213 Main St., Reisterstown, 443-690-7056.
This boutique bakery features 140 fanciful flavors dreamed up by owner Christine Richardson and her staff. Offerings include Banoffee Toffee (banana cake with caramelized banana buttercream) and Illegally Delicious (raspberry and chocolate cake with raspberry buttercream and pistachios). Richardson's signature pink-and-white polka-dotted vans can also be found around town.
Editor's pick: Blueberry-pancake cupcake topped with maple buttercream and candied bacon.
Charm City Cupcakes
Several locations including 1340 Smith Ave., 410-244-8790.
Eight years ago, owner Sandra Long opened this petite bakery in the former guard house of the historic Mt. Washington Mill. Her formula for making cupcakes that taste as good as they look is a winning one. With a rotation of more than 65 flavors to choose from, even the quickest decision makers may struggle here.
Editor's pick: Vanilla praline—a crown of caramel and pecans perched on top of vanilla cake.
10351 Reisterstown Rd., Owings Mills, 410-530-0098.
The bakery sets itself apart from all the other cupcake places by making it hip to be square—literally. Letta Simon and her husband, Michael, figured out not only a cute concept, but also how to make divine cupcakes. Named after dream destinations—Palm Beach Coconut, Aspen Mint Chocolate Chip, and Charleston Chocolate—you haven't done due dessert diligence until you've squared off with one of these.
Editor's pick: The Monday special: Cape Cod carrot cupcake.
Two locations including 11 W. Allegheny Ave., Towson, 443-275-4050.
Thanks to his star turns on the Food Network's Cupcake Wars and Sweet Genius, La Cakerie owner/chef Jason Hisley has become our town's king of cupcakes. His Towson shop focuses on special-occasion cakes, cookies, and even savory snacks, but the cupcakes take the cake here.
Editor's pick: The harvest-apple cupcake with spiced buttercream and compote.
Midnite Confections Cupcakery
1051 S. Charles St., 410-727-1010.
The focus here is on quality, not quantity, with seven daily flavors utilizing interesting ingredients like Madagascar vanilla, white rum, and organic carrots, plus a rotating schedule of three daily specials. We're sweet on the policy of icing all cupcakes after they're ordered and allowing customers to mix and match icings.
Editor's pick: The Sublime-inal cupcake—lemon cake with lime buttercream frosting.