By Julie Lawrence Special to Published May 19, 2010 at 9:01 AM

There's no question any more that the delicate cupcake has swooped in like a tasty little dirt devil to become the new darling of the dessert world.

The new-found love affair with the dainty little cake began gaining national momentum a few years ago as cupcake-centric bakeries exploded along the coasts. Here in Milwaukee, the birth of Sandy Ploy's Iron Cupcake Challenge (which has since spread to an international level) fostered our own delicious reunion with the nostalgic treat from our childhood.

The swift resurgence, of course, begs the question: how and why did cupcakes ever fade from fashion? Because the thing about cupcakes is that they are irresistibly adorable -- food in art form that are sometimes almost too pretty to eat ... almost.

Take The Tosa, one of the locally inspired offerings at the new Milwaukee Cupcake Company, which opened May 15 at 316 N. Milwaukee St. in the Third Ward. Technically, it's a devil's food cupcake topped with caramel butter cream topped with chopped pecans, kosher salt and raw sugar. But from a visual standpoint, it reads as pure decadent bliss. Tastes like it, too.

And herein lies the only foreseeable problem with the new cupcake shop, which is positioned quaintly in a corner section of the building that houses Coquette Cafe, My Dwelling LLC and Petaluna Flowers & Gifts. Each of the 11 varieties on daily display look equally temping, making flavor decisions something of a daunting task.

We have co-owners Debbie Gale, Lynn Kobussen and Karen Neuser to thank for that. Gale, the long-time baking enthusiast, uses nothing but pure ingredients, including Wisconsin butter, Callebaut Belgian cocoa and chocolate and real Madagascar vanilla.

Kobussen and Neuser lend their skills to detail and design, ensuring that The Riverwest -- cookies and cream topped with an Oreo -- is flawless and independently distinctive from the The East Sider, a dark chocolate lover's dream.

Regularly sized cupcakes go for $2.50 ($30 for a dozen), while the mini cupcakes go for $1.25 ($14 a dozen). Either size is perfect for weddings and other parties and events where aesthetics is equal to taste.

Milwaukee Cupcake Company is open Tuesday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and also offers coffee, Rishi tea and soda. Currently, the small shop works as a grab-and-go as there are no tables at which to sit an enjoy your purchases, but the owners promise seating is soon on its way.

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”