Gigi’s in Georgia

Guest Crusader Rebecca is back again with a review of Gigi’s Cupcakes, a successful chain with locations in 23 states. Thanks Rebecca!

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During a recent visit to Savannah, GA, I told my best friend we had to sample some cupcakes while I was there! Her daughters (and husband) were also excited to share in the tasting with me. We stopped at Gigi’s Cupcakes quaint shop and learned they offered cupcakes, mini cupcakes, and cheesecakes. We decided to pick out a few flavors and share them back at home. Minis have to be purchased by the dozen, so we went with single (very frosted!) cupcakes.

Carrot Cake & Snickerdoodle

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(Left to right: Carrot Cake and Snickerdoodle)

The Carrot Cake had a nice carrot cake flavor. I personally wish the frosting had been a bit more heavy on the cream cheese, as it was more sweet than savory.

The Snickerdoodle was my favorite cupcake of the bunch. There was a homemade mini cookie on top and the frosting had a rich taste of cookie dough. It had a strong cinnamon flavor and great texture, with a sugar crunch. Once again, the  cake was nothing special, but the frosting was standout!

Lemon Dream Supreme, Strawberries and Champagne, & Chocolate Salted Caramel

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(Left to right: Lemon Dream Supreme, Strawberries and Champagne, and Chocolate Salted Caramel)

The Lemon Dream Supreme cupcake had a nice lemon flavor, but I always want more! Overall, it was pleasant, but a bit more sweet than tart.

The Strawberries and Champagne was my least favorite cupcake. It was their daily special and one of my favorites from IcedGems, so I was looking forward to it. The cake tasted like a basic strawberry cake mix, not very strong on the flavor and the frosting was missing that kick of champagne. The sugar crystals added nice texture, but this cupcake lacked flavor overall.

The frosting on the Chocolate Salted Caramel cupcake was simply divine. A lovely rich caramel flavor with strong hints of salt, covered in chocolate ganache. The cake didn’t stand up to the frosting, as it lacked some flavor, but was not dry.

All-in-all the frostings were the standout pieces of these cupcakes! They are perfect for the frosting lover and I enjoyed sharing cupcakes with friends I don’t see enough!

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

Wegmans’ Cupcakes

I have a confession to make…Up until our annual fall girls’ weekend trip, I had never been into a Wegmans. Shameful, I know, especially in the Baltimore area. I’ve heard nothing but great things about Wegmans and the selection, so I’ve been dying to go. After hearing that their bakery offers “gourmet” cupcakes, we’ve had it on our list, but with so many cupcakeries to visit it had fallen to the wayside.

Since I haven’t managed to get to any of the local Wegmans, imagine my surprise when we passed a Wegmans in Williamsport, PA on the way to our cabin. I didn’t notice it on our first trip, but I think it’s been there for a while (it was kind of dated looking). Who knew Williamsport, PA would have a Wegmans?!

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(Leah didn’t care that the “car” looked like it had been in numerous collisions.)

Leah was thrilled with the child’s play car that was in the front of the shopping cart. There was space for two, and Freya indulged us, but Leah took control of both steering wheels and went to town.

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While Leah and Freya “drove,” Crusaders Stacy, Elisa, and I beelined for the bakery. We found their basic cupcakes, but walked down the counter a little further and found their “gourmet” cupcakes neatly packaged in really nice individual cupcakes containers, which Stacy and I had to save (example here). Once I saw the Peanut Butter Chocolate, I knew I had to get that one to take back to my peanut-butter-chocolate-loving husband. Stacy claimed a Pumpkin Spice as hers, so Elisa decided on the Carrot Cake.

Chocolate Peanut Butter:

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For me, this cupcake was just okay. I was really surprised to see that there was a whipped vanilla filling. If anything, I would have expected a peanut butter filling. The peanut butter drizzle wasn’t enough to bring out the flavor over the chocolate ganache frosting and chocolate cake, so in the end it just tasted like a decent chocolate cupcake.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcake:

WegmansCupcakes_Pumpkin

Crusader Stacy thought the pumpkin cake in this cupcake had great flavor and was super moist, but the cream cheese frosting was a little too rich. She said that she ended up scraping off most of the frosting and just leaving a little bit behind for flavor.

Carrot Cupcake:

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Elisa enjoyed the very moist cake that had a lovely hint of spice in this cupcake. She said, “I really liked the pieces of carrot in the cake and the addition of raisins. The cream cheese frosting was on the sweeter side, but because the cake had so much spice, it really worked. The cake to frosting ratio was perfect and I thought the size of the cupcake was perfect. I would definitely get this cupcake again.”

