4th Annual Cupcake Tour – Roadtrip Style | Stop #1: Sweet Devotions | Havre de Grace, MD

For our Annual Cupcake Tour at the end of 2013, we decided to hit the road and visit a few places north of Baltimore, MD. Our first stop took us to a cupcake shop located in Havre de Grace, MD. Sweet Devotions hit the cupcake scene in 2010 with a bit of a twist, they served fresh, made to order crepes as well.

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On our visit, in addition to cupcakes and crepes, Sweet Devotions was offering cake pops, chocolate dipped pretzels and bacon (yep, chocolate covered bacon!), salad, wraps, and more. They had ample seating for all their customers in a shop adorned with cupcake nicknacks and paintings by local artists.

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We created a “game plan” for our day of cupcake eating to try and pace ourselves: Since there were four adults (my dad always participates in our cupcake tours) and one toddler, our goal was to order only two or three cupcakes, share them, and if they were awesome, we would go back and get more to take home with us. Well, on this first stop we failed miserably and ended up with five cupcakes, a cake pop, chocolate covered bacon, and three savory crepes. So much for self control…

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(Jenn’s daughter, Leah, enjoying her tiger stripped cake pop while sporting a 2013 Cupcake Roadtrip sticker on her hand.)

After finishing our crepes, we moved on to the cupcakes. I selected the French Toast with no bacon (which made this non-pork eater VERY happy), Jenn chose the Chocolate Covered Pretzel, Elisa went with the S’mores cupcake, and my dad got a classic Chocolate with Vanilla frosting and a Pumpkin cupcake for us all to share.

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Seeing that it was only about 11 a.m. when we made our first stop at Sweet Devotions, this French Toast Cupcake was the perfect choice. It was made of of a moist cinnamon cake topped with a great cream cheese frosting. I really enjoy cream cheese frosting whether it’s more on the sweet side or more savory, but this one stayed true to its name and packed in the cream cheese flavor, which paired perfectly with this morning themed cupcake.

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My dad is pretty easy to please when it comes to cupcakes, unless they are dry, and
unfortunately this cupcake was a little bit. That didn’t stop him from eating the whole thing though. You gotta love a man who loves his sweets. I guess I know where Jenn and I get it from.

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Jenn is usually a little hesitant when it comes to Chocolate Covered Pretzel cupcakes, since the pretzels tend to get a little soft and stale, but this one was too pretty to pass up. She said it was REALLY good and was surprised that the pretzels weren’t mushy (even the one baked into the middle) and the chocolate cake was actually moist—unlike the cake from our dad’s chocolate cupcake. She added that it wasn’t overly sweet and overall it was well balanced.

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Elisa is a total sucker when it comes to S’mores, especially S’mores cupcakes (you may have read her recent recipe review for Pumpkin S’mores Cupcakes). With its toasted marshmallow frosting, this cupcake looked as good as it tasted. It even had a graham cracker filling that added a twist we haven’t seen before.

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We were all in agreement that this Pumpkin cupcake was SO GOOD. The cake was very moist and the frosting was the same found on my French Toast cupcake, with a true cream cheese flavor.

We all unanimously agreed that we had a great start to the day at Sweet Devotions. If you find yourself in Havre de Grace, please stop by their shop. Grab a crepe, grab a cupcake, then sit back, relax, and enjoy.

Next week, Crusader Jenn will share her review for our second stop, SAS Cupcakes in Newark, DE. Stay tuned!

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

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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)

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)

Our Westminster, MD Cupcake Picnic Recap

Sunday’s Westminster Cupcake Picnic was another successful gathering, with help from Joel of Josie’s Confections. More cupcake lovers were able to make it out to the Westminster Community Pond and the cupcakes were plentiful! We scored a great spot under the pavilion, next to the playground, which worked out well for some of our youngest attendants.


(Crusader Elisa, Guest Crusader Beth, and myself hanging out while others arrived.)

Although sitting on blankets at our DC Cupcake Picnic made it really feel like an old-fashion picnic, it was nice to have the tables this time. The breeze felt great sitting in the shade. It couldn’t have been a better day for a picnic!

