Sunday, September 14, 2014

Bakery Review: Sprinkles Cupcakes

Sprinkles Cupcakes - visited September 6, 2014
I'm very fond of Sprinkles. It has the distinction of being the first cupcakery ever opened, at least according to Cupcake Wars where Sprinkles' founder Candace Nelson serves as a judge. I'd heard about it being open in Beverly Hills but since that's not my usual 'hood, I didn't expect to add Sprinkles to my treat list. At least not until they opened a shop in my area several years ago. It's still a bit far to drive for a cupcake but when they first opened. I joined the throngs lining up to fork over $3.75 for a cupcake.
I still remember that first visit (or, er, those first visits) in the early months of Sprinkles' opening at Stanford Mall. The line went out the door. Dozens of people lined the sidewalks, waiting for their turn to get inside the shop. When you do finally make it in, you line up against a short display length of cupcakes on offer that day and when it's your turn, the counter people write down your name and your order then someone fills your order and rings you up. Sprinkles has some core flavors offered daily then "special" flavors that are rotated on different days of the week and, for the more rare, every day for a certain length of time during the year, usually a few weeks.
They give you a flavor card so you can see which flavors are on offer on any given day of the week. Red Velvet is always on offer and what I first came to know Sprinkles for. Subsequent visits also allowed me to sample the banana cupcake with cream cheese frosting (my favorite), the peanut butter, the coconut, the orange, the pumpkin....well, you get the drift. That first year, I probably visited Sprinkles more times than I care to admit. It couldn't be helped though. It's not like you can load up on cupcakes. I'd like to tell you in my best portion-control voice that it's because each cupcake has approximately 550 calories and I didn't want to consume more than 1 on any given day as almost a third of my daily caloric allotment.
Of course, truth of the matter is, while I do believe in portion control, I also believe more firmly in only eating yummy, delicious, empty calories when they're fresh. Best to go every once in awhile and get 1 fresh cupcake than to stock up and eat subsequent ones when they're no longer at their peak goodness. I can be greedy but I'm greedy with discrimination.
Nowadays, the cupcake craze has faded somewhat and competition has opened around Sprinkles so they're no longer the only game in town. Now, on my most recent visit, there was hardly any line at all and only a few people in the shop on a Saturday morning.
I hadn't been to Sprinkles in awhile so instead of torturing myself with which flavor to choose, I went with the classic Red Velvet. I credit Sprinkles with nurturing my love of good red velvet. Plus I had a copycat recipe for Sprinkles Red Velvet Cupcakes that I was going to try out later that day and I wanted to get a taste of the real thing so I had something to compare to. Again, I go that extra cupcake mile to further my baking research.

Sprinkles has the iconic dot on their cupcakes and it's probably the only thing I never eat. It's pretty, it lets you know you're eating a Sprinkles cupcake but it adds nothing to my flavor palate to eat it so I don't.
I also credit Sprinkles with being one of the few places where I'll actually eat the frosting on the cupcake. Normally I don't because they'll either be too airy like whipped cream or too greasy or too sweet. But I like Sprinkles' frosting. I still can't eat all of it but it's a mark of how well I like it that I scrape less frosting off a Sprinkles cupcake than I do other cupcakes :).
Some people find Sprinkles cupcakes too greasy but I just consider them moist. Yeah, they probably have a ton of butter. Those 550 calories per cupcake have to come from somewhere. I like the texture of Sprinkles as well. I hadn't had a red velvet cupcake from them in awhile (more than a year? I'm slacking) and for some reason the one I got didn't taste as good as I remembered. Hmm, I don't know what that's about. The texture was still good but the flavor wasn't very chocolaty or red velvet-y. Maybe I should've gotten the banana or gone on a day when the orange was available. Something to remember for next time.
In any case, if you do find yourself in the neighborhood of a Sprinkles, I would definitely recommend giving them a try. Even though the cupcake craze has passed, I still enjoy a good one once in awhile.

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