Cake Pops: Cousin to the cupcake

Recently I “ran into” three cake pops that I couldn’t pass up. The first two were from Whole Foods in Mt. Washington. I was going in hoping for cupcakes because I’ve read before that they are decent. Unfortunately, there were no cupcakes but they did have cake pops (so not a total waste of a time).

They had three flavor options: white chocolate, dark chocolate, and pistachio. Neither my hubby or I are huge white chocolate fans, so I left with a dark chocolate and a pistachio for about $2 each (I think).

We started with the pistachio. Lately, my hubby and I have been snacking on pistachios so we were both really excited, only be be let down. The pistachios on the outside were soft and chewy, and there really wasn’t much flavor present. Bummer. But we moved on to the next one.

The dark chocolate was melt in your mouth amazing. It was super rich and chocolatey, so much so I grabbed a glass of milk. We were both wishing we didn’t have to share this tiny morsel of a treat. Even though my local Whole Foods doesn’t seem to carry cupcakes, I’ll definitely be going back for their dark chocolate cake pops.

Shorty after that, I strolled into Starbucks for my expensive coffee fix (it’s a special treat for me). I’ve tried their standard cake pops before (see here and here), but on this particular visit, they had a seasonal flavor: peppermint brownie. I figured, why not?

With my holiday red cup in one hand and my cake pop in the other, I headed home. I love the look of this cake pop. White with red flecks scream “winter holiday” and it stays true to Starbuck’s red and white holiday branding.

I have to admit though, I was a bit disappointed. I’m not sure exactly why, but overall it just didn’t excite me. I did enjoy the combination of textures though, with the soft cake, fudgey coating, and crunchy sugar crystals. I think that was definitely the best thing this cake pop had to offer. Guess I’ll have to stick with their tiramisu and rocky road flavors.

Even if I’ve had some recent hit or miss experiences with cake pops, I think they are a fabulous addition to the “tiny treat” family. I’m visiting a cupcake shop this weekend that often carries cake pops, so I’m really hoping they’ll have them. I know that the quality of a grocery store and a coffee chain won’t come close to that of a family run cupcakery. I can’t wait!

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

Guest Post: Cake Pops | Sweet Sixteen Cafe | Lockport, NY

We are excited to share our first guest post by Alli from Creative Exurbia. Alli is a fantastic graphic designer and a close friend of the Crusaders. When Crusader Stacy was returning from Ontario her and her hubby dropped by Alli’s house in upstate New York for a brief visit and Alli had a nice little treat waiting for them.

When you find out your friend Stacy (aka Cupcake Crusader Stacy) is coming to town, you plan to have cupcakes.

Period.

About a month before she and her husband were to stop by my place here in the exurbs I was lucky enough to stumble upon a Groupon for  Sweet Sixteen Cafe. The café is located in Lockport, NY — only 25 miles from me — and I had yet to pay them a visit. This was the perfect opportunity!

The Groupon was for six of their award winning cake pops. My mouth watered while reading their menu and because I wanted to be able to taste a variety of flavors, I called the shop beforehand to place an order. I learned that special orders start at a minimum of 50 and that it would be best to just stop in.

So the day before Stacy’s arrival, I headed to Lockport. I was pleased to see that Sweet Sixteen Cafe was a nice looking establishment. I was greeted with a clean, eye catching logo, cute interior, a wall of gift items for sale, an extremely friendly staff and ALL six flavors of cake pops listed on their chalkboard. Hurray!

Come to find out, the baker was coming in that afternoon and they had only seven cake pops in just three of the flavors remaining. Grr. I took what they had left and hoped for them that no other Groupon-holding customer would arrive after me! I was told that I was getting one red velvet, one Nutella, and four pumpkin spice flavored cake pops.

They handed me a beautiful box along with a mini red velvet cupcake. (The mini cupcake was a treat to go alongside my light lunch. It is a bakery and a café after all!) The mini-cake was one bite of perfectly melded flavors.


(Cake pops to go, and a small treat while there. Photo Courtesy Alli from Creative Exurbia)

The cake pops were unlike any we had seen. Rather than being ball-shaped they were rectangular as if they’d been cubed from a whole cake and then dipped in chocolate. Each pop had two layers of frosting sandwiched in between three layers of cake. They were stunning!


