Halloween Gathering, Lanterns, and IcedGems!

The Creative Alliance Lantern Parade & Festival is a yearly event not to be missed. A huge crowd of people come from all over the city to see kids and adults in full costume walking through the park. Handmade lanterns, kids activities and crafts, vendors, and yummy food can all be found here on the cool October night. This year, The Gathering was going to be there too, including IcedGems, and Crusader Stacy and I knew we had to go!

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We met at my Patterson Park house and walked over to partake in the festivities. As usual it was bustling with adults and kids of all ages, most of which were in costume and carrying lanterns. We decided to head straight to The Gathering and get in line for cupcakes from IcedGems. With so many flavors to choose from, we chose 4 Halloween themed cupcakes and each got a Halloween Gingerbread cookie. Not wanting to miss out on dinner before eating our dessert, we got in line for The Sultan and ordered some delicious chickpea curry. Very happily full, we walked around checking out all of the lanterns and strolling up to the Pagoda before heading back to the house to dive into our Halloween cupcakes and cookies.

Cookie Monster
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Crusader Stacy and I both agree that this cupcake was on the dry side. The cookies and creme eyes and cookie dough filling were really good and took this otherwise simple vanilla cupcake to another level.

Worms in Dirt (Cookies-N-Creme)
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First, this cupcake was adorable! We loved the decoration of cookie dirt and gummy worms, it really felt like Halloween without being scary. The flavor of the cake was good, with large cookie crumbles throughout the cake, but this cake was also on the dry side. The frosting was a bit on the sweet side for us, but we powered through and finished our bites with our gummy worms.

Pumpkin Spice
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Pumpkin Spice and everything nice… including heavenly cinnamon buttercream frosting. The cake was, again, on the dry side, but had great spice and pumpkin flavor. Crusader Stacy and I agreed, this was one yummy pumpkin cupcake.

Carrot Cake
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Neither of us had every tried IcedGems carrot cake before, so when we saw it was decorated for Halloween we jumped at the chance to try it. This cupcake had visible carrot shreds and raisins in it, the cake was very moist and the spice was spot on. The tangy cream cheese frosting was smooth and was the perfect companion to the delicious cake. The only thing we both commented on was that we prefer our carrot cake with walnuts in it, however, this cupcake was so good, we didn’t mind them missing.

Gingerbread Skeleton & Mummy
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Fun and festive, these cookies were as good as they were fun to look at! WOW did they pack the perfect gingerbread punch while being the perfect balance of crunchy and soft cookie. They were too cute not to try and too good not to finish.

Our Lantern Parade date was so much fun. We really loved being a part of this Baltimore tradition and supporting the Creative Alliance, The Gathering, and IcedGems! And cupcakes were a great way to end our night.

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader Elisa (Baltimore, MD)

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Halloween Piñata Cupcakes

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A friend approached me about helping with a church bake sale, the weekend before Halloween. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to bring a little holiday-seasonal flare to the fundraiser. After passing by the White Chocolate Candy Corn M&Ms, inspiration struck. I’ve been looking for an excuse to make piñata cupcakes, so what could be better for a holiday focused around candy, than candy exploding out of a cupcake?

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I kept it simple by using box mixes for the cake (I struggle over doing this when it comes to bake sales, but I just can’t seem to get that light, fluffy texture from anything else…yet). I made the holes a little larger than I would for a filling, to accommodate the larger candy. For the frosting you can use your favorite vanilla or chocolate buttercream recipe.

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I thought an appropriate (or maybe just obvious) topper for cupcakes filled with Candy Corn M&Ms would be…Candy Corn!

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While I was shopping for my candy fillings and toppers, I passed the mini M&Ms. I was hoping to find chocolate M&Ms that were Halloween/Autumn colors, but failed. However, I figured that if the larger Candy Corn M&Ms didn’t work out I couldn’t go wrong with these tiny ones. Having the white chocolate and milk chocolate also offered up a nice variety for the sale.

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When I was considering what other candy could top the chocolate M&M cupcakes, I wanted to keep it nostalgic. After seeing the mini Hershey bars, I was sold. They’ve always been a favorite of mine and, just like with the candy corn on the other cupcakes, it seemed to make perfect sense.

The chocolate M&M cupcakes are the ones that SOLD OUT. I would have liked to get my hands on one, but I sacrificed for the greater good.

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In addition to the piñata cupcakes, I also made a bunch of simple, but festive, mini cupcakes with various combinations and toppers. Minis are always popular at bake sales because you can sell them a lower price and they are great for kids.

But I’m sure you are wondering, “So what did the piñata cupcakes look like on the inside? How did they work?”

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Well, they faired pretty well! I was a little concerned about the moisture from the cake affecting the candies. It did a little on the Candy Corn M&Ms, but not enough to make much of a difference. And I heard through the grapevine that the cupcakes with mini M&Ms were great!

