Considering my excitement over Casey’s Cupcakes in California last year, I finally decided that it was about time I stopped by the Arizona location of Sprinkles Cupcakes; since it is in my own city of Scottsdale, I really do not know what has taken me so long. Sprinkles takes the praise for starting the gourmet cupcake craze. The chain began in Beverly Hills in 2005 with the intention of using quality ingredients to achieve a simple and sophisticated effect. Before I go on, I must give credit to their aims at sustainability. They use recycled material bags, boxes, etc., buy local when they can, and commit themselves to other such focuses.
I was a little disappointed, though, when I walked inside the store. The design is clean and natural, but felt too sparse to me. I believe my first impressions carried through my whole experience.
I was with one other person at the time, choosing a total of six cupcakes to take to share with a couple of other people; the final tally was four Dark Chocolate, one Vanilla Milk Chocolate, and one Chocolate Coconut (which is the only one I didn’t try). I started with the Vanilla Milk Chocolate, which happens to be the flavor equivalent to the Casey’s cupcake I had. One difference is that I could see the vanilla specks in the Casey’s cake, but not in the Sprinkles. I don’t pretend to remember the exact taste of the former, but the Sprinkles cupcake struck me as something from a mix. Simple, measured, formulaic–nice-tasting, but exemplary? I’m not sure. It is obvious, though, that these are made with quality ingredients. The butter, in particular, is highly noticeable, especially in the frosting. I think the Casey’s frosting gave more of an emphasis on sugar than butter. Another difference is that, while my Casey’s cupcake had shavings of milk chocolate, Sprinkles, naturally, sticks to the traditional sprinkle form. That is, they do for the Milk Chocolate; the Dark Chocolate sprinkles are in a flat, square shape. I wrote down in my notes that this seemed definite quality dark chocolate, and while the Sprinkles website only says that they use Belgian chocolate, I read somewhere else online that it’s Callebaut chocolate. That fits.
The main differences between the Vanilla Milk and the Dark seem to be the sprinkles’ shape and the cake flavor; although the frostings are listed, respectively, as “fudgy milk chocolate cream cheese frosting” and “bittersweet chocolate frosting,” I can’t say I recall big variations in the two. My general comments for the chocolate cake are the same as for the vanilla: it was good, fresh, slightly moist, fluffy, but didn’t thrill me. I want desserts to thrill me, especially couture cupcakes; otherwise, what sets them apart from ones I can make at home? The frosting and sprinkles I certainly give a passing grade to, though–they were the part that really started to suggest chocolate truffles to the Dark cupcake. The cake itself leaves me wanting just one further edge.
It may just be the simplistic style I’m having trouble with. Goodness knows the little store was packed with customers. So I’ll say that if you’re by a store and want a treat, step in. If you like simplicity or the natural ingredients thing (Sprinkles also serves Red Velvet cupcakes in both gluten-free and vegan options), give them a try. For myself, I’m sure I’ll end up in the store again since it’s so close, but I will probably be going for less plain flavors like Peanut Butter Chocolate, Chocolate Marshmallow, and Mocha; maybe these will better satisfy my need for something extra.