What Was I Thinking?

We’ve all been there… You’re hungry. You’re craving something sweet. And there, sitting in front of you, is a cupcake. It’s really not a great looking cupcake. You know you’ll probably be disappointed. But it is a cupcake nonetheless. And you’re hungry. So you give in and buy the sketchy looking cupcake.

This has happened to me on multiple occasions. If it hasn’t happened to you, then well done. You have way more self control than I do.

Recently, after a crazy couple of days, I found myself starring at these jumbo sized cupcakes at my local Safeway:

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Not only was I curious about how these new gigantic cupcakes tasted, but I was in desperate need of a cupcake (don’t judge… I know you’ve been there too…) I was torn between a couple flavors, but went with my go-to comfort flavor, the Chocolate Raspberry.

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This cupcake was easily the size of two or three cupcakes combined, and a total steal at $2.99. Of course, since it was a grocery store cupcake, I proceeded with caution. While the cake had a subtle hint of raspberry flavor, the frosting completely tasted like cotton candy. There wasn’t an ounce of raspberry flavor present! I tasted it over and over again, to see if my tastes buds were off, but couldn’t get past the artificial cotton candy sweetness. For as much as I love real cotton candy, I don’t like anything that is trying to taste like it (or, in this cupcake’s case, that isn’t supposed to taste like it but still does). The cake was a little dry on the outside, but fairly moist on the inside, and after the day I had, I wasn’t going to be too picky. I finished the cake and trashed the frosting.

As I mentioned above, I have often purchased questionable cupcakes in the past, each producing mixed results. There are two times in particular that are especially memorable for me: first, an awful cupcake from Au Bon Pain in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, and second, a sketchy looking cupcake from Target in White Marsh, MD, which ended up being okay.

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(Vanilla cupcake from Au Bon Pain).

I had heard bad things about the cupcakes from Au Bon Pain, but I wanted some coffee so decided to stop in one afternoon. Of course, I couldn’t resist browsing the desserts while I was there and left with more than just an iced coffee (ignoring all advice to avoid the cupcakes). I really should have taken a closer look at the Vanilla cupcakes before spending $3 on it. The frosting looked like half melted wax, and it certainly didn’t taste any better. Even though you can see the vanilla bean specks, there wasn’t any vanilla flavor and it had a weird texture. While the cake had a decent flavor, it was completely void of any moisture, like a dried out sponge. I decided to try and microwave the cupcake to see if I could salvage the cake (the frosting was a lost cause), but that didn’t do anything to help, so into the trash it went. At least I had a tasty iced coffee to comfort me and my cupcake sadness.

With a handful of “What was I thinking” cupcake moments under my belt, you would think that I would learn when NOT to buy a cupcake, but we’ve vowed to try them all, and it’s something we take VERY seriously (well, as serious as cupcake eating can be). And, for as many bad experiences as I’ve had, there are also some not-so-bad ones too, like this Ticklebelly White Out cupcake from Target.

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I really wasn’t expecting much from this cupcake, but it came in a cute little to-go container, and since Crusader Jenn has had such great experiences with Kimberley’s Bakeshoppe (found at her local Walmart), I figured I’d give it a try. Plus, it was only $1.29.

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(Ticklebelly White Out cupcake from Target)

The cake was a little spongy and commercial tasting, but it was also more moist than a typical grocery store cake. The frosting was a little greasy (I think they used some kind of shortening as the base), but not overly sweet, with a nice flavor. The biggest surprise was the filling (I didn’t even know it had a filling!). It was a pastry cream that was actually pretty good. Overall, this cupcake was totally worth its low price—especially since I knew I could reuse the to-go container.

Ticklebelly also makes cake pops, molten cakes, dessert shots, and sheet cakes. I’m curious to see if Target carries any of their other products because I’ve only ever noticed the White Out cupcake and Red Velvet. They also offer Chocolate, Key Lime, PB&J, Pumpkin (seasonal), and Snickerdoodle filled cupcakes. According to their website, you can find their products at Kroger, Ralphs, Raley’s, Fred Meyer, and King Soopers, in addition to Target.

