Halloween Gathering, Lanterns, and IcedGems!

The Creative Alliance Lantern Parade & Festival is a yearly event not to be missed. A huge crowd of people come from all over the city to see kids and adults in full costume walking through the park. Handmade lanterns, kids activities and crafts, vendors, and yummy food can all be found here on the cool October night. This year, The Gathering was going to be there too, including IcedGems, and Crusader Stacy and I knew we had to go!

LanternParade2013-Pagota

We met at my Patterson Park house and walked over to partake in the festivities. As usual it was bustling with adults and kids of all ages, most of which were in costume and carrying lanterns. We decided to head straight to The Gathering and get in line for cupcakes from IcedGems. With so many flavors to choose from, we chose 4 Halloween themed cupcakes and each got a Halloween Gingerbread cookie. Not wanting to miss out on dinner before eating our dessert, we got in line for The Sultan and ordered some delicious chickpea curry. Very happily full, we walked around checking out all of the lanterns and strolling up to the Pagoda before heading back to the house to dive into our Halloween cupcakes and cookies.

Cookie Monster
LanternParade2013-Mnstr

Crusader Stacy and I both agree that this cupcake was on the dry side. The cookies and creme eyes and cookie dough filling were really good and took this otherwise simple vanilla cupcake to another level.

Worms in Dirt (Cookies-N-Creme)
LanternParade2013-WormsDrt

First, this cupcake was adorable! We loved the decoration of cookie dirt and gummy worms, it really felt like Halloween without being scary. The flavor of the cake was good, with large cookie crumbles throughout the cake, but this cake was also on the dry side. The frosting was a bit on the sweet side for us, but we powered through and finished our bites with our gummy worms.

Pumpkin Spice
LanternParade2013-Pumpkin

Pumpkin Spice and everything nice… including heavenly cinnamon buttercream frosting. The cake was, again, on the dry side, but had great spice and pumpkin flavor. Crusader Stacy and I agreed, this was one yummy pumpkin cupcake.

Carrot Cake
LanternParade2013-Carrot

Neither of us had every tried IcedGems carrot cake before, so when we saw it was decorated for Halloween we jumped at the chance to try it. This cupcake had visible carrot shreds and raisins in it, the cake was very moist and the spice was spot on. The tangy cream cheese frosting was smooth and was the perfect companion to the delicious cake. The only thing we both commented on was that we prefer our carrot cake with walnuts in it, however, this cupcake was so good, we didn’t mind them missing.

Gingerbread Skeleton & Mummy
LanternParade2013-MumCook
LanternParade2013-SkelCook

Fun and festive, these cookies were as good as they were fun to look at! WOW did they pack the perfect gingerbread punch while being the perfect balance of crunchy and soft cookie. They were too cute not to try and too good not to finish.

Our Lantern Parade date was so much fun. We really loved being a part of this Baltimore tradition and supporting the Creative Alliance, The Gathering, and IcedGems! And cupcakes were a great way to end our night.

- Posted by Cupcake Crusader Elisa (Baltimore, MD)

Baltimore Cupcake Trucks: IcedGems Baking & Cupcake Runners

Most Baltimore City residents are familiar with the food truck rally, called The Gathering, which takes place just about every Friday night at various spots throughout the city. This gathering gives those who aren’t able to visit each truck during the middle of the week a chance to come out and eat some great food from any vendor they choose. Some of the most popular food trucks, like Miss Shirley’s, the Gypsy Queen, and Kooper’s Chowound Burger Wagon are often (if not always) present at these frequent meet ups. Of course they wouldn’t be complete without our city’s cupcake trucks, IcedGems Baking and Cupcake Runners.

We have reviewed IcedGems Baking many times before. Every week they are out and about stopping at the city’s various neighborhoods, so everyone gets a chance to indulge in a special treat at least once a week should they choose to do so. Even with their busy schedule and a storefront in Reisterstown, you can always count on them to be at the Gathering.

Cupcake Runners are a bit more difficult to track down and they aren’t able to make it out to every Gathering, but finally, on one very rainy night, I found myself standing at the side of their truck ready to place my order. Their selection was fairly limited, not at all like the list of fifteen or more flavors that IcedGems typically has, but they were incredible friendly and I happily walked away with a Classic Vanilla cupcake and a Lemon cupcake.

