Summer is (sort of) here, and with it comes Dunkin’s new summer menu featuring the Cake Batter Signature Latte because nothing says summer like stirring unbaked cake into your coffee. What, you’ve never done that? Do you mean to tell me you’ve never set out to make a cake, decided it was too hot to turn on the oven, and then solved the problem by just swirling the batter into your espresso? Yeah, me neither, but that didn’t stop me from deciding I needed to know what it would be like if I did.
Combining espresso and milk with cake batter flavor and topped with whipped cream, mocha drizzle, and rainbow sprinkles, this beverage blurs the lines between coffee and dessert. It looks like something you’d order if you decided to have a little party for yourself.
My quest for this party began on a cold Chicago day where summer felt far away, but the idea of coffee with sprinkles felt just right. I ordered both iced and hot versions, and my request was met with confusion. I couldn’t tell if this was because the employee didn’t understand why I’d want both or if he didn’t know what the Cake Batter Latte was. After some questioning, I received them, and now it was my turn to be confused.
Both had whipped cream and sprinkles, but “rainbow” would be a stretch as most were white or very muted pastels. Where there should have been a mocha drizzle, there was a thin, tan syrup and a dash of brown powder. The drinks weren’t bad but were kind of sad looking and tasted nothing like cake batter. I walked away thinking I had two possibly hazelnut flavored lattes and vowed to try again.
Ok, Round Two! A new day, a new Dunkin’ location.
This time I opted for just the iced version and was relieved when it looked more like the image on the menu encouraging me to “Cake on the Summer.” Don’t mind if I do! The mocha drizzle was clearly present this time, and the sprinkles had a brighter appearance. Then it came to taste time and I was disappointed that the bulk of this coffee is the same flavor I had before, and it still doesn’t taste like cake batter to me. It seemed closer to a French Vanilla and I’m wondering if the nuttiness is some sort of almond flavoring. Almond extract is a fairly typical ingredient in many cakes, so maybe it’s unfair to say this doesn’t taste like one. I should say that it doesn’t taste like the kind I thought it would, a vanilla-forward birthday cake mix. Maybe this tastes like a petit four?
The espresso has a rich flavor and the (non)cake batter flavoring and toppings don’t totally overwhelm it. It’s sweet but more balanced than you might anticipate something swirled with cake batter to be. The mocha drizzle doesn’t add much taste but aesthetically contributes to a decorated cake look, and the drink itself is pleasantly creamy. Some sips seem thicker and sweeter, like frosting, which wouldn’t really be present in cake batter but does make one think of cake. The highlights for me were any sips with sprinkles. They don’t taste like anything, but they provide some textural pop and festivity. If made correctly, this drink looks like it should be served next to presents and a bounce house, but the taste doesn’t deliver the same amount of fun.
Update: There was a birthday in my house this week, and because I care about authenticity, I sampled a boxed mug cake batter and a homemade cupcake batter. Both confirmed my suspicions that I know what cake batter tastes like, and this latte doesn’t capture it.
Purchased Price: $5.29
Size: Medium (Iced)
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (Medium iced with whole milk) 440 calories, 14 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 67 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 62 grams of sugar (45 grams of added sugar), and 11 grams of protein.