Corner Bakery Cafe Supports No Kid Hungry

As many of you know, we’ve been supporters of Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. Every September they promote their Share Our Strength’s Dine Out For No Kid Hungry™ where many participating restaurants offer specials and give donations to support this great cause. Last weekend we were lucky enough to walk into Corner Bakery Cafe located in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, where they are collecting donations and even offering a free whoopie pie if you give just $1.00.

We usually review cupcakes, but with this being a great cause, we thought we’d make an exception. Plus we are still talking about cake and a frosting filling…equally as enjoyable as a cupcake (and much easier to store for later if you want to walk around town before indulging).

Not only did Corner Bakery Cafe impress us by supporting No Kid Hungry, they also impressed us with their personal sized treat. We chose the Pumpkin Spiced whoopie pie with moist, flavorful cake (the edges were slightly dry, kind of like what happens to cookies) and filled with a smooth cinnamon cream cheese frosting. It really was delicious.

There are still a few days left in September, so if you can get out to Corner Bakery Cafe, or any other restaurants and bakeries in your area that are supporting No Kid Hungry, please do! You can visit Share Our Strength’s website to see a list of places participating.

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

Birthday Celebration with Duncan Hines Frosting Creations: Cinnamon Pecan Cupcakes

I have a confession to make. My husband and I are crazy dog parents. Not quite as bad as this (tangent: if you haven’t seen the mockumentary, Best in Show, you really should, it’s hilarious), but still, we have our moments. Our most recent moment was for our puppy, Lana’s, first birthday.


(Yes, that is our adorable puppy, wearing a birthday crown, and posing for a picture. I told you we have our moments… Photo by Kenneth Adam)

We decided to have a “puppy party” with some good friends and encouraged them to bring their own fur babies. I haven’t ventured into the world of baking dog treats yet, but decided that since this was a birthday, and a gathering of mainly humans, I would finally use my Duncan Hines Frosting Creations to make cupcakes for the occasion.

A few weeks ago I purchased the Frosting Starter, the Cinnamon Roll flavor packet, and decided on a spice cake mix. I knew I had some time to decide how I wanted to modify this box mix and frosting, so after mulling over a couple ideas I went with Cinnamon Pecan Cupcakes.


(Mmmmm…. the final results were definitely tasty, but it wasn’t exactly what I had initially planned.)

Lately I’ve been modifying box mixes by adding a box of instant pudding, but with the spice cake, I knew that wouldn’t work. Instead, I Googled some easy modifications and replaced the oil with melted butter and the water with skim milk. I also added chopped pecans to the cake mix to give it that extra pecan flavor and added texture.

While the cupcakes were baking, I moved onto the pecan and brown sugar crumble I wanted to put on top. At first, I wanted this to be a nice gooey mixture, like a typical pecan cinnamon roll, but instead I got a crumbly mix. I’m not sure if I didn’t use enough butter or if I cooked the ingredients too long on the stove, but either way, since it still tasted great, I decided to go for it!


(Pecan and Brown Sugar Crumble.)

Once the pecan crumble and cupcakes were cooling I mixed up the Duncan Hines Frosting Creation. This was definitely the easiest part of this whole baking experience! While I don’t think it was any better than a cinnamon cream cheese frosting I made from scratch once before, it was still worth using since I had to focus a lot of my attention on the pecan crumble.

I didn’t want the pecan crumble to make the cake soggy, but I knew that I needed it to be placed in a frosting “ditch” to hold it in place, so I smeared a little frosting on the cake first to act as a barrier:

Once that was done, I filled my piping bag with the remaining mixture and added a ring of frosting around the edge, leaving a perfect space for the pecan crumble to sit:


(Luckily you don’t have to be too neat about this process since the crumble will cover up any extra frosting that ends up in the center.)

To scoop the pecan mixture on to the top of the cupcake, I used my Pampered Chef Small Scoop. It placed the perfect size dollop in the center of the cupcake.

Final results? A flavorful cupcake perfect for all occasions, especially breakfast!

If you want some ideas on modifying the Frosting Creations, you can visit Duncan Hines website here. Love from the Oven has also been doing lots of experiments that you can browse through here.

Have you tried Duncan Hines Frosting Creations yet? Did you modify it or just use as it was intended? What were your thoughts?

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

A First Mother’s Day without Cupcakes? Not me!

Last year I was pregnant during Mother’s Day, and although a lot of nice people wished me a “Happy Mother’s Day” I still didn’t really know what it meant to be a mom. I was able to sleep in, eat when I wanted to eat, take a nap when I wanted, and just enjoy all the simple pleasures that you take for granted before you actually have a child. I’d love to say that this Mother’s Day was everything a person could ever have dreamed of, but with a baby (who turned 10 months old yesterday), I had little expectations for a relaxing day.


