Monday, October 4, 2010

Review: Sweet Arleen's

Last month I competed in another triathlon. Yes, triathlon is what I do to stay in shape. Without it, I would be a huge cupcake blog.

The race was the Malibu International Triathlon. My triathlon tradition is a sweet reward of cupcakes after each race. I researched cupcakes in the Malibu area and got super excited when I found Sweet Arleen's in nearby Westlake Village.

Recognize the name Sweet Arleen's? If you do, then you know why I was so excited. Sweet Arleen's was a contestant on Cupcake Wars. Arleen competed for $10,000 and the opportunity to display her cupcakes at a film festival. She won the episode, so naturally I was excited to try her winning cupcakes!

My friends, my husband, and I showed up at Sweet Arleen's on a Saturday afternoon. The shop was really tiny, but well-decorated with lots of delicious-looking desserts. Sweet Arleen's doesn't just sell cupcakes, they also have bread puddings.

The selection of flavors was pretty decent. We got to choose from about 10 flavors of cupcakes and 6 flavors of bread puddings. My thoughtful picks were Banana Caramel cupcake, Pina Colada cupcake, Rich Peanut Butter cupcake, and Pumpkin bread pudding. These cupcakes look delicious, do they not? I seriously couldn't wait to eat them!

Banana Caramel cupcake:
Banana cupcake with vanilla frosting and caramel center
I took my first bite and thought, hmmm...this isn't as great as I expected. Took another bite to confirm my first thought. DRY. Nooooo! Dry cupcakes are the worst. Not even great frosting can save a dry cupcake and unfortunately the frosting was just so-so. The frosting was very light and unnatural. The caramel filling couldn't save this cupcake either. The flavor combination was there, but this cupcake failed at tasting great.

Pina Colada:
White cupcake with coconut syrup, filled with pineapple, topped with vanilla buttercream frosting and coconut shavings
Maybe my second cupcake would be better. Nope. Another dry cupcake. Argh! And the frosting was a light, whipped frosting, my least favorite. The pineapple filling was ok, but there wasn't nearly enough. The coconut shavings didn't have any flavor either.

Rich Peanut Butter:
Peanut butter cupcake with chocolate frosting
Finally something good. The frosting was thick and chocolaty. But the cake was dry again. Sounds like a pattern. I didn't have a peanut butter filling like the description on the website lists. Can't like a cupcake on just the frosting alone.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding:
Pumpkin bread pudding with caramelized brown sugar topping
This dessert was the highlight of my day! Although I can't be sure if I liked this because it was actually great or because it was not bad like everything else I tried. Either way, I liked it. I've never tried pumpkin bread pudding before, but I had a feeling I would like it. Very moist (unlike the cupcakes) and the brown sugar glaze was the perfect accessory for this dessert.

My friends ordered a box of cupcakes too and I tasted the flavors I hadn't bought myself. Unfortunately, all of their cupcakes were the same: dry. The red velvet was a fake red velvet (white cake with bright red food coloring) with a whipped cream cheese frosting. The strawberry cupcake also had a whipped frosting that was worse than the one on my Pina Colada. The Carrot Walnut has a decent cream cheese frosting (not whipped), but that's about all it had going for it. Sadly, so many cupcakes went to waste because no one could bear eating such dry cupcakes.

The cupcakes are $3-$3.50 each and the bread puddings are $5.50-$6 each. Mini cupcakes and mini bread puddings are also available. I only saw mini cupcakes sold by the dozen on display. If I had to go back to Sweet Arleen's, I would stick to the bread puddings. Super disappointing.

Sweet Arleen's
960 South Westlake Village Blvd. #4
Westlake Village, CA 91361


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