I think the most important things to remember when buying cupcakes are to keep an open mind, don’t expect too much, and always have a back up plan if you really need to feed your sweet tooth. In the world of cupcakes, whether you are at a high-end pastry shop or the local grocer, some are great and some are not, so why not give them all a try?

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

Catching Up with Cupcakes in Orlando, FL

There are some people in your life that, no matter how long it’s been since you’ve seen them, you can pick up exactly where you left off. These friends are the ones you can always count on to be there for you, even if you may not talk everyday. My friend, Marina, is one of those friends for me. We became friends in high school, but since then she has lived as close as Delaware or as far away as California. None of that matters though, because when we see each other, the days, weeks, months, or even years just seem like seconds.

Not only is Marina a great friend, she also has a serious sweet tooth (she recently became a certified pastry chef), so it makes perfect sense that when I was in Florida, her current home state, we would do a little bit of cupcaking. When it comes to organizing a day of cupcakes, I usually take the lead on deciding which places we will visit and in what order, but after giving Marina a list of possibilities, she narrowed it down and mapped them out. It was so nice to have someone else help with the planning.

We decided that if we paced ourselves we could manage four places: Raphsodic (a vegan bakery), Blue Bird Bake Shop, Sweet! by Good Golly Miss Holly, and Sweet Designs Kitchen.

After a tasty lunch at Thai Thani we made our way to Raphsodic, our first stop in downtown Orlando. Raphsodic has an eclectic vintage atmosphere which was carried through with their plates and mismatched antique forks. I must confess that I was really apprehensive about going to a vegan bakery after recently having had some bad experiences, but I think it’s important to review all kinds of cupcakes, especially for the vegan cupcake lovers out there. Marina and I proceeded with caution and ordered the Mocha cupcake to split.

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(Vegan Mocha cupcake from Raphsodic)

Expecting the worst, I was actually pleasantly surprised. The cake had a really nice chocolately coffee flavor, and it was moist (yay!). I thought the simple dairy free buttercream went well with the cake, but it was a little too dense for Marina, who prefers a much lighter frosting. Knowing we had three more places to visit, we left without quite satisfying our sweet tooth, but our next stop, Blue Bird Bake Shop, was just a short drive away.

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(Blue Bird Bake Shop)

Like Raphsodic, Blue Bird Bake Shop also had an eclectic selection of mismatched plates (in fact, it’s the largest collection I’ve ever seen) and their decor was a stunning blend of rustic chic. Beautiful blue and brown tones filled the shop and Marina and I couldn’t stop “oohing” and “ahhing” as we ate our cupcakes. This time around we each got our own cupcakes; I choose the Neapolitan and Marina selected the Chocolate Raspberry.

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(Neapolitan and Chocolate Raspberry cupcakes from Blue Bird Bake Shop)

Neapolitan is one of those flavors I’m seeing more and more bakeries offer, and when it’s done right, it’s awesome. This cupcake was no exception. The frosting tasted just like strawberry ice cream and the vanilla and chocolate cake was moist and delicious. Despite feeling that the cake on the Chocolate Raspberry cupcake was a little more dense than Marina normally prefers, she said that overall, “it was really yummy.”

After eating our cupcakes and browsing the t-shirts, coffee products, and uniquely flavored marshmallows, we headed to our next stop, Sweet! by Good Golly Miss Holly (a two time Cupcake Wars winner).

Sweet! not only sells cupcakes, they also have a huge selection of frozen yogurt and toppings, but Marina and I didn’t let this distract us from our mission. We made our way passed the froyo machines and straight to the cupcakes.

