Cupcakes Couture

{Old store front and new.}

New Location: 1120 Manhattan Avenue, Manhattan Beach

When heading over to my favorite cup-cakery to grab treats for an upcoming birthday a few days ago; I was excited, then bummed, then excited again, then nostalgic. Explanation?

Excitement: sneaking to Manhattan Beach to grab surprise gluten-free birthday treats for my boyfriend. Bummed: a “we’ve moved” sign greets me. Excitement: reading the rest of the sign, “…down the street.” Nostalgia: missing the charm of the old shop I’ve come to love.

Cupcakes Couture, the bake shop that I rave about to all of you, has moved. Luckily, it’s only down the street and into the Manhattan Beach Creamery. I’m sure such a move will be great for business because it’s in a prime location to attract tourists strolling the beautiful sidewalks of Manhattan Beach Boulevard.

{Cupcakes Couture’s gorgeous new view from the store front.}

{Likes: these super cool chairs and this eclectic chandelier.}

For an old fan like me, there was something so charming about that little shop that I’ll miss. As you would enter the store, directly to your right was a large glass window, where you could see the pastry chefs working magically to create the most gorgeous cakes. To your left, a large glass display filled with a variety of the best dressed cupcakes in town would welcome you. There was such a fun, flirty design to the store that made it a great place to visit.

I can certainly understand why the owner, who recently blogged about her change of venue, was excited about the upgrade in light of her growing family (and let’s be honest, a scoop of ice cream while enjoying a cupcake is never a bad idea), but moving into The Creamery lost a touch of that charm I loved about the original location.

I later learned that the move was on November 1st. Perhaps since I visited the new set-up only 9 days later attributes to some of my unhappiness with the new location. The counter didn’t feel put together, boxes were strangely arranged in random places, the sign hadn’t even been put up over the booth, and the decor felt cluttered. I’m sure once the team settles in, that fun and flirty nature will return to Cupcakes Couture’s new spot in The Creamery. Hopefully, this was just a visual glitch. Otherwise, the rest of The Creamery, housing a gourmet ice cream station, specialty desserts section, and candy racks everywhere has a unique vibe that works – those awesome chairs and that chandelier were my favorites.

{Cupcakes Couture’s new station.}

{The Creamery store view.}

The most important fact of all, and what will keep me coming back for more, are that the cupcakes are still some of the best I’ve ever had; great tasting, moist, with a flair in design. The executive pastry chef duo that creates and bakes is the same, so what is ultimately special about the best cupcakes in Los Angeles remains untouched. This makes me happy.

{The best dressed cupcakes in L.A.}

I’ll keep you posted on how things finally turn out once we give Cupcakes Couture some time to settle into The Creamery. I know I’d be disappointed if someone reviewed my apartment after just moving in! Stay tuned…

{Sunday Mimosa cupcake.}

Buttercelli Bakeshop, Sherman Oaks

Location: 13722 Ventura Boulevard, Sherman Oaks

The search for the best cupcakes around town continues. Buttercelli sits in a sweet little spot on the very busy Ventura Boulevard in “The Oaks” (yep, I came up with that myself!). My second time here puts this place in the “so-so” category. Let me explain…

It was a H.O.T. Sunday afternoon earlier this summer. After spending the morning at the Rose Bowl Flea Market, we made a quick and spontaneous decision to head over to Buttercelli to check out their selection. They have one of the largest gluten free baked goods sections that I’ve come across to date (for the boyfriend) and somehow I always feel better about eating sweet treats when they’re promoted to be of the finest organic ingredients. I went with a simple lemon cupcake and because it was over 100 degrees outside, I didn’t want the frosting to melt while sitting on my kitchen counter and put it in the fridge. A complete no-no, of course, but it was too H.O.T. not to. When I ate the tiny treat later that night, the cake portion was hard. Boo!

Take 2.

Since it was the “weather’s fault” that I didn’t get to experience all the hype from my first time at Buttercelli, I made it a point with the recent cooling temperatures not to make the same intentional mistake twice! I left with an apple pie cupcake and a lemon poppy-seed muffin.

{My treats.}

The apple pie cupcake was delicious, but unfortunately the cake portion was hard on the edges and not as moist as some other places I’ve been in general. I swear, no fridge was involved this time. The next morning, the lemon poppy-seed muffin went well with my coffee for breakfast. This treat was both moist and delicious.

As such, I can’t quite figure out what’s going on with their cupcakes. Their Yelp reviews are positive overall, the other customers I’ve met in-store rave about the place, and the staff have always been very friendly and confident in their goodies. Perhaps the point is to eat the treat right away. The store must have some magical tool in the air to keep their goods fresh and the minute you walk out the door their stock plummets.

