Yappy Hour with Cupcakes

MAS Rescue (Maryland Animal Sanctuary Rescue) is a volunteer and foster-based animal rescue that is very special to me because my husband, Ken, and I adopted our wonderful puppy (now almost two years old) from them. We can’t thank them enough for caring so much about her before she found her forever home with us. On the first Tuesday of every month they host an event called “Yappy Hour” where people can meet some of the dogs looking for new homes and purchase wine and/or beer to support MAS Rescue (a dollar of each sale goes directly to the rescue). Last week, in addition to beer and wine, they were selling Guinness and Baileys cupcakes donated by Honey Bee Delights.

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This flavor was very appropriate since St. Patty’s Day is right around the corner. Once I heard that this month’s Yappy Hour would have cupcakes, I knew I would be stopping by after work to try one and support my favorite rescue. The cupcake was made with a Guinness chocolate cake base, Baileys Irish Cream frosting, and topped with green sugar sprinkles. They were being sold for $2 each and a hundred percent of every sale was going towards the rescue.

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If I’m being honest, this wasn’t my favorite Guinness and Baileys cupcake, but the standards have been set pretty high. The cake had a nice stout flavor and was light and fluffy, but was a bit dry. The frosting seemed to have a cream cheese base and I was having trouble tasting any Irish cream in it.

Even though it wasn’t my favorite, I was happy to support MAS Rescue and try cupcakes from a new baker at the same time. I would definitely go to the next Yappy Hour for a drink and to buy more cupcakes from Honey Bee Delight, knowing that it’s going towards a great cause.

If you want to learn more about MAS Rescue and Yappy Hour, please visit their website or Facebook page.

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

Noshing With the Neighbors

Getting to know your neighbors can be a scary thing. Everyone seems to stay in their homes these days and therefore never really get out to meet their neighbors. Hamilton is a little different. My husband, Ken, and I moved into our home almost two years ago and have actually gotten to know quite a few of our neighbors. People stop for a quick chat while we are out walking our dog or playing in the yard with her. Unfortunately most of these neighbors are about forty or fifty years older than us. However, just last week we went to our first neighborhood dinner with a group that was around our age, cleverly named “Neighborhood Nosh.” Since we only knew a couple of people there, the idea of sitting down with individuals we had never met was a bit daunting, but I was excited to get to know some of our peers who live down the street or around the corner. Even better, I knew there would be cupcakes.

One member of the group, who we already knew, was Devon from Pink Rhino Cupcakes. Devon makes fiercely amazing booze-infused cupcakes and it had been a while since I’d had one (last review here). The dinner theme that night was Italian, so Devon brought Tiramisu cupcakes (one of my favorites flavors that I rarely find).

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I’m not a tiramisu expert by any means. I didn’t grow up eating delectable tiramisu desserts at fancy restaurants or anything like that. But for some reason, when a tiramisu flavored cupcake is done well, I can’t get enough of it. I’m sure it has something to do with my serious coffee addiction (which is increasingly getting worse).

Devon admitted she was a bit nervous that I would be trying (and blogging about) her cupcake, but already knowing the quality of her baking, I wasn’t worried. The cake was moist, as I expected, and the flavors were incredible. I gobbled up the cupcake before I could analyze the components, but I don’t think anything characteristic to tiramisu was missing. And the chocolate covered coffee bean on top was the perfect crunchy finish.

Pink Rhino Cupcakes bakes cupcakes fresh to order and trust me, they are perfect for any shindig that is 21 and over. For more information visit their website or Facebook page, then order the boozie combo of your choice and become the party favorite for bringing these fabulous cupcakes.

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

Baltimore Cupcake Charm in Hampden

We’re so lucky to have such supportive friends and followers. We really enjoy when they want to contribute their own cupcake crusades to our blog. Below, Guest Crusader Mike fills us in on his most recent cupcake experience.

When I found out I would have the opportunity to write a guest-post for the Cupcake Crusaders, I knew Hampden was the perfect place to try and find something special to write about. The colorful urban storefronts, eclectic antiques shops, not to mention the 20-foot tall pink flamingo (Hey Hon!), all add a distinctive flavor to this local area.

