About Crusader Elisa

Art Director by day, cupcake eater by night, and "doggie mom" to Delilah. Life doesn't get much better!

Texas Cupcake Trekking (Part 2)

Picking up from where I left off in my Texas adventures from last week’s review, after leaving Dallas, four men and me trekked to Austin in a very small car which meant a tight squeeze, funny stories, and laughing. After a few hours in the cramped car, we were more than happy to check into our hotel and relax by the pool. Right away I did some cupcake research and narrowed down the sites I wanted to see in our short two day trip.

After a fantastic brunch at Taverna, I attempted to stop at me first cupcake shop, Delish. Sadly, it was closed because of Labor Day. 😦 I hadn’t even thought of Labor Day being an issue, so when I got back to the hotel I took time to call and see if my other stops would be open. That’s when I ended up on the phone with Totally Nuts Bakery. Sadly, they are a delivery service not a store front, but I had to mention them because they were so wonderful on the phone. (On top of that, they said they would look up our blog and send us some cake pops to sample! We haven’t heard from them yet, but after perusing their website, we are very excited about the possibility!) I felt like I was striking out left and right, and began to think I would never find cupcakes in Austin!

AustinCapImage
(The Capital Building, Cool Sign near the University, and Barton Springs)

Luckily my last pick was the voted the best cupcake in Austin and was open! After seeing some sights (including the amazing Capital building) and taking dip in Barton Springs, the boys and I drove over to Hey Cupcake! on South Congress Street. (They have 4 locations throughout the Austin area.)

Austin-StoreFront

I quickly picked 2 cupcakes to try and bought one of their official take-home oven boxes. My boyfriend ordered a cupcake as well and we sat down at their cute picnic tables for a taste.

Pumpkinator
Austin-Pumpkin

Spicy and sweet cake with graham cracker cream cheese frosting = YUM. Some pumpkin cupcakes end up more in the muffin category, but not this one! By-far the best pumpkin cupcake I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. The frosting to cake ratio was perfect, so perfect in fact, I didn’t want to share it! While it might have been very hot outside, this cupcake felt like a cool fall breeze.

24 Carrot
Austin-Carrot

GOLD. This cupcake wins a gold medal for it’s layering flavor profiles and smooth, complimentary cream cheese frosting. The walnuts on top gave great additional texture to this already fantastic cupcake. The shredded carrot weaved through the moist cake with raisins and walnuts as well. What a cupcake, it really is worth it’s weight in 24 carrot gold.

Red Velvet
Austin-RedVelvet

When I ordered this cupcake the lovely staffer said that their red velvet wasn’t like others, it was more traditional. That it was. The cake was moist, but didn’t wow me with red velvet flavor. The cream cheese frosting is the same great frosting found on the other two cupcakes we tried. Perhaps the it was hyped up a bit too much, or the other two cupcakes were just that fantastic and made this one seem boring. Either way, it wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t my favorite of the three.

Austin was great, and while I thought my cupcake trek was over, on our drive back to Dallas we stopped at a famous truck stop called Czech Stop & Little Czech Bakery. Most people go there for the kolaches (a type of pastry) but they also happened to have cupcakes!

Austin-Czech
(Adorable Little Czeck bag, Peach & Sausage Kolaches)

I ordered two kolaches and a cupcake, I just couldn’t help myself. My breakfast sausage kolache was the perfect pastry breakfast treat and the peach kolache was sweet and tart. I can see why people make it a point to stop at this little bakery ad truck stop. Not sure I could eat more, I moved on to trying the cupcake…

Peanut Butter Chocolate
Austin-CzechCupcake

Creamy and rich, moist and sweet, this cupcake was the perfect end to my cupcake treck across Texas. The frosting was smooth, super peanut buttery, and as you can see, very tall! There was SO much frosting, but the rich chocolate cake called for that over abundance. The largest of the cupcakes I tried while I was in Texas, also happened to be one of the best.

Labor day weekend in Texas was relaxing, fun, filling, and wonderful. The people were welcoming and lovely, and the food was fantastic! (Be warned, everything has some heat to it, even if it doesn’t say it’s spicy.) It was great to be out of town, see two new cities, visit some historical sites, and spend time getting to know some new friends. The cupcakes were fantastic too, and I can’t wait to go back and try new spots I missed this time around.

*A very special thank you my loving boyfriend Mike and his friends for letting me tag along on their boys trip, and trekking me all over to find cupcakes in two Texas cities!