(Some of the nice Mother’s Day gifts I received from family.)

In addition to thoughtful gifts I received throughout the weekend, I made plans to pick up Mother’s Day cupcakes from Fresh Bakery with a LivingSocial voucher I had to redeem. Cupcakes always make any day better and I looked forward to them making my first Mother’s Day extra special!

The day started at…(insert drum roll)…5:30am! My “little” bundle of joy decided she just couldn’t wait until her usual 6:30-7am wake-up time to celebrate Mommy’s special day. Luckily, after an hour of boisterous chatting with her “stuffy,” my husband and I decided she wasn’t going back to sleep and he went and took care of her so I could get another glorious half hour of rest.


(Special day means a special drink! This one is a tasty Moscato Aperol Spritz, with Leah in the background making faces.)

Throughout the day there were more ups and downs, but the cupcakes were constantly in the back of my mind. After a nice church service with many well wishes and Mother’s Day hugs, and a somewhat exhausting lunch with a very hungry and tired baby, I was finally able to pick up my cupcakes! I had hoped to enjoy my treats while relaxing, but since Leah fell asleep in the car (and woke up as soon as we arrived home), I knew I’d have to wait until after she went to bed.


(Before dinner I decided to take some photos of my special Mother’s Day cupcakes. I asked for a mixed assortment, so I wasn’t exactly sure what we would get.)


(It was so tempting to dig in!)


(This was the only one that I was certain was a Red Velvet, and it was probably the best Red Velvet I’ve ever had!)

I had been teasing my husband all day that I was not going to share MY cupcakes, but being the awesome wife I am, I decided that he could have some. We shared four of the six, and not one of them disappointed us! The flavors included vanilla-vanilla, red velvet, something with a strawberry frosting, and something cinnamon-y. We’ve tried most of Fresh Bakery’s flavors and they are always so moist and delicious! I can’t wait to finish up the remaining two tonight!

What did you do for Mother’s Day this year? Where cupcakes a part of the day? Do you have a favorite Mother’s Day memory? I know certain holidays can be difficult for some, but I hope you all were able to find something special on this day, whether it was spending time with your mom, your children, siblings, friends or just relaxing and enjoying the beautiful weather. Even though my day was a little exhausting, Leah gave me a special gift…she walked around pushing her activity walker for the first time! As time passes I’m sure I’ll forget the fussy-baby-moments, but I will always remember my first Mother’s Day as being very special!

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

Favorite Cupcakes on the Outskirts of Baltimore City | Starry Night Bakery and Coffee House | Westminster, MD

Every Tuesday for the month of March (and the first week in April) we will be counting down our Top 5 favorite cupcake places outside of Baltimore City. In order to make sure we did the proper research and included places that would “qualify” we decided that any place that was within a 20 to 45 minute drive from the Baltimore City boundary would be included. If you don’t see a place that you think should have been featured in this Top 5 let us know! We do our best to research where the cupcakes are, but there is no better way to find out than a recommendation!

I’ve been enjoying Starry Night Bakery and Coffeehouse’s cupcakes for quite a while now, located in Westminster, MD. They made it to the final round on the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars due to their creative flavors and fun designs. Aside from cupcakes, they also have a full coffee shop of inventive beverages, cakes, cookies, and other pastries. When we decided to do a Top 5 of the Baltimore suburbs, I knew I wanted them to be on the list. That was my cue to make sure that the other Crusaders had a taste of what makes Starry Night so exceptional!

One of the fun things about Starry Night is their quirky side…hence the name for their specialty cupcakes, or “Quirky Cupcakes.” This quirkiness starts with the cupcakes and cakes, but then spreads throughout the shop, with fun décor, including hand-painted murals on the wall. I love a place where I can grab a cup of coffee and sweet treat with a friend, and just sit and feel “cool.” And, Starry Night is that sort of place.

Another great thing about Starry Night is their social media activity. New flavors are posted on their Facebook page, along with photos, and special offers for their Facebook followers. Although their website can be hard to navigate, they’ve used Facebook to its fullest and I often find myself going to pick up a new flavor or take advantage of a special offer they’ve posted about.

We’ve reviewed Starry Night cupcakes many times. A couple of our favorites have been the seasonal Cinnamon Chip, which is unfortunately no longer available for the spring, and the Mahoo Wahoo, which you can usually find and was one of their Cupcake Wars creation.

