Blast from the Past: Cupcake Cafe in NYC

CupcakeCafe_MapleWalnut
(Maple Walnut cupcake from Cupcake Cafe.)

Back in June of 2010 Guest Crusader Jen invited Crusader Stacy and I to help her pick out a wedding dress at the Kleinfeld Bridal in NYC (home to TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress). Although Jen lived in the city, this would be a weekend trip for Stacy and I, and a weekend in NYC wouldn’t be complete without cupcakes. Stacy worked her cupcake research magic and discovered that Cupcake Cafe was conveniently located near our shopping location. Done.

CupcakeCafe_Cupcakes_4-Up
(Assorted cupcakes from Cupcake Cafe.)

After successful dress shopping (Jen said Yes to a Dress!), we headed over to Cupcake Cafe as a pre-lunch treat. When we entered the shop we were amazed at the flower decorations on the cupcakes, all created with soft buttercream and each one unique. Not only did we pick flavors, but also which design we wanted amongst the selection.

CupcakeCafe_CupcakePosing
(Friends, including Liz in the top left and Guest Crusader Jen on the bottom…Cupcakes should always be fun!)

With such beautiful cupcakes, we all took photos and then took turns posing. Some of us take our photo ops very seriously, as you can see. The top right photo is me and my two cupcakes: the Mocha Chocolate and Maple Walnut. I have a long history of not being able to choose just one.

CupcakeCafe_MochaChocolate
(
Mocha Chocolate cupcake from Cupcake Cafe.)

My two flavors were standouts, proven by the fact that I still remember them 3 years later. I believe this was one of the first cupcakes I’d ever had that emphasized the “butter” part of “buttercream.” Stacy and I loved the smooth frosting, especially the rich maple buttercream paired with the walnut cake. This cupcake made me realize that frosting doesn’t have to be super sweet in order to be enjoyable.

CupcakeCafe_NYCFun
(
Top left: Crusader Stacy and Liz at Cupcake Cafe. Top right: Your favorite twins sipping on Frozen Hot Chocolate from Serendipity’s. Bottom: The girls posing in front of Kleinfeld’s.)

On our visit, the cafe was next to Books of Wonder, near the Flatiron District. That location is now closed, however they still have a shop in Hell’s Kitchen (which is actually more convenient to my usual trips). If you prefer less sugar and more butter in your frosting, than definitely give Cupcake Cafe a try!

Our NYC friends indulged Stacy and I throughout the weekend, taking us to Serendipity’s and Dylan’s Candy Bar for more sweets. In addition to stuffing our faces with treats, we also spent time at a flea market and found ourselves at the heart of the Gay Pride Parade. Thinking back on the fun we had that weekend is bittersweet. Jen has moved to LA and Liz will be leaving NYC soon as well. NYC visits won’t be the same without spending time with my girls, but we have some good memories that will always make me smile. And Jen has promised us some LA cupcake reviews!

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

Paid in Cupcakes

Puppies are born cute and adorable so that their mother, and anyone else who sees them, will automatically love them and care for them. Seeing a puppy photo is how you end up agreeing to puppy-sit a 9 week old mini-schnauzer. While the puppy sitting went well and Healthy Crusader Rebecca’s new puppy Shelby couldn’t have been better behaved, getting paid in cupcakes from New York wasn’t a bad deal either. And cupcakes from Junior’s, which I have never tried before, is even better! Junior’s is well known for their cheesecake, but Rebecca couldn’t resist buying two of their cupcakes for me to try. She picked up the adorable Shelby and dropped off a Red Velvet cupcake (of course!) and a Hostess Chocolate cupcake.

Red Velvet

Juniors-RedVelvet

This red velvet wasn’t a stand out for me. The cake crumbles on top were dry and flavorless… which was a repeat occurrence in the cake as well. The frosting was oddly gelatinous and didn’t have enough cream cheese flavor, not what I expected from a cheesecake aficionado. This isn’t a red velvet cupcake I want to eat again.

Chocolate Hostess

Juniors-Hostess

I remember being a kid and begging my mom for the orange flavored Hostess cupcakes when we were at the grocery store. Every once in a while she would give in and I would savor every bite. The chocolate was always a favorite as well and Junior’s take on this tradition measured up in every way. The chocolate cake was moist and the thick chocolate frosting/ganache was rich. It could have had a bit more of the cream filling, but that’s really just being nit-picky.