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader Elisa (Baltimore, MD)

Texas Cupcake Trekking (Part 1)

Labor day in Baltimore for the past three years has been taken hostage by the Grand Prix race. The race closes over 50% of the roads and, for us locals, can cause a huge headache. Because of this I decided to retreat from my city and trek to another! Lucky for me my boyfriend invited me to Texas with him to visit his friend. Our itinerary was full, including two cities, and of course cupcakes!

Our first stop was Dallas, and it was full of American history and sweet treats. While the boys watched the Penn State game, I rented a car and drove from Irving into the city. My first stop was the 6th Street Museum. The museum is in the Dallas book depository and explores the life and tragic assassination of JFK from that same building. It’s well worth the wait in line if you ever have the opportunity to go. Take the time to listen to all of the audio and watch all of the videos, as it will move and inspire you. (And if you are anything like me, bring tissues, lots and lots of tissues.)

JFKSpot
(Standing on Elm Street in the exact spot JFK was shot. Note: You cannot take any photos inside the museum.)

After the museum, I walked to my first cupcake stop, Fluellen Cupcakes on Elm Street. After speaking with the lovely staff, and finding out they had just opened the month before, I chose two flavors to try.

Fluellen-Display
(Their lovely display case and beautiful counter.)

Banana Pudding
Fluellen-Banana

Truly delicious banana cupcakes are an elusive rarity. Often banana cupcakes end up with the texture and taste of a muffin, instead of true cake. This cupcake was one of those TRUE banana cupcakes. No muffin here, just a moist, airy, sweet and banana-y cupcake with smooth cream cheese frosting. The vanilla wafer on top added a nice crunch, all in all, a fantastic cupcake that is not to be missed.

Strawberry
Fluellen-Strawberry

Pink, Pink, Pink… talk about a colorful cupcake! Sweet cake with a subtle strawberry flavor and a strawberry infused cream cheese frosting, topped with a fresh strawberry slice. While this isn’t my all-time favorite strawberry cupcake, it is very good and one I wouldn’t mind eating again.

My trek then lead me to Frisco, an area north of the city, where the “best cupcakes in Dallas” live: Dimples Cupcake Factory. After driving 30 minutes, I walked in the adorable shop and realized the cupcakes looked oddly similar to the cupcakes I had just eaten! After confirming with the staff that the baker was indeed the same, I decided not to get more cupcakes, but to instead get cake balls! And wow, was I glad I did!

DimplesCollage

Flavors: Maple, Carrot Cake, Lemon, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Lemon, Black Velvet, and Cookies & Cream
Dimples-CakeBalls

I never thought after eating 6 cake balls, all at one time mind you, I would want more… but I did. These were amazing. My favorites were Maple and Black Velvet, but all of them were fantastic. Moist, packed full of flavor, and perfectly sweet, these were by far the best I have ever eaten and made the drive completely worth it!

Dallas was warm, welcoming, educational, fun, and the cupcakes were great too. It was hard to imagine I would find cupcakes as good in Austin, the next stop on our trek… but you’ll have to wait until next week to find out!

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader Elisa (Baltimore, MD) 

Cape May Bakers…on Vacation

Anytime I go somewhere new I look for bakeries and cupcake shops. It has become an addiction for me and is often the first thing on my mind when I plan a trip. I’ll drive, walk, or bus just about anywhere to get my favorite dessert, and my recent trip to Cape May, New Jersey was no different. After doing a little research (we Crusaders LOVE researching just about anything) I settled on two cupcake stops while in the area: Ellie’s Cupcakes and Cape May Bakers.

Sadly, after walking over to Ellie’s Bakery, they were closed. 😦 I read the hours wrong online and they were closed the only days I would be in town. Cupcake Crusader Fail. Lucky for us, Cape May Bakers were open and just a short walk away. (Actually, everything is a short walk away in Cape May, it is such a quaint and cute little tucked away town.) The shop was small with a few tables decorated in the signature Cape May Victorian style. They offer coffee and tea, breads, pastries, and even lunch specials including quiche, salads, and soups. I picked two cupcakes, of the four flavors they were offering that day.

Chocolate Caramel CapeMayChocolateCaramel

While this cupcake looks very appealing, it was just okay. The cake was very dry and while the frosting was good, it couldn’t save the cake. I liked the walnut on top, adding some crunch, but overall this cupcake lacked a lot of flavor. It looked so rich and decadent, but ended up just “meh.”

VanillaCapeMayVanilla

Vanilla is not a flavor I order a lot, as it is a little “boring” for my taste, but the addition of sprinkles made this one irresistible. Sadly, I was again disappointed. The cake was very dry and neither the cake nor the frosting had much flavor. The texture of the frosting was smooth, but paired with sub-par cake, together they still created a mediocre cupcake.

