Sonja’s Cupcakes— Creating the Cupcake Craze in the Philippines?


10/2/2015 Update: CRUPCAKE Craze by Sonja in Manila?! #Crupcakes

What happens when a passionate baker, who had a stint in New York’s Magnolia Bakery, famous for its cupcakes which have a cultish following (where Carrie and Miranda of Sex in the City devoured cupcakes), opens up a bakery store dedicated in selling cupcakes in Serendra by July 2006, and bakes the most mouth watering cupcakes I have ever seen in the Philippines? Just maybe, we are looking at the next dessert cupcake craze in the Philippines! As Lori pointed out in her article, “Cupcakes for a birthday girl and an anxious mom“, the cupcake craze have not yet taken off in Manila but it is one of those desserts that are absolutely loved by kids. I recently recall an interesting article by Lori regarding her daughter Boo baking art cup cakes. There are in fact, an entire blog dedicated to cupcakes and recipes: Chokylit’s Cupcake Bakeshop blog, and Cupcake Queen’s 52 Cupcakes.

I got this tip from Christine’s blog “Ramblings from a Gypsy Soul” and I immediately got hooked and I was not disappointed. The cupcakes are heavy because they are full of ingredients and not one of those cupcakes from local bakeries that are full of air. One cupcake which costs P45 for the classic ones and P65 with special ingredients, is actually enough for one sitting. So just imagine how much weight my wife and I gained in devouring 18 cupcakes in 4 days. This is to share with you what we think about Sonja’s cupcakes. But just a disclaimer, I’m really not fond of cupcakes and as a child we never really got into eating cupcakes for dessert, so read the following review from a point of view of a virgin cupcake lover.

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Pistachio Dacquoise – pistachio cake with almond nougatine.

As this moment, Sonja continues to experiment on her cupcake line up and this is one of them that does not have a price yet. Instantly, this became our favorite because of the perfect combination of creamy custard with the texture taste of thin wafer of almond nougatine and the crunchy taste of pistachio. This was an innovative cupcake although you have to always keep it in the ref to keep its form and taste. We ordered two of these, and we had the mistake of putting one in the freezer and it was as solid as ice cream which spoiled the entire cupcake experience. Although, one could argue that this just looks like another cake put in a cup, but the size is just perfect to satisfy your craving for a dessert. Alas now, I have another alternative aside from the addicting pistachio flavored ice cream I am fond of.

Sweet pleasures is a mousse cupcake that has a milk chocolate and chantilly cream with hazelnut crunch cake.

If you would ask me what is the one cupcake that I would recommend, then this must be it! Eating this conjures up images of everyone’s favorite chocolate, Ferrero Rocher in a cupcake version. I’m not sure if it was intentional that this cupcake tasted like ferrero minus the macadamia nut but the similarity is so coincidental and hence, this became an instant hit for us. The hazelnut crunch cake with the sweet cream in the middle and the perfect coating of milk chocolate with an accent nutty taste is the best cupcake for me. Again, this is a mousse cupcake which means that you also need to keep this in the ref because this is best eaten when refrigerated. This is absolutely delicious for a virgin cupcake lover like me 🙂

Simply Pineapple cupcake – sweetened pineapple on top of an almond cake.

This cupcake tasted exactly like how it is described by Sonja. Nothing special but it might be good for people who loves almond cakes.

(Clockwise from top)

German Chocolate Cup– A Twist on an all-American Favorite. Classic Chocolate Cupcake with a gooey filling of Coconut, Macadamia and Bananas.

We didn’t taste any macadamia nuts. The coconut was too much or maybe it was just that we are not too fond of dessicated coconut topped cupcakes.

Mocha Motion – Moist Chocolate Cupcake dolloped with a perfect frothy Mocha Buttercream Topping.

Ordinary mocha cupcake. But for those who likes sweet butter cream toppings, then this is a good choice.

PB & J’s – Concorde Grape Jelly Filled Chocolate Cupcakes iced with Creamy Peanut Butter Frosting.

This would definitely be dracula’s favorite cupcake…peanut butter with jelly…the chocolate flavored cupcake was too much to be combined with the pb&j…but then, what would be the best flavor to combine with this?…

(Clockwise from top)

Lemon Drop– Delicious Vanilla Cake smothered in our Signature Lemon Buttercream Frosting.