With this 50:50 split on reviews, I will be tempted the next time I am in NY to give Junior’s another try, I just won’t order the Red Velvet. Special Thanks to Healthy Crusader Rebecca for trekking these all the way from New York City as payment for puppy sitting! – Posted by Cupcake Crusader, Elisa (Baltimore, MD)

A Waste of $10.50 | Guest Review | City Cakes | New York, New York

We are excited to have another guest review from our NYC dweller, Jen. She’s been on many cupcake adventures with us and has taken the time to write today’s review on a new shop she visited, City Cakes. Thanks Jen!

Over the summer, I got an internship in the design department of Abrams Books. It’s been a cool experience, especially for a bookworm and craft queen like me, and it’s close enough to my apartment that I’ve been able to walk to work every day. During the hot and humid summer days, I was all about the frozen yogurt places on the way home, but once it started to cool down, I noticed the teeny tiny City Cakes bakery. Normally, I avoid anything food-related that is in a basement because NYC is a pretty grungy place, but when I saw that they have an A (it’s NYC law that all places that serve food have health code letter grades displayed in their front windows) I decided that one day I’d give it a go.

As the Crusaders have mentioned about a hundred times already, pumpkin + cupcakes = awesome… usually. When I saw this sign outside of City Cakes in early October, I decided that the time had come to venture inside. So today I did.

I walked down the metal stairs and into the awkward tiny hallway, and was surprised at exactly how small this place is. It would be cramped with three customers inside, though surprisingly they had about ten different cupcake flavors displayed in and on top of the case. They also have cookies, and the sample I tried, which I believe was chocolate with white chocolate chips, was very yummy. (In hindsight, I should have skipped the cupcakes and gotten some cookies…) There were two or three employees talking behind the counter, in an area not much bigger than the front and I couldn’t help but notice how spacious my studio apartment seemed compared to this place.  I was worried initially that they wouldn’t accept credit cards, as I rarely carry cash, but they do with a $10 minimum, which was perfect because I wanted to get four cupcakes.

I chose two of the pumpkin spice cupcakes, as those were the reason I came in, (and I didn’t want to have to share), then one red velvet, and one salted caramel, for my hubby and I to split. The total came to $10.50, which I thought was pretty reasonable considering the usual NYC cupcake prices are a bit higher.

I was very excited to try all of the cupcakes, but especially the pumpkin spice, so we dug into those first.

When cupcakes have a lot of frosting, as all of these did, I start licking off some of the frosting before I take a bite of the cake, so that the frosting doesn’t completely overwhelm the flavor of the cake (I’m strange, I know). So anyway, I noticed that the cream cheese frosting had a sort of strange tanginess to it, but I couldn’t quite figure out what it was. It made the roof of my mouth tingle, and not in a good way, but I’m not always the biggest fan of cream cheese frosting, so I figured I’d just move on to the cake.

My hubby’s first comment was, “Well this is dense.” Huge understatement. The cake was denser than pumpkin bread, and nowhere near as tasty. I managed to make it halfway through, but had to stop. It just wasn’t good. My hubby only made it about ¾ of the way through, and he can usually finish anything! I felt bad for throwing half of the cupcake away, but I had hope for the next ones.

Next up was the red velvet cupcake. We split this one and boy am I glad I didn’t buy two of them. I hate to say it, but this cupcake could very well be the very worst cupcake I have ever eaten. Ever.

It looked good and smelled good (as they all did) but the cream cheese frosting was just okay. The cake was just as dense as the pumpkin, but it was seriously like eating sawdust. I honestly don’t know how a cupcake can be that dry. We both threw our halves away after only one small bite. So disappointing, but I know from experience that it is hit or miss with red velvet, and usually it’s more of a miss.

Finally was the salted caramel. Even after the other two cupcakes, I had hope for this one – how can you possibly screw up salted caramel?

Cutting it in half was a huge mess, as caramel was everywhere, but licking my fingers was delicious at least. This frosting was buttercream, and it tasted alright, but was a bit crunchy as if it had been sitting out for a day already. The caramel drizzle was the only thing that saved it. I could taste a bit of the saltiness in the frosting, but I didn’t eat too much of it as it was nothing special and kind of stale. Moving on to the cake, which I believe was caramel flavored. It wasn’t horrible, but it was still pretty dry. I thought it was the best of all three, until I noticed little chunks in both bites I took, which suggested that they didn’t stir the batter enough before baking it. That kind of grossed me out and it was nothing special, so that one went in the trash too. The hubby threw his away about halfway through, but he said if he absolutely had to choose, that would be his favorite of the night too.

