Guest Review | Cupcakes in Heels | Bayside, NY

When Alyssa, from Mookology, approached us about being a Guest Crusader, we jumped at the chance. Mookology is a great blog to visit where you can read all about movies that are based off books. Her reviews are always well thought out and detailed, this girl knows her stuff! Today she is switching gears for a moment to share her thoughts on a recent visit to Cupcake in Heels, a cupcake shop located in the Bayside neighborhood of Queens in New York City. We hope this is just the first of many Guest Crusader reviews from Alyssa!

When I’m not writing, reading, and watching films for my blog, Mookology, my absolute favorite past time is eating and baking cupcakes.  Living in one of the New York boroughs has its perks, and baked goods are definitely one of them, so you can only imagine how excited I was to taste the cupcakes at Cupcakes in Heels in Bayside, New York.

I found a Living Social coupon for Cupcakes in Heels for 3 cupcakes and a cup of coffee for (wait for it) $6!  Within seconds the coupon was purchased and I was waiting for the opportune moment to try some cupcakes.  Knowing I couldn’t (well.. shouldn’t) eat 3 cupcakes by myself, I brought along my sister to Cupcake in Heels with me.  They had a nice selection of flavors, all adequately named after prestigious fashion designers.  Although the coupon only bought 3 cupcakes, we decided to get one extra to make it even (and because we couldn’t decide on just 3 cupcakes).


(Prada cupcake from Cupcake in Heels)

Our first cupcake was the Prada cupcake.  This was a Pistachio cupcake with whipped pistachio frosting.  I am a sucker for pistachio desserts and was dying to try this cupcake.  It did not disappoint one bit!  The cake was moist and filled with pistachio bits and the frosting was light, fluffy and tasted just like a pistachio ice cream.  We literally ate every last crumb of this cupcake!


(Balenciaga cupcake from Cupcake in Heels)

The second cupcake we tried was the Balenciaga, a Tres Leches cupcake with a dulce le leche buttercream.  Since the Prada cupcake had set the bar incredibly high, we were expecting a light and delectable Tres Leches cupcake.  This cupcake was just okay.  When I think of Tres Leches, I think of moist yet light and airy cake, but this just tasted like a regular cupcake. There was nothing too special about it.  The dulce le leche buttercream was also missing something.  Although it was very light and fluffy, I wanted more of that caramelized flavoring dulce le leche is known for.  In general, this was just a good cupcake.


(Vivienne Westwood cupcake from Cupcake in Heels)

The third cupcake we tried, the Vivienne Westwood, was a red wine, blackberry and chocolate cupcake, filled with blackberry & red wine frosting, frosted with a red wine buttercream, and drizzled with red wine and blackberry syrup.  I was eager to try this cupcake; the combination of red wine and blackberry sounded very appealing to me and I love to try something different.  However, this cupcake wasn’t very fulfilling.  The red wine and blackberry syrup was a little bit heavy handed on the red wine part and its distinct fermented flavor interfered with the rest of the cake.  The cupcake could have used a little more sweetness.  It was almost bland.


(Stuart Weitzmen cupcake from Cupcake in Heels)

Last, we tried the Stuart Weitzmen, a cookies and cream cupcake with cookies and cream frosting, baked with an Oreo cookie inside. I was looking forward to biting into a rich, chocolatey cupcake but this cake was incredibly dry compared to the others and a major disappointment.  However, the cookies and cream frosting was incredible.  It tasted exactly like the frosting of an Oreo cookie, mixed with chocolate cookie crumbs. The frosting definitely made up for the dryness of the cake.

I would definitely go to Cupcakes in Heels again and try a few more cupcakes; the pistachio cupcake alone gives me high expectations.  The coffee here was surprisingly good also!  I went with an iced coffee rather than hot, and was delighted to see that the actual ice cubes were frozen coffee cubes – pretty smart!  The décor in Cupcakes in Heels was adorable and they had a few cupcake-themed knick knacks available for sale as well.

– Review by Guest Crusader, Alyssa (Mookology.com)

Santoni’s Marketplace “Gourmet” Cupcakes

I used to pass Santoni’s Marketplace & Catering (Glyndon, MD) every day on my way to and from work and think, “I should stop and pick up something for dinner or dessert.” They have a great deli and homemade dessert selection, but since I was often eager to get home I rarely went in. Now I still pass by once or twice a month, on my way to a playgroup meet-up, so when Crusader Stacy reminded me that they have cupcakes I thought, “Now I really need to stop in!”

