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An Interview with Kara of Kara’s Cupcakes

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Photo credit: Steven Depolo

I love cupcakes. I used to ask my best friend to make me cupcakes for my birthday. Yes, I was in my late 20’s and 30’s but I didn’t care, I wanted devil’s food chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting as my birthday gift (see, I was a foodie even then, I wanted food as a gift rather than anything else!).

At the time there really wasn’t any other way to get a cupcake except at the bakery department of a grocery store.

Grocery Store Cupcake

Look familiar?

It was worse when I lived in Europe, they just didn’t exist. When it came to bakery items, I missed bagels, pumpkin pie and cupcakes! Once a year, the high-end grocery store with a large ex-pat clientele would offer a pumpkin tart, but it wasn’t quite the same, but I never saw cupcakes or bagels. But during my trip to Paris last month I saw bagel shops everywhere!

When I moved back to the San Francisco Bay Area, it was a year after the cupcake explosion. The first cupcake I ever had from a standalone cupcake shop (and not from my grocery store bakery) was from Kara’s and from the first bite I was hooked.

Everything about her product speaks to me, small-batch, seasonal ingredients, supporting local farmers. And they are so darn good, the right balance of cake to frosting (that ratio is important in a cupcake!).

Kara Haspel Lind of Kara’s Cupcakes is a San Francisco cupcake icon and I was thrilled when I had the opportunity to interview on the tails of her exciting new launch of cakes!


Tell me about the cakes!

We wanted to offer guests more options for celebratory moments (Kara’s mission is to make the planet a little sweeter by creating celebratory moments with each item we serve). We thought the new cakes, in six and nine inches, were a perfect accompaniment to our delicious offerings.

The new cakes called Paradise and Chocolate Eclipse are sinfully sweet flavor explosions! Chocolate cake filled with Italian meringue marshmallow covered in rich chocolate ganache frosting, the Chocolate Eclipse is a chocoholic’s dream. Organic bananas, passion fruit curd filling, and cream cheese frosting that is then sprinkled with freshly toasted coconut make Paradise the perfect moniker!


Kara’s Cupcakes New Cakes! Photo credit: Kara’s Cupcakes

You have amazing flavor combinations (as is witnessed above!) Do you have a test kitchen to try out new flavors? And can you share some interesting failures that haven’t made the list?

We do! We had to create a flavor for Robert Mondavi’s 100th birthday celebration in Napa using Mondavi Fumé Blanc wine. Like Robert Mondavi, we strive for perfection our creation had to be sublime. It took us one month of test baking to create the most amazing flavor: a vanilla cupcake with passion fruit cur filling and Fumé Blanc with vanilla buttercream frosting, it was amazing.


Photo credit: 7 x 7

I am a huge proponent for supporting locally sourced food, I know you make a special effort to support that cause as well, can you talk a little bit about that?

At Kara’s, we try to make a difference in our community. One of the ways we do that is by staying local, using sustainable, and when possible organic products. I know the names of the farmers I source products from, I know their stories. It is their love for their strawberries, their chocolate, their gluten-free flour that become ingredients in my cakes and cupcakes and that comes through when a guest takes their first delicious bite!

In addition, my stores are sustainably built and we even clean with green products. We are trying to protect the community we live and work in.

I am the daughter of a dental hygienist. I was not allowed to chew gum unless it was Trident, etc. It seems like you might have been even more restricted, how did growing up a dentist’s daughter inspire your cupcake career?

We were the only family with the grain sugar free breakfast cereal! My brother, sister and I still managed to find ways to get sweets in our home.


Photo credit: Stephen Woods

Thanks Kara!

If the cakes are anything like the cupcakes I know they are going to be a huge success. I am trying to think of a good celebratory moment so that I have an excuse to order one! I am thinking that making through a Monday is good enough!

The new cakes are available at all of Kara’s Cupcake locations in the San Francisco Bay Area, but custom cakes require 24 hours notice and day-of cake orders require four to six hours notice.

Read more from Kara Haspel Lind, creator and owner of the Kara’s Cupcake in my interview for Groupon’s San Francisco City Blog.

How about you? Have you had Kara’s Cupcakes? What’s your favorite flavor? Not had Kara’s? I’d still love to know what your favorite cupcake flavor is!


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