Cupcake madness has swept the nation in recent years, and the Triangle is no exception. Here are a few popular bakeries specializing in the pint-sized treats:
The Cupcake Bar (816-2905, www.acupcakebar.com): This Cary-based bakery specializes in grown-up cupcakes inspired by groovy retro cocktails. Flavors like Grasshopper (chocolate cake with white chocolate ganache and crème de menthe buttercream) and Mojito (lime-rum cake with mint buttercream) are available on a delivery-only basis. Booze-free cupcakes include vanilla, chocolate, red velvet and other usual suspects.
The Cupcake Shoppe Bakery (104 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh, 821-4223, www.thecupcakeshopperaleigh.com): With princess pink walls and Parisian-style bistro tables, this popular Glenwood cupcakery attracts a lot of sit-down business. Choose from more than a dozen flavors, from Plain Jane (vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream) to You Mocha Me Crazy (dark chocolate cake with espresso buttercream), plus a more exotic Flavor of the Week—recent selections include chocolate-bacon and Coca-Cola.
Kelley G Cupcakes (923-0956, www.kelleygcupcakes.com): Kelley Gill, a former graduate student in philosophy, traded books for baking when she launched her own cupcake business. Her products can be found at coffee shops across Chapel Hill and Carrboro or by special order. Specialties include Violet Vector (vanilla cake with purple sugar) and Banana Split (banana cake with pineapple and chocolate bits, topped with vanilla frosting, chocolate drizzle, sprinkles and a cherry.) Gill also does gluten-free cupcakes and cupcakes sweetened solely with agave nectar.
Daisy Cakes (389-4307, www.eatdaisycakes.com): Regulars at the Durham Farmers' Market will be familiar with this vintage Airstream trailer, which parks at the intersection of Foster and Geer streets every Saturday morning to dispense high-end cupcakes like Black and Whites (Valrhona chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream) and Ginger Stout (sticky ginger cake with cream cheese frosting and bourbon caramel). Cupcakes are also available by special order.
Sugarland (140 E. Franklin St., Chapel Hill, 929-2100, www.sugarlandchapelhill.com): Sugarland's cupcakes, in flavors like red velvet and banana-Nutella, sell like gangbusters with sugar-crazy UNC undergrads, especially on Monday, when dine-in customers can get them for half price. Foodies go for the shop's authentic gelato and sorbetti. Sugarland also has a full bar, open until midnight on weekends, for those who like a little something stronger than milk with their cake. Try the Gelato Colada, which is pina colada gelato with Malibu coconut and pineapple rum.