About Stacy

I am Graphic Designer living in Baltimore City with a serious love for cupcakes.

4th Annual Cupcake Tour – Roadtrip Style | Stop #1: Sweet Devotions | Havre de Grace, MD

For our Annual Cupcake Tour at the end of 2013, we decided to hit the road and visit a few places north of Baltimore, MD. Our first stop took us to a cupcake shop located in Havre de Grace, MD. Sweet Devotions hit the cupcake scene in 2010 with a bit of a twist, they served fresh, made to order crepes as well.

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On our visit, in addition to cupcakes and crepes, Sweet Devotions was offering cake pops, chocolate dipped pretzels and bacon (yep, chocolate covered bacon!), salad, wraps, and more. They had ample seating for all their customers in a shop adorned with cupcake nicknacks and paintings by local artists.

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We created a “game plan” for our day of cupcake eating to try and pace ourselves: Since there were four adults (my dad always participates in our cupcake tours) and one toddler, our goal was to order only two or three cupcakes, share them, and if they were awesome, we would go back and get more to take home with us. Well, on this first stop we failed miserably and ended up with five cupcakes, a cake pop, chocolate covered bacon, and three savory crepes. So much for self control…

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(Jenn’s daughter, Leah, enjoying her tiger stripped cake pop while sporting a 2013 Cupcake Roadtrip sticker on her hand.)

After finishing our crepes, we moved on to the cupcakes. I selected the French Toast with no bacon (which made this non-pork eater VERY happy), Jenn chose the Chocolate Covered Pretzel, Elisa went with the S’mores cupcake, and my dad got a classic Chocolate with Vanilla frosting and a Pumpkin cupcake for us all to share.

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Seeing that it was only about 11 a.m. when we made our first stop at Sweet Devotions, this French Toast Cupcake was the perfect choice. It was made of of a moist cinnamon cake topped with a great cream cheese frosting. I really enjoy cream cheese frosting whether it’s more on the sweet side or more savory, but this one stayed true to its name and packed in the cream cheese flavor, which paired perfectly with this morning themed cupcake.

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My dad is pretty easy to please when it comes to cupcakes, unless they are dry, and
unfortunately this cupcake was a little bit. That didn’t stop him from eating the whole thing though. You gotta love a man who loves his sweets. I guess I know where Jenn and I get it from.

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Jenn is usually a little hesitant when it comes to Chocolate Covered Pretzel cupcakes, since the pretzels tend to get a little soft and stale, but this one was too pretty to pass up. She said it was REALLY good and was surprised that the pretzels weren’t mushy (even the one baked into the middle) and the chocolate cake was actually moist—unlike the cake from our dad’s chocolate cupcake. She added that it wasn’t overly sweet and overall it was well balanced.

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Elisa is a total sucker when it comes to S’mores, especially S’mores cupcakes (you may have read her recent recipe review for Pumpkin S’mores Cupcakes). With its toasted marshmallow frosting, this cupcake looked as good as it tasted. It even had a graham cracker filling that added a twist we haven’t seen before.

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We were all in agreement that this Pumpkin cupcake was SO GOOD. The cake was very moist and the frosting was the same found on my French Toast cupcake, with a true cream cheese flavor.

We all unanimously agreed that we had a great start to the day at Sweet Devotions. If you find yourself in Havre de Grace, please stop by their shop. Grab a crepe, grab a cupcake, then sit back, relax, and enjoy.

Next week, Crusader Jenn will share her review for our second stop, SAS Cupcakes in Newark, DE. Stay tuned!

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

2013 Year in Review

Happy New Year Cupcake Lovers! Even though we haven’t brought you new posts these past several weeks, we are so happy to see that you all are still visiting our little blog. As a quick recap, below are some photos of our favorite cupcake adventures this past year. We hope you are looking forward to a new year filled with all new cupcake adventures (and we promise we’ll be better about sharing them with you)!

Also, WordPress.com has prepared a year in review, showing our most popular posts, comments, etc. Click here to see the complete report.