Frosting was too sweet but one has to eat the frosting and cupcake altogether to get the real lemon zesty taste!

Strawberry Shortcake – Pure Strawberry Cake with Fresh Strawberries and Whipped Cream Icing..

We had no idea that this would be a strawberry cupcake aside from the give away color of the cupcake until we had to really devour the pastry with its topping.

Bunny Huggers Carrot Cake – Very Moist Cake made with Fresh Carrots and Walnuts and topped with Cream Cheese Frosting…

We loved the way the moisture was maintained even after a day in our refrigerator. This is a tried and tested combination. Sweet with a little saltiness coming from the creamcheese and the pampaalis suya na walnut. (I don’t know the english translation…)

(From left to right)

Goin’ Bananas – Peanut Butter – Banana Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel Glaze and a Caramelized Banana.

This tasted like caramel brownies with sweetened saba. I personally loved this and the taste of banana was very filipino. I do hope that Sonja would come up with Filipino inspired cupcakes like a pure white cupcake pastillas, caramel yema cupcakes with langka on top, or the durian inspired cupcake complete with its smell… (don’t mind me, I have too much cupcakes to eat)

Chocolate Surprise – Valrhona Chocolate Cupcakes topped with either our signature Vanilla Buttercream or Creamy Chocolate Frosting
Peppermint Patty – Rich and Delicious Chocolate Cake topped with our signature Peppermint Frosting.

We are not sure whether this was the chocolate surprise or the peppermint patty. Ordinary at best but kids might love their signature vanilla buttercream or creamy chocolate frosting. For me, the icing tasted like a fondant cake used in weddings. (Note to Sonja, would you know which one is the cupcake described above?)

Samoa Cupcake — Coconut and Chocolate…

We are not really fond of dessicated coconut as an ingredient mixed in a chocolate cupcake. To coconut lovers, you might want to try this out!

Vanilla Sunshine – Magnolia Bakery’s #1 Cupcake! A Classic and Fluffy Yellow Cake topped with either Vanilla or Chocolate Buttercream….

There are mixed reactions to this New York’s Magnolia Bakery best seller. It is either you absolutely love the pure sugar taste of vanilla buttercream icing with the matching sweetness of the fluffy yellow cake, or you would be puzzled also like me on what’s the real fuss about this cupcake? For us, it is nothing exciting, just your usual butter cupcake.

Mango Madness – Luscious Mango Filled Vanilla Cupcakes with Mango Ice Cream Frosting…

The cupcake itself was not that sweet which was all the better…and it tasted like the yellow cupcakes wrapped in red japanese paper usually given during chinese engagement party.

Red Velvet Vixen – Traditional Southern Cake made with Belgian Cocoa and Cream Cheese Icing…

Forgettable taste. I can’t even remember how it tasted and I just ate it last night or maybe, I just have this Cupcake Fatigue (hehe)

Coffee Caramel Delice – new mousse cupcake in a cup…

All I can say is that I’ve tasted better versions of this coffee caramel cupcake…a tiramisu in a cup…

Vanilla Sunshine – Magnolia Bakery’s #1 Cupcake! A Classic and Fluffy Yellow Cake topped with either Vanilla or Chocolate Buttercream….

This reminded me again of all the calories added on top of my usual eating habits in just four days! Boy, if an agent from Gold’s Gym would invite me to get a personal trainer package from them, I would no doubt get it…it is really hard to get back in shape with all these temptations!

Bottomline: I’m now officially a cupcake lover and I can’t wait for the Serendra Bakeshop to open soon. I’m sure Sonja would have more surprises for us on its opening day. So what would be your favorite cupcake?

Our Awesome Planet

More Desserts For You:

The Battle of the Gasoline Cakes

Chocolat Cakes — Best Chocolate Dessert Place in Mall of Asia!

Best Chocolate Ganache in Manila! ?

UPDATE as of August 5, 2006: Opening of Sonja’s shop has been delayed as this is dependent on the opening of Piazza Serendra.

