In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a cupcake revolution going on. Once the mainstay of school lunchboxes and birthday parties, the cupcake has become the coolest bakery buy, even in the land of diets. Today’s cupcakes aren’t your regular chocolate and vanilla concoctions, either. They may feature Oreos jutting out on top, have frosting mixed with peanut butter, be sprinkled with candy confetti, or sport mile-high buttercream icing delicately placed on ever-so-moist red velvet cake. What makes these butter-and-sugar confections so popular? They are bite-sized (more fun to eat with your hands!) and decadent enough to satisfy a sweet tooth, without busting a belt. Thankfully, in Westchester, we cupcake aficionados have lots of choices.
|(Clockwise from top left): a circular ribbon of frosting covers the Chester Heights’s vanilla cupcake; Flour & Sun Bakery’s signature chocolate cupcake; a floral designed sweet from Provisions; local butter and eggs go into every cupcake at The Cupcake Kitchen|
CHESTER HEIGHTS BAKERY
490 New Rochelle Rd, Bronxville, (914) 668-0862
Don’t expect pastel-iced glamorous concoctions with a lot of bells and whistles. At this Old World bakery, the pride is in the pudding, or, in this case, the moist cake and light, airy frosting of its daily offerings. You’ll find three kinds of cupcakes here: vanilla, chocolate buttermilk, and red velvet, and though you can order a particular flavor with the icing color of your choice, why would you? The reality is, it’s the old-fashioned vanilla and chocolate combinations with their fresh, delicious flavor that win you over every time.
Batter Up: The baked-to-perfection red velvet? Simply a little slice of heaven ($2 regular cupcakes; $2.25 for red velvet).
447 Mamaroneck Ave, Mamaroneck, (914) 777-3600
We already were big fans of the house-made chocolate here, but now owner Maria Valente has added baking to her list of sugary wonders, and, yes, we’re talking chocolate icing with a chocolate bottom that’s as rich, flavorful, and fudgy as a brownie, with a good ratio of topping to cupcake. Personally, I would eat the frosting out of a cup with a spoon if they sold it.
Batter Up: Go for the chocolate (this is a chocolate shop after all), though, on holidays, Valente’s specialty creations will “wow” you ($1.50 each).
DREAM CAKES BAKERY
3565 Crompound Rd, Rte 202, Cortlandt Manor (914) 734-2253
Just one mile off the Taconic, in a nondescript strip mall, lies one of Westchester’s best-kept secrets. This family-owned bakery boasts 25 years of baking experience and it shows: not just in its extensive line of cakes (including one in the shape of a hamburger), but in its fancifully decorated cupcakes. Special orders are a big part of its business, meaning if you don’t see it, don’t worry. And that includes adding innovative fillings like amaretto mousse, piña colada, or cookie-dough mousse with any kind of icing, including sugar-free options. The flowery finishes, in bright yellows, blues, and pinks, only add to the charm.
Batter Up: The vanilla-vanilla ($1.75) with heaps of icing atop an easy-to-hold cake is the kind of fancy but not too showy cupcake we all grew up with.
FLOUR & SUN BAKERY
19 Washington Ave, Pleasantville
This recently opened bakeshop, with its come-hither windows featuring cupcakes in various technicolor shades, is as inviting as a sugared confection. Walking in here simply makes you happy. Expect fun and original flavors like chocolate mint, whopper, Oreo, lemon, and hummingbird (banana, pineapple, and coconut with cream cheese frosting).
Batter Up: The retro flavors of the peanut-butter-and-jelly cupcake (peanut-butter cake with swirls of strawberry jam) please adults and kids alike, though the Oreo is a close second. Both are so gorgeous and sinfully delicious that it is hard to leave without buying another (prices from $2.75 to $3).