I am very disappointed that the cupcakes from City Cakes were so lackluster, but more than that I’m disappointed that I didn’t have any ice cream or yummy desserts in my apartment that could take the bad taste out of my mouth! Blech.

– Review by Guest Crusader, Jen (New York, New York)

Guest Review | Cupcakes in Heels | Bayside, NY

When Alyssa, from Mookology, approached us about being a Guest Crusader, we jumped at the chance. Mookology is a great blog to visit where you can read all about movies that are based off books. Her reviews are always well thought out and detailed, this girl knows her stuff! Today she is switching gears for a moment to share her thoughts on a recent visit to Cupcake in Heels, a cupcake shop located in the Bayside neighborhood of Queens in New York City. We hope this is just the first of many Guest Crusader reviews from Alyssa!

When I’m not writing, reading, and watching films for my blog, Mookology, my absolute favorite past time is eating and baking cupcakes.  Living in one of the New York boroughs has its perks, and baked goods are definitely one of them, so you can only imagine how excited I was to taste the cupcakes at Cupcakes in Heels in Bayside, New York.

I found a Living Social coupon for Cupcakes in Heels for 3 cupcakes and a cup of coffee for (wait for it) $6!  Within seconds the coupon was purchased and I was waiting for the opportune moment to try some cupcakes.  Knowing I couldn’t (well.. shouldn’t) eat 3 cupcakes by myself, I brought along my sister to Cupcake in Heels with me.  They had a nice selection of flavors, all adequately named after prestigious fashion designers.  Although the coupon only bought 3 cupcakes, we decided to get one extra to make it even (and because we couldn’t decide on just 3 cupcakes).


(Prada cupcake from Cupcake in Heels)

Our first cupcake was the Prada cupcake.  This was a Pistachio cupcake with whipped pistachio frosting.  I am a sucker for pistachio desserts and was dying to try this cupcake.  It did not disappoint one bit!  The cake was moist and filled with pistachio bits and the frosting was light, fluffy and tasted just like a pistachio ice cream.  We literally ate every last crumb of this cupcake!


(Balenciaga cupcake from Cupcake in Heels)

The second cupcake we tried was the Balenciaga, a Tres Leches cupcake with a dulce le leche buttercream.  Since the Prada cupcake had set the bar incredibly high, we were expecting a light and delectable Tres Leches cupcake.  This cupcake was just okay.  When I think of Tres Leches, I think of moist yet light and airy cake, but this just tasted like a regular cupcake. There was nothing too special about it.  The dulce le leche buttercream was also missing something.  Although it was very light and fluffy, I wanted more of that caramelized flavoring dulce le leche is known for.  In general, this was just a good cupcake.


(Vivienne Westwood cupcake from Cupcake in Heels)

The third cupcake we tried, the Vivienne Westwood, was a red wine, blackberry and chocolate cupcake, filled with blackberry & red wine frosting, frosted with a red wine buttercream, and drizzled with red wine and blackberry syrup.  I was eager to try this cupcake; the combination of red wine and blackberry sounded very appealing to me and I love to try something different.  However, this cupcake wasn’t very fulfilling.  The red wine and blackberry syrup was a little bit heavy handed on the red wine part and its distinct fermented flavor interfered with the rest of the cake.  The cupcake could have used a little more sweetness.  It was almost bland.


(Stuart Weitzmen cupcake from Cupcake in Heels)

Last, we tried the Stuart Weitzmen, a cookies and cream cupcake with cookies and cream frosting, baked with an Oreo cookie inside. I was looking forward to biting into a rich, chocolatey cupcake but this cake was incredibly dry compared to the others and a major disappointment.  However, the cookies and cream frosting was incredible.  It tasted exactly like the frosting of an Oreo cookie, mixed with chocolate cookie crumbs. The frosting definitely made up for the dryness of the cake.

I would definitely go to Cupcakes in Heels again and try a few more cupcakes; the pistachio cupcake alone gives me high expectations.  The coffee here was surprisingly good also!  I went with an iced coffee rather than hot, and was delighted to see that the actual ice cubes were frozen coffee cubes – pretty smart!  The décor in Cupcakes in Heels was adorable and they had a few cupcake-themed knick knacks available for sale as well.

