Georgetown Cupcake is the newest of all the cupcake shops on our list, and they're one of the best. The endless waits outside the original DC location are easily understood after that first bite. Don't miss the Peanut Butter Fudge (pictured), a dense chocolate cupcake made with Valrhona chocolate. At the center is a supple fudge core that's reason enough alone to eat this cupcake. Fluffy peanut butter frosting and dark chocolate fudge drizzles to finish. Seasonal specials are also noteworthy, especially the Orange Blossom for the month of June.
Doughboy Bake Shop
Come autumn, I'll be heading straight to Doughboy Bake Shop on Hudson Street for my annual pumpkin cupcake fix (pictured). Their cake is almost too moist, thanks to chunks of fresh pumpkin meat stirred into the cupcake batter. It's a fun departure from the usual cupcake, the pumpkin element undeniably front and center, accented with cinnamon and nutmeg. And for all other months of the year? The Cookies 'n Cream cupcake, with an entire Oreo cookie baked straight inside the chocolate cupcake. Whipped vanilla frosting and another whole Oreo to complete.
Blue Smoke Bake Shop
Blue Smoke isn't only for barbecue—they also run a thriving bake shop near the entrance of the restaurant. A vanilla cupcake made with sour cream offers a slight tangy flavor, offset with vanilla buttercream; espresso cupcakes are high on the intensity scale. They always have a "flavor of the month" cupcake; in Feburary it was Root Beer Float—a root beer cake base with a matching root beer-custard filling. This month it's a Chocolate-Pretzel cupcake where crushed pretzels form a makeshift cupcake liner for the dark chocolate cupcake.
Flavors are familiar but the presentations are unique at Molly's Cupcakes. There are Eclair cupcakes which, depending on who you ask, are either cupcakes interpreted as éclairs, or éclairs in cupcake form. Peach Cobbler (pictured) is peach puree swirled in sweet vanilla cake, and a fluffy scoop of whipped cream with brown sugar streusel and peaches. Then there's the Crème Brûlée cupcake, outfitted with a glorious caramelized sugar top in place of frosting. Take that first bite and out oozes cool vanilla bean custard. Cake and custard, truly the best of both worlds.
Those colorful dots are an unmistakable signature of Sprinkles Cupcakes, and though many deem these cupcakes too sugary, it's just a matter of picking the right flavors. Red Velvet is the top seller, but I'm partial to the banana cupcake. Chocolate, vanilla, and red velvet cupcakes are easy to find; but a good banana cupcake? Much harder to come by. Sprinkles does the banana cupcake justice with a tender, fresh banana cake. It's slightly more dense than their other cupcakes, but in all the right ways, plenty moist and appropriately sweet. Offered with either vanilla or chocolate frosting.
Spot Dessert Bar
Cupcakes have always been the sleeper hit at Spot Dessert Bar in the East Village. But they've recently changed chefs—Pichet Ong is no longer in the kitchen; Ian Chalermkittichai is—and while we're huge fans of Ong, we think the cupcakes have gotten even better. (They're more consistent in quality, with wider variety of flavors.) We love their dark chocolate cake with green tea buttercream, the classic coconut, and the apple crumb cupcakes. And when available, banana walnut cupcakes should be at the top of your list. For Valentine's Day, they offered a red velvet special that's now also on the current rotation of cupcake flavors. Never too sweet, with a truly lush and light whipped frosting, the cakes themselves are offered in cake pop form for those who just want a little bite.
Always creative and consistently delicious. I'm fairly certain you can't go wrong with any cupcake flavor created by Robicelli's. But since we last checked in, we've found so many new ones to appreciate, and they've since closed their gourmet market in Bay Ridge and now focus solely on cupcakes. Currently on the obsession list are the S'mores cupcakes, filled with speculoos pudding, and Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel cupcakes, an intersection of all things wonderful. It starts with an excellent classic chocolate cake base, then peanut butter buttercream and a final salty-sweet roll in crushed peanuts and pretzels.
Ivy Bakery on Houston Street offers over 60 different types of cupcakes, and you never know what you'll find on any given day. You can't go wrong with their Chocolate Cupcake, extremely dark and intense like devil's food cake, paired with an equally rich chocolate buttercream. I'm a sucker for the Tres Leches Cupcake—exactly the same as their tres lesches parfait, only in cupcake form. The vanilla cake is soaked in three milks, impossibly moist and over-the-top indulgent. Regulars also swear by the Carrot Cucpakes with pineapples, raisins, and walnuts.