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Phnom Penh picks: The capital’s most scrumptious cupcakes put to the test

Planning a party? Need to get into someone’s good books? These treats will keep any sweet tooth happy

Jen Green’s cupcakes have that home-made touch.
Jen Green’s cupcakes have that home-made touch. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Jen Green, $3 each
Jen Green runs her baking business from home, making cupcakes for big events and small parties. Her menu includes inventive flavours and frostings to mix and match as you like – from salted chocolate sponge with a Mexican chili hot chocolate cream to espresso red velvet topped with coconut butter cream. Simple is good, too: a recent delivery of arroz con leche vanilla sponges with vanilla butter cream were rich and generously sized. At around $3 for one cake, they are on the pricier side, but this is baking with heart: she packed them in a cute box with the name of the person who ordered them hand-painted on top. The cakes cost $36 per dozen (minimum 12).
Verdict: 4.5/5
To order, email Jen at gingerhoneylatte@gmail.com, with at least 48 hours notice. Bear in mind she is out of the country until July.

Chocolat’s chocolate cupcake.
Chocolat’s chocolate cupcake. Charlotte Pert

Chocolat,$1.50 each
Next to the wide range of luxury boutiques on the ground floor of the Sofitel is a cake and coffee shop aptly named Chocolat. As well as individual chocolates, truffles and chocolate martinis, cupcakes are also on sale, in flavours that range from strawberry to peanut butter. Best is the dark chocolate kind that comes perfectly shaped in a cardboard cup, with a thick swirl of gorgeously rich chocolate cream, as tall as the sponge itself. Each is finely decorated with a white chocolate button. What stops the shop getting full marks are the other flavours, which are not so strong. The cakes are also let down by a slightly hard sponge base. However, the setting is a chocolate addict’s dream. For those who have an extra sweet tooth, try Chocolat’s hot chocolate ($4), which is just as rich and thick as the cupcake.
Verdict: 4/5
Chocolat, Ground floor of Hotel Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra, #25 Old August Site, Sothearos Boulevard. 4/5

Banana and chocolate fudge frosting cupcakes from Ganache.
Banana and chocolate fudge frosting cupcakes from Ganache. Charlotte Pert

Ganache, $1.67 each
These days, successful new small businesses must have a presence on social media, and Ganache – an expat housewife living in Bassac Garden City – has got this down to a tee. After a colleague spotted the Facebook page, this editorial team has been indulging almost weekly on these cupcakes, inspired by the regular posts complete with mouth-watering pictures. This week, we tried and tested banana cupcakes with chocolate fudge frosting, but previous tastings have included sticky toffee – butterscotch heaven, best served heated – carrot and red velvet. The sponge is just the right level of moist; the icing just the right level of creamy. You have to buy them in a set of six which, plus a box, is $10. You’d better hurry – the baker is leaving Phnom Penh next month.
Verdict: 5/5
L-18 Bassac Garden City (off Sothearos Boulevard). Message Ganache on Facebook.

Bloom’s delicious lime tart.
Bloom’s delicious lime tart. Charlotte Pert

Bloom, $1.50 each
Bloom Cafe offers a range of imaginative, colourful and – most importantly – delicious cupcakes ranging from the lemon curd cheese cake with chocolate ganache to the chocolate chip cake with peanut butter cream cheese. The butterscotch pudding cake with caramel cream cheese was fluffy and delicious: not too sweet and perfectly balanced flavours. May’s “flavour of the month” is the lime tart which is both limey and quite tart, with crumbly pastry crust outside and moist interior. To top it off, Bloom Cafe’s subdued lighting, comfy seating options and chilled atmosphere make it a calming place to take a moment and enjoy a guilty pleasure or three.
Verdict: 4/5
Bloom, #40 Street 222.

A cupcake from The Shop.
A cupcake from The Shop. Charlotte Pert

The Shop, $1.74 each
A very different style to the others, The Shop’s offering is more like an iced sponge than a cupcake. Rather than swirled buttercream the topping is thin and sugary. The one we tried was decorated like a garden lawn with green icing and little coloured sugar flowers. Childlike and fun, it looked and tasted like something you might find at a stall at a primary school baking fair – inoffensive and charmingly presented, but unexceptional. The sponge had a pleasant flavour but was too dry and little too densely packed.
Verdict: 2.5/5
The Shop, #39 Street 240.

The red velvet cupcake from The Cupcake Cafe looks pretty but lacks substance.
The red velvet cupcake from The Cupcake Cafe looks pretty but lacks substance. Charlotte Pert

The Cupcake Cafe $1.50 each
The Cupcake Cafe on Sisowath Quay is very twee with its pastel pink and brown colour scheme, little miniature bicycle flower pots and cupcake stencils on the walls. Then there’s the blaring Cambodian pop ballads coming out of the sound system. It’s a little sickly sweet. Sadly, so are the cupcakes. We had a go at the coconut milk chocolate, macadamia white chocolate and red velvet cupcakes. All could have done with a dose less sugar. They tended to be a bit on the dense side too, especially the macadamia white chocolate cupcake which had an unusual thick, sticky consistency. Not our favourite.
Verdict: 2/5
The Cupcake Cafe, #389 Sisowath Quay.

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