Sunday, February 03, 2008

Denver Cupcakes

As much as I love Denver, when it comes to the cupcake revolution, we are a bit behind. Institutions such as the Magnolia Bakery in New York City have been around since the mid-90's. I hadn't given much thought to it until I took a trip to Seattle last year. While waiting for a table at the amazing Mashiko Sushi Bar, we wandered the neighborhood and ran across Cupcake Royale. All of their little cakes looked like works of art. We agreed to stop by after eating and get some to go. Unfortunately, dinner took longer than expected and Cupcake Royale was closed when we left. We never made it back, but the cupcakes came up again and again.

Why didn't we have anything like this in Colorado? Sure, there are bakeries that sell cupcakes, but I wanted a pure cupcake bakery. I decided that for my boyfriend's birthday this year, I was going on a mission. A mission to find some delicious cupcakes. Something not made as an afterthought, but as the main purpose of the bakery. I began asking around in October, and nobody could give me much information. Just as I was starting to give up, I browsed the latest edition of the Urban Eye email that had popped up in my inbox. Standing out amongst the ads for lofts and art shows was a Grand Opening announcement for Yum Yums Delights. Somebody heard my cries.

Yum Yums Delights is an adorable little shop in the Denver Pavilions. Owners Tara and Heather were incredibly helpful and friendly from my initial phone inquiry to when I picked up the drool-inducing Chocolate Dutchess dozen I had ordered. The chocolate-on-chocolate cakes were perfect. They stayed moist during their 3-day life span, and the frosting was light, fluffy and not too overwhelming. I give this place thumbs up for their convenient downtown location, being open until 8 pm on weeknighs, superb customer service and of course, wonderful cupcakes in many different flavors. Cupcakes run about $2.50 each.

The next cupcake shop to open was Happy Cakes, in the Highlands neighborhood. I drove by a few times to find them closed. The hours seemed erratic, so I gave up for awhile. Eventually, we were driving by on a Sunday and noticed they were open. Parking was convenient, with a small lot next door. The building is cute and the location is, of course, uber-trendy. We walked in to be greeted not by a "hello" but by a bit of a scowl on the face of the woman behind the counter. I almost expected to be told they weren't really open and just forgot to lock the door. But, no, we just got a quick hi finally in return to our own. The cupcakes looked jaw-droppingly gorgeous. Their decorations are really top-notch. I would have loved to have perused them longer, but the stare-down from the afore-mentioned woman began to make us nervous. I ordered a peppermint chocolate and a gingerbread. To go, as you can imagine. The gingerbread was tasty, but I found the cake too dense and the frosting completely overwhelming. It was so sweet I scraped some off, and I LOVE frosting. The peppermint chocolate was better, and I would have that one again. Happy Cakes is for the Highlands crowd. The same snotty service you get in every business in the neighborhood, with mediocre returns on your money. I would only go back in a pinch. Cupcakes were also about $2.50.

This weekend, a third cupcake bakery was bestowed upon Denver. The Shoppe is a far cry from both Yum Yums and Happy Cakes. First of all, this is not just a cupcake shop, but also a cereal bar. Which is awesome. Yes, you can order a big bowl of cereal here, with all sorts of toppings, if cupcakes aren't your thing. If you get tired of eating, browse the graphic design books and cute gifts. Or maybe show up on a Saturday night for some DIY crafting using the provided button maker. Located on East Colfax near the Bluebird Theater, these are cupcakes for the hipster-artist in you. The bright white room is reminiscent of a studio more than a restaurant or bakery. One of their specialty cupcakes is the Munny surprise, complete with a Munny zipper pull baked inside. I opted for a simple chocolate with cream cheese frosting. It was moist and the frosting was wonderful. A big mug of cold milk was the perfect side. Service was very friendly and it's a good place to people watch. You might feel a little out of place here if you're over 30, but it wouldn't stop me from getting my hands on the tasty vittles. Best thing about the shop is that it's open until 2:30 am on the weekends. Cupcake prices run from $1.25 to $3.50.

I want to thank the Cupcakes Take the Cake blog for being so awesome and up-to-date about all things cupcake, and Brandon for the pictures (top- cupcake from the Shoppe, middle- me enjoying said cupcake).


Mikita said...

Don't miss Lovely Confections Cupcake Bakery! I believe they are opening today :D

Leslie in Buffalo said...

