This is Cupcake Week in Palo Alto -- I have declared it so, and why not, seeing as my birthday is approaching? Sprinkles may be famous and all that, but my new favorite place for a personal-sized cake is Kara's Cupcakes, which opened last week in Palo Alto's Town and Country Village shopping center.
I wasn't sure I was going to like Kara's cakes, based on my first bite. My two boys go for plain vanilla, and neither of them finished their "sweet vanilla" cupcakes, to my surprise. E said they were too sweet, and I had to agree when I sampled (OK, finished) the leftovers. The frosting was pure sugar, held together by a little butter and a solid layer of vanilla sprinkles. The cake had a genuine, home-made flavor.
The "grown-up" cupcakes were a real treat. The filling of the passionfruit cupcake was wonderfully fruity and tart, and this frosting was just sweet enough.
The "fleur de sel" cupcake was intense. Dark chocolate cake was topped with bittersweet chocolate ganache and a sprinkle of coarse salt. Inside there's a dollop of caramel. I would have liked more filling in this one; the caramel was a little lost within all of that chocolatey goodness.
Next time, I'll try chocolate velvet (chocolate cake with bittersweet chocolate buttercream) or java (chocolate cake with espresso buttercream).
Baker Kara's bio on her Web site gave me a chuckle. Her father, a dentist, disapproved of sugary treats. "Thankfully... she no longer needs to hide sweets."