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(Menu from Sweet! by Good Golly Miss Holly)

Sampling as many different flavors as possible is always fun, and since Sweet! sells primarily minis, that made it an easy task. They had a ton of flavors available and Marina and I spent a lot of time narrowing our choices down to six each. I decided on the Coffee, Peanut Butter and Jelly, Tiramisu, White Chocolate Raspberry, Banana, and Cinnamon. Some of the flavors were just okay and some were great. The big disappointment for me was the Tiramisu.

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(Tiramisu cupcake from Sweet! by Good Golly Miss Holly)

The first Tiramisu cupcake I ever tried was from Sublime, in Wyomissing, PA, (review here). None have been as good since then, but Sweet!’s didn’t even taste like Tiramisu. Luckily, it was only a mini and I had other flavors to enjoy, like the Coffee and Cinnamon, which were AMAZING. Each packed tons of flavor in such a small size. I could have easily eaten two of each on that visit.

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(Cinnamon and Coffee cupcakes from Sweet! by Good Golly Miss Holly)

After our visit at Sweet!, Marina and I found ourselves entering a cupcake coma, so decided to do a little shopping before making our way to our final stop, Sweet Designs Kitchen. Even with shopping and a 40 minute drive, we were still cupcaked-out when we arrived at Sweet Designs Kitchen. It was the end of the day, and their selection was limited, but the staff was super friendly. We decided to get two cupcakes each, to go.

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(Coconut Key Lime and Orange Creamsicle cupcakes from Sweet Designs Kitchen)

After all the cupcakes we tried that day I realized that I was in Florida and hadn’t yet gotten any citrus flavors. I happily remedied that and got the Coconut Key Lime and Orange Creamsicle cupcakes, while Marina choose the alcohol-free Mocha Lua and Banana’s Foster cupcakes. Unfortunately, Marina didn’t eat hers until a day later and I ended up waiting two days. Both of us felt that the cake was dry, but we really can’t fault Sweet Designs Kitchen for that since we didn’t try them when they were fresh. Even though the cake was dry I thought that the flavors of my cupcake were really fantastic, especially the fillings. The Coconut Key Lime was my favorite and I thought the key lime curd filling blended really well with the coconut frosting. Marina thought that the frostings on her cupcakes were both too heavy and that the cake was a little bland, but agreed that the fillings in her two cupcakes were really great.

It’s no secret that a day filled with cupcakes is guaranteed to be a great day for me, but getting to spend time with a good friend who really enjoys critiquing cupcakes as much as I do is even better. It was also really nice to catch up with Marina in between bites of cake and frosting, especially because she is expecting a little bundle of joy in a few months. Hopefully, Marina will pass along the “sweet tooth gene” to her little one, because when it comes to cupcake adventures, I always like to think “the more, the merrier.”

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

Baking Adventure: Tea Party Cupcakes

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Our friend was putting together a tea party for her daughter’s 10th birthday, so when Crusader Stacy and I were asked if we wanted to help make cupcakes we immediately began brainstorming. We’ve been wanting to host an adult tea party of our own, but this event would have elegantly dressed tables, fun stations for nails, hair and dress-ups, and a photo booth, so we knew these cupcakes couldn’t be ordinary.

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(Crusader Stacy and I also got to have a good time with the dress-ups and photo booth. Photo by Kenneth Adam, who donated his services for the day.)

Stacy suggested an idea she found, using chocolate or royal icing to create a “handle” on the cupcakes. After having experimented with royal icing in the past (and knowing how temperamental white chocolate can be), I choose that option. The birthday girl had one request, she wanted the cupcakes to have filling. Since she loved the Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes we’ve made before, I made those using a different raspberry filling and also made Vanilla Marshmallow cupcakes, a new flavor for me.

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The Vanilla Marshmallow cupcakes were very simple. I used yellow cake box mix, added in a packet of vanilla pudding mix, and then filled them with marshmallow fluff. For the frosting, I started with store-bought frosting and added in some extra butter, confectioner’s sugar, and vanilla extract, until the taste and texture was where I wanted it. Then I divided the vanilla frosting into two parts, so that I could match the color to the party theme.