It makes me home sick! Why didn't they have these places when I was still in Denver?! I am making you take me when I come back out!

leesy-pie said...

Today I went to all of the above mentioned cupcake cafes, including Lovely Confections. I had similar experiences. I can't believe it's taken this long for the cupcake trend to hit Denver; and all at once!
Happy Cakes- Love the presentation of the cupcakes, all on different cake stands. The flavors were good. I had a chocolate cinnamon. The cupcake was moist and the icing was perfect. And they ladies in there were really nice.
Yum Yums- cute place, and the kid that waited on me was really nice. I had a red velvet cupcake. Not really impressed, the cake was nice, but the icing tasted commercial.
Lovely Confections- my favorite tasting cupcake. I had chocolate-chocolate and coconut. Both GREAT tasting. The chocolate had such a nice fudgey icing; everything you would want in a chocolate cupcake. The coconut had such an authentic coconut taste. The place is super cute and chic, it just needs more people (open less than a week)!
The Shoppe- The place I'm most likely to go and hang out at. I had a mojito cupcake; great flavor, but tasted like it had been made a day or two ago. But I love the atmosphere; super artsy. Already has a huge following.

Laura Davis said...

I love your blog! I found your extensive knowlege on these Denver bakerys so helpful. I'm trying to plan my daughters 13 th b-day & you have been my saving grace. Now I'm starving:)
Thanks again, I'll definately be back to see more tasty treats!

Anonymous said...

We stopped into Lovely Confections today. The cupcakes were heavenly, I had the vanilla/vanilla cupcake and Jon had the lemon cupcake. Both were out of this world delicious. The cake part is perfectly moist. The icing is about an inch thick and has the best vanilla flavour I've ever tasted. Also, the presentation is perfect with the glittery sugar sprinkles and the perfect swirl of the icing.

The ambience has a trendy feel but comfortable. Plenty of windows allow for natural lighting.

LC's also serves coffee and espresso drinks so save room for those as well.

Sweet Tart said...

I recently went a cupcake binge and had the following experience.

First I visited The Shoppe and order 6 flavors. 1st I tried the Red Velvet with Cream Cheese frosting and found that the cake was good but lacked flavor however the cream cheese frosting was light and delicious not too sweet. I am starting to think that Red Velvet does not have a flavor because I have yet to try a red velvet that blows me away. Maybe I just to "get" the red velvet thing. Next I tried the classics the Chocolate cupcake with Chocolate frosting, Yellow Cupcake with Chocolate Frosting and Vanilla cupcake with Vanilla frosting all of the above were good balance between moist cake and delicious frosting. Of the above classics to my own surprise I liked the Vanilla cupcake with Vanilla frosting the best. I then tried the Rasberry cupcake with Rasberry frosting which if you are a rasberry purist you will love; it tastes so fresh and naturally rasberry. My favorite by far is the Coconut cupcake with coconut frosting YUM! The coconut cupcake was so moist with a light creamy coconut frosting it is perfection.

Later in the week I tried 3 flavors from Lovely Confections I ordered the Chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting while the frosting is delicious and fudgy it overpowers the cake. Next I tried the Vanilla cupcake with Vanilla frosting and the flavors are delicious. Could have been perfect except the frosting was hard as if it had been sitting in the display too long. Next I had the Coconut Cupcake with Coconut Frosting and I think I received a cupcake from a batch that should have been thrown out. The cupcake bottom & edges were a little too golden brown which in turn made the cake crumbly and dry. The coconut frosting is completely unremarkable. Overall due to the proximity of both bakeries I reccomend The Shoppe for Freshness, Consistancy and balance between frosting and cupcake. Most likely I will not return to Lovely Confections however I will say that I like their cupcake paper liners better than The Shoppe.

Summer said...

Me and my fella were walking home late night last night and strolled past The Shoppe. Holy cow! That place was so wonderful. The cupcakes were absolutely decadent and the people were friendly and helpful, even though they were clearly closing up. I am so glad I found this adorable little place and plan to go there some morning soon for some good fair trade coffee and a bowl of cereal (gotta keep those cupcakes to a minimum. Fat free they are NOT). Love love love this place. You gotta check it out if you haven't!!!

risa said...

yay for cupcakes in denver!
have you had the "hostess" cupcake from city o city?
it's fantastic-especiallu for a vegan treat.
soooooooooo good.
i'm glad i found your blog! i look forward to reading more about your denver dining adventures. :)

wordmonkey said...