Just for people who would like to know more information about Sonja’s cupcakes, below is the press kit write-up by Sonja:

(Cupcakes by Sonja Bakery will open in Serendra Fort Bonifacio July 2006)

Cupcakes by Sonja: +63917-8453800. Email:

Cupcakes by Sonja will be a cozy, comfortable New York Style Bakeshop, serving the best Cupcakes in the city. It will be Manila’s first and only bakery dedicated to selling Cupcakes. It will take us back to a time when we simply did everything the old-fashioned way: using the best and freshest ingredients, mixing them with lots of love, and taking the time to produce delicious homemade treats. It will be that perfect little shop you might happen upon in any American small town, selling perfectly frosted cupcakes. It will be the perfect place for people to meet for dessert, coffee and good conversation. It will also be a place where people can satisfy their sugar cravings after a night out. Cupcakes by Sonja Bakery will also offer other creative and mouthwatering selection of old-fashioned dessert delicacies aside from Cupcakes. The place is quaint and the kitchen will be open, so customers get to watch the entire process from the moment the cakes are placed into the oven till the time the frosting is carefully hand-frosted on top of the cupcakes.

(All Cupcakes are P45 each except the strawberry, Mango, German and Goin Bananas which are P65 each) We have boxes for 6 and boxes for 12 cupcakes)

The main influence for the concept of Cupcakes by Sonja is New York City’s Magnolia Bakery. It is this West Village quintessential corner bakeshop on Bleecker Street that placed cupcakes at the frenzied center of an international craze. When they opened their doors to the public back in 1996, New Yorkers started queuing around the block just to have a bite of these little confections.Then in 2000, they ended up being eaten by that other New York Style icon, Sex in the City’s Carrie Bradshaw, making the lines grow even longer. Soon, the cupcake boom was being trumpeted in fashion-magazine trend alerts and they started gracing the covers of numerous magazines from British Vogue to Gourmet Magazine. The demand for these magical miniatures exploded, so much that it spawned countless imitators. It didn’t take long before dozens of other bakeshops specializing on these heavily frosted and beautifully decorated cupcakes emerged.In this food-obsessed city, the all-American Cupcakes became everyone’s dessert of choice. The popularity of these goodies did not become just a New York City phenomenon, however. Stores selling nothing but cupcakes started opening all over the nation, some as far removed from the big Apple as Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Texas. Also catching the fever is Australia and Canada which both opened a Cupcake Bakeshop in the year 2005. It is this growing trend that led the founder, Sonja L. Ocampo, to feel that Manila should not stand in the way as the rest of the whole world embark on this sugary mini-cake odyssey. This is the main proponent for Sonja, a cupcake visionary, to create Cupcakes by Sonja, Manila’s first and only bakery dedicated to these childhood delicacies.

Introduction to Cupcakes
The cupcake is America’s darling. They appeal to all of us, no matter what our age is. They’re chic, elegant, cozy, comforting and cute. They go anywhere, at any time and are for anybody. They bring a surge of joy to three-year-olds and grandparents alike. Children love cupcakes because the size seems especially designed for them, and adults love cupcakes because they remind them of the time when they were a kid. Just the mention of the word Cupcakes, conjure up cozy, whimsy, comforting, celebratory memories of their childhood. And then there’s that delicious moment of peeling back the paper – it’s just like opening a present.

The cupcakes recent surge in popularity can be attributed to a sense of nostalgia. Instead of heavily trimmed gourmet cakes, people are starting to look for more home-style desserts that actually look handcrafted-something mom or grandma might have made.

Theme of the Bakeshop
Nostalgic from its desserts to its décor, Cupcakes by Sonja Bakery will hark back to the warm feeling of American kitchens. The business will emphasize a slow-paced, wholesome way of life reminiscent of 1950s America. Customers will be transported back in time to “Mom’s” or “Grandma’s” warm, cozy kitchen, with butter, fresh eggs, and other natural ingredients in abundance, just lying about and waiting to go into mixers. There will be an old-fashioned feel to it.

