Paid in Cupcakes

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

Red Velvet

Juniors-RedVelvet

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

Chocolate Hostess

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

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

Guest Review | Dessert Affairs Kiosk | Columbia, MD

I couldn’t ask for a better co-worker than today’s Guest Reviewer (and fellow blogger), Deidre. She not only loves sweets as much as I do, but she often acts as a taste tester for my kitchen creations and never objects when I bring a cupcake in, hoping she’ll share with me so I can have a partner in crime. If you love fashion and sewing in addition to sweets, you should check out her blog, Sew Hot Mommi. Today, she has taken a break from threads and patterns to share her review of Dessert Affairs, a cupcake kiosk at the Columbia Mall located in Columbia, MD. Thanks Deidre!

One of the side effects of working with a cupcake blogger is a heightened awareness of the confection. When “cake-to-frosting” ratio is a part of the normal office banter, you can’t help but become hyper sensitive to their presence. And with the explosion of bakeshops specializing in the diminutive treats, I see them literally everywhere.

Now normally when out shopping at the mall, I’m on a mission, in and out as quickly as possible, mainly out of respect to my wallet. However, recently I was in the mall, with my power-walk going, when I’m stopped dead in my tracks by of all things…a cupcake kiosk. Who knew! Evidently Dessert Affairs did because they’ve taken up residence in Columbia Mall. Now as a self-professed sweet-aholic, I felt compelled to stop and was greeted by one of the friendliest bakers I’ve met. When I do a little blog name-dropping, i.e., that I’m pals with the Cupcake Crusaders, the red-carpet is rolled out and I get star treatment.

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So let’s start! For a satellite location, they’re pretty well stocked. Owner, Atiba de Souza, rattles off 11 flavors for starters and lists several more that are back at his store in Rockville. I decide on a half-dozen including: Cinnamon Caramel Apple, Strawberry and their signature Chocolate Strawberry Cheesecake. Of course I go right for the signature cupcake and I must say, it was yummy!

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(Signature Chocolate Strawberry Cheesecake)

The frosting was superior! Not too much and not too sweet. Even a sweet-aholic has her limits. The chocolate cake was moist, which is an absolute must in my book. My only comment would be on the filling. I was hoping for something more…hmm…homemade as the strawberry filling was more of a gel. Guess I was hoping for bits of fruit, but it wasn’t distracting so I enjoyed it all the same. Next to cross my palette was the Cinnamon Caramel Apple.

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(Cinnamon Caramel Apple)

Flavor wise, this was in the yum buckets category too. However, I would classify it as more of a breakfast treat as the cake was denser than anticipated, which wasn’t a bad thing. I could imagine sipping tea with this to the side. Frosting was a wee sweet for me though, but the texture was surprisingly smooth.

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(Strawberry)

Last tasting honors were given to the Strawberry cupcake. Decent enough, nothing that wouldn’t satisfy the urge for dessert, but wasn’t quite as memorable as the other two.

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Now because this is a kiosk, I’ll end on giving them kudos for décor. There were enough eye-catching props to invite you in. Final analysis, I would have to say, well done Dessert Affairs, well done.

MAIN STORE: Rockville, MD (by appointment only for design consultations)
MALL LOCATION:  Columbia Mall, Columbia, MD

– Review by Guest Crusader Deidre (Maryland)

Kupcakes & Co. New Boutique Cupcakes

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Kupcakes & Co., which was recently listed in our Top 5 on Best Friends For Frosting’s blog, has started offering a line of “Boutique Cupcakes.” They are the same wonderful cupcake, taken up several notches with toppings, fillings, special frostings, and then more toppings. While their daily cupcakes are $2.50 each, the Boutique line of cupcakes are $3.50 each and only available on Fridays and Saturdays. For now they have three flavors: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, White Chocolate Cheesecake with a Raspberry Drizzle, and Chocolate Pecan Turtle; and we’ve tried them all!

Chocoloate Chip Cookie Dough

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Kupcakes & Co. started teasing us with their new boutique cupcakes, dropping hints here and there on their Facebook page, with photos of some of the ingredients, fillings, and frostings. As soon as I saw the chocolate chips in one of their posts, I knew there would be a Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough cupcake, and I had to have it. This really was the cupcake that brought me in on the day the Boutique line was released.

As an avid cookie dough lover, going so far as to make a small batch just to eat the dough, you can probably imagine my excitement when I first bit into this cupcake to realize that everything about it tasted EXACTLY like chocolate chip cookie dough. My exact thought was, “This is unreal! It’s like magic!” The frosting is already perfect and packs tons of chocolate chip cookie dough flavor, and then they take it to the next level with the cookie dough filling (which is actually baked in but maintains a doughy quality…I’m telling you, it is magical). I’ve been dreaming about this cupcake ever since.

White Chocolate Cheesecake with a Raspberry Drizzle

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This cupcake is a vanilla cake, with a cheesecake center, topped with cream cheese frosting and a raspberry drizzle. I like cheesecake and the cheesecake filling in this cupcake is very good, but it is a very sweet cupcake (I think because of the frosting).