Our thoughts all varied, which may have to do with our selections, however I think it’s safe to say that Wegmans has cupcakes that are better than the average grocery store. And you get a single cupcake container that can be reused, so that’s an added bonus! Have you had Wegmans’ cupcakes? Let us know what you thought.

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

NYC Cupcake Crawl: Lower East Side and East Village

Prior to being a mom, I used to go to NYC with Crusaders Stacy and Elisa quite a bit. We have friends and family that live there, we love going to shows, and taking a day trip is so easy from our location. I ended up missing our annual spring overnight trip, which means that the last time I was there was when I was pregnant, a year and a half ago. Since I was craving a NYC girls’ trip and missing my friends, Stacy and I drove up for a day trip this fall.

Stacy did all the research and planned our very ambitious day…six cupcake stops, five of them in walking distance (5–15 minute walks). We arrived in the city and made our way to the East Village. Our first stop was Butter Lane Cupcakes.

Butter Lane Cupcakes:

The menu setup at Butter Lane Cupcakes was a little confusing at first. They offer three cake flavors (vanilla, chocolate, and banana) and then a long list of frostings to choose from. If they don’t have the combination you want already assembled, they will fix it up for you. When we first arrived there were people standing outside of the shop eating their cupcakes and it was crowded inside (always a good sign!), but it cleared out quickly with the quick service that staff provided. Stacy noticed a Foursquare offer on the first check-in for a buy 2, get 1 free, so we took advantage of it.


(Cupcakes from left clockwise: Chocolate with Chocolate Sea Salt frosting, Banana with Maple Pecan frosting, and Banana with Cinnamon Honey frosting.)

Banana with Cinnamon Honey frosting: Possibly one of my favorite cupcakes ever. I was really surprised because the frosting looked crunchy, but it wasn’t. After biting in I couldn’t believe how moist the cake was and it had the perfect balance of flavors.

Banana with Maple Pecan frosting: Stacy thought that the maple overpowered the banana cake (I didn’t think so), but she still loved the frosting. Same super moist cake that was on the dense side, because of the banana.

Chocolate with Chocolate Sea Salt frosting: Moist light chocolate cake with a rich, salty frosting and caramel drizzle. I would recommend this to anyone who loves the sweet and salty combination.

Prohibition Bakery:

Prohibition Bakery is a basement bakery with just enough room to order your cupcakes, and a small bench inside. Luckily it was a beautiful day and the ledge leading down into the shop ended up being a great spot for Stacy and I to try our cupcakes. Prohibition Bakery only offers mini cupcakes at $2 each or three for $5.


(Top cupcakes from left to right: Margarita and Beer and Pretzel. Bottom cupcakes from left to right: Shiny Apple, Mulled Wine, and Birthday Cake.)

Margarita: I was surprised by how strong the booze in such a tiny cupcake could be! But, it was definitely a cocktail in cupcake form. This cupcake stuck to wrapper a little more than I like for minis (since every bit of cake you can get is precious). But any margarita lover would appreciate this treat. The salt was perfect, like a salted rim.

Beer and Pretzel: This cupcake didn’t stick as much to the wrapper, but it had a weird taste. Maybe it was the beer that’s used? I usually like beer breads and cakes, but I wouldn’t recommend this cupcake.

Shiny Apple: Stacy said this cupcake tasted just like a Washington Apple shot  (whiskey, Apple Pucker, and Hot Damn—instead of cranberry juice). She gave me a bite and I thought it was like spiked apple cider. It became our favorite here at Prohibition Bakery and was perfect for the autumn season.

Mulled Wine: This mini treat was sweeter than the others, but definitely had a mulled wine taste. It was really good, but not a favorite.

Birthday cake: Stacy said the vodka in this cupcake was strong and that it tasted exactly like what it was, a vanilla cupcake with vodka. The cake was moist, but a little crumbly.

Sugar Sweet Sunshine:
After eating lunch at One More Thai (across the street from Prohibition Bakery and highly recommended), we met up with Guest Crusader Jen and her husband James and all headed to Sugar Sweet Sunshine. We were pleased to see that there was seating inside, although it was packed, because more friends, Joanna and Greg, joined us. It was nice to be able to find a few chairs to hang out for a little while. Sugar Sweet Sunshine offers more than just cupcakes, and is also known for their pudding trifles. We were all shocked to see that the regular size cupcakes were only $1.75 (especially our New Yorkers friends who are accustomed to higher prices).


(Cupcakes from left to right: Pistachio and Pumpkin.)

Pistachio: I got this cupcake out of curiosity, but was a little wary since I’ve never had a pistachio cupcake. I was pleasantly surprised by the fresh nutty flavor, and moist, light cake. Because of the uniqueness, this may have been one of my favorite cupcakes of the day (coming in behind the Banana Honey Cinnamon from Butter Lane).