Unfortunately both cupcakes didn’t make it home in perfect condition… I think the combination of the bag, the soft frosting, and trying to manage an umbrella in the pouring rain was just too much working against the little sweet treats.

The first of the two, the Vanilla, actually made it out okay:

This was an old school cupcake with no frills or bells and whistles. It was moist and light, with a subtle, but present, vanilla flavor.

The Lemon was very much the same (minus the tragic looking frosting):

It had really great lemon flavor, but was also just a simple classic cupcake. While I really enjoy all the interesting and unique flavor combinations bakers are creating with cupcakes, it is nice to just get back to basics sometimes. Cupcake Runners has proven that they can make a good cupcake. I recently saw that they also have some new “happy hour” cupcakes they are selling, but the last Gathering they attended was rained out. Hopefully I’ll be able to track them down again and sample their more elaborate flavors as well.

That same night, I also decided to stop by the IcedGems truck to try a new flavor I saw them post to their Facebook page: Neapolitan.

Like the traditional ice cream flavor, this Neapolitan cupcake is a blend of vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. As a kid I would always opt for just the vanilla and chocolate portion of this mixture, but have grown to love the combination of all three flavors as an adult. This cupcake did not disappoint. Each flavor presented itself well, from the marbled vanilla and chocolate cake, to the sweet strawberry frosting.

That night I only chose that one flavor from IcedGems Baking, but a little while later my co-workers and I were surprised with half a dozen IcedGems cupcakes from our boss!

There was a great variety of flavors like Lemon Raspberry, Strawberry Cheesecake, Peaches N Cream, Victoria (vanilla with strawberry jam), French Toast, and Chocolate Raspberry. Luckily my co-workers share my same thoughts on sharing (you get to try more flavors that way), so we started cutting cupcakes up and every one could take pieces of which ever they wanted to try. That day I finally tried the Strawberry Cheesecake (it had been on my “must try” list for quite some time…), the Lemon Raspberry, the Peaches N Cream, and the French Toast.

The Strawberry Cheesecake was exactly what I was hoping it would be. The rich “cheese cake” frosting was smooth and wonderful, and the strawberry filling complemented the savoriness of the frosting to create a well balanced treat.

The French Toast was another stand out to me. This is one of Crusader Elisa’s favorites, which she reviewed here, and now I know why. She best described it as “maple/cinnamon/cake heaven.” I’m so glad I could finally experience it for myself.

IcedGems also included a Chocolate Salted Caramel cake truffle which contained the perfect salty and sweet balance to create a to-die-for bite-sized morsel.

The food truck craze  seems to be making its way slowly to all the major cities in the US, and I am very happy to say that we have two great cupcake trucks that are a part of this growing industry.

If you haven’t had a chance to visit one, or both, of these cupcake trucks, you can look them up on their Facebook pages (here and here) to find out where their next stop will be.

- Posted by Cupcake Crusader, Stacy (Baltimore, MD)

The Cupcakes You Didn’t See | IcedGems Creations | Reisterstown, MD

As I mentioned in yesterdays post, the Crusaders and I have tried just about every flavor that IcedGems Creations has offered in the past few months. We listed our favorites for you, but here are some you haven’t seen yet:

Ban-offee

(While the coffee flavor in this was too subtle for me, the natural banana flavor was spot on.)

Bear Claw


(This cupcake was very close to making my “must try” list. The cake reminds me of the bear claws my Dad used to make at the doughnut shop he owned when I was a kid.)

Caramel Apple

(Sweet and decadent, this cupcake truly lives up to its name. The icing alone makes this cupcake a smart purchase.)

Chocolate Cherry


(This rich chocolate cake was given an interesting cherry twist.)

Italian Wedding Cake

(Mascarpone filling with an almond flavor = delicious.)

Raspberry Lemonade

(With a light lemon flavor and a sweet raspberry icing, this adorable cupcake is as sweet as it is cute.)

Rosewater

(While I am not afraid of eating flowers (or baking with them) this cupcake was a bit too “rosey” for me.)

Smores


(Not quite enough marshmallow flavor for me, but still a great chocolate cupcake.)

