Guest Post: Favorite Bakery in the Kansas City Suburbs | Dolce Baking Co. | Prairie Village, Kansas

We are excited to share this guest post from fellow cupcake addict Kim of kimberlyloc.com. Every Tuesday for the month of November she has named her top five favorite cupcake shops in the Kansas City suburbs. Today, she names her #1 cupcakery. Visit kimberlyloc.com today to see my #1 pick for favorite cupcakery in Baltimore City!

My favorite bakery in the Kansas City suburbs had me at first bite.

When I sunk my teeth into the luscious red velvet cupcake, I muffled “Oh My God” with a mouth full of light, fluffy red cake.


(Orange sprinkles were an unexpected touch to a classic red velvet cupcake. Photo Courtesy kimberlyloc.com)

Five more bites of different cupcakes later, I knew I had to name Dolce Baking Company as my favorite cupcake spot in the KC suburbs.


(Dolce Baking Company is located in a sweet shopping area in upscale Prairie Village, Kansas. Photo Courtesy Dolce Baking Company.)

But it wasn’t just the perfect, consistent cupcakes that got me. It was the atmosphere — friendly and warm — coupled with the sweet decor that helped Dolce Baking Company rise above the other cupcakeries that made it into my top five list.


(Dolce employees don’t just smile for the camera. I had superb, speedy and friendly service the day I walked in and ordered six cupcakes. Photo Courtesy Dolce Baking Company)

The shop is tastefully decorated in browns and blues, which is a refreshing departure from some cupcakeries’ typical pink and girly decor. What I love more, though, is how tastefuly decorated (and tasty!) the cupcakes are.


(Isn’t this a fine-looking bunch of cupcakes? Photo Courtesy kimberlyloc.com)

Though Dolce Baking Company doesn’t carry tons of different cupcake flavors, the flavors they do offer on a regular basis are consistent. I don’t think I’ve experienced that at any other cupcakery.

A seasonal flavor, pumpkin pie, was moist and dense like pie but with a perfect dollop of frosting on top that was drizzled with caramel and a dash of sea salt. It was a true delight, and the way the sea salt complemented the caramel flavoring was impeccable.


(I’m a big fan of all things caramel, and though I’m usually just semi-excited about pumpkin (and pie, for that matter), this cupcake simply rocked. Photo Courtesy kimberlyloc.com)

A staple cupcake, Double Chocolate, was rich and decadent without overpowering the palate. Again, the vanilla cream frosting was in perfect proportion to the cake (and was incredible) and was home to delicate dark chocolate shavings that really brought it home for this winning cupcake.


(I’ve never met a chocolate cupcake I didn’t like. But I loved this one. Photo Courtesy kimberlyloc.com)

Though I usually never purposely choose orange-flavored anything (you just can’t beat a real orange), Dolce Baking Company’s Orange Almond cupcake made me reconsider my orange-o-phobia. This cupcake smelled like a fresh orange…probably because it had some fruity orange zest atop the frosting and baked-in orange goodness to follow. The nutty almond balanced the fruitiness of this cupcakes and the amazing frosting — a consistent vanilla cream — tied it all together nicely.


(Even if you think you don’t like fruity cupcakes, I think you should try this. It’s worth a shot to change your mind like it did mine! Photo Courtesy kimberlyloc.com)

Another cupcake flavor I typically never choose is vanilla. I mean, it’s vanilla. Bor-ing. But Dolce’s Vanilla Cream cupcake is more like pure and simple and not the negative connotation I associate with vanilla. The light, silky vanilla frosting is a perfect match to the fluffy, vanilla cake that that will please even the most die-hard chocoholics.


(A few fun candy sprinkles on top liven up this straight-vanilla cupcake. Photo Courtesy kimberlyloc.com)

Dolce’s Pumpkin Praline Carrot cupcake made me think twice about how I feel about carrot cake. I’ve had some hits and misses with carrot cake, but this carrot cupcake with pumpkin and praline was so perfectly moist that carrot cake is once again in my good graces. You just can’t go wrong (or dry!) blending chopped pecans, carrots, pumpkin and pralines together. I loved the texture of this cupcake and again, the wonderfully consistent frosting kept my sweet tooth happy.


