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Sprinkles Cupcakes - Corona del Mar

Professor Salt Sep 14, 2006 01:45 AM

The following is a post from my blog, which also includes photos. If you'd like to see it, it's here: http://professorsalt.com/2006/09/08/c...

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“That’ll be a hundred and twenty three dollars, please.” Someone ahead of us proudly receives three dozen cupcakes, and the queue lurches slowly forward.

Who drops $123 for cupcakes? Apparently, enough women to keep lines long at the recently opened Sprinkles Cupcakes in the upscale Orange County seaside burg of Corona del Mar. Fancified cupcake boutiques have grown in popularity in recent years, and why not? It’s America’s backlash against the low carb pogrom that purged sweet indulgences from our daily routine.

Still, foreknowledge of this devotion didn’t prepare me for the crush of cake junkies in line. Their cracked-out desperation is right out of New Jack City, except the fashionably dressed Newport Beach ladies are better behaved and more attractive. Every inch of this pale-wood-on-white space conveys urban chic, and the rigorously designed graphics, packaging and marketing materials go a long way in its upscale appeal to women. If Martha Stewart and West Elm decided to market cupcakes together, this is what their store might look like. In addition, the store sells doggie muffins for the canine devotee and logo wear for the human ones.

A cupcake minus frosting is just a muffin, and who’d wait in line for a muffin? These wee critters are positively overloaded with frosting, unbalanced and top heavy like a surgically augmented size 0 swimsuit model.

The chocolate frosting tastes like the fine Belgian Callebaut milk chocolate from which it’s made. A cream cheese tang shone in the frosting on the red velvet cake. Other quality ingredients like Nielsen-Massey vanilla demonstrate the store’s commitment to sophisticated palates.

I’m not a fan of oversweet desserts, and the heavy hand with sugar in all these frostings dulled my enthusiasm. I couldn’t taste the subtle floral vanilla notes because sugar dominated the flavor profile. Your mileage may vary, however.

The cakes themselves are well baked with a tender crumb, moist, and all mildly flavored. Of these, the banana cake’s rich aroma stood strongest, and this was my favorite of the bunch. Lemon cake is pleasant enough, but again overwhelmed by sugar. Red velvet cake, glistening with moisture (or more likely fat), also stood out thanks to its pairing with a tangy cream cheese frosting.

The cake flavors are muted. Not dull exactly - more fairly, simple. But cupcakes are suposed to be simple. They appeal to our inner child. These gussied-up kids’ treats shelter adults from a world of overwrought pastry towers plated with lilikoi curd. A cupcake transports us back to an embrace in mom’s kitchen apron, and memories of licking batter off the mixing bowl. Those wanting more dominant or exotic flavors in their desserts should look at an unabashedly grown-up patisserie like Let Them Eat Cake, or perhaps the powerfully flavored ice creams two doors down at Gelato Paradiso.

Though I admit passing judgment on someone who’d drop over a hundred dollars on cupcakes rather than bake her own, her recipients can rest assured that those cakes were baked with as much love and more skill than most moms and dads can manage at home. It’s a long way from Duncan Hines’ kitchen, but in many ways, exactly the same.

Sprinkles Cupcakes
In the Corona del Mar Plaza
944 Avocado Ave
Newport Beach, CA
949-760-0003
and
9635 Little Santa Monica
Beverly Hills, CA
310-274-8765

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  1. David Kahn RE: Professor Salt Sep 14, 2006 02:09 AM

    Nice review. Sprinkles is way too sweet for my taste. In LA at least, there several places (e.g., Leda's, Clementine, Auntie Em's, Joan's, Yummy Cupcakes) with better cupcakes, less attitude, and no lines.

    1. d
      david t. RE: Professor Salt Sep 14, 2006 06:17 AM

      I think what I've tasted of Sprinkles is excellent. The vanilla tastes a little underbaked, but overall it's just a well made cupcake. It's simple and homely as it should be. I mean, one isn't expecting cupcakes by Pierre Herme.

