While I was traveling around the world, a cupcake revolution was occurring in the United States. I didn't become aware of the sugary new movement until I returned home last Summer. By then, the Washington, DC area already boasted something crazy like 30 different shops dedicated to…cupcakes. Seriously.
Don't get me wrong, I love pastry and chocolate shops. They played a big part in why I visited Belgium, Switzerland, and France. But I grew up eating cupcakes. They were the norm. Mom would buy a box of 6 at the supermarket for a few bucks. Simple.
When I returned home and the DC foodies on Twitter were all abuzz about their favorite local cupcakeries, well, I had to investigate first hand. Before the Rwanda trip, I went to Cupcakes Actually near my local REI store in Fairfax, VA. I picked out two, including Actually Dipped Peanut Butter, which was described as “ultra moist devil's food cupcake topped with our creamy peanut butter icing then dipped in our decadent chocolate fudge.”
One bite and I knew these weren't the same mass-produced cupcakes I grew up with.
So when Stephanie (@AdventureGirl) was showing me around Beverly Hills last month, and mentioned Kim Kardashian had a cupcake shop, I felt the need to compare the west coast offerings with the ones I'd had back home.
On a sunny Friday morning, just before heading to lunch, we stopped in Famous Cupcakes so I could sample the offerings. It was the biggest interior space I've seen yet for a cupcake shop. There was plenty of room for people to sit down and enjoy their cupcakes, though it was empty at the time. Given it wasn't even noon, on a weekday, I can't hold that against them.
I opted for the Chocolate Coconut, missing the fact that there was whipped cream inside the cake portion, in addition to the frosting on the top. It was rich, but a bit too much sugar for me. I realized then that I prefer a solid cake foundation in my cupcakes. I washed it down with a cold cup of milk.
Total cost? About $5 — completely reasonable for a snack in Beverly Hills.
After lunch, Steph wanted to introduce me to the Beverly Hills cupcake institution known as Sprinkles. By now it's probably a little after 2 pm. There was a 10-minute line extending outside the shop. Unlike Famous, this spot was tiny, with just a few stools inside for the odd couple of customers to sit down and consume their cupcakes on the premises.
I was still very full from my pre-lunch cupcake, and lunch itself, but I felt the call of duty. We each had a chocolate cupcake, and split the Red Velvet (my first). I liked them better than the Famous Cupcake, but it was like comparing apples to oranges. If I'm going to compare cupcake shops in a fair way, I”ll need to establish a common denominator, such as Red Velvet which seems to be an option at every shop.
After finishing my chocolate Sprinkles cupcake, I started to feel especially full. Actually, I felt ill. Did I mention I had a slice of cake after lunch too? Yea, I'd reached my limit, but I managed a forkful of the Red Velvet before tapping out altogether.
Needless to say, I took a nap before dinner.
Are you a cupcake aficionado? If yes, what's your favorite flavor or shop?