I’m a follower in the U.S. cupcake craze. I love a tasty cupcake, but I won’t seek them out far and wide. Sometimes I’d prefer a slice of pie or a cookie more than a cupcake. Hence, I’m a mere pretender to any cupcake expertise.

I tried Princeton’s House of Cupcakes first, but I think the far, far superior cupcake shop (in taste and welcoming atmosphere) in the area is Sugar + Sunshine Bakery in Plainsboro, NJ.

This review is adapted from the one I posted on Yelp!, which you can find, along with other reviews, here. See the ranking scale in the previous post. As I stated there: I’m an effusive rater.

I want to give this place FIVE STARS.

But, as a coffee drinker (and moderate coffee snob), I must say their coffee warrants a two-star rating. I’ve had far better. Sorry! I suggest the management get someone from Small World (a Princeton coffee house from which Sugar + Sunshine wisely buys their beans) to come teach them how to brew a good strong cup. They’ve got the right coffee materials (good beans), but there’s something amiss when the product comes out quite weak.

EVERYTHING ELSE, however, is so five-worthy. I’ve tried several different flavors (chocolate, coconut), but my favorite are the Red Velvet cupcakes. Love them: the perfect mix of creamy frosting and mid-level-density cupcakes … they’re so good. In fact, I haven’t had a cupcake I didn’t like. I’ve been at least four times and had cupcakes a friend brought another time. They’re awfully gooooood.

Something very interesting about their Red Velvet is that it’s not red, per se. It’s reddish. As they state here, they use only natural ingredients and – apparently – bottles of red food coloring just don’t make the “natural” cut! They rely, rather, on the natural reaction of the cocoa with the other ingredients to lend the cupcake a reddish tinge. The flavor, I assure you, isn’t lacking in the least.

Since coffee shops and bakeries are, for me, academic resources–that is, places in which I can bribe myself with food and caffeine to get writing and reading done–I also need to give Sugar+Sunshine points for study-ability. It’s a very bright, comfortable atmosphere. It’s busy enough to not feel awkward (as though you’re hoping to establish squatters rights by camping out for hours in silence), but quiet enough to not prove a big distraction (they have business off and on, but few people stay for too long). I don’t think they have Wifi, which would be a nice addition.

Plainsboro is close enough to Princeton to make it completely convenient. The bakery is not far off Rt. 1, which means its business could multiply tenfold if the right wind blew. Visit it before it gets overrun!