Getting Frosted in the LBC

BY: ELISABETH MANVILLE

The Gourmet Cupcake: Sweet and Saucy Shop6400 Stearns Street Long Beach, CA 90815 Open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. Closed Sundays.

Cupcakes: $3 ($3.25 filled), mini $1.50 ($1.75 filled).

The Sweet and Saucy Shop is located just a couple minutes from campus, right off the 405 freeway on the corner of Stearns and Palo Verde. The Sweet and Saucy team is recognized for exceptional cakes, made evident by the framed magazine pages on the wall. They have recently made cakes for celebrity weddings and other events, including Miley Cyrus' 18th birthday.

What stands out about Sweet and Saucy's cupcakes is their frosting - delicious and sweet, but not so much that it overpowers the cake. It is not the ideal place to sit and chat with a group of friends - there is little space, only two tables and four chairs, and often it is taken up for a discussion with clients for an upcoming wedding or event. Sweet and Saucy is definitely all about business. However, thankfully for us, this includes the business of making beautiful and seriously good cupcakes, so it is definitely worth stopping by.

Susie Kim, an assistant pastry chef who has worked at the Sweet and Saucy Shop since it opened, explains that success has slowly been building since founder Melody Brandon started working out of a rental kitchen. She attributes the success to Brandon's goal not centered on making money, but of keeping customers happy. Kim also believes that a staff of bakers who respect each other is key, saying, "We have a really good staff back there." She also notes that recently more people have been coming by to try their cupcakes and other treats - including cake lollipops - and when a customer comes once, they almost always come back!

The Fun Cupcake: Sweet Embellishments Dessert Bar 5555 Stearns St Suite 107 Long Beach, CA 90815 Open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

Cupcakes: $2 for one.

Right down the street from Sweet and Saucy is another option for yummy cupcakes! If you have some time to kill and are in the mood for some variety, Sweet Embellishments has the cupcakes for you. This dessert bar is an experience - tables, couches, a television and lots and lots of games, many of them reminiscent of childhood, including Mancala, Connect Four, and Uno Cards.

Their cupcakes are sweet and light - no heavy butter cream weighing them down. They are freshly frosted and garnished, whether you order one or a dozen. With these cupcakes being a bit smaller than the average, you may be left wanting more. But that is no problem - the more you buy, the cheaper they are! Buy two for only $3, and if you buy at least six, they are only $1 apiece. This can also be combined with their other desserts, including brownies and mini-cheesecakes!

There are many different flavors available at Sweet Embellishments, ranging from chocolaty delights such as cookies and cream and s'mores, to fruity drizzles and green tea.

According to manager Ryan Blanco, Sweet Embellishments attracts a variety of customers, including employees who work in nearby office buildings picking up a batch of cupcakes for coworkers, local middle and high school students, parents with kids, and later in the day, college students.

Blanco says the idea behind the games is that customers could stay entertained while waiting for their orders. He says that customers do indeed make use of the games, sometimes coming just to sit and play.

The Trendy Cupcake: Frosted Cupcakery 4817 E. 2nd Street Long Beach, CA 90803 Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Closed Mondays.

Cupcakes $2.95

Not far from Sweet Embellishments and Sweet and Saucy, and just a few minutes down Pacific Coast Highway on Second St. is Frosted, a bakery devoted entirely to cupcakes.

The environment at Frosted is fun and colorful, but simple. Each different flavor of cupcake comes with its own unique topper - a little token of red chocolate on red velvet cupcake, candy bar crumbles on a chocolate peanut butter cupcake, a strawberry gummy candy on a strawberry cupcake topped with cream cheese frosting. The cupcakes and frosting are similar to the familiar flavors and textures of those made at home, but fresh and baked and decorated to a perfection few can achieve on their own.

You can become a fan of the cupcakes and the brand - alongside the sweet treats Frosted sells merchandise with the store name on cute ways to individualize cupcakes, such as special candles. Also available are "pupcakes" for dogs. For humans, alternatives to the traditional cupcakes are hi-tops which are miniature cupcake sandwiches and ice cream cupcakes. Also, be sure to stop in on your birthday, because with I.D. you get a free cupcake!

So what explains the success of a cupcakery? What is it about these little indulgences that have started such a trend?

"You feel like you are eating an entire entity of cake, but with less calories," says Morgan Massey, a Frosted fan and Cal State Long Beach student, "then, when a whole store is devoted to the creation of these personalized delicacies? It's pure genius.