La Cakerie Brings Sweet and Savory to Towson

In my opinion there are a few factors, other than delicious baked treats and good customer service, that create a successful bakery: location, daily specials, new menu items, and excellent social media skills. Apparently La Cakerie agrees because they meet each item on the list and it has already made me a frequent visitor. If their location was any closer, I’d probably end up stopping in every other day (if not every day). I’m sure my waistline is thankful for that.

On our first visit to La Cakerie we were lucky enough to leave with a variety of flavors like Vanilla, Chocolate Fudge, Chocolate Turtle, Chocolate Vanilla, Vanilla Chocolate, and Chocolate Peppermint.

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My overall impression of La Cakerie’s cupcakes was that they have the perfect balance of being not too sweet, but not too buttery. Jason, the owner and executive chef, has really found the perfect balance. Going into the tasting I was worried that these cupcakes would taste exactly like Flavor Cupcakery’s, since Jason previously worked there and some of the cupcakes had the same look, but he really has developed his own unique flavor.

One surprising thing I noticed about the cupcakes was that the vanilla cake was much more dense than I’m used to, while the chocolate cake was light and fluffy. Normally I’m a light and fluffy cake person, so at first this was a bit disappointing, however, after multiple visits I’m starting to appreciate their moist dense cake. La Cakerie’s vanilla cake also has a unique nutty taste to it, almost almond-like, which I really enjoy.

Since we’ve tried so many of La Cakerie’s cupcakes, for today’s review we are focusing on our favorites, as well as their special New Year’s cupcakes, their NFL Ravens playoff cupcakes, and one of their savory cupcakes.

PB&J

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PB&J cupcakes have become one of my all-time favorites. There’s something about the nostalgic flavors that have me constantly going back for more. La Cakerie’s PB&J cupcake completely met my expectations. At first I thought the cake was too dense for my liking, but the peanut butter frosting was so light and smooth that it had me thinking two words: frosting shots. I would be perfectly happy downing tubs of this peanut butter heaven.

Chocolate Peppermint

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The Chocolate Peppermint was Crusader Elisa’s favorite. She said, “Fantastic chocolate cake, moist, flavorful, not too sweet and just the right density. The peppermint frosting was also super smooth. It tasted like the holidays!” Crusader Jenn was surprised at how light the frosting was, and I think that it might possibly be the best peppermint frosting I’ve ever had.

Carrot Cake

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Jenn was the lucky Crusader who got to try this cupcake. She’s becoming the “Carrot Cake Crusader” so we couldn’t deny her. Her thoughts were that the cake had a great texture. Although the frosting was heavier than the others, she adds that would be expected with a cream cheese base. However, it was not overly rich or sweet in flavor, something difficult to find in a cream cheese frosting. She ended by saying it was “perfectly balanced.”

Peanut Butter Fudge

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Since this cupcake is Jason’s favorite, we decided we had to give our thoughts on it too. Like the PB&J, the frosting was to-die-for. Jenn thought this cupcake was more rich than the Chocolate Fudge, with the chocolate and peanut butter combination, including a chocolate ganache filling, which I loved. We can definitely see why this could be anyone’s favorite.

New Year’s Cupcakes

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After our first tasting I knew eventually I’d be going back for, but I had no idea how soon. When I saw that they were offering Strawberry Martini and Cosmo cupcakes on New Year’s Eve, I couldn’t deny myself. You may remember my not-so-successful Cosmo Cupcake experiment, so let me just say that Jason’s version blows mine out of the water. This cupcake had a TON of tasty filling, working well with the dense cake. The Strawberry Martini was good, but the star of the night was the Cosmo cupcake.

While there, I decided that having one of their egg and cheese breakfast pastries would be much better than making breakfast myself on New Year’s Day. This was the first of La Cakerie’s savory treats I tried, and its buttery richness really did hit the spot. Elisa tried a bacon and egg pastry, as well as a sausage and egg one, and had nothing but good things to say.

