Whenever we have a birthday in our family, it’s always my job to bake the celebratory cake. Unfortunately, that means I also have the responsibility of baking my own birthday cake when my big day rolls around each year.
This year, I decided to give myself the day off, and treat myself to something special: a cake baked by Carlo’s Bake Shop, made famous by the popular TLC reality show Cake Boss, featuring baker Buddy Valastro.
We visited the satellite location in Ridgewood, New Jersey (the original store is in Hoboken, but there are other locations cropping up now throughout the state). Since this was a spur-of-the-moment thing, I didn’t get a custom cake made, but it really wasn’t necessary–there were several beautifully decorated pre-made cakes to choose from.
I eventually went with this little beauty, which has chocolate ganache mousse sandwiched between yellow cake and chocolate cake, topped with a thin layer of buttercream, and covered in pink fondant and decorated with brown fondant dots and a huge fondant bow.
So, did it live up to the hype? Well, visually, yes, it was absolutely worth the trip to see the beautiful cakes, and get a photo of the iconic striped awning outside that I’ve seen on the show so many times. As far as taste, though–good lord, it was a bit too sweet for me. I guess I’m just not a big fan of fondant. It looks great when it’s molded into a decorative design, but it’s pretty much pure sugar, and I like frosting that melts in your mouth. Fondant is a little chewy.
Overall, I’m still glad I treated myself to a genuine Carlo’s cake, but I’m not sure I would do it again. The cost was a bit steep–close to $50 for the small cake I purchased–and just a few days later, I bought a much larger cake for my daughter’s birthday at my local supermarket bakery for less than half the price. They also sell Carlo’s cakes in the frozen baked goods section of my local supermarket, but I can’t even imagine that being worth it. The real pleasure was in making the trip to the bakery, seeing and smelling all of the wonderful items they had for sale, and getting a cake that baked fresh as opposed to frozen. And, truth be told, the less expensive cake that I purchased from the supermarket, with its soft buttercream frosting and a fresh strawberry filling, was a much bigger hit with our family. In the future, I might still buy a Carlo’s cake if we’re having a fancy party and I want to impress people, but I would stick with a really small one and purchase a larger sheet cake from the grocery store as the main dessert.