Chocolate cupcakes that look like hot fudge sundaes. Unicorn ice cream in colors like bright pink, blue and purple. And a mashup of cupcakes and ice cream called a “cupcake smash.”
Newly opened Smallcakes Cupcakery and Creamery in Fresno sells all these delicious things. Smallcakes is a national franchise with 190 locations in 20 states. Its founder, Jeff Martin, was a contestant on the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars.”
The Fresno shop is the first in the central San Joaquin Valley, and opened June 8 at 585 W. Nees Ave., across Palm Avenue from the Daily Grill restaurant.
Employee Emily Mann’s favorite cupcake is cookies and cream, which features chocolate cake with Oreos and vanilla buttercream frosting.
Bakers come in at 6 a.m. to bake more than 300 cupcakes in a size that’s much bigger than your average home-baked cupcake. They are topped with huge dollops of frosting and often chunks of candy.
If right about now you’re thinking, “I thought the cupcake trend was over,” you’re not alone.
“I hear it all the time,” said Brandi Dewrell, whose title is “corporate baker” and who trains bakers at new Smallcakes shops.
Indeed, one of Fresno’s earliest cupcake shops, Sugar Shack at Sommerville Drive and Perrin Avenue, has closed. Simply Frosted on West Shaw Avenue also closed (not to be confused with the Tower District’s Frosted Cakery, which is alive and well).
To survive, cupcake shops must adapt.
Smallcakes, Dewrell said, does that by selling cupcake-infused ice cream made fresh in the store. Smallcakes sells cones, cups and milkshakes of familiar flavors, such as chocolate and vanilla. But there are also oddball flavors like Cookie Monster ice cream, which is blue and has chunks of cookie in it.
The shop will probably have Sriracha-hot chocolate ice cream soon, said franchise owner Sukhi Nahal.
Her favorite though, is “24 carrot” ice cream with chunks of carrot cake in it.
Customers can combine a full cupcake with ice cream, too. The cupcake smash for $7.25 features a cupcake cut in half and served in a cup with two scoops of ice cream between the cupcake halves.
Regular cupcakes cost $3.75 and minis are sold by the dozen for $15.
What to get here: When it comes to cupcakes, Nahal’s favorite is the wedding cake, an almond cupcake topped with buttercream frosting. Employee Emily Mann goes for the cookies and cream, which features chocolate cake with Oreos and vanilla buttercream frosting.