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I was really pleased with how the colors turned out. They matched perfectly! The cupcakes were very sweet, but for a bunch of 10-year-old girls, that was good. It turned out to be a very chic party and all the girls had a terrific time!

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I’ve never been to a better tea party. Even if I was there as “the staff” I had a great time and picked up some ideas for when Stacy and I do finally have our own party.

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

Sometimes You Just Need a Bite

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

Smith Island Cake-Its

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

Godiva Cake Truffles

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

Hamilton Bakery Carrot Cake Cake Truffle

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

Starbucks Chocolate Raspberry Cake Pop

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

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

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader Stacy (Baltimore, MD)

Art and Cake Bakery | Arbutus, MD

When I heard about Art and Cake Bakery located in Arbutus, MD, I quickly added it to my ever growing list of “must visit” cupcake spots. Not long after that, Art and Cake Bakery offered a Groupon deal for $20 worth of baked goods, which was too tempting to pass up. Since my “must visit” list seems to grow longer every day, it wasn’t until the day the Groupon expired that I redeemed it (talk about cutting it close!).

Art and Cake Bakery is a full service bakery with breads, bagels, cookies, pastries, and even freshly prepared breakfast dishes like french toast. Obviously I headed straight for the cupcakes. The man behind the counter (who I’m guessing is one of the owners, Eric Boardley) greeted me with a big smile as soon as I walked through the door and patiently waited as I selected 4 cupcakes, 1 cake pop, and a loaf of bread ($20 will get you a lot of baked goods…). The flavors I took home were: Caramel, Coconut, Chocolate Raspberry, and Chocolate Peanut Butter.

Caramel

I was expecting this cupcake to be exploding in caramel flavor. It was filled with caramel, then dipped in it, and even the frosting was swirled with it, but somehow this cupcake managed not to have much caramel flavor at all. The best way to describe the texture of the cake is to say that it reminded me of a sponge, but at least it had a decent, subtle vanilla flavor. After trying all 4 cupcakes from Art and Cake Bakery, this one ended up being my least favorite.

Coconut

The cake in this cupcake was just like the cake from the caramel cupcake. The frosting was also very sweet, but actually quite tasty. If you are a coconut lover, which I happen to be, this cupcake is a great selection because, as you can see, it’s COVERED in shredded coconut.

Chocolate Raspberry

Unfortunately, the chocolate cake and ganache on this cupcake weren’t as rich as I would have liked, but the raspberry filling was great. The filling was a little more sweet than tart, but since the cake and ganache weren’t that sweet it created a good balance. In the end, the raspberry filling saved this cupcake.

Chocolate Peanut Butter

The chocolate cake on this cupcake was sadly the same bland cake found on the Chocolate Raspberry cupcake, but there was peanut butter baked in the center of the cake which added more depth and flavor, making it my favorite of all 4 flavors.

Chocolate Cake Pop

After experiencing the chocolate cake on 2 of the 4 cupcakes, I was really worried this cake pop would be bland, but it somehow managed to not be too bad. It still wasn’t super rich, but it had a good balance of chocolatiness and sweetness.

Even if the cupcakes from Art and Cake Bakery didn’t “wow” me, the service and the fresh baked bread did (that loaf of bread might have been the best I’ve ever had). If I’m in the area and decide to stop in for more savory goodies, I just might be lured into trying another sweet treat too.

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

Quick, Easy, and Seriously Delicious: Chocolate Rasberry Chambord Cupcakes

A couple weeks ago I was tasked with baking cupcakes at home, with only a few days notice, for the Baltimore Eats Food Bloggers’ Happy Hour. Initially I thought I would buy cupcakes and bring them, but after discovering that Tiffany, from Baltimore Eats, was going to make her cupcakes I thought, “I can do that too!” (and save some money in the process…).

With only a few days until the event I decided I was going to use what I had on hand instead of making an unnecessary trip to the grocery store. The only cake mix I had was something I picked up on a whim at a dollar store a month or so ago.

