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I have a confession to make...I love cupcakes. There, I've said it. I've loved them ever since my mother sent me to kindergarten with a box, homemade and decorated like miniature Easter baskets, with tinted coconut "grass" and jelly bean "eggs". They even had a chenille wire "handle". Clearly, this was in the olden days, before school treats required vetting by the USDA, the FDA, OSHA and the FBI.

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Photo source: familyfun.go.com

They were a huge hit, and what five year old wouldn't revel in the unbridled joy her birthday delicacy unleashed among her classmates? My affection for them has remained undimmed through the years, even though cupcakes have appeared regularly on every "Top Ten Food Trends That Must Die" list for the past decade.

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Which brings me to Sprinkles Cupcakes, located at 8855 Villa La Jolla Drive in The Shops at La Jolla Village Shopping Center. I may love cupcakes, but I'm picky. One hint of dry cake, greasy icing, gloppy filling, and into the trash it goes. But I get my hair cut a few doors down from Sprinkles, and after several months of watching the line that forms outside their door, I decided it was time to take the plunge.

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Sprinkles cupcakes are as cute as a speckled pup, but not so cute that you'd feel silly serving them to a group of dudes. The young ladies are enthusiastic and helpful, they wait patiently while I decide what I want. Red Velvet, another top contender for Most Hated Food status, is their most popular, Black and White takes second honors.

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I picked Red Velvet and Coconut Chocolate ($3.50). They sure are pretty. But all that pretty won't disguise inferior ingredients or poor baking technique. Do these babies have what it takes?

Well, yes, they do. They have a good cake to icing ratio, and the frosting is sweet but not shortening-greasy. I'm not a huge Red Velvet fan, but this one is nice, buttery and not overly sweet, mildly chocolatey, with slightly tangy cream cheese frosting. The Chocolate Coconut is very good, moist, rich, dark chocolate and cocoa flavors meld perfectly with the white cream cheese icing and liberal shower of untoasted sweetened coconut. It's refreshing to have a cupcake where the cake part tastes as good as the icing.

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Sprinkles Cupcakes won't change your life. But, at $3.50 a pop, they are an inexpensive and delicious way of spreading joy like a five year old.

Sprinkles Cupcakes

8855 Villa La Jolla Drive

La Jolla, CA 92037

858.457.3800

Hours:

Monday - Saturday 9 am - 8 pm

Sunday 10 am - 7 pm

Lot parking (free).

Gluten free, vegan, and doggie cupcakes are available.

Need to know: Not all flavors are available every day. Check their flavor list for details.

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