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While walking down 36th Street after a particularly delicious brunch at Golden West Café, Crusader Elisa and I decided to grab some coffee at Spro, a quaint, yet modern, mom-n-pop coffee shop that had an equally delicious looking batch of Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes sitting in the display case that I just had to try. Those who know me know that two things I can hardly ever stay away from are chocolate and espresso.

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This cupcake hit it out of the park. The chocolate cake was rich and moist without being overly sweet and the espresso icing was smooth, creamy and definitely packed with coffee flavor. I would have liked a bit more texture in the cake, maybe a coffee/fudge center or chocolate chips, because I think all chocolate cake needs chocolate chips. Overall, I was thoroughly impressed with this cupcake.

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What impressed me even more than the quality of the cupcake was who made them. When I asked the cashier about the cupcakes, he proceeded to tell me that his 15 year-old brother, Nehum Potler, who he described as a, “child prodigy with flour, sugar and a rolling pin,” had made them earlier that morning. When I was 15, the only baking experience I had was licking the batter off of my mom’s spatula.

This was my first time in Hampden and my first cupcake review, but it certainly won’t be my last. If you ever find yourself on the Avenue, I highly recommend grabbing a coffee (or a triple espresso, if you’re like me) and a cupcake from Spro.

– Review by Guest Crusader, Mike (Baltimore, MD)

Artifact Coffee: Lunch with Coffee and Cupcakes

I would venture to say that I love coffee just as much as cupcakes. The variety alone gets me excited: espresso, cappuccino, latte, macchiato, cream, sugar, the list goes on. With all the options and flavors I could go weeks without repeating the same order.

I’ve recently decided that Artifact Coffee, located in Hampden (Baltimore, MD), may have the best coffee ever. Not only is their coffee superb, but they have created an atmosphere that makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Mismatched antique tables, chairs, and displays surround you and even the baristas are adorned in clothing from the past. In addition to amazing coffee, Crusader Elisa and I recently discovered that they sell chocolate cupcakes.

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Elisa and I were doing our best to be “good” so we split one cupcake and each had two small (but glorious) bites. Chocolate cupcakes aren’t always my favorite because I find that the cake is often not rich enough, or the frosting is too sweet and more like milk chocolate, but Artifact chocolate cupcake is perfection: rich, moist, dark, and completely decadent.

Another thing to love about this cupcake was that the liner looked and felt like a coffee filter. I have no idea where they got these, but they fit so well with the antique and coffee theme found throughout Artifact.

Artifact’s coffee is so wonderful that they’ve already sealed the deal on me as a repeat customer, but knowing that on future visits I might be able to combine two of my favorite things puts a big smile on my face.

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader Stacy (Baltimore, MD)

Cupcake Facelift: Hamilton Bakery Debuts All NEW Cupcakes

When you love your neighborhood, and love your neighborhood bakery, it’s such a disappointment when their cupcakes are nothing to rave about. Ever since I moved to the Hamilton neighborhood of Baltimore, Hamilton Bakery has been my go-to for anything BUT cupcakes. Their croissants are buttery, their scones are flavorful, and their muffins are the perfect pairing with a cup of coffee. Even their cake truffles are wonderful!

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(Original cupcakes from Hamilton Bakery)

I guess they realized that their cupcakes just weren’t up to par with all their other baked goods because on Friday, February 1st, they debuted their brand new line of cupcakes and gave out free ones to the first 500 customers from 4pm to 9pm. I was already planning to stop in for my free cupcake when Hamilton Bakery contacted us. They wanted to give us a chance to try a variety of flavors, confident in their new recipes.

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(New cupcakes from Hamilton Bakery)

They were not at all stingy with the cupcakes they put aside for us. With 10 new and revitalized flavors, I was excited to get started. I was most excited to try what appeared to be a Lemon Meringue cupcake, so began my tasting with that.

