Baked with Love: Tweet’s Sweets

Last month we shared an interview with Tweet’s Sweets discussing both her charity event to raise money for cancer patients and why cancer awareness is so important to her. Tweety has seen many close friends and family battle cancer, so she has dedicated her company and her baking skills to fighting back. Her most recent event, Cancer Bites: We’ll Bite Harder, raised $1,500 which was divided between three charities. Tweety told us that two of those charities had people waiting to receive the funds to help with the expenses for fighting cancer. At the event, Tweety made a shocking announcement: she’s now battling cancer herself. Instead of letting this discourage her, Tweety is pressing forward and is determined to overcome cancer while growing her business. To watch videos of the event, click here and here.

After her fundraising event, Tweety found time in her busy schedule to hand-deliver cupcakes to us for a tasting. She provided three flavors: Suga Mama (Sweet Potato), Red Velvet, and Licia’s Puddin (Banana Pudding).

Suga Mama (Sweet Potato):

Our initial reaction? This woman can BAKE! The sweet potato cake was incredibly moist. So moist in fact that Crusader Jenn said, “Maybe almost too moist?” I’m not sure how that is possible, except that it was a little difficult to pick up and eat, but being a cupcake warrior, I seemed to manage just fine.

Red Velvet:

I think this was my favorite out of all three. Normally Red Velvet isn’t my thing (I reserve this flavor for our Red Velvet Crusader, Elisa), but Tweety had just the right blend of flavors and moist cake—which seems to be a rarity when it comes to Red Velvet. While the frosting to cake ratio might not seem to be enough for some, it was surprisingly perfect.

Licia’s Puddin (Banana Pudding):

This cupcake ended up being Crusader Jenn’s favorite. The moist cake was a bit denser than the Red Velvet, but that’s to be expected since it was packed with real bananas. Because of all the fresh ingredients used, Tweety told us to keep this cupcake refrigerated. Normally this wreaks havoc on cake, causing it to dry out, but not Tweety’s cupcakes! It was just as moist and wonderful as if it was fresh from the oven.

Tweet’s Sweets’ cupcakes are a rare find in today’s world of over-the-top cupcakes. They are simple with a homemade quality that doesn’t come around very often. With each bite you feel like you are sitting in your grandmother’s kitchen, listening to the stories of the “good ole days,” while snacking on fresh baked goods. She says she learned to bake from her “Nan” back when she was just a young girl and her love of baking is evident with each cupcake.

Tweet’s Sweets recently celebrated their 5th anniversary by giving goodies away to their fans while raising money for the homeless (Tweety is a super-hero when it comes to giving back!). When asked where she sees herself in the next year, she replied, “Next year I am anticipating having another fundraiser where I announce that I have bitten cancer into remission.” We believe that with her drive and determination, Tweety can do anything!

To read our full interview with Tweet’s Sweets, click here.

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

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Interview with The Sweet Lobby

The Presidential election is around the corner and The Sweet Lobby’s cupcake and macaron polls are in full swing (you can track the results on their Facebook and Twitter pages). We had a chance to review them a few weeks ago and are now big fans of their tasty treats. The owner, Winnette McIntosh Ambrose and her brother, Timothy McIntosh, participated in Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, using their love of sweets and engineering backgrounds to win first place for The Sweet Lobby.

We had a chance to interview Winnette to find out more about their “sweet” election campaign, cupcakes vs. macarons, and Cupcake Wars:


(Article hanging in The Sweet Lobby, with photo of Winnette McIntosh Ambrose and Timothy McIntosh.)

The election is right around the corner and politics are in the air wherever one goes. Are you finding that customers are coming in specifically to place their vote?
I hope they are coming in because we have the best cupcakes and macarons in town but if “voting” makes them feel better about it, that’s great!

Being located so close to the center of political action, do you know if either candidate is aware of the sweet campaign you are running?
Yes, they are aware of the campaign. In fact, one of the Presidential candidates actually had two Barracks Row boxes full of political macarons presented to him on his bus.


(Presidential election macarons)

Your location seems to make The Sweet Lobby the perfect place to hold a presidential polling, sweet-tooth-style. Campaign parties must be popular around Capital Hill. Have you already seen a lot of interest in large orders for campaign parties?
Most definitely! We’ve been inundated with requests for the political pastries as well as our classic desserts.

When can we expect to see the Mac-Attack ads go live?
They are running now and will continue through Election Day. The Mac-Attack ads are actually “ad-like” banners that we feature on our Facebook cover page. They’re intended to deliver messages to constituents that have a “sweet tooth.”