Strawberry Cheesecake


(Not the typical “mini-cheesecake in a cupcake cup” this is truly a cake with cheesecake flavor and fantastic icing to top it all off!)

Have you been to IcedGems Creations (either the store front or visited the cupcake truck)? What are your favorite flavors? Are there any the Crusaders have not tried that you think we should?

- Posted by Cupcake Crusader, Elisa (Baltimore, MD)


Favorite Cupcakes on the Outskirts of Baltimore City | IcedGems Creations | Reisterstown, MD

Every Tuesday for the month of March (and the first week in April) we will be counting down our Top 5 favorite cupcake places outside of Baltimore City. In order to make sure we did the proper research and included places that would “qualify” we decided that any place that was within a 20 to 45 minute drive from the Baltimore City boundary would be included. If you don’t see a place that you think should have been featured in this Top 5 let us know! We do our best to research where the cupcakes are, but there is no better way to find out than a recommendation!

IcedGems Dessert Creations storefront located in Reisterstown, MD and boasts an array of sugary bliss Tuesday through Saturday (and Sunday in the warmer months). You can stop by and grab a cookie, whoopie pie, cake truffle, or, of course, a cupcake!

(Photo from IcedGems’ Facebook page, no harm or infringement intended)

While I have not had the pleasure of stopping by the store in Reisterstown, us “city folk” are lucky enough to have their Cupcake Truck to follow around Baltimore city! They post the truck schedule well in advance on their Facebook page and stop at locations all over the city. Recently they participated in the WOW – Women of the World festival and were parked in front of the Meyerhoff for two days, where I finally got to meet up with the truck and its delicious confections.

My first IcedGems experience was a couple of months ago when a co-worker brought back a Red Velvet that the staff had given to her just for me (see post). For me, it was love at first bite! Since that fateful moment, I have had the pleasure of eating almost every flavor IcedGems has to offer, below are a few of the Crusaders favorites.

Birthday Cake


Fun-fetti cake with a sweet bourbon vanilla icing – sounds so simple, and yet is so satisfying! I’m not a huge fan of the “basic flavors” but this is the one that I would order again and again. The sprinkles in the cake, and on top, are reminiscent of my childhood and make me smile every time I think of this cupcake. (This happens to be one of Crusader Stacy’s favorites as well!)

French Toast

Breakfast in cupcake form = maple/cinnamon/cake heaven. Rarely do you find a cupcake that tastes exactly like the “meal” it is meant to represent, but this one does so perfectly! The cake’s flavor is so perfect that I think sometimes it must have been dipped in an egg and cinnamon mixture and cooked in a frying pan. The maple icing is divine and just the right amount of sweetness for the moist and savory cake.

Strawberry Champagne

This very delicious cupcake was a special for IcedGems Valentine’s Dozen – and this was the standout cupcake of the bunch. The “brut” cake was moist and had the perfect hint of tangy champagne, while the strawberry icing was fresh and sweet. I hope to see this on their menu more often as it is a fantastic cupcake that stands out in my mind as one of my all time favorites.

Red Velvet

My love/hate relationship with red velvet is no secret: the ups, the downs, the disasters, and the beautiful successes. IcedGems Red Velvet is moist, rich, decadent without being overly so, and truly has that red velvet flavor that is so hard to attain. Their cream cheese icing is a delicate balance of sweet and cheesy. For me, this red velvet reigns supreme among all others in the Baltimore area.

Overall the Crusaders have enjoyed IcedGems cupcakes and they take the #3 spot on our Top 5! While you might encounter a dry cupcake here or there, they are definitely a shop – or in my case, a truck – to track down and visit. The friendly staff will help you pick out flavors and sweets that are sure to satisfy your sugary craving.

- Posted by Cupcake Crusader, Elisa (Baltimore, MD)

Guest Review: IcedGems Baking

We are happy to share another guest review from a new Guest Crusader! Kim has known two of the Crusaders for a very long time and has been following the blog. After reading some reviews, she decided to visit IcedGems Baking’s storefront located in Reisterstown, MD. I (Stacy) also recently stopped by IcedGems Food Truck in Baltimore City, so I’ve added my review after Kim’s. Read below to see what we though!