We were admiring the cupcakes that had already shown up, but holding off digging in. It seemed like it would be more polite to wait until some of the others arrived. But then our little niece Lylah said, “I want a cupcake.” With that, the cupcaking began and didn’t stop, as more people showed up with their picnic contributions.

Cupcakes that were in attendance:
1) Joel brought some of his new Josie’s Confections’ boozy flavors, including Tiramisu with a Kahlua filling. Look out for a full review of Josie’s Confections coming later this week.
2) Josie’s Confections’ Mango Passion Fruit and Rum & Coke.
3) Josie’s Confections’ Ciroc Red Berry Lemonade.
4) Robin and Camille came with homemade marble cupcakes topped with chocolate ganache.
5) Beth brought an assortment from Fresh Bakery. We’ve reviewed Fresh a few times but this was the my first time tasting their Creamsicle and it had the perfect Creamsicle flavor.
6) Rachael brought her homemade Snickers cupcakes, which I also tried at her daughter’s 1st birthday and are always a hit!
7) Crusader Elisa made Honey Grapefruit cupcakes, two ways. One had a grapefruit curd filling and the other had a honey filling. Keep an eye out for a full recipe review soon!
8) I brought these store bought cupcakes that came from Walmart. Flavors included Lemon, Vanilla Bean, and Triple Chocolate. For those curious about how these full-size Walmart cupcakes tasted, I’ll be doing a review next week.
9) Crusaders’ Dad brought Golden Snitch cake pops, extras from a Harry Potter birthday party he hosted the night before. Guest Crusader Beth was very excited to see these there!
10) I think these Pink Lemonade cupcakes also came from Robin and Camille’s group. So many cupcakes, it was hard to keep track! After tasting and complimenting them, I found out that they were made with Pillsbury’s Pink Lemonade cake mix.
11) Another candy bar themed cupcake came from Guest Crusader Kim, who wrote about her first experience making these for her 30th birthday party.
12) Crusader Stacy made Lemon Blueberry cupcakes and jazzed them up for the summer with some fancy decorating. She’ll be featuring these in a post coming soon!


(With so many cupcakes, we learned that there would be a lot of cupcake-exchanging going on. This time the Crusaders provided a “to-go” option for our guests.)

At the last picnic we had a cupcake eating challenge and thought maybe we’d see if anyone wanted to take on “The King” and try to beat his time of 5 cupcakes in 3 minutes and 45 seconds. There was one brave lady, Simone, who stepped up to the plate (or in our case the picnic table…we ran out of plates that could fit all 5 cupcakes).


(Simone with the 5 cupcakes she selected. We admire her courage in taking on The King!)

She attacked those cupcakes with gusto, but in the end Joel gets to keep his reigning title as the real “Cupcake King.” We were very proud of Simone’s attempt and she left with a prize pack as a thank you for participating.


(My cupcake carnage…Those cupcakes didn’t see what was coming to them.)

We hope that everyone had a good time and thank our guests, especially those who drove over an hour from DC and Northern Virginia! It was great to meet other enthusiasts and enjoy the nice day talking about baking, cupcakes, and getting to know one another better. After two great Cupcake Picnics, we are even more excited for our final Baltimore picnic next month and are already getting requests to have a 2013 picnic series! If you are interested in attending the Baltimore Cupcake Picnic, check out more details and RSVP here.

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

Elisa’s 30th Birthday Baking Experiment: Red Velvet Cake Pops and Vanilla Buttercream

Something you may not know about Crusader Elisa is that she loves her birthday. This means that her birthday doesn’t just involve a causal gathering with balloons and cake, but instead, it is a full day (sometimes a full weekend or even week) of fun activities and full on celebration. This year she celebrated her 30th birthday so of course, it had to be spectacular! Elisa decided that we would start the day at our favorite bi-annual Patterson Park Flea Market, then have a small barbeque (just the Crusaders, significant others, and Jenn’s daughter) at my house, and end the day with a party in a rented out room at one of our favorite Baltimore hang outs, the Waterfront Hotel in Fells Point. While we were discussing all the details of the day, I asked if she would like me to handle the cupcakes. She excitedly said that she would love if I would do that, and requested one of her favorites, Funfetti.

