2011 Cupcake Tour: Final Thoughts and Favorites

So, I’m sure by now you are so tired of hearing about our cupcake tour, but the other Crusaders and I thought that it would be helpful to have a post that simply lists our favorites after we tried all the cupcakes we had that day and all the ones we brought home. So, I promise, this is the last you will hear about the 2011 Cupcake Tour. We’ve got tons of other stuff that we are excited to share with everyone, so keep an eye out for new reviews later this week.

After I got home, my cupcake collection looked like this:

That’s 10 cupcakes from 5 different places. I know Jenn’s and Elisa’s stash looked very similar. I made sure to store all my cupcakes properly to insure that they would be a fresh as possible when I was ready to sample them.

I’m not sure about Jenn and Elisa, but it took about 5 days for me to try everything. So here are our final thoughts:

1st Place: PB&J from Fancy Cakes by Leslie
2nd Place: Orange Canoli from Cake Dreams
3rd Place: Frenchie from Frosting

1st Place: Frenchie from Frosting
2nd Place: Chocolate Banana from Fancy Cakes
3rd Place: German Chocolate from Cake Dreams

1st Place: Chocolate Bourbon From Fancy Cakes
2nd Place:  Key Lime from Georgetown Cupcake
3rd Place: PB&J from Fancy Cakes

As you can see, Fancy Cakes was the winner of the day. Even my dad followed up with me (he also brought home cupcakes from the tour) and said that Fancy Cakes was his top pick of the day. He couldn’t believe that 2 days after eating cupcakes (that weren’t even stored away in airtight containers) that they stayed as moist as the day they were baked.

Over all it was a great day and we all can’t wait until next year!

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


2011 Cupcake Tour: 5th (and final) Stop – Cake Dreams

After our stop at Frosting, the already small “tour group” dwindled down to just Elisa and I. The others put in a good effort, and the baby had a long day, so without the rest of the team Elisa and I headed to Cake Dreams (a little out of our way) in Rockville, MD.

Cake Dreams came recommended by a reader and after hearing that they won an episode of Cupcake Wars, there was no way we couldn’t check them out while we were down in that area. (Living in Baltimore, we don’t go down that way very often). When we went in, I was a little disappointed to see that there was no seating, but the shop was still nice with cute messages written on the walls, like the one above, and a display filled with tasty looking cupcakes.

We immediately asked if they had any of the cupcakes from their episode of Cupcake Wars, and they said they had one, the Orange Cannoli cupcake. There was no way Elisa and I weren’t going to get the cupcake that won, so we each got one and then I ordered a Pumpkin Pecan (have I mentioned I love anything fall flavored?) and Elisa ordered a German Chocolate. We happily took our cupcakes and were on our way home.

After getting home, I cold barely wait until after dinner, but held off and finally tried the Orange Cannoli later that night.

This cupcake was SO GOOD. One of the things I hear them discuss on Cupcake Wars is to make sure that all the flavors are still present in the cupcake. This cupcake did just that. Elisa, being somewhat of a self proclaimed cannoli expert, was a little hesitant at first when they said that it was orange and cannoli flavors combined but was easily won over. In fact, she thinks that it could be one of the best cannoli products she’s ever had. She said that, “The ricotta cheese filling was superb, in fact I wish I could eat an entire bowl of just the filling… but married with the sweet orangey cake, chocolate and icing really rounded out this fantastic multi-layered and multi-flavored cupcake. I felt like the flavors unfolded in your mouth to create one smooth and cohesive taste.” I couldn’t agree with her more. Look at this wonderful filling:

A couple days later I decided to have somewhat of a “pumpkin cupcake challenge” and I ate the pumpkin cupcake I got from Georgetown Cupcake and the pumpkin pecan one from Cake Dreams.

If I’m being 100% honest, while this cupcake was really tasty, I preferred the one from Georgetown Cupcake. BUT, I loved the addition of the pecans to Cake Dreams’ cupcake, and the cake was still really moist and delicious. I think that for me, the one from Georgetown just seemed to have more pumpkin flavor, while this one was a little more on the “spice” side. That said, I would still order this cupcake and be quite happy with it and I still ate the entire thing with a smile on my face. (That’s saying a lot too, because at this point, after all the cupcakes I had eaten on Saturday and brought home with me, if it was only okay, there was no way I was eating the whole thing.)

