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Top Pick Of The Week

November 24, 2009

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Cupcakes

You are the king (or queen) of cupcakes. The secret to your kingdom: Sprinkles cupcake mixes. All photography © Victoria Pearson.

WHAT IT IS: Gourmet cupcake mixes.
WHY IT’S DIFFERENT: Made from the recipes of the acclaimed Sprinkles cupcake bakery in Beverly Hills.
WHY WE LOVE IT: The mixes produce really fabulous cupcakes—better than anything we can buy.
WHERE TO BUY IT: Williams-Sonoma stores or Williams-Sonoma.com.
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Sprinkles Cupcake Mix: The Best Cupcakes In Town Are At Your House

CAPSULE REPORT: In greater Los Angeles, home to Sprinkles Cupcakes,* there is the usual discussion board controversy. You’ll read everything from they're “the best there is” to “avoid at all costs.” We only know Sprinkles cupcakes from their mixes. We’ve made every one, and we stand firmly with “the best there is” crowd. Maybe your homemade cupcakes are as good, but they can’t be much better.

*The original store is in Beverly Hills. There are outposts in Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Newport Beach, Phoenix/Scottsdale and Palo Alto, with 16 additional locations on the boards (see the website).

If you’re looking for a better cupcake than what you can buy...if you’re tired of trying recipes, only to find that they’re not what you were hoping for...we hope that your search, like ours, has come to an end. Your new favorite gourmet cake mix purveyor is Candace Nelson, co-founder (with her husband) of Sprinkles Cupcakes. Some day we’ll get to a Sprinkles bakery; until then, we can only judge the cupcakes made from the mixes as A to A+.

We baked up all seven cupcake mixes: Banana, Dark Chocolate, Lemon, Pumpkin, Red Velvet, Spice and Vanilla. There’s also Chocolate Peppermint which, along with Pumpkin, is a seasonal mix flavor. Read the full review below to discover our favorites and how to make the best cupcakes in town.

     
THE NIBBLE does not sell the foods we review
or receive fees from manufacturers for recommending them.

Our recommendations are based purely on our opinion, after tasting thousands of products each year, that they represent the best in their respective categories.

More Top Pick Syrup & Honey

Bundt Cake Minis Lava Cake Cupcakes In A Jar
Bundt Cake Mixes. One of the two gourmet cake mix brands we liked enough to review—and they’re both top picks! The Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake rocks! Read the review! The King’s Cupboard Cake Mixes. The second great cake mix line, including molten lava cake mix, rich chocolate cake and white chocolate hazelnut cake. Read the review. Cupcakes In A Jar. Don’t want to bake? Send cupcakes in a jar—the most delicious and fun gift we received this year. Please send us more! Read the review.

Sprinkles Cupcake Mix: The Best Cupcakes In Town Are At Your House

INDEX OF REVIEW

This is Page 1 of a three-page article. Click on the black links to visit other pages.

MORE TO DISCOVER


Sprinkles Overview

Sprinkles cupcakes—the ones you buy in the shop at Beverly Hills—have been called “the most expensive cupcakes you're likely to come across, or the most inexpensive luxury in Beverly Hills.” We live in New York City, so $3.25 is no surprise for a gourmet cupcake. (Someone in our office paid $5 for one at a local cupcake shop this week—albeit a supersized one.) If you know the cost of the best chocolate, butter, Nielsen-Massey vanilla, rent and utilities, and extra labor to frost and decorate little cakes, you know $3.25 is not outrageous. After all, how much did you just pay for that large cup of coffee-infused water?

Sprinkles claims that it is “the world’s first cupcake bakery,” and that may be true. Other cupcake bakeries we know sell other products.

One of the added values at Sprinkles is the celebrity endorsement.

 

Chocolate Cupcake
The chocolate cupcake (shown here in a Sprinkles take-out box) was divine: the best chocolate cupcake we could have asked for.

According to Seeing-Stars.com, Barbra Streisand sent Sprinkles cupcakes to Oprah. Oprah loved them and featured them on her show, where Jimmy Kimmel saw them and then stood in line himself for 45 minutes to buy $80 worth (that’s two dozen). Kevin Bacon has also stood in line. Russell Crowe, Ryan Seacrest and Pete Wentz are fans, as is Dr. Phil (although eating is no substitute for dealing with one’s issues).  And yes, the lines do extend way down the block. If we were Sprinkles’ neighbors to the east, we’d be negotiating with our landlords for lower rents: With the line of cupcake customers blocking our windows, no passers- (or drivers-) by can see the wares.

Bodies beautiful—people whose trainers would not approve (Jessica Alba, Tyra Banks, Courtney Cox Arquette, Marcia Cross, Jake Gyllenhaal, Teri Hatcher, Paris Hilton, Katie Holmes, Lucy Liu, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Kelly Ripa)—are fans. So is The Governator. E! Online reported that Courtney Love gained 10 pounds from Sprinkles (we’re with you, girl). Serena Williams has bought her share, but she can work them off.

Usually, we could care less about what celebrities like; most of them are hardly experts on good food. Here, however, they are absolutely right. While we wouldn’t stand in line for 45 minutes for anything but free Périgord and Alba truffles (we just don’t have leisure time like Jimmy, Kevin and Serena), we might send someone to pick them up for us.

The Sprinkles shops—Beverly Hills and its roving Los Angeles “Sprinklemobile,” plus Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Newport Beach, Palo Alto and Phoenix/Scottsdale—have a menu of more than 20 flavors, of which 10 are available each day. You can follow the flavor schedule on their website and via Twitter. The seven cupcake mix flavors are from the main menu. Follow us to Page 2 to check them out.

—Karen Hochman

Continue To Page 2: Sprinkles Cupcake Mix Varieties

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