After much thought I decided that not only would I do Funfetti cupcakes, but I would make Red Velvet cake pops (she is our Red Velvet Crusader after all…) dipped in white chocolate and finished with rainbow sprinkles to match the Funfetti cupcakes. I also decided that instead of using pre-made frosting from a jar, I was going to attempt a rich vanilla buttercream.

On the evening of my baking adventure, I decided to start with the cake pops so they could have plenty of time to cool before dipping them. I pulled out a Red Velvet cupcake mix that had been given to me as a gift and got to work.

You may recall that during my last cake pop making experience, using a mix didn’t turn out quite as I had hoped. The cake pops were too fluffy and as a result there were a few casualties. I was determined to keep that from happening this time, so I compared the ingredients and add-ins from the packaged mix to the recipes that come with the BabyCakes Cake Pop maker.

It looked as if the results should be okay, so I continued with the instructions from the packaging. They didn’t rise as much as I would have liked, which resulted in one side being a little flat, but I figured that could be the bottom of the cake pop, where the stick gets inserted.

While those cooled in the refrigerator, I moved on to the cupcakes. I wasn’t worried about these at all.

Box mix – check.

Instant Jell-o pudding to add in – check.

Follow the instructions on the box – check.

It really was as easy at that. The result were light, fluffy, and moist “Rainbow Chip” (AKA: Funfetti) cupcakes. Before I tackled the more difficult portion of these cupcakes, the homemade vanilla buttercream frosting, I decided to go back to the cake pops. While the cupcakes were in the oven I had inserted the sticks so they were ready for dipping.

For the white chocolate coating I had two options, fancy bars of organic madagascan vanilla white chocolate and a bag of Nestle Toll House white chocolate chips, which were meant to be a backup in case I needed more. Well, I needed more, and I learned not to take the cheap road when it comes to white chocolate. The organic white chocolate melted, dipped, and set up beautifully, while the cheap white chocolate chips didn’t set up quickly at all, resulting in major drips.

It was definitely a struggle to work with, but with just a few “oopsies” I managed to finish the rest of the cake pops. The result was a stunning deep red inside with a crunchy sweet white coating.

With the cake pops out of the way it was time to focus on the frosting for the cupcakes. I was really worried about this at first, but after a mini Facebook conversation with Christi from Love from the Oven, I was feeling much more confident about experimenting without a recipe. We discussed possible add-ins and she shared links from her blog with me. In the end I decided on adding in marshmallow fluff. I had already ordered my madagascar bourbon vanilla bean paste and knew that I would add a touch of salt to balance out the sweetness. Armed with my three “secret” weapons, I was ready to tackle this next baking challenge.

To achieve a frosting I was happy with, I ended using the following measurements (approximately):

  • 2 Sticks of Unsalted Butter
  • 2 Cups of Confectioners Sugar
  • Most of a 7oz container of Marshmallow Fluff (looking back I probably could have used the whole thing)
  • About a 1/4 of a 4oz bottle of Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean Paste (Christi told me to use a lot so I just kept on pouring…)
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
  • Whipping Cream and Milk until it reached my desired consistency

At first I wasn’t sure if the frosting was too buttery and not sweet enough, but when I tried it with the cupcake, it was a perfect balance! Even Jenn, who wasn’t thrilled with just the frosting at first, thought that it paired really nicely. And of course, Elisa, who loves buttery frosting, thought it was great! And really, she was the only opinion that mattered. But on top of all that, everyone at the party seemed to really enjoy all the sweet treats. It was my first attempt at a fancy buttercream frosting, and I couldn’t have been more proud of the outcome and I was so happy to be able to provide Elisa with the tasty cupcakes and cake pops she deserved on her 30th birthday!


(Photo by Kenneth Adam)

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

Messy Memories and Cake Pop Creations

Sometimes I have moments when I realize how lucky I am to have my friends in my life. I mean, I always know that I’m fortunate, but every once in a while something happens and I think to myself, “What would I do without these fabulous ladies?” Well, last Friday night was one of those moments. My friend, Kerry, and I hadn’t seen each other in quite a while, so I invited her to my house to do a little baking for Share our Strength’s Great American Bake Sale. The task at hand would be a first ever attempt at cake pops.

Neither of us had made them before, but I thought I owned everything I needed to make it a painless process.

Well, I thought wrong.

