Food & drink :: Let them eat cake

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March 1, 2010
By: Lana Walker
Lana Walker
If you’re like me and have been sucked into the baking shows that frequent evening television, you spend a lot of time wishing you could sample the delicate sweets and exquisite, towering cakes that are turned out. Do they taste as good as they look? Wonder no more and try for yourself.

Cocoa & Fig, a Shakopee-based catering company specializing in baked goods, specialty desserts and cakes, has launched its first retail effort on the second-story skyway level of Gaviidae Common. For nearly three years, the company’s catering business — most often in elaborate desserts — has boomed for both corporate and social occasions, and its baked goods and sweets have been selling out at farmers’ markets in Prior Lake, White Bear Lake and Nicollet Mall. The question posed repeatedly by supporters has been, “Where is your shop?”

 It seems avid supporters and new followers have had no trouble finding the new location, which is little more than a storefront. My tasting session on a Tuesday afternoon, less than a week after the shop’s opening on Feb. 11, was interrupted by curious passersby every few minutes like clockwork, and each walked away with a sweet treat that co-owner Joe Lin promised tastes just as good as it looks.

“We can do baked goods, we can do cupcakes, we can design your wedding cake and we can make amazing food,” Lin said. “We’re well-rounded and talented, and we like to take advantage of all those aspects.”

Curious customers peered through glass to see the perfectly decorated cupcakes stacked on tiered serving platters. The best seller by far, Lin said, is the black velvet cupcake, which is the shop’s take on the classic red velvet. “It has a fraction of the food-coloring and extra cocoa,” he said. The bonus chocolate flavor — credited to Valrhona cocoa powder — and smooth cream cheese icing make this cupcake an instant favorite.

Most of the cupcakes boast a homemade buttercream icing, which is sinfully good, but comes with a word of warning: eat at room temperature while the buttercream is still soft and light. Cocoa & Fig cuts no corners, Lin said, and its signature frosting is no exception. The buttercream is made with 100-percent butter, meaning it tastes like a dream but solidifies just like butter when it is cooled.

Another rising favorite is the cake-ball lollipop, which looks to me like a fancy buckeye served State Fair style — on a stick. One bite into a whimsical-looking cake pop, and I discovered a rich center too creamy to be only cake. The reason, Lin said, is that the filling is a mixture of cake and a coordinating icing. The pairings offered include almond and caramel, vanilla and vanilla, chocolate and chocolate, and black velvet and cream cheese. Roll it all together, dip it in chocolate and you have a powerful morsel of dessert.