The selection of mini cheesecakes, mousses, pastries, and other baked goods made it difficult to concentrate on the cupcakes (yes even for me!), but I redirected my focus to the selection. I was originally just going to pick up a couple, but the cupcakes looked impressive, so I ended up choosing 4 of the 6 flavor options.

Peanut Butter Chocolate:
If you don’t already know, the Crusaders’ husbands are big fans of this combination, which is one of the reasons we frequently review peanut butter chocolate cupcakes.


(In the display case the candies looked like they were coated with sugar, however upon closer inspection, they were just old. Eww. I didn’t eat them.)

While the chocolate ganache frosting on this cupcake was really good, I was extremely turned off by the condition of the peanut butter candies on top. My only thought as to why they looked the way they did is that maybe the cupcakes had been refrigerated at some point and then condensation built up on the candies when they were being brought back down to room temperature, causing the cracked-crystallized effect. The cake was also dense and dry and didn’t have much peanut butter flavor.

Cookies ‘N Cream:
All the cookie pieces in the frosting made me believe this cupcake would pack a big cookies ‘n cream flavor, unfortunately it did not.


(Looks tasty, right?)

The frosting was very sweet and just tasted like your standard American buttercream and the cake was dry and crumbly. I really wanted to like this cupcake, but sadly it just didn’t impress me.

Key Lime:
Key lime cupcakes are another favorite for my husband and me, so while I was a little worried by the bright green color, I decided we should give Santoni’s a try.


(The bright frosting definitely makes a statement!)

This cupcake was probably one of the best from the selection. Although the bright green frosting proved to be a warning for artificial lime flavor, it was tangy and had a nice creamy texture and the cake was very moist and fluffy.

Cookie Dough:
Any cupcake with half a cookie on top (and one dipped in chocolate, no less) is a strong contender in my book.


(It’s like two treats in one!)

Like the Peanut Butter Chocolate cupcake, I believe this cupcake was a little old. After biting into it, I noticed that the outside of the frosting was darker than the inside (and had that hard coating that frosting gets after awhile) and didn’t have much flavor. The chocolate cake was also dry and crumbly. Although I didn’t finish the cupcake, I did try the cookie center, which was tasty and could have been the redeeming quality, had the rest of the cupcake been good.

After sampling these cupcakes, I won’t be getting any in the future from Santoni’s. I suspect that some weren’t baked fresh that day, which could have led to the poor quality. While I think their other market selections are good, the cupcakes just didn’t live up to the gourmet name, despite their appearance.

I also think I’m becoming a little bit of a cupcake snob. 😉

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

Due to comments, we thought we should offer a close-up example of the old candies on the Peanut Butter Chocolate cupcake. I’m not even entirely sure how this could happen, go unnoticed, and still be put out for sale:

The Cupcakes You Didn’t See | Fresh Bakery | Owings Mills, MD

As I mentioned in yesterday’s Top 5 post on Fresh Bakery, over the past couple of years we’ve eaten a lot of their cupcakes. Even though those cupcakes may not have made the “highly recommended” list, they are all still great, so we wanted to share some of them with you:

Red Velvet


(Not being the Red Velvet pro like Crusader Elisa, Jenn and I thought this cupcake, topped with a sweet cream cheese frosting, was pretty good. But her expert taste buds on this flavor disagreed with us. She said it was good, but not her favorite.)

Banana’s Foster


(Years ago this was one of my favorites, but now having tried so many other great flavors, this cupcake has moved down that list, but doesn’t stop it from being a tasty option.)

Sweet Potato Cheesecake


(This cupcake contains a sweet potato cake blended with soft cheese cake and topped with a sweet frosting. While it doesn’t scream “sweet potato” the cheesecake blends with the spices to create a balanced and delicious cupcake.)

Chocolate Chocolate


(This rich dark chocolate cake has just the right amount of sweetness to make it decadent and wonderful.)

Chocolate Peanut Butter


(Chocolate cake combined with creamy peanut butter frosting form this savory classic cupcake.)

Chocolate Strawberry


(This cupcake has the same chocolate cake that is found in the chocolate peanut butter but instead it’s topped with a sweet strawberry frosting.)

Cookies and Cream


(The cake and frosting on this cupcake are each filled with an abundance of crushed cookie pieces resulting in a wonderfully strong “Oreo” cookie flavor.)

Pecan


(This is a great cupcake complete with large and small chunks of yummy pecans. It would be perfect for a Thanksgiving Day spread.)

Have you been to Fresh Bakery? What are your favorite flavors? We’d love to hear!

