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Old 05-22-2012, 10:18 AM
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Default Limited time special: new machiatto cupcakes 2 for $5 at Au Bon Pain

Cupcake Review: Au Bon Pain's macchiato cupcakes
Au Bon Pain, a major chain bakery which does not specialize in cupcakes, introduced a line of mass-produced cupcakes in recent years. Starting with plain vanilla and chocolate, they expanded their selection to carrot cake and red velvet (which has now somehow become regarded as a classic, conventional, and "play it safe" flavor much like the other cupcake flavors introduced at roughly the same time).
However, they recently introduced another cupcake flavor which is not as conventional as the rest, and to sweeten the deal (pardon the pun), in May they started selling the new variety at a special price of 2 for $5.
Their macchiato cupcake is perhaps intended to compete with the likes of SoHo's Little Cupcake Bake Shop special, the the coffee syrup streaked Mott Street cupcake. (This is speculation on my part, as Au Bon Pain hasn't released any official statement on the matter to my knowledge, but they do serve the same demand, and they have got several lower and central Manhattan locations.) This is an attempt at producing the sort of item which might be sold at a small independent cupcakery or coffeehouse, and to impart upon a mass-produced item the sophistication of something that might be found in such a place.
The Au Bon Pain macciato cupcake has a dull somewhat bitter cake base, with the equivalent of sweetened coffee with milk incorporated into the dough, and an assertive, even tan color throughout, reminiscent of the departed tan M&Ms. (Don't know if anything that genuinely qualifies as "a macciato" is in fact, incorporated into the cupcakes, but, according to the nutritional information disclosure, it does contain coffee, as well as "Annatto and Tumeric Extract for color".
The top frosting is a sweetened cream cheese analogue; and each cupcake is adorned on top with a chocolate-covered coffee bean. All-in-all, a very good looking and tasting cupcake considering the effect upon it of the exigencies of mass production.
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