Raven’s Cupcakes

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Just when I thought I would finally be able to start my post-holiday healthy eating, the Ravens made it to the playoffs against the Denver Broncos. This brought purple cupcakes to most Baltimore and Maryland based bakeries, and I found myself back at La Cakerie less than two weeks after my previous visit. La Cakerie even added a “Bye Bye Broncos” creamsicle cupcake that was SO GOOD. Growing up I was never a big fan of the orange popsicles with their vanilla ice cream center, and I still don’t love them, but turn it into a cupcake and I’m so there.

Savory BBQ Chicken Cupcake

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Savory cupcakes raise a ton of controversy in the cupcake world. Who knew a cupcake could spark so much debate? We take our promise not to “rest until we’ve tried them all” very seriously, and if I can have any excuse to eat a cupcake for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, I’ll take it. This cupcake isn’t your typical cupcake, rather it is a corn based cake with a cheesy mashed potato “frosting” which is filled and topped with BBQ chicken. You may think that a corn based cake would be more muffin-like, but surprisingly this cake was actually very cake-like with just a touch of sweetness. My favorite bites of this cupcake were when all the components were blended together. Just make sure you heat it up before eating!

I think that if La Cakerie continues to offer a wide range of baked goods and actively promote themselves via social media, they will have no problem keeping their customers happy and reaching any goals they have for the future.

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader Stacy (Baltimore, MD)

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From Cupcake Wars to Baking Tools: Q&A with Jason Hisley from La Cakerie

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When you first walk into Towson’s new bakery, La Cakerie, you are greeted by hot pink walls, impressive cake displays, and a friendly staff. The few times I’ve been there, Jason Hisley, the owner and executive chef, has personally been there, offering up a huge smile backed by tons of enthusiasm.

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Jason’s energy is contagiousness and you can’t help but smile as you browse the cases filled with everything from cupcakes to breakfast pastries. There is something for everyone at La Cakerie and you might find yourself going in for a quick pretzel dog and then leaving with a box of sweets to share with your family and friends.

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If Jason happens to be there during your visit, you may recognize him from his appearance on the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars (with Flavor Cupcakery, his previous employer) and Sweet Genius. Even with all that he has accomplished at such a young age, Jason hasn’t let it go to his head, instead he is welcoming and kind, with a larger than life personality.

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(Photo courtesy of La Cakerie)

We were thrilled when Jason agreed to answer some of our questions to share with you all. The following gives you just a glimpse of his passion for baking.

What makes La Cakerie different from other bakeries and how did you come up with the name?
As a trained pastry chef in both America and Europe, I feel that what defines truly successful bakeries is their ability to combine not only unique styles of cuisine but also interesting flavors and products. Walk into La Cakerie and you can find sweet and savory baked goods. Whether it’s our gourmet cupcake line, savory breakfast pastries, phenomenal lunch options, or even custom orders and party/wedding cakes, La Cakerie caters to all.

The name La Cakerie grew from “Cakerie” playing off my passion for an artisan, elegant and refined approach to cake design. The name is modern, clean and sleek. Adding the hot pink and cursive “La” speaks to our delicate approach to pastry production.

We read you will be providing vegan and gluten free treats from Sweet 27—we have been fans of them for a long time. What kinds of vegan and gluten free treats will you carry in your shop?
Sweet 27 is an amazing bakery that we are working with to provide gluten free and vegan products to our clientele daily and we will definitely continue our partnership with their great bakery. However, in lieu of a recent tragedy, La Cakerie will be taking an additional approach to gluten free products. My business partner, Adam Klein, 21, was in a relationship with Cara Becker when she was diagnosed with Leukemia earlier this year.  While everything was looking hopeful for a recovery, Cara ultimately passed away on December 30th 2012. The news was devastating and truly shook everyone that knew her. In her honor, La Cakerie will be launching a gluten free line with money raised to help fund cancer research (Cara was severely allergic to gluten). I have many great memories of working with Adam (who has a business major), laughing, teaching him the delicate art of pastry production as we created gluten free products for Cara. We will continue this now in her honor in hopes that our work and her legacy will shape the future.