Aside from the current debate topic, “Is your candidate more like a cupcake or a macaron,” what other issues might we see brought up for debate?
Our social media followers will be able to debate issues to include foreign and domestic relations ingredients, and effective ways to use sweets to boost the economy. We’ll give the Vice Presidential candidates some airtime as we debate the flavor of the VEEP.

While the main agenda of this campaign is to track candidates, the Cupcake Crusaders are also curious about another poll…What is more popular in your shop, cupcakes or macarons?
As an All-American indulgence, the cupcake embodies the irresistible combination of childhood nostalgia and undeniable appeal of a “made just for me” individual dessert that, at some level, is easy to make. On the other-hand, the macaron is a more delicate dessert that’s difficult to make and easy to ruin. They’re not very forgiving, but when made well, the impression is lasting. The first bite of the lightly crisp shell, the chewy interior and the flavorful, creamy filling! Who can deny the refined elegance coupled with fantastical whimsy of a Parisian macaron? At the end of the day, we are totally bi-partisan. We bake, you decide.


(ObamaMac and Obama topper on a Boston Cream Cupcake.)

Although you sell other pastries at The Sweet Lobby, cupcakes and macarons are what you are most known for. What do you think it is about each that makes them so enjoyable?
At the Sweet Lobby, we don’t take shortcuts! We prepare real buttercreams using traditional European methods, fresh fruit and ultra-premium chocolates. We pride ourselves in creating both classic and daring incarnations using the finest globally and locally sourced ingredients imaginable!

In addition to cupcakes and macarons, we have several product lines including shortbread, madeleines, caneles, éclairs, loose-leaf tea, and hot chocolate. We think that our guests can truly taste the difference and appreciate the care we put into everything we offer.

How do you recommend eating the MacTop cupcake? Taking the macaron off and enjoying it separately or digging right into to the whole thing?
That is totally up to you! We’ve seen it all! I am personal fan of the macaron-first technique.


(RomneyMac and Romney topper on a Boston Cream Cupcake.)

What’s the strangest or most unique order you’ve created in your Cupcake Lab?
Right now, we are working on a trio of beer inspired cupcakes for a craft beer themed wedding.

When you appeared on the Chinese New Year episode of Cupcake Wars and had to select at least 3 of the 12 exotic flavors, were you at all nervous that selecting 5 would be too much?
Not at all. I’m from Trinidad and Tobago, which is very culturally diverse, so all of those ingredients were very familiar to me. As an engineer/scientist, I am comfortable thinking on my feet and I understand how to combine flavors.

What did you take from your experience on Cupcake Wars (aside from the first place prize!)?
Cupcake Wars highlighted the importance of balancing some of the most key ingredients in food service: quality, presentation and delivery.

Cupcake Wars is known to have previous contestants return. Would you consider going back to battle again?
Of course! In addition to Cupcake Wars, we had the honor of participating on Cupcake Champions this past May. We welcome any new opportunities to return to television!


If you aren’t in the DC area and are now craving a perfect little pastry from The Sweet Lobby, no need to worry. They are offering nationwide shipping next month! You can find out more by visiting their website.


(The Sweet Lobby indulged our graphic design side and gave us a sneak peek at their new gift boxes, premiering in November!)

We’d like to thank The Sweet Lobby for taking time to answer our questions. Their Cupcake Wars win was well deserved and we appreciate what they are doing to get people excited about the election and getting out to vote.

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

Part 2: Cupcakes + Wolf Trap + Idina Menzel = Perfect Night Out with Cupcakes from Sticky Fingers Bakery

Since you’ve most likely already read Crusader Jenn’s review from yesterday, you don’t need me to go on and on about how much we adore this woman:


(In case you don’t know or haven’t guessed, this is the wonderful Idina Menzel.)

I will say though that the concert was fantastic, as always. She sang amazing songs, told some great antidotes, and even encouraged lots of audience participation. But, you probably want to hear more about the cupcakes now, right?

Crusader Elisa and I decided to stop at two locations since they were both almost on our way to Wolf Trap. Our first stop was at Sticky Fingers Bakery located in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington DC. Back in March, Crusader Jenn and I were fortunate enough to meet the owner of Sticky Fingers, Doron Petersan, at the National Capital Area Cake Show’s Cupcake Challenge. Whether or not she remembers, we promised her that we would stop into her shop this summer, and we always like to keep our promises.

Upon arriving we instantly fell in love with the decor. With high ceilings and a concrete floor, the space is filled with nods to the 50s and can be best described as retro industrial. From the old fashion refrigerator that serves as a product display and an neat old stove that creates a makeshift coffee area, Elisa and I weren’t quite ready to leave after receiving our coffee and cupcake orders from the attentive staff. Unfortunately we had another stop to visit before meeting Crusader Jenn and Guest Crusader Ashley, so we had to leave after spending just a few minutes there.