From our Cinnamon Chip Review:
This cupcake was so moist and packed a great cinnamon sugar punch. I don’t know how they created a cinnamon chip…maybe some sort of streusel…but I can’t stress enough how amazing this cupcake was. While having the cinnamon flavor you’d expect from a cinnamon roll or muffin, it still maintained a cupcake quality, which I loved about it.

From our Mahoo Wahoo Review:
This cupcake uses Kona Coffee and is a chocolate cake with coffee drizzle glaze and coffee buttercream. If you like coffee and you like it strong, as I do, then this is the cupcake for you! Paired with the chocolate it’s a match made in heaven.

With the friendly staff, specialty desserts, coffee, wedding cake tastings, and of course THE CUPCAKES, Starry Night has become a favorite place for the Crusaders to visit. For these reasons they have taken our #2 spot on our Top 5 list! With all the competition and all the cupcakes we’ve tasted to compile the Top 5, Starry Night has proven to be a front-runner in the industry with their creativity and enthusiasm. Although their standard cupcake flavors are not the stars, their “Quirky Cupcakes” are well worth the visit. If you are in the Westminster area, or just a fan of Cupcake Wars, please take some time to grab a cupcake and a specialty drink from Starry Night!

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

Starry Night: We just can’t get enough!

When I found out that one of my favorite local bakeries, Starry Night Bakery and Coffeehouse, was introducing a new flavor, Cinnamon Chip, I just HAD to get down there and check it out! The other crusaders couldn’t resist either, so with a great “buy 1 get 1 free” deal, I stocked up for all of us. And I’m so glad I did!

This cupcake was so moist and packed a great cinnamon sugar punch. I don’t know how they created a cinnamon chip…maybe some sort of streusel…but I can’t stress enough how amazing this cupcake was. While having the cinnamon flavor you’d expect from a cinnamon roll or muffin, it still maintained a cupcake quality, which I loved about it.

Throughout many trips to Starry Night, I’ve been able to try some of their other cupcakes as well. One of these tasty treats included a cupcake they call Voodoo.

The Voodoo is an espresso cake with caramel buttercream, what I think is a chocolate filling, and topped with shaved chocolate covered espresso beans. As usual for Starry Night, this cupcake has moist cake and bold flavors. I highly recommend it for coffee enthusiasts.

On another visit, I decided that I should to venture out of their “Quirky Cupcakes” and into their standard cupcakes, so I picked up a toasted coconut.

This cupcake was good and I appreciated the sprinkling of regular and toasted coconut shavings on top. However, it wasn’t quite up to the standards I place on Starry Night because it wasn’t packed full of coconut flavor, like I expect from a cupcake. So I guess I’ll just have to stick with the “Quirky Cupcakes,” because WOW, they are good!

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

Will Flavor Cupcakery “Win” the Crusaders Vote?

Several months ago, prior to their appearance (and win) on Cupcake Wars, a couple of friends told the Crusaders about Flavor Cupcakery, located north of Baltimore City in Bel Air, Maryland. We were unable to make it to their storefront location before the show aired, but after their success, we knew we had to check them out. So, last Saturday, Crusader Elisa, some good friends and I met for brunch followed by cupcakes at Flavor. The day was warm for January and brunch was great, it was a perfect way to start the day!


(Flavor’s shop located at 118 North Tollgate Road  Bel Air, MD 21014)

When we arrived at Flavor there were a few customers ahead of us, which was great as we could shop the fun merchandise and make our cupcake selections.


(They had some great t-shirts! See the peach “LOVE” shirt at the top right? That shirt belongs to me now.)

The staff were amazingly friendly. Patient, full of smiles and willing to answer all our questions. They couldn’t have been a better fit in the adorable cupcake shop.

We all decided to have a cupcake there and then take a bunch home. They didn’t have any seating inside, but they did have a small table and a bench outside. Since the weather was so beautiful, we took the chance to enjoy it.

I decided that I would have the Cupcake Wars flavor, Modern Fruit Cake, first.

I was so intrigued by this flavor and didn’t know what to expect. The rum vanilla bean frosting was not too sweet and very creamy, like butter. The five spice vanilla cake was very dense, but still moist and had a great flavor which the spices really came through. While the frosting and cake already formed a great cupcake, the filling is really what made it stand out.

The filling was full of raisins, cherries and walnuts and had a great gooey texture. Overall this cupcake had so many different levels of textures and flavors that all worked cohesively. It was the only Cupcake Wars cupcake they had that day, but I would love to see what their other ones taste like. It’s amazing to me that this cupcake was thought up in minutes, not weeks.

