In search of Denver's best cupcakes: A photo diary of one man's journey

By Ryan DeWitt

The inspiration for this venture stemmed from getting burnt out on the city's ice cream/froyo/gelato scene -- specifically from eating far too much of it all. Essentially, I needed something else to appease my sugar and sweets addiction. Enter cupcakes. My thinking was this: Cupcakes have so many variables to take into account -- the cake, frosting and toppings -- that I knew I could eat these for a long time before ever having to try the same one twice.

Denver's cupcake scene completely shocked me. I'd heard about a few different places, but I really had no idea of the number of cupcake joints we had in Denver. The toughest part of this journey was choosing among the vast ocean of options -- between old faithfuls like chocolate-on-vanilla, vanilla-on-chocolate and red velvet vs. more creative cupcakes like Nutella or salted peanut. And then there were all the cereal-laced choices.

The results of my gluttonous efforts are compiled into one handy-dandy essential cupcake guide. Hail frosting!

Heavenly Cakes 3559 West 44th Avenue; 303-433-0747 Score: 7/10 Price: $1.75 for a large cupcake

This cupcake was a complete Cinderella story, mostly because I didn't necessarily expect too much from this small, wedding cake-intensive shop, but man did it make me smile. From the first bite to the last, this monster cupcake had a terrific strawberry flavor and the light and fluffy whipped cream topping was the perfect accompaniment.

Living The Sweet Life 1535 Central Street; 303-477-8088 Score: 5/10 Price: $2.50

Call this the cupcake that couldn't. On the outside, this little guy had all the makings of a delicious cupcake, what with its Funfetti cake frosted with cream cheese and topped with sprinkles. It took me back to my childhood when my hand was getting smacked for sneaking up to my mother's counter and sticking my finger in the batter and double dipping. But this cupcake let me down. The cake itself was dry and somewhat bland and the frosting was far too overpowering. I could only muster up the courage to eat half.

Lovely Confections 1489 Steele Street; 720-297-3360 Score: 8/10 Price: $3

An organic cupcake! I've never really been the kind of guy who goes out of his way to eat at a place just because it provides organic options. I don't know...sometimes organic stuff just doesn't taste right to me. But man, oh, man did this place prove me wrong. The bakery oozes with passion and flavors, but I ordered a simple vanilla bean cake that was moist and topped with a holy-shit-that's-a-lot-of-chocolate, chocolate frosting. It was outstanding.

Big Fat Cupcake 129 Adams Street; 303-322-2253 Score: 8/10 Price: $3.95

Size totally counts. I know they have 'Big' and 'Fat' in the name, but most businesses never really give people great deals -- or do they? In this case, the answer is yes, they do. This behemoth chocolate cupcake, frosted with Oreo-vanilla buttercream and rolled in Oreo cookies, was scrumptious from the first bite to the last.

By Ryan DeWitt

Gigi's Cupcakes 550 Grant Street; 303-777-0698 Score: 9/10 Price: $3

I think they misspelled the name of this place. It should be called Giddy's Cupcakes. Just thinking about this cupcake is making me giddy (not to mention salivate). The Italian cream cake was the highlight of my day, thanks to its uber-moist vanilla cake and perfectly weighted cream cheese frosting with coconut.

Happy Cakes 3434 West 32nd Avenue; 303-477-3556 Score: 10! Price: $2.75

As a man, is it alright if I'm infatuated with a cupcake called the Pom Pom? Here, at this bakery, they take a chocolate cake, top it with vanilla buttercream frosting and then roll it in Trix. Trix! TRIX! I'm in love. Best cupcake in Denver? I think so. It's ineffably amazing. The only problem? It's only available on Friday or Saturday.

D Bar Desserts 1475 East 17th Avenue; 303-861-4710 Score: 9/10 Price: $3.25

Bring out the red carpet for this one. The only red velvet cupcake I allowed myself to eat was at D Bar -- and whoa! What a phenomenal idea that was. The cupcake was so impossibly light and fluffy, even while being filled and topped with cheesecake. How'd they do that?

By Ryan DeWitt

Yum Yums Delights 450 East 17th Avenue; 303-623-0572 Score: 7/10 Price: $3

The Boston Cream Pie cupcake was super yummy. With its very moist yellow cake, Bavarian cream filling and chocolate buttercream topping, this is a cupcake that I could eat every day.

Mulberries Cake Shop 2027 East Colfax Avenue; 303-282-1044 Score: 6/10 Price: $1.50

The cupcakes at Mulberries are so visually stimulating that you almost don't want to eat them. But luckily for me, my stomach does the talking. This lemon poppy seed cake with buttercream frosting was a real flavorful treat -- and awesome for the price.

The Shoppe 3103 East Colfax Avenue; 303-322-3969 Score: 9/10 Price: $3

Since peaches are in season, why not try a cupcake called Peachy Keen? In one word: Ridiculous! So light! So fluffy! This cupcake had the perfect amount of peaches dispersed throughout the yellow cake, and the rich, whipped cream frosting was spot-on.

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