It’s hard to think of something that could be more JOYful for JOYce than Joy Cupcakes.

OK. Enough with the JOY puns, let’s cut to the chase. Joy Cupcakes sell some of the best cupcakes I’ve eaten so far from a commercial bakery in Melbourne. And I have pretty high cupcake standards given I have a real weakness for cupcake eating, whatever the occasion, plus I think I make some pretty awesome cupcakes myself :–)

I was alerted to the joys of Joy (pun intended, sorry!) by two of my friends on two separate occasions, so armed with the recommendations I decided to take a trip to investigate.

When I entered the brightly lit storefront the first thing I noticed was the lack of cutesy tweeness in the  fitout. Joy Cupcakes have gone with an au naturale, pared bared aesthetic and it lends their wares a sophisticated edge. This sophistication extends to their distinctive packaging, which I’ll get to later.

Joy Cupcakes pride themselves on not using any artificial colours or flavours, which means that it does seem that all the cupcakes are just differing shades of beige. Don’t be deterred – the range of flavours covers traditional varieties such as chocolate and vanilla, to gourmet-styled fig and marscapone and lavender honey. The cakes are baked fresh everyday.

I decided to choose a baklava cupcake ($4) – not something I’d usually select for fear of it being cloyingly sweet, but I was tempted by the sprinkling of pistachios on the icing. And I think I made an excellent choice. The traditional vanilla sponge was eschewed for a feather-light walnut, pistachio and semolina cake. The cake was not overly candied in the honey and orange syrup – the syrup just gave the base a bit more moisture rather than turning the whole thing tooth-achingly sweet and soggy.

Instead of your usual American-styled icing, which is relatively heavy, the buttercream frosting had been whipped into a cloud of froth. The delicate lightness of touch was absolutely delightful and completely unexpected on first bite.

Just to make sure the cupcake wasn’t a fluke, I went straight back (to the laughing amazement of the staff) to try my traditional favourite, the red velvet cupcake. The cupcake is actually not so red because they use a syrup made from blackcurrants, cherries and beetroot to colour the sponge, which then just turns it into a more light cocoa colour. There’s no discernible berry or beetroot flavour in the sponge but what was retained was the slight savouriness which I like in a red velvet sponge. The cream cheese buttercream frosting was again whispy light.

And if you really don’t believe the excellence of Joy Cupcakes, this is what my friends who first alerted me to them suggested for other flavours to try:  ‘Salty caramel – yum yum yum” and “Strawberry- beautiful! Bits of real strawberries feathered throughout the cupcake and icing! Carrot- wholesome but also slightly indulgent and naughty!”

One final note – earlier in the post I mentioned the packaging. Well, each whole bedazzling confection is slotted into an individual cupcake pedestal in a stylish and understated box declaring ‘A little box of joy’. I was impressed by the attention to practical detail (no cause for the cake to arrive mushed on its side) and the unfolding ta-dah! aspect of the presentation. Eating a Joy Cupcakes really did feel like a mini-special event, which is what these indulgent little treats are all about, aren’t they?

  • Joy Cupcakes, Shop E7B, Southern Cross Lane, 127 Exhibition St, Melbourne +61 3 9650 5151

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