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Thank you for all your support!

Sincerely,The Cupcake Crusaders

Happily Ever After in Philadelphia, PA

Hey Cupcake Lovers! Sorry we have been MIA for the past few weeks. Things have been really busy, but we have lots to share with you! We promise we aren’t gone, we have just slowed down the pace of this blog for now. We hope you still enjoy reading our reviews when we are able to share them and we really appreciate all your support. Today’s review may not contain cupcakes, but it does include a little pastry we just had to share with you. Enjoy!

If you stroll around Philadelphia, PA with no real agenda, you just may find yourself stumbling into Happily Ever After Dessert Café located on Market Street. There you can treat yourself to a latte, bubble tea, organic frozen yogurt, or one of their many little desserts.

This is exactly what happened to Crusader Elisa and I on a recent trip to Philly. Our primary reason for trekking to “the city of brotherly love” was The National Poster Retrospecticus hosted by AIGA Philadelphia and Masthead Print Studio. We arrived in Philly a little early hoping to stop by the AIGA offices, but they were closed so instead we decided to take our time walking to the poster show, stopping at whatever boutique caught our eye, including little dessert stand called Tartes. Sadly they were preparing to close and had just thrown away their remaining cupcakes (so close!). Instead, we got one of the best gingerbread cookies we’ve ever had.

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(Elisa and I found the perfect shirt for fur-lovers in a little boutique on 2nd Street called Never Too Spoiled.)

After a quick (and delicious) dinner at Kisso Sushi Bar, we took our time browsing all the posters displayed at Masthead Print Studio and purchased ones we couldn’t live without.

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(DESIGN NERD ALERT! I absolutely love this poster I bought, designed by Shawn Hileman from Masthead Print Studio.)

Getting our caffeine fix before hitting the road back to Baltimore sounded like a great idea, and we couldn’t believe our luck when Happily Ever After Dessert Café came up in our Google search.

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Being lovers of all things sweet, we couldn’t have asked for a better location for a late night coffee run. When we first entered, I was a bit confused by the decor, but it didn’t take long to realize that it was all movie themed, hence their name “Happily Ever After.”

Elisa “happily” ordered herself a bubble tea, while I stuck with my go-to latte. However, faced with a display of tiny treats and adorable marshmallow characters (like this one here) I couldn’t decide what goodie to take home, until I saw something I had never seen before, a canelé.

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For those who don’t know (I didn’t), a canelé is a French pastry. To me, it seemed to be a combination of mini bunt cake and crème brûlée. The texture was really spongy and you would absolutely have to love the crispy, burnt-like sugar found on crème brûlée. After looking up how a canelé is made, I think Happily Ever After may bake theirs a little too long, but I still thought it was really delicious. If you are looking for a super sweet dessert, this one is NOT for you, but if you prefer something that verges on savory, I highly recommend it.

Elisa and I had a great night, that finished with a sweet ending. If you find yourself in Philly, make sure to give yourself enough time to do some spontaneous exploring. You just might stumble across a hidden gem.

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

The Cupcake Ship has Set Sail at Harbor East’s Lamill Coffee Shop

There’s nothing worse than waiting too long for something and then missing out completely. This is what happen to us recently at Lamill Coffee in Baltimore’s Harbor East. For a brief moment they offered cupcakes, but we kept pushing off our visit and sadly they don’t make them anymore. When they first opened, they were also known for their beignets, which they also stopped selling. Ugh. Utter disappointment.

Lamill hit the Baltimore coffee scene with a bang, bringing their own roasted beans and a variety of brewing techniques, including hand drip and siphon—which is seriously cool to watch. The atmosphere is a mix of sleek and rustic, which they’ve blended really well. The blog, Dear Coffee I Love You, has written about their coffee process and has amazing photos of the interior. You can check that out here.

When we asked the nice employee why they stopped making cupcakes, she explained  that they were really just okay, and Lamill didn’t want a sub-par confection on their menu. I totally understand that and, lucky for us coffee-loving sweet eaters, we like just about anything made with sugar.

