manila: cupcakes by sonja.

cupcakes by sonja

halloo poppets, took a v. short weekend holiday to manila, basically to wait for my mohawked precision haircutter from münchen to get over his hangover and spend two hours cutting my hair so it looks like it was never cut. ergh. whatevs, it was good to see everyone in the family okay after the storm, and not-so-good to breathe in some heavy, sticky, dirty air. o, metro manila, how i heart your asthma-inducing air! it's so cosmopolitan.

of course, i did have my foodie moments, one of which was a quick trip to fort bonifacio, to the somewhat open serendra piazza complex across the street from market!market! (or, as the typhoon damaged sign reads: arket!market!). we visited cupcakes by sonja, which i read about in anton's, christine's, and ana's respective blogs. although i am quite happy to make cupcakes, i'm not particularly interested in eating them; still, i was curious to see the shop as the owner, sonja ocampo, is a former employee of magnolia bakery in nyc, and it seems like almost every cupcake shop in new york was spawned from there. i thought oh heck, why not; i'm already dreaming about shoes.

the shop itself is quite precious, very cute--pink and white scalloped awnings hang over large picture windows against a matte black and white shopfront; the interior is pale pink and yellow striped, with white cabinets and fixtures (including a much coveted smeg refrigerator--although i kinda really want this one), and vintage tea accoutrements artfully scattered about. jazz floats gently through the narrow shop, and the sweetly spiced scent of freshly baked cupcakes drifts out the front door, enticing passersby. the shop isn't officially open--it's going through a dry run--so there were only six varieties available of the two dozen that were listed on the menu. along with the cupcakes, there is a short list of plated desserts and a full complement of coffee, tea and other soft drinks available. we decided to try the bunny hugger, chocolate surprise, and berries and cream cupcakes.

cupcakes by sonja carrot + chocolate cupcakes

the bunny hugger is a lightly spiced carrot cake topped with a cream cheese frosting and a dusting of cinnamon. it was moist, lightly sweet, and filled with carrot, although the shreds didn't seem particularly well-mixed in and clinged to the sides of the cupcake. the cream cheese icing was perfect--smooth, silky not-too-sweet, and not cloying. i thought perhaps that the cake could have benefited from a bit of "aging"--maybe an overnight rest--to help develop and meld the flavours before frosting and serving, but otherwise, this was quite nice. sadly, i think the surprise in the chocolate surprise (chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream) was that the cake was quite dry, and somewhat lacking in flavour. the buttercream frosting was not as smooth as it could have been--although gritty would be overstating it--but the flavour was better than the cake, albeit still lacking depth.

cupcakes by sonja berries and cream cupcake

we also had a berries and cream cupcake with a vanilla cupcake base (i suspect it's the magnolia bakery recipe), sliced fresh strawberries, and a whipped cream frosting. the flavours on this one were quite good--the strawberries were sweet, the vanilla cake not overpowering, and the whipped cream frosting not too heavy, but still silkier than just plain whipped cream; everything blended together well. i was a little disappointed with the cake--although the cupcake is faithful to the recipe, it's just not my personal favourite when it comes to vanilla flavoured yellow cake. also, the whole cupcake was in a chiller case, which helped keep the frosting in shape without making the whipped cream too hard, but also made the cake seem heavier and less flavourful than it would be at room temperature. however, i don't know how they can address this the future--perhaps just frost them before serving?

the only other thing i ordered was a cafe americano (espresso with hot water added); it was one of the best coffees i've had in manila--a dark roast that wasn't burnt tasting, not too acidic, and a nice crema on top. although i drink my coffee black, i think some people might be disappointed that it was served with powdered creamer instead of milk. the other cupcakes on offer that day were a flourless valrhona chocolate lava-type cupcake, lemon drop--a vanilla cake/lemon buttercream combo, and red velvet vixen--red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting.

overall, i was pleased enough, but found the cupcakes to be somewhat small for the prices they fetch--from P45 to and whopping P98 for the flourless chocolate one (possibly more for others); i understand that they are made from quality (and often imported) ingredients, but hopefully the prices can come down slightly so more people can enjoy them, and more often. also, whilst it is in a new building, the façade is showing signs of wear--the scallop on the awnings doesn't look finished, the light bulbs have burnt out, and the matte black paint looks a bit uneven. however, i think this dry run will help them work out the kinks in the space and in the cupcakes. i shall return to find out!

cupcakes by sonja
1C03 serendra piazza, 1st level
fort bonifacio, taguig.


no, believe me you don't want a smeg. My kid sister has one and although it looks great - it drips, things do not fit, shelves break. My ancient Philips is a way better fridge....


I read some other blogs' review of the cupcakes and noticed how small the cupcakes were too just by the photos. I'll still check them out when I go home next month...

jh, *sigh*. i've only heard bad things about the smeg (which, btw, is a horrible brand name--it sounds like a diseased bodily fluid), not the least of which is the exorbitant sticker price. i'll never get one, but i'll definitely admire them from afar!

mita, i think it's definitely worth checking out. it's not a terrible product, and i'd like to see this venture succeed.

welcome back! Not sure I'll ever get to Manila, but always happy to read about and (especially) see cupcakes.

oh, you were here. I hope to meet you someday.

i adore that fridge as well. but i guess with the bad remarks...

the cupcakes were indeed expensive for its tiny size.

by the way, i think it said from their menu that the berries and cream base was almond cake.

hi cathy! if you ever think you might go, let me know :)

hi ana! the smeg is nice, but not the best fridge out there. just pretty. northstar makes an interesting retro-designed one, but i don't know if it functions better.

i read the description of the berries and cream cake on your blog; i wrote down the description from the placard in front of the cupcake, not the menu. i decided to stick to what my note said (okay, my scribbled on paper napkin), mainly because it really did taste like a magnolia bakery vanilla cake and not very brown buttery nor almondy to me :)

hello its Sonia from Hungary..

Great blog, take care

these look good, however, i have a huge sweet tooth. i hope we can make it to the manila while here. however, i'd much rather go to australia. love reading your blog. i wanted to let you know, if you didn't that roy's is having a cooking class this saturday. i don't know if you've ever eaten there(i am assuming you probably have though.)

Sarap! :)

By the way I've added your blog at Pinoy Blog Rank

hello sonia, thank you for taking the time to drop a line. thanks for stopping by!

hi carla, i hope you can make it to australia *and* the philippines :) i read about the cooking class, but i can never make it to those as i work on weekends. heck, i work on weekdays. sigh. if you go, i'd love to read about it on your blog!

basang panaginip, thanks!