Throwback Thursday: Ashley’s Sweet Beginnings | Towson, MD

Today we are posting a “Throwback Thursday” review because it was almost a year ago that we first visited Ashley’s Sweet Beginnings (located in the Shops at Kenilworth in Towson, Maryland), but we never shared our thoughts. At that time, they were preparing for their grand opening, but were still opened for business, so we grabbed a variety of treats including cupcakes, macarons, truffles, and coffee.

Photo Aug 14, 7 11 54 PM_cropped

Ashley’s serves Zeke’s Coffee, which is a local Baltimore favorite, so we were already off to a good start. Along with her coffee, Crusader Jenn ordered the Triple Chocolate cupcake, a coffee macaron, and an pistachio macaron.

Photo Aug 14, 7 24 20 PM_cropped

Unfortunately Ashley’s refrigerates their cupcakes, which isn’t the best way to enjoy them while sitting in the cafe (we prefer our cupcakes at room temperature). Jenn still enjoyed the dense fudgey dark chocolate center and said that even though it was cold, the cake was still relatively moist, but it was just your average chocolate cake. The buttery chocolate frosting also would have been a nice balance to the dark chocolate center, but because the cupcake was cold, it was a bit on the hard side.

Like Jenn, I ordered one cupcake and two macarons with my coffee, but instead of being different, I selected the same coffee and pistachio macarons as her. However, I chose the PB&J cupcake and also included a chocolate raspberry liquor truffle with my purchase (which isn’t pictured — but it was delicious!).

Photo Aug 14, 7 27 04 PM

PB&J cupcakes are one of my favorite flavors, so the standard has been set pretty high for me. Overall this cupcake had really amazing, well-balance flavor, with the just the right amount of filling, but I think because of the refrigeration process, the cake was overly dry. It may have improved if I had let it get to room temperature. Even though the frosting was cold and a bit hard, the flavor was perfect and it had a nice creamy texture. Each cupcake was priced well at only $2.50.

Jenn and I really love their macarons and have become repeat customers. They are miniature sized with a price to match at only $1.00 each, which means we tend to get a variety of flavors depending on what’s available. They always have a nice crumbly shell and light fluffy texture on the inside. The flavor of the coffee macaron was a bit mild for me, but Crusader Jenn thought it was perfect, and the pistachio macaron had a wonderfully nutty flavor. Since then we’ve tried many flavors including lemon, raspberry, chocolate, vanilla, and more. I haven’t been disappointed yet!

My suggestion to anyone visiting Ashley’s is to take your cupcakes to go so you aren’t eating them cold. If you are sitting and staying for a while, I would recommend selecting macarons, truffles, or any of the variety of other pastries they offer.

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

 

 

 

Advertisements

Oh Hershey’s… How I love thee… but not this time.

I recently purchased two boxes of Betty Crocker Hershey’s cupcake mix on sale because, let’s be honest, how can you pass up a deal that includes cupcakes and chocolate?

HersheysMix5

Each kit included the cake mix and filling for a dozen cupcakes, and the S’mores kit even included the crushed graham cracker for the base.

HersheysMix2

I normally like to “fancy” up chocolate cake mix by adding a box of instant chocolate pudding and mini chocolate chips, but for this review I decided to bake them exactly as the instructions requested. I even left the container of chocolate frosting unmodified. Boy was that a mistake…

HersheysMix3

Sadly, the cake for each cupcake was not good at all. It wasn’t that it was just bland, but it kind of tasted like what I imagine cardboard would taste like. I think if I had added pudding and chocolate chips it would have greatly improved the flavor. On the bright side though, the process for making these cupcakes was extremely easy.

HersheysMix6

I haven’t made cupcakes yet that you bake the filling in the center of the batter, but it worked out really well. Some of the filling in the Hershey’s Chocolate cupcakes did explode a little out of the top of the cupcake, but luckily it wasn’t too bad.

HersheysMix1

I would only buy this cake mix again if I intended to modify it. Adding some pudding mix and chocolate chips would only take a few extra seconds and I think the results would be so much better. What would take these to the next level even more, would be to use your own favorite dark chocolate frosting recipe, or modify store-bought chocolate frosting, as we have done before here.

Even though these cupcakes didn’t turn out as I was hoping, I’m still a box mix girl and probably always will be. I’ll leave the from-scratch baking to the pros, but I have definitely learned that adjusting a box mix is the way to go.

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

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

Juniors-Hostess

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)