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While they don’t have beignets or cupcakes anymore (sigh…), they do still have a large assortment of pastries and cookies, including parisian macarons. We each selected a different macaron, and we each thought ours was the best. Elisa had the mint chocolate, Jenn got the cookies and cream, and I chose the blueberry. Lamill makes a great macaron with a perfectly crunchy outer shell and soft, moist, center. Each paired perfectly with our coffee selections.

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Though they don’t sell cupcakes or beignets anymore, they are making their own doughnuts with a variety of flavors. On our visit, they didn’t have them out at first, but just before we left had the opportunity to try one. The cake was a lot more dense than we anticipated, and a bit on the chewy side. I wouldn’t say it was a bad doughnut, just not at all what we expected. I would definitely like to try more.

Lamill is a great addition to the Baltimore Coffee scene. They have even started a campaign to encourage people to explore Baltimore’s local coffee shops, instead of sticking with the big names. To participate, just visit their shop and pick up their “Disloyalty Card.” You can also visit the participating coffee shops: Charmingtons, Pitango Gelato, Sidewalk Espresso, High Grounds, and Dooby’s. Once you’ve purchased a drink from each location and had your card stamped, you can receive a complimentary beverage from the shop of your choice. We think this is so awesome and a great excuse to explore the city.

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

Stay Sweet Cupcakery | Lewisburg, PA

Crisp air, leaves changing, pumpkin spice everything… fall is officially here and that means GIRLS WEEKEND! Crusaders Jenn, Elisa, and I always look forward to our annual getaway with our closest girl friends. It started in tents, but has since progressed to cabins fully loaded with bathrooms, beds, and TVs—basically it’s not rugged at all. But that’s okay with us because we are there for serious girl time, tents or no tents.

This year, our 6th anniversary of gathering together, we decided to head to Corning, NY. Year after year we have spotted billboards advertising various exhibits at the Corning Museum of Glass, and finally we made it our destination spot. You may remember that last summer Elisa and I stumbled across Walker Cake Co. during a brief stop in Corning, but after doing some research I couldn’t find any new spots that would guarantee cupcakes. So, on our way to Corning, we stopped in Lewisburg, PA, home of Stay Sweet Cupcakery. Stay Sweet has been on my radar for quite some time, but stopping there never seemed to work out, until now.

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When we visited Stay Sweet Cupcakery we decided to grab our cupcakes to go because we already stopped for about two hours in Sellinsgrove, PA (if you are ever passing through Sellinsgrove get raw oysters from BJ’s Steak House and a coffee at The Kind Cafe). Stay Sweet is an adorable little shop, with an inviting front porch and a small “general store” like atmosphere inside. Already behind schedule, we quickly chose six cupcakes (five different flavors) and were back on the road in a matter of minutes.

After an evening spent around a campfire with lots of seasonal beer, appetizers, baked ziti, red wine, and S’mores, we didn’t have the room in our bellies for cupcakes the night we arrived. The next day we spent time at the Corning Museum of Glass, making wind-chimes, glass sculptures, wandering the enormous gift shop, and trying to escape the rain (I was so relieved we weren’t in tents that weekend…). After dinner back at the cabin, we dove into the cupcakes while playing Cards Against Humanity (which is a hilarious game, thanks for bringing it Beth Lacey!).

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(Our Cupcake Loot: Caramel Latte, Heath Bar, Salted Caramel, Pineapple Coconut, and Peanut Butter Pie)

NOTE: Normally we like to try at least one cupcake right away, to really get the best feel for the freshness of the cake and frosting. But since we were sharing these with a group of girls and a cabin stocked with more food than we could eat, we didn’t try them until the following evening. They also ended staying in the box because we didn’t have the proper air-tight storage. I truly think this effected the moistness of the cake on all the cupcakes we tried, so we don’t want to fault Stay Sweet for that.

