There’s nothing that quite hits the palate like a delicately crafted cupcake, replete with fluffy frosting and moist cake center. The right one will fill not only the stomach, but the heart, the very moment the tip of the tongue touches the billowy top. There are many a cupcake that satiates that unbridled urge to reach out at the elbow, but for fear of perilously high blood sugar, here are five Southern California-based shops—not named Sprinkles— for your perusal and consumption.
- Enjoy Cupcakes (Santa Barbara, Los Olivos; (805) 451-0284; enjoycupcakes.com)
Established by a married couple in 2009, this family business offers a bevy of fancy creations for the adventurous soul, from the “Chocolate Blackberry Syrah” to the “Pineapple Peach Jalapeño Chard.”
- Sweet Arleen’s (Westlake Village, Yorba Linda; (805) 373-7373; sweetarleens.com)
Winner of the cupcake wars on the Food Network for three consecutive years, Sweet Arleen’s arguably has a better red velvet cupcake than Sprinkles. And if you love carrot cake, you’re in for a treat.
- Big Man Bakes (Los Angeles; (213) 617-9100; bigmanbakes.com)
Started by a 6′ 5” physician who sold his homemade cupcakes to hospital personnel, Chip “Big Man” Brown mixes his ingredients using a very science-inspired approach. The results—including the “Rum Raisin” delight—speak for themselves.
- Frosted Cupcakery (Hermosa/Long Beach; (562) 987-1080; frostedcupcakery.com)
For less than $3, you can try refreshing flavors like the “Gingerbread Lemon” and “Eggnog Buttercream.” Best of all, if you don’t mind your cupcakes cold, sandwiched between a dollop of ice cream, then prepare to swoon.
- Pure Cupcakes (San Diego; (858) 274-2253; purecupcakes.com)
Voted best cupcake in San Diego, and winner of the 2013 cupcake wars, this place has the staple flavors in addition to ones that could revolutionize the industry, like the “Bacon Baby”—a vanilla bean cupcake with, you guessed it, bacon bits!