Pumpkin: Stacy picked this cupcake and said the cake was also moist and light, especially for pumpkin, which tends to be heavier.

(Cupcakes from left to right: Strawberry cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Banana.)

Strawberry with Peanut Butter frosting: James got this cupcake and really liked it. He was surprised and pleased that it tasted just like PB&J sandwich, even having a taste of sandwich bread.

Banana: Jen ordered this cupcake and thought it was good. She was expecting the cake to be moister for banana, but it had a good flavor and a tasty, light cream cheese frosting. Jen isn’t usually a fan of cream cheese frosting, so the fact that she liked this one speaks volumes.

Coconut (not photographed): Greg and Joanna shared this cupcake. Joanna isn’t much of a sweets person (I know, I don’t get it either!), but they both enjoyed how light and moist the cupcake was, and that it wasn’t overly sweet.

BabyCakes:

BabyCakes is a well know vegan bakery that uses spelt instead of wheat flour and doesn’t use refined sugars, but sweetens their cupcakes with agave nectar. They also make gluten-free vegan options, and all of their cupcakes are soy-free. The prices varied and were on the higher side. With the price and limited selection Stacy and I decided to share one. We were expecting it to be over $4, based on the price marked on the display, but it ended up being $3.75 (still the highest price of the day for a normal size cupcake). My guess is the specialty ingredients make BabyCakes cupcakes cost more, but it was our least favorite of the day and perhaps the worst cupcake we’ve ever had.

Vegan Lemon: Stacy recognized the texture of the cake was a lot like Sticky Fingers vegan bakery, which we tasted over the summer. The cupcakes at BabyCakes are served cold, which is always a downside. Our first bite did not make a good impression and we only took a second bite to try and pin point the flavors. Despite the lack of wheat flour, the cake tasted floury and also bitter, probably from the spelt. It was hardly sweet, almost like a sugar cookie that suffers from too much salt and flour and not enough sugar in the batter. The frosting, which can sometimes redeem a cupcake, just made it worse. It was sticky, like a runny fondant that solidified due to being chilled.

While we commend BabyCakes for their commitment to being all-natural and offering a healthier, non-processed option on the cupcake scene, it just doesn’t work for the normal cupcake lover.

Little Cupcake Bakeshop:

Little Cupcake Bakeshop was the biggest venue we visited during our cupcake crawl, with the most seating. Just like most of the bakeries, they were very busy, perhaps the busiest one we visited since people linger at the tables. They have a large display for their cupcakes and other confections, areas to watch bakers apply frosting and prepare confections, and a full service coffee shop. Although they were packed, they are also very well staffed. The selection looked amazing, so it was hard to choose. Their cupcakes range from $3–$3.50 for normal size cupcakes, but that’s average in NYC.


(Cupcakes from left clockwise: Mott Street, Peanut Butter and Jelly, and Luscious Lemon.)

Peanut Butter and Jelly: Stacy finally got a PB&J cupcake, one of her new favorites, and thought this one was delicious. She really liked how the jelly was swirled in the cake.

Luscious Lemon: I choose this cupcake, which had a vanilla cake and was topped with lemon butter cream and a meringue swirl. While this cupcake was well made and tasty, I think the name is a little deceiving. I was expecting much more lemon flavor, but the flavor was subtle. But after the previous lemon cupcake from Babycakes, I still thought it was refreshing and just what I needed.

Mott Street: I took the Mott Street home with me, because after hearing the description, I had to have it. It was a vanilla bean cake soaked in Illy espresso and topped with mascarpone cream cheese frosting, then dusted in cocoa powder. The girl who described it compared it to tiramisu. I thought this cupcake was really great, with a light, fluffy, and moist cake.

Baked by Melissa:  October Flavor of the Month

There was no way we could go to NYC without visiting Baked by Melissa, especially will all the locations they have now. Crusader Elisa even gave us her order before our trip, so we had to bring some back for her. We headed uptown, to Grand Central Station where there is a Baked by Melissa next door (a convenient location and also nearby to the restaurant our friend, Liz, works at and where we had dinner). The only new flavor we tried was the flavor of the month (read previous reviews here).

For October, Bake by Melissa offered a carrot cake with mini chocolate chips. Stacy’s thoughts were, “It was interesting because it tasted like carrot cake, but it had no visible carrots, or any of the other usual carrot cake fixings (like raisins or nuts). It was tasty, but the chocolate chips kind of overpowered it.”