(Photo Courtesy Alli from Creative Exurbia)

We started with “pumpkin spice” since we had the most of this flavor. The cake was moist and flavorful, but wait. What flavor? Unmistakably, a classic carrot cake with rich cream cheese icing dipped in white chocolate. I was more shocked than disappointed that the staff member didn’t know the flavor she served. However, it was delicious and we had no problem eating all of them.


(Pumpkin Spice (AKA: Carrot Cake) from Sweet Sixteen Cafe.)

Next up was “Nutella” (or so I was told). Stacy took one look at this cake and knew it wasn’t Nutella. After all, Nutella is a hazelnut spread and this cake pop was adorned with chopped peanuts, not hazelnuts. Hmm. Two for two the staff member incorrectly identified their cakes. Now I was disappointed. As it turns out we were tasting the chocolate peanut butter dipped in dark chocolate. This was, however, our favorite flavor of the day. Peanut butter cream in between dark chocolate cake dipped in chocolate on a stick. Need I say more?


(Nutella (AKA: Chocolate Peanut Butter) from Sweet Sixteen Cafe.)

Our final cake pop was, in fact, red velvet. Unfortunately, neither of us were impressed with this one. The menu promised a white chocolate cream cheese frosting, but it tasted more like a basic buttercream. Also, the cake was much too wet and dense. Meh. We had one bite and tossed the rest.


(Red Velvet from Sweet Sixteen Cafe. Photo Courtesy Alli from Creative Exurbia)

Despite the numerous mishaps, the cake pops from Sweet Sixteen Café were quite beautiful and fun to eat. I’ll definitely be returning to taste some of their other offerings such as snickerdoodle and root beer float, that is, if they can serve the correct flavor next time.

– Review by Guest Crusader, Alli (Lyndonville, NY). To find out more about Alli and Creative Exurbia visit www.creative-exurbia.com.

PopsyCakes: Not Just a Tasty Treat

Back in September, Cupcake Crusader, Elisa, stumbled across PopsyCakes at a Florida airport. If you’ve never heard of a PopsyCake, it’s a cupcake stuck on a pretzel stick, dipped in chocolate and then decorated. (Are you drooling yet?) We were all so excited to try this, but unfortunately, it wasn’t as good as we had hoped. However, their Facebook Page is filled with compliment after compliment and after reading their story about how the company began, I decided to contact them to see if we could get a replacement and give them another shot before reviewing.

To give a little background, PopsyCakes were created by Jessica Cervantes when she was just 16 years old. Two years later, in 2008, this idea won her first place in the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE.com) National Business Plan. She is now a college student and managing the business at the same time. After reading this, I knew that I didn’t want to post a negative review, especially if so many people have been enjoying them.

Our first-class experience with PopsyCakes began almost immediately after contacting them. They emailed us back within 12 hours, shocked that we didn’t have a good experience. Convinced that they could change our minds, they decided to send us a variety of flavors to sample, instead of just replacing the 1 PopsyCake we had purchased. I have been so impressed with their customer service and the way they stand behind their product 100%. I think many companies could learn a thing or two from them.

After only waiting a few days (and dealing with some minor issues with USPS… but that’s another story…) my box arrived!

I really wanted to dive right into these the moment they arrived, but knew I needed to take photos of them first and I wanted to share them with the other Crusaders, so, I waited. For 3 days. (It felt like an eternity. Okay, maybe I’m being a little dramatic).

Unfortunately, Crusader Jenn and I had to try them without Elisa, but since they sent us 2 duplicates of the Peanut Butter Blast (the flavor that we had initially tried) I have a full one for Elisa to have. Despite how well they were wrapped, the pretzel sticks on 2 of the 4 were broken.

I wasn’t too concerned about this because I knew I would be cutting it up to share, but I can see that if someone ordered them and they arrived with the sticks broken, they could be disappointed. This also could have happened on my end. I’m honestly not sure. Either way, it was finally time to unwrap and taste them!

The first one we decided to try was the Peanut Butter Blast.

It was a thousand times better than the one we tried back in September! This PopsyCake is described as “Reese’s Peanut Butter cake dipped in scrumptious milk chocolate. Finished with chocolate drizzle and fresh peanut accents” I’m not sure if the cake is actually peanut butter cake, or if the peanut butter is limited to the space between the cake and the milk chocolate.

I think this could use a little more of a “peanut butter punch,” but overall, it still had a nice flavor. The cake closest to the pretzel was the best part with a good mix of salty and sweet. Milk chocolate isn’t my favorite, so it’s hard for me to say that I loved that part, but the cake inside was really good.