Even with the help of my BabyCakes cake pop maker and cake pop mix, we still encountered many problems. At first, things started out smoothly. The cake mix was made and each batch of 12 was baked for 4 to 6 minutes creating perfect spheres of moist chocolatey deliciousness.

It wasn’t until we got to the chocolate glaze mix (which is included in the overpriced box mix) that we thought, “Something is not right.” The first surprise was that the glaze was a powdered mix. I’ve seen and eaten a lot of cake pops in my time and I was pretty sure that most are made with a chocolate or candy coating, not something that starts from a powdered mix. But, we carried on like good little bakers, following all the directions and mixing every ingredient with care.

Once all the ingredients were incorporated, we both agreed that it looked… strange. It didn’t look appetizing at all, and when we tested the glaze all I tasted was confectioners sugar. There wasn’t a hint of chocolate in sight. Despite that, we decided to proceed, hoping that the flavor would work better once it was combined with the cake.

This is where we ran into yet another problem. The glaze wouldn’t set up and we ended up with a dripping mess. So instead of cake pops, we decided they would be cake truffles. However, they didn’t look very appealing either.

Instead of a smooth chocolate shell, it looked waxy and gross. I decided right then and there that there was absolutely no way I could or would sell them at the bake sale looking (and tasting) like this. We had 16 un-dipped cake balls left and needed to figure out what we were going to do with them. After digging through my candy basket (any sweets lover should have a proper candy basket), I found enough chocolate bars to melt down to dip the remaining cake balls in.

After a short debate on microwave versus rigging up a double boiler, we decided to go with the later. The microwave is a little risky and easy to over cook the chocolate, and since we were running on a limited supply, I didn’t want to take the chance. The double boiler was super easy and ended up being the perfect solution. Finally we were doing something right!

We also decided to dip the sticks in the chocolate, then insert them into the cake balls so that they stuck to the stick and didn’t spin around (like they did in the first round with the nasty glaze).

This worked like a charm and before we knew it we had 16 beautifully decorated cake pops chilling in the refrigerator.

While we sat there with a glass of wine and waited for them to set up (we couldn’t have done all that hard work without sampling one before Kerry left), I thanked Kerry repeatedly for being there. If it hadn’t been for her I would have probably thrown all the cake pops against the wall in frustration, instead of laughing my way through all the ups and downs.

The next morning I proudly texted a photo of our accomplishment to Crusaders Jenn and Elisa. They both responded with praise, until Jenn asked how many I had… After finding out I only had 15, she asked if I could possibly make about 10 more. I explained that in order to do so, I would probably have to take some of the batter from the cupcakes I planned to make later that day. After a little back and forth, we both agreed that I should do just that. So I found myself making cake pops again.

You would think that after all the struggles of the night before, I would have had no problems the next day, and I did have fewer problems, however, the one I did have was a pretty big one. The cake batter for the cupcakes was not the same as the cake batter for the cake pops. Of course I didn’t realize this until I pulled the cake balls out of the cake pop maker and instead of having perfectly round spheres I had something that looked like these:

Misshapen, wrinkly, deflated looking cake balls. Just like the night before though, I didn’t let this stop me. I melted chocolate (which I had to purchase after depleting my supply the night before), stuck the sticks in, and let them set before dipping and decorating. My hope was that the chocolate and sprinkles would hide the imperfections of the cake balls, but I wasn’t prepared for what happened as I was decorating them.

If you aren’t sure what you are looking at, let me describe it to you. Apparently the cake was too soft to hold up all the chocolate and sprinkles, so it plummeted to the bottom of the stick, poking a hole clear through the entire cake ball. At this point I was screaming nasty four letter words in my head without my friend by my side to help me laugh it all off. Luckily it only happened with 2 cake pops so I was left with 10 new ones.

In the end I learned some valuable baking lessens: first, never use a glaze that comes in powdered form from a box. Second, I really need to figure out how to make a denser cake if I’m going to keep making these since I don’t want to spend $10 on a box mix. Last, the BabyCakes cake pop maker was the easiest part in the whole process and I will definitely be using it again.

Even with all the problems that came up, I still produced 25 quality cake pops that brought smiles to many kids’ faces during the bake sale, I made some great memories with a good friend, and I helped raise money for a great cause, so it was all totally worth it.

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

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