When you’re in the mood for a little pick-me-up or have two dozen sweet treats to bring to your child’s class, there’s nothing better than cupcakes. It wouldn’t be the East Bay without gourmet, artisan cupcakes on hand. Here is a sampling of our favorite go to cupcake destinations:
Cupcakin’ Bake Shop, 2391 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley, 510.529.4444. cupcakinbakeshop.com
In brand new digs, a few doors down from Cream in Berkeley, you’ll find Cupcakin’ Bake Shop, which is all about local, fresh, and fabulous. They put out a monthly calendar of deliciousness on their website, so cupcake lovers can take a peek at the offerings before heading over. Some flavors like this month’s ever popular Caramel Apple are available every day of the week where as specialty flavors like Caramel Mocha are a Friday splurge when they’re on the calendar. They have vegan cupcakes (think the likes of Vegan Cinnamon Sugar) and gluten free delights (such as GF Lemon Cream Pie) available every day, so those with preferences or allergies can still enjoy the delectable fare. The toppings are so pretty you’ll hardly want to ruin them by biting in, but let’s face it: you’ll eventually give in to temptation.
James and the Giant Cupcake, 6326 San Pablo Ave., Oakland, 510.596.8834 jamesandthegiantcupcake.com
For those with an adventurous pallet, these flavored cupcakes will satisfy. With seasonal tastes like Lemon Blackberry (lemon cupcake filled with blackberry sauce, topped with lemon blackberry buttercream) and ongoing favorites like Sea Salt Caramel (chocolate cupcake topped with vanilla buttercream and a salted caramel sauce) in the mix, who can go wrong? For the kids (or childlike adults) Milk & Cookies (vanilla cupcakes filled with cookie dough & topped with vanilla buttercream rainbow sprinkles and a chocolate chip cookie) or the horrifyingly-awesome bright blue Bubblegum Cupcake (vanilla cupcake topped with bubblegum flavored buttercream and a gum ball) the choice will be difficult. Need a hypoallergenic sweet fix? Yummy gluten free and vegan options are in the offering as well.
Kara’s Cupcakes, 1388 North Main St., Walnut Creek, 925.933.2222 karascupcakes.com
At Kara’s, you’ll find mostly straightforward flavors like chocolate/chocolate in the bakery case, but that said, there’s nothing better than the taste of real cocoa and butter in the rich, creamy frosting. If you’re looking for something less traditional, you’ll also find the likes of Meyer Lemon cupcakes, Kara’s Karrot, Sea Salt Caramel, Banana, Organic Strawberry and seasonal cupcakes decorated with sports team-themed toppings (which puts a delicious twist on “supporting the team!”). Mini cupcakes are in the offering as well, in case you have just a small hankering for a sweet treat. And the gluten free crowd will appreciate the delicious flourless chocolate concoctions.
Republic of Cake, 2 Theatre Square, Suite 151, Orinda, 925.254.3900 republicofcake.com
The bakers at Republic of Cake take using local ingredients to heart when they create their confections. Everything from butter and cream to chocolate and coffee come from Northern California, which makes them small on carbon footprint, but large on freshness. Their repertoire of flavors is unique to say the least because in addition to sweet cupcakes with flavors such as Sticky Toffee Pudding and Coconut Cream Pie, they also bake savories. Roasted Tomato Bisque or Sour Cream and Chive cupcakes anyone? Because they bake their treats fresh daily, they don’t always have every flavor imaginable on hand, but if there’s a certain combination customers just can’t get enough of, there’s a handy spot on their website for special orders. Oh yeah, they have plenty of traditional flavors behind the counter as well, so if you’re a lover of old-fashioned favorites, you’ll still be able to find something to tempt your taste buds.