Caramel Latte

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Elisa and I were both really excited about this cupcake. So much so, that we ordered two of them as part of our half dozen. The coffee flavor was super present, almost too much though because it over-powered the caramel. Since I love coffee, this didn’t totally bother me, but the coffee grinds in the frosting did. I don’t mind a little bit here and there for texture, but it was a bit of an overkill, even for me.

Heath Bar

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Sadly, while this cupcake had a lot of excitement, it really wasn’t anything special. The Heath Bar flavor was missing so it ended up tasting more like a basic vanilla cupcake with chocolate frosting.

Salted Caramel

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I believe this flavor was voted one of the favorite flavors at the shop, so we had to get it and,with its great caramel flavor, it didn’t let us down. Some thought there could be more saltiness, but others thought it was just right.

Pineapple Coconut

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This may seem like a strange flavor for the fall, but Jenn said she wanted something “light and citrusy” so this is what we selected for her, and we are so glad we did! The filling in the middle seemed to keep this cupcake more moist than some of the others. There was a nice balance of coconut and pineapple flavor with buttery cake and smooth frosting. Definitely one of the favorites of the night!

Peanut Butter Pie

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I think we were all excited about this cupcake and it lived up to our expectations. The peanut butter flavor was fully there and, like the Pineapple Coconut cupcake, the delicious peanut butter filling made this one of the more moist cupcakes of the evening. So glad we selected this one.

We love crusading and we love our girls, so sharing cupcakes with them and hearing their thoughts is always fun for us. It was even better that it was on a weekend getaway with lots of food, drinks, and much needed catching up. Can’t wait until next year!

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

Cupcake BLVD Tells Us How They are Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month and More!

This month Cupcake BLVD, a cupcake shop located in Crofton, MD with a truck that provides cupcake in the Maryland and DC area, is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with Latino inspired flavors and owner Angelette Aviles will be donating a portion of the proceeds to a local charity. Angelette and the Crusaders have been in contact since their early days on the cupcake scene, but we’ve never had the chance to try their cupcakes until now! Crusader Elisa will be sharing her review later this week, but today we are happy to share an interview with Angelette, who took time to answer questions about her involvement in the Latino community, how she balances everything, and more!

CupcakeBLVD_fromFB1Can you tell us a little bit about how you have been involved in giving back to the Latino community, both in your former hometown, Florida, and more recently in Anne Arundel County, Maryland?
Everywhere you go in Florida you are influenced by the Latino culture, from food to history. Although I grew up in Maryland, I spent my college and early adult years in Florida where I was involved in several professional Hispanic organizations which either helped raise funds for Latino college scholarships for my alma mater (University of South Florida) or organized cultural related events. I even had a public relations and branding company in Florida that specialized in the Hispanic market. Although Anne Arundel county is not known to have a large Hispanic community, I decided to share and introduce something different, inspired by my Spanish culture.

Why is it important for you to give back to the community?
If it wasn’t for the community support of my business we wouldn’t be where we are today, therefore it only made sense to give back to our community through Cupcakes for a Cause. The organizations we choose to support are local, such as B.A.R.C.S (several of our customers have even adopted pets from them) or Hospice Hundred (a division of Hospice of the Chesapeake). We will continue to choose several more organizations in the upcoming year.

CupcakeBLVD_fromFB2Can you describe some of the special Latino-inspired flavors you are offering during Hispanic Heritage month?
Tres Leche…something you see in many Latino restaurants which is basic vanilla cake soaked with sweet condensed and evaporated milk and topped with a sweet whipped heavy cream and cinnamon.  We carry Dulce de Leche (very similar to caramel) cupcakes twice a week but for our Hispanic Heritage tribute we made it with our chocolate cake. The cake is filled with Dulce de Leche and topped with a Dulce de Leche frosting. Piña Colada….a coconut flavored cake topped with a fresh pineapple buttercream. Margarita and Mojito….which are both our Lime zested cake soaked with either Tequila or Rum and topped with a fresh Lime buttercream or Mint cream cheese frosting.  Mojadito (Amaretto Almond)…which hails from my island of Puerto Rico!  It goes on with Flancocho which includes Flan, Churro cupcake, Guava and Cream, and Chocolate Chili.

