I’m always suspicious of people who don’t like cupcakes. I mean, come on! They’re mini cakes with frosting and sprinkles. What’s not to love? I remember the first cupcakes I had ever tasted. There were six on a white plate, risen to a beautiful golden brown, topped with a delicate twirl of vanilla buttercream the colour of pale sunshine, and covered in a shower of rainbow sprinkles. I fell in love that very instant.
To me, cupcakes are the perfect dessert. They are presented individually, which accounts for a certain degree of neat sophistication. They’re easily adaptable to any flavour or taste, and give their makers a chance to dress them in beautiful sprinkles or edible glitter as a finishing touch.
Here are the top 5 most popular cupcake joints in New York.
Made famous by the TV show ‘Sex and the City’, this little bakery always has a line all the way down the street from it. Although most patrons are tourists, many locals have specific favourites they keep returning for. The Devil’s Food cake (with caramel meringue) and the Hummingbird (banana, pineapple and pecan) are some of its top sellers. Magnolia does the classic cupcake well, a standard cake base with buttercream and many variations on that. They have specials that change every day, and monthly specials as well. This month, it’s their Blueberry lemon cupcake with lemon cream cheese icing that’s the star. Other desserts, such as the banana pudding, are also very popular.
Cupcake to try: Carrie cupcake and Hummingbird cupcake
Location: 401 Bleecker Street (and others)
Baked by Melissa
Cupcakes are already mini cakes, right? Then what are mini cupcakes? They’re the cutest things ever! Baked by Melissa took New York by storm when the first shop opened in Soho in 2009. People went nuts for the tiny, beautifully decorated, almost too-cute-to-eat cupcakes that came in every flavour and colour imaginable. And because they’re so tiny and adorable, most patrons walk out with 24 assorted cupcakes that look like a rainbow exploded in a box. Baked by Melissa introduces unique flavours each month, like Lemon Cuparon (lemon cupcake with a lemon macaron on top) and Cookies in Milk (white milk cupcake with a cookie centre and cookie cream frosting). They also make cupcakes that are completely dipped and covered in chocolate, they come in flavours such as Pink velvet, Peanut butter fluff and Double cookie.
Cupcake to try: Tie-Dye, Cookie Dough and Peanut butter jelly.
Location: 110 Fulton Street (and others)
Crumbs Bake shop
One of the oldest cupcake bakeries in New York (opened in 2003), Crumbs is known for its signature size cupcakes, which are about double the size of a standard cupcake. Crumbs also makes a Colossal Cupcake, which is practically a mini cake in the shape of a cupcake. This bake shop has a loyal fan following, who return for their favourites, such as the rich chocolate Blackout cupcake and the light green and minty Grasshopper classic. They also do mini taste boxes in packs of six or twelve for those who like a little taste of everything.
Cupcake to try: Blackout, Apple Cobbler and Grasshopper
Location: 40 Broad Street (and others)
Calling themselves the ‘world’s first cupcake bakery’, and opening doors in Beverly Hills in 2005, Sprinkles has to its credit a few other cupcake ‘firsts’. Their travelling food truck called Sprinklesmobile is a first-of-its-kind cupcake truck, and when they introduced the world’s first cupcake ATM, cupcake lovers went berserk with joy. Sprinkles specialise in classic cupcakes made with the best ingredients possible, although they do have some intriguing flavours on the menu, such as the Chai Latte cupcake. Sprinkles also makes gluten-free and vegan variations of their signature red velvet cupcake, as well as an adorable doggie cupcake topped with yogurt frosting for those who can’t say no to their four-legged babies!
Cupcake to try: Banana dark chocolate and Red velvet
Location: 780 Lexington Avenue
Known and loved for their perfectly cakey-fudgy brownies, it is a little ironic that Baked has some of the best cupcakes in town because the creators, Matt and Renato, wanted to ‘Open a great American bakery that is not a cupcake shop’. Their vanilla cupcake is simple and delicious, which is a rarity, while their chocolate one (Sweet and Salty) is made better with sea salt and salted caramel to compliment and contrast the sweetness. Some other interesting flavours include the Green tea, an almond cake with green tea buttercream; the Raspberry lemonade, a lemon cake with raspberry jam and lemon curd and Citrus Passion fruit, a white cake with orange and lime and a passion fruit buttercream. All their cupcake flavours are also available as full-size cakes too.
Cupcake to try: Sweet and Salty
Location: 359 Van Brunt Street (and others)