We had a great day, filled with cupcakes and friends, so what more could we want?  Stacy and I discovered a few new cupcake places that we now call favorites. It would be hard to choose just one place to visit. Super Sweet Sunshine had their amazing prices and above average cupcakes, Butter Lane had their unique menu approach that allowed for amazing flavor combinations, Prohibition has booze, and Little Cupcake Bake shop has treats that give the feeling of high-end cakes. So depending on where you are in the East Village or Lower East Side and what type of treat you are looking for, we recommend checking out any of these four great places. Then stop by Baked by Melissa for bite size cupcakes to-go. I can’t wait for our next trip to NYC, which will no doubt include cupcakes, but maybe next time we’ll also fit in a Broadway show!

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

A Baking Adventure: Carrot Cake Cupcakes with a Brown Sugar, Caramel, and Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

I feel as though I should preface this post by letting you all know that this cupcake recipe has the potential to be AMAZING, however my final product? Eh. But, I do know ways it could have been better, which I’ll share with you.

I started with a carrot cake box mix. I know, I know. That was my first mistake. Carrot cake in a box…maybe the worst boxed option ever, after red velvet (see our thoughts in a previous review).  Had I used a real recipe for carrot cake or modified the box mix (because you all know how much I love a good carrot cake with walnuts and fresh carrot) then that would have made about 80% of the difference in the quality of these cupcakes.

Next, the frosting…I used a canned frosting. I’m sure you’ve realized by now that this concoction was all about using up pantry items and putting something together on a whim. The modifications I made to the frosting helped with the “canned” flavor, however had I started with a homemade cream cheese frosting it would have been so much better. I added in caramel syrup, cinnamon, and brown sugar, all just to taste. The cinnamon and caramel were a huge win. The flavor of the brown sugar was good, but I expected it to soften and dissolve. It didn’t, which left a grainy texture.

One good thing that came out of this experiment was a recipe for baked peaches. I found an easy recipe on The Kitchen is My Playground. The peaches turned out amazing and were a perfect complement to the sub-par cupcakes. The next time I attempt brown sugar in a frosting, I’ll have to do my research first. If you have a tried and true recipe, please share it with us!

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

Très “Fraîche” et délicieuse!

The Crusaders love the opportunity to review new places – not only do we get to eat cupcakes, but we also get to visit new shops! Recently, we all trekked to Bethesda, MD to Fraîche Cupcakery to spend some time together and taste some cupcakes. We even had a chance to meet our friend Joel, from Josie’s Confections. Thanks for meeting up with us Joel!

Fraîche Cupcakery (“fresh” in French – for those who don’t know) has been on our “to try” list for quite a while, and we love their dedication to being all natural and eco-friendly. Using all-natural and local ingredients, as well as recycled materials in their shop and display signs and packaging, already scores points with the Crusaders, as we all three try to watch our environmental impact.

After checking out the beautiful, clean, and contemporary shop we reviewed our flavor options and discovered they had mini cupcakes in almost every flavor. Minis are great because it meant we could order more flavors to try, so after selecting our flavors we sat down for our first bite of Fraîche cupcakes. No one was more excited to get to the cupcakes than our littlest Crusader, Jenn’s daughter, Leah – she was so excited to see cupcakes and very anxious to eat them. Below are our flavor picks and thoughts:

Chocolate Green Tea (Sept 26 – Oct 2 Special flavor – full-size cupcake)

Interesting flavor combos always intrigue and inspire us, so we knew we had to try this cupcake. When Crusader Jenn and I initially tasted the frosting we liked its punch of tea flavor, but then tasting it with the cake made us all look at each other quizzically. We just didn’t like the two flavors together. The cake flavor itself was ok, but the texture was off and reminded us of a cake/brownie mix. The frosting alone tasted exactly like green tea, but had a very sweet aftertaste that I didn’t care for. Joel also didn’t like this flavor combination, and didn’t finish this cupcake. While this might not have been our favorite cupcake, it did spark discussion of what kind of flavors might work better and might have inspired my next baking experiment flavor!

Red Velvet mini

Being the “Red Velvet Crusader” I am very particular, but this cupcake did not disappoint. Cake with a crunchy top isn’t always a good thing, but it was one of the many reasons I loved this cupcake. The cake had amazing flavor and the frosting was smooth with a well balanced cream cheese frosting. Crusader Stacy and I really enjoyed this mini and next time I’ll need to order a full-size Red Velvet.

Blueberry Pancake mini

Pancake in cupcake form? Yes please. While this cake was a bit on the dense side, it tasted exactly like a blueberry pancake. The subtle maple flavor of the buttercream frosting added just the right amount of “syrup” on top. Crusader Stacy said it best, “This is awesome.”

Cinnamon mini

Cinn-fully delicious! Wow, did this cupcake pack a cinnamon flavor explosion. We all enjoyed the generous dusting of cinnamon on top. And with the perfect sweet, moist cake and creamy frosting balance, this cupcake was a great fall treat.