Maybe I am a Highlands snob, but I have nothing but glowing accolades for Happy Cakes
. Regardless, I am all for this Denver cupcake revolution.

cupcake mom said...

As a preschool teacher, I was never crazy about those messy, sweet and sticky cupcakes we always see at preschool for birthdays! But, at the age of almost 44, God decided I needed one more child (surprise!) and my little cupcake was born. About a year ago, at the tender age of two, my sweet little cupcake decided that she was crazy for cupcakes! I'm not sure if if was the Gymboree cupcake clothes that first caught her fancy or what, but I began trying to find good (not grocery) cupcakes in the Denver area. I searched on-line and discovered, much to my ignorance, that cupcakes were the rage! I also discovered that cupcakes in the entire Denver metro area were rare! So, after a cupcake or two, I decided maybe I'd been mistaken . . . cupcakes rock!

Thus, began our "Search for the Perfect Cupcake" . . . Yes, we've visited Happy Cakes in the old Highland's neighborhood - good, but too far - you see, we live in Parker – and no place to sit . . . so, we tried Parker's Posh Pastry's cupcake - yuck, previously frozen and still cold (and not a very appealing place) . . . Oh! Cupcakes by "Sugar Bomb" at the Paris Street Market at Aspen Grove - pink lemonade cupcake to die for (but not real cute, even with the plastic animal on top), only there in the summer months or by special order . . . Child's Bakery, pretty, but so-so - not the unmatched quality that was for decades "the" wedding cake bakery! A light rail ride to the Louisiana station and a three block walk to Mulberries Cake Shop on old South Pearl St. has been the highlight of our experiences so far . . . on our first visit the bakery cases were full of brightly colored, cutely decorated cupcakes . . . my little cupcake nearly fainted! Our second trip, with Grandma in tow, wasn't quite as glorious (not much in the case), but still fun. Haven't tried others like Lovely Confections, Yum-Yum's or The Shoppe - just too far! My dream however, has been for something to open closer to home - Parker, Highlands Ranch, Castle Rock even . . . something with nothing but cupcakes – cupcakes as dreamy looking as the ones I'd seen (but never ordered because our cupcake fancies are typically spur-of-the-moment) on a website called "Nomelie."

Oh well (sigh) . . . Then, it happened! While driving down Mainstreet in Parker a couple of days ago to drop off my water payment, I noticed something new . . . I dropped off my payment and turned around and went much slower past the empty store fronts . . . there it was! “Nomelie Cupcakes - opening May, 2009” We are in rapture! An old, chubby mom and a beautiful, blond, three-year old . . . at the window, with our noses pressed to the glass, saying "OPEN, OPEN, OPEN!"

Can't wait to try Nomelie Cupcakes! We'll be there on opening day with our camera, taking shots for our "In Search of the Perfect Cupcake" scrapbook project, and consuming way too many calories!!!

Cupcake_Obssesive said...

i've tried just about everything!! i'm an exteme cupcake-er and i've been all over!! here's what i've thought...

happy cakes: cute shop. when i was in there the people were nice... felt a little rushed but that may be due to the fact it's a bit small in the front and the whole fam was in there. we chose the chocolate cake with the chocolate frosting and the red velvet. the cake in the chocolate was dry and too crumbly and the chocolate flavor wasn't all that great. and the frosting was way way way too sweet. tasted like eating flavored sugar with the consistency of butter. same goes for the red velvet which did not have that hint chocolate flavor there's supposed to be...

the shoppe: i tried them soo long ago that i don't remember which ones i bought... all i know is i haven't gone back cause the cake was really dry and the frosting just didn't hit the spot. great location though. really cute and unique idea!

yum-yums: not bad. i tried the chocolate with chocolate. wasn't bad but wasn't great. tasted like a box and brought back the the nostalgic feeling of store bought... not much going with the atmosphere either.

butter cream cupcakery: all the way up in fort collins! loved the atmosphere! felt at home as soon as i walked in!! the cute chairs for kids were adorable. cupcakes... tasted like a mix... and i thought the frosting was again a little too sweet. :p but i loved the atmosphere so much that i would go back! best place up north!

