I think it would be near impossible for a cupcake fiend like me to do a ranking of the best cupcakes because there is never a bad cupcake... never. Going into this, I thought I would just get to try a few cupcakes and write about how they all tasted. But, I was wrong.
I found that every cupcake as a story of its own, ranging from crazy creative cake jars to outrageous vegan cakes. I tried to keep it constant by trying a good 'ol chocolate at every store, then one of the store's specials. With that in mind, here are the very best cupcakes that I found in southwest Florida. Let's dive in (to mountains of frosting).
This is a perfect way to start off—Heavenly Cupcakes (which are, indeed, wickedly good). Let's start off with the chocolate. My mom is not a cupcake person whatsoever, but she said the only thing that needs to be said about this chocolate cupcake: "I don't like frosting, but that's some rockin' good frosting right there." Couldn't have said it better myself.
Next up was the pumpkin cupcake, which is their cupcake of the month (they have a vegan and a normal, which I appreciated). I thought this one tasted more like a mix between pumpkin and carrot, with a perfect touch of cinnamon and a nice whip of cream cheese frosting on top.
They also have whoopie pies, cake jars, and paleo, vegan, and gluten free cakes which spice up their list of options.Location: 6538 Gateway Ave, Sarasota, FL 34231
This quaint shop lies on Siesta Drive and has very reasonably priced cupcakes. The cupcakes are larger than average and they were the least expensive. The two I tried were the classic chocolate and caramel latte. They both had a perfectly dense, moist texture to them. The frosting was more milk-chocolatey and smooth. It was also not as sweet, which I preferred.
Even though they aren't garnished to the extreme, the simplistic vibe offers a pleasant change from most other cupcake shops.
Location: 2079 Siesta Dr, Sarasota, FL 34239
As you can probably assume, Gigi's is known for their mountain of frosting piled on top of each cupcake. The chocolate cake is rich, with the chocolate fudge sauce oozing from the top and sides.
The special one that I chose to try was cookie dough. And I was actually given a mound of cookie dough on top of the cake, which I was NOT disappointed about. I noticed that they care about the presentation of their cakes, making you want to take a huge bite out of their glamorous cakes. If you are a frosting person, this is definitely the place for you, and you will not be disappointed.
Location: 8435 Cooper Creek Blvd, Bradenton, FL 34201
As you can see, Sweet Doctors was incredibly generous and gave me these cupcakes to try for this article. The chocolate cupcake (two in from the top left) was the first one we tried and as shown, it had a dipped coating on it. That's right, a cupcake dipped in chocolate.
The cake was delectable, but I actually found the frosting to cake ratio to be a bit off, with the cake having a frosting, a gooey filling, and a dipped layer.
Chocolate peanut butter (last in second row) was the other favorite, having a less-sweet peanut butter frosting that contrasted the sweet cake nicely. Some of the other inventive flavors included Nutella and Cookie butter.Location: The Mall at University Town Center, 140 University Town Center Dr, Sarasota, FL 34243
5. Cakes by Ron
Cakes by Ron is the most gourmet of the cupcakes I tried. I have to say, I walked into this a bit biased because I have had their cupcakes before, and they continue to be my brother's favorite.
Their cupcakes are flawless—dense yet fluffy, and their frosting is unlike any you've tried before. You see that nice dollop of caramel frosting on the left? Yup, that's heaven. I could eat spoonfuls of that stuff. It's a thick, fudge-textured, gooey concoction of greatness that tastes like true, buttery caramel.
The one of the right is their triple chocolate which had a dark chocolate ganache/shell drizzled over the top. The ultimate chocolate lovers cake with an uber smooth, silky frosting. Cakes by Ron is more sophisticated than the other shops, and they will be seeing me in store again soon.
Location: 3520 Fruitville Rd, Sarasota, FL 34237
Retrobaked is a plant-based, vegan bakery with deluxe flavors that will make you drool, including peppermint mocha fudge, and blueberry lavender lemonade. The amount of detail and experimentation that came with perfecting these flavors and combos must've taken sharp expertise.
Also, they make their own vegan versions of well-known cookies—for example, thin mints. Retrobaked is the only all-vegan bakery in the area (that I found), so if you are vegan, this stop is a must. Their cupcake are all also gluten-free, which appeals to an even bigger audience.
Location: 933 12th St W, Bradenton, FL 34205
Whether you live in the area and are looking for a sweet treat, or are visiting from out of town, all of the cupcake shops had their own distinctive cupcake and a welcoming environment. Now, I encourage you to go eat some good cupcakes. You deserve it.