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Bites Nearby: Taste Love Cupcakes

Entrepreneurs Michelle Wilson Brown and Yolanda Baston bake gourmet cupcakes daily in downtown Royal Oak.

Taste Love Cupcakes, 304 S. Main St., Royal Oak, 248-543-2253

Entrepreneurs and longtime friends Michelle Wilson Brown and Yolanda Baston have opened a downtown Royal Oak cupcake bakery that appeals to grown-up tastes.

Baston has a few theories about the national cupcake boom. "Cupcakes are nostalgic. Adults love them. Cupcakes bring you home and make you think of your childhood," she said. "Cupcakes are a gourmet treat everyone can afford in a time of recession. It's an inexpensive way to make yourself happy."

A premium cupcake at Taste Love Cupcakes costs $2.95.

Brown and Baston are University of Michigan grads. They enjoyed careers in law and business before settling down and becoming stay-at-home moms. Both love to bake and wanted to start a project together.

"We sell gourmet cupcakes baked fresh from scratch on site daily," Baston said. "We don't use mixes and we don't sell day-old cupcakes." They buy organic ingredients locally when possible.

Many of the cupcake recipes were handed down from Baston's grandmother, including the shop's best seller, a sweet potato cupcake. Other flavors are Red Velvet, Peanut Butter Cup, Pure Strawberry and Double Vanilla Bean. They also have a vegan offering.

Don't expect to find brightly colored cupcakes with lots of sprinkles. "We're more adult," Baston said.

Their specialty is a cupcake-in-a-jar, which is baked and frosted inside a glass half-pint jar. "They're portable," Baston said. "They're good for kids and car rides. They also make great gifts and you can use them for party favors."

Miriam Lupovitch, 12, was in the shop celebrating summer vacation with friends. She sampled and then bought a banana cupcake. "It was so good. One of the best cupcakes I ever had," she said. "It was sweet and tasted like a cloud."

Jesse Jarvis of Birmingham and Crystal Hakim of Troy enjoyed three cupcakes together. They tried the Sweet Potato, Red Velvet and Chocolate Peanut Butter cupcakes. Both said the sweet potato cupcake was their favorite.

"I like the variety of flavors they have," Jarvis said. "It's not your typical cupcake. It's upscale – not your kid's cupcake."

Recommended cupcakes: Sweet Potato and Red Velvet

Prices: Cupcakes are $2.95 each, four for $11, six for $16 and a dozen for $30.

Hours: Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m.- 5 p.m. (Note: The store closes early if it sells out, so call first if you plan to stop by in the evening.)

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