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 $18, you get a dozen cupcakes at Vanilla Bean Gourmet (a $36 value), located on S Street.
Vanilla Bean Gourmet uses artisanal baking methods to lovingly make and bake fresh cupcake creations in small, carefully crafted batches marked by quality ingredients including Valrhona chocolate. Showcasing a menu with more options than a choose-your-own-adventure cookbook, the shop boasts 19 cupcake varieties including classic red velvet, s'mores, and signature vanilla butterbean made with real vanilla beans. The strawberry shortcake, topped with homemade whipped cream, comes with a fresh chocolate-covered strawberry buried inside, and the Aretha cupcake stands at the ready to sing a sweet and smooth peanut-butter ganache tune. To accommodate diners' distinct dietary needs, the bakers can also mix up gluten-free, vegan, or sugar-free cupcakes upon request.
Vanilla Bean Gourmet
The cupcake chefs at Vanilla Bean Gourmet make each cupcake by hand, imbuing them with fine ingredients to please the taste buds and an inventive design to please the eyes. Their many artisanal options include the bacon-maple bar, a vanilla cupcake topped with maple frosting and a crispy slice of applewood-smoked bacon. Other flavors include the chai-tea-latte cupcake, which they sprinkle with freshly ground cinnamon, ginger, and cloves before plopping a dollop of homemade whipped cream on top. If the recipe calls for vanilla or chocolate, chefs use only real vanilla beans and Valrhona chocolate, which is as delicious as the thought of crushing your enemy's favorite Fabergé egg. Whenever possible, they procure all other ingredients locally from organic and sustainable sources. Frozen yogurt rounds out Vanilla Bean's menu, with toppings including chocolate chips, Reese’s pieces, and cookie crumbs.