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The Top 50 Cupcakes in America

The Top 50 Cupcakes in America

It’s a fact: America loves cupcakes.

These cute little confections first stole our hearts on a national level in the early 2000s thanks to a famous reference from Sex and the City. Soon, bakeries dedicated just to cupcakes — or cupcakeries, as they prefer to be called — popped up around the country, and people saw potential for greatness. Later on, when the cupcake craze exploded into a full-blown industry, there was talk of a "cupcake bubble" and everyone speculated as to when it would pop.

Click here for the Top 50 Cupcakes in America Slideshow

Clearly, they were wrong. Today, cupcakes have grown into much more than bake sale fodder. From gowns literally made of cupcake tiers to $55,000 red velvet cupcakes used to pop the question, cupcakes have become a food trend that just won’t die.

In fact, they’re kind of everywhere.

To help you tell the good from the bad (and the ugly), The Daily Meal has come up with a list of the 50 best cupcake shops in America — and the must-try flavor at each. Classics like Magnolia Bakery and Sprinkles are no surprise, but you might find that the small mom-and-pop shop just around the corner is holding its own, too.

So, how’d we do it?

The Daily Meal started with a pool of nearly 100 bakeries and cupcakeries across the country. Each seller of sweets was judged on presentation, menu, and cake-to-frosting ratio. Some bakeries received additional points for extra special features — things that made us sit up a little straighter in our chairs (or closer to our screens). After all the points were tallied, the place with the most was crowned the home of The Daily Meal’s number one cupcake in America!

First, let’s be honest, no one wants to eat something that isn’t pretty, which is why in our ranking system, presentation is worth 10 points. We are looking for polished products across the board, so attention to detail and consistently photo-ready cupcakes take the cake — er, cupcake.

Next, the menu should strike a balance for any prospective cupcake customer. Are the options overwhelming? Underwhelming? It’s important to suit a wide variety of tastes, so all-chocolate menus aren’t ideal (no matter how much any one individual appreciates it). And, while creative flavors weren’t necessary for a high score, they were certainly appreciated.

Finally, the ever-important cake-to-frosting ratio makes up the last third of the overall score. The Daily Meal conducted a taste test amongst dozens of (incredibly reluctant) volunteers and determined the optimal ratio from their input. The closer a cupcake’s actual ratio was to our ideal result, the more points awarded.

The scores from these three categories were added together for a score of up to 30. The Daily Meal pulled cupcake contenders from every state in the country, from Alaska to Wyoming, and gave even the newest start-up the same undivided attention as the giants of the industry.

It wasn’t easy, but spending hour after hour drooling over cupcakes was a sacrifice this writer was willing to make.

You can check out the full list of contenders and their scores on the next page.

Marilyn He is a Junior Writer for the Eat/Dine section of The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @Marilyn_He.

7 Fun, Filled Cupcakes

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Matt Armendariz, 2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Filling for 12 cupcakes (2/3 cup)

In a small bowl, stir together 4 tablespoons softened unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Stir in 3/4 cup coarsely crushed chocolate sandwich cookies (about 8). Using a melon baller, scoop a bit of cupcake out of the center of your favorite cupcake and fill with 1 scant tablespoon of the cookie mixture, pressing to fill the hole. Press some of the scooped cake over the hole, frost with your favorite frosting and garnish with additional crushed cookies.

Filling for 12 cupcakes (3/4 cup)

Simmer 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until amber, about 4 minutes. Whisk in 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk, 1 tablespoon light corn syrup and simmer until thick, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, whisk in 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and a large pinch salt. Cool completely. Fold in 1/2 cup each toasted chopped pecans and sweetened shredded coconut and 1/4 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate. Using a melon baller, scoop out enough cake from your favorite chocolate cupcake to fit 1 heaping tablespoon of the mixture, pressing to fill the hole. Garnish the cupcakes with chocolate ganache and toasted coconut.

Filling for 12 cupcakes (2/3 cup)

Melt 3/4 cup chopped chocolate-covered peppermint creams (about 9 snack size) and 1/4 cup heavy cream in a large heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, so the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a small squeeze bottle and squeeze into the center of your favorite white or chocolate cupcake. Top with vanilla frosting and half a chocolate-covered peppermint for garnish.

