Throwback Thursday: Ashley’s Sweet Beginnings | Towson, MD

Today we are posting a “Throwback Thursday” review because it was almost a year ago that we first visited Ashley’s Sweet Beginnings (located in the Shops at Kenilworth in Towson, Maryland), but we never shared our thoughts. At that time, they were preparing for their grand opening, but were still opened for business, so we grabbed a variety of treats including cupcakes, macarons, truffles, and coffee.

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Ashley’s serves Zeke’s Coffee, which is a local Baltimore favorite, so we were already off to a good start. Along with her coffee, Crusader Jenn ordered the Triple Chocolate cupcake, a coffee macaron, and an pistachio macaron.

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Unfortunately Ashley’s refrigerates their cupcakes, which isn’t the best way to enjoy them while sitting in the cafe (we prefer our cupcakes at room temperature). Jenn still enjoyed the dense fudgey dark chocolate center and said that even though it was cold, the cake was still relatively moist, but it was just your average chocolate cake. The buttery chocolate frosting also would have been a nice balance to the dark chocolate center, but because the cupcake was cold, it was a bit on the hard side.

Like Jenn, I ordered one cupcake and two macarons with my coffee, but instead of being different, I selected the same coffee and pistachio macarons as her. However, I chose the PB&J cupcake and also included a chocolate raspberry liquor truffle with my purchase (which isn’t pictured — but it was delicious!).

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PB&J cupcakes are one of my favorite flavors, so the standard has been set pretty high for me. Overall this cupcake had really amazing, well-balance flavor, with the just the right amount of filling, but I think because of the refrigeration process, the cake was overly dry. It may have improved if I had let it get to room temperature. Even though the frosting was cold and a bit hard, the flavor was perfect and it had a nice creamy texture. Each cupcake was priced well at only $2.50.

Jenn and I really love their macarons and have become repeat customers. They are miniature sized with a price to match at only $1.00 each, which means we tend to get a variety of flavors depending on what’s available. They always have a nice crumbly shell and light fluffy texture on the inside. The flavor of the coffee macaron was a bit mild for me, but Crusader Jenn thought it was perfect, and the pistachio macaron had a wonderfully nutty flavor. Since then we’ve tried many flavors including lemon, raspberry, chocolate, vanilla, and more. I haven’t been disappointed yet!

My suggestion to anyone visiting Ashley’s is to take your cupcakes to go so you aren’t eating them cold. If you are sitting and staying for a while, I would recommend selecting macarons, truffles, or any of the variety of other pastries they offer.

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

 

 

 

Kupcakes & Co. New Summer Flavors & More!

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Kupcakes & Co. (Elkridge, MD) is always experimenting and adding new things to their menu, especially seasonal and holiday flavors. While we missed their special Father’s Day flavors, like Jake & Coke and Old Bay & Sam Adams, we made sure to check out the summer flavors that are new this year. Specifically, the Strawberry Lime-a-Rita and Peach Margarita. Both of these contain a tiny bit of booze, so they are for the grown-ups, but we like it that way. Cocktail cupcakes with the right touch of liquor are so much more authentic!

Strawberry Lime-a-Rita

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This cupcake features a strawberry cake brushed with tequila and topped with a keylime tequila buttercream. I love the added touch of the cupcake being rolled in sugar. We’ve tried Kupcakes & Co.’s strawberry cake and we’ve also had their key lime frosting (which has always been one of my favorites), but the two together, with the addition of tequila was new and I have to say, it’s a winner.

Peach Margarita

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Since everything about this cupcake was new to me, it was the one I was most excited about. The cake has fresh peaches and is brushed with tequila, then topped with peach buttercream. I would have liked more tequila flavor coming through, but the fresh ingredients and moist cake still made this cupcake great.

Piña Colada

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(Photo courtesy of Kupcakes & Co.)

The Piña Colada cupcake is considered a new summer flavor, however you may remember that we have seen this one before. Kupcakes & Co. ran a special “Happy Hour Cucpakes” back in 2012 and Piña Colada was on the menu. But we are happy to see it back for a little longer! This cupcake is filled with coconut and topped with piña colada icing, with an added piece of pineapple and cherry on top. My daughter saw this cupcake and it immediately became the “pirate cupcake” that she had to have. Luckily this summer flavor does NOT contain any rum or other liquor, so it can be enjoyed by the little ones. And it was. My daughter even ate the cake, which is a big deal! Normally I’m left with the remnants of a frosting-less cupcake.

