Confession: I have a deep appreciation for cupcakes. It stems from high school, when I baked and sold 500 cupcakes in one night. This brief stint in entrepreneurship paid for my senior trip to Mexico and distracted me from a pre-Valentine's Day breakup. It was a win-win, and I've been loyal to cupcakes ever since.
My cupcake crush coincided with the national craze. You may recall the cupcake mania that peaked in 2011, when Crumbs Bake Shop stock sold for more than $13. This was the heyday for "cupcake gourmet." Since then, other baked good fads have come and gone, notably macaroons and cake balls. It's unclear what the new dessert trend is, but I've heard quite a bit about the cronut, a croissant-doughnut hybrid. I've yet to try this, mainly because I'm worried it will ignite another obsession.
While the cupcake crush has recently cooled off (for some people — not for me), it hasn't died in Dallas. From Plano to Bedford, the metropolis does not lack for cupcake shops. Most people already know about Sprinkles Cupcakes in Dallas, which also has an ATM at the Plaza at Preston Center. To find the perfect cupcake near you, we've tracked down some of the best in D/FW.
Sugar Ray's Bakeshop in Plano
This sweet shop opened in November, although owner Rachel Barbaro started the company two and a half years ago. The bakeshop was named after Rachel's nickname, but she says she loves the song "I Just Want to Fly" by Sugar Ray. Rachel has always appreciated cupcakes "because it's the perfect amount of sweet when you need it." Her top-sellers are Milk Chocolate Hazelnut, Red Velvet Latte and Italian Lemon.
"Cupcakes are my idea of a blank canvas where I can literally create any flavor and any design that I want to," Rachel said. "I love getting to experiment every day with different flavor combinations and creating something new and different for each customer."
Because Rachel couldn't find a crepe in town that rivaled Crepes a la Cart, she decided to offer them at Sugar Ray's. She also makes a mason jar cupcake, which is almost two full cupcakes layered with her signature frosting inside an 8 oz. jar.
Sugar Ray's cupcakes have appeared at Neiman Marcus and other company events and trade shows. In the future, Rachel hopes to expand her company to another location in Dallas and Vail, Colo.
Pink Frosting Cupcakes in Coppell and Irving
Hurricane Katrina forced New Orleans native Antoinette Lafayette to move to Coppell with only three days' worth of clothes. She opened Pink Frosting in 2012, paying homage to her hometown with Banana Foster, Cafe Au Lait and French Quarter Bread Pudding cupcakes. As the granddaughter of an executive chef in New Orleans, Antoinette learned to use the best ingredients. She bakes with pure Madagascar bourbon vanilla, French and Belgium chocolates and European butter.
"With our French Quarter Bread Pudding, we have taken a Southern staple and turned it into a cupcake," Antoinette said. "These delicious treats are packed with flavor and served with our house made rum or bourbon sauce."
Although the shop is famous for its Bread Pudding cupcakes, Pink Frosting's best-sellers are the Chocolate Salted Caramel and Red Velvet.
Sugar and Frosting in Keller
This boutique began as a wedding cake business in 2010, which explains why the Wedding Cake cupcake is its best-seller. Owner Melody Fitzgerald purchased What's Up Cupcake and changed the name to Sugar and Frosting to encompass cakes, cookies, brownies, pies and cake pops.
"All of our baked goods are made from scratch using real butter, no mixes, no shortening, which sets us apart with melt-in-your-mouth sweets," Melody said. "We are offering a larger variety of sweets and offer more every week."
Melody says that the location in Keller has been a main ingredient in the shop's success. "I love Old Town Keller and had been looking for an old house for a bakery," she explained. "So the arrangement [of buying What's Up Cupcake] couldn't have been more perfect. I love the families and community here."
Haute Mama Dessert Company in Allen
After teaching elementary school for many years, Tiffany Key began baking desserts in her home. She opened Haute Mama Dessert Company in 2010 and will open another location in Plano next month.
"I have made every one of my children's birthday cakes since my oldest turned 1," Tiffany said. "So they have grown up eating all of my desserts and have watched my business evolve from a side business out of my house to a growing company."
With the help of her three children and staff, Tiffany constantly creates new recipes. For chocolate lovers, she offers the Chocolate Molten cupcake, a moist Devil's Food Cake filled with homemade ganache and topped with cream cheese icing. Her Red Velvet cupcake is another best-seller and is available every day.
"When people ask me what I recommend, I always tell them they have to try our chocolate chip cookies," she said. "They are crisp on the edge, soft in the center and are filled with three types of European chocolate. We send out an average of 75 dozen chocolate chip cookies for corporate gifts daily.
Haute Mama has also gained a following for its sugar cookies and lollicakes, cake and icing rolled into balls and dipped in European chocolate. Tiffany said, "All of our desserts are made from scratch and use the highest quality ingredients. We use no shortening and do not freeze any of our cakes. We strive to put out the best possible product."
Cupcake Bliss in Bedford
Karolyn Hampton opened Cupcake Bliss in 2010 after a career in Human Resources, Management and Sales. She runs her shop on the philosophy, "The cake makes the cupcake, while the frosting just enhances it." Her best-seller is the Salted Caramel, a fusion of the bitterness of sea salt and sweetness of caramel.
"This is a maple cupcake with a light chocolate buttercream," Karolyn said. "It's a lot going on, but it's our most popular cupcake."
She opened Cupcake Bliss in her hometown of Bedford because she saw a lack of bakeries in the Mid-Cities. "There aren't that many bakeries where I live and I knew I wanted to open it here," Karolyn said.
One of Karolyn's most popular treats is the Devil's Delight, a mini Devil's Food Cake that "will have you sinfully asking for more devilishly dark goodness." For those on a diet or with food allergies, Cupcake Bliss offers the Purity, a light vanilla cupcake available with gluten-free and sugar-free ingredients.
If you don't see your favorite bakery represented, leave us a comment and be sure to answer the Best of BubbleLife survey looking for Best Sweets. This survey will be in your email newsletter beginning May 24.