Once we arrived at Wolf Trap and spread our blankets out, we revealed our cupcake selections to Jenn and Ashley:

Elisa and I decided that trying the Orange Creamsicle and the Lavender Lemon were absolutely necessary. The bakery, which sells all 100% vegan goods, was serving many cupcake flavors that day, but Elisa and I like to be adventurous so the Lavender Lemon was an easy choice.

The lemon flavor wasn’t very strong in this cupcake, but was present enough to balance out the lavender flavor and keep it from tasting like soap. That is often a reaction we hear from people when they encounter lavender in their food, but for the Crusaders, we didn’t think this tasted like soap at all. The cake was a bit crumbly though. It wasn’t really dry, but the texture isn’t what we would normally expect in a cupcake. Maybe this has something to do with vegan products? We’ve only tried vegan baked goods a couple times, so we really aren’t experts on what to expect from the texture.

Next, after taking in all the flavor options, we finally chose the Creamsicle, knowing it would be the perfect addition to a summer pre-show picnic.

Our first reaction from this cupcake was, “OMG. THE FROSTING IS AMAZING!” I think I could have easily eating an entire gallon of it. Elisa called it “dreamy” and I couldn’t agree with her more. The cake was also crumbly, similar to the Lavender Lemon, but that frosting easily saved this cupcake and left me wanting a whole one for myself.

Even though the cake texture wasn’t our favorite on each of these cupcakes, I would love to go back, sit in one of their shiny pink vinyl chairs, and enjoy another cupcake and delicious cup of coffee. The flavors made these cupcakes ones I think anyone would keep going back for.

Tomorrow we’ll share our last review from our Wolf Trap cupcake tailgating tasting, so stay posted!

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

Surprised with Georgetown Cupcakes!

Recently, we’ve been surprised TWICE with cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcake. Being a Cupcake Crusader definitely has its perks! The first set of cupcakes, reviewed by Crusader Elisa, were from her good friend, Laura. Because of Laura, we were lucky enough to taste the brand new New York City flavors! The second set of cupcakes, reviewed by Crusader Stacy, were a surprise from her boss who had meetings scheduled in DC. Both were great unexpected treats and we are happy to share our reviews of the cupcakes here!

Elisa’s New York City Flavors Review:

NYC cupcakes in DC! Or is it DC Cupcakes in NYC?! People had to have been cheering on Feb 11, 2012 all over NYC, because Georgetown Cupcake opened their doors on 111 Mercer Street in Soho. While the crusaders have loved Georgetown’s DC (and now Bethesda) location for years, our NYC friends have had to make the the journey to the DC area or be content with our write ups about them – until now!

To celebrate their grand opening, Georgetown Cupcake created some “Big Apple” inspired flavors that were available at all three locations through the end of February. And of course, the Crusaders HAD to try them. (Have we also told you that we are huge NYC fans too?) Luckily, a dear friend and fellow Georgetown Cupcake lover, Laura, was coming to visit me in Baltimore and stopped by the Bethesda location to pick some up! (Check out Georgetown Cupcakes Facebook page to see all the flavors that were available in NYC!)

The three flavors available to us are as follows:

NYC Cheesecake

While this might not be your traditional “cupcake,” because it was basically its own little mini cheesecake, it has all the flavor of a NYC cheesecake, with that special hint of citrus that makes NYC cheesecake stand out from all the rest. The taxi cab fondant topper was not only adorable, but tasty! And no one can deny the fantastic-ness that is buttery graham cracker crust!

Black & White Cookie

These cookies are more like cake for me and are always something I drool over when I am in NYC. This cupcake is just as drool worthy! The mix of vanilla and chocolate frosting was sweet and decadent. The cake was tasty and moist, all around, this is a cupcake I’d like to see make itself a spot on the permanent menu in DC!

Big Apple Crumble

By far the BEST apple cupcake I have ever eaten. The cake was full of apple pieces and was moist and buttery. The icing was a cinnamon and buttercream explosion of flavor, with brown sugar on top that created the flavor and texture of the “crumble” topping my mom puts on top of her apple pies. Even the fondant apple decoration was cinnamon flavored! I would pay very good money to have this cupcake again, and again, and again.

The three NYC cupcakes were all cute and tasted great! I’m so glad that Laura picked some up for us and that we could all enjoy them! (Next time, I’m not sure I’d be willing to share the Big Apple Crumble though!)

Stacy’s Surprise Cupcake Review:

Just a little while ago my boss came into the office with a dozen cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcake’s DC location. I would have been perfectly happy taking all twelve flavors home with me, but being the kind co-worker I try to be, I shared with the office. (Okay, maybe I didn’t have much of a choice, but I PROMISE I would have shared if I did).

