Crumbs Bake Shop Has Come to Maryland!

It’s no secret that us Crusaders love Crumbs Bake Shop. After discovering one of their shops on a girls’ weekend in New York City, it has become somewhat of “must-have” on all our trips to the Big Apple. However, we’ve read mixed reviews on their franchises outside of New York, even though Crusader Elisa has enjoyed their cupcakes in the DC area. When we heard that a few local malls in Maryland would become home to their own Crumbs locations, we knew it wouldn’t take too long before our first visit.

When I stopped by the new kiosk located in Towson Town Center, I noticed that, in addition to a variety of cupcake sizes and flavors, they offered Starbucks Coffee, cupcake push-pops, and the candy bars that Elisa recently reviewed.

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(Photo from Towson Town Center’s Facebook Page. No harm or infringement intended)

When faced with a display filled with tempting flavors, it’s always hard to pick just one, but when I saw the Coffee & Doughnuts cupcake, I was sold. How could you not be? There’s a whole mini doughnut sitting on top of a pile of coffee frosting. It was an easy choice for this coffee lover.

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I have to admit, I had very big expectations for this cupcake. I wanted so badly for it to be good, and it was! The frosting had a nice sweet coffee flavor, almost like coffee ice cream. The cake was Crumbs Bake Shop’s standard buttery, moist yellow cake, which I have come to expect from them. It had a subtle enough flavor that the coffee flavor from the frosting came through really well. Unfortunately though, the doughnut on top was dry and reminiscent of a convenience store packaged doughnut (which came as no surprise, since that is exactly what it looked like). Despite the doughnut on top, I would definitely get this cupcake again.

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With the location being a kiosk at the mall (and no kitchen in sight), I was pretty impressed by the quality. This makes me very curious about how Crumbs is running their operation with so many franchises (where do they bake, how do the ship?) because if the doughnut on top had been better, I would have given this cupcake an A+. If you are a Maryland local and would like to try Crumbs Bake Shop, you can check out their new locations at the Columbia Mall and White Marsh Mall, in addition to Towson Town Center. If you don’t live in Maryland, DC, or New York, visit their website to see if they have a location near you!

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

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Warming Up This Winter with Hot Beverage Cupcakes

As a graphic designer, you would hope that I would be impervious to products marketed specifically for the winter season. I know the tactics used to get shoppers to buy these products, so theoretically, this should keep me from purchasing them. Well cupcake lovers, this is not the case. I too fall subject to the snowflakes, fun type, and bold colorful photos. Exhibit A:

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When I saw this Betty Crocker Hot Chocolate cupcake mix, I almost danced in the grocery aisle. I can’t help myself. Sure, I know that it’s really just a normal chocolate cake mix with some mini marshmallows tossed in and a sub-par frosting mixture added to the box, but while my head says “don’t succumb to the festive graphics,” everything else inside of me screams, “BUY IT!”

So that is exactly what I did.

It turned out to be a good thing that I purchased this box mix because I signed up to make 3 dozen cupcakes for a charity event and knew the kids would love these. To go along with the “hot beverage theme” I also decided to make two dozen Coffee and Doughnuts cupcakes, which have been on my list for quite some time.

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(Coffee and Doughnuts and Hot Chocolate cupcakes ready to be eaten.)

Aren’t they pretty? I wish they all had turned out this well…

I decided not to modify the Hot Chocolate cupcake mix in order to provide you all with a review of exactly what I thought of Betty Crocker’s winter product. The directions say to beat the frosting while it cooks on the stove and that it will fluff up in the process. Unfortunately, I have no electrical outlet near my stove, so this proved to be a challenge—which I lost. The frosting ended up super runny and there didn’t appear to be enough for twelve cupcakes, so I added confectioners sugar until the consistency thickened and there looked to be enough for the dozen cupcakes I had cooling. This, however, made the frosting lose its marshmallow-like flavor and instead, just taste like sugar. Despite this, it went on the cupcake nicely and I figured the kids probably wouldn’t mind the sugary flavor.

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(I only have a few of these fancy teacup cupcake cups, so the majority of the cupcakes were baked in Christmas paper liners.)

I was really happy with the end result and added little marshmallows and a cookie roll to the top for the finishing touches. Sadly, when I woke the next day, the cupcakes looked like this:

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The frosting on about half of them had oozed and melted off the cupcakes, while the other half remained in place. I have no idea what happened. The cupcakes had completely cooled and (ignoring my usual “no fridge rule”) I left them in the fridge overnight, just to make sure the house didn’t get too warm with all the baking I was doing. In the end, I decided that these could not be taken to the event so only delivered six of these and two dozen of the coffee and doughnuts cupcakes, instead of the three dozen I initially promised.

The Coffee and Doughnuts cupcakes actually ended up being much easier to make than the Betty Crocker Hot Chocolate cupcakes. I used my typical chocolate cake modification for box mix (one box of instant chocolate pudding and mini chocolate chips). For the frosting, I made a simple buttercream recipe (3 sticks of butter and about 5 cups of confectioners sugar to taste) and then mixed one to two tablespoons of cream with about a tablespoon of instant decaf coffee and added it to the frosting. I just did everything to taste, so if you like a sweeter frosting you can use more sugar and if you prefer a more buttery frosting, just use less sugar. It’s really as easy as that.

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To make these cupcakes even easier, I bought pre-made doughnut holes and placed them on top before delivering them to the party. These cupcakes were a huge hit, and I have to admit, the coffee buttercream was some of the best frosting I’ve ever made.

Since there was some frosting leftover, I decided to freeze it to make cakepops at a later time. I also had some frozen chocolate cake leftover from removing the center of cupcakes for fillings, so all I had to do was thaw the cake pieces and frosting, mix those together, roll into balls, and freeze. For the chocolate coating, I didn’t want it to be too thick, so I turned to one of my favorite blogs, Love from the Oven. From there, I navigated my way to Simply Designing, which recommended to add a bit of vegetable oil to the chocolate while melting it.

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The cakepops dipped well into the melted chocolate and, as I had hoped, there was only a thin layer of coating. I was worried that some of my family wouldn’t like them because of the coffee flavor (they aren’t all addicted coffee drinkers like my sisters and I), but the chocolate ended up overpowering the coffee, so everyone loved them. Next time I will add some instant coffee granules to the cake/frosting mixture to bump that flavor up more, but for this occasion, I think it was perfect and that the coffee undertones actually helped to enhance the chocolate flavor.

Even though not all of these hot beverage cupcakes turned out as I had hoped, I still have many “beverage themed” cupcakes I would like to explore, like tea-infused and Dr. Pepper cupcakes. My advice, however, is this: skip Betty Crocker’s Hot Chocolate cupcake mix, and make your own version of a Hot Chocolate cupcake instead. You’ll thank me later.

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader Stacy (Baltimore, MD)