Before cupcake pans, personalized dessert portions were made by baking full-sized cakes and shrinking them in the dryer. Skip extra steps with today's Groupon: for $20, you get one dozen cupcakes at Cupcakes Actually in Fairfax (up to a $51 value).
The discerning bakers at Cupcakes Actually make it a daily tradition to handcraft their sweet, miniature cakes from scratch using a variety of personally treasured original recipes. Visitors can choose from the weekly lineup of nine flavors drawn from a frosted menu hefty enough to sate Paul Bunyan's sweet tooth. Potential flavors include the Actually Dipped devil’s food cupcake topped with butter-cream frosting and dipped in rich fudge ($3.75 each) as well as the Golden Nugget carrot cupcake with grated zucchini, raisins, and crushed walnuts ($3.50 each). The Caribbean Queen crowns a piña colada cupcake with coconut-rum frosting, a cherry, and a paper umbrella ($3.25 each), and the Strawberry Fields swirls puréed strawberries into a vanilla cupcake decorated with strawberry buttercream and indigenous strawberry cave paintings ($3.25 each).
Each of the 100 cupcake flavors served at Cupcakes Actually was conceived by resident pastry chef and self-described cupcake snob Sue. Sue's mastery of mini cakes actually began in her home kitchen, where she often whipped up treats for family and friends. Word-of-mouth made her cupcakes so popular, though, that she and her sister, Jen, decided to open a dedicated cupcake bakery so they could keep up with the orders without outsourcing work to elves. Today, they run not one, but two cupcakeries where the sweet repertoire includes four original basic flavors—chocolate fudge, flourless chocolate, red velvet, and vanilla bean—and a slew of specialty filled and seasonal varieties ranging from banana split to chocolate Guinness. But while cupcakes are the specialty, they aren't the only sweet treats being churned out: Sue and Jen also oversee a gourmet coffee bar, and make breakfast pastries and creamy gelato in-house.