Cake pops may have temporarily out-popularized cupcakes, but—for purists—there’s nothing like an old-fashioned cupcake. After all, few treats can match the pure bliss that comes with devouring a dense moist cake paired with creamy frosting. And, whether you live in Chelsea or the Upper West Side, we bet your kids have their faves. Read on for some kid-tested favorites and newbies, too. We promise you’ll want to sample each and every one.
Magnolia, the cupcake bakery pioneer that opened in 1996 with a West Village corner shop, is known as much for its insanely tasty cupcakes as it is for its epically long lines and guest appearance on ‘Sex and the City.’ Happily, Magnolia is now sprinkled throughout the city (with five locations in all) so you’ll never be far from the delectable cupcakes topped with handmade buttercream icing (and cookies and cakes) baked here. At the Upper West Side location, you can book the private party room for your child’s birthday, during which the kids will learn how to make their own hand-colored sprinkles, get lessons in how to ice cupcakes and decorate chef’s hats. Everything baked here is made in small batches throughout the day so you’re assured a home-baked taste (minus any preservatives or stabilizers). Next time you visit, be sure to taste the cupcake of the day (when we visited, the cupcake du jour was a decadent black-and-white—delish!).
200 Columbus Ave. (at 69th St.)
Two friends opened this Chelsea cupcake emporium in 2003 and, since, have rapidly expanded to Tribeca, the Food Hall in the Plaza Hotel and Nolita. The vibe here is entirely 1940s kitsch, with vintage wallpaper, tin ceilings, the works. Traditional cupcakes, whether Yellow Daisy or Classic Chocolate, are always on hand as are such specialty cupcakes as German Chocolate and Chocolate Cherry. FYI parents: Billy’s now makes customized children’s party cakes in classic designs, modern themes or custom creations. You can order a classic layer cake or a half-sheet. Is your child a future ‘Cupcake Wars’ contender? If so, ask about Little Billy’s Frosting Parties (email email@example.com for details).
184 Ninth Ave. (between 21st and 22nd Streets)
Baked by Melissa
Cupcakes have become an art form at this mini-cupcake emporium, which drew inspiration from the carefree rock-and-roll culture of the ‘60s and ‘70s, when the first shop opened in SoHo in 2009. Fans go bananas for the quarter-sized one-bite Tie-Dye, mint chocolate chip and PB&J treats. You’ll find Baked by Melissa in nine locations all over town.
529 Broadway (Spring St. between Broadway and Mercer Streets)
Two Little Red Hens
Don’t let the Second Avenue subway construction keep you from sampling the pure decadence at this cozy bakeshop. In fact, you may end up taking half of your cupcake to go—they’re that huge. Whether you opt for Red Velvet, topped with a generous dollop of dense cream cheese frosting or the Brooklyn Blackout, dripping with chocolate ganache, you won’t be disappointed.
1652 Second Ave (at 86th St.)
Buttercup Bake Shop
Your kids will be lured happily into this shop after they’ve gotten a chance to watch a Buttercup baker ice cupcakes in the window. Jennifer Appel, a former Magnolia Bakery co-founder, opened this nostalgic bakeshop on a bustling stretch of Second Avenue in 1999. We’re told the Red Velvet is the most popular cupcake sold here, but we’re sure the Devil Dog cupcake is a top contender among the kids we know.
973 Second Ave (between 51st and 52nd St.)
Did we miss your favorite cupcakery? Let us know where you and your kiddos go to nosh on cupcakes in the city.
— Lambeth Hochwald