When I first caught a glimpse of the sign for Glitz Cupcakes at the corner of Sussex and Murray, I did a double take and asked myself the question that you might be asking yourself now: Does Ottawa need another new cupcake bakery?
I wandered inside the chic, minimalist shop, with its generously frosted cupcakes displayed like fine pieces of jewellery. There I met the owner, Vanessa D’Amours-Chenier (even her name is fabulously stylish!). I soon discovered that the mother of two boys under 24 months old gave up her job in the finance industry to “do something creative.” Glitz was born. While I applaud such ambitiousness, I had to ask her straight up: what sets this place apart?
Like most of her competitors, D’Amours-Chenier is using top-notch ingredients — there’s pure butter and Belgian dark chocolate — and she changes up the flavours daily: everything from seasonal fruits like mango and strawberry to the more exotic flavours, key lime and tiramisu in addition to the classic chocolate, vanilla, and red velvet. The first difference is the look and overall vibe of the place, she says, “I’m not into vintage. I wanted my shop to be more modern and urban. I want to go more up-scale.”
While the cakes are attractive, adorned with sprinkles and bits of fondant in the shapes of stars, carrots, and limes, these didn’t strike me as the most glamorous cupcakes I’d ever seen. The chocolate one I sampled, however, stood out as one of the richest and fudgiest.
And that’s thanks to differentiator #2: these are so-called “filler cupcakes,” which means there’s an extra dose of frosting inside the cake itself. As if the creamy tower of buttercream on top weren’t enough; Glitz cupcakes are apparently frosted inside and out!
So, cupcakes are popular because they remind us of childhood, right? A simpler time when when we could eat sweet treats with abandon and without consequence? Before I had the chance to ask Glitz’s owner about her theory on why the cupcake craze is hitting the capital hard these days, a customer walked in. The woman ordered one single “sugar shack,” a maple cupcake topped with maple frosting and a chunk of maple fudge. When she saw I was snapping photos she asked me to make sure she wasn’t in the shot. She then declared that the cupcake she was buying was not for her, but that she had bought cupcakes for other people in this shop before and had “tasted one.” At the last minute, she decided to buy herself a miniature cupcake and mumbled some explanation as she scurried out the door.
I asked D’Amours-Chenier if that kind of sheepish and apparently guilt-ridden behaviour is common for customers of her unabashedly decadent desserts. She nodded and smiled: “I see it all the time.”
Glitz Cupcakes and Company, 11 Murray St., 613-659-2122, www.glitzcupcakescompany.com