What was it like being on TWO televised dessert competitions? What were some of the similarities and differences?
Competing on the Food Network twice has been the most enjoyable and stressful times of my life! As a trained pastry chef, I have learned how to produce baked goods efficiently and to the highest possible quality. With that being said, nothing prepares you for the fast paced production of Food Netowrk competitions! The time is clocking down, there are cameras and producers running every which way, and in the back of your mind that grand prize is looming!

While Cupcake Wars was definitely challenging, the pure pressure of being put to the test as a pastry chef was really lived out on Sweet Genius. I made cupcakes everyday for a very long time before going on Cupcake Wars. While the ingredients and themes were unique, the vehicle was very familiar. However, with Sweet Genius, being thrown into production of candies and chocolates was very “unfamiliar territory”…and I LOVED it!  Haha! Maybe I’m crazy but being put to the test is my specialty. I consider myself a modern day pastry chef with a creative edge and flair…what’s next, Food Network? I’m waiting!

Will we be seeing you or La Cakerie on any future baking competitions?
You bet!! This Mohawk is just dying to get back on TV and other baking competitions!  Stay tuned and check out our Facebook page regularly to find out news and updates with regards to this.

We read that you and the owner of Flavor Cupcakery are still friendly with one another. What made you decide to branch out and open your own bakery? What was it like starting that process?
In branching out to open my own bakery, I truly wanted to showcase all my talents as a trained and certified pastry chef. The quality and dedication to a truly amazing product was evident everyday at my previous employer, but I also craved the ability to showcase the other amazing skill sets I have as a chef. At La Cakerie, not only can you find trendy, hip and fun cupcakes, but you can also grab an amazing cup of coffee, a breakfast croissant, a hot soup in a bread bowl, or even custom created and artisan cakes. This is the world of a true baker, and everyday I am able to push the limits with my creativity and talent.

How long have you been baking and what is your first baking memory?
I have been baking in the kitchen ever since I was a young child. I have pictures of myself kneading dough with my Czechoslovakian grandmother before I could even reach the table standing in a chair! That was probably one of my very first memories. I would go into her refrigerator and pull out all her flavorings, extracts, spices and dried fruits and whip up an amazing concoction that could only compare to a mad scientist in his laboratory, haha!  From there, my baking spirit grew from a hobby, into a passion and ultimately a career.

What is your favorite tool in the kitchen?
Wow! What a tough question! Having seven years of cake design experience, I would have to pick a tool I use every single day when creating elaborate custom cakes: a hot pink Xacto knife with a fresh blade. Nothing works to cut through fondant smoothly and cleanly like a new Xacto knife. If you want decorations that are smooth, clean and perfected, this is the only way to go…don’t even think about a knife or roll cutter. And why hot pink?…why not?!?

And of course we have to ask, what is your favorite cupcake flavor?
Oh so many to choose from! My favorite is a true classic and top seller at La Cakerie: Peanut Butter Fudge…whoever first combined peanut butter and chocolate is a saint in my book! Our chocolate cake is stuffed with a gooey chocolate ganache and frosted with the smoothest peanut butter frosting in town! Garnishing with more chocolate ganache and peanut butter chunks is just our little cherry on the top!

You are so young and have accomplished so many things already, where do you see yourself in the next 5 or 10 years?
Taking a vacation! Just kidding! Haha! In life I have two major career goals: to land my own show on the Food Network and also build a bakery empire that reaches national levels. I know these goals are wild but I have pushed very hard in life to take advantage of all the opportunities presented my way and ones that I have worked towards. For the Food Network, I love the ability to teach others and would be thrilled to do so on a national level. With La Cakerie, I feel that so many people are lacking a high quality baked good in so many communities and I want to fill that void.


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We want to thank Jason for taking the time to answer our questions. During our first visit we left with a TON of cupcakes (courtesy of La Cakerie) and have since visited several times to show our support for this new local bakery, so check back for our review on everything from their sweet and savory cupcakes to their buttery pastries.

