Usually, it’s about differentiation, how one is better at this, costs less than that, or offers more… well, you get the point.
The same holds true for the cupcake industry. With so many players in an oversaturated market, thus far, I’ve found most bakers try to add their own unique stamp.
That’s why I was surprised to come across Frostings Cupcakes in Lake Forest, California. I heard of them through a friend. And from the moment I viewed their website, they seemed like a cousin to my longtime favorite, Sprinkles Cupcakes.
My initial feeling was amplified when I visited their store. Frostings had a flower fondant on their cupcakes. Sprinkles uses a dot fondant on theirs.
Frostings had logo merchandise on the left wall of their store, the same wall where Sprinkles places their logo items.
Even the frosting technique was similar on the cupcakes.
It was surreal.
For my purchase, I selected one daily flavor and another from the day’s specials.
Once home, I started with the Raspberry Truffle. It’s a dark chocolate cake with a raspberry butter center, topped with chocolate frosting, and rimmed with pure dark chocolate.
I rarely gravitate towards all chocolate cupcakes. Often the cake or frosting will be too strong and diminish the experience. I took a gamble with this flavor because of the raspberry center.
The result was most unexpected.
The cake was moist and its dark chocolate flavor robust. The cacao percentage straddled a fine line; just a hint more would’ve been too much. But as is, it was perfect and better than Sprinkles.
Honestly, the only thing I didn’t enjoy about this cupcake was the center. It was just a sugary, pink, raspberry-flavored, creamy dollop. I wanted more for such an exceptional cupcake, perhaps preserves or a fresh berry filling.
I moved on to my second choice, the Lemon Drop. It’s a lemon cake with a lemon curd center, frosted with lemon buttercream, and topped with a touch of lemon curd.
I must confess I love a good lemon cupcake and Sprinkles makes some of the best! So it was going to be impossible not to draw comparisons.
Since Frostings Cupcakes have a broader top, my first taste included ample frosting. Their lemon buttercream was smooth and tangy.
It took a couple of more bites to reach an adequate amount of cake to critique. The lemon flavor was faint and it wasn’t as moist.
Then, I reached the lemon curd in the middle.
It was so tart, my eyes popped wide open and I swear I could feel my arm hairs stand up.
Talk about a kick.
It was creamy, like what you’d find in a lemon bar recipe. Still, I would’ve remembered having such a lemon bar.
With the help of more frosting and cake, I was able to finish the lemon curd. Overall, it wasn’t the lemon cupcake I was hoping for.
I give Frostings Cupcakes 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Though the Sprinkles influence is obvious, Frostings is subtly distinct.
Only time will tell if that’s enough in this competitive cupcake landscape.