Either way, it shouldn’t be this much work on my end to enjoy a cupcake (in decent weather no less). Kudos to them for the gluten free selection and the use of organic ingredients.

Bottom line? I’m not too convinced of this place’s awesomeness. The muffin was good and a bite of my guy’s chocolate thumbprint was yummy, but why is it that the cupcakes can’t seem to float my boat?  I rate Buttercelli “so-so.”

Cupcakes (no Cashmere)

In celebration of tiny cakes everywhere and one of my favorite blogs, after having spent lots of time researching my passion for carbs topped with icing and taste testing my behind off; here are my thoughts based on my quest to uncover some of LA’s best cupcakes. Clearly, I haven’t tried every single cupcake in this great land, so I’m basing this list off of the places I’ve personally frequented.

Cupcakes Couture
Location: 916 Manhattan Avenue, Manhattan Beach
BY FAR the most delicious and best dressed cupcakes in LA!  I stumbled into
this oasis of sweetness when hanging out on the Manhattan Beach Strand one Saturday afternoon nearly a year ago. It’s a trek to get down to the South bay for me, but MY GOODNESS, it’s worth every traffic light and hassle to get there. The shop is well designed, the girls that work the counter are sweet, and the concoctions are the best. Nearly every cupcake has a sweet filling in the center, always tastes fresh, and NEVER disappoints. This place also has THE BEST gluten-free selection (which makes my boyfriend very happy) that I’ve come across if you struggle with an intolerance to wheat. My favorites are the Cupcake Wars reality TV show winning Lemon Blueberry, Strawberry Cheesecake, and the Sunday Mimosa (only served on Sundays, get it!?!) 
Location: 9635 Santa Monica Boulevard, Beverly Hills

THE place that started it all, well, at least in my opinion. This is what I think of as the originator of the cupcake craze in Los Angeles – like how Pinkberry spawned the frozen yogurt movement. I can’t recall how I first heard of this place, but it remains an oldie but a goodie in my book. Sprinkles’ forte has always been location, location, location; oh and the cupcakes are moist and delicious! They have one the largest selections of flavors but rotate them out depending on the day, as seems to be the case with all places. Beware the place is small and the line LONG. Their best invention yet? The cupcake ATM if you want to grab a cupcake at 2:00am. Great ones to try: Lemon Coconut, Red Velvet, Strawberry, and Pumpkin.

Frosted Cupcakery
Location: 1200 North Highland Avenue, Hollywood

If I can’t make the trip to Manhattan Beach or Beverly Hills, Frosted comes in a close third. The cupcakes more than cover it in a pinch, but I so desperately wish that Frosted would catch up on the flavor selections! They stick with pretty safe choices. Their shop seems to run of cupcakes quicker in my experience than with other places, and the treats themselves are very good, but I find they don’t have quite the same punch. The best thing about this place? The price! These guys run under $3.00 each, which is a steal! What scores additional brownie points? Their awesome ice cream cupcakes. I’m a huge fan of their red velvet and cream cheese cupcake filled with vanilla bean ice cream!

Vanilla Bake Shop
Location: 10250 Santa Monica Boulevard, Century City

My latest taste test on the cupcake front comes from Vanilla Bake Shop. I’ve noticed the shop for a while now when checking out a movie or shopping at the Westfield center; and have been in before a few times to check out the place, but had never purchased anything (which is so unlike me.) I have to say this place is aptly named, it was a very “vanilla” experience. I hate to call this out, but the person working the counter was pretty dismissive (coloring in fact) when I walked-in recently. Further to that, they only have 6 flavors to choose from on any given day. I went with a safe Vanilla Bean and did enjoy the cupcake. It satisfied my sweet tooth but they lose points for not much variety on any given day and poor service. Perhaps it was an off day. I was also told that a gluten-free selection was in the works and would debut in May of this year, but nothing yet.

Location: 6801 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood

Love the name, pretty blah when it comes to the cupcakes. I do like how decorative these guys are, but for some reason, I get a “straight out of a box” taste from them. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes you just want sugar, and you don’t really care how or in what format, so these will more than handle your needs, but the fresh taste wasn’t quite there for me. Dare I say they were a bit too sweet as well?  I love that they have multiple locations around the city. I count 6! Then again, because they have so many locations, maybe this alludes to why quality lacks in their cupcakes. It seems they’re more into design, which is super important, but I’m also about my tongue doing the happy dance on contact.

With that, I’m now seriously craving a cupcake and I don’t care which location it comes from! If you have a hidden treasure on the tiny cake front that is missing from my list, please do let me know! I’m always looking to gain 5 pounds (said no one ever!)