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader Stacy (Baltimore, MD)

Sometimes You Just Need a Bite

Pint-sized cupcakes are already hard to turn away, so when you take an already small treat and make it even smaller it’s next to impossible to say “no!” Today, we are sharing a collection of small bite treats we’ve sampled, from Smith Island Cake Company’s miniscule “cake-its” to a new Starbucks cake-pop flavor.

Smith Island Cake-Its

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While in the bakery section of the Giant grocery store, I spotted a wide variety of Smith Island Cake treats. I’ve never actually tried Smith Island Cake (you don’t have to say it… I know… it’s practically a sin among Maryland-based cake lovers), so was excited to see such an assortment. They had mini cakes (which I might have to get one day), slices of their famous layered cake, cake pops, and these teeny tiny little cake bites, which they call “Cake-Its.” I haven’t seen anything like them before, so snatched them up without a second thought. The flavors included were: Original (yellow cake/chocolate icing), Red Velvet (red velvet cake/cream cheese icing), and Coconut (white cake/coconut buttercream). Even though Crusader’s Elisa’s review of their cupcakes didn’t have tons of positive things to say, she’s always said great things about their layered cake, so I was hopeful that these treats would be moist and delightful, and lucky for me, they were. I didn’t really have a favorite because each time I ate a new flavor, I would decide it was the best. Much smaller than a typical cake pop or cake truffle, each was like a little explosion of flavor. The Red Velvet had a good cocoa flavor, the Classic had a rich deep dark chocolate flavor from their signature frosting, and I thought coconut was perfect for any coconut lover.

Godiva Cake Truffles

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Being a long-time Godiva lover (let’s face it, who isn’t?), I couldn’t wait to try their new line of cake truffles, which were created with the cake master himself, Chef Duff from Charm City Cakes. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but was able to pick up three flavors on my visit: Birthday Cake, Butterscotch Walnut Brownie, and Pineapple Hummingbird. To my (slight) disappointment, there was no cake involved, but these still had the wonderful creaminess and richness you would expect from a Godiva truffle. The Birthday Cake had a white (pink) chocolate outer layer, then a milk chocolate layer, and a “funfetti cake” center. This didn’t really have the “cake batter” like flavor I was hoping for and, for the most part, just tasted like a white and milk chocolate truffle. The Butterscotch Walnut Brownie ended up being my favorite, and was reminiscent of “brownie batter” with all the other flavors being very present as well. The final truffle, Pineapple Hummingbird, also had a good mixture of flavors, but was still missing that cake-like quality. If you’ve ever had a cake batter ice cream flavor, you know what I’m talking about. I still love Godiva, but I think I’ll be sticking to my favorite, the dark chocolate raspberry truffle, on future visits.

Hamilton Bakery Carrot Cake Cake Truffle

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With Hamilton Bakery located a hop, skip, and jump from my front door, it’s a shame that their cupcakes don’t rank higher on my list. Despite that, their other baked goods and friendly customer service always have me stopping in for something. During a breakfast visit for a scone and a cup of Zeke’s I spotted this Carrot Cake cake truffle. It was the first time I had seen cake truffles at Hamilton Bakery, so I quickly added that to my order. The texture was perfect: not too dry and not too mushy. The spicy carrot cake flavor was also perfect and the thin coating of white chocolate didn’t overpower this bite-sized treat.

Starbucks Chocolate Raspberry Cake Pop

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We are no strangers to Starbucks‘ cake pops. From the classic Birthday Cake to the seasonal Peppermint Brownie (also pictured above) we grab these sweet additions to our coffee break when a caffeine high isn’t enough. Recently we spotted a flavor we hadn’t seen before: Chocolate Raspberry. Crusader Jenn said this cake pop was good with rich moist chocolate cake and raspberry flavor. Although the raspberry tasted a bit artificial.

How do you feel about cake pops, truffles, and other similar items? Do you think there is room in the dessert world for them and cupcakes, or will cupcakes always outshine these tiny treats?

