Here’s a secret: I’m a cupcake fan. It’s not something I usually say out loud, but if not on National Cupcake Day, then when? I won’t take just any cupcake, though; I’m picky. The cake part needs to be moist; the frosting must be well flavored and not a big mouthful of butter and generously spread on top. There shouldn’t be too much else going on besides those two prime components. It also helps for either the cake, or the frosting, to be deeply, richly chocolate.
I made a little list of my seven favorite cupcakes around the country right now. Please go check them out to celebrate with me, and Happy National Cupcake Day!
1. Little Cupcake Bakeshop, NYC. This Brooklyn-born, family-owned shop honors classic NYC sweets. They make a stellar cupcake version of the Brooklyn Blackout cake (in fact, it’s tastier than 99 percent of the Blackout Cakes I’ve had).
Favorite Cupcake: The Black & White, an ode to my favorite cookie, with a chocolate and vanilla swirled top. littlecupcakebakeshop.com
2. Fluff Bake Bar, Houston. “It’s not that we don’t love cupcakes,” says Rebecca Masson, Fluff’s baker/owner. “But move on to the next.” And so she created the Cup|Cake: Cake slices in cups. Red Velvet is a combination of that cake with cream cheese icing and chocolate covered cocoa nibs. I love these Cup|Cakes, because, as much as I like cupcakes, I like cake ever more.
Favorite Cupcake: The Veruca Salt features chocolate cake with salted caramel buttercream and pretzel crunch. fluffbakebar.com
3. Hummingbird Bakery, Durham, NC. In general, I don’t go for fancy cupcake flavors (my dessert palate tends to resemble that of a seven-year-old). Here’s where I make an exception. At this sweet little bakery, they offer Bourbon Chocolate Cupcakes, topped with a boozy sour cherry, and a less grown-up s’mores cupcake, slathered with toasted meringue, chocolate ganache and a mini graham cracker.
Favorite Cupcake: Bourbon Chocolate hummingbird-durham.com
4. Big Sugar Bakeshop, LA. I’ve been obsessed with this little Studio City bakery since F&W featured them a few years ago. We got excellent recipes for bar cookies and cakes; none for cupcakes. So I make pilgrimages there to eat them.
Favorite Cupcake: Cinnamon Cupcakes with Spicy Hot Cocoa Frosting. bigsugarbakeshop.com
5. Georgetown Cupcakes, DC & nationwide. I’ve carried boxes of Georgetown Cupcakes from DC to NYC—such is my commitment to the excellent desserts from sisters Katherine Berman and Sophie Kallinis. They have a roster of classics and a calendar of specials.
Favorite Cupcake: Their version of the now ubiqutious Salted Caramel Cupcake is terrific. georgetowncupcake.com
6. Baked, Brooklyn. I applaud this groovy bakery, whose flagship is tucked into Brooklyn’s industrial waterfront hood, who will turn most of their cake flavors, like Coconut Dream and the Dulcey, into cupcakes.
Favorite Cupcake: Chocolate Malted. bakednyc.com
7. Cupcake Royale, Seattle area. Cupcake Royale has several outposts around the city where they sell their well-crafted desserts. They have several holiday options, like the Eggnog Snickernoodle and Gingerbread with Cream Cheese Frosting.
Favorite Cupcake: I am, of course, partial to the Kate, a chocolate cupcake with pink frosting and pink and white sprinkles. cupcakeroyale.com