Snackin's: A shout-out to Sprinkles

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Cuckoo for chocolate coconut. All photos by Kimberly Chun.

Sprinkles describes its cupcakes as a "deliciously sophisticated update on an American classic," but that doesn't stop founder Candace Nelson from offering frosting shots at her mini-chain (mini 'cause there are just a handful so far in upscale enclaves like Beverly Hills, Newport Beach, Scottsdale, and now Palo Alto - though cupcake boutiques are in the works in Tokyo, London, Vegas, NYC, etc.).

From where I was sitting, happily scarfing Ritual's and Kara's cakes in SF, there seemed to be little fanfare when the shop opened last fall at Stanford Shopping Center, but man, that hasn't stopped the hordes from lining up outside the pale frosted doors of the Palo Alto Sprinkles for a lil' cake on a recent hot summer day.

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Nelson says her French culinary-trained great-grandmother who made deserts for her SF restaurant in the 1930s was her original inspiration for Sprinkles. If so, her great-grandmere must have been a whiz with pastry. A pal and I picked up the chocolate coconut and the seasonal lemon blueberry that steamy day and both were superb - light yet rich cake with sparkling flavors with a healthy topping of not-too-sweet yet satisfying frosting.

I particularly liked the array of flavor combos: chai latte, chocolate marshmallow, cinnamon sugar, ginger lemon, peanut butter chocolate, pumpkin, and, of course, red velvet, among them. Keep in mind that not all the flavors are available every day of the week - the Sprinkle site lays out the sked. Mixes for red velvet, chocolate peppermint, and the much-loved lemon cupcakes are on sale, as are yogurt-frosted doggie cakes (a poochy treat that looks more than a little tempting to this human). And don't be daunted by the line - it moves fast. All the better to get to the cake.

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SPRINKLES CUPCAKES
Hours are Mon.-Sat., 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sun. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
393 Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto
(650) 323-9300