Luckily the office is small, so I got to have three flavors all to myself. I have never tried the classic flavors from Georgetown, so I decided this would be a good opportunity and selected a Chocolate2, a Vanilla Birthday, and one fun flavor – Coconut.

Chocolate 2

This cupcake with Valrhona chocolate cake and a whipped Callebaut chocolate frosting was any chocolate lover’s dream. While the cake was a bit crumbly, the frosting easily made up for it with its rich, creamy, and decadent wonderfulness. Normally I wouldn’t get a cupcake again if the cake wasn’t really nice and moist, but the frosting on this is worth every penny.

Vanilla Birthday

Although this cupcake with Madagascar bourbon vanilla cake and a sweet vanilla buttercream frosting wasn’t the best vanilla I’ve ever had, it was still pleasant. It was light and smooth, a classic that any cupcake lover would enjoy. The best part was the rainbow sprinkles. These aren’t any normal sprinkles, they have a fruity candy flavor that matches the “birthday” part of their name.

Coconut

I’m a big fan of coconut anything and this cupcake lived up to all my hopes. The cake was filled with coconut shavings and packed with flavor. The vanilla cream cheese frosting balanced it all out and stayed in the background, letting the coconut really shine. The abundance of coconut shavings on top might seem like a bit much, but it only sealed the deal for me. I think this might actually be one of my new favorites (along with the NYC flavors Elisa reviewed above).

I’m often reminded of how lucky I am to work with such great people, and this was one of those times. The fact that my boss made time in her day to get cupcakes and lug a big bag around DC is just awesome. And what could be better than sharing cupcakes with co-workers? I can’t think of a better way to bring a team together.  🙂

– Posted by Cupcake Crusaders Stacy and Elisa (Baltimore, MD)

I ❤ Sprinkles “on” Georgetown!

I’d heard of Sprinkles from Stacy, but little did I know on my first visit, that it was started in Beverly Hills and has been stated as “the world’s first cupcake bakery” by the Food Network. The shop in Washington DC is very crisp, clean-lined, and contemporary. The decorations on the cupcakes are the same.

Being in DC is always a treat, but since it is also a rarity for me, I decided to buy a half dozen. The staff was very helpful and very cheery! They talked to me about the flavors and made some recommendations. I was lucky, because no one else was there, so they could really take some time with me and help me pick! Here are my flavors and thoughts!

Lemon:

(Please excuse the photos. We had a blogger photo fail and forgot to photograph the cupcakes before splitting them up.)

Moist fluffy cake that screamed citrus! The frosting was very sugary, and missing the vanilla flavor that I was hoping for, but this is a great cupcake for a sweet-tooth looking for a lemon/sugar fix.

Peanut Butter:

Chocolate Chip peanut butter cake was less moist than most of the other cupcakes, but still worth it! The frosting can only be described as “super yummy” – not too sweet, with just the right amount of savory, a must when you are talking peanuts! The chocolate jimmies on top where reminiscent of my kid days. I’d like to eat one of these for breakfast… and the next time I get down to DC, I plan on saving it for the next morning.

Cinnamon & Sugar:

While I think $3.50 for a cupcake that doesn’t have frosting is a little steep, this is a very interesting take on one. It tastes like a fluffy snickerdoodle cookie, and I could have eaten the cinnamon & sugar covered top over and over again!

Carrot:

WOW. What a carrot cupcake! Moist, cinnamon-y/nutmeg-y cake with REAL carrot pieces in the cake. The cream cheese frosting was more sugary than I typically like, but all in all this one of the best carrot cake cupcakes I have ever had the pleasure of eating.

Caramel Apple: (A Seasonal Special!)

(Of the photo-fails, this is almost the most epic fail of them all. We took a bite before we even realized we needed to take photos. Sorry!)

The apple cake with spices was really nice, the mix of savory in the cake works so well with the very sweet lightly caramelized flavor of the frosting. The frosting left me wanting more caramel flavor and less sugar, especially because this it is also a cream cheese based.

Red Velvet:
(Sorry, no photo available. Definitely the biggest photo-fail of the group.)

Well, as you all know, I am some-what of a red velvet maniac. This one did NOT disappoint! It is by-far the second best red velvet I have ever tasted. The cake was just as the others, super moist. The frosting was sweeter than the usual cream cheese frostings (just as on the other cupcakes) but on this one it worked. The cake’s subtle sweetness equaled out the over-sweet frosting and created perfect bliss.

The day I went out it was a cold, but sunny and beautiful… and getting to eat such delicious cupcakes was the “icing” on the cake. 😉

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