Enchanted Cakes and Treats – Parkville, MD

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(Cupcakes from top and going clockwise: PB&J, Cannoli, Reese’s, and Caramel Apple.)

Enchanted Cakes and Treats opened about 5 months ago and I finally had a chance to stop in and try their cupcakes. I selected PB&J, Cannoli, Caramel Apple, and Reese’s cupcakes and shared them with Crusader Jenn and her husband. While they were all pretty good, the clear favorite was the Caramel Apple. It had the perfect sweetness level, and there were lots of apple chunks in the cake. We thought that the PB&J and Cannoli cupcakes were good, but could be improved if they added more filling. The chocolate sauce drizzled on the Reese’s cupcake wasn’t our favorite, and the cupcake probably would have tasted better without it. Overall though all the cupcakes had moist cake and a good amount of frosting (not too much, not to little). Enchanted Cakes and Treats offers a large variety of cupcake flavors and serves all kinds of desserts and pastries. Their prices are really amazing too, so I’ll definitely be going back and trying more.

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

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Little Treats in The Big Apple

Is there a place that you love to visit? Where the more time you spend away from it, the more you long to go back? One of those places for me is New York City. Back in my carefree 20s, with very few commitments keeping me in Baltimore, I used to spend countless days and weekends exploring Manhattan with friends, eating amazing food, wandering through galleries, and seeing the latest plays and musicals—I was even asked at one point, “Why don’t you just move there?” to which I responded, “Because I love Baltimore too!” Somehow, the older I get the less and less I venture to the Big Apple, so now when I do go there’s a long list of things I try to accomplish while there. Spending time with friends and seeing shows is at the top of my list, but right below that is the food (i.e. brunch, cupcakes, and whatever new place we stumble into).

On a recent girls trip to NYC with Crusaders Jenn and Elisa, we had really high hopes for trying a new cupcake spot and getting macarons from Macaron Cafe. Sadly, neither of those things happened, but we did still manage a food-filled weekend that ended with cupcakes from our go-to, Baked By Melissa.

NYCTreats5(Cupcake haul from Baked by Melissa)

In addition to their July mini-of-the-month, Root Beer Float, Baked by Melissa released three summer flavors at the end of June that we knew we had to try.

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(Summer cupcakes clockwise from the left: Key Lime, S’mores, and Cinnamon Bun)

The three of us were unanimous in our feelings on these summer flavors: The Key Lime was good, but not great. I thought it was a little artificial tasting, Elisa wanted more graham cracker, and Jenn thought it was a bit more like a lime creamsicle in flavor. The Cinnamon Bun also left us wanting more. Baked By Melissa used to carry a strictly “Cinnamon” cupcake which was Elisa’s favorite, but we all agreed that this new take on it lacked the immense cinnamon flavor of the original. But the S’mores was exactly what we expect from these bite-sized treats. Even though there was just a tiny bit of marshmallow, it came through so well. If you are interested in trying these for yourself, they are available until September 22nd.

NYCTreats6(July’s Mini-of-the-Month: Root Beer Float)

We’ve tried just a few Root Beer Float cupcakes in the past, and this one definitely impressed us. It had a true root beer flavor, and the crunchy sugar piece on the top was a nice added touch. We know it’s too late to get this cupcake now, but with any luck, it will make an appearance again next year.

Besides Baked By Melissa’s, some of the highlights from the weekend were sliders and fries from La Frite, fancy iced tea from Press Tea, and savory and sweet mini pies from Pie Face.

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La Frite’s combo deal was too good to pass up, so Jenn, Elisa, and I shared an order of veggie burgers (SO GOOD) with their “classic” fries and beef burgers with their thinner “allumette” fries. They also have a long list of sauces so we picked BBQ Ketchup, Saffron and Garlic Aioli, and Wasabi Ginger Mayo. Everything was amazing.

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I can’t even begin to describe how much I loved the iced tea from Press Tea. I choose a Hibiscus Black Tea that suited my taste buds perfectly. Jenn and Elisa each picked something different and loved theirs as well—Elisa’s was some sort of chai-blend, and if there is chai on the menu, she’ll get it. Always.

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We have now come full circle back to minature-sized sweet treats, but Pie Face has more than just sweet pies, they also have a huge selection of savory pies, which we highly recommend. To feed my sweet tooth, I decided to take the Apple Crumb pictured above home with me, and I’m so glad I did. After heating it up a little bit, I plated it with a dollop of whipped cream and a glass of milk. For being such a small pastry, there was plenty of apple filling and crumb topping, with just the right amount of pie crust. Delicious.

