I’ve always been a fan of verrines – those little desserts served in small, clear glasses, usually made with plenty of sweet cream, custard, and fruit. I find them more elegant than most plated desserts; little pots of sweetness filled with two or more spoonfuls of bliss. So, you could just imagine how thrilled I was when I saw that Vanilla Cupcake Bakery offered a selection of classic desserts served in clear glass jars along with their rather overwhelming selection of cupcakes.
When the bakery first opened on the second floor of Makati’s Glorietta, there was quite a bit of bad press about it. Some said the staff were none too efficient, others related appalling tales of cupcake trays lined with greasy paper and a slow turnover and replacement of offerings. It was a horror story for foodies, really, but time has proven most haters wrong and the bakery continues to flourish as it now has three locations: two in Makati and one in Alabang. And I was finally glad to come on in and try its treats.
Vanilla’s interiors are a bit of a throwback to the 1950s or a Cath Kidston catalogue: chintz upholstery, pretty and feminine pastels, ruffled lampshades, and rose-patterned wallpaper. The mismatched chairs and glass-topped tables make diners think they’ve stepped into the breakfast room of an eccentric albeit elegant old aunt who is both adorable and generous, her spaces cozy and comfortable.
Quite obviously, cupcakes are the bakery’s primary stock in trade, featuring such flavors as blueberry lemon, dulce de leche, Valrhona mint chip, sticky toffee (I’ve yet to see, however, if it also has dates), and brownie cheesecake along with such modern classics as red velvet, salted caramel, and hummingbird.
But, really: it’s the verrines I’m after. Previously, these were served in teacups (hence referred to as “cup-cakes” in earlier menus); but these now come in round-bottomed glass jars. The bakery currently offers four variants on its menu: mango panna cotta, strawberry panna cotta, tiramisu, and banoffee pie.
Vanilla’s version of this indulgent dessert features ripe bananas layered with dulce de leche, crushed Graham crackers, lightly sweetened whipped cream, and a dash of ground cinnamon: sort of like an abbreviated pie.
You really have to dig deep with a spoon to get all the layers in a single mouthful. It is not, thank goodness, temple-achingly sweet; it is more subtle and the flavor of the banana really shines through, tempered somewhat by the buttery crumbs and silky dulce de leche. The cream is gentle on one’s palate and the cinnamon makes all the flavors pop up. It is, to be perfectly honest, my favorite take on banoffee pie – not too rich, not too sweet; the perfect indulgence for one.
Since I was indulging myself after two rather insane weeks where my life seemed utterly shot to hell, I thought it appropriate to order an iced coffee – but not just any iced coffee, mind you.
This is Vanilla’s Dirty Mocha, a spot-on, madcap, utterly decadent beverage featuring espresso, chocolate milk, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and whipped cream garnished with more shaved chocolate. It is, in my opinion, a balance of sweet and bitter flavors, served refreshingly cold but without too much ice. A magnificent way to end the week, really.
Next time, I’m grabbing a cupcake – or two…