Celebrating an Amazing Night with Georgetown Cupcakes!

I’m just going to jump into today’s post by saying that back in March, Crusader Jenn and I got to meet Demi Lovato!

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(Eek! Seriously, how adorably is she? Gotta love the pink hair.)

Okay, “meet” may not be the correct word. It was more like: ran into a room and snapped a quick photo with Demi after standing in line for what seemed like hours (and very well could have been), but it was totally worth it!

I should start from the beginning (I promise I’ll get to the cupcakes soon). Back in October I convinced Jenn and Elisa to go with me to see Demi Lovato on her Neon Lights Tour. After buying our tickets, it didn’t take long until they were fans too, so leading up to the concert Jenn and I entered a few contests only to find out a couple weeks before the concert that we (well really Jenn…) won two tickets for floor seats along with passes to the sound check and a “meet and greet.” We couldn’t believe it! But this left us in a bit of a scramble because we ended up with two spare tickets and we didn’t want Elisa sitting alone. Luckily my sister, Alissa, and Elisa’s good friend (and major cupcake enthusiast), Laura, joined us, so no tickets went to waste. Everything worked out perfectly. Elisa, Laura, and Alissa when to dinner, while Jenn and I attended the sound check and “meet and greet.”

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(Our concert-going group from left to right: Jenn, Alissa, me, Elisa, and Laura. So glad I got to spend such an awesome night with some fab ladies!)

It was amazing to hear Demi sing to such a small audience during the sound check (if you don’t already know this, her voice is really incredible) and she KILLED IT during her concert, which at moments had the auditorium feeling like it was a gigantic night club. The energy before, during, and after the concert was palpable, so when we walked out of the venue to discover pouring rain, it didn’t ruin the mood at all. We happily walked/danced/skipped on the long journey back to the car where we discovered that Laura brought us Georgetown Cupcakes. She knows us well!

Laura really is the greatest friend a cupcake lover could ask for and she almost always shows up with Georgetown Cupcakes in tow.

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There was a great variety to choose from so we divided the cupcakes up. I selected Carrot Cake and Cherry Blossom to enjoy over the next couple of days.

Carrot Cake

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Somehow, I had never tried Georgetown’s Carrot Cake before, even though I really like this classic flavor. Unlike most carrot cake, Georgetown’s was very dense and much lighter in color and it wasn’t as chunky either. Even though there were no raisins or nuts (just carrot pieces), it still managed to taste like true carrot cake with a great spice flavor. The frosting was a little gritty in texture, but not too bad. It was also sweet, but the cream cheese flavor blended nicely with the cake. Overall this was a really satisfying cupcake. It wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, but definitely worth trying if you can.

Cherry Blossom

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By the time I got around to eating this cupcake I thought that it would be a little dry, but I was surprised to find out that it was still moist after three days! The cake was also dense like the carrot cake and it had a very subtle cherry flavor. I don’t typically like things that are cherry flavored (except for Cherry Coke… I love that), however this time it was fine with me. Due to the lightness of the flavor it wasn’t overpowering or “fake” tasting.

Jenn and I are excited that we are going to see Demi Lovato preform again in October on her World Tour, which starts this fall. We’ll be in Hershey, PA for that concert, so I’m sure there will be cupcakes! Last time we were in Hershey, all of the cupcakes seemed to be a chocolate/peanut butter combo, so this time I hope to expand outside of that and try some new flavors!

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader, Stacy (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)

An Interview with CakeLove’s Warren Brown

As you saw in our post yesterday, we recently re-visited CakeLove and really enjoyed our experience. Warren Brown, former educator and lawyer, is the owner of CakeLove. He began his baking journey in 1999, with a resolution to overcome a fear of flour, and opened CakeLove, three short years later. He’s a featured chef and was the host of Sugar Rush on the Food Network. Warren has been written about numerous times, both nationwide and here in the Baltimore/DC area.

We were lucky enough to have Warren take some time for a little Q&A session!

CakeLove-WarrenBrown
Warren Brown: Baker, Chef, Author, Host, Entrepreneur, Educator, Lawyer, etc. etc. etc. (Photo found here, no harm intended)

What is your first baking memory?
I didn’t start baking at an early age. My first memories of a real adventure in the kitchen are from around age 10 when I made BBQ sauce and short ribs on the outdoor gas grill. If anything I think the first memories of baking was when my sister and her friends were baking box cakes at our neighbor’s house. I wanted to be there, but wasn’t and in some way I suppose my curiosity about cake started then.

