New Packaging & Fall Cupcakes From Kupcakes & Co.

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As always, Kupcakes & Co. (Elkridge, MD) has new things happening, one of which is a change in packaging. In early September they announced they’d be shifting from their beautiful, black pastry boxes to the plastic cupcake containers, but that didn’t stop them from dressing the boxes up in true Kupcakes & Co. fashion. Tied with a black ribbon, the packaging still looks like a gift you can’t wait to open. Kupcakes & Co. made the decision to change with their customers in mind. Rising costs of their previous pastry boxes would have raised the price of their product, and they didn’t want that to happen.

Although many of us avoid plastic in striving to be more “green,” the Crusaders have some ideas on how to be more environmentally conscious in light of plastic cupcake containers. One of the things we do is reuse the containers. Unlike the cardboard boxes, which almost always end up with food stains and have to be thrown out, these containers can easily be rinsed in hot water and used again. Some other perks to the new boxes are that they travel better (great for the Crusaders, since we are always sharing) and they keep the cupcakes fresher (pastry boxes pull moisture from the cupcakes).

Even though Kupcakes & Co. is still making their new boxes look beautiful, I think we can all agree that what really matters is what’s INSIDE the box, right? Well, Kupcakes & Co. is also giving us new flavors to put in the new containers. So many that we can’t keep up! But here’s a sampling of some of the new flavors they are now offering:

Ginger Pear

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When I heard about this flavor, I couldn’t wait. The combination piqued my interest from the start. My husband was lucky that I waited until he came home to share it. The aroma when pulling it out of the box was pure, sweet pear. On my first bite I got a generous amount of fresh baked pear, a crunch from nuts in the cake, and a hint of spice. This cupcake is, by far, the most unique “fall” flavor I’ve had (and one of the most successful creative flavors I’ve tried in a long time). Kupcakes & Co. topped their Ginger Pear cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting, a perfect match. Together this cupcake was not too sweet and well-balanced.

Mocha Frappuccino

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As an avid coffee lover, this was the other new flavor that I just couldn’t wait to get my taste buds on. I think I would have preferred more coffee flavor in the frosting, or maybe a dark chocolate buttercream, but that’s more of a personal preference since I’m not a huge milk chocolate buttercream fan. However, the cake was packed with frappe flavor that didn’t overwhelm or get lost in the chocolate

Pumpkin Cupcake

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Crusader Stacy requested the Pumpkin cupcake, which I’ve had before, but this was her first time. She said that it was, “So good. I love pumpkin everything and this cupcake screamed fall. The cake was dense, like on most pumpkin cupcakes, but still really moist for two days later.” We can thank the moistness on the new container!

Maple Brownie Cupcake

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Another new endeavor for Kupcakes & Co. has been brownies. We’ve mentioned before that the owner, Michelle’s, daughter is a student at CIA in NYC. After a summer of internships and helping out in the Kupcakes’ kitchen, Amanda shared a recipe that has been getting rave reviews (one of her mega-brownie creations was even featured in Howard Magazine). I was lucky to grab the LAST Maple Brownie cupcake (at 11am!). It was a great brownie topped with an amazing maple frosting, dressed up as our favorite…a cupcake!

Mint Chocolate Chip Brownie

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Okay, so it’s not a cupcake…and it’s large, more than enough for two people. But, this brownie has to be shared. My exact thoughts were, “I mean, seriously? Holy moly.” The brownie was rich and moist, with a lot of depth to the chocolate flavor, topped with a thin layer of chocolate buttercream, and then smothered in a heavenly mint chocolate frosting. You’d think that the brownie might get lost under all that frosting, but each holds its own. Together it was decadent, but not too sweet, and refreshing. The frosting was so light in texture that it was like biting into a cloud (if that was possible).

Brownie Batter – Boutique Flavor

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Kupcakes & Co.’s “Boutique” flavors floor me every time. This cupcake tasted JUST like brownie batter! How is it even possible for a baked product to taste like batter? I just don’t know. I’ve said this about the Cookie Dough cupcake, but it’s like magic. The cake was baked with a fudge “batter” center and high quality dark chocolate chips. That all sunk to the bottom, but still added to the layer upon layer of chocolate flavor. If you are a chocolate lover (or brownie batter lover), you need to try this.

Some other new flavors hitting the Kupcakes & Co. menu are The Twist (a vanilla and chocolate combination cupcake topped with a Hershey Kiss), White Chocolate Espresso, and Beer & Pretzels (for Oktoberfest). I see another visit happening soon. Which flavor should we try for you?

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

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Chocolate Hazelnut Cappuccino Brownie Bites

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Sometimes things come together perfectly and sometimes they don’t, but often it’s a little bit of both. That’s exactly how I feel about these Chocolate Hazelnut Cappuccino Brownie Bites. The flavors and final product came together perfectly, even if there were bumps along the way. Well, maybe it was just one bump. But it was a pretty big one… I’ll start from the beginning.

