When you set out to keep a food blog, it can be quite consuming. Suddenly everywhere you look, recipes are beckoning, and everything from bubble gum to beer inspires you to seek out new recipes and places, take photos and make them blog-worthy. Field trips to great bakeries and food-related shops become serious business. I mean, it's for the blog! Sometimes a new treat is so inspiring, you might forget to take photos altogether. When your fingers and teeth are coated in chocolate ganache, obtaining original photographic evidence can be difficult. So I did some right-clicking, and I bring you Dainties:
Recently named 2007's Best Cupcake in Los Angeles Magazine (no small feat, seeing as we're tripping over cupcakeries out here), Dainties has done for the cupcake what no other bakery has accomplished to date--they've made it all their own. I mean, sure, there's cake, in a cup, with something on top. But the comparisons end there.
First, there is no buttercream to be found with a Dainties--they use boldly-flavored fresh whipped cream to fill and top all of their cupcakes. The vanilla bean whipped cream is especially impressive, proving that vanilla is not a synonym for "plain"--this vanilla cream is rich and heady with a bourbon essence. It's a lovely matchup with the cakes' textures--if buttercream and cake are good friends, then Dainties' cream and cake are soul mates, seamlessly paired.
Speaking of the cake: I experienced a dense, almost chewy texture (think a great banana bread) that is moist even though my samples were slightly chilled (they will remind you many times during your visit that the cupcakes you take home must be refrigerated, on account of the whipped cream). Topping all of the cupcakes is Dainties other trademark, a glossy, gooey coating of dark chocolate ganache.
This visit had me first sampling the Stupid Chocolate cupcake (I did indeed muse aloud, "stooooopid", with my first bite), a deep, dense chocolate-chocolate-chip cake, coated in ganache, and filled and topped with vanilla bean cream. Later that night at a dinner party, it was the Vanilla Bean for me, still with that glorious ganache, but this time it was providing shelter for a surprisingly dense vanilla cake (an oxymoron of sorts that works in this instance) generously flecked with vanilla seeds and surrounding more vanilla whipped cream.
Though a proper Dainties is chocolate cake, chocolate ganache and vanilla whipped cream, they do have other flavors, too, including peanut butter, espresso, raspberry and cheesecake. I must remember to visit Dainties mainly on Saturdays, as I am an adamant vanilla lover, and the owner (friendly, and obviously very passionate about her business--hooray!) informed me that they only make cupcake varieties with vanilla cake on Saturdays. If you go any other day, you'll just have to limp along with the aforementioned decadent chocolate cake. Poor you.
Dainties charges around $3.00 per cupcake, which seems to be the going rate in Los Angeles. You can buy them individually or in packs of 4, 6 or one dozen. The owners run their catering company from the retail space (the office, bakery case and industrial kitchen all crammed in one tiny area make for one very nontraditional bakery--don't plan on eating in), so cupcakes can be ordered for events as well.
If you're in the L.A. area, it's definitely worth a visit just to have a departure from the kind of cakes from the likes of Sprinkles and Yummy Cupcakes. Just past the 405, heading east on Santa Monica Boulevard, hang a right onto the tiny side street just past the strip mall with the big, tacky Winchell's Donuts sign and it's just past the corner. If it sounds like you're looking for a speakeasy, that's because Dainties is tucked away like one. And their cupcakes are delicious and unique enough that they might be illegal. Two ganache-covered thumbs up!