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Kara's Cupcakes: Disappointing. - Nothing to See Here

Feb. 7th, 2010

02:04 pm - Kara's Cupcakes: Disappointing.

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I decided to try out cupcakes from Kara's Cupcakes in Palo Alto's Town and Country Mall. We love Sprinkles' cupcakes, but thought we ought to at least try the competition.

My first impression upon reaching the store was "everything about this store screams 'we want to be Sprinkles'". The windows and counters were all derivative.

My second impression was "whoah, they are charging the same price as Sprinkles -- $3.25/cupcake? They must think they're pretty good."

I picked up a vanilla, a fleur de sel (chocolate, caramel, fleur de sel), and a "java". They were giving away "samples" of their gluten-free cupcakes: whole cupcakes. So I took a "sweet chocolate" gluten free cupcake as well.

Their cupcakes are noticeably smaller than Sprinkles'. Actually, they're probably about half the size (by volume)... and yet the same price? Seriously?

We tried the cupcakes and had the following reactions:

So, overall review: If you have a Sprinkles nearby, for the love of all that is tasty please don't bother with Kara's Cupcakes. If you don't, well, maybe try their vanilla or chocolate cupcakes, but skip the awful "java" and don't whatever you do let their fleur de sel be what you judge the use of salt with chocolate/caramel by.

Short-short review: Stupidly expensive. Not good.

Tags: , ,
Current Location: Fremont, CA
Current Mood: disappointedhighly unimpressed

Comments:

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From:mavjop
Date:February 8th, 2010 12:25 am (UTC)
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They are indeed. Opinions may vary, but I certainly don't feel the need to go back to Kara's.
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From:lessachu
Date:February 7th, 2010 11:57 pm (UTC)

Hrm. Maybe it's a matter of taste

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I love Kara's cupcakes, especially the filled ones. Everything i've tried at Sprinkles taste like cardboard to me. Weird. And I love the fleur de sel. :)
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From:mavjop
Date:February 8th, 2010 12:24 am (UTC)

Re: Hrm. Maybe it's a matter of taste

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Huh. I guess. I'm really surprised that you haven't enjoyed Sprinkles cupcakes. Our stalwart favourites at Sprinkles are the vanilla and the milk chocolate (really surprising; I would expect to prefer dark, but the milk chocolate is actually dark chocolate cake with milk chocolate frosting). The mocha is also awesome. The ginger maple during the holidays was AGLAGLAGLAGLAGL!
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From:lessachu
Date:February 8th, 2010 01:32 am (UTC)

Re: Hrm. Maybe it's a matter of taste

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Yeah, when we saw that Sprinkles had opened, we made a special trip out to try them and found everything to be... solidly okay. A little dry. They use Sprinkles a lot for work events and parties so since then I've had a lot of them and I've never had anything that changed my mind. But the first time I had Kara's, they were awesomely rich and moist and yummy. We brought an assorted dozen to a friend's birthday party where they were a total hit.

but I know people who have tried both and ended up solidly in the Sprinkles camp, so clearly they're getting something right.
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From:mavjop
Date:February 8th, 2010 03:00 am (UTC)

Re: Hrm. Maybe it's a matter of taste

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I seem to recall the first time I had Sprinkles cupcakes I loved the frosting and was not so amazed by the cake, but since then every time I've had them the cake part has been really good too. I think the Kara's cupcakes cake part was indeed pretty moist. I wouldn't necessarily say more moist than a fresh Sprinkles cupcake though.

I wish *my* workplace ever had Sprinkles! Wow!

That said, I generally find that *anything* catered/brought in to a workplace ends up being less good than otherwise. I think it must be some sort of magic because it's not always explicable by logical reasoning.
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From:lyssabits
Date:February 8th, 2010 03:56 am (UTC)

Re: Hrm. Maybe it's a matter of taste

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Maybe the Sprinkles/Kara's divide is spurred by whether or not you're a frosting person or not? (For the record, I have had neither.) I personally loathe frosting and tend to scrape all of mine off. ;) I've really never found a cake frosting I actively enjoy except stuff I've made myself. The buttercream we had on our wedding cake was pretty good but the fondant, however, not so much. Pretty, but not tasty. However for the price, it had to have been some damn tasty cake. I still can't bring myself to buy a cake for from them for anything less than a wedding. ;) For me it's all about the moistness and flavor of the cake and fillings.
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From:mavjop
Date:February 8th, 2010 06:17 am (UTC)

Re: Hrm. Maybe it's a matter of taste

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Perhaps. :) I am a fan of frosting if it's *good*, but it was the mediocre frosting on the java Kara's cupcake that made me commit the horrifying act of throwing away the cupcake.
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From:surpheon
Date:February 8th, 2010 01:32 am (UTC)
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I didn't even realize there was such a thing as a cupcake shop. I shall have to look it up next time I'm out (probably in April). Living in the 'burbs of New York, I seriously miss Bay area food.

they're probably about half the size
I actually prefer smaller portions for deserts, to the point where if someone gives me a whole Costco muffin (who are we kidding - those things are cakes without the frosting!) I tend to think they're trying to send me to an early grave (or worse - a gym).
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From:mavjop
Date:February 8th, 2010 03:05 am (UTC)
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Perhaps you should visit us and we should make a road trip (albeit a short one -- to Palo Alto). =)

Costco muffins are large alright. Have you tried a Costco cupcake? :) You have to be willing to buy 20 of them, and each one weighs most of a pound! (or so is my perhaps twisted recollection; they are gargantuan cupcakes, regardless)

While I do find small portions ok, if you're going to make a smaller portion and charge just as much as a larger (and really excellent) portion, you'd better be producing something amazing. I'm not saying I don't care about quality as long as there's quantity -- quality is king -- but if you're going to provide a very small portion then it should be really good to be worthwhile.

Edited at 2010-02-08 06:08 am (UTC)
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