I’m not sure when I’ll make it back to New York, but I’m sure that whenever that happens, I’ll have plenty more food adventures.

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader Stacy (Baltimore, MD)

 

 

Celebrating an Amazing Night with Georgetown Cupcakes!

I’m just going to jump into today’s post by saying that back in March, Crusader Jenn and I got to meet Demi Lovato!

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(Eek! Seriously, how adorably is she? Gotta love the pink hair.)

Okay, “meet” may not be the correct word. It was more like: ran into a room and snapped a quick photo with Demi after standing in line for what seemed like hours (and very well could have been), but it was totally worth it!

I should start from the beginning (I promise I’ll get to the cupcakes soon). Back in October I convinced Jenn and Elisa to go with me to see Demi Lovato on her Neon Lights Tour. After buying our tickets, it didn’t take long until they were fans too, so leading up to the concert Jenn and I entered a few contests only to find out a couple weeks before the concert that we (well really Jenn…) won two tickets for floor seats along with passes to the sound check and a “meet and greet.” We couldn’t believe it! But this left us in a bit of a scramble because we ended up with two spare tickets and we didn’t want Elisa sitting alone. Luckily my sister, Alissa, and Elisa’s good friend (and major cupcake enthusiast), Laura, joined us, so no tickets went to waste. Everything worked out perfectly. Elisa, Laura, and Alissa when to dinner, while Jenn and I attended the sound check and “meet and greet.”

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(Our concert-going group from left to right: Jenn, Alissa, me, Elisa, and Laura. So glad I got to spend such an awesome night with some fab ladies!)

It was amazing to hear Demi sing to such a small audience during the sound check (if you don’t already know this, her voice is really incredible) and she KILLED IT during her concert, which at moments had the auditorium feeling like it was a gigantic night club. The energy before, during, and after the concert was palpable, so when we walked out of the venue to discover pouring rain, it didn’t ruin the mood at all. We happily walked/danced/skipped on the long journey back to the car where we discovered that Laura brought us Georgetown Cupcakes. She knows us well!

Laura really is the greatest friend a cupcake lover could ask for and she almost always shows up with Georgetown Cupcakes in tow.

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There was a great variety to choose from so we divided the cupcakes up. I selected Carrot Cake and Cherry Blossom to enjoy over the next couple of days.

Carrot Cake

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Somehow, I had never tried Georgetown’s Carrot Cake before, even though I really like this classic flavor. Unlike most carrot cake, Georgetown’s was very dense and much lighter in color and it wasn’t as chunky either. Even though there were no raisins or nuts (just carrot pieces), it still managed to taste like true carrot cake with a great spice flavor. The frosting was a little gritty in texture, but not too bad. It was also sweet, but the cream cheese flavor blended nicely with the cake. Overall this was a really satisfying cupcake. It wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, but definitely worth trying if you can.

Cherry Blossom

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By the time I got around to eating this cupcake I thought that it would be a little dry, but I was surprised to find out that it was still moist after three days! The cake was also dense like the carrot cake and it had a very subtle cherry flavor. I don’t typically like things that are cherry flavored (except for Cherry Coke… I love that), however this time it was fine with me. Due to the lightness of the flavor it wasn’t overpowering or “fake” tasting.

Jenn and I are excited that we are going to see Demi Lovato preform again in October on her World Tour, which starts this fall. We’ll be in Hershey, PA for that concert, so I’m sure there will be cupcakes! Last time we were in Hershey, all of the cupcakes seemed to be a chocolate/peanut butter combo, so this time I hope to expand outside of that and try some new flavors!

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

Kupcakes & Co. New Summer Flavors & More!

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Kupcakes & Co. (Elkridge, MD) is always experimenting and adding new things to their menu, especially seasonal and holiday flavors. While we missed their special Father’s Day flavors, like Jake & Coke and Old Bay & Sam Adams, we made sure to check out the summer flavors that are new this year. Specifically, the Strawberry Lime-a-Rita and Peach Margarita. Both of these contain a tiny bit of booze, so they are for the grown-ups, but we like it that way. Cocktail cupcakes with the right touch of liquor are so much more authentic!

