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!

LanternParade2013-Pagota

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)
LanternParade2013-WormsDrt

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
LanternParade2013-Pumpkin

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
LanternParade2013-Carrot

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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LanternParade2013-SkelCook

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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Winter Cupcake Craze: The Cupcakes You Haven’t Seen

You may have noticed, but we’ve been eating a lot of cupcakes this winter. Okay, we eat a lot of cupcakes all the time…but there is something about the winter and wanting rich comfort foods, versus light and refreshing flavors in the spring and summer. We’ve already reviewed a lot of winter flavors for you, like Chocolate Peppermint from La Cakerie and Sweet Hearts Patisserie, Eggnog from Vanilla Pastry Studio and PamCakes, Apple Cinnamon from Dessert Affairs, and we can’t forget the seasonal minis Crusader Stacy tried from Disney’s Epcot.

Aside from all these cupcakes we’ve consumed throughout winter, we’ve neglected to share with you some of the other new flavors we’ve tried from the bakeries we visit (very) frequently. Some are more seasonal flavors, others are flavors to satisfy you on a cold night. All were delicious.

Kupcakes & Co.: Cinnabon Cupcake and Reindeer Cake Pop

Kupcakes&Co_WinterCinnabon

This year, Kupcakes & Co. had the same seasonal flavors as last winter. While we had our share of those again this year, I was also able to try a new flavor: Cinnabon. With their rotating menu and huge flavor selection, you might see flavors you haven’t tried before depending on the day you stop in. I really loved the Cinnabon cupcake, but I’m a sucker for a good spiced cake. Kupcakes & Co.’s cream cheese frosting can be too sweet for me sometimes (not that it stops me), but the cinnamon from the cake and the crumble topping balanced it perfectly.

Kupcakes&Co_WinterReindeerCakepop

While I was in there one day, the owner Michelle succumbed to Leah’s cuteness and gave her one of their reindeer cake pops. It was so well done that I had to snap photos before Leah devoured it. Kupcakes & Co. has added custom cake pops to their menu, so for each holiday you can stop in and find something creative and cute. They also had Santa hat cake pops, and now for Valentine’s Day, they have roses.

Snickerdoodles Bakery and Coffee House: Sugar Cookie, Eggnog, Nutella, and Éclair Cupcake

Snickerdoodles_FourUp
(Top left to right: Sugar Cookie and Eggnog cupcakes. Bottom left to right: Nutella and Éclair cupcakes.)

Snickerdoodles has been added to the list of bakeries that are household names. My husband will randomly say (on the few cupcake-less nights we have), “I wish we had some Snickerdoodles.” I also now have my big sister hooked. The Sugar Cookie and Eggnog cupcakes were special holiday flavors, and they totally lived up to their name. The cake in the Sugar Cookie cupcake had actual bits of sugar cookie in it and everything about it really tasted like a sugar cookie. I was very surprised, having expected it to just taste like a vanilla cupcake. The Éclair and Nutella cupcakes are regulars that are rotated. Yes, that’s a mini éclair on top (like the mini cannoli on their Cannoli cupcake). The Éclair cupcake could have used more pastry filling for my taste, but I’m addicted to that stuff. The Nutella cupcake was lacking in hazelnut flavor, but was still a decadent, delightful treat.

Starry Night Bakery and Coffeehouse: German Chocolate, Peanut Butter Lovers, and Sunday Morning Breakfast Cupcakes

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(Top left: Starry Night’s new logo. Top right: German Chocolate Cake cupcake. Bottom left to right: Peanut Butter Lovers and Sunday Morning Breakfast cupcakes.)

