Cake in a cup. More specifically, layered cakes in cups filled with ingredients like salted caramel, milk chocolate ganache, peanut butter mousse, and raspberry honey jam – even bourbon cake. Which is fitting considering the individualized cup portions are bourbon glass-sized, and slightly intoxicating (I’m looking at you, honey bourbon cake). So of course, these cake cups are becoming a thing in the West Village, where they’re being sold at the recently-opened Bee’s Knees Baking Co. And with appearances at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, The Jade Hotel, and hundreds of weddings, the Bee’s Knees cake cup phenomenon is turning cupcakes on its head, and off its frosted, regal throne.
Opening on 12/12/12, as Bee’s Knees did, comes with a good deal of expectations. Both a doomed and auspicious day, Bee’s Knee’s has since emerged victorious, with customers rushing in at 8am for their Gorilla Coffee (only place in NYC to serve the Brooklyn-based brew) and croissants, and midday to lounge at the communal wooden table by the long front windows for some free Wi-Fi and chocolate PB cake cups.
Every day, around six or seven fixed and rotating flavors are offered, such as red velvet, lemon raspberry, carrot, PB & J, and even coconut grapefruit all baked fresh by chef Billy Mayer in a kitchen on Bowery. The most popular cup: the chocolate salted caramel – layered with chocolate cake, a thick ring of salted caramel, and roasted pecans and chocolate cake crumble on top.
So how did the cake cup idea arise? Switzerland-born co-owner Marco Stucky (pictured below) has the answer: “Americans love variety and options like nothing else,” he said. “So we wanted to come up with a cake that was as multilayered in flavor and as individualized as possible.”
Since opening, Stucky has not only lost 30 pounds from running around the shop, but has also become somewhat of the neighborhood talk show host; regulars know and love him for his easy conversation, passion for Bee’s treats, and his ability to remember your name. If you’re lucky – he’ll throw a couple of free, shot-sized samples in there to hold you over after lunch.
But Stucky isn’t the only European native in the shop. The coffee machines themselves, handpicked by Gorilla Coffee, are handmade and straight from Florence, Italy and Germany. “These are all top-of-the-line,” Stucky said. “Gorilla wanted to make sure we have the quality standards they have.”
And to test this, the drink to get is their signature Hot Nasir (named after a loyal regular, lucky guy), which blends hot caramel with a shot of espresso. Pair that with the chocolate salted caramel and, well, your morning becomes “the bee’s knees.”