The last cupcake from Cake Dreams was Elisa’s selection, the German Chocolate.

Elisa really enjoyed this cupcake, so I’m just going to share with you her review on it: “Super moist deep dark, rich chocolate cake with the traditional coconut icing. This was one of my highlights! I could not be happier that I chose this cupcake. German Chocolate Cake is one of those things I love, but NEVER make or even order/purchase. This was my first encounter with the GCC in cupcake form and if Cake Dreams were closer, I’d be going back weekly just for this one. You’ve really got to like coconut though, so don’t try this if the texture makes you squeamish.”

Overall, our experience with Cake Dreams was great. The staff was super friendly, they were able to answer our questions and had great personalities, and the cupcakes were fantastic. It’s no wonder why they were on Cupcake Wars and why they won. I’m so proud of our Maryland cupcakeries!

Cake Dreams was a great way to end the day on a high note. I’m so glad that the cupcake tour went well. Now it’s time to start planning for next year… I’m thinking of going to Philly. If you have any ideas or suggestions, we would love to hear them!

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

2011 Cupcake Tour: 4th Stop – Frosting, A Cupcakery

By the time we got to Frosting, A Cupcakery in Chevy Chase MD, we were all ready for another cupcake, since we weren’t able to eat any at our previous stop, Georgetown Cupcake. Frosting is a cute shop on the corner of Wisconsin Circle and Western Ave NW.

(Being the coffee lovers that we are, the 3 Cupcake Crusaders loved this message on this sign board).

I think both Jenn and Elisa will agree with me when I say that this was the best decorated shop we visited all day.

We all loved the built in shelves displaying a variety of cake and cupcake stands with touches of Halloween decorates throughout. There was a chandelier hanging over the booth (yes, they had a booth that you could sit and eat your cupcakes in) that was also decorated for Halloween. Although, I think my favorite had to have been either the wall that was lined with amazing cupcake photography or the frame wall (which I’ve been planning to do in my own home. Just need to hang all the frames I have).

Their cupcakes were decorated just as well as their little shop, and actually had the same “feel” as the interior decor. Simple elegance is the best way I can think to describe it.

After making our selections, we each grabbed a spot at the both with our cupcakes:

Elisa and I chose: 2 Frenchies, 1 REDiculous, 1 Elvis Pretzely, and 2 edelweiss.

Jenn and her husband, Dan, chose: 2 Elvis Pretzelys, 1 Frenchie, 1 Cookie MOMster, and 2 edelweiss.

We each only ate one while there, so I’ll start with those:

The Frenchie (french toast bottom with maple buttercream top ):

This was the one that I decided to eat while there and OMG, it was good! I’m sucker for anything maple, especially in the fall, and this really hit the spot. I honestly wish I had gotten another one to take home with me. After trying an assortment of cupcakes when we all got home, Jenn said that she thinks that the Frenchie is probably her favorite one from Frosting. Elisa had her’s the next day for breakfast (becuase let’s face it, it IS basically breakfast in a cupcake form) and said, “The cake actually tasted like French Toast – YUM! The icing was just as good with a sweet and true maple taste. I love all things french toast, so this is my 4th or 5th ‘french toast’ cupcake… and it is my favorite.” Being the bacon lover that she is, she thinks that if there was bacon on top it would have sent this cupcake over and above, but for me, the non-pork eater, I’m really glad it didn’t have bacon on it because then I would have missed out on one seriously good cupcake.

Edelweiss (almond bottom with almond buttercream top):

Jenn had this cupcake while we were there. She liked it and said that it was very almondy, and that the cake was really moist, but that since it was so sweet she was glad it was the last cupcake she ate that day. Elisa and I tried each of ours later at home, and I thought that it was sweet, but not the sweetest I had gotten that day. I loved that it was so full of almond flavor, and even my husband, Mr. Non-Cupcake Man (that might be his new nickname…) really enjoyed this cupcake. I think that he was actually sad that he had to share it with me. Elisa was pleasantly surprised becuase usually when something says almond it just kinda tastes like almond, but this was jammed packed with almond flavor. She did say that she would have loved the addition of a raspberry filling but mainly becuase she loves almond and fruit flavors combined.

