I recently had the pleasure of visiting Treat Cupcake Bar in Needham with a bunch of ladies from the Boston Brunchers. Before even arriving, this place had several things going for it – it was a block away from a commuter rail stop in Needham, and they offer dairy free, gluten free, vegan and other cupcake options to suit your dietary needs. This is in addition to the butter-flour-goodness of their regular cupcakes.
Since removing dairy from my diet, I thought I’d basically said goodbye to a bakery cupcake. Gluten free cupcakes are a-plenty, but dairy free seems to stump most people. When I called for some fact-finding, I was pleased to discover the many options they offer for those with dietary restrictions. They always have a few flavors on hand and can make additional flavors if you order ahead. They are also able to offer soy-free cupcakes with advance notice. They do aim to please!
With these two things going for them, I signed up for this weeknight cupcake party. The front of house is a standard bakery; a kid-in-a cupcake/candy store style bakery. You can purchase any of the beautiful, pre-made cupcakes, or you can have them make you a custom cupcake. Similar to purchasing an ice-cream sundae, but for a cupcake. You order your base cake flavor, pick frosting flavors and then choose from an incredible selection of toppings. Go crazy! They seemed to have pretty much every topping you could want, and then some!
In the back of the store there’s a private room for parties. This is where we were headed. These cupcake parties are for adults and children. If you’re looking to host a birthday party for a 6 year old or a 21 year old, they’ve done it all.
The party starts with markers and blank boxes. You get to decorate your box however you like. Once the box is done, it gets even better. First, mini aprons are passed around. These are child-sized aprons but they look adorable on an adult too. More markers (fabric safe) come out and there’s more decoration.
Once we donned our aprons, the instruction began. Sarah, our host, brought out the fondant (colored, firm play-doh like frosting) to mold and shape. With some basic tips and tutorials we set to work. It was much easier to mix and shape the fondant than I expected. Maybe this was because they had it already prepared to perfect consistency, or perhaps because of the helpful tips, like keeping plenty of powdered sugar handy to prevent it from sticking. With a few fondant shapes of different colors, we were ready to move on to the big guns.
There was a choice of vanilla or chocolate cake base (or chocolate dairy-free for me). Out came a tray with a rainbow of frosting containers and little bowls full of all sorts of toppings. Sarah kept all the dairy free items completely separate for me on a different tray so it was really obvious what I could and couldn’t eat. There was another tutorial for frosting and some key pointers were shared, like remember to clean off your spatula regularly, apply more frosting than you think you need and scrape the excess off, and how to make a flat-top cupcake so you can put toppings just on the outer edges.
We set to work frosting, decorating and topping off our cupcakes. At the end of the hour I couldn’t believe all the beautiful professional-looking desserts that everyone had made. Treat Cupcake Bar made it seem so easy! The best part – no clean up!
This would be a fun event to have with your best friends, colleagues, teammates, etc. The Treat staff was really friendly and accommodating. You could tell that everyone at Treat is proud of their product and services.
I came home with 6 beautiful, professional looking cupcakes. I had no idea how I was going to eat all 6 before they went stale. Luckily, you can freeze these things! Sarah shared another tip with us: cupcakes are best right away or the first day. If you don’t plan on finishing them in that timeframe, then it’s best to freeze them. Take the cupcakes out 2 hours before you plan to eat them and they’ll taste freshly made. Cupcakes can be frozen for up to a month (if you can leave them there that long).
Taste review: Dairy-free chocolate cupcake was moist and not overly dense, with a rich chocolate taste. It was not overly sweet. You could tell it wasn’t a standard cupcake, but you couldn’t quite put your finger on the difference. The frosting was really good. I have no idea how they made such delicious dairy-free frosting; it was creamy and sweet and everything frosting should be. When eaten as a combination with cupcake and frosting together it was really delicious. I don’t think you’d bat an eye.
I brought home one full-fledged dairy cupcake for my husband – vanilla cake with chocolate ganache frosting. He tried not to make me feel guilty but said it was really good and benefitted greatly from the butter and cream. And then he fell silent as he gulped it all down.
I attended this event for free as part of the Boston Brunchers. A private party for 10 people is $300. The opinions expressed are my own and aside from the 6 cupcakes I took home, I was not otherwise compensated for this event.