      1. k
        kdoc RE: Professor Salt Sep 14, 2006 07:19 AM

        Professor, as usual, I couldn't have said it any better. More power to them, I guess.

        1. b
          Bandini RE: Professor Salt Sep 14, 2006 08:16 AM

          I don't get the cupcake thing. I mean cupcakes are cute and all but paaaa-lease

          I used to stand in line at the beverly hills sprinkles for a girlfriend that liked cupcakes and the place had no air conditioning and it was truly dreadful. And that was before I tasted the cupcakes.

          1. c
            cvc RE: Professor Salt Sep 14, 2006 01:57 PM

            Well, there is nothing quite like the extremes of dining, food and wine retail. In the pre - "Cut" era of dining I recall Marvin Davis retorting when told that his Kobe beef special at Spago BH was $75 because it was a special brand of beef from Japan where the cow had been massaged, etc., "I don't mind paying for the special beef but I don't expect to pay for the masseur."

            Listen, I was at Joan's on Third not too long ago (a personal favorite) when they were sending out a $1,700 cupcake order for someone's Bah Mitzvah and as I reported here not too long ago I was also at a wedding where the desserts served were Sprinkle's cupcakes and Clementine's chocolate chip cookies (about 300 of them which comes to $400!). They were delicious and no messy cake to stare at all night.

            Is it true the owners of Sprinkle's just sold the company for six million? That's what the kids at My Little Cupcake told me. I guess one man's Cuban cigar is another's Sprinkle's cupcake.

            1. m
              Mollusk RE: Professor Salt Sep 14, 2006 06:31 PM

              I think Sprinkles makes a great cup cake. If you have only tried them with the butter cream frosting, please go back and sample one with a cream cheese frosting. The vanilla buttercream is cloyingly sweet but I think you would change your mind if you tried the banana cup cake with cream cheese frosting. EXCELLENT! I also think the dark chocolate frosting is pretty darn good.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Mollusk
                Professor Salt RE: Mollusk Sep 14, 2006 08:08 PM

                Yup, I liked the cream cheese and chocolate frostings MUCH more than the vanilla. I agree they are excellent frostings, but were still on the sweet side for my tastes. Banana cake with chocolate frosting is a good pairing too.

                But I still can't get that worked up about their cupcakes though, especially at that price. Like Bandini, maybe I don't get the cupcake thing. I'm happy they have the business from lots of people who love Sprinkles, because that means less crowding and more time to sample flavors at Gelato Paradiso next door. Mwa ha ha...

              2. s
                Samantha RE: Professor Salt Sep 14, 2006 11:40 PM

                I actually think Sprinkles cupcakes are not very sweet, and in fact, are overly bland. I don't care for them at all, and would much rather just make my own cupcakes, especially for that price.

                The posts just go to show you how everyone has different tastes & preferences when it comes to cupcakes, cakes, and desserts, for that matter. But I remain unimpressed by Sprinkles . . .

                1. 2
                  212 RE: Professor Salt Sep 17, 2006 02:41 AM

                  I think they taste like Betty Crocker. You wouldn't even know you were eating chocolate cake if your eyes were closed. And the frosting is overly sweet, maybe it's the recipe from the back of the powdered sugar box??

                  1. katkoupai RE: Professor Salt May 25, 2007 05:24 PM

                    I think Sprinkles is fine. I like fruit pies and tarts more than cake, in general. My friend purchased a couple of Sprinkles cupcakes for me once. I enjoyed them, particularly the Red Velvet one. Yes, it was sweet, but it was different, and I'd never had a cupcake that color before. :)

                    I still have the brown paper bag with handles on it. They sure give a big bag for two cupcakes. The bag is very sturdy. I used it to carry a bunch of clothing, and it didn't rip-- better than your average grocery bag. :)

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