If you haven’t heard, fancy-shmancy cupcakes are stealing the hearts of America as we downsize our celebrations with treats that fill us up, not out.
For a growing number of sweet teeth, four bites and one candle do the trick as we replace the wasteful sheet cake of old with an indulgent Red Velvet vegan confection made to order at your chic neighborhood cupcake boutique.
Call it theater in the round for the bakery hound!
The new stars are the vegan assortments introduced by bakers such as Yummy Cupcakes in Los Angeles, which sells from its healthy alternative menu three days a week at its shops in Burbank and Santa Monica.
Yummy’s flavors include Almond, Blood Orange, Chocolate Chili, Brown Sugar Cinnamon, and my favorite, the Arnold Palmer – black iced tea and lemonade. They sell for around $3.25 a pop for the classic size and $1.50 to $1.65 for the mini size. Of course, you can buy them by the dozen, as well.
Tiffani Soforenko, one of the three partners at Yummy, says the vegan menu was inspired by an offer to prepare cupcakes for talk show host Ellen DeGeneres and her crew. “We knew Ellen was a vegan and hadn’t done vegan recipes yet, and figured it was the perfect time to figure out how to do it,” she recalls. “We brought the red velvets for her and her staff and they were a huge hit.”
It took off from there. “We thought if we can make that, what else can we make? Our normal menu is 156 flavors and we do 43 as vegan,” says Soforenko.
What sets them apart? No animal-based products, eggs or butter or egg replacers. They are also topped with raw sugar instead of colored sprinkles. People with food and dairy allergies are gobbling them up!
Another gourmet vendor, Kara’s Cupcakes in San Francisco (with four Bay Area locations) proudly boasts it is “green” on its web page, from its sustainable local and organic ingredients to environmentally-friendly recyclable and compostable packaging to its bakeries built with green certification standards. It even uses green cleaning products and delivers its treats in ultra low emission vehicles. Plus, the cupcakes are to die for, from Kara’s Karrot on Halloween night to Raspberry Dazzle and Milk Chocolate Ganache. They look good and are filled with good stuff. What else would you expect from the daughter of a dentist?
While pure ingredients are naturally in high demand in buff California, the notion of a greener cupcake is just now making its way to glitzy Miami, where the founders of Cupcake Nouveau – Cristina Valdes and Shayrin Badillo – are getting in the groove.
“We are in the process of developing new recipes that are sugar, gluten and dairy free,” shares Valdes, who says her South Beach clientele is all about glamor and chic. These skilled bakers are known for the artistic detail they add to their specialized cupcakes for weddings and fundraisers, such as pearls and roses adorning the Vanilla Bean Madagascar creations. You grow, girls!
Rather bake em yourself? Many of these gourmet cupcake companies offer cupcake party baking kits for around $42 that ensure hours of fun and a terrible mess for moms as the guests go crazy stirring, blending, frosting and decorating their visions. Either way, the naturally beautiful end result seems to be taking the cake.
Main Image: Cupcakes Nouveau
Image One: Yummy Cupcakes
Image Two: Cupcakes Nouveau
Image Three: Luanne Bradley