Next up: Vanilla Bean Dream

This PopsyCake is vanilla cake dipped in milk chocolate. Usually Jenn and I find that vanilla cake can be boring, but this was actually really good. I think we both agreed that we preferred it over the Peanut Butter Blast. The vanilla cake was light and had great flavor. The milk chocolate on the outside actually worked really well with the cake. After this, we were exited to move on to the next one:

Dark Chocolate Decadence.

Being a big fan of dark chocolate, we decided to save this for last, hoping it would be the best. And in our opinion, it was. This PopsyCake was made with savory brownie cake (which really just tasted like a brownie, but we weren’t complaining) dipped in dark chocolate.

I could have easily finished this whole thing on my own. In fact, I kinda wish I didn’t have to share, but I love my crusaders, so I wasn’t going to do that. (Plus, I’m not sure that I could have even used physical force to get Jenn’s piece away from her). This PopsyCake has left me wishing that PopsyCakes reached more vendors across the USA. Right now they are limited to Florida, but I have no doubts they will continue to expand.

So, what went wrong with our first PopsyCake? Well, the representative from PopsyCakes and I both think that the vendor did not maintain the conditions that are necessary to guarantee freshness of their PopsyCakes. They are aware of the location we purchased ours, and said they will look into it further. If you’ve had a similar experience, I urge you to give PopsyCakes another chance. When you are shipping a product out to a vendor, you put a lot of trust into them, and unfortunately sometimes things go wrong. But after experiencing PopsyCakes for myself, I know you won’t be disappointed if you give them a second chance. Or, if you’ve never tried them, give them a first chance, and then, I’m sure you’ll be going back for more.

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

2011 Cupcake Tour: 2nd Stop – Fancy Cakes by Leslie

After our major letdown during the first stop at Just Cakes, the Crusaders were ready for some good cupcakes and luckily, Fancy Cakes by Leslie did not disappoint.

What a world of difference it was from the moment we walked it. The staff was so friendly and energetic. And the display was full of beautiful and colorful cupcakes!

There were so many flavors, so it took a while for us to decide, but finally we each made our selections.

First Cupcake: Yellow Cake with Passion Fruit Frosting (Jenn’s Selection)


Jenn thought that this cupcake was a little too sweet for her, but still really good. I thought that while it was sweet, it was just right for the flavors that it had.

Second Cupcake: Peanut Butter Chocolate (Jenn’s Selection)


This cupcake is perfect. The Peanut Butter frosting manages to be smooth and creamy while still packing in the peanut butter flavor. The chocolate cake was moist and a perfect compliment to the cupcake.

Third Cupcake: Banana with Chocolate Ganache Frosting (Elisa’s Selection)


Elisa (and everyone) LOVED this cupcake. Elisa describes it best in her own words, “WOW. Honestly, there aren’t enough fantastic adjectives to describe this cupcake. The cake was moist, soft, a little dense – but this was understandable considering it was made with real bananas – and just delicious. I was pleasantly surprised that the cake was still cake-y and didn’t automatically taste like banana bread. Then there was the mouth melting ganach! What a compliment to the cake! Not too sweet, allowing the chocolate to shine. Together it was simply bliss.” Yes, it was all that. So good!

Forth Cupcake: Chocolate Bourbon (Elisa’s Selection)


Elisa’s thoughts: “Filled with a Jack Daniels chocolate filling, this cupcake was chocolate, alcohol, and more chocolate. The cake was moist, the filling delicious, and the icing smooth. While this might not be a cupcake I feed to kids, being an adult who enjoys the flavor of Jack, this cupcake had the perfect balance of alcohol and chocolate. This cupcake was a treat for me, as for the past 7 weeks I have not been drinking while preparing for a half marathon, it was a glimpse into the alcohol I gave up and was one of the highlights of my Cupcake Tour day!” Jenn agreed saying that it was “possibly one of my favorites from the day. Rich chocolate, liquor…can’t really go wrong.”

Fifth Cupcake: Peanut Butter and Jelly (my (Stacy) selection)


This cupcake was my top favorite of the day. The cake was light and fluffy, the peanut butter frosting was smooth and creamy and the filling was just the right amount to give the whole cupcake a PB&J feeling without being to gooey in the middle.

