Well, maybe the word is giddy...and I was surrounded by underage customers because it was at a cupcake bar. I'm talking about Treat Cupcake Bar in Needham that opened its doors in July. With pastel circles and stripes highlighting the interior and the front door exhaling sweet baking smells, it's no surprise this place was a huge hit from day one. The founder, David LaLiberte, knew that cupcakes were hot—seems a new cupcakery pops up somewhere every month—but took them a step further. The difference with Treat is the frosting. A customized frosting in which you select up to three toppings that are hand-mixed and then served alongside a plain cupcake. The fun part is deciding whether you want to slather on the whole thing and dig in, or lightly dab frosting on each bite of cake. There are six cake flavors, five frostings, and almost two-dozen treat toppings from which to choose. There are also ready-made flavors like Needham Cream Pie (gold cake with vanilla filling and chocolate frosting) and Peanut Butter Overload (chocolate cake with peanut butter cups, peanut butter frosting, and ganache). With so many possible varieties, everyone in the family gets giddy.
Seems silly to hope, but FitMamaEats wondered if there was anything a little healthier on the menu? The answer is sort of. Treat offers vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free options that are made with soy milk, trans-fat-free soft margarine, and an egg replacer consisting of flaxseed and water. The gluten-free cupcakes are made with garbanzo bean flour. These modifications translate to less cholesterol and saturated fat but not necessarily less calories and total fat. Thankfully there's automatic portion control if you can remain content with one cupcake, and you receive much more frosting than you actually need so using less saves calories as well. Head baker and manager, Adie Sprague, reports that they get many requests for lower sugar versions, which she is currently testing in the kitchen using sucralose and agave nectar, but admits the recipe needs perfecting. She also wants to test a lower fat version if she ever gets a break from baking: their daily demand is high with cupcakes selling out almost every day.
I ordered a customized cupcake with three mix-ins (dark chocolate, M&Ms, and Peppermint Patties). The cake was moist but with a large crumb, almost like that of a muffin. I chose the particular mix-ins because I like them individually as treats; blended together in a sweet heavy frosting is a different story. It was really too much and the mint didn't taste good with the vanilla buttercream. Next time I'll ask Treat for mix-in advice, or else just keep it simple with one add-in. I also sampled a ready-made vegan chocolate version that came with a dallop of dairy-free frosting the size of the cupcake itself. It seemed moister than the customized one and I preferred its less busy flavors. My honest overall opinion is that Treat cupcakes taste pretty good. There are bakeries with lighter yet more flavorful frosting and cake, Babycakes in Quincy for example. But Treat is more than its cupcakes—it's about the atmosphere and unique concept. The hours are great, open every day from 10 am to 9 pm with plenty of onstreet parking. They can also host children's parties where kids participate in both the baking and decorating of their own cupcakes.