REDiculous (red velvet bottom with vanilla cream cheese buttercream top):

Elisa decided to have the REDiculous while were were there. It has become somewhat of a mission of hers to find decent red velvet cupcakes and after the disaster red velvet at our first stop, Just Cakes, I think she was craving a decent red velvet, and this one did not disappoint. She said that, “This was just as they described it, moist red velvet cake with delicious cream cheese/buttercream frosting. The cake was a close second to the best Red Velvet I’ve ever had (see here for her favorite) and the icing was a DREAM!”

Two other cupcakes that aren’t pictured in the group shots above are the Pumpkin Teenie that Dan got, and the ‘nilla ‘nilla that my dad got.

Pumpkin Teenie:

Here is Dan, happy as can be becuase he got the very last Pumpkin Teenie of the day. He said that even after trying all the other cupcakes they brought home, that this is still one of his favorites of the bunch. I really wish they had two left that day…  😉

‘nilla ‘nilla (vanilla bottom with vanilla buttercream top):

My dad usually enjoys the basics. I don’t normally get vanilla or just chocolate, but he really enjoys the classics, so it’s nice when he’s around and I can take a bite of the classics too.  🙂  He said that he really liked this cupcake, but that his favorite stop of the day was still Fancy Cakes.

Okay, so now on to the cupcakes that we all had at home:

Elvis Pretzely (Pretzel cake bottom with milk chocolate ganache, pretzel crumbs and coarse sea salt):

Jenn and I both had this cupcake, and we totally disagree on it. Like, total opposite ends of the spectrum. She feels that it was her least favorite of the entire trip because the pretzel inside the cake took on a stale texture and the chocolate ganache wasn’t chocolatey enough to give the whole thing a chocolate covered pretzel flavor. I, on the other hand, really enjoyed this cupcake. I’ll admit when I first saw the cupcake I almost didn’t get it becuase there wasn’t a lot of ganache on the top, and then when I bit into the cupcake, the softness of the pretzels threw me off a bit, but by the end, I was sold. The cake was moist, the small chunks of softened pretzel blended into the cake, the ganache on the top was soft and wasn’t overpowering the pretzel flavor, and the salt and sweet combo stood out above everything. This cupcake was a little messy to eat, especially when you reached the chocolate covered pretzel on top, so I wouldn’t recommend it for a party, but in front of my desk, I don’t care how messy it is as long as it taste good.

Cookie MOMster (chocolate bottom with almond Oreo buttercream top):

Jenn thought that overall the almond flavor overpowered the chocolate and that from looking at this cupcake it looks as if the chocolate would come first, with the almond a secondary flavor, but that it almost tasted just like their edelweiss (almond/almond) cupcake. She also said that it seems like the only place the “cookie” (Oreo) comes into play is with the chocolate cookie crumble on top.

While we were there, Elisa decided to purchase an Oatmeal Cream Pie that they made there (becuase let’s be honest, who doesn’t love an Oatmeal Cream Pie?) and it was awesome!

Since Elisa bought it, I’ll let her explain in her own words: “just like the Little Debbie’s we grew up with as kids, but 1000 times BETTER! And, while not a cupcake, the Oatmeal Cream Pie was better than the Little Debbie kind you’d find at 7-11. Just another example of fantastic baking by Frosting. If you’re in the area, go in, buy cupcakes and pick up a Oatmeal Cream Pie too!”

Overall we had a wonderful experience at Frosting. The staff was really friendly, the environment was beautiful and relaxing, and the cupcakes were top notch.

Cheers cupcake lovers! Only one more post in this series. Look out for that tomorrow.  🙂

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

2011 Cupcake Tour: 3rd Stop – Georgetown Cupcake (Bethesda Location)

After a nice lunch that served as a little “halftime break” from sweet wonderful cupcakes, we ventured back out again, and actually only had to walk around the corner to our next stop: Georgetown Cupcake. Last year we visited the one in DC (see here) and it was the favorite of the day. We were really curious to see how this location would compare to that, especially after experiencing the wonderful Fancy Cakes by Leslie. We were hoping that there wouldn’t be a crazy long line like there was last year, and there wasn’t (yay!).

