Taste Test: Regular, Gluten Free and Red Velvet Cupcakes from Sprinkles

San Diego Sugar | Sprinkles Red Velvet Cupcakes: gluten-free vegan regular

I feel bad for anyone whose dietary restrictions limits their intake of baked goods and other sweets. Vegans and those with gluten intolerance have it the hardest, but Sprinkles has created three variations on a classic cupcake flavor ┬áthat lets more people experience the pure joy of partaking in a frosting-covered single-serving cake. This morning, I taste tested all three versions of their red velvet cupcakes to see how they are different and which one’s the best.

San Diego Sugar | Sprinkles Red Velvet Cupcakes: gluten-free vegan regular

Visually, were it not for the helpful decorations, it would be difficult to tell the three red velvet cupcakes apart. The main difference I noted was that the gluten-free version (in the middle) was a slightly deeper red. Texture-wise, it was also a little less dense.

When it came to flavor, the differences were more pronounced. The regular cupcake was your standard, delicious red velvet. The cake had a mild hint of chocolate, and the sweet cake contrasted nicely with the cream cheese frosting.

The gluten-free and vegan cupcakes both tasted like a riff on red velvet, not a 100% true interpretation. The subtle notes of cocoa were less present in the gluten free version, which made it taste a bit flat. I had to taste the vegan version multiple times before I could identify the strange flavor undertones it had, which was one part bran muffin and one part fruit juice. Still, even though it wasn’t an exact duplication, it was tasty. And when it comes to baked goods, vegans can’t be too picky.

In terms of frosting, the regular version was the tastiest. For me, red velvet cake is mostly a cream cheese frosting delivery system, so the more prominent that flavor is, the better. Unfortunately, the frosting on the gluten-free version didn’t have the same cream cheesy kick. There was no tang to play off the sweetness of the cake and it tasted more like a vanilla buttercream. The frosting on the vegan version was also markedly different, but in this case, you could make the argument that the non-dairy icing was an improvement over the original (if you like coconut).

Given the choice between the three, I’d go with the original if I was specifically craving a red velvet cupcake, but the vegan cupcake was the one I finished first. That slightly tropical, coconutty flavor was a delicious departure from the ordinary. And, because it’s vegan, I was able to momentarily convince myself that it’s slightly more healthy. When you’re eating three cupcakes in one sitting, that’s a very good thing.

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