Indiana Jones and the Last Red Velvet

Well folks, my Great Manhattan Red Velvet Cupcake Search Extravaganza has come to an end (for real this time). This has been nearly two years in the making and after countless hours of research; extensive travel up, down, and across the island; and a significant hole in my wallet, I have finally found the best red velvet cupcake in Manhattan.

The one thing that was prolonging this seemingly never-ending quest was the arrival of the famed Sprinkles Cupcakes in NYC. Multiple friends had told me that their cupcakes were amazing and when I heard they were opening a store in NYC, I knew that I could not officially conclude my search until I’d tried their red velvet too.

I went into the city last weekend to see Measure for Measure at Shakespeare in the Park, hang out with some good friends, see the Alexander McQueen exhibit at The Met (which, by the way, is AMAZING! Check it out: Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty), and go to Sprinkles (that was seriously on my to-do list, no joke).

Sprinkles has a cute little store on 60th and Lex, conveniently located near an H&M and Urban Outfitters…danger zone! I went in and ordered a cup of milk and my red velvet cupcake (you can also get it gluten-free or vegan, which is a nice option as very few places offer that) and sat down by the window that’s facing Lex to dig in. Verdict? Fabulous! The cream cheese frosting perfectly complemented the moist, bright red cake. Overall, it was a pretty amazing cupcake!

That was Saturday…and on Sunday, I had a thought; since I was going all the way up to The Met for the McQueen exhibit anyway, I might as well go to the other bakery whose red velvet cupcake was currently my number one: Two Little Red Hens.

I don’t often travel to the Upper East Side as there’s not really a reason for me to go all the way up into the 80’s…until I discovered Two Little Red Hens, that is. I came here earlier in the year and had one of their suped-up red velvets with a lovely colorful frosting flower on top of the cream cheese frosting. It was heaven. And seeing as I had quite a delightful red velvet the day before that essentially gave all the other cupcake shops I’d been to in the city a run for their money, I needed to trek up to Two Little Red Hens to settle the score once and for all. Despite just coming off a very filling lunch and a bloody mary, I was ready to reach a final verdict in this ultimate red velvet cupcake hunt I’d embarked on in September 2009.

I ordered my red velvet—sans the fancy frosting flower—and sat down to indulge. And with that first bite, I had a winner….(drum roll, if you please)…Two Little Red Hens! There’s just something about their cream cheese frosting that sealed the deal for me. Along with the gorgeous crimson color of the cake that was moist and so flavorful. (Wow, I just re-read what I wrote just now…obsession is clearly an understatement. I think I have some kind of incurable red velvet complex.)

Anyway, you can see for yourself by this photo. The Two Little Red Hens red velvet cupcake…holy freakin’ amazing red velvet cupcake, Batman! It is definitely worth a trip all the way up to 85th and 2nd for this baby. It is the real deal; exactly how a red velvet cupcake should be: cream cheese frosting (with real cream cheese, unlike some notable NYC cupcakes establishments that shall remain nameless) and moist, crimson cake.

This has been a long time coming, but the day has finally arrived. Here it is, my official ‘Great Manhattan Red Velvet Cupcake Search Extravaganza’ Top Three:

  • Two Little Red Hens (Upper East Side)
  • Sprinkles Cupcakes (Midtown East)
  • Little Cupcake Bakeshop (Soho)

In the words of one of my favorite movie characters, Indiana Jones, “Ahhh, Red Velvet.” Wait…or is it “Ahhh, Venice”…damn. I forget. So now that my red velvet quest has ended what’s next, you ask? Je ne sais pas. But the red velvet buck certainly does not stop here.

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