The girl at the door was friendly, but unfortunately the staff behind the counter was kind of blah. Not super grumpy, but not happy or enthusiastic either. Another bummer about this stop was that there is only one table that you can’t really sit at, since it’s gets pretty crowded in the little shop. So instead of getting cupcakes and sitting to enjoy one, we all just got ours to go. As expected they had a great selection, but I already looked online and knew what I was going to get (right now, it’s all about the fall flavors for me).

Here is what Elisa and I selected:

2 Chocolate Chip Maple, 2 Salted Caramels, 1 Pumpkin (mine), 1 Key Lime (Elisa’s)

Jenn and her husband, Dan, also got 6 to share:

2 Key Limes, 1 Chocolate Chip Maple, 1 Pumpkin, 1 Salted Caramel, and 1 Mint Cookies and Creme

Last year the two big hits were the Key Lime and the Salted Caramel (if you couldn’t have guessed). I would have gotten a Key Lime for myself, but I was too tempted by the fall flavors. After waiting a few minutes, we all had our cupcakes in hand and were ready for the next stop.

Since we didn’t get to sit down and try any, I am just going to list the cupcakes that we’ve tried so far since the Cupcake Tour (in no particular order):

Salted Caramel:

Elisa and I disagree about this cupcake. For me it wasn’t as great as I remembered it being. I didn’t think it had as much of a salty and sweet balance and I thought the cake was more dense and not quite as moist as I remember it being. I’m not sure if I felt this way after trying Fancy Cakes’ cupcakes, but unfortunately I thought that it was just okay. However, Elisa said she thought it was just as good as she remembers it being: “Sweet, salty, caramely goodness. I scrapped the paper clean of every morsel of moist cake and bit of icing. It might have been a bit dryer than I remember, but i’ll chalk that up to being two days old.”


Even thought Elisa and I disagree about the Salted Caramel, we both agree that the Pumpkin cupcake was REALLY good. The cake was dense, but I wouldn’t expect different from a cake with pumpkin in it. The frosting was sweet, but just the right amount of sweetness for the cake. This is definitely one of my favorites from the trip. Jenn said that she thought it was “yummy” (that is her exact choice of words) but not her favorite from the day. Elisa said that she was surprised because she felt the cake was still true cake and not pumpkin bread in a cupcake liner.

Chocolate Chip Maple:

Jenn and I each got a chocolate maple, but we don’t have the same thoughts about it. While Jenn thought there wasn’t a super strong maple flavor I thought it was packed with maple flavor, so much so that it made it a very sweet cupcake. We do agree that the cake was pretty dense, but to me that just gave it more of a chocolate chip pancake feel, which went really well with the maple frosting. Even my husband, who isn’t much of a cupcake fan (I know. How could you not love them?), was surprised because he didn’t think he would like it, but really did. It was really sweet though, so I was so glad I had him to help me finish it.

Key Lime:

Elisa said that she thought this cupcake was sweet and tart with true Key Lime taste, and that she wishes I had gotten some over the summer, since citrus and hot weather go hand in hand. Jenn said that it was good as always and that it “Takes me back to Belize with every bite. If Belize had a flavor, this would be it.”

Mint Cookies and Creme:

Jenn was the only one who got the Mint Cookies and Creme flavor and thought that it tasted exactly like mint chocolate chip ice cream. It was her husbands favorite so far, but to her it might be a little too much like the ice cream. She said, “I prefer a mint with rich chocolate so that the chocolate is the star with mint in the back, wheres as with this cupcake the mint is meant to be the star, and it is, but it’s just not my personal favorite.”

All in all, Georgetown Cupcake is a must for any cupcake lover. It’s great to be able to say you had cupcakes from “that TLC show,” and they really are delicious. Even though Fancy Cakes is just around the corner, when I’m in Bethesda, I will definitely be getting cupcakes from both locations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forth Cupcake: Chocolate Bourbon (Elisa’s Selection)

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

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

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

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

Sixth Cupcake: Spiced Chocolate (my selection)

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

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

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

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

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

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

2011 Cupcake Tour: 1st Stop – Just Cakes

We are happy to report that our 2011 Cupcake Tour in the Bethesda area of Maryland was a huge success! In an effort to provide you with as much information as possible on each stop, we are going to post one review every day this week for each of the 5 stops locations we visited.