Raspberry Almond mini

Almond is a favorite flavor profile of the Crusaders and this cupcake was the perfect balance of tangy raspberry and almond flavors. The cake was on the dense side, but that didn’t bother us as we dove in and devoured this mini. The frosting wasn’t too sweet and the sliced almonds on top added a fantastic crunch of texture.

Mocha mini

Jenn took this one home and enjoyed it, here are her thoughts: This cupcake had tons of coffee/espresso flavor in the frosting, but the cake had the same weird texture as the Chocolate Green Tea cupcake.

Joel picked a couple of flavors that we didn’t try, including Lemon Almond and Carrot Cake. He agreed that the cakes were dense and a bit too dry for his liking. He also thought the carrot cake tasted more like a plain yellow cake with carrots in it, missing the spices that are typical for carrot cake flavor.

Overall we enjoyed Fraîche Cupcakery’s cupcakes, and while the Green Tea cupcake wasn’t a favorite, it did inspire flavor discussions and baking ideas. All of the cake was on the dense side, but that didn’t take away from their fantastic flavors. Their friendly staff, great flavor options, and dedication to the environment will keep us coming back when we are in the Bethesda area. The Weekly Savory Specials in October (available on Sat and Sun) include: Rosemary Fig (Oct 6-7), Baked Potato (Oct 13-14) and Chips & Salsa (Oct 20-21) and are all flavors that make us want to stop in on the upcoming weekends – oh if only we lived closer!

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

Fabulous Fall Selection from Kupcakes & Co.

My friend (and guest Crusader from our first California review), Julie flew in a week and a half ago to visit for a long weekend. For the most part, our plan was to visit Hersheypark because the amazing Megan Hilty, from NBC’s Smash, would be performing. However, I couldn’t host company for the weekend without cupcakes. This is what my friends have come to expect from me.

I decided that we would take a “back way” home from the airport (to avoid traffic, of course!) that conveniently took us past Kupcakes & Co. On this day I was able to take home all five of the new fall flavors! Michelle, owner of Kupcakes & Co., was very generous and also gave us a non-seasonal cupcake, a cupcake parfait which Stacy had been dying to try, cake pops including one fall flavor, and cookies! We left with more than enough to take us through the weekend!

Salted Caramel Chocolate Parfait

When I told Stacy that I would be stopping in Kupcakes & Co., her instructions to me were to bring her a fall treat. Her order of priority would be a parfait first, then cupcake, then cake pop. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any fall flavored parfaits but when Michelle heard that we still hadn’t tried one and how much Stacy wanted to, she wouldn’t let me leave without selecting one of the three options being offered that day. I choose the Salted Caramel Chocolate because caramel is a good flavor for the season (I think I’ll have to go back for the chocolate raspberry).

As you can imagine, a dessert layered with frosting and caramel is sweet! We’ve tried the cupcake version before but Dan (my hubby) really loved the parfait. I think he’s addicted now. Maybe it’s the size? Or all the frosting? But he has found a new love. I have to be honest, I might be addicted now too.

Maple Walnut

The Maple Walnut boasted a ton of maple flavor. Because of this, it would be difficult to finish a whole one without a cup of milk nearby, but I loved it. It reminded me of the maple candies I used to pick up every fall on a trip to Deep Creek with my hubby.

Pumpkin

Pumpkin is definitely the most popular flavor of the season. And, I’m admittedly obsessed with it. This cupcake had a cake that is denser than Kupcakes & Co.’s usual cake, but that’s expected with pumpkin, and it was so moist! The thing that sets this cupcake apart from other pumpkin flavors is the tasty cinnamon cream cheese frosting that was a perfect complement.

Spice Cake

We expected the spice cake with cream cheese frosting would be similar to the carrot cake in flavor but were pleased to discover that it has its own distinct (and delicious) taste. Stacy pointed out that the spice flavor, from the nutmeg used, would make it perfect for the winter holiday. Hopefully Kupcakes & Co. will consider carrying this cupcake into winter.

Caramel Apple

Another favorite combination of the season, this cupcake had a moist apple cake, vanilla frosting, and a caramel drizzle. As far as apple caramel cupcakes go, this one was a little too sweet for me. Since Stacy, Julie, Dan, and I were sharing, I only got a portion and I would have liked more apple in my piece.

Carrot Cake

Like most, Kupcake & Co. tops their carrot cake with their awesome cream cheese frosting. It’s one of the best I’ve had…not too sweet, great spice in the cake, and great texture with fresh shredded carrot and nuts.

