Vanilla Cupcakes return to Starbucks

VanillaCupCake-064Vanilla cupcakes are back at Starbucks! They arrived back in the stores on December 26, 2009.  They’re not the same as last year’s cupcake though. There aren’t as many sprinkles, and the frosting is not as sweet as before. The cake part of the cupcake is not as moist. It definitely is a step down from what was knock-your-socks-off quality cupcakes for the past two years running.  I wish I had a picture of the previous version of the cupcakes, but alas, since I was not blogging back then, I didn’t think to take a picture.

The new cupcakes have caused enough discontent that there is even a thread about them:

Despite that this is a small step down from last year’s cupcake, it’s still highly edible and I will be eating more than one of them! I just cannot resist vanilla cupcakes!

When I had my first vanilla cupcake this year, I tweeted about it and got like five replies which seemed like a lot to me!  This told me that I am not the only person who craves vanilla cupcakes, and so now it’s an actual blog post, as silly as it may be.  The cupcakes, in my humble opinion, have gone from an A++ to about a B, which still definitely a fine treat.

I was google-ing partly to find an image of the old cupcake and I found this:

^ Someone has created a webpage just to rave about the ‘old version’ of the Vanilla cupcake.  There is an image of the old cupcake on there too, which I have borrowed from them…hopefully they won’t be upset:2008VersionVanillaCupcake


On another random note, I recently tried these lightly toffee-cinnamon sweetened almonds and thought they were delicious! Sometimes the packaged food on the shelves at Starbucks has hidden treasures but customers never know it because there rarely is any sampling of them.  It’s hard to tempt people to buy almonds when they have no idea what they’re really getting.  I didn’t buy them until they went on sale.  You can still find them now at your local Starbucks – on sale for $3.99 I think, but I assume they’ll be gone soon. They are great…here are the almonds:


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  • CD

    That’s disappointing to hear about the cupcakes. I liked the “trans-fat free” version they’ve had the past two years, but I think my favorite was the original version that had the tiny little candy non-pareils.

    I’ll have to have a cupcake tomorrow…

  • CD

    Did you try the Chocolate Santander they had on the shelves for Christmas? It was quite interesting. I had never tried it before. My son and I liked them – they kind of had an apple taste.

  • Katherine

    Are these the same cupcakes that come out around Valentine’s Day? (I remember buying a bunch for the office around then, but I never had any)

  • CD

    That old picture is last year’s variety (and the year before). I liked the abundance of raw sugar on top of the icing.

    Ok, what time does my local Starbucks open? 😉

  • elly

    i remember them from last year. didn’t they have a few varieties? i thought there was a red velvet and either a carrot cake or a chocolate variety. so nom.

  • camspi

    Although its kinda wasteful… and a hassle to put together as a barista… as a customer, I enjoy the little box they come in. It’s just too perfect.
    I haven’t even had any this year, though. We did sell some mini donuts yesterday, though.

  • Brendan206

    I’m not a cupcake guy myself, but I saw some chocolate cupcakes (w/ chocolate frosting) when I was in Bellingham this weekend. It’s too bad about the quality. It’s good that Starbucks offers a few different seasonal treats for different tastes.

  • Venti_Bold

    Mmmmmm cupcakes!! Will have to try.

    Are they trying to make it *healthy*?

  • Barista Ben

    I always find it funny that we seem to carry cupcakes for a month or so and then, poof, gone – nothing but a whole lot of stupid cupcake boxes stored in the back of house!

  • denise r.

    I loved the vanilla cupcake last year, too, as well as the ‘red velvet’ one. So, I first saw them yesterday and had a ‘red velvet’. very disappointed, NOT up to par. nothing special to even call them ‘red velvet’… as you said re: the vanilla, the cake was not moist. It seems their pastries are continually declining…..

  • Rachel

    I love them! So yummy!

  • CD

    OK – did I overindulge at Starbucks today or what. I tried the new vanilla cupcake. I agree that last year’s was MUCH better. This year’s is good, but nothing special. I’ll probably only try it one more time.

    I did have the mini doughnuts today – they were fun and good and I usually don’t like doughnuts. And I also picked up the last box of sugar coated almonds – good but messy.

  • andy

    looks delicious, would enjoy that with my coffee if I could!