Guest Crusader Kim’s Review:

After reading Crusader Elisa’s review of IcedGems Baking, I realized that the shop wasn’t too far away. Actually it is closer to me than Starry Night Bakery and Coffeehouse, and I have made a couple of trips to visit them (after reading some of the other Crusader’s reviews). So on my way home from shopping with my sister in Bowie, I decided to take a slight detour and see just how good IcedGems was for myself.

I walked into their shop – very cute and quaint – and was greeted with the wonderful aroma of the sweet cupcakes, as well as the very friendly young man behind the counter. He was very patient while I and another couple looked over the selection and between him and the young lady baker, any questions we had about the flavors were answered.

I chose two of the French Toast (one of which I shared with my husband that night), a Chocolate/Chocolate, and a Scarlett O’Hara (red velvet with raspberry icing).

We first tried the French Toast, which you could tell was a cinnamon cake with a maple frosting. The combination was perfect and reminded us exactly of French Toast you’d have for breakfast. After trying this, I just wanted to try the others that much more!


(French Toast cupcake from IcedGems Baking)

The night after we tried the French Toast we split the Chocolate/Chocolate and the Scarlett O’Hara. My husband’s evaluation was simple – he really enjoyed both of them just as they were!

I started by trying the cake and frosting from each separately. I have to say, I loved the raspberry icing on the Scarlett O’Hara. It was very light, almost whipped like. Both the cakes were nice and moist, and the chocolate icing from the Chocolate/Chocolate was almost fudgy, exactly how I expected it to be.

After my unusual start to taste testing I went ahead and tried a bite as they were intended. First up, the Chocolate/Chocolate. The fudgy icing and the moist cake went well together. Exactly what a choc-aholic like myself likes.


(Chocolate/Chocolate from IcedGems Baking)

Next up, the Scarlett O’Hara.


(Scarlett O’Hara (red velvet with raspberry icing) from IcedGems Baking)

I can’t say I know red velvet as well as “The Red Velvet Crusader,” but I thought it was pretty good. However I was not a fan of the red velvet cake combined with the raspberry icing. I am also not usually a fan of cream cheese icing either, but here I think it would have been a better choice.

To continue with my unusual ways, I did enjoy mixing and matching. I tried the chocolate cake with raspberry icing (very good), the chocolate icing with the red velvet cake (a little too much), and I even went ahead and tried the raspberry icing with the chocolate icing (pretty good).

I can’t wait to go back and try some new flavors!

- Review by Guest Crusader, Kim (Maryland)

Crusader Stacy’s Review:

Since we were posting Kim’s review on IcedGems Baking, I thought that I would share two cupcakes I got last week. The IcedGems’ Baking Truck drives around Baltimore City posting their location to their Facebook and Twitter pages, so on one of these days – even though the truck wasn’t in walking distance – I decided to pull myself away from the computer and find the truck at their next location. I was only going to get one cupcake (I was trying to be “good”) but before I left I saw on their Facebook page that if you said a secret phrase you could get a 2nd cupcake for free. So, I came back to the office with a Blueberry Chip cupcake and a Birthday Cake cupcake.


(Blueberry Chip from IcedGems Baking – Food Truck)

The Blueberry Chip was a must have for me. When I saw that flavor posted I knew I had to try it. It totally lived up to my expectations. The frosting was sweet and full of fresh blueberry puree. Alone, it was a bit too sweet for my normal liking, but combined with the densely moist cake filled with fresh blueberries and chocolate chips it was a perfect companion. The addition of the big chunks of purple sugar added a nice crunch texture. I savored each bite of this cupcake not wanting it to end.

I had already decided that I would save the Birthday Cake for the next day and it took everything in me not to scarf that down as well.


(Birthday Cake from IcedGems Baking)

Lunch time couldn’t have come fast enough. I didn’t want to eat the cupcake on an empty stomach, for fear I would just inhale it and not take time to enjoy the flavors, so after eating it was FINALLY time to bite in. Elisa had told me that this was a good cupcake but WOW! It screamed “Birthday Party!” I thought the Blueberry Chip was amazing, but this simple vanilla cupcake with vanilla butter cream dotted with sprinkles might have taken first prize. With every bite I couldn’t believe how good this cupcake really was.

