Cupcakes are a preferable alternative to birthday cakes, whose constant accompaniment by off-key singing has depleted the planet’s finite supply of forced smiles. Garner genuine grins with today's Groupon: for $8, you get a half-dozen regular cupcakes at Island Cupcakes in Rancho Santa Margarita (a $16 value).
At Island Cupcakes, bakers sprinkle the display cases with both classic cupcakes and varieties inspired by the Hawaiian tropics. Made without margarine or shortening, each cake bulges from its paper sheath underneath pure buttercream frosting or other toppings mandated by Candy Land's strict constitution. With embellishments such as guava filling, a passion-fruit swirl, or a coconut-crunch topping, tropical flavors evoke Hawaii's soft, moist, igneous bedrock, and breakfast pastries, such as an apple-cinnamon streusel, peek from beneath cross-hatched glazes. Keeping taste buds on their toes, Island Cupcakes introduces new designs every season, complementing classics such as red velvet with wintry flavors such as gingerbread or chocolate peppermint mined fresh from the north pole.