Several months ago, Crusaders Jenn, Elisa, and I bought tickets for Wicked Divas with Stephanie J. Block and Julia Murney at Wolf Trap in Vienna, VA. Last summer, we saw the fabulous Idina Menzel at Wolf Trap and had seats about three rows back. While sitting that close is amazing, part of us envied the concert-goers who were spread out on the lawn with blankets, wine, and tons of food, so this year we decided to do the same.

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(Cheers ladies! Jenn and Elisa enjoying some wine while we wait for the concert to start at Wolf Trap)

In the weeks leading up to the concert we began discussing who should bring what. I volunteered to bake something sweet because it’s been FOREVER since I last baked—April to be exact—and I already had the perfect dessert in mind.

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I had everything I would need to pull this recipe together. The Jif Mocha Cappuccino Hazelnut spread was purchased on a whim using a coupon, knowing that at some point it would be great for frosting, and the brownie mix was one of those “I need chocolate” moments while walking down the aisle at the grocery store. Don’t act like you haven’t been there before…We know you have.

These two items were sitting in my pantry begging to be combined. Initially, I intended to make a dozen mini brownie “cupcakes” topped with chocolate cappuccino hazelnut frosting, in addition to a square dish of plain classic brownies. After tasting the batter (I replaced the water in the recipe with hazelnut coffee) I thought these mini brownie cupcakes would be perfect, but I still had to bake them, and that was where my recipe went askew. I severely overestimated the baking time. They didn’t burn, but once they completely cooled, they were solid like rocks. I couldn’t even get the baking liners off and I’m pretty sure they would have broken our teeth. Determined to make this dessert work, and with a square dish of perfectly cooked brownies, I moved on to the frosting.

I started by searching the internet for a Nutella frosting recipe (since this Jif spread is basically a knock-off version) and found that I had a decision to make: buttercream base or cream cheese? Not being able to decide on my own, I called my reinforcements (AKA: Crusader Jenn or Elisa…which ever answers the phone first). I told Jenn I was leaning towards cream cheese because I thought it could be interesting, but that I was also worried it might taste weird. Her response was, “Would you eat Mocha Cappuccino cheesecake?” My answer, “Ummm…hell yeah!” It was decided then: cream cheese.

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(Try to resist the urge to lick the screen. I dare you.)

I found a recipe on the blog Can You Stay For Dinner that seemed very simple, which of course I love, and the blogger, Andie, seemed to really like it. The only ingredients required were cream cheese, hazelnut spread, powdered sugar, and milk. One thing I did differently—something I’ve never done before—was sifting the powdered sugar before mixing it with the other ingredients. It made a HUGE difference. The frosting was so smooth and creamy, and the cream cheese gave the flavor a good balance that wasn’t too sweet.

While making the frosting, I had time to process the fact that my cute little mini brownies were a no-go, and instead decided to use a cookie cutter to shape the remaining brownies into individual sized circles before topping with frosting.

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Even though the brownie bites didn’t turn out exactly as I planned, the end results were still amazing. The mini cakes looked fancy on our new flower plates (birthday gifts from Elisa) and I’m sure we made a few people around us wish they were a part of our picnic. It was the perfect dessert to share with two of my favorite ladies while sipping wine and listening to the sounds of the symphony accompanied by two great Broadway performers.

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader Stacy (Baltimore, MD)

Sometimes You Just Need a Bite

Pint-sized cupcakes are already hard to turn away, so when you take an already small treat and make it even smaller it’s next to impossible to say “no!” Today, we are sharing a collection of small bite treats we’ve sampled, from Smith Island Cake Company’s miniscule “cake-its” to a new Starbucks cake-pop flavor.

Smith Island Cake-Its

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While in the bakery section of the Giant grocery store, I spotted a wide variety of Smith Island Cake treats. I’ve never actually tried Smith Island Cake (you don’t have to say it… I know… it’s practically a sin among Maryland-based cake lovers), so was excited to see such an assortment. They had mini cakes (which I might have to get one day), slices of their famous layered cake, cake pops, and these teeny tiny little cake bites, which they call “Cake-Its.” I haven’t seen anything like them before, so snatched them up without a second thought. The flavors included were: Original (yellow cake/chocolate icing), Red Velvet (red velvet cake/cream cheese icing), and Coconut (white cake/coconut buttercream). Even though Crusader’s Elisa’s review of their cupcakes didn’t have tons of positive things to say, she’s always said great things about their layered cake, so I was hopeful that these treats would be moist and delightful, and lucky for me, they were. I didn’t really have a favorite because each time I ate a new flavor, I would decide it was the best. Much smaller than a typical cake pop or cake truffle, each was like a little explosion of flavor. The Red Velvet had a good cocoa flavor, the Classic had a rich deep dark chocolate flavor from their signature frosting, and I thought coconut was perfect for any coconut lover.