Chocolate Peanut Butter

Filling for 12 cupcakes (3/4 cup)

In a large heatproof bowl, combine 2 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, 1/4 cup heavy cream, 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter and 1 tablespoon light corn syrup. Place over a pot of simmering water, so the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water, and stir until melted. Set aside to cool. Transfer to a pastry bag with a small round tip and press into the center of your favorite white or chocolate cupcake and squeeze in the filling. Top with chocolate frosting or ganache and garnish with chopped peanut butter cup candies, peanut butter pieces or chopped roasted peanuts.

Filling for 12 cupcakes (3/4 cup)

Pulse 4 tablespoons soft unsalted butter, 1 large egg, 3 tablespoons each almond paste, sugar and cake flour, and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract in a food processor until very smooth. Scrape out into a small baking dish and spread into an even layer. Freeze until firm, about 1 hour. Scoop 12 slightly heaping tablespoonfuls and roll into balls. Return to the freezer until firm again, about 30 minutes. Make batter for Go-To Vanilla Cupcakes and fill the bottom of each liner with a heaping tablespoonful of batter. Place 1 ball of frangipane in the center of each and divide the remaining batter among the liners to top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes.

Filling for 12 cupcakes (1 cup)

Beat together 1/4 cup softened unsalted butter and 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in 1 tablespoon water. Stir in 1/2 cup flour and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Gently stir in 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips. Using a melon baller, scoop a bit of cupcake out of the center of your favorite chocolate cupcake and fill with a rounded tablespoon of the cookie mixture, pressing to fill the hole. Frost each cupcake with a thin coating of vanilla buttercream (about 1 tablespoon) and garnish with additional mini chocolate chips, or mix into the frosting and pipe from the bag without the tip.

Filling for 12 cupcakes (3/4 cup)

Mash 1 large ripe banana. Whip together 1/4 cup each plain Greek yogurt and heavy cream and 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes. Fold in the mashed banana and transfer the mixture to a piping bag. Using a melon baller, scoop out enough cake from your favorite white or yellow cupcake to fit 1 heaping tablespoon of the mixture, pressing to fill the hole. Top with Seven-Minute Frosting and a banana chip. Serve immediately or fill and refrigerate until ready to serve.

For fall gatherings—everything from back-to-school to Thanksgiving—this colorful wreath makes an elegant centerpiece. The leaves are created by painting melted candy wafers on maple leaves, letting it harden, then peeling off the leaf to reveal a stunning edible replica.

These vegan AND gluten-free vanilla cupcakes require a bit of shopping (for ingredients like potato starch and arrowroot powder), but once you take a bite, it'll all be worth it.

Since 1995, Epicurious has been the ultimate food resource for the home cook, with daily kitchen tips, fun cooking videos, and, oh yeah, over 33,000 recipes.

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Perfect American Vanilla Cupcakes

These original American Vanilla Cupcakes are the best! So many readers have baked these cupcakes and it’s one of the most popular recipes on Living on Cookies.

Everyone needs that “go-to” recipe for Vanilla Cupcakes. It has to be straightforward and the cupcakes need to come out perfect. Every. Time. This is my tried and true recipe. The cupcakes are light, moist and fluffy with a delicate vanilla sweetness that is just right.

If you sign up for my newsletter, you will get a recipe booklet with my basic recipe for cupcakes that you can use to make 7 different flavors, plus more ideas and recipes for frostings! These recipes are available exclusively to newsletter subscribers (in German only). SIGN UP HERE to get your free recipe booklet.

Did you know that’s it’s easy to make vanilla extract and paste yourself? Here is a post on how to make vanilla extract.

As an alternative to vanilla extract, you could use vanilla sugar (if you live in Austria, for example), vanilla paste or real vanilla beans. To use vanilla beans, slice the vanilla bean open lengthwise with a sharp knife and scrape the seeds out. Using real vanilla seeds has the added benefit that you see the tiny, black seeds in the cupcakes.

You can enjoy these unpretentious Vanilla Cupcakes as they are – simply delicious – or you can fancy them up, whether they’re for an elegant dessert or for a kids’ birthday party.

I topped the cupcakes in the photos with swirls of Cream Cheese Frosting, which is truly my favorite frosting. Chocolate glaze or buttercream would also be amazing, along with coconut, caramel, peanut butter, vanilla buttercream or strawberry cream.

These cupcakes are made from scratch with old-fashioned ingredients like butter, milk and eggs. With this simple recipe, there’s no need for boxed mixes that contain chemical additives anymore.