I read that you started baking in 1999, just 1 year prior to leaving your law practice in 2000. What were the first steps you took in changing your career and opening CakeLove?
My first steps toward baking were small steps. I was determined to learn to bake and really use a lot of my research skills to find the best recipes. I found myself combing through books, websites, magazines and asking friends and relatives about their baking secrets. What surprised me was the number of people who had a special baking trick or piece of helpful info that they were willing to share. One man in the apartment building I lived in had a shelf full of books that he let me borrow for a few months. It takes a lot of time to find good recipes—there’s just so much testing involved. It took about 2 years for me to really feel comfortable writing my own recipes. And when I look back at what I wrote, I can really see that baking is a lesson in life-long learning. I’m happy to say that I use a broader array of ingredients now which keeps things interesting. It’s not that I out-and-out disagree with my early recipes, but what we’re doing now is more advanced, better balanced, and features a texture and crumb that is just more delicate.

Do you have any advice for someone who wants to change their careers and start their own business?
Fluffy thoughts advice in a nutshell: Starting a business is a great opportunity to have a memorable and riveting life experience. Recognize that you’re jumping into the unknown and be prepared—at least mentally—for the unexpected. A lot of what will happen will be great so celebrate the good things when they happen. Don’t fret over the bad stuff, not everything in life will go the way you hope.

Nuts & bolts advice in a nutshell: Have a big idea. Get focused on a strategy to make it happen. Check your ego at the door, get lots of feedback and adapt.

Who/What inspired you to become a baker?
I was inspired by memories of my favorite bakery from when I was boy: Lax & Mandel on South Taylor in University Heights, Ohio. The women who worked there were always very kind, the cakes were delicious, and my memories of the goodies in the box on my kitchen counter give me peace.

What is your favorite tool in the kitchen?
My digital scale. It makes measuring fast and accurate.

Do you have a favorite cupcake flavor?
My favorite right now is our Red Velvet. I became a convert once we revamped the recipe in December ‘12 to make it more moist and delicate.

What makes CakeLove different from other bakeries and how did you come up with the name?
Well, I think there is a lot that distinguishes CakeLove from other bakeries. To me, it’s all about the balance we try to achieve in each product—and we sell a variety of items apart from just cupcakes or cake pops. Our eclairs are awesome. The caramel brownies and chocolate chip cookies get lots of nods. The lemon bars never last long.

Of course, our bread & butter are cakes and cupcakes. So we try to keep a reasonable cake to frosting ratio for the cakes and cupcakes. We like the smiles of relief that come when people sample our buttercream or cream cheese icing; they like it because it’s “not too sweet.” And we really enjoy being innovative. We began a gluten free and vegan line back in 2006 which we’ve also recently updated with a wonderful , simpler recipe. I experiment in the kitchen all of the time and am very excited about our latest new release: Cake in a Jar. It’s cake & cream cheese icing in a recyclable jar with a screw top. It gives our product portability and customers have the option to eat a little now and save the rest for later. We’re stoked about its pending release in June.

The name CakeLove has always been a great part of the business. We get a lot of positive feedback about it. I love cake and wanted a strong name and thought a compound word would be fun. I don’t know why, but I’ve always liked compound words. Anyway, “love cake” didn’t quite work so I flipped it and found myself liking CakeLove from the beginning.

If you aren’t making the desserts yourself, where are you buying them from?
I’m liking my friend Jeff’s ice cream sandwiches from Cream Cycle—ice cream sandwiches sold via (adult sized) tricycles.

You were a great host on the Food Network’s Sugar Rush, will we see you or CakeLove on TV again anytime soon?
Thanks, I had fun hosting. No plans now, but we’re always talking with producers about ideas. A lot of the time I’ve spent working on media over the past few years has been focused on research & writing. My fourth cook book, PieLove, publishes this September. (Stewart, Tabori & Chang)

You recently made some changes to CakeLove, including recipes and refrigeration, what made you change things?
After ten plus years we took stock of where we were and listened closely to what people were saying. We’re thankful for all of the feedback—it’s been a gift in terms of telling us what our customers like and don’t like. After a few deep gulps, we committed to change and dove in. We just kept it simple and asked what can we do better? Display the cupcakes so they’re ready to eat—done. Revamp the recipes so they have a softer texture—done. Boost the flavor of the red velvet—done. And so on.