But most importantly, the bake sale was successful and I was even asked to make more cupcakes for another fundraising event this weekend!

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

Halloween Oreo Cupcakes

Ghosts. Witches. Orange. Black. Pumpkins. Hayrides. Candy Corn. Costumes. What’s not to love about Halloween? I’m really a sucker for any holiday, but one based around eating all the candy you want is certainly high on my list of favorites.

My first glimpse of spookified treats had me practicing as much self control as possible, but when I spotted Oreos with an orange colored cream, I just couldn’t resist. I have a soft spot for anything cookies and cream flavored, so already had a box of Oreo Jello Pudding and Oreo Original Créme Ultimate Icing sitting in my pantry, just waiting to be used in a creative way.

Using my always reliable chocolate cake mix modification (1 box of chocolate instant jello pudding + chocolate chips) and my recently learned pre-made chocolate frosting modifications, these cupcakes were super simple.

I did change it up a little bit this time, but only because I had a huge block of Scharffen Berger unsweetened dark chocolate, which I decided to use instead of mini chocolate chips. Next time I’ll have to include more chocolate because, in my opinion, it just wasn’t rich enough.

I also was able to use my new Cake Plunger, instead of a grapefruit knife, to create the indent for the filling. It worked really well, was so easy, and saved a lot of time. It takes out more cake than I normally would have for a filling, so I will probably only use it sometimes, depending on what I’m putting inside a cupcake.

Even with Halloween just a couple days away, these cupcakes are so simple to make that you can easily grab what you need and whip up a quick batch in no time. Or, just switch out the Halloween Oreos with regular ones and make them for any occasion!

Here’s what you’ll need:

Cake
– 1 box of your favorite chocolate cake mix
– Ingredients on back of chocolate cake mix box
– 1 box of chocolate Jello Instant Pudding mix
– Mini chocolate chips or shaved chocolate to desired amount

Filling
– 1 box of Oreo Jello Instant Pudding Mix
– Ingredients of back of Instant Pudding Mix
(Yep, that’s all)

Chocolate Frosting
– 1 can of pre-made dark chocolate frosting
– 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Scharffen Berger unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa powder)
– 1 cup of confectioners sugar

Oreo Frosting
– 1 package of Oreo Original Créme Ultimate Icing (You could also make your favorite buttercream recipe and add in munched up Oreo cookie bits… I think that would taste just as good)

Garnish
– 12 Oreos
– Sprinkles of your choosing

For the cake, all you have to do is add the box of Instant Jello Pudding and chocolate chips to the dry cake mix, and then include the ingredients from the back of the box and bake according to the direction listed there. It is really that easy. Then, while the cupcakes are baking, prepare the Jello Pudding according to the directions and place in the refrigerator to set up. While the cupcakes are cooling and the pudding is setting up, take the can of pre-made frosting and blend in the cocoa powder and powdered sugar. This will give it a more homemade taste, and allow you to pipe the frosting on. After the cupcakes and pudding are cooled and ready, it’s time to assemble! First, scoop out a bit of the cake center, fill with pudding, pipe on the chocolate frosting, add the sprinkles, pipe on the Oreo frosting, and top with half of an Oreo cookie. Done!

See, wasn’t that easy? This is a perfect quick treat that will surely impress everyone.

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

Creep Crawly Cupcakes!

Halloween is everywhere today. Kids (and adults) are all dressed up, either waiting to receive loads of candy tonight, or just hoping to put a smile on someone’s face. Houses are decked out, candy bowls are waiting by the front door, pumpkins are carved, and even the cupcakes are celebrating.

Today’s post will showcase cupcakes from 6 different locations ranging from the most popular (like Georgetown Cupcake) to the simple neighborhood grocery store, and everything in between.

The idea for this post came about becuase I heard my local bakery not only had Halloween themed cupcakes, but they also had special Halloween boxes to put them in. I had to go check this out and we decided the other crusaders should see what they could find. We hope you enjoy our collection of spooky sweets!

Hamilton Bakery: Baltimore City
Review by Cupcake Crusader, Stacy

As I mentioned above, I found out my neighborhood bakery, Hamilton Bakery, created themed cupcakes and were placing them in colorful Halloween boxes. I decided had to have one for myself. They only had the classic Vanilla/Chocolate flavors adorned with creepy fun, so I choose a Vanilla Vanilla with the Bat.

I have to say, for amazing as Hamilton Bakery is at creating pastries, I’m still not a huge fan of their cupcakes. I know the other crusaders might not agree with me, but like before, I think that their cake is a little too muffin like, and their frosting is way to buttery for my liking. But, it was a really fun treat to have for “Halloween Weekend.”