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader Stacy (Baltimore, MD)

Warming Up This Winter with Hot Beverage Cupcakes

As a graphic designer, you would hope that I would be impervious to products marketed specifically for the winter season. I know the tactics used to get shoppers to buy these products, so theoretically, this should keep me from purchasing them. Well cupcake lovers, this is not the case. I too fall subject to the snowflakes, fun type, and bold colorful photos. Exhibit A:

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When I saw this Betty Crocker Hot Chocolate cupcake mix, I almost danced in the grocery aisle. I can’t help myself. Sure, I know that it’s really just a normal chocolate cake mix with some mini marshmallows tossed in and a sub-par frosting mixture added to the box, but while my head says “don’t succumb to the festive graphics,” everything else inside of me screams, “BUY IT!”

So that is exactly what I did.

It turned out to be a good thing that I purchased this box mix because I signed up to make 3 dozen cupcakes for a charity event and knew the kids would love these. To go along with the “hot beverage theme” I also decided to make two dozen Coffee and Doughnuts cupcakes, which have been on my list for quite some time.

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(Coffee and Doughnuts and Hot Chocolate cupcakes ready to be eaten.)

Aren’t they pretty? I wish they all had turned out this well…

I decided not to modify the Hot Chocolate cupcake mix in order to provide you all with a review of exactly what I thought of Betty Crocker’s winter product. The directions say to beat the frosting while it cooks on the stove and that it will fluff up in the process. Unfortunately, I have no electrical outlet near my stove, so this proved to be a challenge—which I lost. The frosting ended up super runny and there didn’t appear to be enough for twelve cupcakes, so I added confectioners sugar until the consistency thickened and there looked to be enough for the dozen cupcakes I had cooling. This, however, made the frosting lose its marshmallow-like flavor and instead, just taste like sugar. Despite this, it went on the cupcake nicely and I figured the kids probably wouldn’t mind the sugary flavor.

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(I only have a few of these fancy teacup cupcake cups, so the majority of the cupcakes were baked in Christmas paper liners.)

I was really happy with the end result and added little marshmallows and a cookie roll to the top for the finishing touches. Sadly, when I woke the next day, the cupcakes looked like this:

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The frosting on about half of them had oozed and melted off the cupcakes, while the other half remained in place. I have no idea what happened. The cupcakes had completely cooled and (ignoring my usual “no fridge rule”) I left them in the fridge overnight, just to make sure the house didn’t get too warm with all the baking I was doing. In the end, I decided that these could not be taken to the event so only delivered six of these and two dozen of the coffee and doughnuts cupcakes, instead of the three dozen I initially promised.

The Coffee and Doughnuts cupcakes actually ended up being much easier to make than the Betty Crocker Hot Chocolate cupcakes. I used my typical chocolate cake modification for box mix (one box of instant chocolate pudding and mini chocolate chips). For the frosting, I made a simple buttercream recipe (3 sticks of butter and about 5 cups of confectioners sugar to taste) and then mixed one to two tablespoons of cream with about a tablespoon of instant decaf coffee and added it to the frosting. I just did everything to taste, so if you like a sweeter frosting you can use more sugar and if you prefer a more buttery frosting, just use less sugar. It’s really as easy as that.

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To make these cupcakes even easier, I bought pre-made doughnut holes and placed them on top before delivering them to the party. These cupcakes were a huge hit, and I have to admit, the coffee buttercream was some of the best frosting I’ve ever made.

Since there was some frosting leftover, I decided to freeze it to make cakepops at a later time. I also had some frozen chocolate cake leftover from removing the center of cupcakes for fillings, so all I had to do was thaw the cake pieces and frosting, mix those together, roll into balls, and freeze. For the chocolate coating, I didn’t want it to be too thick, so I turned to one of my favorite blogs, Love from the Oven. From there, I navigated my way to Simply Designing, which recommended to add a bit of vegetable oil to the chocolate while melting it.

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The cakepops dipped well into the melted chocolate and, as I had hoped, there was only a thin layer of coating. I was worried that some of my family wouldn’t like them because of the coffee flavor (they aren’t all addicted coffee drinkers like my sisters and I), but the chocolate ended up overpowering the coffee, so everyone loved them. Next time I will add some instant coffee granules to the cake/frosting mixture to bump that flavor up more, but for this occasion, I think it was perfect and that the coffee undertones actually helped to enhance the chocolate flavor.