I had never seen Mrs. Fields cake mix, so I was instantly intrigued and figured I’d use it eventually, and I was right. I also had a handy can of pre-made chocolate frosting that I had picked up during a sale at the grocery store at some point. Normally after finding those two items one would think I was all set to go, but I’m a Cupcake Crusader, I can’t bring cupcakes that are from a box and tub to a happy hour that would be filled with food bloggers! So, I continued looking for inspiration and came across some Dove Dark Chocolate Raspberry candies and a recent gift of Raspberry Chambord Jam from my friend and Guest Crusader, Beth Lacey (AKA: Jam Making Goddess for Sweetness Follows and all around awesome person).

I knew that the jam would blow everyone away and really take these simple cupcakes to the next level, but I wasn’t quite convinced that the canned pre-made frosting was going to go over quite as well. I also knew it would not hold up to being piped out on top of the cupcakes, so I turned to Google to help me modify that and make it better. Luckily I came across this article from Bukisa.com. It said to make canned frosting taste a little more homemade, and to make it stretch even further, just add some powdered sugar to it. For the chocolate frosting it also mentioned adding in some cocoa powder if you wanted to keep it tasting rich and dark. After reading this, I got super excited becuase I realized I had the perfect thing waiting to be used:

After our bake sale for No Kid Hungry, I received a huge package of goodies from Scharffen Berger which Jackie from La Casa de Sweets had set up as a thank you gift for the teammate that raise the most money (other than herself). Now I finally had a reason to use it.

Armed with new knowledge, fancy cocoa powder, sublime jam, left over candies, dollar store box mix, and on sale frosting, I was all set.

As always, I added a box of instant pudding to my cake mix and threw in a bunch of semi sweet chocolate chips for extra measure, then baked the cupcakes as directed. I followed the instructions from Bukisa.com for the frosting and was really happy with the results. Once the cupcakes cooled, I carved out the center with a grapefruit knife (after I did this my husband gave me my new cake plunger gadget which I still haven’t used) and then filled the cupcakes with Beth’s amazing Raspberry Chambord Jam. After adding a swirl of chocolate frosting in my favorite rose-like fashion, I topped each cupcake with half of a Dove Dark Chocolate candy. I may or may not have eaten some of the candies sans cupcakes too…


(I think I should make this my life’s motto…)

The final results? Dark, rich, tart delightfulness. These cupcakes that were thought up in a pinch might be some of the best cupcakes EVER (well, at least the best cupcakes I’ve ever made). Of course I have to give all the credit to Ms. Beth Lacey because her jam really paired perfectly with the luscious chocolate. It’s amazing what you can create with ingredients you have sitting on the shelves.

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

Florida Fun, Relaxation, and Treats! Grace & Shelly’s Cupcakes

Crusader Stacy and I knew there was something we needed to take care of soon after arriving at our Florida vacation destination. I know you are thinking, “Get cupcakes!” and you aren’t entirely wrong…However the first thing on our agenda for the week was a girls’ afternoon to get manicures and pedicures. After all, a vacation is about being pampered and our toes deserved some attention for all the time they’d be spending out in the Florida sun, right? I’d be lying if I said we hadn’t thought of getting cupcakes on the way to our appointment, so that we could sit back in the massage chairs savoring a sweet treat. But, we mustered up our patience and enjoyed our sister-time sans cupcakes.

After our nails were beautified we decided it was time to show them off with a walk through Bell Tower Shops in Fort Myers, Fl. The location of Grace & Shelly’s Cupcakes couldn’t have been more perfect for us. Only a few miles away from our nail place, and situated in a center of high-end retailers and boutiques, we could enjoy the warm weather and shop a little.

We found Grace & Shelly’s easily and admired their cute store. They have some small tables, cupcake merchandise, and something extra…ice cream! This is becoming more common to see in our Baltimore-DC metro area, however in Florida I imagine it’s great for business, with having “ice-cream-weather” year-round.

