Grace & Shelly’s Cupcakes | Fort Myers, FL

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Now that I have a decent grasp on the Fort Myers and Naples area cupcake spots, I wasn’t worried about whether or not cupcakes would be a part of my trip when I recently visited my family in southwest Florida. Since I was staying with my Nana, and I know how much of a sweet tooth she has (ever wondered where I get it from?), I wanted to get some fancy cupcakes to say thank you and to put a smile on her face.

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After treating her to lunch at one of our favorite spots, Sweet Tomatoes, my aunts, cousin, and I decided to do a little shopping. My Aunt Jane wanted to visit a boutique located in the Bell Tower Shops, and I was in luck because Grace & Shelly’s Cupcakes also resides there.

On my last visit to Grace & Shelly’s, Crusader Jenn and I selected a big variety, including a couple of full size cupcakes and tons of minis. This time I focused on just the full size flavors and selected Lemon, Raspberry Lemon Cheesecake, Butter Pecan, and Peach Cobbler. My Aunts also got a variety of flavors, and Aunt Jane added her two selections to my order since you save a little bit with orders of half a dozen.

When we got back to Nana’s house, we worked off our big lunch with some pool-time, and then took a quick cupcake break. My cousin, Allen, joined Aunt Jane, Nana and I for this cupcake tasting and, for the most part, we were unanimous in our feelings (except my sweet Nana, who loved them all).

Lemon

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Of the four cupcakes I selected, this was the best of them all. The cake and frosting were both light and tart. And even though the frosting didn’t hold up too well in the Florida heat (as you can tell from the photo), it didn’t make this cupcake any less tasty.

Raspberry Lemon Cheesecake

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I was really excited about this cupcake, only to be disappointed. My Aunt Jane didn’t think that it was sweet enough, and also didn’t like the bits of raspberry seeds. That didn’t bother me too much, but the cake ended up being very squishy because of the filling.

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As you can see, the filling soaked almost all the way through to the wrapper. Gross.

Peach Cobbler

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The Peach Cobbler cupcake was very much the same. So much so, that I just couldn’t finish it. Luckily Nana didn’t mind because I choose this cupcake specifically for her and she ended up finishing my portion. Even though the cake wasn’t working for me, I did like the frosting and toppings, but what is a cupcake without cake?!

Butter Pecan

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Of all the cupcakes, I thought the presentation of this one was the best. I really liked that it looked like a scoop of butter pecan ice cream had been dropped on top. Unlike the Lemon cupcake though, the cake was dry and kind of plain. But the frosting was good and packed with pecans.

Snickerdoodle

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My Aunt Susan didn’t join us for our post-swim cupcake crusading, but later that night we had another little cupcake tasting at her house with some of the cupcakes she brought home. The first that I tried was the Snickerdoodle. While the cake was a little dry, the frosting was so good and had lots of cinnamon flavor.

Cookies and Cream

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The other cupcake I tasted at my Aunt Susan’s house was the Cookies and Cream. This cupcake had little cookie bits in the cake and frosting and tasted JUST like the ice cream, it was amazing!

Even if the cupcakes weren’t as good as I remembered them being, it was so fun doing my “cupcake thing” with my family. And I’ll never forget seeing my Nana scrape those wrappers clean… that woman has a crazy sweet tooth, you gotta love her!

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

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Cupcakes in Paradise | Bonita Springs, Florida

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Some of you may remember that last year Crusader Stacy and I had an opprotunity to visit our family in Florida AT THE SAME TIME! This has rarely happened as adults, after having worked together for nearly 5 years. But, with myself no longer employed at the same establishment, we jumped at the chance to take a family vacation together. Well, try as we might, this year we just couldn’t make it happen. Sad as it may have been to not have my twin with me, my little family and I had a wonderful time. I stayed with my Nana, and it was like being home again.

Shortly after arriving, my uncle and cousins were quick to tell me that there was a new cupcake place in Bonita Springs, Florida. As much as I wanted to revisit one of my Florida favorites, Sassy Cakes, I had to try the new place.

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Cupcakes In Paradise has a cute exterior and fits in perfectly with the colorful shopping center. When I walked into the shop I was surrounded by bright pink walls and modern flat-screen tvs for menus. There wasn’t any staff around, and I eventually had to say, “Hello?” into the direction of the kitchen, but it gave me time to take some pictures.