10 Most Popular Cupcake Flavors — and Why

It's pretty safe to assume that if you're reading this article, you're a fan of cupcakes -- and it's a good time to be one. In recent years, these versatile, tasty treats have gone from being inexpensive, easy-to-make confections given away at children's parties to trendy desserts enjoyed by hipsters around the world.

Today, little cupcakes are a big deal. While many restaurants and eateries have been forced to shut their doors due to the recent economic downturn, business in specialty cupcake shops is booming [source: Tulsa World]. The reason for cupcakes' recent surge in popularity is simple: They're relatively inexpensive and grant people a few bites of indulgence, even when money is tight.

In this article, we'll walk you through the 10 most popular cupcake flavors and explain the reasons behind their appeal. When you're done with the list, you'll know how to order like a pro from the most popular cupcake boutiques.

Click over to the next page to learn why vanilla cupcakes are anything but bland.

Despite how tame you may think vanilla is, the flavor has exotic origins. Vanilla comes from plants that grow in tropical areas, and harvesting the prized vanilla bean is no easy feat. After a long and complicated process, the end result is the immensely popular vanilla extract.

Chances are you've had a vanilla cupcake at one time or another. As you probably already know, vanilla is one of the most common flavors found in candies, pastries and various sweet treats. In fact, like chocolate, the taste of vanilla typifies sweet desserts and confections for many of us, so it's not surprising that these cupcakes are so popular and easy to find.

Vanilla cupcakes usually consist of a sweet white or yellow cake with a thick layer of creamy white frosting. They line the shelves of local bakeries and grocery stores and will almost certainly appear on the menu of any specialty cupcake shop you visit -- you can even pick one up at Starbucks. Some say the cupcake is a fleeting trend, but regardless, the vanilla flavor is here to stay.

Indigenous North Americans have been growing pumpkins for approximately 5,000 years [source: History Channel]. But how long have they been eating pumpkin cupcakes?

Pumpkin-flavored foods are extremely popular during the fall and winter months. The pleasant taste of these large orange fruits appears in everything from pie to beer, so it should come as no surprise that pumpkin cupcakes are all the rage leading up to Halloween and throughout the holidays. Although they're typically available for just a few months out of the year, pumpkin cupcakes are extremely popular. It's not unusual to find them at parties, grocery stores, bakeries or even on restaurant dessert menus.

When sitting down to devour one of these tasty treats, you can count on a pumpkin cake base, but the choice of topping is up to the baker. You might find a traditional, sugary icing that may or may not taste of pumpkin, or the cake might simply be glazed. Cream cheese is a very popular and common topping. By the time Christmas dinner comes around, if everyone's tired of pumpkin pie, pick up a dozen pumpkin cupcakes and serve them for dessert, instead.

There's something comforting and nostalgic about a steaming loaf of banana bread. Banana cupcakes taste a lot like banana bread -- only you probably won't be eating one for breakfast. These surprisingly popular desserts are more common than you might think, and like their pumpkin-flavored cousins, they go well with a variety of toppings and icings.

Anyone who has tried a banana split knows how versatile these mushy yellow fruits can be, so when they're the star flavor in a cupcake, the possibilities are nearly endless. Banana frosting is always a good choice, as is strawberry, raspberry or any other berry-flavored icing. Of course, just about any type of chocolate frosting is delicious when topping these little yellow cakes, but if you're in the mood for something really different, try adding a dollop of whipped cream. It's simple and delicious!

Coffee-flavored cupcakes may sound bizarre to some people, but they make perfect sense when you think about it. After all, there's coffee cake (though typically sans icing), ice cream, candy -- even tiramisu contains a distinctive coffee taste. Coffee made the jump from a pick-me-up drink in the morning to a popular dessert staple a long time ago, so don't be surprised if you see coffee cupcakes sharing shelf space with their chocolate and vanilla counterparts at your local supermarket or bakery.

Coffee is featured prominently in desserts because it goes well with just about anything that tastes sweet. Therefore, there are a myriad of possible frosting options for coffee cupcakes. Chocolate, vanilla, butterscotch, almond, raspberry -- really, any flavor that might go with a cup of joe is a possible contender for the cake or icing part of your cupcake. Even if you take your cup decaf, you have nothing to fear decaffeinated grounds can easily be substituted into any coffee cupcake recipe.

Let's face it, just about everyone loves chocolate. And no wonder -- many of the compounds contained in chocolate cause receptors in the brain to chemically induce feelings of pleasure (Read more about this in Can chocolate give me a happy high?). Chocolate is eaten by people all over the world, and for many of us, dessert and sweet treats are synonymous with the flavor.

