"We take the notion of a cupcake and elevate it to the next level,” says Larry Oswald, owner, founder, baker (and mopper, he adds) at Larry’s Cupcake Café — a new addition to downtown Eugene’s food-scene renaissance.
Larry’s recently opened in Eugene after nine years in Ashland, moving to be closer to grandkids in Seattle and to escape Ashland’s feast-or-famine tourist cycle. Ashland is the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s town and Larry’s needed to be where there are more people, Oswald explains.
After looking for space in Eugene and Portland, Oswald and his wife settled on West Park Street in the heart of downtown, near Voodoo Donuts. The space is “right in the hub of it,” Oswald says, “it’s a nice match.”
Larry’s boasts “The World’s Largest Selection of Surprise Cupcakes.” A surprise cupcake is what it sounds like: a cupcake with a surprise filling. While he’s not the first to bake them, Oswald says surprise cupcakes are his niche — he makes them with a “proprietary” technique.
Based on customer feedback, Oswald feels his product rivals that of cupcakeries in New York and Chicago. Some unique flavors on Larry’s menu are Kahlua mudslide, pink champagne and beer nuts — made with the real deal in the recipe: Kahlua, champagne and Ninkasi’s Tricerahops beer.
The alcohol is not cooked out like in other recipes, Oswald says. But don’t worry, you’d have to eat 100 to really feel it, he jokes.
Salted caramel swirl is Larry’s best-selling flavor. The chocolate cupcake is multilayered and filled with a caramel-flavored whipped crème. Oswald describes the look on people’s faces when they taste whipped crème made with real ingredients: A salted caramel swirl and chocolate ganache tops the treat, creating complex flavors and a decadent mix of firmness, lightness and density, all in one bite.
Along with 50 different flavors of surprise cupcakes, Larry’s offers vegan, gluten-free and novelty designs like Duck-themed cupcakes (of course), or personal photos and business logos added for weddings, special events and corporate functions.
New to town, Oswald is learning many of Eugene’s traditions — the Slug Queen inspired him to conceive of a tie-in cupcake. “Banana slug?” he ponders, and the creative process begins.
Larry’s Cupcake Café is open 10 am to 6 pm Monday through Saturday at
868 W. Park St., 505-9317, www.larryscupcakecafe.com