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At the counter there was a modest display of cupcakes with around 10 flavors to choose from. I was curious to try one of each, but I knew that I had to resist. Without my partner in crime, it would only be my husband and myself eating the cupcakes. So I (only) selected four. I was feeling the Florida air and picked Coconut, Key Lime, Funky Monkey, and then threw in a Chocolate Peanut Butter to keep the man happy.

Coconut

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The Coconut cupcake was the first one we tried and I’m sad to say it was my least favorite. It was filled, but unfortunately it was filled with the same super-sweet frosting that it was topped with. While the coconut flavor did come through, there was just too much frosting for me. However Dan, who prefers cupcakes on the sweet side, and Leah, who is going through a frosting-only phase, both loved this cupcake.

Key Lime

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You can’t visit a cupcakery in Florida without trying Key Lime. After the Coconut cupcake, I was worried that they’d all be filled with frosting (and I’m a firm believer that a filling should complement the cake and frosting, but should be a different element). To my relief, the cupcake was not filled. The cake was very moist and had a good, real key lime flavor. I’m usually the one scrapping the wrapper of a good cupcake, but Dan beat me to it this time!

Peanut Butter Chocolate

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The Chocolate Peanut Butter cupcake was a very moist and light chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting, and topped with a chocolate peanut butter crumble. The frosting didn’t look like it would have a smooth texture, but in the end it did, and the flavor was bold without overpowering the chocolate.

Funky Monkey

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Saved for last, the Funky Monkey is a banana chocolate cupcake with a marble cake, topped with banana frosting, and then drizzled with chocolate. For me this cupcake was only okay. The banana flavor seemed a little artificial, but the cake was good. I’m not sure I’d order it again with at least two other good options.

Overall, I would go back to Cupcakes in Paradise. I’ve heard their Lemon cupcake has a curd filling, that they make a good Red Velvet, and it was already hard to leave without the French Toast. I’ll have to try those out on my next visit to Florida!

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

Florida Fun, Relaxation, and Treats! April’s Pie Company

Crusader Stacy, our husbands, Little Leah and I spent one afternoon in Downtown Fort Myers while we were vacationing in Florida. We had lunch and then walked around the shops and galleries along 1st Street. Having run out of cupcakes, and only being halfway through our trip, Stacy and I were also keeping a look out for bakeries. We passed by a French bakery that has some pastries, but was mostly set up with a lunch deli. We’d almost given up on finding any tiny treats, when we stumbled past April’s Pie Company (also know as April’s Eatery).

It is located in the old Arcade building in Downtown Fort Myers, beneath a very neat old sign. They also have a breakfast and lunch menu but having already filled up at Ford’s Garage, we only had eyes for sweets…and behold, they had mini pie bites!

We selected four of the options: Apple, Key Lime, Cookies and Cream, and Coconut Cream. For anyone who loves pie for the crust, these pie bites are perfect for you! The crust is in a higher ratio than pie filling, but is flaky, crunchy, and buttery. I’m not usually a pie person, but the small bite of filling made me want more. The key lime that I selected was perfectly tart and Stacy said the apple was delicious and definitely her favorite. I was hoping that she’d let me take a small bite, but was too afraid to ask…She never offered, so I’ll have to take her word for it. 😉

April’s Pie Company also offers pies by the slice and whole pies for special order, so the next time I’m in Fort Myers, I think I’ll have to try a regular slice and stay for lunch!

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

Florida Fun, Relaxation, and Treats! Grace & Shelly’s Cupcakes

Crusader Stacy and I knew there was something we needed to take care of soon after arriving at our Florida vacation destination. I know you are thinking, “Get cupcakes!” and you aren’t entirely wrong…However the first thing on our agenda for the week was a girls’ afternoon to get manicures and pedicures. After all, a vacation is about being pampered and our toes deserved some attention for all the time they’d be spending out in the Florida sun, right? I’d be lying if I said we hadn’t thought of getting cupcakes on the way to our appointment, so that we could sit back in the massage chairs savoring a sweet treat. But, we mustered up our patience and enjoyed our sister-time sans cupcakes.

After our nails were beautified we decided it was time to show them off with a walk through Bell Tower Shops in Fort Myers, Fl. The location of Grace & Shelly’s Cupcakes couldn’t have been more perfect for us. Only a few miles away from our nail place, and situated in a center of high-end retailers and boutiques, we could enjoy the warm weather and shop a little.

