Zillycakes: More Than a Mere Bakery

Over the past weekend, my cousin Megan came in from the Tri-State area to see Lady Gaga at HSBC. That, and to spend a few days having fun in Buffalo. One of the many places we visited was Zillycakes, located between Potomac and Bird on Elmwood. Over the last few years, the bakery and its owner, Zilly Rosen, have been catapulted into both regional and national fame through political displays via cupcakes, incredible sculpted cakes, and – most recently – an announcement that the bakery will be featured on the Food Network.

But when it comes down to it, the everyday person – such as myself – enjoys Zillycakes for its cupcake bar and café menu. In this set up, one walks into the small storefront and is presented with a line-up of cupcakes; each month there are featured flavors, as well as the ever-present classics such as chocolate, vanilla, and red velvet. Along the bar are bags of frosting and various toppings.

On previous visits, I’ve tried a caramel-based cupcake, the classic red velvet cupcake, a Snickers cupcake, and various others that I’m assuredly forgetting. Each has been spectacular: moist and tender cake with classically excellent frosting. This time, I ordered on of the featured cupcakes of the month: an orange chiffon cupcake with Grand Marnier glaze and chocolate-orange frosting. Meanwhile, my cousin ordered a classic red velvet cupcake with Italian meringue buttercream.

With no surprise, both cupcakes were impeccable. In the words of my cousin: “the best cupcake I’ve ever had”. But I’d had cupcakes at Zillycakes before – the rest of the selections intrigued me more this time. We ordered a Tavalon tea off the menu – a crimson punch flavored with blood orange. While obviously not made in-house, the tea was delicious. The large jars of the loose tea kept on a floating shelf were representative of the uniqueness of Zillycakes in Buffalo: no tea bags here, nor pre-frosted cupcakes nor average decor.

It should shock no one, then, that we had our first French macarons at Zillycakes – a confection not readily found anywhere else in Buffalo. In fact, a touch of research (via Buffalo Spree) shows that Zillycakes is in fact the first Buffalo bakery to offer these macarons – homemade of course, through the expertise of Sarah Walley. We tried the lemon meringue and the salted caramel varieties. To ensure freshness, the macarons are kept frozen; we simply had our tea and cupcakes for the half-hour while they defrosted. When we finally did taste them, we were amazed. The macaron itself was tender and baked to almondy perfection while the filling augmented the delicacy even more. As great as the cupcakes are, I’ll be heading back for the macarons.

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