The daughter of a dentist, Kara Haspel Lind took a drastically different path in 2006 when she opened her first cupcake shop in the Marina. Now with multiple stores and a mobile cupcake van, Kara’s Cupcakes is a sweet San Francisco institution. That doesn’t mean that Kara is set in her ways, however. Recently, she expanded her offerings to include something a little bigger: 6- and 9-inch cakes. The cakes are available in all of the signature cupcake flavors, as well as two cake-only variants. We spoke with Kara about exploring new edible territory, plus her favorite places to eat before dessert. GROUPON: So what made you decide to venture into the cake space? And can you tell us a little more about the cakes themselves? KARA HASPEL LIND: Cupcakes are a mini celebration (even if you’re just celebrating that you finished lunch!), and we wanted to offer guests options for the larger celebratory moments in their life. We’re keeping it special by having two cake-only flavors: Paradise and Chocolate Eclipse. The Paradise cake is made with organic bananas and passionfruit-curd filling. It’s covered in cream-cheese frosting, then sprinkled with fresh toasted coconut. The Chocolate Eclipse cake is a chocolate cake filled with Italian meringue marshmallow, covered in rich chocolate ganache frosting. All of the new cakes are ready-made daily and by custom order, which requires 24 hours notice. G: Sounds delicious! You have a well-established brand when it comes to cupcakes in San Francisco. Besides the new cakes, what else differentiates Kara’s from other bakeries? KHL: Our sweet treats are baked daily (sometimes hourly!) in small batches, so guests are enjoying their cupcakes a few hours, if not a few minutes, out of the oven. Community is also an important focal point for our cupcakes. We like to use local ingredients that are sustainable and organic. G: What sorts of local ingredients? KHL: Take our seasonal strawberry cupcake, for example. We use Yerena Farms organic strawberries in that. Poli Yerena, a Bay Area small farmer, created his own business with his family and his strawberries are to die for. They make a delicious strawberry cream. Our salt comes right from the bay—from the red salt ponds you see when flying to and from SFO. [We also use] Giusto’s flour, Petaluma farm-fresh pullet eggs … These are all conscious decisions to make a difference in our community, which is extremely important to us. G: Speaking of the community, can you tell us some of your favorite places to go when you aren’t eating dessert? KHL: For coffee, the new Peet’s on Chestnut Street. For breakfast, Gott’s egg sandwich. And for lunch or dinner, Padrecito in Cole Valley … delish and fresh! This interview has been condensed and edited. Photos courtesy of Kara’s Cupcakes.Read More
Map & Contact Info
This place has not been rated by customers.
0% of 0 customers recommended
San Francisco has more than its share of gourmet chocolates and bonbons these days, but sometimes one gets a hankering for some true candy: licorice, lollipops, jellybeans, candy bars. The wonderful thing about San Francisco is that it has places to satisfy every kind of sweet tooth, from old fashioned retro shops selling the nostalgic candy of childhood to gorgeous little boutiques carrying handpicked sweeties from around the world. Below are some of the best ways to indulge your inner Willy Wonka in the city. Shaw’s Candy Store | 122 West Portal Ave Opened in 1931, Shaw’s is the oldest candy store in San Francisco. It’s not trendily retro; it’s an authentically old timey slice of Americana with its red and white color scheme and jars of jelly beans, gummy bears, and taffy. Be sure to try their famous homemade fudge, which comes in classic flavors like peanut butter chocolate, maple walnut, and rocky road. As a bonus, they also serve Mitchell’s ice cream, another local San Francisco favorite. Fiona’s Sweetshoppe | 214 Sutter St This tiny shop tucked away in the Union Square district is the closest thing San Francisco has to Honeyduke’s, the famous candy shop of the Harry Potter books. Fiona’s specializes in candies from the UK and Scotland and the interior of the store looks like a classic English sweet shop, from the silver trays full of hard candy to the walls lined with jars of toffees and licorice. For a true English candy experience, try the chewy bonbons (not the chocolate kind), rich molasses treacle toffee, and the licorice allsorts. The Candy Store | 1507 Vallejo St For those looking to learn more about the world of candy, this little gem in Russian Hill is the place to go. Owners Diane and Brian are true candy aficionados who travel the world tracking down old favorites and new discoveries. Both they and their staff enjoy sharing their extensive knowledge with customers – so tell them what you like and they will pick out a candy for you from the multitude of jars on the walls. The malted milk balls and Swedish gummies are a delight, as well as the selection of nostalgic American candy bars, like Abba-Zabas and Valomilks. Miette | 449 Octavia St Miette takes the prize for most whimsical candy store in the city. The interior is gorgeously decorated like a child’s imaginative dream of a vintage sweet shop, all fanciful lights, floral wallpaper, and candy-bright colors everywhere. The carefully curated selection of candies range from Italian chocolates to British candy bars to Dutch licorice. As a bonus, they also carry Miette’s own line of pastries, from cupcakes to princess cakes to macarons. There’s a sweet for everyone in this store. Z Ciccolato | 474 Columbus Ave This old fashioned sweets emporium captures the eclectic, colorful nature of the North Beach district. The windows and walls are covered in offbeat decorations, but most visitors’ eyes will go immediately to the barrels scattered around the room, filled with saltwater taffy. Besides taffy in virtually every color and flavor, Z Ciccolato is famous for its homemade fudge in flavors like chocolate cheesecake and cookies and cream. The store also makes fresh caramel corn and serves gelato – truly a sweets lover dream-come-true.Read More