– Review by Guest Crusader, Alyssa (Mookology.com)

Guest Review | Ashley’s College Cupcake Adventure Part 2 | New York Penn Station & Lynchburg College

Our friend, Ashley, recently graduated from Lynchburg College and spent her entire last semester sending us photos of all the cupcakes she encountered while there. Since her classes kept her busy, she wasn’t able to write up a review for us, but now that she has finished with school she took some time to share her experiences with us. In her first review she shared the cupcakes she tried from one specific location on campus, Brewed Awakening. In this second review, she is sharing two other cupcakes she encountered prior to graduating.

Other than cupcakes from Brewed Awakenings, I snatched up cupcakes whenever I had the chance. The first one I tried was over Christmas break when I took the train home to Rhode Island.  I was excited to find out that I would have to change trains in New York City and had an hour and a half layover in Penn Station. Normally I wouldn’t be happy about a layover but I love New York so I was excited to be able to spend a short amount of time there.  While there, I wanted to get as much of the New York experience as possible so I was sure to have hot dogs for dinner, spend some time outside, and get a cupcake in the train station.  Sadly I didn’t take pictures of the cupcakes behind the glass but I was quick to snatch up my safety option: peanut butter and chocolate.  I was really excited about this cupcake because it was at least twice the size of a normal cupcake, but it was so big that I decided to wait until I arrived at my destination, where I knew I would be staying in a household with five other people eager to help eat it.

Considering the cupcake was shoved into a backpack for hours and then sat in the fridge for another half a day it was still very good! The cake was moist and the peanut butter and chocolate combination was delicious as always. The only complaint I have is the chocolate and peanut butter chips on the frosting. Although they were tasty they were kind of hard and took away from the taste of the frosting. I would have preferred just the Reese’s cup on the top, but that is just my personal taste and texture preference.  Based on this cupcake though, I definitely want to try other cupcakes at Penn Station!

The next non-Brewed Awakenings cupcake that I had was at an end of the year reception at Lynchburg College. It was a simple chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting and topped with mini M&Ms.

I was excited when I saw the cupcakes as dessert but at the same time I was not expecting a whole lot because the cafeteria on campus catered the food. Although our cafeteria generally has very delicious cupcakes, I still did not expect much and also was not even sure that they made these themselves. They had clearly travelled a good distance to get to our reception because they weren’t as pretty as some of the other cupcakes I have seen and it was very hard to handle due to all the frosting. After the first bite into the cupcake, though, I was pleasantly surprised. The cupcake was really good! I was afraid that the frosting would be too much at first, however it was a whipped cream base and much lighter than I expected.  The overall cupcake was so good that I actually had another one before I left the reception. They were a pretty big hit and regardless of where they came from they were delicious. I would eat another right now if I could.

My senior year of college was hectic and packed with internship work, thesis writing and applying for a job in South Korea, but my new found interest, cupcakes (thanks to Jenn and Stacy!), made the semester much more enjoyable. Now that I know there are so many different cupcakes out there I definitely can’t wait to try others and look forward to hearing about more from the Crusaders!

– Review by Guest Crusader, Ashley (Lynchburg, VA)

NYC…Part Deux!

Day two of our NYC trip started off with a beautiful sunny day! After a failed attempt to use public transportation (I am determined to use the bus next time), we hailed a cab in true New York fashion and headed down to 20th Street, where we were meeting up with a friend for brunch at Tipsy Parson.

Knowing we would be eating plenty of sweet treats throughout the day, we stuck to a savory order for brunch: grits, eggs, veggies, and drinks of course!


(Our delicious meals! *I wish that Stacy ate bacon, because that bacon gravy over biscuit was the highlight of my meal!)

After brunch our next stop was the Chelsea Market. I had never been there before and Stacy knew I would love it! This is where we encountered our first cupcakes of the day at Eleni’s New York. After such a filling brunch, neither of us could imagine eating anything else, so we decided to take these cupcakes home with us. Packed away, these cupcakes were walked all over New York as well as being trekked all the way back to Baltimore! (I’ll come back to those though, since we didn’t eat and review them until later.) We also happened upon a bit of shopping and both ended up with perfectly sized Anthropologie shopping bags – which ended up being the perfect size bag to carry cupcakes in!

After the Chelsea Market, we walked The High Line, a public park built on a historic freight train railway, elevated above the streets of the city! Filled with beautiful flowers, trees, plants and views, The High Line is officially my new favorite thing in New York. The weather could not have been more perfect for a walk through the park, among the rooftops of New York’s West Side.