Perhaps the main reason that chocolate cupcakes are so popular is because they use a winning combination: chocolate on chocolate. However, just because chocolate cupcakes have chocolate cake and frosting doesn't mean they're all the same. A rich dark chocolate cake spread with creamy white chocolate icing differs significantly from a milk chocolate cake topped with chocolate ganache. It's all chocolate, so you know it's going to be good, but it doesn't all taste the same.

Biting into a lemon cupcake isn't anything like sinking your teeth into an actual lemon. Although there will be a definite bit of tartness with the cupcake -- the amount of which is determined by the recipe -- the overriding sensation should be sweet. In fact, that's what makes this variety so popular. People who like a little sour with their sweet have found an answer to their dessert dilemma after years of passing up chocolate and red velvet cupcakes. Lemon cupcakes have really gained popularity in recent years, and you'd be hard-pressed to walk into a specialty cupcake store and not find one.

Lemon cupcakes typically consist of a yellow, lemon-flavored cake with sweet but slightly tangy yellow frosting. If the combination of lemon cake and lemon frosting is too tart for your taste, ask for an unfrosted cupcake with just a light dusting of powdered sugar for a subtle dose of extra sweetness.

When you think of peanut butter, cupcakes probably aren't the first thing that comes to your mind. However, peanut butter cupcakes have become quite popular in recent years, and, like many of the other cakes featured in this article, they aren't too sweet, which makes them extremely versatile and likeable.

Since you're starting with a nutty, slightly savory cake, you could just build on that by topping it with peanut butter frosting. To take the decadence up a notch, add chocolate. If you feel like going for something more unique, try mixing up some banana or honey frosting for an unusual treat. Or, if you're just looking to sweeten up an old childhood favorite, try forgoing frosting altogether and simply adding a few dollops of grape jelly to the top of the cupcake -- it's like a bagged lunch and trendy dessert in one!

Carrots have been a principal ingredient in European sweet cakes since the Middle Ages. The reason for this is simple: Carrots have more sugar than just about any other vegetable [source: Davidson]. Even if you have an aversion to carrots, you'll probably still like carrot cake cupcakes. They're like regular carrot cakes, only smaller. These sweet orange and white treats consist of a miniature carrot cake with a cream cheese-based frosting. If you're out of frosting (or don't like cream cheese), you can also eat them plain.

Carrot cake cupcakes epitomize the reason cupcakes have become so chic recently, as they offer a taste of indulgence without the temptation of an entire cake. You can find carrot cake cupcakes in most cupcake specialty stores and in many bakeries and supermarkets.

Like carrot cake cupcakes, red velvet cupcakes are big treats in miniature form. Instead of ordering an entire red velvet cake, why not choose a portion-controlled red velvet cupcake, which you can eat in about five or six big bites? This variety is moderately decadent and easier on both the wallet and the waistline than a full-sized cake, a fact that has helped red velvet cupcakes become virtually synonymous with the modern cupcake movement. It's a trendy, grown-up flavor in a kid-sized form that appeals to sweet-lovers of all ages. In fact, red velvet cupcakes often outsell all other flavors, including such traditional favorites as chocolate and vanilla, in some specialty cupcake stores [source: cupcake].

Aside from size, red velvet cupcakes don't really differ from their full-scale brethren. The little red cakes are smaller, but otherwise identical, to full-scale red velvet cakes, and they are topped with the same cream cheese-based frosting.

Forget the fads -- chocolate and vanilla cupcakes are timeless. These scrumptious desserts combine the two most essential sweet tastes into an unbeatable concoction that's always in style. You can find chocolate and vanilla cupcakes everywhere from the trendiest cupcake shops to elementary school cafeterias.

Chocolate and vanilla cupcakes might only consist of two flavors, but they've got countless variations. A light vanilla cake with dark chocolate frosting provides an entirely different taste from a milk chocolate cake slathered with creamy vanilla icing.

You can't go wrong with these two classic flavors, regardless if you're mixing up a batch straight out of a box or are about to devour a carefully concocted treat made from the finest ingredients.

10 Most Popular Desserts in America

Humans have always craved sweet things. Early on, it was all berries and honey, but with the introduction of refined sugar, the dessert was born. The name dessert comes from the French word "desservir" which means "to clear away" -- in this case, the dinner table. Depending on where you are in the world, you'll get a wide variety of the post-meal sweet treats. In China, it might contain red beans or dates. In Mexico, the custard like flan could be on the menu.