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

Old Mill Bakery Café: Not Just a Typical Bakery

Over the past month the Crusaders have been working hard to prepare for another series which was supposed to be featured on another blog. Unfortunately, this fell through, so instead, we will be featuring this series on our own blog next month. This series will highlight our Top 5 favorite places outside of Baltimore City (but still within a short driving distance). This means we have eaten A LOT of cupcakes. So, for February, we decided to share some of the new spots we’ve visit, but you’ll have to wait until March to see our final Top 5 picks. 🙂

One of our many cupcake outings this month led us to Old Mill Bakery Café in downtown historic Ellicott City. Guest Crusader, Beth, recently shared cupcakes of hers from this location, but we decided to check it out for ourselves.

When we walked in we were surprised to find out that this isn’t your normal bakery. It is a bakery, a coffee shop, and a gift shop all wrapped up into one whimsical place. We browsed the large merchandize table as we waited in line, drooling over the plates, mugs, wall hangings, and more that featured cupcakes.

After we reached the front of the line we asked about the cupcake options for the day. They didn’t have any flavors posted, and clearly cupcakes aren’t their main thing. The nice woman told us our options and we settled on three flavors: Red Velvet, Chocolate with Vanilla frosting, and Butterfinger.

Red Velvet

The cake in this cupcake was airy and moist. Crusader Jenn said that it was the best Red Velvet she has ever had. However, the competition was a little tougher for our Red Velvet Crusader, Elisa. She really did like it but felt that the cream cheese frosting was a little too sweet, but luckily still maintained a nice cream cheese flavor. We all thought the shaved chocolate on top was a nice touch.

Chocolate with Vanilla Frosting

This cupcake shocked us by tasting much more like a Cookies and Cream cupcake. A really good Cookies and Cream cupcake! The vanilla frosting tasted just like the center cream of an Oreo cookie. The chocolate cake was light and flavorful, but a little crumbly. That didn’t stop this from being a very tasty cupcake though.

Butterfinger

This cupcake was the clear winner of the three. Even though the cake was a little dry, the flavor and aroma was unbelievably wonderful! It was packed with so much Butterfinger flavor that it is definitely up there as one of our favorite flavors. The half of a mini Butterfinger on top finished the whole thing off nicely.

Our overall experience with Old Mill Bakery Café was definitely a good one. Since we were on a time crunch that day we didn’t have a chance to sit and enjoy our cupcakes with a nice coffee or a cup of tea, but I look forward to returning to do just that. Historic Ellicott City is one of our favorite places to walk along the main street and browse the boutiques and antique stores. Old Mill Bakery Café will certainly be added to our “must do” list when we are there next.

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

JoJo’s Cupcakes & Cream

I would like to begin this review by saying that I have the best dad ever. He has always been supportive of my interests, and cupcakes are no exception. He gets excited about trying new places with us, he has often brought cupcakes to family gatherings, and he even signed up to receive email alerts whenever a new review is posted to this blog. He is amazing, and I’m so lucky to have him for a dad.

For this review, my dad brought the family cupcakes from JoJo’s Cupcakes & Cream‘s kiosk in the Annapolis Mall. Around the holiday season, JoJo’s had a temporary lease with the Annapolis Mall. Unfortunately they are no longer there, but according to their Facebook Page, they hope to return in April. JoJo’s main shop, located in Easton, MD, not only sells cupcakes, but also homemade ice cream. Their cupcakes are baked fresh daily. They also have a kiosk in the Queenstown Premium Outlets.

My dad bought six cupcakes: Chocolate Chocolate, Lemon, Vanilla with Chocolate frosting, Vanilla Vanilla, Cookies and Cream, and Red Velvet. Unfortunately there is no photo of the Red Velvet and I don’t know which family member ate it. (Sometimes things like that happen during family gatherings!)

The cupcakes had a rough trip over to my sister’s house, so we had to repair a few, the best we could, but luckily some messy frosting doesn’t affect the flavor.

My dad chose one of his go-to flavors: Chocolate Chocolate.

The cake was rich and dense and the frosting was really smooth but heavy. My dad prefers light, airy cupcakes, so this one wasn’t his favorite. It still didn’t stop him from eating every last bite though! So my guess is, while it may not have been the best he’s had, it definitely wasn’t the worst either.

I claimed my cupcake soon after hearing there was a Lemon one.

Like the Chocolate Chocolate the whole thing was very dense, but the cake was moist and it delivered lots of tart lemon flavor. Overall, I really enjoyed this cupcake and would definitely try it again.

