After writing this blog series for a few months, I realized I hadn’t visited any of New York’s infamous cupcake vendors. But then, I couldn’t decide which one to go to because Crumbs, Magnolia Bakery, and Sprinkles all had such phenomenal reputations. So with the help of a few friends I visited each one successively so as to equally compare the products.
First, we went to the Crumbs on 108th and asked the servers what their specialty is. Out of the three bakeries, crumbs had the most extensive range of flavors of cupcakes. I was curious about their “Spring Break Pina Colada” flavor but the server recommended the red velvet cupcake and that looked delicious as well. Plus, the chocolate lovers that we were, wanted the blackout chocolate cupcake which had a chocolate ganache filling and chocolate crumble on top. They looked divine but as we bit in we were not extremely impressed. The cream cheese frosting with white chocolate sprinkles was too sugary and there was only the faintest hint of cream cheese in it. Plus, the cake was dry and lacking the rich red velvet flavor one would expect. The blackout cupcake was great if you’re a chocolate addict and are in the mood for some heavy chocolate though. The dark chocolate ganache was thick and overpowered the cake a bit which had a lot less flavor. The frosting and crumble were tasty but we all agreed that, like the cream cheese frosting, it was too sweet. It left a bit of a sugar after taste in our mouths was not as chocolatey as we had hoped.
We moved on to Magnolia Bakery a little less than satisfied and for the rest of the day our expectations were far exceeded. We went to the Magnolia in Bloomingdales on 59th and I was immediately in love with their décor. It was cozy as if I was in my grandma’s house eating her secret recipe chocolate cake. Ordering was easy because the German Chocolate cupcake immediately caught our eyes and the server recommended their Bloomingdale’s specialty cupcake which was a chocolate cake with a vanilla and chocolate buttercream frosting swirl. We dug in to the German Chocolate cupcake first because the coconut/pecan/caramel frosting looked irresistible. I was blown away by the perfect blend of flavors. The frosting had a hint of brown sugar which complemented the coconut and pecans mixed in. The coconut had a strong presence but it wasn’t overpowering if you like coconut. The chocolate cake was moist and not too rich which went well with the flavorful icing. Next, the Bloomingdale’s special cupcake had great presentation with a chocolate B on top of the neatly swirled frosting. The cupcake itself was airy with a light texture. The milk chocolate buttercream frosting was much thicker than the crumbs frosting and it had a milkier flavor. The vanilla buttercream was a lot blander, resembling whipped cream in a way some of us were not huge fans of. However, it was a unanimous consensus that Magnolia cupcakes trumped the Crumbs cupcakes.
Last, but certainly not least, was Sprinkles. I had heard amazing things about Sprinkles yet I had never had the opportunity to try it. I was struck by the outside decorations making it impossible to miss as you walked by on the streets. The inside was just as inviting with fun polka dots decorating the bakery. I was impressed by some of the nontraditional flavors like ginger lemon, chai latte, and pumpkin which made the decision here a bit trickier. Morgan advocated for the red velvet cupcake because she had been to Sprinkles numerous times back home and they were her favorite, so that was the first one we ordered. Second, we chose the s’mores cupcake which had a marshmallow frosting that looked as though it had been roasted over a campfire. After the first bite of each, we knew that Sprinkles was the winner. The red velvet cake had the necessary chocolate hints and was as delectable as Morgan had given us the hopes for. The cream cheese frosting was thick and perfect. It had a sweet cream cheese flavor and was not overly sugary like the Crumbs frosting had been. The marshmallow cupcake, as Emma said, was “an explosion of unique flavors”. The marshmallow frosting was most impressive because it tasted lightly roasted and was not too sweet like an actual marshmallow. It had a smooth texture and it blended nicely with the rich chocolate cake and graham cracker bottom. Plus, there was a surprising dark chocolate ganache in the center that completed the cupcake. Once they were devoured our sweet tooth’s were more than satisfied and we knew that next time we would just cut right to the good stuff and head to Sprinkles. Their distinctive cupcakes made us longing for the next and should be crowned as New York City’s finest.