Since we initiated change at the bakery, I’ve noticed just how many other businesses are doing the same thing and how normal it is. For a while I think I didn’t want to embrace change out of fear of alienating our core base. But our core values of baking from scratch with only the finest ingredients remains firmly in place and with our commitment to quickly incorporate the feedback from our community via social media, focus groups, and feedback swaps we’ve adapted and have much better product because of it.

We cannot thank Warren (and Kim LaMore, CakeLove’s Corporate Sales and Service Manager) enough for taking the time to contact us and answer our questions. We really enjoyed our second visit to CakeLove and Warren inspires us to continue to pursue our dreams, just as he did. If you’re ever in the area, stop in to one of his CakeLove shops and enjoy a sweet treat!

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader Elisa (Baltimore, MD)

A Second Chance for True “CakeLove”

We Crusaders want each cupcake we try to be great, sadly that isn’t always the case and sometimes we end up writing reviews that aren’t so sweet. Because we pride ourselves in being perfectly honest, good or bad, we will write about it. Every so often we hear back about changes that a baker or shop made after reading our review, with requests to try their cupcakes again. Well, we love eating cupcakes and are always up for giving a shop a second chance, so when CakeLove contacted us about giving them another try, we knew we had to go!

Crudsader Stacy was the first to try CakeLove about a year ago (read review), sadly it didn’t quite live up to her expectations. Kim LaMore, CakeLove’s Corporate Sales and Service Manager, saw our review this past February and contacted us about giving CakeLove another try. We were excited to hear that they made some changes after reading reviews from yelp, bloggers, and other social media outlets. (It is always nice when companies listen to their customers and take criticism in stride.)

After planning with Crusaders Jenn and Stacy, I set out to swing by CakeLove after the DC Rock & Roll 1/2 Marathon in March. When I got to the shop I was greeted by very friendly staff and choose 6 cupcakes to bring back to Baltimore. The Crusaders and I made plans to spend the next day together and try them in true “cupcake buffet” form.

Bailey’s
CakeLove-Baileys

Who wouldn’t want some Bailey’s and chocolate cake the day after running a 1/2 Marathon, oh, and on St. Patrick’s day! While we thought the chocolate cake was just ok, the frosting really stood out and packed a punch of Bailey’s flavor. When eaten together the cake and frosting combination was a win.

Coffee Chocolate
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All three of the Crusaders love coffee, so this flavor was a must when I made my selections, and this cupcake did not disappoint. While we agreed that the cake by itself was nothing extraordinary, the frosting was amazing and we could have eaten a tub of it. The cake in this instance was merely a vessel for the fantastic frosting.

Red Velvet
CakeLove-RedVel

As always, Red Velvet vexes me and my cupcake crusade. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t a stand out in this bunch. The frosting was very smooth and a bit sweet, with an interestingly different flavor to it, perhaps mascarpone and a bit of butter? I wouldn’t mind having more of that frosting, but am not sure I want it on their Red Velvet cupcake.

Salted Caramel
CakeLove-SaltedCaramel

Lovely swirls of caramel and salt crystals adorn the delicious frosting of this cupcake, sadly the cake underneath was a bit dry and crumbly. I personally loved the frosting, it was smooth, very buttery (my favorite), and Crusader Stacy agreed that it had great salted caramel flavor. Crusader Jenn thought the frosting didn’t balance the sweet and salty, so this wasn’t her favorite frosting or cupcake.

Strawberry Vanilla
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This cupcake reminded me more of Strawberry Shortcake than a cupcake. The cake was a dry and crumbly, like that of the Salted Caramel, and even though the frosting was smooth and had great flavor, it couldn’t save this cupcake from being just “ok.”

Triple Chocolate
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Sweeter than the rest, I was glad I saved this chocolate explosion for last! Rich and chocolatey, Crusader Stacy wished she had a glass of milk to drink with it. The shavings on top added a nice texture. And while super sweet isn’t always my style, this is a cupcake I would eat again and again.