(Very cool park design so that the tracks could remain an element within the new organic landscape surrounding it – plus, a great view!)

Lucky for me, Stacy plans out our NYC trips and knew Billy’s Bakery was located just a block away from the High Line on 9th Ave between 21st and 2nd Streets. While we were a little disappointed in the selection, I still managed to break our “one cupcake per location” rule and got two cupcakes to try! Stacy ordered hers and we were set to eat our first cupcakes of the day!

My order: Vanilla with Chocolate Frosting & Banana with Cream Cheese frosting

The Vanilla cake was a little on the dry side, but the chocolate frosting was a very milk chocolaty and smooth. The stand out for me was the Banana; not too dense, which can make a banana cupcake taste more like a muffin, this was the perfect balance of real banana flavor and smooth cream cheese frosting. I enjoyed every morsel of this cupcake and hope they have it again next time we are in town.

Stacy’s order: Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Stacy had this to say about it: “The Carrot Cake cupcake was probably the best carrot cake I’ve ever had! It was incredibly moist and full of shredded carrots, coconut, and I think even zucchini. The frosting was a sweet and smooth cream cheese frosting, which in my opinion works the best with carrot cake.” After loving the Carrot Cake cupcake so much, Stacy knew she had to bring one back for Jenn, who we may need to give the title of “Carrot Cake Crusader.” (Jenn, surprise! Stacy has a cupcake with your name on it!) After buying the cupcake and the adorable box for it to be taken to-go in, we trekked on with cupcakes in hand!

(Seriously, how adorable is this to-go box?!)

From there we hopped on the subway – since we had the MTA cards, we figured we would use them – and headed up to Central Park. While I have been to New York City many times, and been to Central Park too, I had never been to see the Bethesda Fountain, so that was our first stop.

From there we walked south through the park, landed in Sarabeth’s for some much needed, very late lunch, and then headed back to our hotel to pick up our bags. Our trip was nearing the end… but not without one last cupcake stop: Baked by Melissa.

We both placed our orders, including a dozen of these quarter sized cupcakes for Jenn, carefully placed the boxes in our handy Anthropologie shopping bags and headed for Penn Station to catch the train home. Being the very patient people we are, once on the train we almost immediately opened our Baked by Melissa boxes to try one of April’s Mini of the Month: Peanut Butter Fluff.


(Peanut Butter Fluff & Chocolate Chip Pancake from Baked by Melissa)

Sweet and tiny, this was the perfect way to end the day and say goodbye to our home away from home. But that wasn’t the end of our NYC cupcake eating because…

Stacy brought home Eleni’s Boston Creme, Billy’s Bakery’s Carrot Cake Cupcake for Jenn, and two dozen Baked by Melissa minis. Here’s what she thought of her Eleni’s cupcake:

Boston Creme

“The Boston Creme cupcake was WONDERFUL! Perfect size, not too large or too small. The cake was moist, the filling was creamy, and the thin layer of chocolate ganache was rich and smooth. I really wish I had bought more of these. Next time I’m getting one for Jenn and my dad who both love Boston Creme as much as I do!”

And never missing the tiny details, she noticed they have personalized cupcake wrappers as well! What a great detail and great way to market their website!

I brought home Eleni’s Raspberry Raspberry and a dozen Baked by Melissa minis. Here’s what I thought of my Eleni’s cupcake:

Raspberry Raspberry

This cupcake may look like a mess – after being trekked around one city, on a train and car ride to another city, I was amazed any of the frosting was still on the cupcake – but it tasted like a raspberry dream! The cake had actual berries in it and the frosting was just the perfect amount of sweetness. I could eat this cupcake for breakfast, it was that refreshing and light, moist and sweet! I cannot wait to go back and try more from Eleni’s!

While our annual NYC Girls Trip was not the same without Jenn – and we kept saying to each other, “I wish Jenn were here” – it was a great trip! Stacy is the very best travel buddy, and to get to see so many new places, in one of my favorite cities, and eat so many cupcakes, made this trip one of the best yet!