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Unfortunately this cupcake was a bit of a let down. The cake was moist and the meringue “frosting” had a nice toasted crunch, but I was really hoping for a lemon curd filling. The cake also had a bit of an artificial taste, reminding me of Lemon Drop candies.
After trying all the cupcakes, there were only a couple more disappointments, like the Peanut Butter Chocolate (not enough peanut butter flavor) and two cupcakes which appeared to be gluten free or vegan (dry crumbly cake and frosting that had separated), so the majority were still vastly improved upon. Since I tasted so many, I think it’s best just to focus on a few of the highlights which were the Vanilla, Creamsicle, and Carrot Cake.

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If tasked with naming Hamilton Bakery’s Vanilla cupcake I would call it “Birthday Cake,” because that is exactly what it reminded me of. This cupcake had moist buttery vanilla cake with frosting that was sweet without tasting like confectioners sugar. There was a little bit of a crunch to the outside of the frosting, like it had dried out just a tad, but that just gave it even more of a birthday cake like quality.

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The next cupcake that I really enjoyed was somewhat of a mystery cupcake until I bit into it. The orange flavor was so present that there was no question that this was a Creamsicle cupcake. The cake was a little over-baked on top, but luckily the inside hadn’t dried out. The orange-cream frosting was the best part though, and really made this cupcake standout from the rest.

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Carrot Cake is a classic that can be done really well, or not. Hamilton Bakery has their recipe for this mastered! The cake was super moist and chock-full of nuts and wonderful spices. The cream cheese frosting was sweet, without taking away from the flavor and really worked well with the cake. This is a cupcake I would go back for again and again. Having tried their carrot cake cupcakes in the past though, I believe that this recipe is something they’ve been doing right for a while now, and I really hope they don’t change it!

Overall, I think Hamilton Bakery has definitely improved their recipes, but I do think they still have a little work to do on some of their flavors. I look forward to tracking their progress and now won’t be scared to buy a cupcake when I stop in for a breakfast pastry and some coffee. Looks like our little neighborhood bakery just might be able to compete with the big dogs in the cupcake market after all!

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader Stacy (Baltimore, MD)

Winter Cupcake Craze: The Cupcakes You Haven’t Seen

You may have noticed, but we’ve been eating a lot of cupcakes this winter. Okay, we eat a lot of cupcakes all the time…but there is something about the winter and wanting rich comfort foods, versus light and refreshing flavors in the spring and summer. We’ve already reviewed a lot of winter flavors for you, like Chocolate Peppermint from La Cakerie and Sweet Hearts Patisserie, Eggnog from Vanilla Pastry Studio and PamCakes, Apple Cinnamon from Dessert Affairs, and we can’t forget the seasonal minis Crusader Stacy tried from Disney’s Epcot.

Aside from all these cupcakes we’ve consumed throughout winter, we’ve neglected to share with you some of the other new flavors we’ve tried from the bakeries we visit (very) frequently. Some are more seasonal flavors, others are flavors to satisfy you on a cold night. All were delicious.

Kupcakes & Co.: Cinnabon Cupcake and Reindeer Cake Pop

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This year, Kupcakes & Co. had the same seasonal flavors as last winter. While we had our share of those again this year, I was also able to try a new flavor: Cinnabon. With their rotating menu and huge flavor selection, you might see flavors you haven’t tried before depending on the day you stop in. I really loved the Cinnabon cupcake, but I’m a sucker for a good spiced cake. Kupcakes & Co.’s cream cheese frosting can be too sweet for me sometimes (not that it stops me), but the cinnamon from the cake and the crumble topping balanced it perfectly.

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While I was in there one day, the owner Michelle succumbed to Leah’s cuteness and gave her one of their reindeer cake pops. It was so well done that I had to snap photos before Leah devoured it. Kupcakes & Co. has added custom cake pops to their menu, so for each holiday you can stop in and find something creative and cute. They also had Santa hat cake pops, and now for Valentine’s Day, they have roses.

Snickerdoodles Bakery and Coffee House: Sugar Cookie, Eggnog, Nutella, and Éclair Cupcake

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(Top left to right: Sugar Cookie and Eggnog cupcakes. Bottom left to right: Nutella and Éclair cupcakes.)

