Incredibly rich and dense, these cakes are perfect for Extreme Fans of cheesecake or chocolate.

While Starbucks is known for selling slices of popular cakes behind the counter at any of their café locations, it came to our attention late last year that they would be offering their first whole “secret” Christmas cakes only available through online ordering. Naturally, we had to try one for ourselves and were quite impressed by what we got.

With the end-of-year holidays now solidly over, we figured that it would be another year until we could order a whole Starbucks cake again…until we stumbled across the following post on Starbucks Japan’s Instagram.

That’s right–the coffee chain is currently selling two more non-Christmas “secret” cakes through their online store: one cheesecake and one chocolate cake, both baked at the Hiroshima-based Takaki Bakery. Each whole cake retails for 2,950 yen (US$25.60), which is a good deal lower than the 4,320 yen we paid for the Christmas cake. Now that we knew the cakes existed, there was only one logical thing to do–order one of each in the name of investigative journalism dedicated to all of our readers with a sweet tooth.

It was a glorious day when the cakes arrived in a refrigerated package with free shipping.

Upon opening the package, the cakes were nestled perfectly inside as if they had been made specifically for that box.

There were also two coffee beans tickets which could be exchanged for 40 grams (1.41 ounces) of your desired coffee beans at a store location. Each cake came with one of them attached to it.

By the way, we had ordered the cakes in late January and they arrived in early February. The expiration dates were listed as early April, but we didn’t foresee having any problems polishing them off well before then.

▼ Top: cheesecake, Bottom: chocolate cake

We removed the box covers with bated breath and were met by a pair of gorgeously simple dessert moons. The cakes were 12 centimeters (4.72 inches) in diameter and 3.5 centimeters in height.

While both of them were supposed to be around the same size, this particular cheesecake that we happened to score was noticeably higher.

Along those lines, we decided to sample the cheesecake first. Now, New York cheesecake is a standard offering behind the display case at any Starbucks café. It’s a solid choice that universally suits the tastes of many different cheesecake fans. We were curious to see how this non-New York cheesecake would stack up.

After cutting a slice, we saw that the crust of the cake was a hard crumb texture.

Taking a bite, the cream cheese flavor was solidly there. Our impression was that it was more viscous and slightly sourer than Starbucks’ usual New York cheesecake.

Also, right over the crumb crust, there was a small layer of caramel sauce that complemented the other flavors well. Overall, the cake looked like a matte layer of heavy cheese and seemed like it would pair very well with some strong coffee or espresso.

The flavor was strong but extremely satisfying. Even those of us that could usually polish off a whole cake in one go if we wanted wouldn’t be able to do that for this one. Eating a quarter-slice would probably even be pushing it–a fifths-slice would likely be the best serving size.

OK, next up was the chocolate cake, which looked amazingly delicious from the outside. According to Starbucks Japan’s website, one of the unique features of this particular cake is that the cacao is processed from trees in Vietnam within 60 days of being harvested. The recipe also calls for three times the typical amount of chocolate.

After making a cut, the cross section revealed a pure, unadulterated layer of chocolate. Just as with the cheesecake, the crust was a tightly packed layer of crumbs, but with no layer of caramel sauce this time.

A single bite proved that it was, indeed, incredibly rich and heavy.

Even though we’ve been known to polish off a full half of other chocolate cakes in one sitting before, that would be impossible with this one. It was mouth-numbingly rich despite its size–like a black hole of chocolate. The dense cheesecake couldn’t even compare. Just a single bite felt like polishing off a full chocolate bar. In any case, this chocolate cake would be the perfect fix for anyone whose mouth and brain are craving some serious chocolate. Pair it with some whisky or bitter coffee and you’ve got the perfect combo.

Despite their price tags, you can probably eat only a little bit of each cake at once–so the value, or cost performance, is actually fairly decent. We concluded that it’s probably smart that Starbucks Japan doesn’t offer these cakes behind the counter since some folks might be turned off by the punch of flavors. They were truly developed with only Extreme Fans of Cheesecake and Extreme Fans of Chocolate in mind.

Of course, all this talk about Starbucks Japan’s cakes now makes us hungry for their annual spring sakura cakes, which are bound to show up on the menu at Starbucks cafés any day now.

Reference: Starbucks Japan
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