In the United States, the sweeter the dessert is, the better. We may not have invented all (or even most) of the desserts we're known for, but we've certainly put our own spin on a wide variety of foreign classics -- so much so that some of the most popular desserts have become synonymous with the United States. Just the words "apple pie" conjure up visions of white picket fences and baseball. So join us for a lip-smacking tour of the most popular desserts the United States has to offer.

Read the next page to learn about America's cheesiest dessert.

Recipes vary, but the key ingredient to this dessert is, not surprisingly, cheese. The most common cheeses in the modern version of cheesecake are cream cheese, cottage cheese, ricotta and Neufchatel. The New York version that's become so famous uses cream cheese along with eggs, cream, sugar and usually a graham cracker crust. While there are a seemingly unlimited number of variations on this classic, New York style cheesecake is served plain with no other ingredients or toppings. Other types of cheesecake are topped with or otherwise contain fruits, cookies, peanut butter and pretty much any other decadent ingredient you can think of.

People looking for a dessert fix but who wish to avoid the temptation of an entire cake need look no further than their local cupcake shop. Such an establishment shouldn't be terribly difficult to find since they've exploded in popularity in recent years, thanks to America's love affair with the individually-sized dessert.

Generally, these locales feature a smorgasbord of cupcake flavors. You can expect to find everything from traditional vanilla or chocolate to the more exotic coffee, lemon or peanut butter varieties. Jelly or cream fillings are an excellent way to add some extra oomph to your dessert -- as well as a few extra calories -- although making specialty cupcakes at home requires a bit of practice. Fortunately, many cupcake recipes can be easily prepared in your own kitchen using a simple muffin pan complete with decorative paper liners.

The current cupcake craze began when Sarah Jessica Parker ate one baked by New York's Magnolia Bakery on "Sex and the City."

There's always room for Jell-O. At least that's what the dessert's famous ad slogan says. Jell-O is actually a brand name, but it's has become synonymous with any kind of gelatin dessert. It's called "America's Most Famous Dessert" and there's an undeniably fun appeal to the jiggling. It's easy to make and there's virtually no cleanup required. All you have to do is add boiling water to the powdered mix and chill for a few hours. It's no wonder it's so popular with moms around the country.

Here's something mom probably never told you -- gelatin is a processed version of collagen, a natural protein found in the tendons, ligaments and tissues of mammals. It's made by boiling the connective tissues, bones and skins of animals. For Jell-O, it usually comes from cows and pig bones and hooves. Take that powdered gelatin, add some artificial sweetener and food coloring, and you have a very popular dessert. Chalk one up for the advertising business.

Ah, carrot cake. Not only is it equal parts creamy and delicious, it's also quite possibly the best dessert to choose when you want to fool yourself into thinking you're being healthy. Carrots are good for you, so carrot cake can't be too bad, right? Well, not so much.

Made popular in the U.S. in the mid-20th century, carrot cake is a delightful blend of sweet and spicy cake rounded out with cream cheese frosting (made from cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla extract). Like many other desserts, carrot cake can be made using a traditional recipe or dressed up with extras like macadamia nuts, pineapple and coconut.

Of course, if fat and calories are a concern, carrot cake can be easily lightened up by making a few simple adjustments, such as reducing the amount of sugar and oil, while adding crushed pineapple to preserve moistness. Still, no matter what you do, calling carrot cake a healthy dessert will be a stretch, but it'll always be tasty.

Orange is the color most of us think of when we consider carrots, but they also come in yellow, purple, white and red varieties.

Nothing says America like baseball, hot dogs and apple pie. But apple pie wasn't born in the United States.

Apple pies or tarts date all the way back to Europe in the 14th century. The first apple pie recipes are from 1390, and they used honey in place of the seldom-used sugar. In the 1700s, the pie became pretty popular in the United Kingdom and was brought over to the new American colonies. Apple pie was regularly found in American cookbooks in the 18th century, but the famous ala mode version, topped with vanilla ice cream, didn't come into fashion until the 19th century in New York.

Because of the "red, white and blue" connotations, you can find apple pie on picnic tables all over the country every 4th of July when Americans celebrate their independence from England. The two most popular versions of the dessert are the traditional flakey crust variety and the Dutch, or crumb, apple pie. Most folks prefer it fresh and warm from the oven, but frozen apple pies are big sellers as well -- just ask Sara Lee.