CakeLove obviously made some fantastic changes to their recipes and we enjoyed their re-vamped cupcakes. We cannot thank them enough for reaching out to us! Not only did it give me a reason to eat cupcakes after running 13.1 miles, but it also gave us a fresh perspective on this very accomplished bakery. (And an added bonus for our readers: Kim sent along some interview questions to Warren Brown himself! Watch for that interview tomorrow.)

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

Rockin’ the 9:30 Club Cupcakes

The 9:30 Club in Washington DC has been rockin’ and rollin’ since 1980 – before any of the Crusaders were born – and has cemented its place in DC’s live music scene. Everyone from Bob Dylan to the Smashing Pumpkins have played shows there, and I have been going to concerts there for 15 years, that’s half my lifetime! Recently, I went to see Rufus Wainwright at the 9:30 Club with my friend Laura. We’ve been listening to Rufus since I was introduced to him in college and were so excited to see him live – AND eat cupcakes.

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Not all music venues offer good food (mostly it is just fried chicken tenders and soggy french fries) but at 9:30 you can get an assortment of delicious sandwiches, wraps, and even some entrees… And if you are really lucky, you get there early enough to grab one of the 9:30 Club Cupcakes!

Baked by Buzz Bakery (locations in both Arlington and Alexandria VA) these cupcakes are simply delicious! It wasn’t because Laura and I were starving, or the two drinks we had while we waited for our food order, we both agreed: the cupcakes were really good. Super moist and rich chocolate cake with a thick layer of smooth, melt-in-your-mouth ganache frosting, a sweet buttercream center, and to finish it all off: a hand pipped 9:30 logo on top. We were lucky to get two of the last few that were remaining, and after tasting them, we knew why they disappeared so quickly.

Great concerts are always easy to find at the 9:30 Club – who knew great cupcakes could be found there too? So the next time you find yourself rockin’ out in DC, get there early and grab a cupcake, it’s worth the cold wait in line.

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

Baked with Love: Tweet’s Sweets

Last month we shared an interview with Tweet’s Sweets discussing both her charity event to raise money for cancer patients and why cancer awareness is so important to her. Tweety has seen many close friends and family battle cancer, so she has dedicated her company and her baking skills to fighting back. Her most recent event, Cancer Bites: We’ll Bite Harder, raised $1,500 which was divided between three charities. Tweety told us that two of those charities had people waiting to receive the funds to help with the expenses for fighting cancer. At the event, Tweety made a shocking announcement: she’s now battling cancer herself. Instead of letting this discourage her, Tweety is pressing forward and is determined to overcome cancer while growing her business. To watch videos of the event, click here and here.

After her fundraising event, Tweety found time in her busy schedule to hand-deliver cupcakes to us for a tasting. She provided three flavors: Suga Mama (Sweet Potato), Red Velvet, and Licia’s Puddin (Banana Pudding).

Suga Mama (Sweet Potato):

Our initial reaction? This woman can BAKE! The sweet potato cake was incredibly moist. So moist in fact that Crusader Jenn said, “Maybe almost too moist?” I’m not sure how that is possible, except that it was a little difficult to pick up and eat, but being a cupcake warrior, I seemed to manage just fine.

Red Velvet:

I think this was my favorite out of all three. Normally Red Velvet isn’t my thing (I reserve this flavor for our Red Velvet Crusader, Elisa), but Tweety had just the right blend of flavors and moist cake—which seems to be a rarity when it comes to Red Velvet. While the frosting to cake ratio might not seem to be enough for some, it was surprisingly perfect.

Licia’s Puddin (Banana Pudding):

This cupcake ended up being Crusader Jenn’s favorite. The moist cake was a bit denser than the Red Velvet, but that’s to be expected since it was packed with real bananas. Because of all the fresh ingredients used, Tweety told us to keep this cupcake refrigerated. Normally this wreaks havoc on cake, causing it to dry out, but not Tweety’s cupcakes! It was just as moist and wonderful as if it was fresh from the oven.