While we were there, Elisa decided to have the Snickerdoodle one she bought.

Here are her thoughts on this cupcake: “This cupcake really spoke cinnamon to me! The cake was teaming with cinnamon and the butter cream icing swirled with it as well. You might be thinking, that’s too much cinnamon, but the flavor was spot on! Not over powering at all! The moist cake complimented the buttery icing, creating a smooth, not-too-sweet cupcake that I could eat over and over again. On top of tasting great, this cupcake was beautiful in color and texture.”

So far, we were two for two! Our two friends decided to eat the S’mores cupcake they selected. It consisted of a graham cracker pie crust, chocolate cake, and a marshmallow frosting.

Elisa also got this cupcake and tried it later, at home. She said, “The shocking part of this cupcake was when all three components were eaten together it completely tasted like a smore, but when eaten apart, I couldn’t taste the marshmallow flavor in the icing. That minor detail didn’t matter, because together the buttery graham cracker pie crust, moist chocolate cake, and buttery sneakily marshmallow flavor, created one rich and whimsical cupcake.”

All in all, we left there very happy and with many cupcakes to indulge in later. I also left with a dozen cake truffles since my husband and I were having company over that night. But I’ll post more on those later. For now, we’ll get back to the cupcakes.

Crusader Jenn was coming to my house the next day and really wanted to try these cupcakes too, so I saved the remaining five (of my initial half a dozen) so we could enjoy together.

We started with the Peanut Butter Chocolate.

The dome of peanut butter frosting really had us excited. It was a little less “frosting-like” and a little more peanut buttery, but still was a very satisfying peanut butter mixture. Unfortunately the chocolate cake was crumbly and dry. We were super bummed about this and hesitant to move on to the next cupcake, a Double Chocolate cupcake with chocolate cake and dark chocolate frosting.

As we suspected, the cake was also dry and crumbly, but the frosting was amazing! I’m a big fan of dark chocolate and this frosting hit the mark. If the cake had been more rich and moist this cupcake would have been a big winner.

We still had 3 cupcakes to go, so we decided to go with the last cupcake that contained chocolate cake: The Salted Caramel.

Surprisingly, the cake wasn’t dry and the smooth salted caramel frosting was UNBELIEVABLE! This is easily the best salted caramel frosting I’ve ever tasted. It was just the right blend of sweet and savory. The saltiness didn’t over power the caramel and likewise, the caramel didn’t overpower the saltiness. It was a perfect combination. I was so glad I decided to get this one!

With only two left to go, I decided to give the Vanilla a try. If you’ve been reading recently, you’ll know that lately I’ve been really into Vanilla. I used to think it was boring, but I’ve had some cupcakes that had great vanilla flavor and have decided that, when done correctly, it’s a tasty classic.

Unfortunately this Vanilla didn’t do it for me. The cake was moist and the frosting was creamy, but it lacked the punch of vanilla flavor that I was looking for. So, not a total disappointment, just not the best I’ve had.

With that, it was time for the last cupcake, the Mixed Berry one.

This cupcake is vanilla cake, with a raspberry filling and a strawberry frosting. Normally, I’m not a fan of strawberry frostings, but this cupcake was AMAZING. It was definitely my favorite of the bunch. On its own, the frosting was really sweet, but with the mild vanilla cake and the tart raspberry filling, it all worked so well together.

The filling was the biggest surprise. The way it was so evenly distributed in the cupcake was really nice. It ensured that with every bite you got the raspberry and strawberry flavors mixed together. I would drive the half hour to have another bite of this cupcake. It was so good!

As I mentioned above, I also got some cake truffles for “game night” at my house. They had three flavors in the shop, Salted Caramel, Chocolate Funfetti, and Double Chocolate, so I requested a mixture of them.

The first I tried, before everyone arrived, was the Salted Caramel. Like the cupcake, it was a great blend of salty and sweet. Later that night I sampled the Chocolate Funfetti which was dipped in white chocolate. This little cake truffle was packed with rich chocolatey sweetness. After just one, a tall glass of milk would have been wonderful. I didn’t try the Double Chocolate until the next day and strangely, something seemed “off” about it. We aren’t sure what it was, but there were three of us tasting it and we all couldn’t quite place it.

Overall, I was really happy with my Flavor experience. There may have been some things that weren’t my favorite, but the treats that were good, were really good.

I’m so happy that our Maryland cupcakeries are getting so much recognition on a show like Cupcake Wars. One day, I hope to visit all the Maryland locations that have competed.

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