Love’s Cupcakes — Finally

Caramel cupcake.

It’s taken more than a year of waiting, but Love’s Cupcakes has finally opened in downtown San Jose.

I used to laugh when my gym workout buddy, Ellie, would give me week by week updates on the site, which she doesn’t live too far from.

“Oh, brown paper went up on the windows a few days ago!”

“A guy was actually inside working yesterday!”

“I peeked my head inside and they told me it would be open by the end of April!”

“They’re saying it’s PG&E’s fault now, that there’s a delay in turning on the power!”

“Still no power. Can you believe it?”

And on and on it went. I started to think it was some cruel joke by the baking gods, that the place would forever be in construction limbo.

Chocolate Dream cupcake (front), Caramel (rear left), Hummingbird (rear right)

But lo and behold, it’s now churning out about half a dozen flavors a day. I visited the cheery bakery on opening day (July 25). It was started by April Zarazua, a home baker, who graduated from the California Culinary Academy’s pastry program.

The regular size cupcakes are $3.25. There’s also a fun “create-your-own” cupcake option. Choose vanilla or chocolate cake, then your choice of frosting and one topping. Additional toppings are extra.

I chose three from the bakery case: Hummingbird, Chocolate Dream, and Caramel.

So were they worth a year-long wait?

The cupcakes are a tad smaller than at some other bakeries, though priced at the same going rate. In fact, the chocolate one was noticeably shorter than the other two purchased that day.

The Hummingbird is a cake of fresh pineapple, bananas and walnuts, topped with cream cheese frosting. The cake is pretty dense in texture, more like a muffin. It tasted mostly of banana, and had a nice crispy top.

The Chocolate Dream’s chocolate cake was moist and slightly less dense in texture. Lightly sweetened Chantilly cream was piped over the top. It tasted like a fairly basic home-made chocolate cupcake.

The Caramel again had a denser cake that tasted only faintly of caramel. The sour cream frosting totally overwhelmed the subtle taste of the cake. A small chunk of a milk chocolate bar oozing liquidy caramel was perched on top. It was a cute garnish, but didn’t really seem to add a whole lot otherwise.

All in all, I can’t say I was quite feeling the love with these Love’s cupcakes.

If you’d like to render your own verdict on Love’s Cupcakes, be sure to go to its Web site to print out a coupon good for one free cupcake with the purchase of two. The offer is valid Aug. 1 through Sept. 1.

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  • Cupcakes!!! These do look interesting because I notice they like to do piping for the frosting which gives it a different look. The chantilly frosting sounds good, but everything else sounds pretty straightforward. Not sure if I should rent a car to drive to San Jose to check them out because you know I would if they were amazing cupcakes!

  • ohhh, I’m so happy they Finally opened! I’ll try to go on Wed 7/29/09! Thanks for the mention of the coupon. I love FREE!

  • Those sure look tasty. The only “fancy” cupcakes I’ve had were from Sprinkles. If you had Sprinkles before, how do these compare Foodgal?

  • Sounds like they didn’t taste quite as fabulous as they look. Oh well, they are still nice to look at! Great photos.

  • They look fantastic! mmmhhhh, to die for…



  • Lando: I know that Sprinkles has a huge, loyal following, but I find them too achingly sweet. If I had to rank them, though, I would put Sprinkles above Love’s. But I also would put Kara’s Cupcakes ahead of both of them. Kara’s are a little more adult-like in flavor in that they’re a little less sweet. They’re always moist, and you can taste the high quality of the ingredients. If you like dark chocolate, Kara’s Fleur de Sel cupcake (with a touch of sea salt on top) is truly magnificent.

  • I totally stalk new restaurants/bakeries, too:)
    I tried Sprinkles cupcakes when I lived in L.A. (worked right down the street, but thankfully it didn’t become a habit.) I didn’t get what all the fuss was about!

  • Hmmm, maybe if I make it down to San Jose I will have to try these. But for now, I’m happy to live close by Love at First Bite – if you haven’t tried this Berkeley shop, I highly recommend it!

  • Hmm…I work about seven blocks away. I think parking may be a pain down that way. Hmm…maybe I can try to stop on my way home from work today. Hmm…I could almost sneak there for lunch tomorrow. Hmm…

    Actually, I prefer Kara’s over Sprinkles too but neither is near where I work or live so Love’s could be dangerous if they are any good at all….

  • The gooey chocolate caramel topping has mesmerized me! I will try to coerce mr. K to pick up a hummingbird, because I really am more of a muffin girl, which don’t generally have frosting. I love frosting and candy on top!

  • Bummer. Disappointing cupcakes are no fun!

  • these cupcakes are pretty. i’m lovin the chocolate dream 🙂 x

  • I envy your job! I love this cupcake craze. I had no idea they opened one in downtown San Jose. What a brilliant idea, make your own cupcake. Too bad they didn’t live up to their hype.

    I really need to head downtown one of these days. Haven’t been in a long time which is pathetic.

  • Any word on Howie’s Artisan Pizzeria, Palo Alto Town & Country Village – when is it going to open do u know?

  • Ann: Chef Howard Bulka sent me an email about a month ago. He told me then that construction had started on the site, and he was still aiming for opening his pizza joint sometime later this summer. Will let you know if I hear anything further. Will be nice to see that one up and running.

  • I look forward to trying these out next time I’m in San Jose. I think I passed by them when I saw a show recently at San Jose Stage Theater. I’m finding more and more that most any cupcake will do when I’m in the mood for a cupcake. The price/size ratio is a bit of a deterrent but I imagine I’ll like the taste. The idea of a build your own cupcake is fun and smart, and good for them for coming up with a gimmick! Crumbs is, in my mind, the place to get oversized cupcakes with fillings. This could be the place to make new flavor combinations.

  • Hmm, too bad. I’m going to be judging a cupcake contest this Saturday, so I need to prepare for the sugar rush and figure out how to compare all those little cakes!

  • I am glad you reviewed them. I am attempting a pretty strict one month diet (don’t laugh like everyone else I have told) and found out they opened the day I started. Glad to know they are worth holding out for a while and I don’t need to rush over immeadiately!

  • I love that they have an option to design your own cupcake. Very promising indeed!

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