If you want the best cupcake in Central Iowa, look no further than the Ames Cupcake Emporium. I’ve enjoyed many different cupcakes from many different places, but none of them taste as good, or are as fun, and as original as those from the Ames Cupcake Emporium. Each one of their cupcakes is a masterpiece. Eating them is sinful and a sin. It defines the old adage, wanting to have your cake and eat it too.
The Ames Cupcake Emporium is nestled amongst other infamous buildings and businesses found on Ames’ Main Street. Owner Tawnya Zerr, has done an incredible job of infusing her personality into the building as much as she has into the cupcakes themselves. The building has personality. Iconic games and toys are well placed throughout. An antique child’s riding horse hangs from the ceiling near the cupcake display case.
Eating your cupcake here is a fun experience. Towards the back is a working antique refrigerator, the enamel a classic robins egg blue. Open it up to find cans of cold pop for sale. In addition to cupcakes, they also offer lunch including sandwiches and two salad options. The food is simple, homemade, and surprisingly delightful.
Behind the display case you can catch a glimpse of the tools of the craft: ovens, trays, and utensils are visible. It adds to the experience and makes you feel like you’re part of the action, without having to worry about getting flour all over yourself.
The magic revolves around the display case. Within are the prizes waiting to be selected and enjoyed. Three types of cupcakes are offered: Classic, Specialty, and Mini, a miniaturized version of their classics.
As you can see, their cupcakes are beautiful. They aren’t just flavored, instead thought has gone into each one of their cupcakes. For example, their Coffee N’ Cream Cupcakes feature a layer of white cream frosting with piped on chocolate frosting, then adorned with roasted coffee beans.
What really blew me away by the presentation of their Cotton Candy cupcakes was the marbling effect of the cake and frosting. Whereas if I had done this, I would have mistakenly mixed the colors together creating some muddy new color that even Crayola wouldn’t know how to name. Instead, Tawnya was wise to let the colors mingle creating a beautiful marbled effect, representative of real cotton candy.
There were just too many cupcakes for us to try just one apiece, so we decided we’d go with a full half dozen. I’m not trying to fool anyone here, that’s a lot of carbs, but I’ll tell you that I have no regrets!
You can open up to me, I’ll listen!
In clockwise order from the top is the Dirt Cup Cupcake (notice the gummy worm!), Peanut Butter Cup, Coffee N’ Cream, Snicker Your Doodle, Cinnamon Roll, and Cookies N’ Cream.
Their Cookies ‘N Cream cupcake is a favorite amongst us. I’m sure you noticed right way the Oreo cookies mixed into the frosting and batter. But the real gem is the whole Oreo that can be found as the base of the cupcake.
New to us this trip was the Cinnamon Roll cupcake. Now, who doesn’t like a good cinnamon roll? Imagine taking an awesome cinnamon roll, but then imagine it in the form of a cupcake. That’s all it takes to picture what this beauty was like. Tasty cream cheese frosting, with lovely cinnamon topping piped over the top.
My favorite cupcake of theirs has always been their Peanut Butter Cup Cupcake. The frosting is flavored like rich and creamy peanut butter. The cake is an awesomely dense chocolate. And the real gem is what goes into the cup before the batter is poured in: a Reese’s peanut butter cup. This little gem is just waiting for you to find it!
Their Coffee N’ Cream cupcake was another new one to us. What may not be so obvious is the layer of vanilla cream frosting that goes down first before the chocolate frosting is piped on. It’s a wonderful and thoughtful little surprise just waiting to be discovered as you bite into it.
What I feel really makes the Ames Cupcake Emporium stand out from all the others is the thoughtfulness, creativity, and originally of each of their cupcakes. The effort that Tawnya and her crew put into each cupcake I find almost crazy. For example their Snicker Your Doodle cupcake that they’ve flavored to taste just like a snickerdoodle cookie also has mini snickerdoodle cookies that they’ve gone to the effort of baking just to place on top as a (very welcomed!) garnish. But the thing is, each one of their cupcakes has this level of extensiveness. I’m always blown away by this each and every time I get to see (and eat) their cupcakes. This is in juxtaposition to so many other cupcake places where all of their cupcakes look the same, and the only thing that differentiates one cupcake from another is how they’ve flavored and/or colored their frosting and batter.
This year they were on cupcake wars, and were eliminated in the first round. The quick and unanimous decision by the judges still has me scratching my head. Honestly, if the cupcake they offered the judges was half of what I’ve ever had from them, I have to question the sanity or competency of the judges. Tawnya and her team were brave going on the show, but the loss on the show has no bearing on the high esteem to which I hold them. Screw em I say! You better believe I’m going to keep eating their cupcakes, two at a time!
So what are you waiting for? Do yourself a favor and have a taste of Central Iowa’s best cupcakes! Let ‘em know you heard about them from the Iowa Food Blog.