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Guest Review: Babycakes NYC Cupcakes at Disney World

Thanks to Leigh Caldwell for putting together this great review of Babycakes NYC, Disney World’s newest cupcake shop, which opened in Downtown Disney this weekend. Leigh writes about Walt Disney World and theme parks in general on her site, ThemeParkMom.com, and for AOL’s travel blog, Gadling.com.

My love of all things cupcake is pretty well documented online and on Twitter, so of course I was excited to hear that a branch of Babycakes NYC had opened at the Downtown Disney Marketplace.

Atmosphere
Babycakes NYC is a vegan bakery on New York’s Lower East Side. A downtown L.A. outpost opened recently, and now a third outpost has appeared at Walt Disney World.

It occupies a corner of the former McDonald’s building, sharing space with two quick service restaurants – Pollo Campero and Fresh A-Peel.

Eats
The desserts in the bakery case at Babycakes are egg-free, gluten-free, casein-free, refined sugar-free, and the list goes on. In fact, there are so many things NOT in these baked goods that I started wondering what is actually in them.

Vanilla and Chocolate Babycakes Cupcakes

It turns out most of the Babycakes items are made with rice flour or a mix of garbanzo beans and fava beans, and they are sweeted with agave.

Babycakes offers donuts, cookies and my main focus: cupcakes. On the day we visited, the cupcake flavors available included vanilla, chocolate, lemon, banana-blueberry and red velvet. The cupcakes are priced at $3.50.

Donuts

Banana Blueberry Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Lemon Cupcakes

And then we spotted the cupcake tops. They are about the top 1/3 of a cupcake and the frosting. I am all about the frosting, so these really appealed to me. And at $2, I felt like we could get a couple to try.

We tried the lemon, banana-blueberry and vanilla cupcake tops.

Vanilla Cupcake Top

And, well, they were vegan desserts. I am NOT saying the Babycakes cupcakes are bad or we didn’t like them. But they are the kind of thing you would be excited about if you couldn’t eat eggs, or dairy, or gluten. And I can eat all those things, so I just didn’t get that excited.

I did appreciate the frosting because it wasn’t overly sweet. I find some Disney cupcakes to have that cloying frosting that almost makes my teeth hurt when I bite into it. Babycakes’ lemon frosting was especially good. And the frosting is quite creamy for something that doesn’t contain butter.

Lemon Cupcake Top

But the cake – it just had a density about it that wasn’t appealing in a cupcake. I like my cupcakes light and springy. Every bite of the Babycakes vegan cupcakes was dense and heavy, like a very heavy carrot cake texture.

The “cakes” tasted good, but the only way they resemble a cupcake is in the shape they are baked. My favorite was the banana-blueberry. I realize now that the reason I liked that one best is that the dense texture had some context for me in that flavor – it was more like you would expect to find in banana bread.

All that said, if you are vegan or eat gluten-free, definitely run to Babycakes. I’m sure the cupcakes here are quite a treat if you normally can’t eat baked goods.

And Babycakes, I haven’t given up on you yet. I will be back to try the cookies soon.

Editor’s Note: BabyCakes treats are now being sold at the Art of Animation’s food court.

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27 Comments

  1. marci says:

    I can eat dairy, eggs, and gluten as well but I still loved eating babycakes stuff (at least the treats I got in NYC). To me, the taste is still good enough that I enjoy the treat and it makes me feel good to know I’m eating something that is healthier for my body and doesn’t involve any animal products. I’m not saying I will never eat another cupcake or other treat at WDW when I’m on vacation, but I know now that babycakes is there I will be heading to downtown disney first thing on my trip to stock up! thanks for posting the review!

  2. Emily says:

    all vegan cakes are dense, my son has extremely bad food allergys and all the vegan food is dense and ucky if your used to eathing all the stuff. Im glad there are more options out there for him at wdw. Cant wait to try it for him esp the donuts

  3. Galloping Gourmand says:

    If you are interested in trying a Babycakes cupcake at home try this link. It’s a version of the hostess cupcake made from a Babycakes recipe. http://www.babycakesnyc.com/assets_c/2010/01/Post1.html

    Cupcakes are the food of the moment (thanks, in part, to SNL’s “Lazy Sunday” and their famous shoutout to Magnolia Bakery Cupcakes so many years ago). As such they are no longer the realm of the simple white or lemon cake any more. There are more permutations of cupcake than there are bakeries right now. Babycakes has a huge following from the vegans here in the city, and in NYC there are multiple choices. Vegans are very particular about both food and taste. They are also kosher, and WDW lacks good kosher food. That’s a plus in my book. I’ll have to try it the next time I’m down.

  4. Rick says:

    This is the bakery that started the cupcake craze:

    http://sprinkles.com/index.html

  5. AJ says:

    Marci — Thanks for the info! Great to hear your review!

    Emily — I can’t wait to hear what your son thinks!

    GG — Thanks for the info! I had no idea you were a NYC-ite. I just moved from there a couple of years ago, but I’m still a Magnolia bakery fan. :-)

  6. carolyn says:

    Thanks for the review. I’m still anxious to try them – I’m not vegan but I am vegetarian and I think it’s great that there is an alternative out there for folks those with food allergies or who are vegan. I send the article/link to babycakesNYC to a friend who has to eat gluten-free and she was super excited! I also like that these are made by hand, not massed produce and are of top quality ingredients. I’m still going to have to try the Butterfinger cupcake but having a few of babycake ‘tops’ won’t make me feel as guilty :)

  7. Galloping Gourmand says:

    I’m a “just outside of NYC ite.” :)

  8. Stephanie says:

    I looove donuts, so I cannot wait to try those! (I have to eat dairy free, but donuts are pretty much my favorite food, so it would be great if these rocked.)