Mint Chocolate Chip

The Mint Chocolate Chip is definitely the odd-ball in a group of exclusively fall flavors. It is not one of their fall selections, but sneaked its way into our box. As much as I wanted to dive into it, I let Dan have this one all to himself, as a consolation prize for staying home with Leah while Stacy, Julie, and I had a girls’ dinner out. You’ll have to take his word for it when he says it was delicious. I think we can trust him, since he’s been on many, many crusades with me.

Cake Pops

Stacy called dibs on the Pumpkin cake pop (the bright, orange colored one), so that left the rest of us with the Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Crunch and Peanut Butter Marshmallow White Chocolate (Fluffernutter?) cake pops. I thought maybe Stacy was the lucky one after she raved about the Pumpkin cake pop, but upon trying the Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Crunch, I’d pick it again in a heartbeat.

Cookies
Kupcakes & Co. has been serving up cookies, along with biscotti, buckeyes, and other non-cupcake goodies, for a while now, and they really know what they are doing when it comes to baked treats. This time we got to try their large sugar cookie sandwich with chocolate ganache filling and a pumpkin chocolate chip sandwich cookie. It was so good. I mean REALLY good. So, if you are in there for a cupcake, don’t turn your nose up at the cookies.

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

Partying in Western New York with Cupcakes

Stacy and I have been traveling together for many years, and each time I’m reminded why she’s my favorite travel partner-in-crime! We always seem to find fun, even when we are least expecting it. This past weekend we trekked up to Hilton, NY for our friend Alli’s daughter, Freya’s, 1st birthday and house warming party. On our way there, we needed to stop for something to eat, and after randomly selecting an exit (Corning, NY to be exact) we ended up smack-dab in front of Walker Cake & Coffeehouse – with a cupcake on the awning!

It was kismet, we were meant to take that stop and run into our first cupcake taste of the trip. (Honestly, it would amaze people if they knew how often things like this happened when Stacy and I were together.)

Walker Cake & Coffeehouse Cupcakes:

“Mega” Size Chocolate Peanut Butter
In Stacy’s own words: “The ganache was thick and set up like the frosting on a chocolate frosted doughnut from DD… So good! The peanut butter frosting was really thick, almost like the peanut butter you would find in a buckeye or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. I have mixed feelings on whether that’s appropriate for a frosting, but it was SO GOOD. The cake was dense and crumbly but moist.

Carrot Cake
Unusual in flavor, this carrot cake might be the best carrot cake cupcake I’ve ever eaten. The frosting was not the usual cream cheese, but was a thick and subtly sweet buttercream, a perfect complement to the moist, spicy, and savory cake. This cake was not like any carrot cake I’ve ever had – there was something special about it – neither Stacy nor I could put our finger on what it was, but it really made this cake stand out and shine. I only wish I had gotten in the “mega” size, because this cupcake left me wanting more.

Soon after, we arrived at Freya’s 1st birthday party and enjoyed watching her play, spending time with our friends, relaxing with a beer, and eating the delicious cupcakes that Alli made for the party. They were a chocolate stout beer cake with a cream cheese frosting. YUM! They tasted as good as they looked, in fact, I couldn’t resist eating just one.

Stacy researched and found fantastic and fun things for us to do – so after eating a wonderful breakfast the next morning at our B&B, White Farm, we headed over to Avon, NY for a huge flea market. We found some fun items to purchase, walked around for a long while, and worked up an appetite for cupcakes.

Our first cupcake stop of the day was in Penfield, NY called Dollop. They’ve won Cupcake Wars and had an interesting “build-your-own” spin on a cupcakery. After selecting our cake, frosting, filling, and toppings we were ready to order, and eat!


“Peach Cobbler” (Vanilla Cake, Peach Filling, Cream Cheese Frosting, and topped with White Chocolate Chips)
So good! Loved the cream cheese frosting even if it was a bit runny. Vanilla cake was a great texture and the filling was perfect.

“Caramel Apple Pie” (Vanilla Cake, Apple Pie Filling, Caramel Frosting, and topped with Graham Crackers and Caramel Sauce)
This cupcake was just as good as the Peach Cobbler. The caramel drizzle was a great addition because the caramel frosting was very subtle. The star of this cupcake was really the filling though!

“Caramel S’mores” (Chocolate Cake, Marshmallow Filling, Caramel Frosting, and topped with Graham Crackers and Marshmallows)
Really worth the wait! The cake was moist and had great texture, the fluff filling was basically melted into the cake, but had great flavor, the icing was subtle in caramel flavor, and the graham cracker and marshmallow topping made this the perfect combination.

“Cinnamon Apple Pie” (Vanilla Cake, Apple Pie Filling, Cream Cheese Frosting, and topped with Cinnamon)
Yummy vanilla cake with very flavorful apple pie filling, cream cheese frosting and cinnamon sprinkled on top = delicious. All of the components of this cupcake were shinning stars, I couldn’t pick my favorite part, I just want to order another one.