Tweet’s Sweets’ cupcakes are a rare find in today’s world of over-the-top cupcakes. They are simple with a homemade quality that doesn’t come around very often. With each bite you feel like you are sitting in your grandmother’s kitchen, listening to the stories of the “good ole days,” while snacking on fresh baked goods. She says she learned to bake from her “Nan” back when she was just a young girl and her love of baking is evident with each cupcake.

Tweet’s Sweets recently celebrated their 5th anniversary by giving goodies away to their fans while raising money for the homeless (Tweety is a super-hero when it comes to giving back!). When asked where she sees herself in the next year, she replied, “Next year I am anticipating having another fundraiser where I announce that I have bitten cancer into remission.” We believe that with her drive and determination, Tweety can do anything!

To read our full interview with Tweet’s Sweets, click here.

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

Well deserved “Crumbs”

A couple of weekends ago I ran my very first full marathon! Running through Washington DC I tried to remember not too push too much and to enjoy the historic sites we were passing along the course. It obviously worked, because 26.2 miles later, I had completed the Marine Corps Marathon and I felt a great sense of accomplishment. I’ve mentioned in the past how much fun it is to receive the medal at the end, and at this marathon’s end, a Marine placed the medal around my neck and saluted me. WOW.

While running for just under 5.5 hours, I thought about a lot of different things and dessert kept popping up. I knew how I wanted to celebrate finishing the marathon—with cupcakes! After going back to my friend’s apartment in Arlington, to clean up and rest a bit (A very special thanks to my friend Kevin and his roommate for letting me stay overnight, a stone’s throw from the starting line) I hopped on my phone and searched for cupcake places close by that were still open on a Sunday night. My inner Crusader told me someone HAD to be open—sure enough Crumbs in Clarendon, VA didn’t let me down!

I stopped in and the very helpful staff helped me pick out a couple of celebratory cupcakes (and I picked up a Chai Latte for the ride home).

Mudslide

This cupcake looked and smelled amazing. Chocolate chips, Oreo pieces, Baileys icing, and chocolate cake… yeah, I couldn’t think of anything better either. This cupcake was moist and flavorful, and tasted a bit like the drink it was named after, but mostly just tasted chocolatey. I’m not always a fan of chocolate chips on top, they can add an odd texture for me, but with this cupcake they worked.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate

This cupcake looked like the yin to the Mudslide cupcakes yang… but carried its own flavor profile. The peanut butter icing was perfect in taste and texture, the chocolate icing was the same, and the chocolate cake was rich and not too sweet. With this cupcake, the peanut butter chips added that extra hint of peanut flavor, which otherwise might have been overpowered by all the chocolate.

I also got two of their “Thanksgiving Special” flavors. You’ll get to read about those cupcakes in a future post! (Sneak peak – they are Pumpkin and Apple Cobbler.)

I learned two things that weekend: 1. Running a marathon is crazy… and I might just be crazy enough to do it again (and again). 2. Always listen to your inner Crusader, because there WILL be a cupcake shop close by, that is open. And hopefully it will be as good as Crumbs was!

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

Interview with The Sweet Lobby

The Presidential election is around the corner and The Sweet Lobby’s cupcake and macaron polls are in full swing (you can track the results on their Facebook and Twitter pages). We had a chance to review them a few weeks ago and are now big fans of their tasty treats. The owner, Winnette McIntosh Ambrose and her brother, Timothy McIntosh, participated in Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, using their love of sweets and engineering backgrounds to win first place for The Sweet Lobby.

We had a chance to interview Winnette to find out more about their “sweet” election campaign, cupcakes vs. macarons, and Cupcake Wars:


(Article hanging in The Sweet Lobby, with photo of Winnette McIntosh Ambrose and Timothy McIntosh.)

The election is right around the corner and politics are in the air wherever one goes. Are you finding that customers are coming in specifically to place their vote?
I hope they are coming in because we have the best cupcakes and macarons in town but if “voting” makes them feel better about it, that’s great!

Being located so close to the center of political action, do you know if either candidate is aware of the sweet campaign you are running?
Yes, they are aware of the campaign. In fact, one of the Presidential candidates actually had two Barracks Row boxes full of political macarons presented to him on his bus.


(Presidential election macarons)

Your location seems to make The Sweet Lobby the perfect place to hold a presidential polling, sweet-tooth-style. Campaign parties must be popular around Capital Hill. Have you already seen a lot of interest in large orders for campaign parties?
Most definitely! We’ve been inundated with requests for the political pastries as well as our classic desserts.

