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Top Pick Of The Week

November 24, 2009

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Chocolate Cupcake

Each cupcake mix comes with Sprinkles’ signature “Modern Dots” decorations, in a different color combination. Photography © Victoria Pearson.

WHAT IT IS: Gourmet cupcake mixes.
WHY IT’S DIFFERENT: Made from the recipes of the acclaimed Sprinkles cupcake bakery in Beverly Hills.
WHY WE LOVE IT: The mixes produce really fabulous cupcakes—better than anything we can buy.
WHERE TO BUY IT: Williams-Sonoma stores or Williams-Sonoma.com.
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Sprinkles Cupcakes
Page 2: Cupcake Mix Varieties

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INDEX OF REVIEW

MORE TO DISCOVER

Sprinkles Cupcake Mix Varieties

Looking at the ingredients on the package—sugar, enriched bleached flour, natural flavors or spices (depending on variety), Madagascar (Bourbon) vanilla powder, canola oil, baking powder and salt—there doesn’t seem to be any magic at work. Yet, that’s what comes out of the oven (assuming you’ve done your job correctly).

Let’s start by saying that unless you have a particular objection to chocolate, banana, lemon, etc., then at one point or another you should try all of these magical mixes. Only one flavor of cupcakes fell short for us, for reasons we’ll explain below; and everyone else gobbled them up.

Each mix comes with a frosting recipe—either buttercream or cream cheese frosting—which is very good as well. The recipe makes a large amount of frosting, enough for mounding two inches or more on each cupcake, with more left over for anyone who wants to dive into the bowl. So if you’re a conservative froster, feel free to halve the frosting recipe. Buttercream directions tell you to add milk as needed for consistency. We did better by adding melted butter.

 

Sprinkles Cupcakes
If you don’t want to use the “Modern Dots,” try a seasonal candy from your local candy store—or the always-popular sprinkles. Photography © Andrea Lenardin.

  • Sprinkles Banana Cupcake Mix. It’s too bad that alphabetically, our least favorite flavor comes first in this review. Let us hasten to say that it’s because our own banana bread recipe is one of our personal favorites. We practically swoon for that rich, intense banana flavor that comes from the super-ripe bananas in the batter. You can’t put super-ripe bananas into a boxed mix. That being said, the cake is a tasty banana cupcake, eagerly consumed by all. And we have a potential enhancement: We’re going to get another box of mix and add half a very ripe banana to the batter. Another option would be to add another tablespoon of butter to the mix. And either way, we’re going to add chocolate morsels to the batter next time, as we do with our banana bread. Can’t beat that combination! This mix was paired with a buttercream frosting; we’d try the cream cheese frosting next time, as a change.
  • Sprinkles Chocolate Peppermint Cupcake Mix. Shucks, we didn’t get to taste this one, since we got our mixes before this seasonal flavor appeared. Now that it’s “the season,” we’ll be picking up several boxes!
  • Sprinkles Dark Chocolate Cupcake Mix. The cake recipe is chocolate perfection: fragrant and chocolaty from Callebaut cocoa, with a beautiful crumb. The frosting instruction, a dark chocolate buttercream (which is light in color), calls for bittersweet chocolate. We used a bar of Lindt Excellence 70% and liked it just fine (we normally eat bittersweet chocolate). But we think that most people might prefer a slightly sweeter chocolate in the frosting; so if you have a bar of anything over 50% cacao around, feel free to use it. Anything more than 70% would be too bittersweet atop the ebullient cake. Perhaps our favorite of the group, because it is near impossible to find a chocolate cupcake that we find acceptable; it's truly chocolaty. Our quest ends here: We ask for nothing more beyond this mix.
  Sprinkles Chocolate Peppermint Cupcake
The seasonal Chocolate Peppermint cupcake. Bake up for your holiday parties!
  • Sprinkles Lemon Cupcake Mix. This is the vanilla cupcake mix is slightly tinged with lemon; the buttercream frosting, made with the juice of one lemon provided by you, bursts with it. It’s fresh, light, sunny and lemonicious—one can only imagine why the box describes it as “decadent.” (How many people understand that “decadent” is not a synonym for delicious or rich, but means decrepit? Now matter how many times a day the word is misused by others, it does not change the meaning.) Along with Chocolate and Spice, Lemon ranks among our three favorite flavors on a shelf of winners.
  • Sprinkles Pumpkin Cupcake Mix. Here’s another way to enjoy pumpkin. Sprinkles sells the flavor at the bakeries year-round, but the mix is only available seasonally. The aromatic cake is nicely spiced with cinnamon, clove, ginger and nutmeg. Analogous to the banana cupcake mix, it’s drier than a moist pumpkin bread made with canned pumpkin; while not “dry,” the cupcakes are drier than the chocolate and lemon cupcakes. While they’re fine as they are, next time we’ll try adding some pumpkin or 1/4 cup sour cream to amp up the moistness. The cream cheese frosting is spiced with cinnamon—a perfect touch.

Continue To Page 3: More Cupcake Mix Reviews

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