When it comes to cupcakes, the bigger, the better, right? Not in Melissa Bushell’s opinion. In her bakery Baked by Melissa, Bushell offers tiny cupcakes with the idea that one should be able to sample many different flavors without the guilt of consuming a whole batch of calories.
Despite their diminutive size, Bushell’s cupcakes are hard to miss, with nine locations dispersed throughout New York City. Each cupcake is the size of a quarter with a base cake of chocolate, vanilla, or red velvet. On top of these quintessential base flavors, however, is a perky dollop of frosting and exclusive embellishments specific to the flavor. There are 10 regular flavors, from the classic red velvet to their signature tie-dye, as well as one mini-of-the-month flavor. The cupcakes may seem unreasonably expensive at $1 each, but they are certainly worth the splurge; Baked by Melissa presents flavors that cannot be found in any other bakery.
Like their cupcakes, Baked by Melissa is a small bakery with a modern feel. The shop is pristine with white counters and glass doors. Hundreds of their cute, bite-sized cupcakes are showcased behind a glass window with colorful frostings and toppings popping out against the surrounding white walls.
While this certainly dramatizes the allure of their outer appearances, the true appeal of these bite-sized novelties comes from within the cupcakes. Stuffed with complimentary toppings or frosting, each cupcake plays off of a different combination of textures and flavors, including classics and customer favorites like red velvet and tie-dye. Baked by Melissa does the traditional red velvet cupcake justice by keeping the traditional proportions rather than experimenting with unnecessary ingredients that distort the original taste. The moist light-chocolate cake is nicely complimented by a rich cream cheese frosting that slowly melts and fuses with the burgundy flakes. Meanwhile, though their tie-dye cupcake is simply a vanilla cake dyed blue, pink, green, and orange, its multi-colored sugar crystals give it a nice crunch to balance out the tender cake. Its alluring colors make it undoubtedly deserving of its title as the bakery’s signature cupcake.
Moving to the more classically unique flavors of Baked by Melissa, a peanut butter cup cupcake brings together salty peanut butter and rich chocolate icing to create a silky texture that glides over your tongue. The s’mores cupcake features a chocolate cake topped with graham cracker fluff. Though it is heavier in chocolate than your average s’mores, its sweetness does not overpower the delicate marshmallow garnish. The mint chocolate chip cupcake stands apart from its mundane counterparts made by other bakeries. It is topped with a sweet icing infused with mint, tickling two senses with the same sensation, as the cupcake smells exactly as it tastes.
Of the stuffed cupcakes, highlights include their cinnamon and cookie dough cupcakes. With one bite, the sweet stuffed cinnamon center quickly bursts into a mixture of vanilla frosting and cinnamon. Its rich cinnamon flavor brings back memories of the gooiest and softest cinnamon bun. The cookie dough cupcake is sweeter than most cakes due to its chewy cookie dough center, but it remains texturally pleasing as a result of the careful balance between the rough, crumbly cookie dough and the soft vanilla cake encasing it.
Although the sizes are small, Baked by Melissa manages to pack much flavor into each cupcake. With a seemingly perfect cake to frosting ratio, it can be hard to resist these cute desserts. In addition, at under fifty calories each, anyone can release their inner cupcake connoisseur and try every flavor, as Bushell intends. There certainly are perks to being small.
Baked by Melissa is located at 110 Fulton Street.