Even though not all of these hot beverage cupcakes turned out as I had hoped, I still have many “beverage themed” cupcakes I would like to explore, like tea-infused and Dr. Pepper cupcakes. My advice, however, is this: skip Betty Crocker’s Hot Chocolate cupcake mix, and make your own version of a Hot Chocolate cupcake instead. You’ll thank me later.

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader Stacy (Baltimore, MD)

Art and Cake Bakery | Arbutus, MD

When I heard about Art and Cake Bakery located in Arbutus, MD, I quickly added it to my ever growing list of “must visit” cupcake spots. Not long after that, Art and Cake Bakery offered a Groupon deal for $20 worth of baked goods, which was too tempting to pass up. Since my “must visit” list seems to grow longer every day, it wasn’t until the day the Groupon expired that I redeemed it (talk about cutting it close!).

Art and Cake Bakery is a full service bakery with breads, bagels, cookies, pastries, and even freshly prepared breakfast dishes like french toast. Obviously I headed straight for the cupcakes. The man behind the counter (who I’m guessing is one of the owners, Eric Boardley) greeted me with a big smile as soon as I walked through the door and patiently waited as I selected 4 cupcakes, 1 cake pop, and a loaf of bread ($20 will get you a lot of baked goods…). The flavors I took home were: Caramel, Coconut, Chocolate Raspberry, and Chocolate Peanut Butter.

Caramel

I was expecting this cupcake to be exploding in caramel flavor. It was filled with caramel, then dipped in it, and even the frosting was swirled with it, but somehow this cupcake managed not to have much caramel flavor at all. The best way to describe the texture of the cake is to say that it reminded me of a sponge, but at least it had a decent, subtle vanilla flavor. After trying all 4 cupcakes from Art and Cake Bakery, this one ended up being my least favorite.

Coconut

The cake in this cupcake was just like the cake from the caramel cupcake. The frosting was also very sweet, but actually quite tasty. If you are a coconut lover, which I happen to be, this cupcake is a great selection because, as you can see, it’s COVERED in shredded coconut.

Chocolate Raspberry

Unfortunately, the chocolate cake and ganache on this cupcake weren’t as rich as I would have liked, but the raspberry filling was great. The filling was a little more sweet than tart, but since the cake and ganache weren’t that sweet it created a good balance. In the end, the raspberry filling saved this cupcake.

Chocolate Peanut Butter

The chocolate cake on this cupcake was sadly the same bland cake found on the Chocolate Raspberry cupcake, but there was peanut butter baked in the center of the cake which added more depth and flavor, making it my favorite of all 4 flavors.

Chocolate Cake Pop

After experiencing the chocolate cake on 2 of the 4 cupcakes, I was really worried this cake pop would be bland, but it somehow managed to not be too bad. It still wasn’t super rich, but it had a good balance of chocolatiness and sweetness.

Even if the cupcakes from Art and Cake Bakery didn’t “wow” me, the service and the fresh baked bread did (that loaf of bread might have been the best I’ve ever had). If I’m in the area and decide to stop in for more savory goodies, I just might be lured into trying another sweet treat too.

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

Fabulous Fall Selection from Kupcakes & Co.

My friend (and guest Crusader from our first California review), Julie flew in a week and a half ago to visit for a long weekend. For the most part, our plan was to visit Hersheypark because the amazing Megan Hilty, from NBC’s Smash, would be performing. However, I couldn’t host company for the weekend without cupcakes. This is what my friends have come to expect from me.

I decided that we would take a “back way” home from the airport (to avoid traffic, of course!) that conveniently took us past Kupcakes & Co. On this day I was able to take home all five of the new fall flavors! Michelle, owner of Kupcakes & Co., was very generous and also gave us a non-seasonal cupcake, a cupcake parfait which Stacy had been dying to try, cake pops including one fall flavor, and cookies! We left with more than enough to take us through the weekend!

