Cupcakes by Sonja (Serendra, Bonifacio High Street)

What’s so special about cupcakes? A store could sell a single food product like doughnut. But a cupcake is not a donut. Cupcakes are common and cheap, you could buy mass-produced items in a grocery. A cupcake store is simply not commercially viable — especially if you want to open the store at the  high end part of town. The rent alone would toast the finances of any brave soul who’d decide to sell cupcakes, and cupcakes alone.

Enter Sonja Ocampo, who decided to open Cupcakes by Sonja. That’s a brand name that focuses on Cupcakes and who makes these decadent desserts, Sonja. In case you’re wondering if Sonja is spelled wrong and should be Sonia, it’s really Sonja. And I read from Dessert Comes First that it’s not pronounced as h, but as “j” in jar.

It’s a deceptively simple name that cloaks the rich taste of the little culinary treats inside this modest store swarmed by people of all ages, all shapes and sizes. Kids, teenagers and newlyweds on a date, old people who seems to push the diabetes level to the brink.

The crowd here appears to belong to the higher end of the social strata. Not surprising because Cupcakes by Sonja is found in Serendera, Bonifacio High Street. This is Fort Bonifacio. It’s like the place to be seen in. We came in following an expat teenager with her expat BFF. The chairs inside were occupied by a 10-girl group, all elementary students speaking with a twang, half of them carrying their DSLR (newer than what I’m carrying). I only noticed three males. One was obviously gay and he was alone. The other two accompanied their significant others. It seems a cupcake joint is more for ladies, which is a good thing. Really. Translated: Good place to bring your date.

The store, a unit away from the former location of Xocolat, was jampacked when we arrived. We were ready for the price of cupcakes here, but we were surprised to discover the only an elevated 1-foot wide long table spans the glass window at one side, with around 5 high chairs. We cannot use the tables outside because the table umbrella is too small to cover the table from the afternoon sun.

We had to stand for a while near the water dispenser. Water is free. I couldn’t imagine myself ordering cola or other drinks. The initial visual inventory convinced me that the universal solvent, water, would be best to temper the sweet assault.

Waiting turned out to be a good thing, as we were able to observe what people usually order; the bestseller, so to speak. The runaway winner, at least during the time when we were standing there waiting for our turn to sit, was The Red Velvet Vixen. It’s a traditional southern cupcake made with Belgian Cocoa and cream cheese icing, appears to be the bestseller, at least when we were there.

The cupcake itself is not too sweet, unlike, for instance, The Elvis and the Mississippi Mud Pie . The extra sweet cream cheese icing beautifully complements the cupcake. Starting with the Red Velvet Vixen is recommended.

The Outrageous Mississippi Mud Pie carries a warning — this is only for the serious chocolate lover. We are chocolate lovers so we ordered one. Looking back, we should have taken the warning more seriously. It’s not enough that we’re chocolate lovers. We have to be serious chocolate lovers, chocolate junkies even, to take this cupcake.

It’s made of high quality dark chocolate, chewy fudge brownie, streusel and chocolate chips. The Oreo cookie crust crumbles as soon as you cut your fork through the cupcake. It’s so rich in chocolate taste we weren’t able to finish it.

Then there’s the Reese-peanut butter chocolate cupcake. An entirely league of its own.

Called The Elvis, it’s Reese peanut butter and banana pie. Also with Oreo cookie crust, it is filled with rich peanut butter cream, littered with Reese chocolate bits and slathered with chocolate and caramel, topped with caramelized banana slices and whipped cream.

I’m too young, ahem, to remember Elvis Presley. I heard he loves peanut butter and banana sandwiches. I figured this is the reason for the name The Elvis.

If the taste of the Outrageous Mississippi Mud Pie is too rich for us, The Elvis is even richer. The problem, we figured on hindsight, is that we tried too much, too soon.

The little treats at Cupcakes by Sonja are meant to be enjoyed, little at a time. Little in size but enormous in taste. Too much sweets overwhelms the taste buds, something which a sweet tooth like me would never imagine saying. Sugar is an addiction and we need all the restraint we could muster around Sonja’s cupcakes. I’d rather scuttle this blog than not come back here. Cupcakes by Sonja is of the very few places that I’d come back to. Again and again.

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