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

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New York City, Center of the Universe…

Recognize that lyric? It’s from one of my all time favorite musicals, Rent, written by Jonathan Larson. By now you will have probably guessed that Jenn, Elisa, and I are total musical theater geeks. And as any musical theater geek will know, New York is not only the center of the universe, it’s the center of the musical theater world. So, several years ago we decided that while going up for one day trips to see shows a few times a year was great, it just wasn’t enough. We started organizing our “Annual Spring NYC Girls Weekend Getaway.” What could be better than a weekend full of good theater, tasty food, fabulous friends, and of course, cupcakes?

Unfortunately this year, Jenn wasn’t able to join us (it’s okay, we aren’t holding any grudges against baby Leah). Since it’s become our tradition, the three of us decided that Elisa and I should still go without her.

Other than cupcakes, our first day in NYC consisted of lunch, hanging out with good friends, attending the theater (we saw End of the Rainbow – I highly recommend it!), and post show drinks. We couldn’t have asked for a better day and we were happily able to sprinkle cupcake eating conveniently throughout.

Our first cupcake of the day was from Burgers & Cupcakes. Burgers & Cupcakes is situated just a few blocks away from Penn Station on 9th Avenue. Crusader Elisa and I have tried several of their cupcakes before, but we’ve never sat down to try their burgers so on this trip, we decided that needed to be remedied and went straight there for lunch after arriving in the city.


(As you can see, food makes me happy.)

We each ordered their homemade veggie burger with toppings of our choice and choose the Banana Vanilla cupcake to share. After savoring the delicious burgers and munching on some sweet potato fries we sat and chatted with a friend who met up with us before splitting the cupcake up for tasting.


(A table of yumminess!)

I’ll be honest, while we were chatting my eyes kept wondering back to the cupcake, but it was well worth the wait. The banana was the primary focus of this cupcake with the vanilla sitting in the background. The cake was moist and light and the frosting just sweet enough. It was our first cupcake of the weekend and it was a huge success!

After checking into our hotel we headed to our second cupcake stop, Donna Bell’s Bake Shop found on 49th Street between 8th and 9th Avenue. Lucky for us, Donna Bell’s is right next to the courtyard in which Blockheads and Mother Burger are located. For those who don’t know, Blockheads (and their sister restaurant, Mother Burger) makes a fierce drink called the Pink Bulldog with a Coronarita flipped upside down into it. It is basically a frozen vodka pink lemonade with sangria on top and then finished with the Corona. It may sound strange, but it is so good and went PERFECTLY with the Coconut cupcake I purchased from Donna Bell’s.


(Donna Bell’s has some of the best cupcake-to-go containers I’ve seen!)

Being the red velvet Crusader, Elisa had to get the Red Velvet , but based off her reaction it wasn’t nearly as good as my choice. The Coconut cupcake had a thick layer of sweet frosting and was then coated in coconut shavings. The edges of the cupcake were a little crisp, as if they had been touching the pan during the baking process, and this gave the cupcake a toasted coconut flavor, which I loved. Between the fruity frozen drink and the Coconut cupcake I felt like I should be sitting on the beach, not in the center of busy Manhattan.


(Elisa enjoying her Red Velvet cupcake in her signature fashion: sandwich style.)

So far, I was two for two on day one.

The day continued on with more food, more time with good friends, and finally, our main reason for being there, some theater! Before leaving Baltimore, I had already decided where we would be getting our post-show cupcake from: Crumbs Bake Shop. Even though Crumbs is a chain cupcakery, it has been a favorite of ours for a long time. Their jumbo cupcakes have always been moist and full of flavor. Last week I saw that their flavor of the week would be Apple Honey and I knew I had to try it.

Elisa and I decided to go to Crumb’s new Time Square location on 42nd Street since it was on our way to meet up with another friend. I usually try to avoid 42nd Street at night, but we were on a mission so decided we had no choice and had to tackle the crowds.


(Crumb’s Times Square location on 42nd Street. Love the signage, hate the crowds.)

After weaving through the mob of people we were shocked to see that Crumb’s display was still packed with cupcakes. And sitting in there waiting for us, was the Apple Honey cupcake which had made me drool at my desk just a few days earlier. We took the cupcake to go and ended up sharing it in our hotel room later that night.

I’ll be honest, it’s not easy having a “cupcake photoshoot” with the sweet aroma of apples in the air, but I managed and we finally cut the cupcake in half to share, only to discover a delightful surprise: apple pie filling!

This cupcake was every bit as good as I expected it to be. The honey flavor was a bit hard to detect, but it didn’t stop me from enjoying each bite. Normally the Crusaders are okay with splitting Crumbs cupcakes since they are so large, but on that night, I think I can speak for Elisa and myself when I say, we both wish we had each had one whole cupcake to ourselves.

