If you are not aware of the current cupcake craze, you must be living under an extremely heavy object. Ever since the “Sex and the City” gals indulged in New York’s Magnolia Bakery cupcakes, iced in thick, creamy pastel frosting and garnished with a sugar crystal flower, cupcakes have become the new Manolo Blahniks. But if Carrie and her crew aren’t your thing, then you must have seen the SNL guys munching on “crazy delicious” cupcakes in the digital short Lazy Sunday. Regardless, cupcake shops, blogs and cookbooks (anyone been to Urban Outfitters recently?) have been popping up all over the place. Not that I mind. The modern cupcake is the perfect indulgence; it at once tastes of childhood birthdays and sophistication. While New Haven has yet to open up a cupcake shop of its own, you can still satisfy your cupcake cravings from our many coffee shops and bakeries (and truck). So, I decided to do some research. Twelve cupcakes and 20 pounds later, I present to you a guide that will make the task of navigating New Haven’s cupcake scene a whole lot easier.
Vanilla Cupcake with Chocolate Frosting, The Cupcake Truck findthatcupcake.com
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I’m honestly having trouble finding words to describe the sheer transcendence of this absurdly moist, flavorful cupcake. I could settle down and have a life with this cupcake. What more could I ever need? The icing is fluffy, rich and just sweet enough; the cake is dense yet soft and actually tastes of vanilla. The cake-to-icing ratio is perfect, and at only $2.00, this is officially the best way to spend your money.
Chocolate Cupcake with Vanilla Frosting, The Cupcake Truck
Chocolate cupcakes have a tendency to be dry and anything but chocolatey (see Claire’s below). But this indulgent, melt-in-your mouth treat is preserving the good name of chocolate cupcakes everywhere. The experience of eating them is nothing less than orgasmic; I don’t think anything (or anyone) will ever be able to satisfy me the way these cupcakes do.
Runner up: Chocolate Cupcake with Vanilla Frosting, Atticus ($3.00)
Red Velvet Cupcake, Starbucks in the Bookstore ($2.25)
Who would have thought that a killer red velvet cupcake could be found in the Yale Bookstore? Look in the baked goods case at the Starbucks and you’ll find a respectable selection of cupcakes imported from the Cheesecake Factory. The red velvet with cream cheese frosting is your best bet, with its gourmet presentation (there’s a red triangle of chocolate on top of the piped icing) and its delicate, classic taste. I guarantee you’ll come to the bookstore to study more often.
Runner up: Pumpkin Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting, Book Trader Cafe, York and Chapel Streets ($1.25)
Chocolate Vegan Cupcake, Blue State Coffee, Wall street ($2.50)
Probably the last thing you think of when vegan cupcakes come to mind is rich, indulgent flavor. Before tasting Blue State’s cupcake, I asked myself, “How can anything without butter and eggs make my mouth happy?” Needless to say, these vegan cupcakes made my mouth very happy. The cake was moist and richly flavored, and the chocolate icing spread on top was nice to look at and even nicer to consume.
Runner up: Chocolate Vegan Cupcake, Claire’s ($3.00)
Chocolate Cupcake, Claire’s, Chapel and College streets ($3.00)
Remember that time you begged for that Bratz doll, only to open it on Christmas Day and find that Staci was not nearly as cute as she was on the package? My experience at Claire’s was kind of like that time. When you go to Claire’s, you expect they know what they’re doing when it comes to cake; bountiful displays of cakes in all shapes, sizes and flavors greet you as you enter. So I ordered the chocolate cupcake with high expectations, even though its presentation was sloppy and the icing was glopped on in a non-swirly fashion. But I told myself not to be shallow as I took a bite. Yuck. The cupcake was as hard and as sweet as my Dad’s three-week-old high-fiber breakfast loaf. The frosting was bitter, unpleasant and slimy, all qualities that frosting should never be. Stay far, far away.