Ms. Sonja Ocampo is one of the owners of the Good Earth Tea Rom Restaurant in Greenbelt 3 Mall, Alabang Town Center and Metrowalk Ortigas. She is also the head Purchasing Manager for all three branches. She graduated BS Marketing Management from De La Salle University.She is a graduate of the Wilton School of Cake Decorating in Illinois, USA where she honed her skills in the art of making wedding cakes. She is also a graduate of both the Culinary Arts and Baking and Pastry Arts Program of the Institute of Culinary Education (Formerly known as the Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School) in New York. She then landed a job together with a working permit as a pastry assistant in New York’s longest running famed restaurant/bakery, Bouley where she stayed for 2 1/2 years. (There are only 5 restaurants in NYC that have garnered a 4 star rating) It was there that she was able to work closely with renowned chefs Bill Yosses, Marc Aumont, and David Bouley. She worked mostly with Viennoiseries, Petit Fours, Entremets, Gateaux and Chocolate. In 2005, she had a brief stint in Magnolia Bakery where she worked closely with General Manager/Owner Barbara DiNicola.

CRUPCAKE Craze by Sonja in Manila?! #Crupcakes

43 thoughts on “Sonja’s Cupcakes— Creating the Cupcake Craze in the Philippines?

  1. Hi Anton,
    Thanks for all the wonderful food reviews especially the new restos in town.
    Would you have contact details for Cupcakes by Sonja? Thanks.

  2. Oh I ordered from her and I just loved the ones with the peanut butter or was it a hazelnut core? Yummy!!! The packaging and the cupcakes are the loveliest things too! Such meticulous attention…. Her number is 0917-8453800. She’s opening a bakery in Serendra, Fort in July.

  3. I make it a daily habit to read your blog. You have succeeded in depicting Philippines as a very happening place… I just wanna ask you one question: why do you always use the word “virgin” when you write in your blog?

  4. virgin cupcake lover, confessions of a virgin climber, are you a vieux chalet virgin…. what’s up with that?

  5. Hey thanks for the info..Im putting up my own cafe too very soon. and cupcakes will be one of my specialty.:) i never thought somebody from our country would go for this idea also. 🙂 its great dat sonja is able to introduce the world of cupcakes to the filipinos. i will be visiting her place one of these days.:) i went to peter kumps too..:) bouley is a great bakery.i did a report bout dem as my project..shes so lucky to get a stint there. 🙂

  6. Tsk tsk! Re Hate mail’s post, I can only agree with his/her point that Trio sucks. Guess we’ll just have to text Ms. Sonja Ocampo to check on when her Serendra branch will really open. Delays have been known to happen.

  7. I’m a New Yorker. The Magnolia Bakery isn’t all that here except being made famous by the hit TV show “Sex And The City”. But believe me… it’s as dry as a sponge. I tried Sonja’s Cupcakes when I went home recently and there’s nothing different or special about it either. I was disappointed. I tried to find different cakes around and I think there is only one that is up to par with New York standards… the cakes from Pastry Passion are sublime… could anyone tell me who owns that shop?

  8. Hi MM!
    Sonja’s is open in Serendra now. The sign at the door says it’s their dry run so their store hours are still limited.
    I love the flourless chocolate cupcake, the Berries and Cream and the Carrot. My friend loved the passion fruit and lemon because she loves anything tarty.
    Have you been to her store? The interior is really cute!
    Thanks for the post.

  9. Sonja introduced her Red Velvet Vixen cupcake a few days ago. My friend loved it so I had to taste it for myself. I know you didn’t like it so much but I’ll disagree with you on this one. True to its provocative name, I found this cupcake quite seductive with its lovely cream cheese frosting and a red cocoa base whose taste complements the topping. It’s one of my faves, along with the flourless choco and the PB&J. Still waiting for her hazelnut though, which Sonja herself declared as her fave.

  10. I love Sonja’s cupcakes! We’ve been back a few times and the Berries and Cream are just delicious. The choclate cream pie is also melt-in-your-mouth good. My little cousin likes the Carrot Huggers. The store is also so cute!