Stacy and I agreed that the pricing at Dollop was a bit more than expected for that size cupcake:

Cake & Frosting: $2.50
Filling: $.25
Topping: $.50
**You can earn a free filling with your first Foursquare Check-in

However, after tasting the cupcakes, neither of us minded spending almost $4 for each one.

After Dollop, we headed to Pittsford, NY to visit Dolce Cupcakery. This adorable shop was in an old barn and was so cute; inside was really lovely, with adorable photos of kids eating cupcakes on the walls. What a slice of heaven that whole area is, situated right on the canal we decided to eat lunch there too, but back to the cupcakes:

Blueberry Pancake
This cupcake was a slight disappointment as the frosting seemed to be made with a large amount of shortening, which we weren’t fans of. It made the frosting lack depth of flavor and left your mouth coated in a greasy film. The cake had really great flavor and seemed to be a blend of blueberry cake and brown sugar cake. While the flavor was good, it was very dense, more like a muffin.

Peanut Butter Chocolate
The cake was a bit heavy, but that is the only negative thing I have to say about this cupcake. The frosting was very flavorful, thick, and unlike the Blueberry Pancake cupcake didn’t seem to have any shortening in it, thank goodness. The cake had a peanut butter cup baked into it, which is always fun and adds another level of texture. Maybe it was the frosting that made me love this cupcake so much, maybe it was the chocolate flavor of the cake, either way, I scraped the plate clean.

It was a fantastic weekend, full of friends, food, drinks, and cupcakes. Stacy and I are so lucky to be able to travel all around and spend time doing things we both love. I can’t wait to see what our next trip will be, and I wonder what we’ll randomly run into next time!

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

Florida Fun, Relaxation, and Treats! Simply Cupcakes of Naples

After a week of sweet reviews from our recent trip to Florida, we have finally arrived at our last one, Simply Cupcakes of Naples. Before heading to Florida I would often stalk visit Simply Cupcakes’ Facebook page admiring all their cupcake photos, so I knew we had to stop in to sample their oversized cupcakes.

When we arrived at Simply Cupcakes the owners and staff were in the middle of a meeting, but that didn’t keep them from taking a break to show us all the flavors and talk a little bit about the company. We learned that the company was started in 2006 by selling cupcakes at a local farmers market and now there are many locations throughout Florida and the United States. We also learned that Simply Cupcakes offers a program to help bakers start up a Simply Cupcakes online company. It’s not a normal franchise opportunity, but rather, they go over things like legal requirements for at home baking, calculating your costs, marketing yourself, and even provide recipes. It’s everything you need to start up your own Simply Cupcakes!

After learning so much about Simply Cupcakes, we were ready to get some cupcakes! I immediately knew two of the flavors I would be getting: Funky Monkey and Key Lime (their signature flavor). When Simple Cupcakes posted about Funky Monkey on their Facebook page I couldn’t help but comment, and they happily told me they would make sure that flavor was there for us to try!

The remaining cupcakes we decided on were Carrot Cake, Red Velvet (for Crusader Elisa), Hint of Mint, and Raspberry Almond. We found out that they predominantly use an Italian meringue buttercream for their frosting which gives each cupcake a lightness that is greatly appreciated in the hot Florida air.

Funky Monkey:

The Funky Monkey cupcake was everything I dreamed it would be. Banana cake, chocolate ganache, peanut butter filling and a strongly flavored, yet light and airy, whipped peanut butter frosting. Crusader Jenn and I both agree that this is one of our all time favorite cupcakes.

Key Lime:

Made with a key lime curd filling, this cupcake was another crowd pleaser. Any one who has ever tasted a regular lime vs a key lime knows that the key lime packs more flavor and more tartness than the regular lime. It’s no wonder that this is the signature cupcake of a Florida cupcakery.

Carrot Cake:

I wish I could say that I tried this nicely decorated cupcake, but we purchased this for my Nana (one of the most wonderful grandmothers ever!). She loves carrot cake so when we saw that Simply Cupcakes had that option, we quickly added it to our growing list of flavors we would be purchasing that day.

Red Velvet:

This Red Velvet is another that I didn’t have a chance to try since it was for Crusader Elisa. I have to admit though, that with its tasteful, yet simple, decorations it traveled quite well from Fort Myers to Baltimore in my cupcake container.

Hint of Mint:

After reading the notes for this cupcake that Crusader Jenn took (yes, we often take actual notes…) I had to laugh because she wrote: “Stacy grunted twice: ‘ganache… mmmmm…'” I sure do enjoy my cupcakes. 😉 At first I thought the frosting could have used more mint flavor, but looking back it was the perfect amount for sitting by the pool on a warm day. I think if it had been any stronger it may have made the cupcake feel much heavier, which is not what you want on a hot day.