When can we expect to see the Mac-Attack ads go live?
They are running now and will continue through Election Day. The Mac-Attack ads are actually “ad-like” banners that we feature on our Facebook cover page. They’re intended to deliver messages to constituents that have a “sweet tooth.”

Aside from the current debate topic, “Is your candidate more like a cupcake or a macaron,” what other issues might we see brought up for debate?
Our social media followers will be able to debate issues to include foreign and domestic relations ingredients, and effective ways to use sweets to boost the economy. We’ll give the Vice Presidential candidates some airtime as we debate the flavor of the VEEP.

While the main agenda of this campaign is to track candidates, the Cupcake Crusaders are also curious about another poll…What is more popular in your shop, cupcakes or macarons?
As an All-American indulgence, the cupcake embodies the irresistible combination of childhood nostalgia and undeniable appeal of a “made just for me” individual dessert that, at some level, is easy to make. On the other-hand, the macaron is a more delicate dessert that’s difficult to make and easy to ruin. They’re not very forgiving, but when made well, the impression is lasting. The first bite of the lightly crisp shell, the chewy interior and the flavorful, creamy filling! Who can deny the refined elegance coupled with fantastical whimsy of a Parisian macaron? At the end of the day, we are totally bi-partisan. We bake, you decide.


(ObamaMac and Obama topper on a Boston Cream Cupcake.)

Although you sell other pastries at The Sweet Lobby, cupcakes and macarons are what you are most known for. What do you think it is about each that makes them so enjoyable?
At the Sweet Lobby, we don’t take shortcuts! We prepare real buttercreams using traditional European methods, fresh fruit and ultra-premium chocolates. We pride ourselves in creating both classic and daring incarnations using the finest globally and locally sourced ingredients imaginable!

In addition to cupcakes and macarons, we have several product lines including shortbread, madeleines, caneles, éclairs, loose-leaf tea, and hot chocolate. We think that our guests can truly taste the difference and appreciate the care we put into everything we offer.

How do you recommend eating the MacTop cupcake? Taking the macaron off and enjoying it separately or digging right into to the whole thing?
That is totally up to you! We’ve seen it all! I am personal fan of the macaron-first technique.


(RomneyMac and Romney topper on a Boston Cream Cupcake.)

What’s the strangest or most unique order you’ve created in your Cupcake Lab?
Right now, we are working on a trio of beer inspired cupcakes for a craft beer themed wedding.

When you appeared on the Chinese New Year episode of Cupcake Wars and had to select at least 3 of the 12 exotic flavors, were you at all nervous that selecting 5 would be too much?
Not at all. I’m from Trinidad and Tobago, which is very culturally diverse, so all of those ingredients were very familiar to me. As an engineer/scientist, I am comfortable thinking on my feet and I understand how to combine flavors.

What did you take from your experience on Cupcake Wars (aside from the first place prize!)?
Cupcake Wars highlighted the importance of balancing some of the most key ingredients in food service: quality, presentation and delivery.

Cupcake Wars is known to have previous contestants return. Would you consider going back to battle again?
Of course! In addition to Cupcake Wars, we had the honor of participating on Cupcake Champions this past May. We welcome any new opportunities to return to television!


If you aren’t in the DC area and are now craving a perfect little pastry from The Sweet Lobby, no need to worry. They are offering nationwide shipping next month! You can find out more by visiting their website.


(The Sweet Lobby indulged our graphic design side and gave us a sneak peek at their new gift boxes, premiering in November!)

We’d like to thank The Sweet Lobby for taking time to answer our questions. Their Cupcake Wars win was well deserved and we appreciate what they are doing to get people excited about the election and getting out to vote.

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

Tweet’s Sweets Charity Event: Cancer Bites, We’ll Bite Harder

Tweet’s Sweets, an up and coming sweets baker in the DC area, was recently introduced to us via email from Baltimore Eats. The owner and head baker, Ros (AKA: Tweety), is passionate about raising awareness and eradicating cancer, so she is using her business to make a difference.

Her most recent event, Cancer Bites: We’ll Bite Harder, located in Washington DC on October 19th, 2012, will raise money to allow patients to seek holistic treatment, pay for medicine, and anything else that often comes up when a person is fighting cancer.

