With an indulgent swirl of buttery icing sitting atop a light spongey base, it’s fair to say that the humble cupcake has become a pop culture icon – at least, in the States. However, while the Czechs may have embraced American baked goodies like the brownie, cupcakes are harder to track down in Bohemia.
Prettified cake lovers take heart: there is one place in Prague where you can get your hands on the real cupcake deal. On the ground floor of a rather unremarkable looking modern apartment block behind the Podoli swimming complex, there’s a café specialising in cupcakes and that other great American dessert favourite, the cheesecake.
The establishment’s name? Cheecup.
I think you see how they came up with that one.
I pay my visit on a Sunday morning after scrounging a lift to this side of town from my boyfriend who is planning to do some lengths while I sip coffee and sample desserts. On walking through the door, I was struck by how modern the interior seemed: I supposed I’d been expecting something a little more kitsch to reflect the cupcake theme. There are a couple of pastel coloured walls and pink stripey armchairs but otherwise the interior décor can only be described as non-descript.
Which is fine, of course, because the main draw here is the cakes. I order a slice of caramel cheesecake (49CZK) which has a delicious caramelly burnt sugar flavour complimented by its barely there light biscuit base. My cappuccino (45CZK) was fine: nothing outstanding, but perfectly acceptable as a caffeine fix.
I hang around for a while browsing through some English magazines. The highchair, kid’s table and box of toys suggest that this is a kid-friendly spot, should you want to end a family trip to the pool with a sugary treat. I’m joined by a German family but otherwise the place is deserted which partly accounts for the lack of atmosphere. While Cheecup has succeeded in being something a little more upmarket than your local neighbourhood grandma-run cukrarna with greying net curtains, it’s not somewhere I’d select as a venue for a girly catch up a la Carrie Bradshaw and co. It’s a bit too lacking in character to be a particularly inviting place to hang out.
Perhaps I’m being too harsh. After all, the main purpose of my mission was to test those cupcakes. I couldn’t face the thought of scoffing more desserts before I’d eaten my lunch so I chose three little frosting covered beauties to try at home that afternoon with my Czech boyfriend’s assistance. After his exertions in the pool, I figured he could afford a few extra calories.
It was only on my way out that I noticed Cheecup also specialises in a few other gourmet sidelines: fancy wines, posh pasta and an array of balsamic vinegars. It’s just possible that there is a quirky cupcake recipe somewhere out involving that dark, syrupy condiment but I suspect the message is more that Cheecup is an upmarket eaterie offering top notch products to delight foodies whether their tastes tend towards the sweet or savory.
There were a decent range of cupcake flavours to choose from but don’t expect dozens of options – this isn’t Magnolia Bakery, New York City. For our home taste testing session, I selected two classic varieties – chocolate and vanilla – along with something a little quirkier. The boyfriend was only allowed to join in the cake eating fun on condition that he provided concrete assistance with this review.
“I want adjectives!” I order, notebook in hand, while he cuts into the thick layer of dark icing of cupcake number one with a fork.
“It tastes very chocolately,” he manages. He’s right – this cupcake is rich in cocoa-y goodness both in its icing and in the sponge base which is packed with chocolate chips. The boyfriend awards this little number a whopping score of 9.5 out of 10.
We then move onto the vanilla entry. It’s prettily decorated with a generous swirl of white icing and edible silver baubles. We both agree that this one is less exciting in the taste stakes and award it a score of eight and a half.
Finally, there’s the cinnamon one, which looked the least exciting of the bunch. That assessment proved accurate: the base is rather dry and the white blob of icing sprinkled with cinnamon feels less than indulgent. Still, the quality of the ingredients in these sweet treats was discernable and even my uber-thrifty Czech partner thought that at 35 CZK each, they were good value for a special occasion.
If you crave a cupcake or two, then Cheecup is one of the few places in Prague which produces a decent version. However, if you’re after a cosy venue to hang out with friends, I’m not sure Cheecup really is worth making a special visit to the neighbourhood. Having said that, it could just be that I want to have my (cup)cake and eat it, too.
Brand of coffee: Own blend
Serves food: Yes
Where do you get your cupcake (and cheesecake!) fix in Prague?
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