The birthplace of ice cream isn't certain, but food historians generally credit it to the Chinese and the flavored ices they enjoyed as far back as 3000 B.C. Marco Polo is believed to be the man responsible for bringing the idea to Italy, where the modern ice cream we enjoy today was born in the 17th century. The first ice cream recipe in the United States is thought to be from the 1792 cookbook "The New Art of Cookery, According to the Present Practice."

The invention of the hand-crank ice cream maker in 1843 allowed people to make it themselves, and homemade ice cream remains a popular dessert for American families today.

Many flavors have come and gone over the years, but none rocked the ice cream world like Cookies N' Cream in 1983 and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough in 1991. Both of those flavors quickly found their way into the top 10 favorites and have been there ever since. Of course, there's plenty of other, more unique flavors for those with adventures pallets!

Served piping hot or at room temperature, made from scratch or from a mix, brownies are quite possibly one of the most versatile desserts out there, provided you enjoy a significant dose of chocolate. Some brownie connoisseurs prefer their creations to be more cake like, whereas others enjoy a fudgier, moister consistency. In general, how your brownies turnout is influenced by the amount of eggs and fat (found in butter or cooking oil) used in the recipe, as well as how long you bake them for.

Brownies can also be tailor-made to suit your taste buds. The traditional chocolate variety is a classic, enjoyable option, but some aspiring chefs prefer to include other ingredients to add some extra zing to the mix. For example, cream cheese, peanut butter or chocolate chips, coffee, white chocolate and icing are all popular add-ins. Those with truly exotic tastes might even elect to experiment with spices, salt, pepper or even dried herbs.

For cookie lovers, rarely is there a recipe more beloved than the classic chocolate chip variety. The mixture of cookie and those delicious semi-sweet chocolate morsels is indescribably good. Served fresh out of the oven or completely cooled, chocolate chip cookies are a treat that's just sweet enough without overdoing it in terms of richness. If you enjoy a little extra texture and contrast, simply serve your cookies with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream, or try topping your creations with chocolate icing.

Many bakers indulge in raw cookie dough during the cooking process. Unfortunately, it's a prime breeding ground for food borne illness such as salmonella and E. coli, so it's best to stick to baked cookies and forgo the dough.

It's believed that the first chocolate cake was baked in 1674 as a vehicle to enjoy chocolate, a new delicacy at the time. While it's extremely popular in the United States thanks to its inclusion at birthday parties, it's also considered the most liked cake in the entire world.

When most people hear the words German chocolate cake, two things happen -- their mouths water and they thank Germany for its contribution to the dessert cart. What many people may not know is that German chocolate cake has nothing to do with the European country. Its named comes from the inventor of the recipe, a Texan named Sam German. He concocted the famous dessert in the late 1800s, but it didn't explode in popularity until the 1950s.

The only problem with fudge is that it's nearly impossible to eat just a square or two. In the world of fudge, there's a flavor for everyone. Traditionalists can stick with the white, milk or dark chocolate versions, while nut enthusiasts might opt to choose a recipe that incorporates walnuts or macadamia nuts for a little extra crunch.

The best part about this treat is that it's shockingly easy to whip up, even for children. Plus, fudge makes an excellent gift for any occasion. If you've never had the pleasure of sampling homemade fudge, give it a try so that you'll forever understand why this rich sweet has captivated American dessert-lovers for more than 100 years.

According to legend, fudge candy is the welcome by-product of a batch of caramel gone wrong. Apparently, said caramel was not stirred adequately, causing the batter to thicken up into a more fudge like consistency.

The 50 Best Bakeries in America

Do the words &ldquofreshly baked&rdquo give you goose bumps? Is dinner just not dinner without a cookie at the end? Do you take the long way home to pick up a secret doughnut after work? Yep, we thought so. We asked our friends at Yelp to help us find the 50 best bakeries across the country. Because no matter which state you&rsquore in, you should know where you can get some top-notch focaccia.

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The psychology of cupcakes

It took 355 cupcakes to make this American flag. None went to waste. (Deb Lindsey/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

As the Modern Cupcake Moment swirls into its second decade, America just might have to admit that what we’re dealing with — 669.4 million sold from October 2010 to October 2011, according to the market research firm NPD — is not a fad. It’s an enduring love affair.

“Cupcake culture has been iconic in the U.S. for 100 years,” says Steve Abrams, co-owner of New York’s Magnolia Bakery. American recipes for cake baked in small cups and the term “cup cake” cropped up earlier, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. “There is no cupcake craze.”