We found Grace & Shelly’s easily and admired their cute store. They have some small tables, cupcake merchandise, and something extra…ice cream! This is becoming more common to see in our Baltimore-DC metro area, however in Florida I imagine it’s great for business, with having “ice-cream-weather” year-round.

It wasn’t easy to pick out flavors because they all looked so good! Their cupcakes are gourmet size, so a little larger than your average cupcake, and adorned with toppings. Lucky for us, they also sell pre-assembled containers of mini cupcakes by the dozen. We picked one out and then made our selection of larger cupcakes based on what was left to try. In the end, we were able to sample 13 flavors!

The standouts for us were the Chocolate Raspberry, Caramel Brown Sugar, and Tiramisu. Some of the cupcakes were on the sweet side, even for us, but what you can expect from all Grace & Shelly’s Cupcakes is moist cake and creative and flavorful combinations.

Chocolate Raspberry:

Chocolate Raspberry has become my go-to for a decadent chocolate treat. Typically paired with a dark chocolate ganache and raspberry filling, it’s rich and makes me believe that nothing could ever be a more perfect combination. Grace & Shelly’s version of this treat is no different. The raspberry to chocolate ratio was perfectly balanced and Stacy and I weren’t willing to share with anyone else!

Caramel Brown Sugar:

We contemplated getting the Caramel Brown Sugar cupcake in a full-size, but opted not to, since our sample pack included two. After trying our small bite, we wish we had a larger one! The cake was so good and the frosting was buttery, a prefect complement to the caramel drizzle. Crusader Elisa would have loved it!

Tiramisu:

Crusader Stacy called dibs on this mini and, like the Caramel Brown Sugar, was wishing she had more. So was I, since I didn’t get to try it! But, as Stacy described it, it was, “Delicious. The espresso liquor made the cake a little squishy, but it didn’t matter because it was so good. And sometimes that can happen with tiramisu.” We both believe that the full-size cupcake would have stood up better to the espresso liquor drizzled on the cake and are waiting for when we have the opportunity to try it again!

Although these three were our favorites, we wouldn’t want to leave out the other cupcakes we tasted:

1) Chocolate Peanut Butter: Chocolate cake with a peanut butter filling and chocolate ganache frosting.

2) Grasshopper: Chocolate Oreo cake with mint frosting and chocolate chips. This cupcake was a contender for our top three!

3) Butterfinger: Vanilla cake with a peanut butter filling, cream cheese frosting, and topped with crushed butterfinger bars.

4) Vanilla-Vanilla: Vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream, topped with colorful sprinkles. We loved the decoration on this mini, and the full-size looked the same!

5) Orange Coconut: Orange cake with a cream cheese frosting, topped with toasted coconut.

6) Vanilla Strawberry: Vanilla cake with strawberry buttercream frosting, topped with a vanilla cookie. My husband really liked this cupcake and said it was as good as his favorite Maryland bakery.

7) Chocolate-Chocolate: Chocolate cake with a chocolate buttercream frosting, topped with sprinkles. Crusader Stacy’s husband would have liked this cupcake better if it had a chocolate ganache frosting instead of a chocolate buttercream, but for the chocolate lovers out there, Grace & Shelly’s does offer a triple chocolate cupcake with that combination and a chocolate filling!

8) Red Velvet: Red velvet cake with a cream cheese frosting. Littlest Crusader Leah (aka: my daughter) really enjoyed this cupcake, including the sweet cream cheese frosting, although we believe it may have been too sweet for Crusader Elisa, our red velvet connoisseur.

9) Black and White: Chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream and topped generously with sprinkles. Although not really black and white due to the vibrant frosting and sprinkles, it was fun!

10) Chocolate Coconut: Chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream and topped with shaved coconut.

Not only are the cupcakes from Grace & Shelly’s memorable, so was the service. A nice man explained all the flavors to us, offered suggestions, spoke about the other locations when he found out we were vacationers, and once we completed our purchase, he walked our bag around the counter to hand it to us (a lost art in fine customer service). His enthusiasm about the product was obvious and contagious. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Grace & Shelly’s to my Florida family, or anyone else vacationing in the Fort Myers area!

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