As many of you know, my latest obsessions are frozen yogurt and cupcakes. Since AK and I were going to be in LA for 4th of July weekend, Hui and I eagerly planned our half-day trip to hit LA hot spots such as Pinkberry (to confirm that it is still the reigning champ!) – although I must admit I had my eyes on Sprinkles in Beverly Hills.
I had visited Magnolia Bakery in Greenwich Village in New York, purportedly the bakery that started the craze, but had been sorely disappointed. The cupcakes I had there could have easily come out of the local supermarket. Could Sprinkles really live up to its name?
As soon as I got close to the store, we could see the line that snaked out the door. The storefront was modern and trendy, as you would expect for Beverly Hills (and West Side of LA generally) – most women in this area were dressed in either expensive and fashionable clothes (often with HUGE designer sunglasses) or yoga outfits.
Once you slowly make your way into the store, you are greeted by rows and rows of beautiful, elegant cupcakes, each adorned with Sprinkles’ signature dots. A wave of warm sugary goodness also washes over you as you step through the door.
Unfortunately, despite the visually pleasing interior, there is no system to the ordering madness (hasn’t anyone figured out a numbered ticket system? Hui says that it is to retain the aura of being a small charming shop…hmph), and there is a bit of chaos as you try to read the super-tiny prints on the wall to decide on which flavors to order. Hui had visited the week before and recommended the vanilla and the orange, a seasonal flavor, which had been replaced by a very fresh-looking strawberry flavor. We ordered the strawberry and red velvet flavors and immediately sat down to wolf them down.
First off, the strawberry cupcakes smelled amazing! You can almost tell just by deeply inhaling the cupcakes that the store uses high quality ingredients. Once you bite into the cupcake, you are enveloped by the fragrance of the strawberry, and the cake (which I agree could be more moist, but was decent enough for me) is perfectly balanced by the overly sweet yet somehow still delicious frosting. It was simply divine! I have heard criticism that there is too much frosting on each cupcake, to which I respond, “not possible!” If you spread the frosting on the bottom half of the cupcake (which normally has to be eaten plain), it is perfect. Usually, I am not a big fan of excessively sweet Western desserts (and this frosting is sweet to the point that your teeth hurt). However, the texture of the frosting – firm to the bite, but melts in your mouth – and the flavor and fragrance of the cupcake overall won me over.
We ended up ordering a variety of additional cupcakes (got in line again!), including vanilla, peanut butter chocolate (for AK), cinnamon sugar and a bunch of the strawberries. In addition to the strawberry, I also had the red velvet cupcake, which was decent (the cream cheese frosting was yummy though). I think the red velvet cupcakes I make are better…haha.
Finally verdict: I loved Sprinkles and would definitely make a special return trip (my 3rd Aunt also loved the strawberry flavor, although my mom thought it was too sweet as was expected). Since I am not afraid of standing in line and in fact am often drawn to it (must be my Taiwanese heritage), the waiting time does not deter me, but I can see that being a negative for many people. Compared to Kara’s Cupcakes in the Bay Area, the frosting of the Sprinkles cupcakes is far superior. Kara’s frosting is too heavy and leaves an oily aftertaste – not unlike eating a stick of butter. Sugar Butter Flour has great chocolate cupcakes (the only one I’ve tried – but I’ll be back!), but none of these unique flavors. Finally, Sibby’s Cupcakery makes beautifully decorated cupcakes (with delicate spring flowers, etc. – see photos from my birthday party), but is probably the least tasty. Is it that LA tends to have better high end stores? Or is it that the fact that it is hard to get makes me want them more???