I don’t know anyone who would disagree that Publix supermarkets have some of the better bakery items around (for those living in the Southeast). I have always thought that they may have the best key lime pies I’ve personally eaten. In fact, all their pies are fantastic. The amazing thing is that the majority of all their baked goods are frozen, but you’d never guess that unless you were told. Everything including the cakes, pies, cupcakes, and pastries are brought in frozen, and then thawed. They then decorate items like the cakes with frosting in the store. This is probably done at most grocery stores, but somehow Publix’s thawed bakery foods still taste so fresh, you’d swear they were made that morning.
I’ve noticed my local Publix has been well stocked in cupcakes lately. Their cupcakes are fairly large, and sell for just over $3. During my last visit I was admiring how well decorated and delicious the cupcakes looked. I was curious how they compared to my personal reference point for all cupcakes, Disney World. Disney by far has some of the most elaborate cupcakes I’ve tried. They are always at the forefront to new and innovative ways to decorate and spruce up these old favorites. Publix’s cupcakes seemed to be almost the same size as Disney’s, but they were about $2 cheaper. Could they possibly be a substitute when I’m having Disney withdrawals? I was about to find out.
First up was an Apple Pie Cupcake.
As always, the vanilla cake was very soft and moist. This was expected, as I’ve never had a dry cupcake from Publix before. The sweet cake had a very thin layer on top (it’s the thin brown line seen below between the cake and frosting) that tasted like the crumble crust that would be found on an apple pie.
In the very center of the cupcake this “crumble” layer was mixed with a few actual cooked apples, again, just like you’d find within a real apple pie. This was a fairly unique flavor to come from a cupcake. Each of these individual flavors present created an illusion that I was actually eating an apple pie. The tastes were spot-on to the real thing. The cupcake was topped with a standard flavored buttercream frosting.
The buttercream frosting had a very light dusting of cinnamon, and three more small apple pieces. On top of that I found the lightest dusting of a breaded cake layer (simulating a pie crust). I believe it may have been vanilla flavored but it was so minimal in quantity that it was tough to tell.
In the end I was very satisfied with the way this cupcake was put together. The apple pie flavors were simulated well, for the most part by using the actual ingredients that would be found on such a pie. In relation to my favorite cupcakes, the uniqueness and use of ingredients that would be found on the real thing made this worthy of attention. I could definitely use it as a substitute when I’m at home in Georgia and missing the Florida parks.
My second cupcake was a Peanut Butter version.
This cupcake had a basic chocolate cake that had a moderate flavor, but with a strange aftertaste. The aftertaste was that of an alcohol, as if an extract was overused. It was definitely not one of the better cake bases in my opinion, and definitely not to Publix’s normal standards.
The bottom icing layer dug slightly into the cake with a small sliver that went down the middle. Had I just bit into the cupcake, it would have been way too minimal to even notice.
I was told that this cupcake was filled, but their idea of frosting filled is nothing compared to Disney’s. I think they really need a lesson on filling a cupcake properly. Here’s an example of what a filled Disney cupcake would normally look like:
While not all Disney cupcakes will have that much filler each time, most of them will have a significant amount that it doesn’t go unnoticed. By the way, the cupcake above was a Mint Cupcake from the holiday season and will be reviewed sometime in the future.
The peanut butter cupcake was peaked with a light and airy whipped cream frosting made from two flavors that alternated twice, for a total of four layers. The bottom was a whipped chocolate that had some of the chocolate cake sprinkled over it. Since it was just the same soft cake that sat below, it didn’t add any boost to the flavor or add anything special to the texture.
Above that was a whipped peanut butter cream frosting, then a smaller layer of chocolate again, finished with a dab of peanut butter cream at the peak. The chocolate whipped cream had a minimal flavor that was average at best. The peanut butter layers tasted much more concentrated and were about the only peanut butter flavor found within the main portion of the cupcake. The flavor was good, but I wish the whole icing layer was of the peanut butter persuasion.
Poking into the whipped topping, the cupcake was garnished with a chocolate dipped peanut butter cookie.
This was by far the highlight of the snack. The cookie wonderfully soft and chewy and had a strong, real peanut butter flavor. You can see above the buttery look this cookie had, and I can tell you it had a taste to match. Even better, the chocolate surrounding it was actually crispy. I mean crispy crispy. The chocolate had an actual crunch to it, and it was paper thin. I don’t know how they did that, but it made the perfect contrast between hard and soft.
This was a decent cupcake, but not up to this peanut butter lover’s expectations. The only peanut butter flavor seemed to be in the whipped frosting and the cookie on top. It wasn’t enough to come close to some other recent peanut butter treats I’ve had. Plus, the chocolate base needed some work. It was definitely not up to Publix’s normal standards.
These two cupcakes didn’t have that wow factor that Disney’s cupcakes have, but the apple pie version was close. Both were quite large, and I even got a discount and paid $6 for the two of them, which was a good value for what I received. While the taste of the peanut butter one was not one of the best tasting cupcakes I’ve had from Publix, both cupcakes had a great, moist cake base. This always surprises me when I know they are frozen before making it to my plate. Generally, most every bakery item I try from Publix is exceptional, it just so happens that my first review of a couple examples didn’t hold up. I will be back for more, and I’ll be sure to report on my findings.