Salted Caramel Chocolate Parfait

When I told Stacy that I would be stopping in Kupcakes & Co., her instructions to me were to bring her a fall treat. Her order of priority would be a parfait first, then cupcake, then cake pop. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any fall flavored parfaits but when Michelle heard that we still hadn’t tried one and how much Stacy wanted to, she wouldn’t let me leave without selecting one of the three options being offered that day. I choose the Salted Caramel Chocolate because caramel is a good flavor for the season (I think I’ll have to go back for the chocolate raspberry).

As you can imagine, a dessert layered with frosting and caramel is sweet! We’ve tried the cupcake version before but Dan (my hubby) really loved the parfait. I think he’s addicted now. Maybe it’s the size? Or all the frosting? But he has found a new love. I have to be honest, I might be addicted now too.

Maple Walnut

The Maple Walnut boasted a ton of maple flavor. Because of this, it would be difficult to finish a whole one without a cup of milk nearby, but I loved it. It reminded me of the maple candies I used to pick up every fall on a trip to Deep Creek with my hubby.

Pumpkin

Pumpkin is definitely the most popular flavor of the season. And, I’m admittedly obsessed with it. This cupcake had a cake that is denser than Kupcakes & Co.’s usual cake, but that’s expected with pumpkin, and it was so moist! The thing that sets this cupcake apart from other pumpkin flavors is the tasty cinnamon cream cheese frosting that was a perfect complement.

Spice Cake

We expected the spice cake with cream cheese frosting would be similar to the carrot cake in flavor but were pleased to discover that it has its own distinct (and delicious) taste. Stacy pointed out that the spice flavor, from the nutmeg used, would make it perfect for the winter holiday. Hopefully Kupcakes & Co. will consider carrying this cupcake into winter.

Caramel Apple

Another favorite combination of the season, this cupcake had a moist apple cake, vanilla frosting, and a caramel drizzle. As far as apple caramel cupcakes go, this one was a little too sweet for me. Since Stacy, Julie, Dan, and I were sharing, I only got a portion and I would have liked more apple in my piece.

Carrot Cake

Like most, Kupcake & Co. tops their carrot cake with their awesome cream cheese frosting. It’s one of the best I’ve had…not too sweet, great spice in the cake, and great texture with fresh shredded carrot and nuts.

Mint Chocolate Chip

The Mint Chocolate Chip is definitely the odd-ball in a group of exclusively fall flavors. It is not one of their fall selections, but sneaked its way into our box. As much as I wanted to dive into it, I let Dan have this one all to himself, as a consolation prize for staying home with Leah while Stacy, Julie, and I had a girls’ dinner out. You’ll have to take his word for it when he says it was delicious. I think we can trust him, since he’s been on many, many crusades with me.

Cake Pops

Stacy called dibs on the Pumpkin cake pop (the bright, orange colored one), so that left the rest of us with the Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Crunch and Peanut Butter Marshmallow White Chocolate (Fluffernutter?) cake pops. I thought maybe Stacy was the lucky one after she raved about the Pumpkin cake pop, but upon trying the Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Crunch, I’d pick it again in a heartbeat.

Cookies
Kupcakes & Co. has been serving up cookies, along with biscotti, buckeyes, and other non-cupcake goodies, for a while now, and they really know what they are doing when it comes to baked treats. This time we got to try their large sugar cookie sandwich with chocolate ganache filling and a pumpkin chocolate chip sandwich cookie. It was so good. I mean REALLY good. So, if you are in there for a cupcake, don’t turn your nose up at the cookies.

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader, Jenn (Westminster, MD)

Elisa’s 30th Birthday Baking Experiment: Red Velvet Cake Pops and Vanilla Buttercream

Something you may not know about Crusader Elisa is that she loves her birthday. This means that her birthday doesn’t just involve a causal gathering with balloons and cake, but instead, it is a full day (sometimes a full weekend or even week) of fun activities and full on celebration. This year she celebrated her 30th birthday so of course, it had to be spectacular! Elisa decided that we would start the day at our favorite bi-annual Patterson Park Flea Market, then have a small barbeque (just the Crusaders, significant others, and Jenn’s daughter) at my house, and end the day with a party in a rented out room at one of our favorite Baltimore hang outs, the Waterfront Hotel in Fells Point. While we were discussing all the details of the day, I asked if she would like me to handle the cupcakes. She excitedly said that she would love if I would do that, and requested one of her favorites, Funfetti.

