The Bonbonerie in the Obryonville part of Cincinnati is one of those places that sort of defies logic; how can one place be good at so many things? Theirs is a shop of almost obnoxious variety—scones, iced cookies, shortbreads, tarts, mammoth cakes, what I overheard one person call the "perfect" chocolate chip cookie, bars and macarons...
And they're all good, if not great. As I instagram'd and tweeted away while shooting what was only a tiny fraction of their menu, I got gushing love from as far as New York, and everyone seemed to have at least five favorites.
But amongst the collection I took to my little panel, one had eyes rolling and forks jabbing a bit more than others; the Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcake ($3.75).
What makes it particularly stellar is that—despite being a full-on chocolate dessert—it's still not overwhelmingly rich. The chocolate cake base is definitely decadent, but only to the point of still strongly defining itself as a cake and not bordering on a brownie or torte. It can stand up to a bit or the cut of a utensil without collapsing everything completely, so you don't get a one-note mouthful as you chew.
There's just enough caramel to add a depth of flavor without banging you on the head with sweetness, and the use of a flaked salt means that you get even a tiny bit of crunch along with a savory element. Because of this, the cupcake doesn't need a lot of icing; just a dab of chocolate buttercream and a thin robing of ganache. Yes, when you get all components together it's a very decadent bite, and your ceiling for sweets for the day may have been hit once you've finished. But subtle shifts in flavor make sure that you've had a pleasant death by chocolate, and not an accidental overdose.