  9. Jean says:

    vegan and gluten-free cupcakes do NOT have to be dense or yucky! promise! we just did a vegan coconut and kiwi layer cake for a restaurant that was fluffy and coconut-y and moist and yummy.

    gluten-free flour mixes that are primarily rice flour or bean flours are going to be heavy and gritty…start with a different mix (sorghum, millet, almond, etc.) and you really can bake something that rivals conventional baking ingredients! promise!

  10. Josh says:

    Very nice review Leigh!

    It’s actually great that there is another cupcake business up and thriving. I just think it’s the big business right now at the moment, but most businesses that are in cupcakes also do other variety of desserts.

    As several others have said, just because it’s gluten-free and vegan doesn’t mean it’s bad!

  11. JulFromMD says:

    Being highly allergic to legumes and with a mild rice allergy, I may have to skip this one…but thanks for the review!

  12. AJ says:

    Carolyn — Looking forward to your review!

    GG — I see! Are you in a borough, Jersey, up north? So cool — we were neighbors!

    Stephanie — Woo!!! So glad they have these for you to try! DH loves donuts, too, so we’ll definitely try these out!

    Jean — Thanks for the info! Almond-based flour sounds yummy, but would it interfere with nut allergies?

    Josh — I’m looking forward to trying it out — heard about some yummy banana bread here, too!

    Jul — Bummer!! How did you figure out you were allergic to legumes?!

  13. I’ve sampled quite a few of the treats found here (and in NY) and it is really, really good. AJ, you must try the cookie sandwich. It will change your life.

  14. Chrissy says:

    I love Babycakes NYC and am beyond thrilled to know that these gluten-free treats are available in Disney World! To those who don’t like them, please leave them for the many gluten-free Disney patrons! We’ll be happy to eat them. Also, their cookies are delicious. I’ve only experienced Babycakes in NYC so it’s possible (?) the ones in Disney aren’t as good, but hopefully they will live up to their well deserved reputation.

  15. AJ says:

    Matt — Um, yeah! I love life-changing cookie sandwiches! Any flavor you recommend?

    Chrissy — Thanks for the review! Can’t wait to try ‘em.

  16. Dana (aka DragynAlly) says:

    I like the occasional vegan dessert. I’ll have to try this.

  17. Michele says:

    Hmmm…maybe I’ll try it in NYC before I try in Downtown Disney?

  18. chris says:

    AJ, I’m recording a podcast and we’re all reading your blog right now!

  19. Ariene says:

    Try the donuts!!! I CAN eat egg, gluten and dairy, and I just loved the donuts!! Light and just sweet enough: perfect! You should try the donuts and write a new review! : )

  20. AJ says:

    Dana — Let me know what you think!

    Michele — Would love to hear a comparison!

    chris — Cool!!!

    Ariene — Thanks for the recommendation! I’ll definitely try the donuts!

  21. Karen says:

    My sister just returned from Disney and brought me a box of chocolate chip cookies,chocolate chocolate chip cookies and pumpkin loaf.I’ve never had their food before and it was all delicious! I wish they had been opened when I visited in october.

  22. Michele says:

    Hmm… going into NYC tomorrow, maybe I’ll try to find it!

    It’ll be better than heading to Crumbs, right? :)

  23. Samantha says:

    We just visited last evening–and took home some cookies, cupcakes, brownies, and doughnuts for us and our son recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease (12 year old)—Oh–MY–GOSH!! All of what we have tried from that box has been delicious! We had a brownie last night–and it was truly better than any brownie I have had, even my non-celiac husband was WOWED! He ate the whole thing, which if he doesn’t really like something, it gets kindly placed to the side–so this is a good sign :) This morning the doughnuts were a big hit with the boys on the way to school (after a good breakfast at home of course~) Can’t wait to try the cupcakes tonight–and the cookie sandwiches! We are so glad you are at Disney–it’s nice to be able to “pick up” something like this. I am so willing and do bake–have your cookbook now–but to just go out and pick it up…what a treat! We will be sharing you with our Celiac Support group we recently started and WILL be back! I hope you are there for the long haul!

  24. Yves says:

    We recently sampled the cupcakes and donuts at the Downtown Disney Babycakes. I agree with Ariene above – the donuts are the best and rivaled my favorite local bakery’s cake donuts.

    We enjoyed the cupcakes too. They’re more like eating a muffin than a cupcake. We found the chocolate chip cupcake – with chocolate chips baked into the cupcake – the best of the bunch. Those who didn’t like the texture of their regular cupcake liked the texture of the chocolate chip cupcake the best.

  25. bitt says:

    Babycakes is far from the best vegan and gluten-free cupcake I’ve had. Probably because it tries also to be healthy. I haven’t had a good experience with the last few cupcakes I’ve had from them, and I have been eating this way for awhile. Just because one has food allergies or is vegan doesn’t mean we should have to settle. And we don’t have to! There are better cupcakes out there.

  26. bitt says:

    ps: when I say better I should mention award winning Sticky Fingers cupcakes in DC. those take the (cup) cake.

  27. Laurie says:

    Thanks for the review! I’m excited – glad to see cruelty free desserts at WDW!!! Go, Disney!

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