Caramel with Sea Salt (self-explanatory) and Bananaza (roasted banana and rum base blended with homemade caramel sauce and brownie chunks). A couple other “Bakeshop Inspired” flavors jumped out to me. What the heck is Whiskey Maple Bacon Crack? The man behind the counter told me it was maple ice cream infused with Woodinville Whiskey and loaded with bits of housemade bacon brittle, or – as Cupcake Royale customers nicknamed it – “crack.” This all sounded amazing to Jan and me. But when we tried a sample, we both thought it was a bit too salty and strong on the whiskey (neither of us are big whiskey fans). Next up was the Washington Hazelnut Brittle with Salted Ganache. Is there anything better than a sweet and salty ice cream with a hefty crunch? I think not. Jan tried a sample and swooned before ordering herself a scoop. Given our similar tastes, I jumped the gun and ordered a small cup as well.

The verdict? I daresay this ice cream was richer than any cupcake I’ve had. For this popular flavor, Cupcake Royale takes its vanilla ice cream and blends in salted ganache and chunks of brittle made with Washington hazelnuts. Everything is made in-house with local ingredients – and it shows. The vanilla ice cream is everything it should be: sweet, creamy and rich. Definitely not “light.” And the mix-ins? They were simply out of this world. The salted ganache was soft and tasted almost of caramel. The salt wasn’t overpowering but added complexity and depth. And the hazelnut brittle was comfort food for the sweet addict. My only complaint is that this ice cream was so rich! It left me with a bit of a tummyache; the type you got as a kid after too much birthday cake, ice cream, and candy. But, isn’t that the point? And if you ask me, Cupcake Royale has a very bright future in the ice-cream making business.

The Stats:
Cupcake Royale
108 Pine Street
Seattle, WA 98101
5 other locations in the Seattle area (I visited the 108 Pine Street location downtown)
(206) 883-7656
http://www.cupcakeroyale.com/

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!