He ought to know. Cupcakes represent half of his company’s $20 million in annual sales, which surged following the bakery’s 2000 cameo appearance in HBO’s “Sex and the City.”

Among portable, single-serving desserts, cupcakes stand out for their red-carpet glamour and infinite flavor combinations. Since the Food section’s Cupcake Wars in 2008, at least 30 cupcake shops and six cupcake trucks have sprung up around Washington.

The more the merrier, says Adnan Hamidi, owner of Alexandria Cupcake in Old Town: “It really helps out to know that there are more bakeries opening up. It shows the strength of the industry. As long as no one’s opening next door to me, I welcome the competition.”

One food trendspotter attributes cupcakes’ retail ascent to a convergence of factors.

“If you look back at the modern arrival of the cupcake, it happened to coincide with and was the motivator for the niche, specialty bakery that evidently was ripe to come,” says Kara Nielsen of the Center for Culinary Development in San Francisco.

At the same time cupcake-only bakeries started to multiply in the mid to late 2000s, food blogs, review sites and user-generated content took off on the Web. People who could suddenly self-publish their opinions needed something to talk about, and the cupcake proved noteworthy, she says.

As household budgets tightened during the down economy of the past four years, cupcakes ­became an affordable luxury, a means to relieve the angst of repressing big-ticket desires.

“People are tired of constantly worrying about what they’re spending,” says economic analyst Domenick Celentano, who writes about the food business on “With a cupcake, recession-weary consumers can treat themselves.”

Taking ownership of a gourmet cupcake is a qualitatively different transaction from buying a candy bar at a drug store, says Chris Carbone.

He studies consumer trends for the market research firm ­Innovaro and says cupcakes ­appeal to post-modernists who value creativity, authenticity, aesthetic design, personalization and locally sourced goods.

Because these consumers ­possess a “desire for experiences rather than just more stuff,” they’re in the market for more than a sugar rush. Patronizing a boutique cupcakery “has a high experiential component and connects [consumers] with a larger narrative,” he says.

Washington is among the more than 60 global cities to host a Cupcake Camp, an informal, predominantly female gathering and competition with professional and amateur bakers and dozens of consumers to taste and judge.

The city’s second annual event took place in September at Local 16 along the U Street corridor. Between bites of peanut butter, salted caramel, chocolate raspberry and red velvet cupcakes, participant Helena Rusak of Washington reflected on her visit to the juggernaut that is Georgetown Cupcake.

Lured to the tourist attraction, Rusak said her motives were vaguely voyeuristic.

“I went in and I really don’t know why,” she says. “I took pictures of people getting their cupcakes. I saw pink boxes. It’s really not my style. I guess I just wanted to be part of it and see what other people’s fascination was.”

“Cupcakes have become totally mainstream,” says trendologist Nielsen. “The novelty has worn off and they’ve become part of the landscape.”

But their appeal goes much, much deeper. Cupcakes R us.

It’s the day before Thanksgiving 2011, and the faithful are congregating at the original Sprinkles in Beverly Hills, Calif., the cupcake boutique that has grown from this one shop in 2005 to nine stores nationwide.

Three teenage boys saunter by with cupcakes in hand, one of them bouncing a basketball at the same time.

Tourists take pictures to pass the time while standing in a line that’s 20 deep. Two women who aren’t in line peer in the window just to see what it looks like inside.

The younger of the two ­implores the other to try the cupcakes: They’re so good and the line moves fast, she says.

“Everyone has come here for a hug,” says Los Angeles psychiatrist Carole Lieberman. “People are lining up not just because the cupcakes taste good. A lot of things taste good. They’re looking for that same feeling inside. They’re all hungry for hugs.”

Customer Dina Berg Blazek gleefully bought a dozen on Thanksgiving eve. The event planner visiting from North Carolina became a Sprinkles devotee when an acquaintance brought them back East.

“I just love Sprinkles,” Blazek says. “I love how they’re presented. They’re adorable and wonderful, just the best ever.”

Cupcake bashers are just as passionate. Baltimore celebrity baker Duff Goldman shot at cupcakes with a rifle on his Food Network show, “Ace of Cakes.” In 2009, the Guardian newspaper cast them as the “favourite greedy treat of the me-generation.”

“Cupcakes are indicative of where this country is with our desire to self-soothe through food,” says Brad Lamm, a New York author and registered interventionist who appears on “The Dr. Oz Show.”