  • AnderBoBo

    Hi Melody, love the site, never post comments but saw this on MSI and not sure if you did yet or not, thought your readers would be interested in a response to this by a Starbucks food team member…

    “Hi, It’s Erin on the food team. We did update the recipes for our cupcakes this year to be new, exciting and more decadant & delicious. The vanilla cupcake is a delicious moist vanilla cupcake topped with vanilla bean frosting and yummy sparkley sprinkles. We’ll defintely watch the site for feedback about the new recipes. Thanks, sbx_evan”

  • CD

    @anderbobo –

    Thanks for the update from MSI. Ironically, “decadent” is what I think is missing from this year’s version…

  • Melody

    @AnderBoBo – Thanks for the Vanilla cupcake update from MSI. Starbucks is always changing the food options – It’s about the most consistent thing they do, rapid and constant change of food. It’s just too bad when they get rid of something perfect and replace it with something less “decadent”!

  • Scooter McGoo

    I do find it odd that they pay a corporate Executive Chef all that money and he allows product like this to leave any kitchen. Top Chef not withstanding, I have been around long enough to know that at least in my region the cupcakes for the season are not what people expect of Sbux pastries. The peppermint brownie’s taste like a Little Debbie texture, but the Polar Bear cookies were awesomesauce!!!!!! I know that it is purely my opinion for taste is different among the masses, but me no like the flavor or lack therefore of. I’m sure the girls of SouthLake TX won’t be able to tell the difference when they blend them up in frappacinno’s, LOL

  • DadCooks

    As a respected regular at my favorite Starbucks, the store manager will often present me with a sample of a new pastry item a day or two before it is to be released. She used to be a pastry chef and one of my hobbies is baking, so if time allows we share a press and a pastry.

    To say that I am disappointed in the new cupcakes (as well as the mini donuts) is an understatement. All the fancy descriptions and Starbucks sales promotion cannot make up for an inferior product.

    Like too many things recently, Starbucks has taken a good thing and ruined it.

    FWIW, a specialty cupcake shop opened this summer in my town. Their cupcakes are to die for, plus they are twice as big and half the price of a Starbucks cupcake. Another example of how a local bakery could provide local Starbucks with a superior product.

  • ALN

    I brought home some of the coffee coated almonds for Christmas and the family devoured them. I noticed they were in Christmas packaging, but I hope they have them all year round!

  • Brad

    I agree with you Mel! We were discussing this very topic in the store the otherday. I still love the vanilla cupcake though. And the new Sweet Potato chips….. Mmmmmmmm!

  • Jack

    Just between you and me, Mel. i think the vanilla bean frosting tastes like straight crisco. i split it with a few co-workers, and it took hours to get that lard taste out of my mouth.

  • Sara

    Well how do you like that? I said the very same thing when I bit into what I thought was going to be the luscious Vanilla Bean Cupcake from last year.

    “This frosting is gross, it tastes like I just bit into Crisco”.

    I also think the cake part tastes like Duncan Hines or some other box mix.

    I really think it is a lot worse than the original, which is too bad, I enjoyed having the occasional indulgence, but now I have no desire for one at all.

    Thanks for the review on the the toffee almonds, I did see them and was tempted but didn’t give in. If they still have any left I may buy a box.

    This is a very nice site Melody, I saw the link on My Starbucks Idea.

  • Maria

    Wow, my sentiments exactly on the vanilla cupcake, from the sprinkles to the cake, completely different and not nearly as good. I was soooo diappointed. They come out for such a short season, why did they have to mess with great!

  • Mark

    I was a fan of the past vanilla cupcakes also. Until I bought a four-pack last year and glanced at the ingredient list on the label. It looked like the inventory of a chemical factory. Disappointed, I vowed not to have one again.

    When Starbucks came out with the more wholesome foods over the summer, I wondered to myself whether cupcakes would ever return. I’ve tried the new vanilla offering. It’s definitely not as moist but still tasty in my opinion. And if you look at the ingredients over on the website, you can at least recognize everything on the list. True there are still some intimidating sub-ingredients in the baking powder and emulsifier for example but overall it seems better and true to the wholesome ingredients promise.

    One cupcake is still more than 400 calories but that kind of comes with the territory, right?

  • ChickenFreak

    Ooh. I like the look of that squishy frosting.

    The variation in the Starbucks baked goods confuses me. Sometimes they seem close to homemade, sometimes they seem manufactured/plastic. The “manufactured” ones always surprise me – Starbucks seems like too much of a premium brand to do such a thing.


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