An Interview with Kara of Kara’s Cupcakes

Karas-Cupcakes-by-Steven-Depolo
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!).

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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. Bu 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 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!

Kara-of-Karas-Cupcakes

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 fresh toasted coconut makes Paradise the perfect moniker!

Karas-Cupcakes-New-Cakes
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.

fume_blanc_cupcake
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.

Karas-Cupcakes-Stephen-Woods
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.

Groupon-City-BlogRead 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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26 Comments

  1. Shannon
    June 25, 2014

    I will have to check this place out when/if I am ever in the area. I don’t usually make cupcakes, but I would have to say my favorite cake is chai and then vegan Chocolate PB cake.

    Reply
  2. Diana Corlett
    June 25, 2014

    Everything looks so delicious…heavenly!

    Reply
  3. Michelle Salais
    June 25, 2014

    Oh my goodies! I love all the all the kinds. Haha! They look and sound heavenly. 🙂

    Reply
  4. Terri S
    June 25, 2014

    Everything looks so yummy!!! Great interview. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  5. Michael W Perkins
    June 25, 2014

    Cupcakes are my Favorite food group..

    Reply
  6. Andi! Thanks for sharing. Both times I have been to San Francisco (I’m hoping to get back soon too) I walk past Kara’s but I have never stopped in. Now it’s on my list next time for sure 🙂
    Love the sound of that Paradise Cake too – yummy!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      June 26, 2014

      @Amy, carrot cake, banana and red velvet are my favs! Definitely go inside on your next trip!

      Reply
  7. Doreen Lamoureux
    June 29, 2014

    They are so pretty and elegant looking …. you almost do not want to eat them — okay, I would. Thanks for the post.

    Reply
  8. Michael W Perkins
    July 1, 2014

    Gotta love a good cupcake

    Reply
  9. Karen Beckett
    July 1, 2014

    These cupcakes look so yummy! And such a good job in decorating!

    Reply
  10. Christine
    April 3, 2015

    I think I just gained 10 lbs from looking at these pics! The cakes looks AMAZING!!!! Awesome work!

    Reply
  11. Corina Ramos
    April 6, 2015

    Oh my goodness, I would so love to hang out with her some day! I love cupcakes and these look so yummy! Thanks for a great interview. I was great getting to know Kara.

    Reply
  12. Jaclyn Anne
    April 6, 2015

    Oh my, those cupcakes look and sounds amazing!

    Reply
  13. Ashley
    April 9, 2015

    More than even the cupcakes, that Paradise cake sounds incredible! There are a ton of cupcake places over by me, and I’m almost ashamed to admit that I’ve never tried any of them. This post and your interview with Kara has totally convinced me to check one out with my little girl today 🙂

    Reply
  14. Robin Gagnon
    April 9, 2015

    We are big cupcake people in my house. There is just something so satisfying about having a special little cake just for you. The chocolate one looks absolutely fantastic, and the cakes look divine, as well.

    Reply
  15. Jeanine
    April 9, 2015

    Wow, it all looks amazing! She is very talented. I can bake but I cannot decorate so I rely on people like her to do up beautiful pieces for me! Kara’s Cupcakes look delicious and I’m wishing she was closer to me!

    Reply
  16. Love the photos and the cupcakes are so yummy looking! We have local cupcake shops in my town that I frequent. I just love walking in and the first thing I notice is the SMELL. It smells so great when you walk in! It’s always a treat when I take my kids there. They love it.

    Reply
  17. Liz Mays
    April 9, 2015

    I can’t decide whether I like the cakes or the cupcakes more. The way she tops her cupcakes is so incredibly attractive. It’s super fun to read about all these flavor combinations and whatnot. She is a talented baker.

    Reply
  18. Nancy
    April 9, 2015

    I didn’t realize “Kara’s Cupcakes” was a local thing! I thought it was just a chain here in the USA. Good thing I go to the one close by and not another store. Love supporting local companies!! And it’s cool to put a face to the name.

    Reply
  19. Cara (@StylishGeek)
    April 9, 2015

    Whenever I have a tea party or visiting a friend I try to get Kara’s Cupcakes! I love that they have different flavors! Thank you so much for the interview you had. It’s good to know the owner Kara Haspel Lind and find out about more about her business.

    Reply
  20. Amanda
    April 9, 2015

    Wow, this was such a deliciously decadent post. I am slightly obsessed with cupcakes and I love to hear stories about small businesses. The photos you used were gorgeous, especially the ones with the slices cut out of the cake so you could see the fillings. DROOL.

    Reply
  21. Anita Utami
    April 9, 2015

    The Paradise cake is so interesting. I love the tropical combination: banana, passion fruit, and coconut. I have to try that one. I haven’t tried Kara’s yet, but I do like cupcakes. My favorite flavor is red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting. Delicious!

    Reply
  22. Krysta
    April 9, 2015

    Oh PLEASE do not get me started on my love of the bagel! Even more than I love some yummy cupcakes… bagels, yummy Onion Poppy Seed bagels, are my jam… or cream cheese, ha! Kara’s cupcakes do look yummy though so thanks for the insight and heads up!

    Reply
  23. Colette - JamericanSpice
    April 9, 2015

    Oooh I love cream cheese frosting on everything. But yes I remember the first time I had cupcakes! I couldn’t believe they didn’t taste like muffins! Haha

    I thought Europe was the beginning of the cupcake era. I would have loved to have lived there to start my own bakery!!! What a steal on the market!

    What a fun interview. That is something eh. They still got sweets into the home despite their parents. That is why I try to have a sort of balance 🙂

    I certainly would love to try Kara’s cupcakes!

    Reply
  24. April Decheine
    April 11, 2015

    Great interview, what beautiful cupcakes! I love hearing about successful small business owners. I love a good cupcake that is decorated beautifully, entices the eyes. I thought this was a chain, I did not know where it started from.

    Reply

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