San Francisco loves its sweets – from croissants to cupcakes to ice cream to macarons, there’s a shop to satisfy any sweet tooth. However, there’s a whole series of cafes and bakeries out in the Richmond and Sunset districts, on the west end of the city, that serve a variety of Asian desserts unfamiliar to much of the San Francisco population. Many of these desserts are popular in their countries of origin, and have been brought over by immigrants hungry for a taste of home. For your next dessert try something a little different – you might find a new favorite! Bubble tea: This Taiwanese drink goes by several names, including pearl tea, boba tea and tapioca tea; they all refer to the chewy tapioca balls, or “pearls”, that float in a sweet milk tea. Drinking and chewing simultaneously is an interesting experience, one that can quickly become addictive. The classic version of bubble tea is black tea mixed with milk or creamer, served cold and over ice, but it also comes in enough varieties, from fruit flavors to icier “slushies”, to warrant return trips in order to try everything. The customization options are endless: different teas, different tapioca pearl sizes and flavors, even different level of sweetness and ice. It’s Starbucks taken to the next level. Similar to coffeehouses, bubble tea shops can be found all around San Francisco. Try the Boba Guys in the Mission District; they are using local sources and quality ingredients to create the next level of bubble tea. The Boba Guys 3491 19th St. San Francisco, CA 94110 Eggettes: These cute little pastries are called daan jai, or “little eggs” in Hong Kong where they come from, so eggettes is a perfectly literal translation. They are also often called egg puffs or egg waffles. Taste and texture wise, they’re a cross between waffle and pancake, a golden bubbly sheet of sweet, soft puffiness. Eggettes are a classic street food in Hong Kong, and as such they are best eaten very fresh and hot. Each individual eggette is meant to be torn from the whole sheet, making them a perfect snack for sharing. Originally they were made plain, with the sweet flavor coming from the eggs, sugar, and evaporated milk, but today eggettes come in flavors ranging from chocolate to green tea, and are often offered with toppings like ice cream and fresh fruit as well. Still, the best way to experience them is plain and simple. Many Chinese dessert cafes offer eggettes, but the best I’ve found so far are at a shop very appropriately called Eggettes. Their plain and coconut versions are especially good. Eggettes 3136 Noriega St San Francisco, CA 94122 Honey Toast: Toast is the latest food to get the artisan treatment in food-crazy San Francisco, but the Japanese have been doing gourmet toast their way for quite a while. Called “honey toast” or “honey brick toast”, this dish is gloriously over the top, visually impressive, and best enjoyed with a group. It consists of a loaf of bread (soft, thick, and fluffy white is preferred) which is hollowed out and drizzled with melted butter and honey. Often the center piece of bread that was taken out is cut into cubes, toasted, and then put back in the middle. The entire affair is then topped with ice cream, fruit, whipped cream, and almost any other topping you can imagine. Honeyberry offers several tempting versions of honey toast; give their famous sweet roti buns a try as well. Honeyberry 1915 Irving St San Francisco, CA 94122 Snow Ice: Shaved ice desserts are popular all over Asia, but snow ice is a Taiwanese iteration that’s made its way over to the US. The shaved ice that most people know is like a snow cone – ice crystals mixed with flavored syrups. Taiwanese snow ice is totally different: the water is mixed with milk or cream and sugar, frozen into a solid block, and then shaved into long ribbons, instead of little crystals, using a special machine. The piled-up ribbons of snow ice look like art, but they have an astonishingly light and fluffy texture, almost like eating snow. Snow ice comes in several flavors and numerous topping options, just like ice cream. One of the best places to try this frozen treat in the city is Dessert Papa, a sweet little café in the Outer Sunset with a wide menu of Asian desserts. Dessert Papa 2255 Judah St San Francisco, CA 94122 Sweet Dessert Soup: Most people think of hot soup as a savory appetizer or main course, but sweet hot soups, called tong sui or “sugar water”, are a Chinese dessert staple. They are typically made from nuts and sweet beans like almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and red (adzuki) beans. These soups are thick and smooth in consistency, and sometimes mixed with clear pearl tapioca or whole beans. Warm, rich, not overly sugary, and a comforting end to a chilly night. For first-timers, sweet almond or sweet peanut soup are classic favorites. Golden Island Café has an extensive selection of sweet dessert soups, along with other traditional Chinese desserts. Golden Island Café 1300 Noriega St San Francisco, CA 94122Read More