What is your favorite baking memory?
One of my favorite memories was when I was about 11 years old making cookies with a friend and recording it on a camcorder imitating Julia Child, with the voice and all, then decorating them with frosting only to realize I misspelled a word!

CupcakeBLVD_fromFB3How do you juggle your charity work, your business and your family?
I go to the kitchen just before my 2 youngest kids wake up and, luckily living only 1 mile away, I run home to get them off to school and then come back. I try and do as much as I can while my kids are in school, so that I can either go over homework or haul them off to dance and sports. Fridays are usually the longest days as I not only work on orders for that day, but also prepare for Saturday’s menu, and then head over to watch my oldest son play for Spalding’s varsity football team. #GoCavs! Sundays and Mondays we are closed!

What is your favorite tool in the kitchen?
My employees will say the fondant roller since I’ve pretty much been handling all our fondant related orders, but I have to say the zester or blender since it is what breaks down our natural flavors.

Of course we have to ask, what is your favorite cupcake flavor?
Hmmmm….I love Nutella and Dulce de Leche, and pretty much every cupcake with our cream cheese frosting, including the Red Velvet.

What sets your cupcakes apart from the competition?
That we use fresh ingredients and bake from scratch. We don’t take a box mix and add a few other extra stuff and call it our own. Every cupcake we provide has gone through some alterations to make sure it was just right like taste and texture prior to opening. That was a lot of taste testing! Butter, butter, butter! No shortening in our cake or frosting. Yuck!

We want to thank Angelette for taking the time to answer our questions! Follow Cupcake BLVD on Facebook and Twitter to find out about where you can find their truck. And remember, for the remainder of Hispanic Heritage Month, Cupcake BLVD will be offering their special flavors listed here:

10/1: Chocolate Chili
10/2: Tres Leche
10/3: Flancocho
10/4: Mojito
10/5: Pina Colada
10/8: Chocolate Dulce de Leche
10/9: Margarita
10/10: Churro Cupcake
10/11: Guava & Cream
10/12: Mojadito (Almond Amaretto)

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

Photos in this post were found on Cupcake BLVD’s Facebook page. No harm intended. 

Taste Test: How does Chef Duff’s Cake Mix Compare?

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I did it again… While walking down the grocery aisle I was totally sucked in by colorful packaging, sale prices, and big names:

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We haven’t reviewed Baltimore local, Chef Duff of Charm City Cake’s, line of cake mixes and frosting yet because, to be honest, they are a bit pricey compared to the competition. The retail price for the above is $5.69 for a box of cake mix and $3.29 for a tub of frosting (I’m sure prices vary by location). On sale, I picked these up for $3.49 and $2.99, so still not super cheap. The box of mix did come with a large packet of pre-made peanut butter ganache though, so I was glad to see they hadn’t skimped on that.

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Even though we’ve heard that Chef Duff is not a fan of the cupcake frenzy (crazy, I know!), I decided to use this mix to make cupcakes instead of a layered cake. Take that Chef Duff! (Kidding! We actually really love him, his show, and that he calls Baltimore home).

In order to provide you all with an accurate review of the product line, we didn’t modify this mix or frosting like we normally like to do and the only “extra” thing I decided to purchase was Peanut Butter Oreos to add on top (if you haven’t had these, what are you waiting for? Seriously, run to your nearest grocer).

When I mixed the batter according to the directions it appeared very runny and the dry ingredients didn’t seem to mix easily in with the wet, causing little chunks throughout. Shrugging this off, I filled the baking cupcakes and set the timer on the oven. The instructions called for 20 to 25 mins, but that seemed really high to me, so I decided to bake for 16 minutes (my normal cupcake baking time) and add more time if necessary. I’m glad I did that because they were completely finished baking when I checked them.