I can’t say enough good things about this cupcake, except that you really need to try it for yourself. I’m a big fan of PB&J’s and this was exactly that in cupcake form. Jenn agreed and said, “The PB&J really tastes like a PB&J! Even though it doesn’t look like a lot of jam filling for the amount of frosting, it all balanced perfectly.” I think I will have wonderful dreams about this cupcake until we can meet again…

Sixth Cupcake: Spiced Chocolate (my selection)


I have never had spiced chocolate before, so I was immediately intrigued by this flavor. I also loved the color combinations with the rich dark brown and the vibrant teal. While this cupcake wasn’t my favorite of the day, the cake was moist and fluffy, and the frosting was rich and wonderful just like all the other cupcakes we tried. The spice offset the chocolate in a really nice way. Since I was sharing, I only got a bite of this flavor, so I think I would definitely re-order again, just to have the whole thing to myself.

Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of the last cupcake, which my dad ordered. It was a Lemon Coconut, and was just as delicious as the rest. Jenn thought that the coconut flavor was overpowered a little by the lemon flavor, but I thought it was perfect.

Other than cupcakes this shop has tons of different cake/cupcake related treats:

They have cake push pops, which seem to be increasing in popularity, a “decorate your own” station, mini cakes and cake pops, and even “Puppycakes!”

All around this stop was a much better experience than the first. With the friendly staff (who asked about our tour and the blog and seemed really excited about it) and the amazing cupcakes, I can’t wait to go back for more. After this stop the Crusaders were re-energized and ready to continue the tour.

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

My Starbucks Birthday Cake Cakepop Quest is Over!!!

Happy Monday Cupcake Lovers! So, you may or may not have read in an earlier blog post that I was on a mini quest to taste the Birthday Cake flavored Cakepop at Starbucks. As I mentioned in that post, there are several things I believe are in the “cupcake family,” like cakepops, cakeballs, doughnuts, muffins, etc., so to me this is an okay topic for this blog. When my quest began, I had already tried the Tiramisu flavor, but had heard that the Birthday Cake one was amazing and this weekend I FINALLY got to try it for myself!

During my search, I was able to try both the Birthday Cake flavored doughnut and the Rocky Road Cakepop. As a reminder, The Rocky Road was really good, but the doughnut? Not so much.

So what are my thoughts on the Birthday Cake Cakepop? It was good. I really did enjoy it, but I think that I like the Tiramisu the best. I guess it would depend on what mood I was in, but I think I would get the Rocky Road or Tiramisu before getting this one again.

Now, that my Starbucks Cakepop quest is over, I will be moving on to try their cupcakes. (Shockingly, I’ve yet to try them). I’ve heard that the chocolate peanut butter one is pretty decent. They also have a red velvet whoopi pie that I want to try. So many sweets… so little time…

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

Sorta related to Cupcakes.

In my opinion, there are several things in the “cupcake family.” Included in this list are cakepops, cakeballs, donuts, muffins, you get my point…If it is sweet and a single serving, then I think it can be discussed on this blog. Well, I guess since it’s my blog I can discuss anything I want, but back to my story:

So, this weekend I started a small, casual search for Starbucks’ Birthday Cake Cakepop. I heard that it was amazing from a friend, and after trying the Tiramisu flavor a while back, I decided that I had to try this one also. My search began on Friday night when I decided to stop into a local Starbucks while picking up dinner. Well, to my suprise, not only did they not have any of the Birthday Cake Cakepops left, they didn’t have any cakepops left at all. So, instead I got:

You may have guessed, it’s the Birthday Cake Mini Doughnut. I have to admit, I love doughnuts, so I was fairly excited about this, but to my disappointment it was bland and didn’t have much flavor at all. Of course that didn’t stop me from finishing it.

So, my search continued… On Sunday, during the trip home from visiting my Grandmother who recently had her hip replaced, my big sister and I decided that a Starbucks trip was necessary. We were about an hour from home and I was convinced that Sunday would be the day I could try the Birthday Cake Cakepop. But no. They had the Tiramisu and the Rocky Road:

So, since I had already tried the Tiramisu I went with the Rocky Road. Thankfully the Rocky Road was actually very delicious. I still think I liked the Tiramisu better, but at least it was much better than the mini doughnut. I can only imagine how good this Birthday Cake Cakepop must be since it’s been sold out the past two times I’ve been to Starbucks. So, the search continues…

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