Raspberry Almond:

This cupcake was a great way to finish our tasting with. It had a fluffy almond flavored cake, raspberry preserves smeared on top, and was finished with a soft Italian meringue buttercream and almond shavings. It was light and refreshing. Another perfect treat when relaxing by the water.

I’ve always looked forward to visiting my family in Florida. I spent countless summers there growing up and it really is like a second home to me. Now that we have discovered some amazing cupcake places it will make our visits there even “sweeter.”

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

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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Guest Review | Sweet Carolina Cupcakes | Hilton Head, SC

We are excited to have a new Guest Crusader, Erin! She is a friend of the Crusaders who LOVES cupcakes. She is sharing a review with us today on Sweet Carolina Cupcakes, a cupcakery she stumbled across on a recent trip to South Carolina. Thanks for sharing this with us Erin!

Recently I drove to South Carolina to visit my friend who lives on Hilton Head Island. Now if you’ve ever been to Hilton Head, you know there’s not much to do on the island except go to the beach and other ocean related activities (such as surfing). As my luck had it, it rained for the majority of my visit, so for lack of something better to do, my friend suggested that we walk around the Coligny Plaza Shopping Center.

Sweet Carolina Cupcakes is located in the middle of the maze of shop that is Coligny Plaza, but if you do make the effort to find it, you’ll find it’s well worth the hunt. On their website, they claim to be “The Lowcountry’s Premiere Cupcakery” and they apparently offer different flavors on different days of the week.

The shop itself has a blindingly bright lime green and hot pink color scheme and is pretty small. The common area only had two 2-person tables and a back wall bar to sit at.

The day we were there, they had ten flavors to choose from (pictured below).


(Top Row: Peanut Butter Cup, Red Velvet, Carrot Cake, Coconut Snowball, Chocoholic
Bottom Row: Wedding Cake, Raspberry Zinger, Sweet Carolina, Classic Vanilla with Chocolate or Vanilla Icing and Classic Chocolate with Chocolate or Vanilla Icing.)

They also had a small selection of muffins and whoopee pies for non-cupcake people. The cupcakes themselves are larger than what I would consider an average-sized cupcake. They were closer to the size of a large muffin, but were priced averagely at 3.50 each.

While I was trying to choose my flavor, I asked what the Sweet Carolina (a bright pink cupcake with vanilla icing and pink sprinkles) was and was told that is was Sweet Carolina Cupcakes’ take on a “pink red-velvet” cupcake. I didn’t end up buying this one because I am not a huge fan of red velvet, but I wondered what Red Velvet Cupcake Crusader Elisa would think of a pink-velvet cupcake.

After quite a long deliberation I settled on the following cupcakes.

Peanut Butter Cup

My boyfriend actually chose peanut better cup because he doesn’t really like desserts or sweets EXCEPT for anything that is peanut butter flavored (I know, I think he’s crazy for not liking sweets). He did let me have a bite though. The chocolate cake was moist and full of dark chocolaty goodness. The cake was also very light and fluffy. The icing was smooth and VERY peanut buttery. My boyfriend who loves peanut butter thought the icing was great. I thought that the dark chocolate was a little overpowered by the peanut butter flavor, but I am also not a huge peanut butter fan, so I probably would never order this flavor for myself.

Carrot Cake

I ended up choosing a Carrot Cake cupcake for myself and was not disappointed by my choice. The cake, again, was light and fluffy, especially for carrot cake. I think the lightness of the cake was a great feature since the cupcakes were larger than average. If the cake had been too dense and “meaty,” I don’t think I would have wanted/been able to eat a whole cupcake (which I did easily). The flavor of the cake was not very spiced, but it did have a great texture of nuts, carrots and coconut. The icing tasted like a combination of buttercream and cream cheese and was pretty smooth and thick. Overall, I enjoyed this cupcake, although I did end up left with a mound of icing on my plate that I didn’t eat (I like my cupcake to icing ration about 2-1 cupcake to icing).

The friends I was with also got Red Velvet, Chocoholic and Classic Chocolate with Vanilla Icing cupcakes. (Sadly I didn’t manage to get photos of them before they were devoured.) My friend who bought the Red Velvet said it was better than the Peanut Butter Cup (which she also tried) and my friend who bought the Chocoholic cupcake couldn’t stop talking about how good it was and asking when he could go back and get another.

Overall, Sweet Carolina Cupcakes gets a big stamp of approval. Their cupcakes are larger than average, reasonably priced and full of flavor. If you’re ever on Hilton Head Island, make sure you stop by and try one!

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

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