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Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
Nola: More Cupcakes in Cairo, Hurrah!
Here’s yet another reason why living in Zamalek is awesome if you have a sweet tooth! Located on the always busy Brazil Street just off of 26th of July Street is Nola, a quaint and elegant little cupcake shop with charming decor and sweet desserts. Though it’s definitely not the first pastry shop in Zamalek to sell cupcakes (you’ve got Loolie’s and Sugar N Spice in walking distance), it is the first to devote itself entirely and completely to cupcakes.
At the time of this reviewer’s visit, the cupcakes are sold in two sizes, a tiny bite-size and a large size, which– quite honestly– is not as large as we had hoped it would be. The cupcakes are arranged in a glass display shelf on one side of the shop, while the other side holds a chalkboard with the menu list written out in coloured chalk. Nola’s interior is painted in Robin’s Egg blue with elegant floor tiles, white chandeliers and two white high-top tables in the centre for you to wait at while your order is being prepared.
The upper level is completely devoted to the in-house oven and baking section, where a new batch of cupcakes is consistently being baked. So, if they’ve run out of your favourite flavour; be sure to ask when their next batch will be ready: it could be a matter of minutes.
At the time of this reviewer’s visit; the following cupcake flavours were available: chocolate, peanut butter, blueberry, apple, vanilla, carrot, coconut, red velvet and lemon meringue. Prices range from 8.50LE for the vanilla cupcake all the way up to 12LE for the quite extravagant chocolate cupcake.
The cupcakes are all so prettily arranged and decorated; you almost feel bad taking your first bite. Biting into the little treat, you’ll find that the cake’s texture is lovely and chewy with just the right consistency of fluffiness. In some cases such as the vanilla (8.50LE) and carrot cupcakes (11LE), the icing is just a little too creamy; as we prefer ours to be thick and heavy.
Some flavours are also a little too vague; it was difficult to figure out if our cupcake sample was carrot or banana, especially since the cake itself tasted more like banana cake and the icing had too much butter. The lemon meringue (11LE) and coconut cupcakes (9LE) brought interesting twists to the traditional flavours, but while they were sweet and pretty; they were nothing special to write home about.
The red velvet (10.50LE) is decorated with a picturesque, fluffy cake texture, though its cream cheese icing overpowers the cake’s flavour. The chocolate cupcake (12LE) has a rich, creamy chocolate icing that complements the rich chocolate cake.
All in all, the cupcakes at Nola are sweet, pretty and daintily decorated: they’re the perfect gift to bring to a ladies’ afternoon tea or an elegant birthday party. Their moderate sizes and so-so flavours stop them from becoming our all-time favourite desserts in Cairo; but since this is only the shop’s opening week, we see great potential in Nola’s future.
The number of dessert houses, bakerys and cafes in Cairo is forever growing, with cupcakes still enjoying the bulk of attention. Far from filling us with enthusiasm, we headed to Tiny Treats Cupcakes, situated competitively close to Cupcaker Baker in Ard El Golf.
Using a soft lilac and peach colour scheme, other than just two high tables and stools, the small shop space feels bare and a little uninviting. With a counter stretching across the back, a range of creative cupcakes are on display, along with a selection of take-away boxes.
Specialising only in cupcakes, the only other product on sale was a selection of fun, fluffy decorative banners (15LE plus) to add to your selection, stating celebratory phrases such as ‘happy birthday’ or, ‘congratulations’. Despite its name implying size-challenged sweet treats, the cupcakes are in fact averagely sized.
Rather than only providing run-of-the-mill flavours, refreshingly, more adventurous flavours of cupcakes are available (10LE-12LE). We filled up a box of six with choices including bubblegum, mint chocolate, caramel, blueberry, a mandatory red velvet and a peanut butter and chocolate creation named after the popular chocolate brand, Reese’s.
To our delight, each cupcake was delicious; soft and fresh, with a generous dollop of airy, flavourful icing on top. The bubblegum flavour took us right back to our school days without being overly artificial-tasting whilst the caramel cupcake was surprisingly light. The blueberry was scrumptiously fruity and the mint chocolate flavour-match was incredible. The Reese’s cupcake lived up to its name, with a wonderful balance between the rich chocolate sponge and thick peanut butter icing. Although equally as palatable, the red velvet cupcake was fairly tame in comparison.
Despite the plain interior, it’s clear that Tiny Treats Cupcakes focus their efforts on supplying fresh, flavourful cupcakes. Their range of refreshingly unique and delectable flavours also gives them an edge on local competition.