It wasn’t easy to pick out flavors because they all looked so good! Their cupcakes are gourmet size, so a little larger than your average cupcake, and adorned with toppings. Lucky for us, they also sell pre-assembled containers of mini cupcakes by the dozen. We picked one out and then made our selection of larger cupcakes based on what was left to try. In the end, we were able to sample 13 flavors!

The standouts for us were the Chocolate Raspberry, Caramel Brown Sugar, and Tiramisu. Some of the cupcakes were on the sweet side, even for us, but what you can expect from all Grace & Shelly’s Cupcakes is moist cake and creative and flavorful combinations.

Chocolate Raspberry:

Chocolate Raspberry has become my go-to for a decadent chocolate treat. Typically paired with a dark chocolate ganache and raspberry filling, it’s rich and makes me believe that nothing could ever be a more perfect combination. Grace & Shelly’s version of this treat is no different. The raspberry to chocolate ratio was perfectly balanced and Stacy and I weren’t willing to share with anyone else!

Caramel Brown Sugar:

We contemplated getting the Caramel Brown Sugar cupcake in a full-size, but opted not to, since our sample pack included two. After trying our small bite, we wish we had a larger one! The cake was so good and the frosting was buttery, a prefect complement to the caramel drizzle. Crusader Elisa would have loved it!

Tiramisu:

Crusader Stacy called dibs on this mini and, like the Caramel Brown Sugar, was wishing she had more. So was I, since I didn’t get to try it! But, as Stacy described it, it was, “Delicious. The espresso liquor made the cake a little squishy, but it didn’t matter because it was so good. And sometimes that can happen with tiramisu.” We both believe that the full-size cupcake would have stood up better to the espresso liquor drizzled on the cake and are waiting for when we have the opportunity to try it again!

Although these three were our favorites, we wouldn’t want to leave out the other cupcakes we tasted:

1) Chocolate Peanut Butter: Chocolate cake with a peanut butter filling and chocolate ganache frosting.

2) Grasshopper: Chocolate Oreo cake with mint frosting and chocolate chips. This cupcake was a contender for our top three!

3) Butterfinger: Vanilla cake with a peanut butter filling, cream cheese frosting, and topped with crushed butterfinger bars.

4) Vanilla-Vanilla: Vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream, topped with colorful sprinkles. We loved the decoration on this mini, and the full-size looked the same!

5) Orange Coconut: Orange cake with a cream cheese frosting, topped with toasted coconut.

6) Vanilla Strawberry: Vanilla cake with strawberry buttercream frosting, topped with a vanilla cookie. My husband really liked this cupcake and said it was as good as his favorite Maryland bakery.

7) Chocolate-Chocolate: Chocolate cake with a chocolate buttercream frosting, topped with sprinkles. Crusader Stacy’s husband would have liked this cupcake better if it had a chocolate ganache frosting instead of a chocolate buttercream, but for the chocolate lovers out there, Grace & Shelly’s does offer a triple chocolate cupcake with that combination and a chocolate filling!

8) Red Velvet: Red velvet cake with a cream cheese frosting. Littlest Crusader Leah (aka: my daughter) really enjoyed this cupcake, including the sweet cream cheese frosting, although we believe it may have been too sweet for Crusader Elisa, our red velvet connoisseur.

9) Black and White: Chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream and topped generously with sprinkles. Although not really black and white due to the vibrant frosting and sprinkles, it was fun!

10) Chocolate Coconut: Chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream and topped with shaved coconut.

Not only are the cupcakes from Grace & Shelly’s memorable, so was the service. A nice man explained all the flavors to us, offered suggestions, spoke about the other locations when he found out we were vacationers, and once we completed our purchase, he walked our bag around the counter to hand it to us (a lost art in fine customer service). His enthusiasm about the product was obvious and contagious. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Grace & Shelly’s to my Florida family, or anyone else vacationing in the Fort Myers area!

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