Once they cooled, I cored the center and added the peanut butter ganache. The texture of it was perfect for the filling, and the bag it came in made filling the cupcakes easy and mess free. Since I was filling the cupcakes, I didn’t chill the ganache as the box suggests, but if you are going to spread it on a layer cake, I definitely think you should. It might be too runny otherwise.

Before I frosted the cupcakes, I did a little taste test of Duff’s Chocolate Fudge Frosting, and was glad I did. It was really rich and overly sweet, like typical pre-made store bought frosting. I decided a thin layer with a dollop on top would be the perfect amount.

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Overall these cupcakes were good. Not great. Not Special. Just good. Although, I was able to get 25 cupcakes from the mix, while with other brands I’m lucky to get 22. Also, it was nice to have something included in the box to use as a filling, but in my opinion the cake and frosting were just as good as any of the competitors’.

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I’m not sure if I would seek out Chef Duff’s mixes in the future. I may pick up a box from time to time, if they are on sale and I fall into the gimmick trap again, but otherwise I think I’ll stick with my old friends, Duncan Hines, Betty Crocker, and Pillsbury.

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader Stacy (Baltimore, MD)

Grace & Shelly’s Cupcakes | Fort Myers, FL

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Now that I have a decent grasp on the Fort Myers and Naples area cupcake spots, I wasn’t worried about whether or not cupcakes would be a part of my trip when I recently visited my family in southwest Florida. Since I was staying with my Nana, and I know how much of a sweet tooth she has (ever wondered where I get it from?), I wanted to get some fancy cupcakes to say thank you and to put a smile on her face.

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After treating her to lunch at one of our favorite spots, Sweet Tomatoes, my aunts, cousin, and I decided to do a little shopping. My Aunt Jane wanted to visit a boutique located in the Bell Tower Shops, and I was in luck because Grace & Shelly’s Cupcakes also resides there.

On my last visit to Grace & Shelly’s, Crusader Jenn and I selected a big variety, including a couple of full size cupcakes and tons of minis. This time I focused on just the full size flavors and selected Lemon, Raspberry Lemon Cheesecake, Butter Pecan, and Peach Cobbler. My Aunts also got a variety of flavors, and Aunt Jane added her two selections to my order since you save a little bit with orders of half a dozen.

When we got back to Nana’s house, we worked off our big lunch with some pool-time, and then took a quick cupcake break. My cousin, Allen, joined Aunt Jane, Nana and I for this cupcake tasting and, for the most part, we were unanimous in our feelings (except my sweet Nana, who loved them all).

Lemon

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Of the four cupcakes I selected, this was the best of them all. The cake and frosting were both light and tart. And even though the frosting didn’t hold up too well in the Florida heat (as you can tell from the photo), it didn’t make this cupcake any less tasty.

Raspberry Lemon Cheesecake

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I was really excited about this cupcake, only to be disappointed. My Aunt Jane didn’t think that it was sweet enough, and also didn’t like the bits of raspberry seeds. That didn’t bother me too much, but the cake ended up being very squishy because of the filling.

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As you can see, the filling soaked almost all the way through to the wrapper. Gross.

Peach Cobbler

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The Peach Cobbler cupcake was very much the same. So much so, that I just couldn’t finish it. Luckily Nana didn’t mind because I choose this cupcake specifically for her and she ended up finishing my portion. Even though the cake wasn’t working for me, I did like the frosting and toppings, but what is a cupcake without cake?!

Butter Pecan

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Of all the cupcakes, I thought the presentation of this one was the best. I really liked that it looked like a scoop of butter pecan ice cream had been dropped on top. Unlike the Lemon cupcake though, the cake was dry and kind of plain. But the frosting was good and packed with pecans.

Snickerdoodle

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My Aunt Susan didn’t join us for our post-swim cupcake crusading, but later that night we had another little cupcake tasting at her house with some of the cupcakes she brought home. The first that I tried was the Snickerdoodle. While the cake was a little dry, the frosting was so good and had lots of cinnamon flavor.