nomelie: no store yet... but opening in may and could not be happier! this is by far the best cupcake i've tasted in YEARS. my personal fave. i bought mine at the couture kids in littleton. (which is by the way one of the cutest places i've been to, too. want some cute designer kids clothes for cheap? then go here.) we tried the red velvet and the caramel chocolate. the red velvet was awesome! the cake was perfect and the flavor was mouth-watering. the perfect amount of chocolate unlike happy cakes and the cream cheese frosting was to die for. perfect on the sweetness scale. next was the sweet and salty which we tried at the colorado cupcake challenge this past weekend. had a mini and it was delicious. so chocolate-y and the caramel frosting melted in your mouth like a real caramel. when this place opens it's gonna be a HIT!

high rise: never been to the location... but i also tried them at the colorado cupcake challenge. tried the caramel frosting on the chocolate cake. (thought it was a funny coincidence that high rise and nomelie both had the same type of cupcake there!) the cupcakes are HUGE. absolutely enormous. almost overwhelming but i shared it with a friend so it took the worry away. the cake was not bad... crumbly but not dry. wish it was a little more dense but i enjoyed the lighter chocolate flavor. the frosting on the other hand was just horrible. it tasted like whipped butter without any sugar... it had a slimy texture and i spit it out immediately. wish the frosting matched the taste of the cake. and after having nomelie's caramel-chocolate, it didn't compare.

lovely confections: this one is my second favorite! the shop is very cute. it feels very welcoming and the coffee they serve is delicious! this is one of the only places that's kept me coming back. my most recent visit i tried the chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and the lemon. the chocolate is fudgy and very delicious and rich! the cake is dense... and most. my only issue with it is it's very rich. milk or water is a must with this one! but very worth it. the lemon is just as good. being my fave from the shop, the cake is most and dense and the frosting perfectly lemon-y! definitely stop in here for some delicious cupcakes!!!

there's my two-cents :D hope it helps anyone in a cupcake crave!!

Anonymous said...

Cupcake Mom back to leave a follow-up comment regarding the opening of Nomelie Cupcakes on Mainstreet in Parker . . . DON'T MISS IT! If you don't live nearby, it's worth the drive if you love cupcakes! My little cupcake and I (and the whole fam!) were there on opening day . . . and it's AWESOME! A cute little place - with seating, unlike Happy Cakes, and the best cupcakes I've ever had! The "sweet and salty" is to die for! The staff is wonderful! Call before you head out for Nomelie as they've been selling out before closing time, and then - they close! They post the daily flavors on their website, We've been there four times already - our "Search for the perfect cupcake" has ended . . . at Nomelie! I'll soon be looking like a cupcake!

Katey said...

I L-o-o-o-v-e The shoppe!

Best iced coffee anywhere! Best cupcakes I've had. Try the lemon blueberry with cream cheese frosting. Wonderful. The secret is to go early. If you go there really late (they are open til two am in Friday and Saturday). The cupcakes are dry. But you would be too, if you were sitting on a shelf for 8 hours.

Anonymous said...

This site is so helpful - thank you! I happened to run into one called Big Fat Cupcakes located in Cherry Creek. Cupcakes are big and pretty with trendy names. I tried cupcakes: Monkey Love, Creamsicle and Tiffany ($4.95 each). The cupcakes did not match the hipe, they were dry and heavy like a giant muffin, the frosting was sooo sweet and thick I had to scrape half of it off. Not worth the trip! Excited to try all the cupcakes suggested on this blog!

Anonymous said...

I found another little bakery. It's in Old Town Arvada, Cheesecake Therapy. It's the cutest little shop. It's in an old house. They have a very nice little place. Everyone should try them!!!

Anonymous said...

Laura- I had my daughters 9th birthday party at Cheesecake Therapy. They did a Tea/Cupcake party for us.

They served us clear tea pots full of hot water, you would then put in the tea bag (* before you very own eyes it would bloom into a beautiful flower*) the tea was even really good, I don't like tea for the most part, I had 4 cups to myself.

They served us snow white cupcakes with buttercream roses on top. The roses were sprinkled in crystal sugar. The cake was so moist and tasty. The buttercream was smooth and rich, not the type that sticks to the roof of your mouth. The buttercream was better then ice-cream !!!!!!! I wanted to eat them all. But the girl's got to them before I could get to them.

I will be going back there to try there cheesecake next.