Strawberry Lime-a-Rita

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This cupcake features a strawberry cake brushed with tequila and topped with a keylime tequila buttercream. I love the added touch of the cupcake being rolled in sugar. We’ve tried Kupcakes & Co.’s strawberry cake and we’ve also had their key lime frosting (which has always been one of my favorites), but the two together, with the addition of tequila was new and I have to say, it’s a winner.

Peach Margarita

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Since everything about this cupcake was new to me, it was the one I was most excited about. The cake has fresh peaches and is brushed with tequila, then topped with peach buttercream. I would have liked more tequila flavor coming through, but the fresh ingredients and moist cake still made this cupcake great.

Piña Colada

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(Photo courtesy of Kupcakes & Co.)

The Piña Colada cupcake is considered a new summer flavor, however you may remember that we have seen this one before. Kupcakes & Co. ran a special “Happy Hour Cucpakes” back in 2012 and Piña Colada was on the menu. But we are happy to see it back for a little longer! This cupcake is filled with coconut and topped with piña colada icing, with an added piece of pineapple and cherry on top. My daughter saw this cupcake and it immediately became the “pirate cupcake” that she had to have. Luckily this summer flavor does NOT contain any rum or other liquor, so it can be enjoyed by the little ones. And it was. My daughter even ate the cake, which is a big deal! Normally I’m left with the remnants of a frosting-less cupcake.

French Macarons

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(Macaron flavors pictured, from top to bottom: Lemon Blueberry, Neapolitan, and Vanilla Bean Berry)

With the full-time addition of Amanda Kupiec, who perfected her French Macaron recipes while attending the Culinary Institute of American (New York), Kupcakes & Co. is now offering macarons throughout the week. You can follow their Facebook page to see what innovative flavors they have.

The macarons are the perfect consistency, with a thin crunchy shell and soft and gooey center, filled with a complementing cream. They go fast and take time to replenish, so I recommend calling ahead of time if you have your heart set on grabbing some.

Do you have a favorite summer flavor that you’d like to try as a cupcake? Let us know!

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

On the Road: The Barbecue Exchange – Gordonsville, VA

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I know what you are thinking. “Jenn, we know that you have to eat something other than cupcakes, but this IS a cupcake blog…” And you’re right. I try to find cupcakes every time I’m out of town, and my anniversary trip was no different. My husband and I, along with the toddler, headed to Gordonsville, VA to spend a few days in the Shenandoah Valley. I Googled. I Foursquared. I scrutinized every shopping center we passed. I was beginning to think I would fail you all. And then my husband and I stepped into The Barbecue Exchange, a highly recommended food stop that he was aching to try.

It was like the clouds parted, and the light shone down on the counter display.

BBQExchange_Display

Here, in the middle of Virginia wine country at a BBQ joint, was a creative and generous selection of homemade cupcakes. I have a tendency to over-do it, so Dan and I decided to just pick two and if they were good we’d come back for more. We went with the Key Lime (we honeymooned in Belize, so Key Lime is like “our” flavor) and the chocolate coconut. Looking back at the selection I’m not sure why we choose that one. But we did.

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I didn’t expect much in the way of packaging. This was a BBQ spot after all. But the cupcakes actually held up well in the bowl-shaped take-out container.

Now here’s the catch…I was sick during this trip. Total head cold where I couldn’t breath, couldn’t hear, and worst of all…couldn’t taste! So, my personal critique is limited to textures and we’ll have to trust Dan’s taste critiques.

Chocolate Coconut
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My review was also jeopardized because we weren’t able to eat these the day we bought them (blaming the head cold again…just not feelin’ sweets so we ended up taking them home instead of instantly indulging). I think the chocolate cake in this cupcake probably would have been more moist if the cupcakes hadn’t sat a day. However, the frosting had a smooth and buttery texture. Dan said the coconut flavor was in good balance and he liked the density of the chocolate cake.

Key Lime
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First I just want to say, how cute is the little cake topper? This technique isn’t something you see done frequently. I felt like the cake could have been more moist, like with the chocolate cake, but Dan disagreed. I was pleased that I could actually could pick up on the key lime flavor. There were even bits of lime zest in the frosting. The frosting wasn’t as buttery as the Chocolate Coconut cupcake’s frosting and was sweeter with a more whipped, but still sugary quality.