After much thought I decided that not only would I do Funfetti cupcakes, but I would make Red Velvet cake pops (she is our Red Velvet Crusader after all…) dipped in white chocolate and finished with rainbow sprinkles to match the Funfetti cupcakes. I also decided that instead of using pre-made frosting from a jar, I was going to attempt a rich vanilla buttercream.

On the evening of my baking adventure, I decided to start with the cake pops so they could have plenty of time to cool before dipping them. I pulled out a Red Velvet cupcake mix that had been given to me as a gift and got to work.

You may recall that during my last cake pop making experience, using a mix didn’t turn out quite as I had hoped. The cake pops were too fluffy and as a result there were a few casualties. I was determined to keep that from happening this time, so I compared the ingredients and add-ins from the packaged mix to the recipes that come with the BabyCakes Cake Pop maker.

It looked as if the results should be okay, so I continued with the instructions from the packaging. They didn’t rise as much as I would have liked, which resulted in one side being a little flat, but I figured that could be the bottom of the cake pop, where the stick gets inserted.

While those cooled in the refrigerator, I moved on to the cupcakes. I wasn’t worried about these at all.

Box mix – check.

Instant Jell-o pudding to add in – check.

Follow the instructions on the box – check.

It really was as easy at that. The result were light, fluffy, and moist “Rainbow Chip” (AKA: Funfetti) cupcakes. Before I tackled the more difficult portion of these cupcakes, the homemade vanilla buttercream frosting, I decided to go back to the cake pops. While the cupcakes were in the oven I had inserted the sticks so they were ready for dipping.

For the white chocolate coating I had two options, fancy bars of organic madagascan vanilla white chocolate and a bag of Nestle Toll House white chocolate chips, which were meant to be a backup in case I needed more. Well, I needed more, and I learned not to take the cheap road when it comes to white chocolate. The organic white chocolate melted, dipped, and set up beautifully, while the cheap white chocolate chips didn’t set up quickly at all, resulting in major drips.

It was definitely a struggle to work with, but with just a few “oopsies” I managed to finish the rest of the cake pops. The result was a stunning deep red inside with a crunchy sweet white coating.

With the cake pops out of the way it was time to focus on the frosting for the cupcakes. I was really worried about this at first, but after a mini Facebook conversation with Christi from Love from the Oven, I was feeling much more confident about experimenting without a recipe. We discussed possible add-ins and she shared links from her blog with me. In the end I decided on adding in marshmallow fluff. I had already ordered my madagascar bourbon vanilla bean paste and knew that I would add a touch of salt to balance out the sweetness. Armed with my three “secret” weapons, I was ready to tackle this next baking challenge.

To achieve a frosting I was happy with, I ended using the following measurements (approximately):

  • 2 Sticks of Unsalted Butter
  • 2 Cups of Confectioners Sugar
  • Most of a 7oz container of Marshmallow Fluff (looking back I probably could have used the whole thing)
  • About a 1/4 of a 4oz bottle of Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean Paste (Christi told me to use a lot so I just kept on pouring…)
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
  • Whipping Cream and Milk until it reached my desired consistency

At first I wasn’t sure if the frosting was too buttery and not sweet enough, but when I tried it with the cupcake, it was a perfect balance! Even Jenn, who wasn’t thrilled with just the frosting at first, thought that it paired really nicely. And of course, Elisa, who loves buttery frosting, thought it was great! And really, she was the only opinion that mattered. But on top of all that, everyone at the party seemed to really enjoy all the sweet treats. It was my first attempt at a fancy buttercream frosting, and I couldn’t have been more proud of the outcome and I was so happy to be able to provide Elisa with the tasty cupcakes and cake pops she deserved on her 30th birthday!


(Photo by Kenneth Adam)

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