Snickerdoodles has been added to the list of bakeries that are household names. My husband will randomly say (on the few cupcake-less nights we have), “I wish we had some Snickerdoodles.” I also now have my big sister hooked. The Sugar Cookie and Eggnog cupcakes were special holiday flavors, and they totally lived up to their name. The cake in the Sugar Cookie cupcake had actual bits of sugar cookie in it and everything about it really tasted like a sugar cookie. I was very surprised, having expected it to just taste like a vanilla cupcake. The Éclair and Nutella cupcakes are regulars that are rotated. Yes, that’s a mini éclair on top (like the mini cannoli on their Cannoli cupcake). The Éclair cupcake could have used more pastry filling for my taste, but I’m addicted to that stuff. The Nutella cupcake was lacking in hazelnut flavor, but was still a decadent, delightful treat.

Starry Night Bakery and Coffeehouse: German Chocolate, Peanut Butter Lovers, and Sunday Morning Breakfast Cupcakes

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(Top left: Starry Night’s new logo. Top right: German Chocolate Cake cupcake. Bottom left to right: Peanut Butter Lovers and Sunday Morning Breakfast cupcakes.)

You all already know how much we like Starry Night’s Quirky Cupcakes, and with all the love they receive from their customers, they keep adding to the line of flavors. I really like German Chocolate cake, mostly because of that coconut topping stuff, so I’m also a fan of it in cupcake form. Paired with Starry Night’s rich chocolate ganache frosting, it was heaven. The Sunday Morning Breakfast cupcake had maple frosting, topped with a caramel drizzle and chocolate chips. My notes for this and the Peanut Butter Lovers cupcake was, “Mmmmmm,” and that’s it.  There may have been wine involved in this cupcake tasting…

IcedGems: Winter Wonderland Cupcake

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Crusader Elisa picked this IcedGems seasonal cupcake up to try, while the rest of us drooled with envy. Here’s what she had to say about it:

This cupcake was just as its title described, a winter wonderland treat! The vanilla cake had white chocolate chips and dried cranberries in it and was perfectly moist and not too dense, which can be hard to achieve when dried fruit is added to cake. The frosting was a delicious orange buttercream that paired well with the cake flavors. Honestly, I was a little skeptical about how “Winter Wonderland” this cupcake would taste, but there was something about the way the cranberry and orange flavors mixed with the vanilla cake and white chocolate chips that made the flavors come together and create a very wintertime/really good fruit cake flavor. The adorable little white chocolate topper and dried cranberries were great decorations, and added to the wintertime feel. It was a really great cupcake for anyone who likes fruit flavors paired together and I hope to see it again next winter.

We hope that you’ve consumed some great cupcakes this winter, like we have. If you haven’t, it’s still not too late to get out there and make us Crusaders proud!

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

A Perfect Party, Minus One.

Being the only one of your friends to have the bad cupcake of the bunch is like being the only kid in class who wasn’t invited to the party. You are stuck hearing all the wonderful fun things that happened, while crying on the inside that you weren’t a part of it all.

Okay, maybe that’s a teeny tiny bit dramatic. But I can tell you, eating the only bad cupcake is still no fun.

About a year ago we reviewed Cooks ‘N Cakes located in Ellicott City, MD. At the time, our thoughts on their cupcakes were just so-so. Shortly after, Cooks ‘N Cakes contacted us explaining that they made some changes to their recipes and would love for us to come back and give them another try. Fast forward to about 8 months later—time really does fly by—and we finally made it back to their shop.

Excited to give them another try, I selected three new cupcakes and one Coffee Craze, which we had tried previously. I knew then that I would divide the cupcakes among us Crusaders, plus our good friend and Guest Crusader, Miss Beth Lacey, who I would be seeing that afternoon.

