Off Campus

The Icing On Top: A Cupcake Tour of Boston

Sweet Cupcakes: The Dry Disappointment
Zero Brattle St., Cambridge, MA 02138
One of the four locations nearest Tufts
(617) 547-2253

Situated in the heart of Harvard Square, this cupcake nook is no secret for most sweet-toothed Jumbos. While Sweet definitely offered some of the more original flavors we sampled on our cupcake expedition—French Toast and Boston Cream Pie, among others—we were disappointed by the quality of even the most delicious-sounding cupcakes. The Chocolate Sea Salt flavor, for example, was not at all the sophisticated blend of sweet and savory we had anticipated. Instead, the chunky salt granules sprinkled atop the dense chocolate cake left us grimacing at the aftertaste. Also, they “ran out of milk” during our visit. Big mistake. BIG mistake.

If you’re stopping by Sweet, stick with the classics— Chocolate, Vanilla, and Red Velvet. They’re not a whole lot to write home about, but they’re good enough to satisfy any sugar fix that brought you there. Bring your pooch along to enjoy some of Sweet’s canine-catered “pupcakes.

Cupcake rating: 2.5/5
Price per cupcake: $3.25

Kickass Cupcakes: The Local Bastion
378 Highland Ave.
Somerville, MA 02144
(617) 628-2877

Kickass definitely takes the cake (pun intended) for most original flavors. This gem just beyond Davis Square has a wide selection of alcohol-infused cupcakes, among other unique flavors. We indulged in the Mojito, a vanilla cupcake soaked in rum topped with a sugarcane lime frosting, and the limited edition Green Monster, a chocolate cupcake with a chocolate and beer ganache center and a Sam Adams cream stout frosting. The Green Monster was a little weird, but the Mojito’s tangy taste is definitely worthwhile. Kickass Cupcakes’ experimental flair had us dying to go back to try the rest of its flavors—­we had our eyes on the Cinnamon Chai Pecan Sticky.

Kickass gets extra points for baking their goods in Somerville fresh daily and using no hydrogenated oils, trans fats or artificial preservatives. If you’re feeling crazy, try one of Kickass’ unique cupcakes deep-fried.

Cupcake rating: 4/5
Price per cupcake: $3.00

Georgetown Cupcakes: The Sweet Surprise
83 Newbury St.
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 927-2250

Georgetown Cupcakes pleasantly surprised us twice over: not only did it live up to the hype, but at $2.75 a cupcake it was also the cheapest place we visited—even despite its swanky Newbury Street location. Somehow, we managed to avoid the infamous line (perhaps 1 p.m. on Sundays is the best time to go) and tasted the Maple Walnut Crunch, Pumpkin Spice and Red Velvet cupcakes, which were all winners. Keep in mind that the flavors change according to the day of the week, but favorites like red velvet, milk chocolate birthday and vanilla birthday are always on the menu. With limited seating space, this is not a place to take a break from Newbury Street window-shopping; but take a moment to get a peek at the cupcake creation process through their windowed kitchen. If you’re looking to take your cupcake to go, keep in mind that the iconic pink boxes are 50 cents apiece.

Cupcake Rating: 4.5
Price per cupcake: $2.75

Isabelle’s Curly Cakes: The Cozy Shoppe
 81 Charles St.
Boston MA 02114 

This cozy cupcake shop is tucked away on a quiet street in Beacon Hill. Unfortunately, its steep prices reflect the lifestyle of its surroundings. If you’re hungry for a specialty cupcake, be sure you’re ready to splurge, because you’ll be paying about the same price as a burrito from Anna’s.

We found that these cupcakes were the moistest of the bunch, but still tastefully so. The Oreo and the Red Velvet cupcakes we sampled were well complemented by a container of cold milk. Though the red velvet had a stronger sour cream taste than the others we sampled, it was still quite delicious. Their clever take-away box had a useful handle and was—take note, Georgetown Cupcakes—free. If you want a petite, comfortable place to enjoy some sweet desserts, Isabelle’s is the place.

Cupcake Rating: 4
Price per cupcake: $3.95; $4.50 for specialty flavors

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