As a child, the cupcake was a humble afternoon treat.  Often a basic vanilla cake, iced simply with a buttercream frosting.  Or a plain fairy cake, with the top hollowed out, cut in half, then sandwiched back on (on top of a drop of cream!) like two little wings.

Then there was a bit of a revolution a few years back and a new cupcake was born.  Popularised in part by Sex and the City exposure, the cupcake took on a new life.  In Australia, a country quick to jump on any new trend, we have been speedy to take this new generation of cupcake on board.  Weddings now often exhibit an array of tastefully decorated individual cake treats in favour of the traditional tiered cake.  Bakeries and markets have an abundance of flavourful selections.  And cupcake baking and decorating classes have also sprung up around the country.

For me though, the trend has been perfectly pioneered and executed in America with a handful of entrepreneurs honing their craft to establish themselves – and their cupcakes – as artful and unique offerings.  Here are 5 of my favourite cupcake store concepts in America.

sprinkles1 :: { Sprinkles }
The name of this store puts a smile on my face.  The treats that await you are modern, and include their signature ‘dot’ on top of every cupcake letting you know the flavour.  This modern style fits well with the city in which the flagship store is located – Beverly Hills.  The ability of Sprinkles to create a new cupcake for each event or season keeps their concept fresh.

magnolia12 :: { Magnolia }
Thrust into the spotlight by Sex and the City fame, this New York based bakery serves up traditional baked goods.  New Yorkers are blessed (but also inundated) by the choice of food available in their city.  When in NYC most recently a few months ago, I was surprised by the number of new stores, shops and eateries since last there.  But the cupcake trend seems to be persisting, and even perhaps, growing.

buttercup13 :: { Buttercup }
I cannot mention Magnolia without mentioning Buttercup – the bakery that is.  Buttercup is a well-known bread brand in Australia (think Wonder bread!), but with this company’s expansion plans, it one day could be associated with a Buttercup bakery franchise instead.  This ambitious (and rival!) store also heavily features classic cupcake treats.

cupcake-shoppe4 :: { The Cupcake Shoppe }
Further north is the Cupcake Shoppe.   When in Toronto a few years ago, I do remember seeing the British influence in food selection as well as that from their neighbours down south.  The influence of this store is firmly cemented in the latter (no Bakewell tart in sight!).  The cupcakes are simple and neat with a range of flavours (including maple, eh?) to satisfy Canadian tastes.

sweet5 :: { Sweet }
I will finish this list with probably a lesser-known name to those outside the Boston area, but as tribute to my former residence.  In a recent visit to Boston a few months ago, this adorable store on Mass Ave was very sweet indeed.  For a city obsessed with ice-cream, however, it will be interesting to see how the locals take to indulging in a sweet treat out of a cupcake wrapper instead of a waffle cone!