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It’s a boom time for cupcakes. They’re being stacked in

lieu of wedding cakes, passed on silver trays at fancy fundrais- ers, rated by blogs and Web sites, and judged at gourmet bake- offs from coast to coast.

Saratoga Springs is au-so-courant with Bettie’s Cakes, the retro “cupcakery café” in the Downstreet Marketplace on Broad- way. It looks like Ozzie Nelson’s dream malt shop, with bright pink and turquoise walls and booths, boomerang-patterned Formica tabletops, and a jukebox crooning “Why Must I Be a Teenager in Love?” Owner Lorraine “Bettie” Murphy, who dis- plays a keen eye for nostalgia, has the cupcake thing figured out: “A cake is a commitment,” she says, but “cupcakes are the per- fect size for a well-deserved reward.”

A friend and I rewarded ourselves with two mini-cupcakes each ($1.25 per)—Mocha Madness, Red Velvet, Peanut Butter Cup, and Root Beer Float, the latter cleverly topped with frothy icing and a tiny straw. They were so scrumptious we were un- able to resist a create-your-own “injectable” ($3.25) as well. What could beat a chocolate cupcake with whoopee-pie filling, espresso icing, and chocolate sprinkles? (Regular cupcakes are $2.25–2.75, or $4.50 for jumbo size.) There are plenty of other dessert options in town, and locals do have their favorites. Carrot cake ($5.50) has been a top choice at Scallion’s, now on Lake Avenue, for decades. At Raven- ous, the crêperie on Phila Street, many opt for the Dulce de Leche ($6.95)— butterscotch- caramel spread rolled in a crêpe with toasted pecans and served up with sliced peaches and whipped cream. The Bread Basket bak- ery on Spring Street has a stream of regu- lars who duck in for coffee and pastry,

éclairs, a wide selection of cookies ($12 per pound), and, yes, cupcakes. The Circus Café on Broadway, true to its theme, even serves up homemade cotton candy ($4). Chianti, the elegant Italian eatery on Congress Street, is a Saratoga favorite for pastas and risottos that can too easily close out any hope of managing dessert. So my husband and I shared a light dinner that left room to enjoy a Tartuffo ($8) of hazel- nut-chocolate gelato with vanilla filling and a Meringata Alla Crema ($8), a wonderful yin and yang of crisp macaroons and soft cream, of sweet macerated pear and sour kiwi. If you’ve got a really hungry group, head out to the Prime restaurant at Saratoga National Golf Course for the Titanic ($19) —billed as a “conversation piece” for two to four people, with layers of strawberries, vanilla ice cream, and chocolate-fudge cake, topped with toasted almonds, whipped cream, and pirou - line cookies. Whew. Oh, and it’s served with hot fudge sauce. Of course it’s impossible to think of dessert in Saratoga Springs and not head to Mrs. London’s. Widely acknowledged as one of the best bakeries this side of Paris, it is also a perfectly comfortable place to linger over coffee or black-currant tea while catching up with a friend. From the array of goodies in the display cases, we selected the Chocolate Raspberry Supreme ($7), layerings of chocolate mousse and cake with raspberry cream and coulis, and a Hazelnut Cream Slice ($7), with its delightful contrasts of plush cream and crunchy crys- tallized nuts, delicate cake, and a top cob- bled with slivered almonds. We settled in for a long chat, a rare treat al- most as sweet as our world-class confections of exquisite taste and re- fined beauty. —KG


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