Happily full on cupcakes and great memories we made that day, we turned in for the night ready to continue our adventure the next day…

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

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Guest Review: Billy’s Bakery Cupcake Tasting

We are excited to have another guest review from Jen. Jen is a close friend of the Crusaders (and a “name twin” to Crusader Jenn), currently living in New York City. She’s been on many adventures with us and has taken the time to write today’s review on a cupcake tasting she attended at Billy’s Bakery! Thanks Jen!

About a month ago, I was recruited by the Cupcake Crusaders to go to a meet-up at Billy’s Bakery in TriBeCa to try their new flavors. My husband tagged along, and together we tried all of the new flavors that Billy’s offers.

First up was the Maple Pecan. This was by far my husband’s favorite flavor, and he ate every bite of it! I did not try this one because I am not a fan of pecan, but I trust that it is delicious.


(Maple Pecan – Billy’s Bakery)

Next was the cupcake that I was most looking forward to – the Banana Nutella cupcake. I. Am. Obsessed. I didn’t want to fill up and not be able to try all of the flavors, so I ate half of this one and then at the end, I finished the rest. If fewer people had showed up to the meet-up, I would have taken a couple of these to go. They are really delicious. The frosting tastes like Nutella, but it’s nice and light and mixes perfectly with the banana cupcake.


(Banana Nutella – Billy’s Bakery)

I had high expectations for the Mint Chocolate cupcake, because I have had some amazing ones at other bakeries, but honestly, this one kind of disappointed me. The balance of flavors wasn’t quite right for my taste (I can’t remember if it was too much mint or not enough) and it was also the driest of the cupcakes.


(Mint Chocolate – Billy’s Bakery)

The Chocolate Cherry cupcake was pretty decent. The cake was nice and moist and had little pieces of cherry in it. Normally I am not a fan of cherry things, but the chocolate made it pretty good.


(Cherry Chocolate – Billy’s Bakery)

I was very curious when I heard that they had an Orange Dreamsicle cupcake. I have eaten both good and bad renditions of this classic flavor, but never in a cupcake. I really liked the cake, as the orange flavor was very light. When I looked closely, I could see the tiny pieces of orange zest that are in both the cake and the frosting, and though I liked it in the cake, I did not like having little chunks in my frosting. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Dreamsicle frosting because it was very sweet and the pieces of zest distracted me from the flavor.


(Orange Dreamsicle – Billy’s Bakery)

The other cupcake that I was really looking forward to was the Lemon Poppy Seed. I had never had a lemon poppy seed cupcake before, and I was pleased with the flavor. My husband did not really like this one because he is not a huge fan of lemon, but as a lemon lover, I thought it was very good. The cake was nice and light but still flavorful with a light lemon taste, and the frosting, though it had pieces of zest like the Orange Dreamsicle did, tasted really nice. If not for the Banana Nutella cupcake, this would have been my favorite of the day.


(Lemon Poppy Seed – Billy’s Bakery)

While I was not a huge fan of all of their cupcake flavors, I am a huge fan of their adorable branding and especially their single cupcake “take out” box! I saw a display of these when we first came in, and fell in love. I have never seen a cupcake box with a handle, and really, that’s an extremely smart idea. I love the light yellow and teal color combo, and their vintage yet trendy typography works very well.


(Billy’s Take Out Packaging)

All in all, if it weren’t for the amazing Banana Nutella cupcake, I may not be itching to visit Billy’s Bakery again any time soon, but because it is one of the best cupcakes I’ve ever had, it may soon be time to make another visit!

– Review by Guest Crusader, Jen (NY, NY)

National Carrot Cake Day – February 3rd

There seem to be a lot of strange daily food holidays out there, but we don’t mind, they just make life a little more interesting. Several websites claim that tomorrow, February 3rd, is National Carrot Cake Day, so we wanted to share several of our past Carrot Cake experiences. Don’t forget to indulge in celebration!

Woodlea Bakery – Bel Air, MD (Crusader Elisa)

Spicy and sweet, this little mini cupcake packed a punch. The cake was too dry for my liking, and the icing was creamy and a great consistency, but sweeter than I like my cream cheese icing. Overall, being a carrot cake fan, this wasn’t my favorite and wouldn’t be one I would order again. It just seemed like it was missing something. Was it nutmeg? Was it allspice? Was it carrot pieces? Sadly, I just can’t put my finger on that missing ingredient.