Godiva Cake Truffles

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Being a long-time Godiva lover (let’s face it, who isn’t?), I couldn’t wait to try their new line of cake truffles, which were created with the cake master himself, Chef Duff from Charm City Cakes. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but was able to pick up three flavors on my visit: Birthday Cake, Butterscotch Walnut Brownie, and Pineapple Hummingbird. To my (slight) disappointment, there was no cake involved, but these still had the wonderful creaminess and richness you would expect from a Godiva truffle. The Birthday Cake had a white (pink) chocolate outer layer, then a milk chocolate layer, and a “funfetti cake” center. This didn’t really have the “cake batter” like flavor I was hoping for and, for the most part, just tasted like a white and milk chocolate truffle. The Butterscotch Walnut Brownie ended up being my favorite, and was reminiscent of “brownie batter” with all the other flavors being very present as well. The final truffle, Pineapple Hummingbird, also had a good mixture of flavors, but was still missing that cake-like quality. If you’ve ever had a cake batter ice cream flavor, you know what I’m talking about. I still love Godiva, but I think I’ll be sticking to my favorite, the dark chocolate raspberry truffle, on future visits.

Hamilton Bakery Carrot Cake Cake Truffle

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With Hamilton Bakery located a hop, skip, and jump from my front door, it’s a shame that their cupcakes don’t rank higher on my list. Despite that, their other baked goods and friendly customer service always have me stopping in for something. During a breakfast visit for a scone and a cup of Zeke’s I spotted this Carrot Cake cake truffle. It was the first time I had seen cake truffles at Hamilton Bakery, so I quickly added that to my order. The texture was perfect: not too dry and not too mushy. The spicy carrot cake flavor was also perfect and the thin coating of white chocolate didn’t overpower this bite-sized treat.

Starbucks Chocolate Raspberry Cake Pop

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We are no strangers to Starbucks‘ cake pops. From the classic Birthday Cake to the seasonal Peppermint Brownie (also pictured above) we grab these sweet additions to our coffee break when a caffeine high isn’t enough. Recently we spotted a flavor we hadn’t seen before: Chocolate Raspberry. Crusader Jenn said this cake pop was good with rich moist chocolate cake and raspberry flavor. Although the raspberry tasted a bit artificial.

How do you feel about cake pops, truffles, and other similar items? Do you think there is room in the dessert world for them and cupcakes, or will cupcakes always outshine these tiny treats?

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader Stacy (Baltimore, MD)

A Baking Adventure: Mocha Brownie Cupcakes

Up until the week before our DC Cupcake Picnic I still didn’t know what I should make. There would be other bakers there, so the idea of baking from scratch had me nervous but then again, could I make a box mix impress? While at the grocery store, I planned to redeem my coupon for Duncan Hines Frosting Creations and decided on their Mocha flavor. Perusing the isle, I also found some brownie mix on sale: Mocha flavored! The wheels in my head started turning…if I did a brownie instead of a cake, maybe I wouldn’t have to worry about too much scrutiny from the pros. And I always know how brownie mix turns out. Rich, fudgy, delicious.

After making my purchases I gave more thought to my creation. I decided to use brewed coffee instead of water in the brownie mix, just to be sure the coffee flavor really came through, make a dark chocolate ganache filling, and top with shaved dark chocolate.

One of the tricky things about baking brownies in cupcakes sheets is the bake time. I didn’t want to over cook them, so I put it on 18 minutes to start and added 2-3 minutes as needed until they were done. They ended up coming out perfectly, though!

As with most of my other baking experiments (like these Lemon Raspberry cupcakes) I cut holes in the center for the filling. Then, using a small pot and glass bowl (my homemade double boiler), I made the dark chocolate ganache with dark chocolate chips and heavy whipping cream (I learned to do this with my Orange White Chocolate cupcakes and assumed the whipping cream would work in the same way with dark chocolate as it did with white chocolate). I didn’t measure anything out, just eyeballed it. After filling the cupcakes, I decided to also spread the ganache on top so that you could see some of it after frosting the cupcakes.

After mixing up the Duncan Hines Frosting Creation I tasted it and was pleasantly surprised! The base is really sweet, but the flavor add-in toned it down and created good coffee kick. I piped the frosting on top of the brownies and sprinkled the shaved dark chocolate on top. I made regular size cupcakes and minis, thinking that the minis might be nice with a lot of cupcake tasting going on at the picnic.

The brownie bites and cupcakes ended up being a big hit at the picnic! No one seemed to think a brownie was out of place and they were so easy to make. And, since the Mocha Frosting Creation worked well, I’m curious to try some of the other flavors!

