Cupcakes are little indulgences with a lot of charm, and one of life’s affordable luxuries. Plop down a few dollars and behold an edible creation that trumps homespun baking with polished good looks. Portable single-serving sizes offer a quick sugar fix with all the trimmings.
By themselves or by the dozen, cupcakes can only delight. Lovely little cakes can make any occasion special or an ordinary day better.
A rose is a rose is a rose cupcake. True to the name, the rose cupcake is all flower, with a scatter of sugar glitter and the allure of a fresh bouquet—as Turtle Bread proudly proclaims, “What’s life without a few sweet temptations?” The devil’s food rose cupcake properly illustrates the motto: Lovely and luscious, this special cake blooms with flavor. Everything is made from scratch using wholesome ingredients and as much organic sourcing as possible, according to Jess Joyner, pastry chef. The cake exudes pure chocolate richness, starting with the heavenly aroma of cocoa bean. Dark chocolate ganache makes a boldly bittersweet middle, and the snow-white Italian buttercream sports a bright, fresh taste sculpted into rose form. Rose cupcake season extends beyond Valentine’s Day. The festively floral cupcake pops up again for a spring comeback around Mother’s Day, too. $3.25. 3421 W. 44th St.; 612.924.6013.
Sinfully Chocolate Cupcake
A chocolate explosion radiates from this cupcake four times over with enough intensity to cure any chocolate craving. Cute as a button and incredibly rich, this sinfully rich cupcake is an all-in-one super chocolate dessert. Dark chocolate permeates every layer from top to bottom; the base, a gourmet-best French Valrhona chocolate cake, has a feathery crumb with a dense, smooth, buttery chocolate ganache filling at the core. More chocolate goes on top with a dollop of chocolate Italian buttercream that looks pale against the intensely dark chocolate cake, while the round poof of frosting has a flat shimmery cap of almost black-as-night chocolate ganache. A lipstick-red heart, sassy as a kiss, and red sprinkles finish off the cupcake for a true Valentine’s Day look. With its intense cocoa bean flavor, the sinfully chocolate cupcake ranks as one of Cocoa & Fig’s most popular daily features and could easily become a habit. “It’s kind of chocolate overkill,” says Laurie Pyle, owner. $3. Yorkdale Shoppes, 6807 York Ave. S.; 952.926.2764.
Red Velvet Jumbo Cupcake
If a little cupcake is good, jumbo-sized is better! The happy bakers at Jerry’s are glad to oblige with the delicious red velvet jumbo cupcake, all the better for its charming seasonal decoration. Take your pick of cream cheese frosting or scratch-made buttercream slathered over chocolate cake tinted with a wisp of romantic red; both frostings top the cake with a dairy-rich sweetness that clings to the crumb and sticks to your teeth like fresh-pulled taffy. “The red velvet cupcake easily satisfies your palate with rich, velvet-smooth taste complimented by cream cheese frosting and holiday flair you would love to share,” says pastry chef Erika Youngdahl, who pulls out all the stops with her hand-crafted artistry around holidays like Valentine’s Day. Youngdahl regards her work as more of a passionate hobby than a job. “I love to see the reaction—wow factor—making others happy, sharing the joy.” The happiness extends beyond Valentine’s Day: The red velvet cupcake is available in a regular size throughout the year. $3.25 each. 5125 Vernon Ave. S.; 952.929.2685.
Salty Dog Cupcake
The salty dog cupcake is a busy one: chocolate, caramel, cake, toffee and sea salt combine into a sweet delight. Lunds’ signature, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate cake makes a foundation for the salty-sugary sensation. Then bite into the center for a lava flow of thick, gooey caramel. Buttery frosting peppered with sea salt forms the crowning touch with a decorative ring of toffee bits. “We took the really popular candy and turned it into a cupcake,” says Emily Bevelacque, pastry chef. “It’s a fabulous one to give your significant other for Valentine’s Day. It’s got pretty much everything you want.” Handmade buttercream hearts and other special Valentine’s Day decorations add a romantic touch, and the salt-infused chocolate candy-like combination wins hearts year-round. The popular gourmet-sized salty dog is one of 12 signature cupcake flavors available daily. “Customers ask for it; the sea salt craze is really big,” says Bevelacque. $3.99. 3945 W. 50th St.; 926.224.9880.
A sweet sampling of cupcake love from Queen of Cakes, Sweet Retreat, Turtle Bread Co. and Cocoa and Fig.
Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cupcake
About this chocolate raspberry truffle cupcake, owner Stephanie Kissner asks, “What better way to say ‘I love you’ than with a truffle treat?” All the sugary temptation of a cupcake and candy smack into a super sensational sweet treat. Top-shelf ingredients with true chocolate truffle and fresh zingy raspberry taste add up to one very indulgent cupcake. Fine hand-crafted chocolate buttercream frosting and a raspberry truffle filling dress up a chocolate cupcake just in time for Valentine’s Day. Don’t wait to indulge in this divinely decadent dessert; this is a special seasonal feature. Regular cupcakes $3, mini $1.85, dozen minis $20. 5013 France Ave. S.; 612.353.6230.
Pink Champagne Cupcake
Pink champagne cake has an elegant feel that evokes a celebration, and these cupcakes make the occasion extra fun. Often a wedding feature, the light pink color is a natural fit for Valentine’s Day amore. Delicate sweet flavors have a universal appeal: “If you’re 4 years old or a bride, you love pink champagne cake,” says Terri Leckas, owner. The moist cake has just the right vintage of champagne flavor, a light-as-a-breeze whipped white topping fills the cake’s center with an edible cloud of sweetness. From-scratch buttercream frosts the top in a white piped poof of creamy sugar. Throughout every layer, the pink and white color contrast sets the stage for delicious drama as the elegant presentation of a pink champagne cake speaks of romance. Valentine’s Day decorations make a festive garnish that can say “I love you” without words. Call ahead for availability. Prices start at $2.25. 7027 Amundson Ave.; 952.942.7628.
Chocolate Raspberry Cupcake
Chocolate and raspberries were made for each other. The best of both collide in the chocolate raspberry cupcake. The frosting swirls in a pattern of crimson red, pale pink and buttery white, while alternating ribbons of satiny buttercream and seed-speckled raspberry purée tickle the tongue. A near-brownie of a cake brims with a thick yet surprisingly airy texture, and somehow the fudgy crumb retains a feel of fluffiness. Inside, a crimson center gushes with pure raspberry perkiness and adds a pleasant pucker into the cake. The all-natural dark chocolate and red raspberry hues make a striking Valentine’s Day presentation; a delicately patterned-bittersweet holiday decoration carries the mood over the top. “Your valentine will love it,” says Keegan Maxson, bakery team leader. $2.99. 7401 France Ave. S.; 952.830.3544.
Pink Lady Cupcake
These cupcakes come dressed pretty in pink. “It’s the classic white-on-white cupcake that we are known for, just jazzed up,” says Catherine Olson, manager. The pink lady cupcake wins the beauty contest with cascades of bright white frosting mounded over a pastel-pink cupcake, with a mountain of buttercream frosting that fluffs to a manicured peak. Around Valentine’s Day, decorations of conversation heart candies and piped flowers replace the regular rainbow splash of edible confetti. Pink lady cupcakes have graced the Wuollet Bakery menu for decades, and these pastel beauties are available throughout the year, made fresh every day. $2.25 each. 3608 W. 50th St.; 612.922.4341.