Cookies and Cream

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The other cupcake I tasted at my Aunt Susan’s house was the Cookies and Cream. This cupcake had little cookie bits in the cake and frosting and tasted JUST like the ice cream, it was amazing!

Even if the cupcakes weren’t as good as I remembered them being, it was so fun doing my “cupcake thing” with my family. And I’ll never forget seeing my Nana scrape those wrappers clean… that woman has a crazy sweet tooth, you gotta love her!

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

Labor Day FREE Party Printables!

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Hello Cupcake Lovers! Today we have a special offer for you: FREE party printables that you can use to jazz up your Labor Day gathering! Crusader Jenn has started an online shop that specializes in custom party printables, Eye2Eye Design, which Crusader Elisa and I (Stacy) contribute to. As a thank you for all your support we would like to share our Labor Day Patriotic Party Printables with you all.

To receive a digital PDF file containing dessert toppers, candy bar wrappers, and straw tags, all you have to do is visit Eye2Eye Designs (click here), then comment below telling us your favorite item from the shop OR suggest themes you’d like to see available. (Note: We will send the file to the email address you comment with. Your email address will ONLY be used to send this file. We will NOT subscribe you to our blog or give your information to anyone.) The PDF file contains 8.5″x 11″ sheets ready to print, nothing will be shipped.

Thanks again for all your continued support!

* This giveaway cannot be redeemed for its cash value. Must have proper computer software to open and print PDF files, no other format is available with this offer. This offer is valid until Monday, September 2nd, 2013.

Sweet Dukes Vegan Treats

Every summer the main street community of Hamilton organizes the Hamilton Street Festival. I have to be completely honest and say it’s definitely NOT the best street festival in Baltimore. Even though this year’s flyer design was pretty good, it’s not even half as awesome as the Fell’s Point Fun Festival or HonFest (but really, nothing is a cool as HonFest).

My husband and I live within easy walking distance of Harford Rd, where the festival takes place, so this year we decided to explore the vendors’ tents and grab some lunch. As we were walking around (which only took about ten minutes… totally not exaggerating), I noticed quite a few places selling cupcakes. Only one place had cupcakes that really drew me in though, Sweet Dukes Vegan Bakery.

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I really want to love vegan desserts. I already don’t eat red meat or pork, so if there’s any way I can limit the amount of animal bi-products I consume, I’m totally down for that. I was also excited because they are organic and have gluten-free options.

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Their table was really colorful with hand written signs (which I love), fun flavor names and a big variety of cookies, cakes, and pastries, including the cake kabobs pictured above.

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After seeing the the cake kabobs and their Party on Wayne cupcake (made with Fruity Pebbles, which apparently are considered vegan… still horrible for you, but vegan nonetheless), I was complete baffled as to what I wanted to get. I knew I’d be eating cupcakes the next day, so I was determined to limit my choice to one item. After tell the very nice people helping me that I was taking it home for later, they recommended the cupcake because the cake kabob works better if you are going to eat it immediately.

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I really loved how colorful this cupcake was, but unfortunately my first bite wasn’t stellar. The Fruity Pebbles on top of the frosting were a bit squishy and that grossed me out a little bit. I’m guessing this was either because of the moisture from the cake and frosting, or the intense humidity from the day, probably a combination of the two. Luckily it wasn’t too noticeable in the cake though. After pushing the cereal sitting on top of the frosting aside (sad face… I was really looking forward them), I was able to examine the rest of the cupcake for what it really was: a decent vegan treat. I can’t say that it was as good as its non-vegan counterparts, but definitely better than some of the other vegan varieties we’ve tried. The cake was a bit dense, but still moist with decent flavor. The frosting was a little gritty but had a good flavor that wasn’t too sweet and didn’t taste like a butter substitute—I was boggled by this, in a good way.

If you would like to try Sweet Dukes Vegan Bakery, you can find them at the Fell’s Point Farmers Market on Saturdays, the Fleet Street Market, or the Grind House Juice Bar. You can also follow their Facebook page to stay up to date on their latest flavors and where you can find them.

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