“People tell themselves, ‘One won’t hurt me’ because [cupcakes] are so small, dainty and delicious,” Lamm says. “Our ­desire for more and for self-soothing is out of control.”

Yet that professional theory has not affected his cupcake ardor or intake.

“I’m not against cupcakes. I’m against the way we’re feeding ourselves now,” says Lamm, who adds that “if you’re not overweight, having one every day or three a week is no big deal.”

Chicago psychoanalyst Mark Smaller cannot resist the magnetic pull of a cupcake food truck.

“I was so intrigued by it that during the summer I’d hang around and wait for the truck to arrive,” he says, likening it to memories stirred by ice cream-truck bells.

“A good childhood experience is going to be relived over and over again as an adult,” says Smaller. “The experience of walking over to a truck might evoke, consciously or unconsciously, a very positive experience of feeling connected to one’s parents and feeling special in one’s parents’ eyes.”

The parent-child connection looms large in “DC Cupcakes,” the Learning Channel reality show about the owners of Georgetown Cupcake.

Its worldwide fans delight as 30-something sisters Sophie Kallinis LaMontagne and Katherine Kallinis bake, fight, pout, compete and fantasize about their next creations. Their mother, a.k.a. Mommy, makes regular appearances, and the sisters often refer lovingly to sentimental memories of baking with their grandmother.

Now in its second season, “DC Cupcakes” strikes a chord because the sisters are “living everybody’s dream,” says executive producer Terence Noonan. “They gave up their day jobs to open a shop with sweets where people come and feel happy.”

Noonan theorizes that reality programs based around family are appealing because “they show what everyone’s kitchen table is like. You see yourself and your own family dysfunction on-screen, and people can really connect to that.”

Psychotherapist Paul Hokemeyer, another “Dr. Oz”-sanctioned expert, takes a different view of the cupcake-centric human connection.

“The popularity of cupcakes directly tracks the rise in cultural narcissism that has resulted from the Internet’s impact on our individual and cultural psyche,” he says. “Through our over-reliance on the Internet, we’ve become a culture of emotionally disconnected individuals who live in socially isolated cyber-fantasy worlds. The fantasy worlds we create for ourselves on the Internet are an equivalent of the modern myth of Narcissus where we spend hours in an isolated aggrandizement of self.”

Cupcakes represent the mythical pool into which Narcissus fell and drowned, Hokemeyer says.

“Through cupcakes, seemingly innocent little ‘treats,’ we can project fantasies of who and what we desire to be. Instead of connecting us to others, however, cupcakes keep us separate and add to our sense of isolation.

“In addition, cupcakes evidence the narcissism born of the Internet by feeding us in shallow and un-nutritious ways. Similar to the way we cruise the Internet looking for bite-size and delicious bits of information, cupcakes enable us to cruise the sugary world of self-indulgence.”

San Francisco psychotherapist Brooke Miller says cupcakes represent a perfectly proportioned sense of self.

“With so much stimulation and expectation — material wealth, keeping up with the Joneses, Hollywood and our own parents’ expectations of us — many people turn to food . . . to manage the emotion that comes up with living a life they assume is under par.

“In an interesting and delicious way, cupcakes are a sweet example of what it looks like to be good enough exactly the way you are. They keep us ‘boundaried’ and feeling contained, like we don’t need to do, eat or prove anything more than what is unwrapped in this little wrapper of joy and sugar.”

Self-realization through cupcakes can take many forms. In the event of an identity crisis, one can consult “Cupcakes for Every Personality,” a guide created for the Georgetown Cupcake sisters’ 2010 appearance on “Oprah.”

Serious souls are vanilla. The adventurous are peanut butter fudge. Spunky types are lemon berry.

Practical folk are carrot. You creatives are pumpkin spice.

Nonsense? More than one commentator has quipped, “Sometimes a cupcake is just a cupcake.” It has a nice ring to it.

Then again, so does the cash register.

Consumers are seduced. As Georgetown Cupcake’s Katherine Kallinis says, “This is what love looks like in a baked good.”

Watch the video: Best Desserts In Every State. 50 State Favorites

Self Filled Cupcakes Recipe by Southern Crockpot |
eggs, salt, cream cheese, sugar, cake mix, chocolate
MAKING 1.In a medium sauce pan heat butter and add onion green pepper and jalapeno pepper in and stir. 2.Put mushrooms chicken broth and rice in the pan.
MAKING 1.In a medium sauce pan, heat butter.