Chocolate Pecan Turtle

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The Chocolate Pecan Turtle cupcake has chocolate cake with pecans baked on top, filled with homemade caramel, then topped with chocolate buttercream, more pecans, and drizzled with more of the wonder homemade caramel. It’s beyond decadent and I loved the texture the chunks of pecans added. I’m a big fan of the chocolate candy that inspired this cupcake, and now I’m a big fan of the cupcake as well.

You can sense the thought and time that Kupcakes & Co. has spent on creating these special cupcakes. The next time you are in their area (on a Friday or Saturday), I recommend stopping in and indulging in one of these Boutique treats. Which do you think you’d choose?

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

Surprised with Georgetown Cupcakes!

Recently, we’ve been surprised TWICE with cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcake. Being a Cupcake Crusader definitely has its perks! The first set of cupcakes, reviewed by Crusader Elisa, were from her good friend, Laura. Because of Laura, we were lucky enough to taste the brand new New York City flavors! The second set of cupcakes, reviewed by Crusader Stacy, were a surprise from her boss who had meetings scheduled in DC. Both were great unexpected treats and we are happy to share our reviews of the cupcakes here!

Elisa’s New York City Flavors Review:

NYC cupcakes in DC! Or is it DC Cupcakes in NYC?! People had to have been cheering on Feb 11, 2012 all over NYC, because Georgetown Cupcake opened their doors on 111 Mercer Street in Soho. While the crusaders have loved Georgetown’s DC (and now Bethesda) location for years, our NYC friends have had to make the the journey to the DC area or be content with our write ups about them – until now!

To celebrate their grand opening, Georgetown Cupcake created some “Big Apple” inspired flavors that were available at all three locations through the end of February. And of course, the Crusaders HAD to try them. (Have we also told you that we are huge NYC fans too?) Luckily, a dear friend and fellow Georgetown Cupcake lover, Laura, was coming to visit me in Baltimore and stopped by the Bethesda location to pick some up! (Check out Georgetown Cupcakes Facebook page to see all the flavors that were available in NYC!)

The three flavors available to us are as follows:

NYC Cheesecake

While this might not be your traditional “cupcake,” because it was basically its own little mini cheesecake, it has all the flavor of a NYC cheesecake, with that special hint of citrus that makes NYC cheesecake stand out from all the rest. The taxi cab fondant topper was not only adorable, but tasty! And no one can deny the fantastic-ness that is buttery graham cracker crust!

Black & White Cookie

These cookies are more like cake for me and are always something I drool over when I am in NYC. This cupcake is just as drool worthy! The mix of vanilla and chocolate frosting was sweet and decadent. The cake was tasty and moist, all around, this is a cupcake I’d like to see make itself a spot on the permanent menu in DC!

Big Apple Crumble

By far the BEST apple cupcake I have ever eaten. The cake was full of apple pieces and was moist and buttery. The icing was a cinnamon and buttercream explosion of flavor, with brown sugar on top that created the flavor and texture of the “crumble” topping my mom puts on top of her apple pies. Even the fondant apple decoration was cinnamon flavored! I would pay very good money to have this cupcake again, and again, and again.

The three NYC cupcakes were all cute and tasted great! I’m so glad that Laura picked some up for us and that we could all enjoy them! (Next time, I’m not sure I’d be willing to share the Big Apple Crumble though!)

Stacy’s Surprise Cupcake Review:

Just a little while ago my boss came into the office with a dozen cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcake’s DC location. I would have been perfectly happy taking all twelve flavors home with me, but being the kind co-worker I try to be, I shared with the office. (Okay, maybe I didn’t have much of a choice, but I PROMISE I would have shared if I did).

Luckily the office is small, so I got to have three flavors all to myself. I have never tried the classic flavors from Georgetown, so I decided this would be a good opportunity and selected a Chocolate2, a Vanilla Birthday, and one fun flavor – Coconut.

Chocolate 2

This cupcake with Valrhona chocolate cake and a whipped Callebaut chocolate frosting was any chocolate lover’s dream. While the cake was a bit crumbly, the frosting easily made up for it with its rich, creamy, and decadent wonderfulness. Normally I wouldn’t get a cupcake again if the cake wasn’t really nice and moist, but the frosting on this is worth every penny.

Vanilla Birthday

Although this cupcake with Madagascar bourbon vanilla cake and a sweet vanilla buttercream frosting wasn’t the best vanilla I’ve ever had, it was still pleasant. It was light and smooth, a classic that any cupcake lover would enjoy. The best part was the rainbow sprinkles. These aren’t any normal sprinkles, they have a fruity candy flavor that matches the “birthday” part of their name.

Coconut

I’m a big fan of coconut anything and this cupcake lived up to all my hopes. The cake was filled with coconut shavings and packed with flavor. The vanilla cream cheese frosting balanced it all out and stayed in the background, letting the coconut really shine. The abundance of coconut shavings on top might seem like a bit much, but it only sealed the deal for me. I think this might actually be one of my new favorites (along with the NYC flavors Elisa reviewed above).

I’m often reminded of how lucky I am to work with such great people, and this was one of those times. The fact that my boss made time in her day to get cupcakes and lug a big bag around DC is just awesome. And what could be better than sharing cupcakes with co-workers? I can’t think of a better way to bring a team together.  🙂

– Posted by Cupcake Crusaders Stacy and Elisa (Baltimore, MD)