Do you think baking a brownie in a cupcake liner makes it a cupcake? What unique recipes have you turned into a cupcake?

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

Our DC Cupcake Picnic Recap!

Enjoying cupcakes, relaxing in the beautiful weather, and gathering with people who share a similar interest was what our first ever cupcake picnic was all about. This past Saturday the Crusaders, with the help from Joel (AKA: the Cupcake King) of Josie’s Confections, organized a cupcake picnic in Georgetown Waterfront Park. It was only a small gathering but it was filled with TONS of cupcakes and good times.

We were lucky enough to land a spot in the shade under a tree, and slowly everyone arrived. The group included us three Crusaders, my dad, Joel, Lamorea from That’s So Morie Cupcakes and her family, and fellow cupcake lover, Danielle, and her boyfriend.


(Candid shot of our some of our attendees. From the left going clockwise: my dad admiring Lamorea’s to-go wrapping for each of her cupcakes; Lamorea’s little girl (she’s so cute!); Lamorea going through her photos; happy cupcake eater, Charles; Crusader Jenn; and our youngest Crusader, Jenn’s daughter, Leah.)

After chatting for a few minutes, it was time to dive into the cupcakes! Joel, from Josie’s Confections, brought his signature Chicken N Waffle cupcake, as well as Salted Caramel minis, Strawberry Lemonade (which won the 4th place for People’s Choice at the NCACS’s Cupcake Challenge), and Maple Bacon.


(The AMAZING Chicken N Waffle cupcake! For information on ordering this cupcake call Joel at 301-541-7046, email him at joelegill@gmail.com or visit Josie’s Confections Facebook page.)


(Strawberry Lemonade with strawberry filling and candied lemon peels! For information on ordering this cupcake call Joel at 301-541-7046, email him at joelegill@gmail.com or visit Josie’s Confections Facebook page.)

Lamorea, from That’s So Morie Cupcakes, brought a big assortment of cupcakes all individual wrapped up and tied with a ribbon. She came totally prepared for people to take cupcakes home with them! Among her flavors were Pina Colada, Simply Strawberry, Chocolate Chocolate, and Citrus in the City.


(Alcohol Free Pina Colada all wrapped up! For more information on this cupcake call Lamorea at 443-603-8060, email her at Thatssomoriecupcakes@yahoo.com, or visit her Facebook page or website.)


(Citrus in the City! For more information on this cupcake call Lamorea at 443-603-8060, email her at Thatssomoriecupcakes@yahoo.com, or visit her Facebook page or website.)

Other cupcakes present included another Strawberry Lemonade, a variety from Red Velvet Cupcakery, an assortment from the Giant Bakery, and the Crusaders’ contributions: Mojito (me), Mocha Brownie (Jenn), and Strawberry Basil (Elisa).


(From top center moving clockwise: Strawberry Lemonade from Josie’s Confections; Chocolate Chocolate from That’s So Morie Cupcakes; Mocha Brownie from Crusader Jenn, Mojito from me; and Maple Bacon from Josie’s Confections.)


(Cupcakes scattered all over the place!)


(More cupcakes! They were everywhere!)

While we always enjoy eating cupcakes and chatting, the fun really started when Danielle said that she would still like the challenge of eating five cupcakes for the cupcake eating competition. She was the only one who stepped up in advance so we told her the prize was hers, but she was determined to earn her prize fair and square.


(It’s all smiles before you reach the 5th cupcake! She did a great job and was such a good sport!)

About halfway through Danielle’s challenge, the Cupcake King, Joel, decided he wanted to see what he could manage. Since he helped us put together the prize pack, he was entering the contest purely to take his title of Cupcake King to the next level.


(Joel smiled most of the way through, before hitting the more challenging chocolate cupcakes. But he still came out on top and decimated all 5 cupcakes!)

It was like witnessing an episode of Man Vs. Food in person. They both did an amazing job! Danielle put down 4.5 cupcakes is 5 minutes (at first she wasn’t focusing on her time so much, but picked up the pace as soon as Joel decided to join the fun) and Joel ate 5 cupcakes in 3 minutes and 45 seconds. He truly has earned his title, Cupcake King.

We couldn’t have asked for a better first picnic and we are really looking forward to the next two in our series. Sunday, July 29th we will be meeting at the Westminster Community Pond in Westminster, MD and on Saturday, August 25th we’ll meet in Patterson Park in Baltimore, MD. For more information click here. We hope you can join us and make those cupcake picnics just as memorable as this one in Georgetown Waterfront Park was!

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

We want to give a special THANK YOU to Joel, The Cupcake King, from Josie’s Confections for helping us organize this month’s Cupcake Picnic. He searched for the perfect location, helped us brainstorm activities, and even contributed nice Wilton products for the prize pack. Thanks Cupcake King! 🙂