Fresh & Green’s: Baltimore City
Review by Cupcake Crusader, Stacy

Today was my boss’s birthday, and she loves having a Halloween birthday, so today we surprised her with cupcakes (of course), flowers, balloons, candy, the works. I was so glad that Fresh & Green’s decided to join in the Halloween fun and dress their cupcakes up for the occasion. I heard from my co-worker that the Chocolate Chocolate with the Trick or Treat Bag was delicious. I opted for the Vanilla Vanilla with the Green Frosting and Jack-o-lantern.

Doesn’t he look so happy? And it wouldn’t be Halloween without some Candy Corn and Chocolate Eyeballs to wash it all down with. The cupcake was decorated with a plastic, confetti-like, edible sprinkle. I’ve had edible glitter and edible gold, but I’ve never had edible plastic before, so I was a bit skeptical. After biting into it, the edible green stuff seemed to stick to my teeth, but it quickly dissolved. I’m not sure if this would be okay on a normal day, but for Halloween, it was just fine by me. The cake was the typical fluffy cake they had before and the frosting was the same wiped cream that I tend to enjoy. I was a little disappointed to see that their price has increased from $.99 to $1.50 per cupcake, but I’m going to assume that is becuase of all of the added decorations. And still, at $1.50 for these cupcakes, it puts them at half the price of most cupcakeries and bakeries.

UPDATE: Fresh & Green’s Hampden location is now closed.

Pirate Cupcakes: Baltimore City
Review by Guest Crusader, Beth Lacey

The moment I bought these six hilarious cupcakes from Pirate Cupcakes in Baltimore, Md., (sold exclusively through Captain Larry’s in Locust Point) I thought to myself, “Did I just spent $28 on a gimmick? Oh crap!”

I had bought two seeing eyes, two exposed brains and two vampire bites. They were out of mummies and spiders. The bartender at Captain Larry’s handed them to me unceremoniously in a plain styrofoam container (slightly squishing the brains and bites). I brought these crazy cool cupcakes home for further investigation and, you know, tasting. I selected the brain to sample first.

Mmm. It was a great surprise. Frankly, I started to think zombies might be on to something! It was huge, moist and flavorful. The madagascar vanilla bourbon spice frosting doesn’t just look killer. It was in good proportion to the cake and not so sweet that I didn’t want more. Inside, the cupcake was vanilla spice pumpkin with a pumpkin cream filling. Every bite of this delicious brain was good. Almost worth an arm and a leg, even!

Though Pirate Cupcakes loses a few points from me for presentation that doesn’t reflect the awesomeness of its super icing design, it absolutely gets this crusader’s thumbs up. Somebody bring me more body parts!

Starry Night Bakery and Coffee House: Westminster, MD
Review by Cupcake Crusader, Jenn

Hearing that one of my favorite local bakeries, Starry Night Bakery and Coffeehouse, had cupcakes decorated for Halloween, I decided that I should head over there and check them out. There wasn’t a big selection of varying decoration, but I did manage to get a seasonal favorite, the Orange Cranberry , with a spider web and also ventured into their standards section for a chocolate cupcake with a chocolate ganche frosting and gummy eyeball.


(Note: Prior to photographing the cupcake I accidentally dropped the box on it’s side, so the cupcakes sustained minor damage to the decorations.)

The Orange Cranberry appeared in our original review of Starry Night and this is the third time I’ve ordered it. I think that speaks for itself!

The chocolate cupcake was the first time I’ve ordered something from their standards and I have to say…YUM! While the cake was your standard chocolate cake, the icing was something between what you would find on a Berger cookie, a Baltimore favorite, and a chocolate frosted donut.

Although the decorations were on the minimalistic side, I fully enjoyed the taste of both of my selections and still had fun picking out which Halloween themed cupcakes I should get!

Georgetown Cupcake: Washington DC
Review by Cupcake Crusader, Elisa

Both of these cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcake were Vanilla cake with Vanilla butter-cream icing (with some food coloring for the Ghost, orange icing!)

While they are on the more simple side, and not something I would normally order, they where simply tasty! The cake was moist, the icing was just what I expect from Georgetown, and they are the perfect size and price (in my Crusader opinion). I was very lucky that I got the LAST one with a ghost decoration and the orange icing – Lucky me!!

Sprinkles Cupcakes: Washington DC
Review by Cupcake Crusader, Elisa

The cupcake decorated with the Ghost is Caramel Apple and it was YUM! Apple-y delicious moist cake with a smooth dreamy caramel frosting. This is one for the cupcake record books!

The one with the signature Sprinkles Cupcakes‘ circle done in orange and black is Red Velvet. It was super moist cake with subtle cream cheese icing. This has easily moved in as my second favorite Red Velvet. I’d go back for them again!

Over all, the decorations were simple, but were on anything-but-simple cupcakes!

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We hope everyone enjoyed our collection of tricky treats. It’s not too late to go out and find some of your own!

Happy Halloween!

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