I mentioned this place in another thread, but this is a new cupcake place that opened in the strip mall at Ventura and Noble. (The menu lists the address at 15030 Ventura Blvd.) I wanted to wait until I had tried a few different things before I posted in detail.
I thought cupcakes have already become passe and, with Leda's only two miles away, I'm not sure if a new cupcake place really fills a void in the area, but I have been favorably impressed with what I have tried so far. The premise is fairly straightforward. Puddin' Out's menu has about 20 different cupcake flavors, but they rotate regularly. On my visits, they have generally had between three and five different types of cupcakes in stock.
The flavors aim for creativity and have cutesy names. Instead of calling it chocolate fudge, they have "Fudge Those Figures," a chocolate cake with chocolate chips and dark chocolate frosting. Or you can try Oranga-Twang, which is orange cake, with orange custard, and vanilla-orange frosting with some Grand Marnier. (You get the idea. I'm taking the names and contents from the menu)
The cupcakes actually compare pretty favorably with competitors'. Most, like Leda's have a small bit of cream or filling inside the cake, and have a thick layer of frosting. The frosting is not as heavy and dense as Leda's which I like, though it is the basis for one of my criticisms below. The cakes have all been very moist and the flavors have been pretty true to form. So far, I have had samples of the "Lemon Meringue High" (lemon cake, lemon filling and vanilla frosting -- it could have been a little more tart, but I like tart lemon cake), "Oranga-Twang," and "Vanilla Vice" (vanilla cake, vanilla cream, and some vodka in the frosting, which is listed as white chocolate, but tasted like vanilla to me). I also have purchased for sharing the the Fudge, "Yo Mama Mocha" (coffee cake, toffee creme, and chocolate/coffee frosting -- the coffee flavor was pretty subtle and this was more chocolatey than it would sound), "Rootbeer Float" (Rootbeer flavored cake, vanilla cream, rootbeer frosting with a maraschino cherry -- unusual, but pretty tasty), and "Red Velvet" (very moist cake and a mild cream-cheese flavor frosting that has a stronger flavor when refrigerated.) The price for each cupcake is $2.85 and they are about 2 inches in diameter. The menu says they have small cupcakes for $0.95 each, but I have never seen them in the store.
I have a few general criticisms of the cupcakes. The first is that the rotation of flavors seems a bit odd. The first time I went in to the store, there were no cupcakes with chocolate at all. They only had fruit flavors -- apple pie, lemon, strawberry. The second visit had Mocha and Red Velvet, which people might not realize have some chocolate. I know the place aims for creativity, but I think people might be turned off if they have multiple visits and think the selections are too limited. I hope the owners realize this and aim to have at least one general chocolate and one general vanilla flavor every day.
I also think in the desire to be creative, there are some flavors they missed. For instance, they have a "Peanut Butter and Jealousy" cupcake made with Peanut Butter cake, peanut butter filling, and vanilla/blueberry frosting, but they do not have a chocolate-peanut butter cupcake. And they put toffee filling in the mocha cupcake, but apparently not in a versin without coffee flavors. I was told that they will do cupcakes to order, i.e., that allow you to select cake, filling, and topping, but I do not know how many you need to order to take advantage of that option.
The other criticism I have is that the cupcakes appear to be kept at room temperature in the store. As a result, the frosting is quite soft when ordered. This isn't such a big deal for most of the cupcakes, but it did have a noticeable effect on the Red Velvet. When I first tried the red velvet right after bringing it home, the cream cheese topping tasted a lot like whipped cream. After refrigerating it for a little while, however, the frosting took on a denser texture, which enhanced the cream cheese flavor. While the effect on flavor was most noticeable for the Red Velvet, I have enjoyed all of the cupcakes a bit more after refrigerating, and definitely recommend it. Refrigeration has not affected the moistness of the cake.
They also sell cookies and small brownie squares that I highly recommend. The cookies are $0.95 each, and very buttery and moist. I have tried white chocolate macadamia, peanut butter, and chocolate chip. (They also rotate.) All have been quite good. The brownie bites are very moist and, for $1.75, give you about 7-8 square pieces. These are definitely reasonably priced.
The menu also lists bread pudding and puddin' cakes, but I have not tried them. I was going to try the brioche bread pudding today, but I would like to try the bread pudding with one of the warm sauces listed on the menu, but none were available when I was there.
There is one last thing worth noting. Puddin' Out's sign says they are open until 10:30 every night. Given that one of my major frustrations (as I've mentioned on this board) with Leda's is its short hours of operation, that is a definite plus in my book. I think for special occasions, I will probably go to Leda's, but for a sweet fix, especially late at night, I wouldn't be surprised if I become a regular at Puddin' Out.