(The Pumpkin Praline Carrot cupcake from Dolce Baking Company has great textures, flavors and layers and complexity to it thanks to the wonderful combinations of ingredients. Photo courtesy kimberlyloc.com)

What do you like about cupcakeries? Is it the tons of different flavors? The warm, friendly employees? Nice decor? Great location? Social media activity?

All of the cupcakeries in my top five hit some, most or all of these points, but for me, consistency, friendliness, flavor and welcoming decor mean a lot to me, which is why I’ll be taking my friends, family and hopefully the Cupcake Crusaders to Dolce Baking Company soon!

Kansas City suburbs readers, what do you think of my top five? Baltimore readers, what cupcakeries in your area resemble some of my top five favorites here? Tell me your thoughts in the comments section!

- Review by Guest Crusader, Kim of kimberlyloc.com (Kansas City)

Guest Post: Second-Favorite Bakery in the Kansas City Suburbs | Smallcakes: A Cupcakery | Overland Park and Olathe, Kansas

We are excited to share this guest post from fellow cupcake addict Kim of kimberlyloc.com. Every Tuesday for the month of November, check out Kim’s guest posts as she names her top five favorite cupcakeries the Kansas City suburbs. Visit kimberlyloc.com every Tuesday in November to see our top five picks for our favorite cupcake shops in Baltimore City.

I live way too close to some really great cupcakeries. It takes a lot of willpower to not frequent them every single night, but this past weekend, I visited Smallcakes three days in a row to try some new flavors from my second-favorite cupcakery in the Kansas City suburbs.

And of course, on each of those three visits (two to the Overland Park location and one to the Olathe location), the same girl helped me — and recognized me — each time.

Busted.

But that’s not a bad thing. As one of the most popular cupcakeries in the area, Smallcakes loves its fans and regularly celebrates them with free cupcake giveaways via Facebook and Twitter.

Smallcakes usually has a phrase of the day, advertised via social networks, for people to whisper to the cupcake counter worker, usually reserved for the first 10 customers of the day, for a free cupcake.

While I’ve never been able to make it in time to win one of these, I have unlocked a free cupcake via Foursquare; that coupled with Smallcakes’ always-evolving, delicious menu keeps me coming back for more. (Check out some of my past favorites from Smallcakes.)


(Photo Courtesy of KimberlyLoc.com)

Smallcakes isn’t a fancy cupcakery. The Overland Park and Olathe shops are strikingly simple — cupcakes, chairs and tables, pink and brown decor — and filled with pretty, familiar cupcakes in the display case. Red Velvet, Lemon and Vanilla-n-Chocolate anchor the everyday cupcake lineup. Creative creations, such as Pumpkin, Caramel Apple and Hostess, catch your eye.


(Why have pumpkin pie when you can have pumpkin cupcakes? The cake was moist yet fluffy and the frosting had a balanced sweetness to it. Photo Courtesy of KimberlyLoc.com)


(The best thing about autumn is the arrival of caramel apple everything in candy and dessert shops. Caramel apple cupcakes are a little easier on your teeth — light caramel frosting doesn’t get stuck! I loved the bit of apple on top of this cupcake as well as the delicious caramel frosting and peanuts. The cake was great — very light and fluffy — and I could have easily had seconds of this one! Photo Courtesy of KimberlyLoc.com)


(I tend to stay away from Hostess-inspired cupcakes (ew), but the description and look of this one was too good to pass up: Rich chocolate cake filled with buttercream and topped with fudge icing and a squiggle of buttercream. Yes please. Photo Courtesy of KimberlyLoc.com)


(The hostess cupcake let me down in the filling department, but everything else about it was fantastic. Moist cake, rich frosting, pinch of buttercream — but to me, a Hostess-inspired cupcake should be all about the filling! Photo Courtesy of KimberlyLoc.com)

In addition to catching your eye with gorgeous, creative cupcakes, something else that may pique your interest is Smallcakes’ claim to fame. Cupcakery owner Jeff Martin appeared on Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” and “The View,” where Whoopi Goldberg named his cupcakes some of her favorites. Besides those two big breaks, Smallcakes saw 15 more minutes of fame during the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, where celebrities (and probably pseudo-celebs like Snooki) got to taste Smallcakes’ Hot Fudge Sundae (one of my faves!), Cookies-n-Cream and Red Velvet cupcakes.