  11. Sonja could have at least been a bit more original and not have copied the logo and interiors of Billy’s Bakery (another ex-Magnolia bakery employee).
    I agree with thesmartone. Magnolia’s cupcakes (and Billy’s as well as ButterCup’s) aren’t anything to write home to mom about.
    But regardless, good luck to Sonja (I believe she says her name like it rhymes with Ninja)

  12. Hi Anton,
    Can I use your photos of Cupcakes by Sonja for a feature I’m writing for the Inquirer? I interviewed Sonja last Monday and the photos she gave me were mostly of her cupcakes. Full credits will be given to you and your blog, of course (“,)
    Thanks and hoping for your consent.
    (0917) 844-9049

  13. Finally had the Sweet Pleasures cupcake (aka Hazelnut Tart). OMG! This is my new fave flavor. At P65, and with all the attributes you’ve described above, it’s a worthy – and significantly cheaper – substitute to the much vaunted Flourless Chocolate cupcake. Two thumbs up – all the way up! =)

  14. I absolutely agree with thesmartone. There’s nothing extraordinary about these cupcakes. And for its price? Not worth it! Unless you’re subsidizing the restaurant itself, which is kinda cute and must be expensive. Anyway, to try is to believe, so good luck, all ye innocent souls…

  15. My wife fell for the hype , finally , she just couldn’t resist and tried a few cupcakes which turned out to be just hype and dry . To Dan Brown, my wife’s one of the poor innocent soul.

  16. Basing from the pix alone, i’m tempted to try all of them. Am not a cupcake lover but your photos make me half a convert… Just have to taste them though…

  17. Was there today at 2pm. Place was really small and it felt cramped with less than 8 customers. Just bought a piece each of Red Vixen and that red Peppermint one, hardly liked the peppermint. Oh I had to wait for 20 minutes for my change! Liked the packaging, baby blue box with that brown sticker…They should have chosen pink stripes to go with their interiors.

  18. i’m from the visayas and as soon as I read your blog I just got to have my hands on one of those cupcakes saw them first at pia magalona’s web site at multiply then just got them flown this morning and as soon as I had the first bite I can’t stop eating them! I don’t even know which one is my favorite although Red Velvet vixen is still in my memory.

  19. hi there! the cupcakes looks delish, that’s all.. i think it’s overpriced considering that the taste is kinda ordinary..

  20. its definitely not mouth watering but very over rated and over priced cupcake in Metro Manila. shes smart in bringing the concept, but the business will be overtaken by others someday. Her cupcakes were nothing special at all it was plain and simple. i would even prefer the cupcake in go nuts donuts. There are a lot of cupcake in the market now, and they are far better and worth the money.

  21. hello!good morning everyone!^^
    I just wanna ask you, how much does a box of sonja’s cupcake costs?
    I’m planning to buy one for my dad but I don’t know how much it is..please help me..thanks!^^


  23. want the same quality of cupcakes as sonja but way cheaper? check out they have very moist choco cupcakes but are served at only 25php per piece. their 1 box of cupcakes (9pcs.) are only 200php!
    not kidding! check it out yourself!
    their cupcakes are honestly very heavy and moist. it’s not very airy… you know those dry cupcakes sold everywhere? they are not like that.
    try niyo. order lan kme sa text or even sa website niya mismo. then they deliver!
    o divah?!

  24. want the same quality of cupcakes as sonja but way cheaper? check out they have very moist choco cupcakes but are served at only 25php per piece. their 1 box of cupcakes (9pcs.) are only 200php!
    not kidding! check it out yourself!
    their cupcakes are honestly very heavy and moist. it’s not very airy… you know those dry cupcakes sold everywhere? they are not like that.
    try niyo. order lan kme sa text or even sa website niya mismo. then they deliver!
    o divah?!

  25. want the same quality of cupcakes as sonja but way cheaper? check out they have very moist choco cupcakes but are served at only 25php per piece. their 1 box of cupcakes (9pcs.) are only 200php!
    not kidding! check it out yourself!
    their cupcakes are honestly very heavy and moist. it’s not very airy… you know those dry cupcakes sold everywhere? they are not like that.
    try niyo. order lan kme sa text or even sa website niya mismo. then they deliver!
    o divah?!

  26. we really love cupcakes by sonja!
    superb cupcakes – you can’t just buy one.. even half a dozen doesn’t satisfy my cravings for her unique creations!
    more power ms. sonja!

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