Tweety graciously agreed to answer some questions about herself, baking, and her commitment to ending cancer, for us to share with our readers:

Do you mind sharing with us how you got the nickname “Tweety?”
I was given this nickname my first week at Howard University because my suite mates couldn’t remember what my name was and my entire dorm room was covered with Michael Jordan and Tweety stuff.  So they decided they were going to call me Mikey or Tweety  and I wasn’t going to answer to Mikey. ; )

What is your favorite cupcake to eat and what is your favorite cupcake to bake?
My favorite cupcake to bake is probably the Suga Mama (Sweet Potato) cupcake because it gives off the yummiest smells when it is baking….smells just like my Nan’s kitchen when she used to bake her sweet potato pies.  My favorite cupcake to eat is tied between Tweet’s Heart (Chocolate on Chocolate) and MSC (pineapple upside right cake)  because I love love love love – did I say love? – me some milk chocolate and (as quiet as it is kept), my favorite dessert is pineapple upside down cake.

Can you tell us a little bit about why you are so dedicated to eradicating cancer and helping those who are fighting it?
Cancer has come for some people that have helped shaped my life:  my grandfather, my favorite uncle, some of my cousins and aunts and now it’s coming for one of my best friends.  I hate cancer because it’s one of those diseases that you really can’t protect against.  It doesn’t discriminate.  It affects the young, the old, the rich the poor, black, white, healthy eaters, and non-healthy eaters.  Many lose their battle with cancer because they can’t afford to fight or because they don’t know how to fight.  I want to change this….I have to change this.

We saw there will be live music and cupcakes at your event, Cancer Bites, We’ll Bite Harder. Can you give us a sneak peek of what cupcake flavors attendees will be indulging in that evening?
Lol, I can tell you that the Licia’s Puddin and the Suga Mama will definitely be on site but as far as which other yummy goodness I am going to whip up, readers will have to come out and see and taste for themselves.

Do you have any advice to those hoping to raise money or organize an event for cancer awareness and research?
I will tell them to follow their heart and to never give up even when it appears like the event isn’t taking shape because organizing a fundraiser is a lot of hard work but the end result is so humbling and so worth it.  The fact that folks are even talking about my event that I haven’t even met already makes my event a success in my book.

Do you hope to one day own a storefront or would you like to keep your focus on baking and hosting charitable events? Or do you see yourself one day doing both?
I am going to open a non-profit that will ultimately host my charitable events but I will continue using my bakery to raise money and awareness for causes that are near and dear to my heart.

We want to thank Tweety for taking the time to answer our questions! Her goal is to raise $10,000 and we are hoping that we can all help make that happen! Here are the details for her event:

For more information on Tweet’s Sweets, visit their website or Facebook page. You can also watch a video about Tweet’s Sweets and this event from Washington Eats, here. To donate or purchase tickets, CLICK HERE. We hope you can make it out to Tweety’s event and support her cause!

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

The Sweet Lobby: Getting out the Vote


(Boston cream cupcakes displaying each candidate and a lemon cream telling us to vote.)

It’s impossible to ignore that the presidential election is right around the corner and The Sweet Lobby, located in DC’s Capital Hill and winner of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, has started campaign polls and debates of their own. They are selling cupcakes and macarons with presidential candidate and party logos at their shop and tracking the sales to see which is more popular. You can also visit The Sweet Lobby’s Facebook page or Twitter page to track the results and join in the debate, “Which best represents your favorite candidate: a cupcake or a macaron?”


(Signage outside of the store promoting their election debate.)

The location of The Sweet Lobby makes it the perfect business to promote voting, while engaging our sweet tooth. We love that they are doing something to get people excited about the election. They also offer generic “Vote 2012” confections and are participating in Get Out The Vote initiatives, including providing voter registration information.


(Not only does The Sweet Lobby specialize in cupcakes they’ve also become well known for their macarons.)

Crusaders Stacy, Elisa, and myself decided spend the afternoon in DC together after The Sweet Lobby invited us to sample some of their campaign cupcakes and macarons. Although one of our friends, Guest Crusader Kristina, has visited the shop and had a lot of good things to say in her review, it was our first time there and our inner design geeks were in heaven. The branding features clean design, with a look that is consistent throughout the packaging, storefront signage, and interior design. Not to mention their creative custom boxes, which fit the products perfectly and allow for easy and safe travel.