While I had a fantastic time in Cape May with my boyfriend, our cupcake experience was lacking. Since this will be an annual trip, we plan on going back next summer and making sure to hit Ellie’s when it is open and re-try Cape May Bakers… Because who knows, maybe the Cape May Bakers were away on vacation that weekend too. 😉

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

Cupcake Crusader + Cupcake Enthusiast at the Best of Baltimore Party

Friend and follower, Alyssa works in Public Relations and loves cupcakes almost as much as we do. Today, she shares with us her very first guest review from our date night at the Best of Baltimore Party. Thanks Alyssa!

For the second year in a row, Crusader Elisa and I attended Baltimore Magazine’s Best of Baltimore Party at the Hippodrome Theater. It’s such a fun event, complete with delicious food samples, booze and a photo booth (LOVE a good photo booth!). But being that I was with Crusader Elisa, we were on a mission that sticky August evening: to sample Baltimore’s Best Cupcake. (Last year Crusader Elisa reviewed the cupcake offerings, this year, I was up for the challenge!) Baltimoreans wisely voted La Cakerie as the Best Cakes, so Owner and Executive Chef Jason Hisley had a HUGE booth full of full-size cupcakes, macaroons and cookies for guests to taste.

Elisa and I selected our treats – Orange Creamsicle for me, Chocolate Salted Caramel (Jason calls them “The Baltimore Cupcake”) for her, coconut macaroons for both of us – and headed to a table to get our nom on. Elisa could not stop talking about how much she loved La Cakerie’s cakes, how great the owner is, and on and on and on about how amazing and delicious and wonderful it all is going to be, so I had pretty high expectations for this experience.

Well, can I just say: these cupcakes BLEW MY MIND.

Orange Creamsicle
OrangeCleCupcake

The orange cake was light and orangey without being too sweet, and the buttercream frosting was orangey without being too acidic or too sweet. The only other orange creamsicle cupcake I’ve had was way too sugary and tasted like a bottle of orange soda in frosting form. But La Cakerie’s version was like an orange cloud of deliciousness exploding in my mouth. I could have easily eaten three more of those if given the opportunity, if I wasn’t going to be harshly judged by my peers.

Chocolate Salted Caramel – aka The Baltimore Cupcake
BmoreCupcake

I haven’t had too many chocolate salted caramel cupcakes in my life – maybe three varieties at most; I’m not a cupcake connoisseur like the Crusaders – but La Cakerie’s was the best version of that combination that I have ever, ever had. The cake was incredibly moist, chocolaty and ACTUALLY SALTY. The caramel frosting was smooth and sweet and perfect. It was everything I’ve ever dreamed of and more. Jason placed a chocolate-dipped crab chip (WHAT!) on top, firmly cementing the salty-sweet combination as the greatest combination to ever happen to man.

The coconut macaroons were bite-sized chewy balls of goodness, and I was able to sneak three into my purse for snacking later. 🙂 All in all, our La Cakerie experience was fantastic. I can’t wait to visit the newly-opened Mount Vernon store! And the rest of the party was pretty fun too.

PhotoboothAlyssaElisa2013
(Our 2013 photo booth photos: Kissing the Flamingo, Classy Ladies, Prom Pose, and Our “Mckayla Maroney is Not Impressed”)

– Posted by Guest Crusader, Alyssa (Baltimore, MD)

More Summer Specials in Georgetown

Mmmmm…. Georgetown Cupcakes. Back in June we posted about Georgetown’s monthly specials. It’s great that each month there are seasonal flavors, even if it can be frustrating when you just want a Pumpkin Spice cupcake in April but have to wait until the fall to get it. Even so, at least their yummy rotating flavors are offered for a couple months out of the year.

When July came around I was lucky enough to have a visit from my “Georgetown Cupcake Fairy” and friend, Laura. She brought me two of their July Cupcake Special Flavors:

Blueberry CheesecakeGeorge-BlueCheese

Yes, technically not a cupcake, but SO good! I love cheesecake and this little mini blueberry delight was the perfect treat. Smooth and creamy, the cheesecake had great texture and fantastic blueberry flavor. Maybe a little heavy for a hot summer day in July, but sitting in my lovely air conditioned house, this tasted just right.