The funfetti cake was dense but moist and the frosting was also dense but creamy. And how can you not like sprinkles inside your cupcake? I’m a big fan of funfetti and this puts my boxed mix to major shame.

I’ve had IcedGems in the past and been a bit on the fence about them, but they are definitely doing something right. Jenn is the only Crusader left who needs to sample IcedGems for herself, so I hope when she finally does, they live up to the hype Elisa and I have built!

- Posted by Cupcake Crusader, Stacy (Baltimore, MD)

IcedGems Baking: Artisan, Dry, or Just Inconsistent?

Recently there were some big debates on IcedGems Facebook page about whether their cupcakes are good or bad. Specifically, one customer complained saying that she bought 6 cupcakes that were very dry. IcedGems responded by saying that they “bake artisnal cake from scratch packed with flavor and the crumb is different to mass produced cake with enhancers.” Then, they basically went on to suggest that she was use to crappy store-bought cakes so she wouldn’t be able to appreciate their cakes. They did offer to replace them though, which is a nice gesture.

When I first read this I wanted to jump in with my thoughts for a couple reasons. First, NEVER suggest that a paying customer might not have good taste. If you do, you risk loosing a customer and any friends of theirs. Second, my first experience from IcedGems was a cupcake from their truck, and it was dry. There is no question about it. While this blog might be new, I’ve been eating cupcakes for a long time from bake shops and cupcakeries all over the United States, and I know when one is dry. BUT I didn’t respond. Instead, I decided to give them the chance to prove me wrong, I purchased two cupcakes from their store front yesterday.

Before I get into my review of the actual cupcake, I want to critique their packaging methods:

If you aren’t sure what you are looking at, let me describe it for you. The do not use boxes when you purchase one or two (or I’m guessing three) cupcakes. Instead, they treat your beautifully decorated cupcake like it’s a doughnut or bagel and throw it into a bag wrapped in parchment paper. I understand that boxes add cost, but to me this isn’t cool. Someone has taken the time to decorate this little treat, and you are going to possibly mess that up, so the person who spent $2.50 on each little “gem” can’t enjoy the time that went into it? It just makes no sense to me. Single serving boxes aren’t expensive when ordered in bulk and you can raise the price to $3 if need be. I really didn’t want these to be messed up and dry so I was very careful with the bags, and when I got home I immediately stored them in my cupcake containers to insure they stayed as moist (or as dry) as they were when I got them while letting them get to room temperature:

Okay, now on to my review. The first cupcake I tried was the Turtle:

I have to say, I was really bracing myself for the worst, becuase of my last experience, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. The cake wasn’t the moistest chocolate cake I have ever had (Georgetown Cupcakes and, surprisingly, Roland Park Bagel are), but it also wasn’t as dry as the chocolate cake from my prior experience with their truck. The frosting was REALLY sweet, but I do understand that some people like overly sweet frosting, and that’s okay. The texture was good and it was full of flavor, and that is important. I have to admit though, while I loved the “caramel balls” and chunks of chocolate in the cake, this cupcake probably wouldn’t keep me coming for more.

So, how about the second cupcake? Was that any better? For my second selection, I chose the Apple Caramel. (I must have been in a caramel mood yesterday…)

The squishy apple things on top were a bit strange, so I pulled those off, but otherwise this cupcake was the standout of the two. The cake was very moist and filled with apples and caramel. The frosting was still really sweet, but it seemed to be balanced out better by the apple flavor. This cupcake, I would get again.

So, what are my final thoughts? Artisan, dry, or inconsistent? I would have to say, inconsistent. I have no doubts that IcedGems is totally capable of baking a decent cupcake. But I do think that they are not consistent. If they produced a quality product more frequently, 25% of the feedback on that one Facebook post would not have been negative. So IcedGems, I think you should work on your quality control. If you do that, then I have no doubts that you could compete with some of my Baltimore favorites.

For more information on IcedGems Baking, visit: www.icedgemsbaking.com.

- Posted by Cupcake Crusader, Stacy (Baltimore, MD)

UPDATE: Since this review, the Crusaders have been amazed at how much we have been enjoying IcedGems. Not only have all their cupcakes been great, but their customer service has been stellar!