Smallcakes has three locations within the Kansas City metro area: Overland Park, Kansas; Olathe, Kansas; and Lee’s Summit, Missouri. The most exciting thing about this shop’s success is it’s national expansion. For Atlanta-area cupcake lovers, visit Smallcakes in the Buckhead area. For Baltimore-area cupcake lovers, what are you waiting for? Bring Smallcakes to your ‘hood! :)

Check back next Tuesday for the final installment of my top five favorite cupcakeries in the KC suburbs…see who I chose for the coveted No. 1 spot, which narrowly beat Smallcakes!

What are some of your favorite creative cupcake flavors? What do you think about local cupcakeries expanding and offering franchises? Tell me your thoughts in the comments section.

- Review by Guest Crusader, Kim of kimberlyloc.com

Guest Post: Third-Favorite Bakery in the Kansas City Suburbs | Sugar Rush | Olathe, Kansas

We are excited to share this guest post from fellow cupcake addict Kim of kimberlyloc.com. Every Tuesday for the month of November, check out Kim’s guest posts as she names her top five favorite cupcakeries the Kansas City suburbs. Visit kimberlyloc.com every Tuesday in November to see our top five picks for our favorite cupcake shops in Baltimore City.

While I live within walking distance of three cupcakeries, I do spend a lot of time a few miles down the street at my boyfriend’s (aka “the teacher man”) place. His apartment straddles the Overland Park/Olathe, Kansas, line, so it’s not uncommon for me to sometimes hungrily roam about the Olathe strip malls in search of food.

During one recent hunting and gathering session, I found Sugar Rush and was eager to see what the new shop had to offer.


(Sugar Rush is located at 138th and Black Bob in Olathe, Kansas. Photo Courtesy KimberlyLoc.com)

When I walked in, the perfectly frosted cupcakes greeted me. Each cupcake was labeled with an adorably handwritten nameplate, and I was impressed by how many flavor options were available. I chatted with the girl behind the counter and chose four cupcakes to take home and share with the teacher man.


(I ooooed and awwwed over the cupcake display at Sugar Rush. Photo Courtesy KimberlyLoc.com)

Because I’m a die-hard chocoholic, I couldn’t resist trying the Sugar Rush’s triple chocolate cupcake. Rich chocolate cake and milk chocolate frosting topped with chocolate chips made for a triple threat to my taste buds…and boy did my taste buds like it!


(Sugar Rush’s triple chocolate cupcake packs a 1-2-3 punch — in a good way! Photo Courtesy KimberlyLoc.com)

This cupcake rocked. If you’re a chocolate lover, get this cupcake! It’s not overpowering — the different layers of chocolate, from the luscious dark chocolate cake to the smooth, milky chocolate frosting and bits of chocolate chips, give your mouth different flavor sensations instead of chocolate overload. Just make sure you have a tall glass of milk to wash it down.

In between sips of milk (you know, to cleanse the palate), I tested the other cupcakes. I alternated between chocolate-heavy and other cupcakes (yes, in my world, there is “chocolate” and “other” flavors!) so I could fairly judge the chocolates and not go into sugar shock. To balance out the decadence of the triple chocolate, I moved on to the snickerdoodle cupcake, the perfect balance of cinnamon and sugar.