The other three were left at my sister’s house. This is where the mystery of the missing cupcakes begins. These are the facts as we know them: three cupcakes were left on the premises. After intense questioning, all of the suspects (my sister, her husband and her two adorable daughters) still insist they have no recollection of what happened to said cupcakes. Yet somewhere along the line, those three cupcakes vanished. Until we can get CSI: Baltimore on the case, we’ll just have to blame the baby, since she can’t speak yet. 😉 Even though we don’t have a review for the remaining cupcakes, I wanted to share some of the crime scene photos for the sake of this post:


(Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Frosting from JoJo’s Cupcakes & Cream)


(Vanilla Vanilla from JoJo’s Cupcakes & Cream)


(Cookies and Cream from JoJo’s Cupcakes & Cream)

If you are in Easton or shopping in the Queenstown Premium Outlets outlets check them out! It will be a nice treat in the middle of a busy shopping trip and you would be supporting a family run small business. But be warned: their cupcakes may lead previously upstanding members of your family to turn to crime…

UPDATE: JoJo’s  Cupcakes & Cream now has a location in Dowtown Annapolis located along Main Street.

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

Baked by Melissa Sells Little Bites of Heaven

You may think that this is an extreme statement to make, but after my second visit to Baked by Melissa, I’m convinced it’s true. There is something so special and wonderful about popping a cupcake the size of a quarter in your month and the explosion of flavor that erupts from it. When you take that cupcake, and dip it in chocolate, it gets about a billion times better.

I would like to introduce you to In Chocolate, Baked by Melissa’s new product:


(Isn’t it nice on the eyes? I’m obsessed with the plaid themed sturdy packaging. I will surely keep this and use to store trinkets of some kind.)


(Well hello Morsel of Magnificence. It’s so nice to finally meet you.)


(Oh yes, not just one, but three. So glad they come in groups: Cookie Dough, Tie-Dye and Cookies & Cream.)

After thoroughly enjoying the “unwrapping experience” I decided I could wait no longer and selected the Tie-Dye mini cupcake covered in chocolate.

I couldn’t have been happier with the flavors and textures. The chocolate shell offered a nice crunch, similar to a cake pop, but the inside was 100% cupcake. Soft cake and creamy frosting, it was perfection. This was actually a lot like the texture from a Popsy Cake, but the miniature scale made it so much easier to eat and enjoy.

In an effort to savor the three that I had, I waited a couple of days for my next fix. When the time came, I selected the Cookies & Cream, deciding to save one of my favorite Baked by Melissa flavors, Cookie Dough, for last.

The Cookies & Cream actually tastes a lot like the cupcake even with the chocolate coating. Unlike the Tie-Dye, which typically doesn’t have any chocolate, the Cookies N Creme is chocolate based. I still loved the added crunch the the chocolate shell provided.

The Cookie Dough isn’t going to last in it’s safe little box much longer. I’ve got big (uh… little?) plans for him tonight. While I haven’t tried it yet, I already know it’s going to be amazing. It’s $10 for a box of 3 of these specialty cupcakes, but go ahead and splurge. It’s the holiday season and that’s what it’s all about, right? You won’t be disappointed.

On top of the excitement of finally sampling In Chocolate, Crusader Elisa and I also got Baked by Melissa’s mini of the month for December, Snow Covered Pretzel (as well as all the other flavors I reviewed here).

This is by far the best (non-chocolate-dipped) cupcake I’ve had from them. It was Elisa’s favorite. It was my favorite. And my hubby actually said, “that puts a smile on your face.” And it totally does. The sweet/salty and soft/crunchy combos going on in this cupcake are amazing. We all wish that we had bought more of these and sad that it is only a monthly flavor. Hopefully, they will bring it back at some point, becuase it really is THAT amazing. So, if you are visiting or living in the NYC area, get yourself to a Baked by Melissa to try these while you can. If you aren’t in that area, then you can always place an order on their website. It’s totally worth it.

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

Prairie Girl Bakery – Toronto, Ontario

The Cupcake Crusaders have gone international! Well, sort of… If you consider an eight hour drive to Canada international, then yes, we have gone international.

Last week my hubby and I returned from our anniversary trip to Ontario. We stayed in Beamsville, Ontario, at Cottage by the Lake and had such an amazing time. Since we were about an hour away from Toronto, and had our five month old puppy with us, we were only able to visit Toronto for a few hours. We visited the CN Tower, St. Lawrence Market, Steam Whistle Brewery, and of course, a cupcake shop. Since all our points of interest that day were in walking distance, I selected Prairie Girl Bakery. It’s just a few blocks from St. Lawrence Market so was conveniently located on our walk back to the CN Tower.


(I am loving their logo, and they have it plastered on everything! I was grateful for the excellent signage otherwise I probably would have missed their location at 18 King Street East. It’s not right off of King Street, but actually down a street connected to King Street.)

