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Can You Stand Another Cupcake Photo?

I had the best intentions. Honest.

But an editor needing a freelance story from me earlier than expected, and an all-around shortage of time derailed those efforts.

You see, I had hoped to go to the new Sprinkles Cupcakes bakery in Palo Alto’s Stanford Shopping Center on Wednesday, the day after it officially opened. Then, I planned to zoom across the road to the 12-day-new Kara’s Cupcakes bakery in the Town & Country Village also in Palo Alto. My plan was to conduct my very own cupcake-war, taste-off to see which bakery had the most irresistible frosting-topped confections. After all, Cupcakes Take the Cake already included a Yelp review comparing the two.

As I rounded the Stanford Shopping Center, it wasn’t hard to spot where the new bakery was on the backside of the mall. The line was the telltale beacon. At 4 p.m. on Wednesday, there were more than 20 people queued up. All of them women. You’d have thought it was a Manolo Blahnik sale, for gosh sakes.

Not having the time or patience on that particular day, I headed to Kara’s instead. And I walked right in. No line. But plenty of cute cupcakes. I chose a banana cupcake with cream cheese frosting, a “Java” (chocolate cupcake with espresso buttercream), and a Fleur de Sel (chocolate cupcake filled with caramel, then topped with ganache frosting and a sprinkle of sea salt). My tab? Just under $10. Gulp.

This was my first taste of Kara’s cupcakes. I had high hopes after Cooking with The Single Guy raved about the ones at the San Francisco branches.

The banana one was homey, old-fashioned comfort with a smear of thick, sugary sweet frosting. The coffee buttercream was like silk. And the Fleur de Sel? Like a gourmet Hostess cupcake for the 21st century — ultra rich, moist, adult, and absolutely decadent.

Though I have tried the cupcakes at Sprinkles in Beverly Hills, it was years ago. So it wouldn’t be fair for me to make a side-by-side comparison from memory. But I will say this: Based on how sublime Kara’s cupcakes are, Sprinkles has a high bar to hit. 

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