(Storefront and packaging. The macarons fit perfectly into the long box and we love the handle on the cupcake carrier.)


(Just a sampling of the selection.)


(Making a decision is not easy, but the girls working that day were very helpful in making suggestions.)

Once we started eying up the selection, we couldn’t help but take more home with us than planned. In addition to Boston Cream and Lemon Cream election cupcakes and presidential macaroons gifted to us, we also took home a seasonal Caramel Apple cupcake, a Chocolate Raspberry MacTop, and a few extra macarons. If the selection of cupcakes and macarons isn’t enough (and it is!), they also offer their own line of shortcakes and tea.

Boston Cream
The Boston Cream cupcake seen in the photos above is a vanilla cake filled with pastry cream, dipped in chocolate ganache and topped with whipped vanilla frosting. This is one of the best Boston Cream cupcakes I’ve had. The cake is on the denser side, but since the frosting is light it’s the perfect balance. Not too sweet, not too buttery, not too savory…my mouth was happy.

Lemon Cream
The cupcake had the perfect amount of tartness mixed with sweet. Just like the Boston Cream, the vanilla cake was on the denser side, but moist, then filled with lemon cream  and topped with whipped lemon frosting.

Caramel Apple


(Compared with some of the other cupcakes the Caramel Apple has an understated look, but the caramel swirl and autumn flavor spoke to me.)

This cupcake had a caramel apple cake with cream cheese frosting, drizzled with caramel. The cake was dense but very moist and contained fresh apples with a subtle caramel flavor (which I liked because otherwise it can make the cupcake too sweet). I felt like the cream cheese frosting overpowered the cake, however since it was so tasty I’d still go back for more.

Chocolate Raspberry MacTop


(Yes, that IS a mini raspberry macaron on top of a decadent chocolate raspberry cupcake.)

The Sweet Lobby originally created the first MacTop on their episode of Cupcake Wars. Since then, they’ve created an entire line of flavor combinations, including the Chocolate Raspberry. Here’s what Crusader Stacy had to say about it:

Wow. Chocolate Raspberry is one of my all time favorite combinations and this was no exception. At first I wasn’t sure what to expect because the frosting appeared to be milk chocolate, which I’m not really a fan of, but it surprisingly complemented the dark chocolate ganache and moist, fudgy cake very well. The mini macaron on top was, of course, perfect. Nice and tart, the way raspberry anything should be. The cupcake portion seemed to have some kind of subtle raspberry flavor, but there was no filling so I’m not entirely sure if the chocolate cake was flavored with raspberries or if it was the lingering aftertaste of the macaron. The cupcake and macaron combined resulted in a wonderfully decadent treat.

Macarons

(Assorted selection includes Olive Oil Walnut Pecorino, Sweet Potato Pecan, Orange Ginger, Coffee, and Strawberry Basil.)

There’s no denying that when it comes to macarons, The Sweet Lobby knows what they are doing. Their election macarons are named the Obamamac and Romneymac. They appear to be plain, however they consist of almond meringue shells filled with premium Belgian white chocolate ganache infused with vanilla beans from Madagascar and Tahiti. The only way to describe it is delicious. We all really loved the selections we picked, which ranged from simple to complex in flavor combinations. Crusader Stacy said she couldn’t put her Sweet Potato Pecan down and Elisa was very enthusiastic about the Strawberry Basil. I tried the Olive Oil Walnut Pecorino, which came recommended. Although it sounds strange, the olive oil complemented the walnut well.

When you stop by The Sweet Lobby you’ll have a lot to think about. Obamamac or Romneymac? Cupcake, macaron, or MacTop? And that’s before you even decide on a flavor. But whatever sweet treat you choose, your taste buds won’t be disappointed. We’ll have an interview with The Sweet Lobby for you soon, so keep a lookout for it!

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

*We were lucky to be gifted some of our treats, but, as ever, this review reflects our honest opinion. We will gladly patronize The Sweet Lobby in the future and we are happy that we purchased some additional treats to share our thoughts on as well.