Is Urban Cookies Worth the Hype?

IMG_4768Every foodie is always on the lookout for the best local treats. The best ice cream, cookies, cupcakes, and pastries are listed or featured on television specials. Some chefs and bakers are known for their wins in food competitions. Phoenix is home to many of the places featured on Food Network shows and foodie blogs.
According to Business Insider, Urban Cookies is the best bakery in the state of Arizona. They made a name for themselves after winning Cupcake Wars. Urban Cookies serves cupcakes without artificial colors or flavors, which probably won them points with the judge Florian.
As I revise this old review, it is important to note that the bakery moved locations. I visited the tiny storefront on the corner of Highland & 7th Street. Even on a Sunday afternoon there was a long line for one of their famous sweet treats. The old location was a tiny, cramped space, forcing us to stand outside in the heat while we waited in line. Most, if not all, seating was outside the building. Fortunately, the staff worked to assist customers as fast as possible. The staff is friendly and willing to explain the choices. They worked as fast as they could without making the customer feel rushed. The new location is still on 7th Street, but closer to Thomas. I assume they realized the need for a space large enough to accommodate their popularity.
The Cupcakes
Urban Cookies offers cookies, cupcakes, baked doughnuts, and ice cream cookie sandwiches. My focus was on their award-winning cupcakes. I purchased four cupcakes, a nice mix of classic and new flavors. None of these use artificial flavoring or coloring. The “Brown Velvet” cupcake, a red velvet cupcake without red food coloring, embodies this mission. These simple and neat cupcakes are presented in a plain brown box.
The classic cupcakes were $2.99, but for $3.49 per specialty cupcake, though the prices may have changed. The price may be inflated due to the prestige of a Cupcake Wars winner. Still, I wouldn’t consider the price exorbitant. A dozen is almost $40, and I remember that being a factor in not purchasing them for a family event. There’s a large selection of flavors: from classics like chocolate to their “fan favorites” like cherry cheesecake.
According to their website, they also have some seasonal flavors and change the decor to suit the season. For example, in the fall, they add a pumpkin cupcake to their menu. They also offer vegan and gluten-free options.
Cupcake #1: Mint Chocolate
This was my favorite cupcake of the day. Mint chocolate is one of my all-time favorite flavors, so I was looking forward to trying this one. The chocolate cake was moist and not too rich. It was a little dense for my tastes, but that’s more an issue of personal preference. I prefer a light texture, less like a traditional cake. I didn’t quite like the color of the frosting, but I can only assume they colored it naturally. I’m also not a fan of this particular swirl (It’s a swirl I call the “poop swirl” and I hate it on Georgetown Cupcakes too). The cool, refreshing mint flavor was kept in check by the chocolate shavings on the outside.
Cupcake #2: German Chocolate
I’m not sure if Urban Cookies uses different chocolate cake recipes. This cake tasted suspiciously like the same cake as the mint chocolate cupcake. I guess if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. At the very least, they get points for consistent bakes. The topping was the star of this cupcake. There were several flavors (coconut, caramel, and pecan) that mingled well together. The subtle caramel frosting allowed the coconut and nuttiness to come through. I was in love with the almost toffee-like crunch and chewiness.
Cupcake #3: Orange Blossom
This was the worst cupcake I have ever eaten. I was trying to find a nice way to say this, but I legitimately could not even finish it. The olive oil base cake was moist but too dense. I could not taste any orange flavor, even without eating the frosting. The frosting was the issue. The thin frosting began to slide off the cupcake (despite all the others remaining intact). The flavor was the biggest problem. A heavy-handed use of rose water made the frosting virtually inedible. It was so strong my brother said it tasted like “floor cleaner.” I’m not sure if the baker didn’t taste it, or if this is how they prefer the flavor. Regardless, I don’t even think I’d be willing to try this on another day.
Cupcake #4: Churro
This was most certainly the heaviest cupcake I’ve ever held in my hand. I was most impressed by the technique of this cupcake. They had to distinguish between a regular cupcake and a churro. Through some baking sorcery, they blended both desserts to create a churro-like exterior with a soft, moist interior. Instead of creating a churro-flavored cupcake, they made a fusion of two delicious desserts.
Unfortunately, the light cake was weighed down by the overly sweet cream cheese. Don’t get me wrong; I love sweet, but it was too much for a mild flavored cake. The cinnamon sugar on the cake and frosting helped draw away from the cream cheese.
These were not the greatest cupcakes I’ve ever had, even here in the Valley. However, I appreciate their all natural approach to flavors and baking. Most of the cupcakes were sweet and tasty, so I can understand why they have such a wonderful reputation. Overall, I enjoyed the creative flavors, rich cakes, and strong flavors. If you’d like to try for yourself, stay far away from the Orange Blossom cupcake. Urban Cookies also makes cookies and other desserts. Now that they’ve moved, it may be worth returning to try some other desserts offered on their menu.
For more information about Urban Cookies, check out their website.
Have you been to this bakery? Did you enjoy your experience? Do you agree with my review? Comment below!
Price: $3.59 – $3.79 each / $43.08 – $45.48 per doz (+ tax) for cupcakes. See their website for complete pricing.
Atmosphere: 3/5
Service: 4/5
Food: 3.5/5

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