I travel back to Arkansas on a fairly regular basis, but haven’t had much luck in extending my cupcake taste tests to my home state. Simple Google searches for cupcakeries in Northwest Arkansas yield very few results — saddening for the cupcake addict who lives within walking distance of three bakeries in the Kansas City metro area. Most of the Northwest Arkansas “cupcake bakeries” that showed up in my results were large cafe-bakery chains, grocery stores or now-defunct local cupcakeries that couldn’t stay afloat in a tough economy.
When I discovered Bliss Cupcake Cafe in Fayetteville, I Facebook-stalked it for months before finally getting a chance to drive down and conduct my first-ever natural state cupcake taste test. My oldest brother and sister-in-law joined me for early afternoon cupcakes and coffee near downtown Fayetteville. When we got to the shop, we were greeted by a friendly face and a modest display case of small, lightly frosted cupcakes. Because Bliss Cupcake Cafe is a locally owned cupcake shop, the bakers produce small batches of only a handful of flavors each day (the menu changes every day) — be sure to check the menu before you go to see what flavors and specials you can expect!
I opted for the Lady Marmalade cupcake, an orange-cranberry cake topped with orange marmalade and orange cream cheese frosting. While I’m typically a chocoholic, I strategically chose this particular cupcake because it had the most frosting compared to the others.
I enjoyed my Lady Marmalade cupcake, as well as bites of my brother’s Peanut Butter Cup cupcake and my sister-in-law’s Lemon cupcake, but I felt like something was missing from these modest little cakes. I’m a huge frosting person, and while I did get my fix from Lady Marmalade, it just didn’t have the perfect combination of uber-moist cake and rich frosting that usually tickles my tongue. Ranging from $2.75 to $3.25 a pop, I just expect to have a little more oomph in either plating and presentation, size or frosting design.
But that’s not to say I won’t be going back to Bliss Cupcake Cafe when I get another chance; there’s just too many other fun flavors to try, such as Loca Coca (cola cake with cola buttercream frosting), Spritetastic (lime cake with lemon buttercream), Mango Ginger (white cake with baked-in mango bits and ginger cream cheese frosting) and The Elvis (banana cake with chocolate pudding middle and peanut butter frosting).
It’s important to support small, independent cupcakeries with innovative flavors and skilled bakers that decide to set up shop in the heart of downtown — and it’s just as important to offer them feedback on their goods so they can continue to improve and thrive in a slowly regrowing economy. Even though other local cupcake competition may be lagging, competition with large chains and grocery stores is fierce, especially when those are the brands that populate the search results.
I’m looking forward to my next Arkansas cupcake taste test this summer — are there some hidden gems in Northwest Arkansas that I should add to my to-taste list? Let me know about them in the comments section.