I want to start by saying that no Cupcake Tour is complete without one of these…

Logo Sticker

… and one of these…

Itinerary for the day

… and one of these…

Cute Baby

Okay, maybe the cute baby isn’t totally necessary, but how adorable is she? Crusader Jenn had her hands full that day, but luckily Baby Leah stayed in good spirits and the rest of us loved when it was our turn to hold her. It’s crazy to think that next year she will actually be able to taste cupcakes with us.

Okay, onto the review… First Stop of the Day: Just Cakes.

Unfortunately this first stop wasn’t a positive one, at all. When we first got there the cupcake selection was very limited. They seemed to have a decent selection of flavors, but at 11am you would expect to see more cupcakes than you see in the below photo. We decided not to be phased by that though and each made our selections.

First Cupcake: Princess? (Chocolate Raspberry)

Jenn and I (Stacy) each choose this cupcake. We aren’t sure what the name is, but we both thought someone said it was called the “Princess” or something like that. But then, when asked about it again, they seemed to not know what the name of it was. Weird. This cupcake was chocolate cake with a raspberry mouse filling, and raspberry butter cream frosting.

As you can see, it’s a very pretty (girlie) cupcake. Jenn and I both love raspberry, so we were really excited about this cupcake but only ended up disappointed. The cupcake itself was cold and dry. We think that it was leftover from the previous day and then refrigerated overnight to serve on Saturday. This is most likely why there were only 3 on the display shelf. The mouse and the raspberry butter cream both had a really good flavor though, but that didn’t save this cupcake unfortunately.

2nd Cupcake: Lemon Mini

Jenn and I are both suckers for Lemon cupcakes, so we each got a Lemon Mini. I haven’t tried mine yet, but Jenn said that it was pretty much the same as the Chocolate Raspberry. Cold frosting, and dry cake. After having the Chocolate Raspberry experience, I decided to take mine home and let it get to room temperature before trying, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to eat it.

3rd Cupcake: Lemon Raspberry

Elisa and Jenn both got this cupcake. It was in the same condition as the Chocolate Raspberry and the Lemon Mini. Jenn said that she actually thinks this one was more dry than the Chocolate Raspberry because there was no filling to even help give the cake some moisture. Elisa says that “the icing was good, but couldn’t save the disaster that was the cake. Good icing can only save so much, I ended up leaving more than half of the cake and a quarter of the icing.”

4th Cupcake: Red Velvet Mini

I’m sure you can guess how this one went… Elisa chose this cupcake and said that not only was it cold and dry but that she could hardly taste any flavor in it. One more cupcake to go… will it get any better?

5th Cupcake: Chocolate/Chocolate

My dad got this cupcake, and he was the lucky one. This one was actually NOT cold. Which is one of the main reasons we think that they refrigerate their leftovers. This might not be so bad if you are just picking up cupcakes “to go” and can then allow them to get to room temperature, but they do have tables and chairs and we weren’t getting them to go. Anyways… The cake on this one was not to dry, it wasn’t the most moist cake we’ve ever had, but it was WAY better than the other selections. At the time, I remember thinking that it was much better than ours, but honestly, compared to the cupcakes we had the rest of the day, it was forgettable.

On a whim, Elisa and I bought a pumpkin bar for everyone to share.

Now THIS was the shocker of the day. After tasting some pretty bad cupcakes, this pumpkin bar was actually REALLY good. It was moist and full of flavor. If the cupcakes had been this good, this place would have been a huge hit.

After having such a bad experience, Jenn’s husband decided to do some research and found that many people have the same complaints. In one complaint a women said she called in on a Thursday to order cakes and cupcakes for that Saturday only to find out that they had already pre-baked all the cakes for that weekend. Yuck.

Overall this place was a letdown. It’s a shame too because it was really cute inside with lots of different baking and cooking knickknacks, fun fall decorations, and a variety of treats. But with the horrible service (Jenn described it as, “No Smiles. No enthusiasm.” which is exactly what it was) and the poor quality of the cupcakes, this is a place that we won’t be coming back to. Luckily this was only the first stop of the day, and we had 4 others places to go and make up for this disappointment.

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