Cupcake Commentary

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In honor of the first weekend that actually felt like summer, I decided to write about something that kids of all ages enjoy almost as much as summer vacation – the cupcake.

Kara’s Creations: coconut, s’mores, and fleur del sel (karascupcakes.com) photo by Douglas Lee

The two major upscale cupcake chains in Northern California are Kara’s Cupcakes and Sprinkles. Our family first fell in love with cupcakes at Kara’s small store in Santana Row. What really made us drool is their filled cupcake called Fleur de Sel. It is rich dark chocolate cake oozing with caramel and a little fleur de sel (sea salt) sprinkled on top. The combination of the sweet with salty and the rich taste of the chocolate is truly yummy. Then my daughter’s friend Sarah suggested we try their S’mores cupcake. This flavor started as an occasional special and is now a permanent menu offering — for good reason. I think it is a great example of Kara’s creativity. She recreated the classic s’mores dessert in a cupcake by using chocolate cake with a graham cracker crust at the bottom and a toasted marshmallow frosting on top. When you bite into it, you get the crunchy graham cracker, the velvety chocolate cake and the gooey but fluffy marshmallow frosting. A perfect summer treat and just a little less messy than eating the real thing.

And just today, we tried another flavor – one that I wouldn’t ordinarily order – chocolate coconut. What made it special was that Kara uses cream cheese frosting — slightly unexpected but really quite delicious and a nice contrast to the sweetness of the coconut.

Sprinkles cupcakes: red velvet, banana, chocolate marshmallow, and mocha (sprinkles.com)

But despite our love for Kara’s little cakes, we just had to try Sprinkles. Many people, including my son, said that Sprinkles trumped Kara’s for flavor. So one day when I was in Palo Alto with a little extra time on my hands, I headed to the Sprinkles store at Stanford Shopping Center. Came home with a box of 4 cupcakes to try – chocolate banana, mocha, red velvet, and chocolate marshmallow. That night we cut each one into 4 pieces and had a Sprinkles tasting. The anticipation was great and we were expecting to be blown away. Sadly, though, we were not. In our opinion, the cupcakes were a little dry and didn’t have the same blow your tastebuds away OMG! Yummy flavors and textures as Kara’s cupcakes do for us.

So in our house, Kara’s is King.
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20 Responses to Cupcake Commentary

  1. cynthia lam May 31, 2010 at 6:20 pm #

    happy birthday beth! I think it’s this week. I’m going to send you a picture from a cupcake store in Amsterdam. Sadly I didn’t have a chance to go in but it looked great.

    • omgyummy June 1, 2010 at 11:56 am #

      So you did take the trip to Amsterdam with Fred. Good for you! Please send the cupcake photo and let me know of any other interesting food experiences. Did you have their famous Pannekoeken – sweet and savory?

  2. JDaniel4's Mom June 1, 2010 at 11:09 am #

    What fun it must be to have a family cupcake tasting.

    • omgyummy June 1, 2010 at 11:53 am #

      It is fun – highly recommend it as frequently as your food habits will allow!

  3. Sus June 1, 2010 at 12:10 pm #

    I drooled over the Kara cupcake descriptions, and concur about Sprinkles. There is one here too. My mom braved the ridiculous lines and paid a princely sum for an assortment for Joseph’s 2nd birthday last year. While they were certainly yummy, I don’t think I would designate them as OMGyummy! I was disappointed given the hype, and how easy I am to woo in the dessert department.

    • omgyummy June 1, 2010 at 1:05 pm #

      Hi Sus – always good to have confirmation from a fellow foodie and dessert lover. Next time you’re in town, you’ll have to stop by for Italian olive oil and some Kara’s cupcakes :-).

  4. isaiger June 1, 2010 at 6:15 pm #

    Well, you might want to try the chocolae/peanut butter Sprinkle cupcake. It is only available one day a week but it is really good. Have you tried Magnolia? They are opening in L.A. soon. Dangerous but fun.

    Irene

  5. Paige June 2, 2010 at 3:27 pm #

    Great blog! Thanks for stopping by mine. Hope you have a wonderful week!

  6. ElizOF June 2, 2010 at 3:34 pm #

    Happy SITS Wednesday! Oh, those pictures are making me hungry! You brought back memories of my time in Los Angeles …
    I love Sprinkles hands down and but Kara’s choco coconut sounds like it could become a fast favorite.
    Love your blog and … I actually use OLIO at home; great oils. :-)
    Cheers,
    Eliz

  7. F June 4, 2010 at 11:18 am #

    If you are ever in NYC, you will have to find a Crumbs and try them out! They are amazingly awesome :).

  8. Mhe-Lhanee Benito June 4, 2010 at 6:14 pm #

    yummy cupcakes!! they look so dainty and stylish, makes me hesitate to eat them, just bec theyre so pretty… There are a couple of highend cupcake shops too here, but im glad i found a cupcake store that isn’t too pricey but still as yummy as the upscale. Stopping by from SITS!

  9. MommaKiss June 10, 2010 at 8:24 am #

    Um. Cupcakes are my absolute weakness!!
    I’ve had Crumbs, and yes – to die for. And I’m not sure where you are in NoCal, but I’ll be visiting for the first time in October. A friend in Fairfield..she sends me pictures (with drool marks) of cupcakes from Sift. Must Try Them!

    • omgyummy June 10, 2010 at 8:49 am #

      Fairfield is about 1.5 hours north of where I am in San Jose. Sift is a cute name – I’ll have to remember to look for it when we head up that way. It’s on the way to Lake Tahoe and also not far from one of our favorite spots – the Napa Valley.

  10. healthandfoodforum June 16, 2010 at 8:34 am #

    Those cupcakes look really good. Just curious, what are the s’mores cupcakes like? Do they have a marshmallow center?

    • omgyummy June 16, 2010 at 8:42 am #

      Thanks for stopping by my blog.

      I think the s’mores cupcakes are so clever. The cupcake has a layer of graham cracker crust at the bottom, topped by chocolate cake. Then the frosting is like a marshmallow whip cream. It’s sticky like marshmallow and toasted like marshmallow but it’s easy to eat. Just so yummy and creative.

  11. Simply Life June 27, 2010 at 4:59 am #

    Those all look so good!

  12. Sarah Barsch June 29, 2010 at 8:21 pm #

    Great job Mrs. Lee! With the descriptive adjectives you included I could literally taste the wonderful baked good that I enjoy all year round. Thanks for including me in your blog ( I feel so honored!). I am sure Kara’s will never go out of business with such a great commentary!

  13. beth aka confusedhomemaker August 23, 2010 at 6:57 am #

    Thank you so much for sharing these!! I’ve heard about Sprinkles before, friends out there seem to rave about it. I’ve never tried them though. Although Kara’s look beyond divine. I also love the idea of adding some sea salt to the Fleur de Sel cupcake, wonderful!

  14. Jillian August 27, 2010 at 10:11 am #

    So true! Cupcakes are good at any age!! I really enjoy reading your bog, keep up the great writing.

    Feel free to stop over at my blog – “Stay Calm Have a Cupcake” at http://www.fontgirl.wordpress.com

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