Looking back I wish we’d selected more flavors, but Dan is desperate to go back so I’m sure we’ll find an excuse to pass through Gordonsville again. If you are in the Shenandoah Valley area, The Barbecue Exchange is a great place to stop in for lunch before heading out for some wine tasting (or whatever else you do in that part of VA). Along with a big selection of meat, they also have a wide selection of homemade pickles, breads, and of course BBQ sauces. After following their Facebook page, it looks like they have cupcakes regularly and they even customize the menu for holidays, recently offering St. Patrick’s Day themed flavors. As it turns out BBQ and cupcakes make a great pair (when you aren’t sick)!

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

4th Annual Cupcake Tour – Roadtrip Style | Stop #2: SAS Cupcakes | Newark, DE

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(Crusaders enjoying lunch at 16 Mile Taphouse, practically right across the street from SAS Cupcakes.)

Although we couldn’t wait to try out our next cupcake stop, the appeal of local brews was too much to resist, so we decided that a savory break would be a good idea. 16 Mile Taphouse is situated across the street and about a block down from SAS Cupcakes and offers a full menu, as well as their own 16 Mile Brewery beers (Georgetown, DE).

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In addition to each selecting a beer to fit our tastebuds, we ordered the 16 Mile Fries to share. The beer cheese fondue that came with the fries sounded the most appealing, but paired with the spicy aioli…perfection! The weather was so nice that we were able to sit outside (and the people-watching was top notch – Newark is a college town and, to our luck, they were having some sort of family day). After filling ourselves with savory delights and ample people-watching, we headed up to SAS Cupcakes.

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SAS Cupcakes makes sure they are easy to find. Although their awning was a little hard to spot while driving down Main Street, the windows are filled with large cupcake photos and they have a sidewalk sign, so it was really hard to miss them.

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Walking into the store, we were instantly transformed into kids in a candy store. Greeting us were fun chandeliers, cupcake themed gifts, nostalgic candy, and a wall full of party hats for all occasions. It’s hard to do anything but smile in a place like that, and the staff further proved it. They were all friendly, patient, and excited about their store and cupcakes. We were (slightly) more successful in sticking to our one cupcake per person rule here. I think I had more trouble deciding than the rest, because Crusader Elisa’s eyes bee-lined to the Red Velvet and she didn’t look back.

Red Velvet
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You can tell just from the photo that the cream cheese frosting on this Red Velvet cupcake is smooth and buttery, Elisa’s favorite kind of frosting. Red Velvet tends to be one of those cakes that you either love or hate. While Stacy and I lean more towards the “dislike” side, we both agreed that this was one of the top Red Velvet cupcakes we’ve tasted. It was hard to get Elisa’s thoughts into words…she was too busy enjoying her cupcake!

 Frangelico Hazelnut – Seasonal
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Stacy also didn’t take too long to decide, settling on the Frangelico Hazelnut cupcake. Her thoughts were that the frosting was really sweet, but had a good flavor. And while the cake was a tiny bit dry (mainly dense and crumbly), it did have a good natural flavor, unlike some places that offer a moist cake, but taste just like what you’d find in a box mixed.

Triple Chocolate
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It’s possible that my dad picked the winning cupcake of the day, the Triple Chocolate. It was so incredibly moist, with a rich chocolate cake and dense chocolate truffle center. The chocolate layers continued with dark chocolate ganache on top, a dollop of chocolate buttercream, and chocolate sprinkles. Really, that’s five chocolate elements (not three), but we’ll let SAS Cupcakes off the hook for that.

Pumpkin Spice – Seasonal
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After much debate (and seeing what everyone else was getting…meaning what I’d still get to taste), I settled on the Pumpkin Spice cupcake. I don’t usually like this much frosting on a cupcake, but most of the cupcakes were heavily topped, and the cinnamon in the frosting looked very appealing. As soon as I had this cupcake in my hands, I noticed how sweet it smelled and wondered if I made the right choice. I proceeded with caution and was pleasantly surprised how the spice and pumpkin came through over the sweetness, giving this cupcake a great flavor. However I was left with a kick of sweetness at the end, that stuck with me. The cake was also a little crumbly, not something I’m used to in a pumpkin cupcake, which tend to be very moist and dense.

Despite my thoughts on the Pumpkin Spice Cupcake,  I decided to select two cupcakes to take home since the Triple Chocolate cupcake was so good.

