Nary two years ago...
Walking around an outer-lying Rome neighborhood, I stepped into a bar where American-style cupcakes were casually resting on the counter top. Was this for real? I thought Rome didn't know or like them. In fact, the closet Rome came to these bouncy cups of sugar were only found in their dry fairy cakes incarnation at a British bakery near Campo de' Fiori. This discovery happily surprised me. The US had already had its cupcake revolution years before, and I was old guard in the Wonderland brigade but I couldn't get my fix here. But within a few months, Sweety Rome, near Piazza della Repubblica, packed its opening punch with not only moist, "American-style" cupcakes and it seemed the frontier was finally open...
Almost every neighborhood within the Aurelian walls now claims cupcakes. Not only are Rome food bloggers writing about them, but food specialty stores and outlets are hosting cupcake lessons. Tricolore (Rome's newest bakery/cooking class) just completed a cupcake course last night, and Castroni, via Cassia, will be offering a course mid-February. Though I scoff at the idea of courses now, I do remember my pre-mom issues with cake making (I sucked), and can only thank a babysitter/baker for sharing the benefits of beating eggs in advance.
Babington's, Piazza di Spagna 22, 06 6786027: this traditional English tea-house recently had a face lift, which includes cupcakes and delivery service. Obviously, it was the api that got me, the art nouveau-ish mini truck with the words Consegna Cupcakes. How are the cupcakes? Moist cake and limited, not-too-sugary frosting.
Sugar Shack, at Planet Blu, Via Nazionale 185: in the back of the Planet Blu t-shirt and tschokes shop, is the Sugar Shack, supposedly owned by the founder of Only Hearts. Though the cupcakes are not satisfying (stale, dry, boring), the candy selection is heaven for those who have a penchant for American sweeties like Hershey kisses, Trident gum, non-pareils, and old timers Bit o' Honey and Mary Janes.
Sweety Rome, via Milano 48, 06 48913713: FoodinRome.com brought this pastry shop to my attention in early 2009. I quickly ran over for a thorough taste test and proceeded to sweeten every event with their cupcakes and carrot cake. My favorite cupcakes here tend to be more traditional: white cake and chocolate, chocolate with vanilla frosting, though I do love their pumpkin cupcakes. In recent months, the jury is out on Sweety's cupcakes as pastry chef Eva Baker (yep, that's her name) has moved to The Perfect Bun, see below, quite possibly taking her cake-making flair with her.
Centro Storico The Perfect Bun, Piazza del Paradiso 56, 0645492925: Bakery, grocer and shop to restaurant The Perfect Bun, notorious for its hamburgers, nachos and American-ish brunches. I picked up some cupcakes last week. Though they look pretty and have interesting impasti of white cake and fresh berries, I was unable to get my hands on a deal-breaker white cake with chocolate frosting. The cupcakes I tasted were not as moist as I expected, however, I am willing to give this place a second try, especially since Minchilli reports that The Perfect Bun serves bagels as well.
Cake and the City, Via Orazio 15: The penultimate cupcake shop in Rome caught my eye by a Red Velvet tweet. Upon until that fateful November day, I hadn't seen red velvet any where in Italy. I loved the red velvet and the chocolate cherry cupcake, didn't like the others I tried, too dry and sweet.
Vero Food, via Marcantonio Colonna 30, 06 3213190: I haven't been inside Vero Food yet, mainly because I am easily distracted the aracine at Mondo Arancina and the chocolate at Gelateria dei Gracchi. However, Vero Food has been tweeting some very interesting photos of bagels and cupcakes.
SweetCakesItaly is a bit tricky. I love the name, makes me think "sweet cheeks" too. I love that it is an online, delivery cupcake shop run by American/Australian team. (Thanks, Forchettine!) Unfortunately, I have no tasting comments. I've called several times and have asked around, but still no test.
Cupcakes are a hot commodity in Rome. Prices are between €2, 50- €3. A little bit steep, though I recently tested beautiful and delicious cupcakes at Houston's Celebrity Cupcakes at $3 each, so we are in the same ball park. Note: in the African Quarter, Giungiu's cupcakes were €1, 50 and perfect-- in 2009. Time for a price check!