Top 10 cupcake shops in the Twin Cities
Oh, the humble cupcake. Long a presence in church basements and family picnics, the simple mini-cake + frosting recipe has gone upscale in recent years. It's easy to make a mediocre one, but the bakeries below prove that making a great one is a culinary work of art. The key is to find the proper balance between the cake and the topping. No mathematical formula exists for the exact ratio, but the goal is to deliver both the moist cake along with the sweet (or even savory) topping. Below, you will find literal veterans--and champions of Cupcake Wars, award-winning bakers, and innovative thinkers, all aimed at making a dessert on the go all the more enticing.
10. Yum! Kitchen and Bakery
The name says it all. Yum! is a home for tasty treats of all varieties, and that extends to the cupcakes. Patti Soskin and the team make everything from scratch.at the restaurant and bakery, and that leads to a complete flavor explosion with the cupcakes, be they basics like vanilla or chocolate or the angel-food variety, which takes one of the basic dessert delights and condenses it into an intense flavor experience by adding strawberry whipped cream. (4000 Minnetonka Blvd., St. Louis Park; 952.922.4000.
9. Salty Tart
We like our bakers like we like our pastries: balanced, with just a bit of salt. Never was a bakery so aptly named as the Salty Tart, one of the many reasons to make a visit to the Midtown Global Market. Owner Michelle Gayer is a rock star with flour. She's also a badass chef with some major chops. Her chocolate cupcakes topped with dense, dark ganache are deceptively simple cakes, perfectly sweet and moist. Gayer, a James Beard-nominated chef, brings innovative touches to the delicious little sweets, making everything explode with a unique flavor. (920 E. Lake St., Minneapolis; 612.874.9206)
8. Patisserie 46
Owner John Kraus describes the bakery's les petits gateaux as "what a cupcake aspires to be." The dishes are certainly worth a bit of extra cash (they cost about $5 each) to try out. Prick your fork into a snowball-like half-sphere of coconut cream and a glorious mango-passion fruit puree oozes out like a runny egg yolk. Bite into a cylinder of pistachio Bavarian cream to find a thick, strawberry-rhubarb jam; with coconut-almond granola sprinkled on top, it suggests a haute revamp of fruit cobbler. Among the tiny lemon meringues and cheesecakes, a chocolate tart is stacked with thumb-sized profiteroles, like a tabletop set for a Barbie dolls' tea. And it's just as delightful to eat. (4552 Grand Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.354.3257)
7. Cocoa & Fig
Cocoa & Fig's cupcakes are crowned with frosting in Dairy Queen cone-style lobes piled as tall as their bases. If you can't take a bite without frosting your nose, it's probably a little much. Still, the frosting is among the most ethereal you will ever taste, silky and light as whipped butter. The cupcakes can look more ornamental than edible, topped sundae-style with fresh raspberry buttons or dotted with tiny chocolate balls. Some resemble miniature mannequin heads after a trip to the beauty shop, covered in little chocolate curls. And the cupcakes taste as beautiful as they look. Lemon frosting has the fresh sting of real lemon juice; raspberry tastes as true as pureed fruit. While the cake is properly moist and dense, it's that frosting--voluminous and nearly foamy, tasting waxy for a millisecond before melting into richness--that puts Cocoa & Fig's cupcakes over the top. (651 Nicollet Mall Minneapolis; 612.333.1485)
6. Franklin Street Bakery
This bakery is renowned for all its offerings, but the cupcakes have a special place in our hearts. Why? Well, there is the care that goes into the baking of the cake that makes them light and flavorful on their own. These are not just frosting delivery systems. Then there are the toppings, which perfectly complement the tastes of the foundation. If you want chocolate, there's chocolate -- from the crunchy turtle to the mocha to the milk chocolate ganache. If you want something that's fruit, take in the strawberry vanilla cupcake, which features a vanilla bean cake and strawberry mousse topped with an edible orchid. No matter your desires, the Franklin Street Bakery has something to fit the bill. (1020 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.879.5730)
5013 France Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN