Photography by Heather Pinho, Karen Neal, and Sugarland
The Peppered Cupcake
105 South Front Street, Wilmington • (910) 399-1088 • thepepperedcupcake.com
With more than 80 different flavors and ingredients ranging from mango to horseradish, The Peppered Cupcake is redefining dessert-eating as both a sweet and savory experience. Try the Pear with Hot Bacon Jam cupcake.
140 East Franklin Street, Chapel Hill • (919) 929-2100 • sugarlandchapelhill.com
Sugarland has been a favorite bakery among UNC-CH students for years. But recently, one of the shop’s cake flavors, Chocolate Caramel Fleur de Sel, was deemed delicious enough to serve to the president on his birthday.
hey hey cupcake!
102 West State Street, Black Mountain • (828) 669-2253 • heyheycupcake.com
A cupcake shop owned by two sisters, their fun-loving personalities shine through in their baking ethos with fun flavors like Bonita Margarita that complement traditional standbys, such as Old School Birthday Cake.
Garden Square, 2403 Battleground Avenue, Greensboro • (336) 288-9811 • maxieb.com
With its delicate balance of fruit and frosting, the Fresh Strawberry Buttercream Cake is a favorite at Maxie B’s, nodding to the shop’s Southern baking tradition.
826 Lamar Avenue, Charlotte • (704) 817-4134 • fumanchucc.com
The dessert isn’t the only thing that surprises first-time customers at FuManChu — neither is the man who makes the treats. With his long mustache and tattoos, owner Andy Jackson wouldn’t strike you as an avid baker, but Charlotteans can’t get enough of his boldly flavored cupcakes. For something different, try the Sriracha with Lemongrass.
120 North Poplar Street, Aberdeen • (910) 944-9204 • thebakehouse.biz
As a fifth-generation baker, pastry chef Martin Brunner has had plenty of lessons that have helped him perfect his recipes at The Bakehouse. Born in Austria, a country known for its Sachertorte, a cake so decadent, Viennese cafés have sued one another over disputes regarding originality claims, Brunner draws on European baking techniques. Try the Black Forest Cake.
Hayes Barton Café & Dessertery
2000 Fairview Road, Raleigh • (919) 856-8551 • imaginarystudioonline.com/hayes
For the fluffiest coconut cake you’ve ever had, you’ll have to travel through time, and the 1940s-themed Hayes Barton Café is just the place to do so. As for the cake’s secret ingredient, there isn’t one, but the icing does sit for a full day, which allows enough time for all the flavors to meld.
French Broad Chocolate Lounge
10 South Pack Square, Asheville • (828) 252-4181 • frenchbroadchocolates.com
If the word “quintessential” appears on a menu, consider the item it describes a must-try. The Quintessential Chocolate Cake at the bean-to-bar French Broad Chocolate Lounge is no different. And those swirly, twirly chocolate curls the cake’s sides are coated with? They make the cake taste that much better.
278 NC Highway 24, Suite A, Morehead City • (252) 773-0160 • thehappycakescupcakery.com
There’s a good reason why HappyCakes was a winner on the Food Network show Cupcake Wars: Many of the shop’s ingredients, like its caramel, are made in-house. Its Madagascar vanilla cake base and fresh blueberry filling make the Blueberry Cream Pie a favorite.
The Cupcake Bar
101 East Chapel Hill Street, Durham • (919) 816-2905 • cupcakebarbakery.com
Cap off your evening with a stop at The Cupcake Bar, which bakes a variety of drink-inspired cupcakes. Miniature cupcakes are available, too, so pick and choose among popular flavors like Mojito, Mexican Chocolate, and Red Velvet. Sugar fiends will love the frosting shots.
12544 Hanover Street, Bailey • (252) 235-2767 • baileycafe.com
A café lined with teapots, Bailey Café will remind you of visits to you grandparents’ house. It has an extensive dessert menu that caters to the whims of all taste buds, but be sure to get a slice of the Cherry-Caramel Delight.
2209 North Centennial Street, High Point • (336) 883-8121 • sweet-josephines.com
At Sweet Josephine’s, cupcakes are made fresh and from scratch by bakers who start work every day at 5 a.m. The Plain Jane is the most popular: a simple vanilla cupcake recipe passed down to the owner by her grandmother. When it’s available, try the Breakfast in Bed. Its salty bacon and sweet blueberries balance each other out perfectly.
Short Street Cakes
225 Haywood Road, Asheville • (828) 505-4822 • shortstreetcakes.com
With its use of all-natural and NC-based ingredients, right down to the flour, Short Street Cakes is the real deal. The shop’s signature Strawberry Short Street, which is a strawberry pound cake with strawberry cream cheese icing, comes in both cake and cupcake form. (We say buy the whole cake and figure out how to eat the rest later.)
Winston-Salem, Multiple Locations • deweys.com
Dewey’s Bakery has been honoring the homemade baking tradition since it opened in 1930. Many Twin City residents go gaga for the bakery’s fun Pink Lemonade cake squares.
Stick Boy Bread Company
345 Hardin Street, Boone • (828) 268-9900 • stickboybread.com
Across the street from Appalachian State University, Stick Boy Bread Company has been providing students with their much-needed caffeine and sugar fixes. In the warm months, try the bakery’s signature Lemon Raspberry Blast cake. Its lemon curd and raspberry buttercream are refreshing.
Bread of Heaven Restaurant & Bakery
402 North Spence Avenue, Goldsboro • (919) 778-4189
You won’t find bread at this Goldsboro bakery, but you will find a slice of heaven. The sound of gospel music flows throughout the kitchen, as does the smell of freshly baked Red Velvet Cake and Carrot Cake, two of the shop’s signature flavors.
512 Broad Street, Fuquay-Varina • (919) 557-4300 • cupcakebite.com
The adorable ambience of this shop will make you want to stick around for more than just one cupcake. (Well played, CupCakeBite.) Try the Blondie cupcake. The brown sugar buttercream it’s topped with will melt in your mouth.
Sweet & Savory Bakery & Deli
6 South Jefferson Avenue, West Jefferson • (336) 846-8888
It’s hard to say no to dessert at this lunch spot, where the cakes are often slathered with frosting right before your eyes. We recommend the Apple Spice Cake.
1483 River Ridge Drive, Clemmons • (336) 712-0300 • christinasdessertery.com
Baking a cake is an art form at Christina’s, where desserts are made to order. The Velvety White Wedding Cake is the shop’s signature and is made with pure Madagascar vanilla.
Charlotte • (704) 458-9389 • cupcakedelirium.vpweb.com
This bakery is technically not one at all; Cupcake Delirium is a truck that is spreading the cupcake love all around Charlotte. Anything with bacon is a hit, says owner Shannon Turrell, so go for the Elvis flavor, which features a banana cupcake, peanut butter frosting, and candied bacon.
401 Foster Street, Durham • (919) 389-4307 • eatdaisycakes.com
For some of the moistest cupcakes around, stop by DaisyCakes and try the classic Black and White Cupcake. Every so often, the café holds a “dessert room” night, a reservations-required tasting event during which guests try several courses of sweets paired with wine.
Once in a Blue Moon Bakery and Café
115 West Chatham Street, Cary • (919) 319-6554 • bluemoonbakery.com
Above all else, bakers at Once in a Blue Moon hope customers leave happy. Considering the café serves cake, its mission is definitely an achievable one. A favorite is the Starlight Strawberry Cake. The nuttiness of Amaretto mousse rounds out the sweetness of strawberry.
2131 North Center Street, Hickory • (828) 324-9994 • bakerycornerstone.com
This family-owned bakery makes all of its assorted sweets from scratch. If you’re in the mood for something decadent, try the Reese’s cupcake.
Bake My Day Café
2103 Wayne Memorial Drive, Goldsboro • (919) 288-2287 • bakemydaygoldsboro.com
Known for its jumbo cupcakes, Bake My Day also serves precious miniature cupcakes on its Mini Mondays. White Chocolate Banana is a go-to favorite among the regulars.