Chocolate Peanut Butter
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I was really hoping that the peanut butter frosting on this cupcake would deliver big flavor, however it wasn’t very peanut-buttery at all. My initial disappointment was redeemed when I realized that the center of the chocolate cake was loaded with pure, smooth peanut butter. If the frosting had packed more flavor it would have easily overpowered the chocolate cake, but all the elements blended together created a well balanced cupcake in the end.

Oreo
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After a full day of cupcakes, I went ahead and gave the Oreo cupcake to my husband, to enjoy all to himself. So, we’ll have to take his word that, “It was awesome.”

All-in-all, we really enjoyed our trip to SAS Cupcakes. We’d love to go back and explore the town more, grab a beer at 16 Mile Taphouse, and pick up a cupcake or two. For chocolate lovers, the Triple Chocolate cupcake is reason enough to visit if you find yourself in the area.

Next week, Crusader Elisa will be sharing our last tour stop, Cupcake Heaven in Wilmington, DE. We had an interesting experience there, so keep an eye out for the review!

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

4th Annual Cupcake Tour – Roadtrip Style | Stop #1: Sweet Devotions | Havre de Grace, MD

For our Annual Cupcake Tour at the end of 2013, we decided to hit the road and visit a few places north of Baltimore, MD. Our first stop took us to a cupcake shop located in Havre de Grace, MD. Sweet Devotions hit the cupcake scene in 2010 with a bit of a twist, they served fresh, made to order crepes as well.

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On our visit, in addition to cupcakes and crepes, Sweet Devotions was offering cake pops, chocolate dipped pretzels and bacon (yep, chocolate covered bacon!), salad, wraps, and more. They had ample seating for all their customers in a shop adorned with cupcake nicknacks and paintings by local artists.

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We created a “game plan” for our day of cupcake eating to try and pace ourselves: Since there were four adults (my dad always participates in our cupcake tours) and one toddler, our goal was to order only two or three cupcakes, share them, and if they were awesome, we would go back and get more to take home with us. Well, on this first stop we failed miserably and ended up with five cupcakes, a cake pop, chocolate covered bacon, and three savory crepes. So much for self control…

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(Jenn’s daughter, Leah, enjoying her tiger stripped cake pop while sporting a 2013 Cupcake Roadtrip sticker on her hand.)

After finishing our crepes, we moved on to the cupcakes. I selected the French Toast with no bacon (which made this non-pork eater VERY happy), Jenn chose the Chocolate Covered Pretzel, Elisa went with the S’mores cupcake, and my dad got a classic Chocolate with Vanilla frosting and a Pumpkin cupcake for us all to share.

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Seeing that it was only about 11 a.m. when we made our first stop at Sweet Devotions, this French Toast Cupcake was the perfect choice. It was made of of a moist cinnamon cake topped with a great cream cheese frosting. I really enjoy cream cheese frosting whether it’s more on the sweet side or more savory, but this one stayed true to its name and packed in the cream cheese flavor, which paired perfectly with this morning themed cupcake.

Classic Chocolate with Vanilla Frosting SweetDevotions_cupcaketour2013_4

My dad is pretty easy to please when it comes to cupcakes, unless they are dry, and
unfortunately this cupcake was a little bit. That didn’t stop him from eating the whole thing though. You gotta love a man who loves his sweets. I guess I know where Jenn and I get it from.

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Jenn is usually a little hesitant when it comes to Chocolate Covered Pretzel cupcakes, since the pretzels tend to get a little soft and stale, but this one was too pretty to pass up. She said it was REALLY good and was surprised that the pretzels weren’t mushy (even the one baked into the middle) and the chocolate cake was actually moist—unlike the cake from our dad’s chocolate cupcake. She added that it wasn’t overly sweet and overall it was well balanced.

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Elisa is a total sucker when it comes to S’mores, especially S’mores cupcakes (you may have read her recent recipe review for Pumpkin S’mores Cupcakes). With its toasted marshmallow frosting, this cupcake looked as good as it tasted. It even had a graham cracker filling that added a twist we haven’t seen before.

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We were all in agreement that this Pumpkin cupcake was SO GOOD. The cake was very moist and the frosting was the same found on my French Toast cupcake, with a true cream cheese flavor.

We all unanimously agreed that we had a great start to the day at Sweet Devotions. If you find yourself in Havre de Grace, please stop by their shop. Grab a crepe, grab a cupcake, then sit back, relax, and enjoy.

Next week, Crusader Jenn will share her review for our second stop, SAS Cupcakes in Newark, DE. Stay tuned!

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