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Sprinkles Cupcakes

LA Cupcake Shop

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Red Velvet Cupcakes: Sprinkles vs. SusieCakes

  • Feb 3, 2011
Rating:
+5
Bless the south!  Fried chicken.  BBQ.  Biscuits and Gravy.  I could almost hoist the confederate flag outside of my house.  Almost.  If it had a cast iron skillet on it instead of the blue X, then it would be very possible.  Yeah, I loves me some southern food.

Rooted in southern tradition, the Red Velvet cupcake has become the darling of the cupcake craze.  Invented in the early 1900s, its red hue was originally the product of a chemical reaction between natural cocoa powder and buttermilk.  Somewhere along the way, bakers started adding food coloring to the batter to create a more stunning red.  Nowadays, it's too easy to waste money on a sorry imitation that is simply a red dyed yellow or white cake.  It may catch the eye, but there's no distinctive Red Velvet flavor and texture.

I think its "flavor charm" comes from a little bit of sensory trickery.  Our eyes see the red and signals are sent to the taste buds to expect a fruity flavor.  Then we actually partake and the flavor profile is so unique.  It's that surprise (almost confusion) that is part of the pleasure.  A real Red Velvet cupcake will have a slight hint of cocoa, without being chocolatey.  Add to that a gentle tanginess from the buttermilk and flavor compounds not generally found in nature are created!  It should be moist without being oily and have a delicate crumb that still feels substantial in the mouth.  These final two characteristics are also a chemical reaction attained by using natural cocoa powder, not dutch processed.  Lastly, the cream cheese frosting better not be too sweet!

Upscale cupcakeries dot the southland with their cutesy names and decor.  Among the most popular are Sprinkles, the Beverly Hills hero that started it all, and SusieCakes, the retro bakery that also happens to be one of Martha Stewart's favorites.  And so we clash....
  • Red Velvet from SusieCakes.
  • I really dig the dollop of frosting in the middle of the cupcake, a SusieCakes signature.
  • Red Velvet by Sprinkles.
  • As you can see, there's a big difference in color.  SusieCakes's is an almost neon red, no brownish tinge, meaning not enough cocoa powder (if any).  It's very moist, and the frosting surprise in the middle is nice, but the flavor just wasn't there.  I walked into Sprinkles a bit of a skeptic.  But it lives up to the hype.  The cupcakes are presented beautifully and the service is excellent.  Despite my blurry picture, you can see that it definitely has sufficient cocoa powder.  It's everything a Red Velvet cupcake should be.  Maybe more.

    Throw the towel in!  Sprinkles wins this clash in an easy first round knock out.

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    February 04, 2011
    Nice! I just had Sprinkles for the first time a couple of months ago and I'm still dreaming about it! Never had SusieCakes, though, but cool to hear that Sprinkles beats it out in the red velvet cupcake department since I don't think I have a SusieCakes around me!
    February 04, 2011
    just responding to your comment, Lady D! I am waiting for a review on Red Velvet cake and that cheese ice cream thing you promised ;P Oh, I'll be happy with a red velvet cake "thumb up" trophy too LOL!
     
    February 03, 2011
    mmmmm.....I am hungry....red velvet is hard to bake or so I've heard. I want some cake!
    February 03, 2011
    I've heard people say that, too, but it's not hard at all. Maybe a post for another day.
    February 04, 2011
    It really isn't hard to make red velvet cake! Just Google Paula Deen's red velvet cake recipe and follow the tips in the comments section. It's become one of my specialties. I should share a review, too! :P
    February 04, 2011
    Yes, devora, you should!
     
    February 03, 2011
    I'm drooling now ;p I LOVE Red Velvet, I'm even asking our baker if we can have it as one of our wedding cake flavors. Thanks for doing the legwork for us and finding out who the clear winner is- I've yet to try Sprinkles but, maybe now I'll have to stop in!
    February 03, 2011
    You really should give them a try. I'm usually one to go against fads, but I think they live up to the hype.
    February 05, 2011
    I'm the same way and I've shied away from trying Sprinkles but, when someone does a red velvet correctly, it's definitely worth the try! Thanks again for sharing.
     
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    More Sprinkles reviews
    review by . March 16, 2009
    Irish Chocolate and Green Velvet Cupcakes!
    Yesterday I took my first trip to Sprinkles. Talk about branding. It's pretty amazing. Love it all from the presentation of the shop to the fun dot on the "i" which right now is a clover, how appropriate! Who would have thought cupcakes would be the dessert. Forget ice cream!    Since it is almost St. Patrick's Day they had two special flavors which I was very much wanting to experience, Irish Chocolate and Green Velvet! Pretty tasty, I must admit.     Hopefully …
    About the reviewer
    Jay N. ()
    I'm a Southern California guy who loves food almost as much as I love my wife! Almost! I also love to travel. But I think the best way to experience a new place is to try the food. Not the stuff at … more
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