Sweet Passions Cupcakes New to Valley Fair Mall

Chocolate cupcake with mocha cream from Sweet Passions cupcake kiosk.

I have loyal FoodGal reader, Ann, to thank for this.

Seems she got wind of a new cupcake stand, Sweet Passions, that opened at Westfield Valley Fair Shopping Center in San Jose three weeks ago.  Of course, she wanted me to try it first before she made the trek.

So, Ann, your wish is my sweet command.

Sweet Passions Bakery actually is a full-fledged bakery that’s existed in San Jose’s Alum Rock neighborhood for about 22 years. It makes only cakes — for weddings, quinceaneras, birthdays, or everyday occasions. It was started by Dilanthi Perera, who used to impress her friends with her homemade cakes, before she started her bakery.

At Valley Fair mall, you’ll find the Sweet Passions kiosk in the middle of the mall between J. Crew and the Body Shop. No baking is done on site. Instead the cupcakes are trucked in directly each day from the Alum Rock bakery.

Unlike cupcakes at other shops, the ones here are refrigerated. That’s because the cupcakes are not only cream-filled, but heavy cream also figures prominently in the frostings.

There are 44 flavors (take that, Baskin-Robbins), but only about six are available each day.

The cupcakes come in two sizes: mini ones for $1 each; and huge, jumbo muffin-tin-sized ones for $3.50 each that come already packed in individual, plastic clam-shell containers.

Carrot cake cupcake.

I decided to buy a Chocolate with Mocha Cream, a Carrot Cake with Whipped Cream Cheese, and a Banana with Vanilla Cream. I had high hopes for the cupcakes since they were from a bakery that specializes in nothing but cakes.

All of them were moist, fresh-tasting, and with a light-textured crumb.

But I think they all suffered — to various extents — from the refrigeration. The chill of the fridge changes the texture of the cakes. The once-crispy tops soften dramatically. And the once airy textures compress and get a little gooey.

The carrot cake cupcake was most victimized by the cold. The cake — with nice shards of carrot in it — got gummy. The frosting had a hint of cream cheese flavor, but was quite light and fluffy in nature because of added heavy cream whipped into it. It’s not the super thick cream cheese frosting you usually think of with carrot cake.

The chocolate cupcake had a nice flavor, with a subtle coffee-chocolate whipped cream top.

Banana cupcake.

The banana cupcake was definitely the best of the three. The banana flavor in the cake was prominently front and center, like homemade banana bread, but not as dense in texture. Swirls of whipped cream covered the top, along with a dried banana chip that had turned soft.

Whether you like these cupcakes will depend upon how much you like chilled cakes. If you love the texture of a Sara Lee chocolate cake defrosting in the fridge, Sweet Passions cupcakes may be right up your alley. If you love a lot of whipped cream on your cake, you’re sure to like these, too.

Me? I prefer my cupcakes unrefrigerated. I would love to try a just-baked cake from Sweet Passions that hadn’t seen the inside of a fridge. There’s definitely a talented baker behind these cakes. It would be a treat to experience them in all their glory without first subjecting them to the ravages of a temperature change.

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  • I agree, the addition of refrigeration is not a welcome one to baked good. A shame that the hard work of some individual does not get presented in its glory by a dramatic decrease in temp.

  • Oh, that’s a shame. I agree that refrigerated cupcakes are a challenge. I had one once and it was cream-filled and it was gummy too! They do look pretty though. On a side note: I’m against the individual plastic containers! I know they’re cute and all, but that’s so bad for the environment. Can’t they just make mini boxes? To automatically put them in a plastic container from the get go seems like such a waste of packaging.

  • I’m not a fan of refrigerated cupcakes either…That’s too bad because the cupcakes look gorgeous and I was excited to try it out on my next visit home to the Bay Area.

  • Thanks Carolyn. Too bad they aren’t good, they look great. Thanks for saving me money & calories I’ll skip them too.

  • Can you buy non refrigerated single cupcakes at the Alum Rock Store?

  • The cupcakes look so good in your pictures, it’s too bad about the refrigeration ruining the taste. I do think certain cakes may benefit from refrigeration but I can’t imagine that cupcakes would.

  • The pictures look good!!! sorry about the taste though!

  • We have a bakery nearby also that usually has refrigerated cupcakes due to the amount of cream involved in the frostings and fillings. When I buy them they recommend that I let them sit out for about half an hour to 45 minutes before eating them. That usually works pretty well.

    The only issue is that it kind of ruins the whole instant gratification thing.

  • I’m SO glad The Single Guy commented about the plastic packaging! I hope people think about that before they buy them… Maybe it’s a good thing they weren’t that tasty.

  • I worked at a Baskin Robbins in my teen days, we had 44 flavors ;]

    I always figured the crispy tops to be more of a muffin thing, but that might just be me.

    Also, on another note about the packaging, it might be possible that the texture suffers from this as well. I’ve noticed that when we package croissants and muffins in the bakery I work at, the texture definitely becomes… not nearly as good as you would like it to be.

  • You are seriously my favorite person. And not just because you reviewed the tempting cupcakes I keep wanting to go try out so that I don’t have to go 🙂

    Thanks for the review. I have only found one cupcakery (Elizabethan in Encinitas) who had a good refrigerated cupcake. You let that baby come to room temperature and just moaned while you enjoyed it (the caramel banana one was our favorite).

  • Wow, they look so nice @the Pictures. Greets Dirk

  • Thanks for this review. I’ll have to point out a few things though.

    I work at valley fair and eat these cupcakes a lot! 🙂 I’ve loved every flavor, and their employee told me all their plastic (even forks) is corn based biodegradeable. Anyway, maybe that would help your ‘green’ view of them.

    As far as cold cakes go, I brought 1 to my aunt one time and she likes her cakes room temp, so left it out for just a little bit before devouring. She loved it.

    They’re such nice people, and I think the greatest cupcakes around this part of town.

  • Sera: That’s a very good point about how plastic packaging also changes the texture of baked goods. Store-bought cupcakes stored in plastic also exhibit that too-soft texture. And come to think of it, my own baked goods, when stored overnight in Tupperware, also get that more gummy texture.

    Paige: Good tip about leaving the cupcakes out until they get to room temperature. It does improve the flavor. I think I still miss having the tops a little crispy, though.

  • holy shiz, 44 flavors?! i hate it when they only display a select few flavors each day. not only do you have to go back like everyday of the week, but you have to go more than once, to make sure you taste all the flavors.

    anyway, you should definitely submit some of your photos to http://www.donteatthatyet.com. it’s a visual restaurant review site, with a template inspired by tastespotting.

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