French Macarons

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(Macaron flavors pictured, from top to bottom: Lemon Blueberry, Neapolitan, and Vanilla Bean Berry)

With the full-time addition of Amanda Kupiec, who perfected her French Macaron recipes while attending the Culinary Institute of American (New York), Kupcakes & Co. is now offering macarons throughout the week. You can follow their Facebook page to see what innovative flavors they have.

The macarons are the perfect consistency, with a thin crunchy shell and soft and gooey center, filled with a complementing cream. They go fast and take time to replenish, so I recommend calling ahead of time if you have your heart set on grabbing some.

Do you have a favorite summer flavor that you’d like to try as a cupcake? Let us know!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Bakeshop Called “Bakershop” in Arlington, VA

With the abundance of bakeries, cakeries, cupcakeries, pastry shops, and bake shoppes (or bakeshops) you might think that a new venture would go for a unique name to set themselves apart. But Bakeshop, on Fillmore Street in Arlington, VA, chose to go with the idea that “simple is better.”

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With the large, bold “Bakeshop” type on the storefront windows , there is no confusion on what you will find behind them. Once inside, you will see that Bakeshop is a blend of modern, classic, and quirky with a display of mismatched dessert stands showcasing Parisian macarons, cookies, and pretty little cupcakes.

After exploring their website and Facebook page, I knew I would be getting some macarons along with my cupcakes, but I was also interested in something they call “Oreo in a Blanket.” If you think an Oreo cookie can’t get any better, think again. Bakeshop has baked an Oreo inside of a chocolate chip cookie, which I can only imagine tastes like heaven. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up leaving with my entire wish list, because at $2.75 each, the Oreo in a Blanket cost more than their cupcakes or macarons, so I had to pass.

Crusader Jenn was with me and we decided to take three cupcakes and three macarons home with us. I selected a Lemon cupcake, a Lemon macaron, and a Peaches N Cream macaron. Jenn decided to stay in the car with her sleeping daughter, Leah, and asked that I pick out two cupcakes and one macaron for her, so I chose a Cookies N Cream cupcake, a Strawberry Lemonade cupcake, and a Salted Peanut macaron.

Lemon Cupcake

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The frosting on this Lemon cupcake didn’t seem to have much (if any) lemon flavor to it, but it was smooth, light, and creamy. While the cake had more flavor, it seemed like there was an extra flavor in there which reminded me of a lemon poppyseed muffin. The cake was far from muffin-like though with its moist, fluffly, and light texture. Even though this cupcake didn’t have the burst of fresh citrus flavor I prefer in a Lemon cupcake, it was still really tasty.

Strawberry Lemonade

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Crusader Jenn said that this cupcake was moist and light, but it had a bit of a weird flavor that tasted more like candy than fresh fruit. Even though you can see the strawberries in the frosting she said she couldn’t taste it at all.

Cookies N Cream

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Crusader Jenn said that this cupcake was better than the Strawberry Lemonade but it still was nothing special, and that while it had the same nice texture, the chocolate cake tasted a bit like a box mix. She also said that the frosting was good by itself, with a good cookies and cream flavor, but that with the cake it just tasted like a chocolate cupcake. She added that, “I don’t usually say this, but it needed more frosting for a true cookies and cream flavor.”

Macarons

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I think macarons accompany cupcakes in a great way. Small and packed with flavor, if a bakery or coffee shop sells them, I will almost always buy one or two. I’m still not an expert on macarons, but these were $2 a piece which I think is about the normal average cost of one. The outer shell of the cookie was not quite as smooth as I’m normally used to seeing, but that didn’t stop me from diving it. I thought the Peaches N Cream really could have used more flavor, but the lemon one was great. It had a more true lemon flavor than the cupcake from Bakeshop, so it was a happy surprise. Jenn said that the Salted Peanut macaron was the best of all three treats she tried from Bakeshop because it had lots of rich flavor that was a good balance of sweet and salty. She felt like it might have been a little more airy than she’s had in the past (I thought the same about mine), but that since it had a nice crunchy outside and was soft and moist on the inside it was still really enjoyable.

Bakeshop’s cupcakes are on the small side, but priced well at only $2 each. If I ever find myself in their neighborhood again, I would definitely stop in to get some macarons. I might even grab a new cupcake flavor or two (at only $2 each, how could I say “no?”).

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