THE KNEADED BREAD
181 N Main St, Port Chester
Cupcakes are happy purchases and the ones here, displayed along with brownies and chocolate-covered macaroons, are enough to get you buying a boxful. They’re pretty, too, topped off in a variety of pinks, greens, and yellows, though the pastel icing is laid on circular and flat as opposed to high and fluffy. The cake is moist like a pound cake your grandma would bake and good for you—well, almost; no chemicals or preservatives are used.
Batter Up: Sometimes simplicity wins: go for the plump, pink-topped vanilla ($2).
THE CUPCAKE KITCHEN
100 Main St, Irvington (914) 231-6261
When it comes to cupcakes, looks count. Pretty cupcakes make you want to bow down and admire them even before you dive into them. As for taste, the cake part should be moist, with a good frosting-to-cake ratio (two-thirds cake to one-third frosting). The Cupcake Kitchen (also a breakfast and lunch spot) delivers on all fronts with a whimsical, old-fashioned approach: think cotton-candy-colored pink with tiny chunks of peppermint peeking out, chocolate cake with a peanut-butter frosting, and vanilla with a gorgeous flower on top. Owner Jennifer O’Connell is serious about preserving the “American comfort-food experience.” That means making cupcakes without additives and relying on high-quality ingredients such as all natural extracts and local butter.
Batter Up: The carrot cake with cream-cheese icing is the perfect combo of adult flavor in a retro package; the vanilla-coconut is a close second ($2.75 each).
LULU CAKE BOUTIQUE
40 Garth Rd, Scarsdale
It’s hard not to have high hopes for Lulu since everything this bakery does is gorgeous and delicious. The only problem with Lulu’s cupcakes? They’re second fiddle to Lulu’s decadent signature cakes. In other words: don’t expect a huge variety, just the basic chocolate and vanilla combination, which is stellar.
Batter Up: The pink icing atop a vanilla cake boasted colorful candy confetti and edible silver sprinkles. The high price ($4) is justified since this cupcake runneth over. It’s big enough to split, but yummy enough that you won’t want to.
PERFECT ENDINGS BAKERY
470 Main St, Armonk
This sweet bakery has a few things going for it: (1) its cupcakes feature mile-high frosting that looks like soft-serve ice cream—and tastes just as light and airy; (2) it has the best take-away containers to keep your cupcakes fresh (plastic holders with slots to prevent them from sliding around). Expect mainly vanilla and chocolate varieties, though it also features various pastel-colored icings.
Batter Up: The vanilla-chocolate combo ($2.25) is a pick-me-up frosted symbol of youth and comfort.
209 Wolfs Ln, Pelham
This bakery/café screams personality. Owner Nannette Conners makes almost everything from scratch; she says she “bakes with love.” Having never been there before, I quickly became a convert, and that’s not just because I had such a hard time deciding between the numerous options. It’s because, even after taking these creative confections home and refrigerating them for a day, they were still delicious.
Batter Up: Conners’s version of the Hostess CupCake appealed to the 12-year-old inside of me as did the homemade Twinkies and whoopie pies (not cupcakes, I know, but too amazing not to mention). The red velvet is another winner, guaranteed to knock your socks off with its creamy, decadent buttercream frosting (cupcakes from $2 to $2.50).
Larchmont-based freelancer Jeanne Muchnick says this assignment won her “brownie” points with her daughters and their friends who were called in as taste-testers for more than 20 varieties of cupcakes. She writes for a variety of outlets including The Daily News, The Journal News, Rockland Magazine, Family.com, Momlogic.com and more.
Talk About Sweet!
Expect even more choices in White Plains. As of early May (but not as of press time), Magnificent Edibles was transformed into Meme’s Bakery (208 Mamaroneck Ave 914-948-7673), that, along with its handcrafted creative sensations, also will specialize in small pastries, cakes, and dessert “shots.” Expect carrot, red velvet, blackout, and vanilla bean on a regular basis, though Owner Vincent Dellabate says to expect surprises like, possibly, “lollipop.”