(Read full Woodlea Bakery review here.)

Starbucks – Annapolis, MD (Crusader Jenn)

Carrot cake is usually one of my favorite cake flavors. I love a spiced cake that you can get all year round. However there was nothing memorable about this cupcake. Despite my lack of enthusiasm over these mini cupcakes, I still love Starbucks. They specialize in coffee and don’t pretend to be a bakery. I appreciate that they offer fun sweet options, including bite-size minis, to accompany their beverages, should their guest like to indulge a bit more.

(Read full Starbucks Cupcake review here.)

Sweet Sixteen Cafe – Lockport, NY (Guest Crusader Alli & Crusader Stacy)

This cake pop was unlike any we have seen. Rather than being ball-shaped it was rectangular as if it had been cubed from a whole cake and then dipped in chocolate. Inside, the cake pop had two layers of frosting sandwiched in between three layers of cake. It was stunning! This classic carrot cake, with rich cream cheese icing dipped in white chocolate, was moist and flavorful. It was delicious!

(Read full Sweet Sixteen Cafe review here.)

Sweet Bakery (Now Closed) – Baltimore, MD (Crusader Stacy and Crusader Elisa)

Unfortunately this cupcake was a bit of a disappointment. This is shocking because Sweet Bakery was one of our favorite places to get cupcakes. The first big problem was the frosting. I’m a fan of cream cheese frosting with my carrot cake. And their cream cheese frosting was so good that it was a shame they didn’t put it on this one. Another big problem was that the cake was super chunky and really dry. While I like a lot of “stuff” in my carrot cake, this was just extreme. Luckily Sweet Bakery had so many other amazing cupcakes that they will always be one of our favorite bakeries.

(Read full Sweet Bakery review from “Cupcaked Out” here.)

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

Great Cupcakes & Packaging = One Happy Crusader

It’s no secret that I am a sucker for great packaging. But when there are 25 delicious mini cupcakes inside that great packaging, I go weak in the knees. It’s a bit (or a lot) nerdy, but I just can’t help myself.

For Christmas my husband ordered cupcakes from one of my favorite NYC locations, Baked by Melissa. I was in awe of the packaging. They arrived frozen, in a custom shipping box, complete with a custom printed Baked by Melissa ice pack. Since I’ve reviewed their cupcakes a couple times before (here and here) I’m going to focus on the amazing packaging.


(LOVE the slogan on the box!)

Inside the shipping box was the gift box that contained the tasty little gems. This sturdy box is not some cheap throw-away. Adorned with their logo on the top, their tie-dyed pattern on the inside, and sealed with a tie-dyed ribbon, it’s a keeper.

Once opened, you are face to face with ANOTHER piece of their unique packaging which keeps each tiny cupcake upright and protected from any rough handling that may occur during delivery. All 25 cupcakes were in perfect condition when I received them.

I like to call each little section built for the cupcakes “Freshness Pods.” My husband received the frozen cupcakes on Wednesday, December 21st and gave them to me on Friday, December 23rd. A week later, I was shocked that the cupcakes were still moist! I think each compartment somehow seals in the moisture and keeps the cupcakes from drying out. Hence the name “Freshness Pods.”

Since we really loved their December Mini of the Month, Snow Covered Pretzel, half of the container was filled with just them. The other half was a blend of some of our other favorite flavors like Cookie Dough, Cinnamon, and Peanut Butter & Jelly.

The only downside to them being frozen and then thawed is that the pretzels ended up being a bit chewy. They weren’t too bad and the flavor was still great, it just lacked the crunch from the store-bought ones we initially tried.

I was also excited to try the S’mores, since they were out of this flavor when I first went to their Fashion District location.

Like the Snow Covered Pretzel, the graham cracker ended up being a little chewy, but overall, I still enjoyed this one too.

January’s Mini of the Month is New York Cream, a take on Boston Cream with a custard filling and a chocolate drizzle. Boston Cream cake and doughnuts are a favorite of mine, so I would love to try this cupcake, but unfortunately I won’t be able to get to NYC this month (and I can’t justify the high shipping rates and $25 minimum just to try one flavor). If you get a chance to try it, let us know how it is, we’d love to hear about it!

Baked by Melissa seems to be doing everything right. From their tasty little cupcakes to their quality packaging, they remain on my list of favorites.

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