Chocolate SundaeGeorge-ChocSundea

When I think about what to write for this cupcake, all I can think is, “there are no words” or, “just…WOW.” Georgetown describes this cupcake as: Valrhona chocolate cupcake filled with rich caramel, topped with vanilla cream cheese frosting, a fudge star, crushed hazelnuts, rainbow bobbles, and a maraschino cherry. The cake was rich and moist, the caramel filling was gooey and sweet, the frosting was creamy, and the toppings…oh the toppings. The hazelnuts were a welcome change to the typical peanuts and added great flavor and texture, while the rainbow bobbles (what the heck is a bobble!?) were tiny bites of candy heaven. This cupcake beats out any “real” sundae I have ever had, and I can’t believe I have to wait until next July to have another one!

July’s cupcakes where just as good as June’s! With only a couple of weeks left in August, I hope my “Georgetown Fairy” will stop by for a visit and bring me either a Peaches & Cream, Banana Split or a Neapolitan. With the days flying by as they are, I might have to settle for some of Georgetown’s September Specials: Double Butterscotch Chip, Caramel Apple, or Cinnamon Coffee Crumb. If only everyone were so lucky… Laura, YOU are my “Georgetown Cupcake Fairy,” and I am one lucky Crusader!

To see Georgetown’s Monthly Specials visit their menu here. And yes, they will deliver or ship cupcake directly to you!

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

Jamin’ with Beth’s Birthday Cupcakes

Last year I was honored to bake birthday cupcakes for our good friend Beth Lacey’s party. We Crusaders are always excited to bake, especially for parties! So when her birthday rolled around this year, I was excited to create new and interesting flavor combinations with her delicious homemade jams. Not wanting to repeat the same flavors as last year, I settled on two of her best sellers (which you can buy at her Etsy shop): Raspberry Rose Jam and Salted Caramel Pear Butter.

For the Raspberry Rose jam-filled cupcake, I decided to create a floral inspired flavor profile with a lavender vanilla cake and a wildflower honey frosting. (Both the cake and frosting recipes are from my previous baking experiment.)

BethBirthday2013-Lavender

This cupcake turned out so much better than anticipated! While I love floral notes and flavors, I was a bit worried this cupcake would be too much of a good thing. Luckily, everyone enjoyed it and really liked the floral link with Beth’s sweet jam.

What goes better with salted caramel than chocolate? How about a little red wine? Having made Chocolate Syrah cake many times since my first experiment with it, I knew (well, hoped) this cake flavor would work well with the sweet and salty pear butter filling. Simple buttercream with a sugar sprinkle on top finished off this birthday flavor.

BethBirthday2013-Chocolate

With its sweet and salty flavors and interesting textures this cupcake caused some chatter between the party goers. Some of them really liked it and some thought it was a bit on the strange side. Crusader Jenn thought it was sprinkled with salt, making for an odd flavor expectation that didn’t pan out. All in all, this cupcake was not a total flop, but not a home run either.

Baking is always fun when you get to work with interesting ingredients, but even better when you get to bake for the people you love. Beth really appreciated my baking cupcakes for her party, and enjoyed eating them too! It was a lovely party and I’m glad I could help celebrate with one of my favorite people.

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

Summer Specials in Georgetown

Georgetown Cupcake is so well known just about everyone recognizes their name and has seen their TV show. We Crusaders have been to both their Georgetown and Bethesda locations and enjoy their consistently delicious cupcakes. In fact, we wish they were closer so that we could enjoy them more often.

Luckily, my friend Laura also LOVES Georgetown Cupcakes and brings me cupcakes almost every time she comes to visit. (I know, I am so lucky!) On a recent visit she brought me two of the “June Special” cupcakes that I have never had before.

Coffee Cookies & Creme
Georgetown-JuneCoffeeCookie

Cookies and Coffee? Yes, Please. The frosting was savory with heavy coffee flavor, cookie crumbles stirred through and on top. The cake was moist and had great cookie flavor. I haven’t always loved cookies and cream cupcakes, maybe they were just missing coffee and cookie frosting!?

Orange Blossom
Georgetown-JuneOrange

I’m still sad about the fact that I can no longer get Hostess Orange cupcakes, so this was a welcome surprise. Tart and sweet, this cupcake was like a Hostess Orange cupcake on steroids. You can see the real orange pieces throughout the cake and the frosting, there are no fake flavors here! Citrus flavors are a favorite of mine, and this cupcake really takes the cake!

Georgetown’s cupcakes are so delicious and the June’s Specials were no exception! Every new flavor has me falling in love with them all over again. Thanks so much to Laura for being so wonderful, coming to Baltimore to visit me, and bringing me cupcakes!  (Watch for a review of July’s Specials coming soon!)

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