(Swirls of cinnamon and sugar make Sugar Rush’s snickerdoodle cupcake a delight. Photo Courtesy KimberlyLoc.com)

As you can see, this snickerdoodle cupcake is loaded with frosting — which is a bonus to me — but what I think even non-frosting fanatics could like about this cupcake is that the icing is faintly flavored. Yes, the cinnamon and sugar shine through, but it’s not so sickly sweet that you just can’t eat it. It’s a perfect match to the moist, flavorful cinnamon cake and, just to be honest, I’d like to have this for breakfast as often as possible!

If cupcakes for breakfast just aren’t an option (fine!), then how about a cupcake inspired by one of my favorite snacks? I had to get a peanut butter cup cupcake from Sugar Rush because peanut butter and chocolate goes together way better than peanut butter and jelly.


(Nothing beats a cupcake with a piece of candy on top! Photo Courtesy KimberlyLoc.com)

Chocolate cake, whipped peanut butter frosting and a Reese’s on top made this cupcake heavenly. The cake was perfect like the triple chocolate’s. I liked the fluffy consistency of this frosting — how’d they get peanut butter to seem so airy instead of sticky? If you’re a pb&c kind of gal or gent, get this cupcake.

So with three spot-on reviews so far, and no criticism about the cake or frosting, why is Sugar Rush at No. 3 on the list?

Blame the carrot cake.


(Carrot cake is a classic — but this one just didn’t do it for me. Photo Courtesy KimberlyLoc.com)

The girl behind the counter told me that the carrot cake cupcake were great and also lasted a little longer than the other cupcakes (I was taste-testing over the weekend and worried that I’d need to save a cupcake to taste for later, which I didn’t), so I decided to try it.

When I first dove in to the carrot cake cupcake, I was pleasantly surprised by the smooth cream cheese frosting and light carrot flavor. But, something was off about the cake.

Most carrot cakes I’ve had have never had an issue with dryness — and Sugar Rush even said that the carrot cake cupcakes typically last longer — so this just didn’t add up to me. I had a few more bites of cake only, and even throughout the middle of the cake, it was just not as moist as it could have been.

While there is obviously room for improvement here that could eventually catapult Sugar Rush to the top, I think that the one common thread between my No. 2 and No. 1 picks (coming in the next two weeks) is that they are both consistently delicious in all their flavors. Sugar Rush is new, small and family-run, so I think it’s a great accomplishment to begin turning heads so quickly in the competitive KC cupcake business. I’ll definitely be back to get another sampling of the 20-something flavors offered…and yes, I’ll take another test run with the carrot cake.

What classic cupcakes do you always expect consistency from? What makes or breaks it to you when it comes to choosing your favorite cupcakeries? Tell me what you think in the comments section.

Guest Post: Fourth-Favorite Bakery in the Kansas City Suburbs | Icing Cupcakery | Lenexa, Kansas

We are excited to share this guest post from fellow cupcake addict Kim of kimberlyloc.com. Every Tuesday for the month of November (except today, because we’ve been on vacation), check out Kim’s guest posts as she names her top five favorite cupcakeries the Kansas City suburbs. Visit kimberlyloc.com every Tuesday in November to see our top five picks for our favorite cupcake shops in Baltimore City.

When I found Icing Cupcakery during my hunt for the best cupcakes in the Kansas City suburbs, I had no idea it was new (it just had its grand opening last weekend and has only been in business for a few short months!).


(I love the sweet, simple logo of new cupcake shop, Icing Cupcakery, in Lenexa, Kansas. Photo Courtesy Icing Cupcakery)

I rarely visit Lenexa, so I just assumed I was out of touch with some of the charming shops and bakeries in my neighboring suburb.

Sometimes when you visit new places, it’s really hit or miss. Either the staff is really frazzled or the food is a bit off, but not with this cupcakery. This sweet little shop, located in a strip mall area (as is everything in the suburbs) on a steep-ish hill, made me feel at home from the moment I walked in.

Though it was a bit quiet, I was quickly greeted by two teenage girls who had big smiles and great attitudes. Immediate points for the lack of the “Can I leave yet?” attitude of some teenage, minimum-wage workers.

