Not impressed. Save your money.
I finally made it down to Firefly today, after looking forward to trying them for months. Walking in to the new bakery, I was impressed by the complete makeover that had been done to the space after Zillycakes’ closure; it has gone from a sterile white bakery to a warm space thanks to the addition of dark-stained wood, and the new counter layout makes it clear to the customer where they can get helped.
Upon approaching the counter, I did not notice any pricing information (disappointing). Also? The apparent lack of mini sizes—it seems that Firefly takes a one-size-fits-all approach with their double-sized cupcakes, mounded with frosting. I skimmed the selection in the display case and ended up choosing three that looked appealing (it wasn’t an especially difficult decision to make either, as most of the options didn’t strike me as very inventive). Here are my experiences with them, in order of most disappointing to least:
The Eagle: chocolate coconut cake with coconut frosting. As a lover of both dark chocolate AND coconut, I was actually looking forward to this one the most. To my dismay, I found it to be moderately moist but mostly oily and bland (read: floury). It seems to me like they cheaped out on the chocolate content and tried to make up for it either using coffee or chocolate extract, but instead they failed miserably with this near tasteless cake. I wish I could say that this less than mediocre cupcake’s saving grace was in the frosting, but it actually only made it worse. The frosting was cloying, and its apparent lack of any flavoring other than pure unadulterated powdered sugar assaulted my taste buds and left them feeling violated. I would hazard a guess that it contains only two ingredients: powdered sugar and vegetable shortening.
Also, those promises in the description of luscious coconut? A few barely-noticeable shreds were mixed in with the cake and the frosting, so little that it only served to lend a strange stringiness to the texture and near nothing to the flavor..
The Prin-Pres: purple velvet with purple frosting. This thing looked like it was smacked by a bedazzler and visually fulfilled many of my childhood cupcake dreams with its royal purple cake, violet frosting, pastel sprinkles, and dusting of purple glitter. I would honestly have believed this thing was pooped by a unicorn it had tasted better.
As far as cake texture, this was probably the best of the three. It had the fine crumb I expect from good cake and wasn’t overpoweringly sweet, but was slightly dry and nothing special in the flavor department. I also found flour clumps in it, so there was an additional issue of incomplete mixing. Poor mixing aside, this had so much potential to be a decent cupcake but it was paired with the same aforementioned awful frosting. Between the overwhelmingly sweet yet flavorless frosting and the solid layer of sugary sprinkles, I could taste nothing but sugar. If my palate hadn’t been completely overwhelmed by the frosting on the first cupcake, it certainly was after this one.
PBC: chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting
This was the best of the three, and the only one that I imagine I could probably finish most or all of on a regular day. Though it had the same terrible frosting base, the addition of creamy peanut butter served to mask much of the sugar and shortening taste. The cake was slightly dry, but it had an otherwise decent texture and contained all of the chocolate flavor that the Eagle had been missing. The addition of peanut butter to the batter also lent it additional flavor, moistness, and richness. I would classify this cupcake as “almost good”.
Firefly Cupcakes, I implore you:
- Make smaller cupcakes, and make them to order. Each cupcake was a touch dry, because they become slightly stale from sitting out. Zillycakes kept their cakes in plastic containers so they would stay moist!
- Don’t rely on sugar to flavor your product; sugar is an enhancement and, unless you’re burning it, it is not a flavoring.
- Develop new frosting. It’s really terrible.
- The entire product tastes like it lacks one of the greatest ingredients known to any cook: butter. Vegetable oil and shortening are NOT always legitimate substitutes for butter. I don’t understand why you don’t just make a smaller cupcake at the same price point with good quality ingredients; your customers would thank you and you would be able appeal to people with more sophisticated palates than your average commercially-packaged-snack-cake-eating crowd.
After sampling a third of each cupcake, I felt nauseous and sleepy for several hours. They were overpriced, underflavored, and tasted like cheap ingredients. I wish I had just gotten Indian food.