I didn’t have a lot of time to research cupcake places in Toronto, and knew since we wouldn’t be there for long I couldn’t be too picky, so since this was the closest place I went with it. The only thing I knew from their website was that they had both full size and mini cupcakes in each flavor. I was pretty excited about that since mini cupcakes mean you can try more flavors without feeling guilty.

When I got there I discovered that they have a very structured menu. Basically, you’ve got your vanilla cake options, your chocolate cake options, your specialty cake options (red velvet, carrot cake, and banana cake), and then a “Treat of the Week.” The vanilla cake options are topped with either: vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, lemon or vanilla with toasted coconut frosting. The chocolate follow a similar pattern and are topped with vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, peanut butter or peppermint frosting.

I decided to get a 1/2 dozen of the mini cupcakes since I knew I would be hopefully making other cupcake stops later that week. I first asked my hubby what flavors he would like and told him he could pick three (I figured I should share since I dragged him in there) but he only wanted two: Chocolate/Chocolate, and Chocolate/Peanut Butter. So for my final four I selected: Chocolate/Peanut Butter (I wanted one of my own), Banana/Peanut Butter, Banana/Chocolate and their Treat of the Week: Cookies and Creme. I didn’t really want the Cookies and Creme, what I really wanted was Carrot Cake, but they were out of it. I really love Carrot Cake and the cream cheese frosting that usually accompanies it, so I was pretty bummed out. Looking back, I just should have gotten the Red Velvet so I could have at least tried the cream cheese frosting.

Once we got back to our cute cottage situated directly off of Lake Ontario, it was time for some tasting (and a quick “photoshoot’)!


(I’m super impressed by this bag. Most bakeries use a sticker of their logo (if anything), or even just a one color imprint. Prairie Girl Bakery has gone all out with a 3 color imprint. It makes this bag vibrant and fun. They definitely have their design and marketing down.)


(More of their 3 color logo on what looks like a custom die-cut box. I’m super impressed by all their marketing materials. This bakery makes the design nerd and cupcake lover in me so very happy.)


(Cupcake starting at the top left and working clockwise: Chocolate/Peanut Butter, Banana/Chocolate, Banana/Peanut Butter, another Chocolate Peanut Butter, Cookies and Cream and Chocolate/Chocolate.)

For the purposes of this review, I’m going to start with our least favorite so you leave you dreaming about our most favorites.

Least Favorite – Cookies and Cream

Unfortunately this “Treat of the Week” wasn’t much of a treat for me. While the frosting appeared to have cookie bits in it, all it tasted like was confectioners sugar. I was really disappointed, especially since this was my replacement to the carrot cake that I really wanted. I was so unhappy with it that I couldn’t even finish the frosting on this cupcake, even though it was a mini one (so glad I didn’t have a full size one!).

Banana with Peanut Butter Frosting

I love the combination of peanut butter and banana’s together so I was really excited about this cupcake. The banana cake was really amazing. It was moist with chunks of fresh banana. Unfortunately the peanut butter frosting wasn’t what I was expecting. For me, it was way too sweet and lacking the saltiness that I typically love when you get a peanut butter frosting. Otherwise, it was nice and creamy and I did finish the whole thing despite the frosting being on the sweet side for me.

Chocolate with Peanut Butter Frosting

Since I had already had the Banana with Peanut Butter frosting, I knew what I was getting from this. I would say that it was a tie between this one and the banana one. I really loved the rich, moist chocolate cake, but the frosting again just wasn’t working for me. I still ate the whole cupcake though (so it was good, just not GREAT).

Chocolate with Chocolate Frosting

This was my hubby’s selection and he couldn’t have been more pleased with it. I think he wished that he had a full size cupcake instead of the mini one (sorry hubby!). Of the trip, this was his favorite cupcake. He didn’t try all the ones I had gotten, since he only likes certain flavors, but if we are fortunate enough to make it back to Toronto one day, I have a feeling we will be stopping into their bakery for this cupcake.

Banana with Chocolate Frosting

This was definitely my favorite of the five flavors we choose from Prairie Girl Bakery. The amazing banana cake paired with their luscious and smooth chocolate frosting where the perfect combination. I would have to say that this ranks up there with my other favorite banana chocolate combo from Fancy Cakes by Leslie.

Overall, while I wasn’t “wow’ed” by some of their flavors, their cake is really wonderful, and their chocolate frosting is superb. They now have two locations in Toronto (the 2nd location just opened today!), both not far from each other or Union Station, so if you are ever in the area, you can quickly pop in for an morning, afternoon, or evening treat. But take my recommendation, stick with the chocolate frosting, you’ll be very happy that you did.

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