I engaged the girls in a bit of conversation (Which flavors are the most popular? What’s the frosting made of? What does this taste like?) and they were able to answer kindly, politely and enthusiastically. I love going into a shop where the employees want to chat with the customer, and don’t just say, “will that be all?”

I picked out four cupcakes to test. Salted caramel and Southern Belle (Red Velvet) were no-brainers, but I had the girls give me recommendations on the other two.

“Get the Mint Chocolate Chip! It tastes like an Andes Mint.”

“Try the Black Forest. The berry jam on top is awesome.”

Sold.

At $3 a cake, these cupcakes are competitively priced for the Kansas City suburbs’ cupcake market. They’re a little smaller than some of the other cupcakeries’ goodies, which is one reason why I placed Icing Cupcakery a bit farther down my list, but I think there’s room to grow (literally) here. I probably don’t need a bigger cupcake, anyway!

The first cupcake I sampled was the Salted Caramel. This is always a favorite flavor offering of mine because you just can’t go wrong with salty and sweet frosting.

Well, unless there’s something up with the cake.


(The frosting on the salted caramel cupcake was fabulous, but there’s room for improvement in the cake. Photo courtesy Kimberlyloc.com)

Unfortunately, the cake was just a bit dry. The frosting was phenomenal, though, and the little touch of sea salt on top added a nice layer of flavor. I’m on the fence on whether I’d buy this cupcake again (it’s only available on Thursdays anyway), but if Icing Cupcakery offered salted caramel frosting shots, I’d be all over it.

The next cupcake I sampled was the Mint Chocolate Chip that one of the girls recommended.

So glad I took her up on that Andes Mint suggestion.

It was dreamy.


(Don’t you just love the color combination of dark chocolate and pastel mint? It tastes good, too. Photo courtesy Kimberlyloc.com)

The chocolate cake was so moist and rich and the minty green frosting had the right balance of flavor and texture — not too minty, but refreshing, and creamy, but not uber-thick and gooey.

The chocolate chips on top were a nice finish. Great addition of yet another texture — chewy crunch — that really solidified the “after-dinner mint” feel of this cupcake. I would definitely buy this cupcake again.

Moving on to the Southern Belle, a red velvet cake with a fabulous name (I’m a Southern native), I took a moment to admire the beauty of this iconic cupcake.


(Isn’t she darling? Photo courtesy Kimberlyloc.com)

Bright red cake.
Cream cheese frosting.
Clear candy sprinkles.

Definite presentation points here! I also like how the frosting covers a bit more of the cupcake top — I don’t like balding cupcakes (and we all know I love my frosting!) — compared to the salted caramel cupcake’s visible surface area.

The Southern Belle cupcake had the same issue as the salted caramel cupcake — great frosting, but not-as-moist-as-it-could-be cake. However, because this is a staple cupcake for pretty much any cupcakes anywhere, I’d give this another try — perhaps it was just a fluke. Because seriously…you have to have a knockout red velvet cupcake, especially with a sassy name like Southern Belle!

From sassy to mysterious, the last cupcake I sampled was the other recommendation, Black Forest.


(The jam atop the black forest cupcake made me pause a bit, but trust me, it’s kind of what makes the cupcake! Photo courtesy Kimberlyloc.com)

I was skeptical of that oozing berry jam when I first saw this cupcake in the display, but I’m so glad I got it. This cupcake was my favorite of the batch I tasted!

The dark chocolate cake was to die for. Coupled with a light, semi-sweet chocolate frosting and drizzled with berry jam, this cupcake was the perfect marriage of decadence, creaminess and a kiss of tart and fruit sweetness. You must try this cupcake if you ever visit Icing Cupcakery. You may walk away with jam slathered all over your face, but you’ll also be smiling and satisfied.

So, what makes a new cupcakery feel like home to you? What experiences have you had with young employees? Do you take employees up on their recommendations — I’m so glad I did, because the two that they chose for me were my favorites! Tell me your thoughts in the comments section.

- Review by Guest Crusader, Kim of kimberlyloc.com