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(True Simplicity from Cooks ‘N Cakes)

For myself, I selected True Simplicity, a vanilla butter cake with Madagascar vanilla buttercream frosting. I hate complaining about a bad cupcake almost as much as I hate eating it in the first place, but there is really nothing good to say about it. The cake was so dry that it actually crumbled like a cookie. The flavor would have been good, but there was no way to get past the dryness and the frosting was just okay. In my opinion, it didn’t contain enough vanilla flavor and had way too much of a confectioner’s sugar aftertaste. When buying cupcakes, normally I come from the mindset that “you win some, you lose some,” but I was actually upset that I spent $2.50 on this.

I immediately texted Jenn, Elisa, and Beth Lacey to give them a heads-up that my cupcake was inedible, but to my surprise, none of them had the same reactions. That’s when I realized that, apparently, I had not been invited to the party.

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(Split Decision from Cooks ‘N Cakes)

Beth Lacey said that her Split Decision cupcake (banana cake with strawberry frosting and a dollop of chocolate on top) “rocked!” and that it “totally tasted like a banana split!” Hearing this I was a bit perplexed, but relieved she didn’t have the same experience as me.

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(Coffee Craze from Cooks ‘N Cakes)

Then Jenn, who had tried the Coffee Craze before, said that it still had a great aroma and a nice strong coffee flavor. She added that the frosting was nice and smooth, but that the chocolate cake was just basic and nothing really stood out about it.

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(Chocolate Strawberry from Cooks ‘N Cakes)

Elisa’s exact thoughts on her Chocolate Strawberry cupcake were, “The strawberry frosting was really good and the chocolate cake wasn’t bad either.”

So apparently my cupcake was a dud, while everyone else’s wasn’t. I’ve recovered from my $2.50 loss, but am not sure that I’ll be visiting Cooks ‘N Cakes anytime soon. Their location isn’t really convenient to my home, job, or family and friends, and with a cupcake that was as bad as mine was, I just can’t get excited about another visit.

For Cooks ‘N Cakes sake, I really do hope that my cupcake was merely a random fluke. I would hate to see a small business suffer because others have had similar experiences. So, if you are reading this, I encourage you to go and try their cupcakes for yourself, just maybe stay away from the Vanilla?

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader Stacy (Baltimore, MD)

Guest Review | Jazzy Sweet Treats | Baltimore, MD

Jamie is a fellow Baltimore food blogger who loves to cook and bake. She recently stopped into Jazzy Sweet Treats in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and has shared her thoughts below. Thanks Jamie!

Recently, I decided to take a break from baking for my blog, Hey Jamie Bakes, and went shopping (okay, I actually just window shopped) at The Gallery in the Inner Harbor. When I reached the top level, I was going to get a milkshake, but as I walked past this little cupcake shop, Jazzy Sweet Treats, I had to stop. The lady that was there was very nice and I couldn’t just walk off being rude.

I looked at the tiny little selection they had in their tiny little case. To be honest, the set up wasn’t very appealing, because it was crammed in the corner and wasn’t very full, but I chose an Almond Joy Martini cupcake (coconut cake with a shot of Disaronno and Ciroc Coconut covered with whipped cream icing, a chocolate drizzle, and sliced almonds), and the Banana Pudding Martini cupcake (banana and vanilla wafer cake with a shot of 99 Bananas, Bacardi, and pineapple juice covered with whipped cream icing and caramel sauce.)

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They were pretty and looked like they would be good, but sadly, I really didn’t care for either. The texture of each cake was in between dense and soft. I was disappointed that there wasn’t any real coconut or banana in the cake, just an artificially flavored alcohol which left a weird after taste. The whipped cream was overly sweet and reminded me of cool whip. With them being so sweet they didn’t really need the extra stuff on top and I couldn’t even finish them. If I had to choose, I preferred the Banana Pudding over the Almond Joy Martini. Some positives are that the packaging was awesome and easy to carry and all of their flavors are creative, I mean, who doesn’t love booze? Would I go back? Maybe. It really depends if they got rid of their whipped cream icing. I am in no way a food critic, I just know what I like.

– Review by Guest Crusader Jamie from Hey Jamie Bakes (Baltimore, MD)

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)

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)