You all already know how much we like Starry Night’s Quirky Cupcakes, and with all the love they receive from their customers, they keep adding to the line of flavors. I really like German Chocolate cake, mostly because of that coconut topping stuff, so I’m also a fan of it in cupcake form. Paired with Starry Night’s rich chocolate ganache frosting, it was heaven. The Sunday Morning Breakfast cupcake had maple frosting, topped with a caramel drizzle and chocolate chips. My notes for this and the Peanut Butter Lovers cupcake was, “Mmmmmm,” and that’s it.  There may have been wine involved in this cupcake tasting…

IcedGems: Winter Wonderland Cupcake

IcedGemsWinterWonderland

Crusader Elisa picked this IcedGems seasonal cupcake up to try, while the rest of us drooled with envy. Here’s what she had to say about it:

This cupcake was just as its title described, a winter wonderland treat! The vanilla cake had white chocolate chips and dried cranberries in it and was perfectly moist and not too dense, which can be hard to achieve when dried fruit is added to cake. The frosting was a delicious orange buttercream that paired well with the cake flavors. Honestly, I was a little skeptical about how “Winter Wonderland” this cupcake would taste, but there was something about the way the cranberry and orange flavors mixed with the vanilla cake and white chocolate chips that made the flavors come together and create a very wintertime/really good fruit cake flavor. The adorable little white chocolate topper and dried cranberries were great decorations, and added to the wintertime feel. It was a really great cupcake for anyone who likes fruit flavors paired together and I hope to see it again next winter.

We hope that you’ve consumed some great cupcakes this winter, like we have. If you haven’t, it’s still not too late to get out there and make us Crusaders proud!

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

BOLT to IcedGems (and for the BSO)

Combining my love of running with my love of cupcakes has been chronicled in past posts, reviews, and even some of our blogger award answers. Crusaders Jenn and Stacy are very supportive of my crazy running habit, and are always there to cheer me on – they really are the best friends a girl could ask for! On Sat, October 13th at the Baltimore Running Festival they were there to cheer me on and celebrate my completing a THIRD 1/2 marathon!


(One of the best parts of finishing a run is the medals – and this year they were really cool!)

Last year the Baltimore Running Festival 1/2 marathon was my very first, and I was excited to run it again this year for BOLT for the BSO, a charity team that raises money for the non-profit arts organization, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Each team member of BOLT is tasked with raising money and my goal this year was $500 (check out my fundraising page); but I raised a total of $845 through the generous support of my family, friends, and co-workers. Just when you thought this post was all about running, cupcakes come back into the convo…

What I didn’t realize while I was training and fundraising was that our Healthy Crusader Rebecca and BOLT organizer Jennifer Barton (who were also on the BOLT Team) worked out a plan with IcedGems Baking to create a cupcake which would raise money for BOLT for the BSO. (IcedGems + Running = Awesome.) They created a signature flavor: blueberry cake with lemon buttercream frosting, and sold it all week before the race, with proceeds being donated to the BOLT team.

A few of us on the BOLT team went to meet the IcedGems truck and try our team flavor. Below is a review.

BOLT for the BSO Cupcake:

Moist cake, with blueberries in it and tart lemon buttercream made this cupcake a harmonious blend of sweet and tart. I loved the berries in the cake – it added a burst of flavor as well as a great additional texture. We all enjoyed this cupcake and it’s a flavor I’d love to see on the truck again.

Even the running world recognizes the impact cupcakes are having in the world of individual desserts! I’ve already got a headband that says “Suck it up Cupcake” that I wore during the Ocean City Half Marathon. And this year, at the running and health Expo, I found the shirt below – and if it hadn’t been too pricey for me, I would have gotten it. I mean, how cute (and true) is that shirt!?

It was very generous of IcedGems to help raise money and awareness for our BOLT team. They helped us surpass our ambitious goal of raising $60,000! (Check out BOLT for the BSO’s fundraising page.) The race went well, with my finishing time at 2 hrs and 24 min; I was happy just to finish and know my running supported the iconic and world class BSO. Sometimes things just work out, like cupcakes and running – now I am looking forward to my next 1/2 marathon, and my next IcedGems cupcake.

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

Baltimore Cupcake Trucks: IcedGems Baking & Cupcake Runners

Most Baltimore City residents are familiar with the food truck rally, called The Gathering, which takes place just about every Friday night at various spots throughout the city. This gathering gives those who aren’t able to visit each truck during the middle of the week a chance to come out and eat some great food from any vendor they choose. Some of the most popular food trucks, like Miss Shirley’s, the Gypsy Queen, and Kooper’s Chowound Burger Wagon are often (if not always) present at these frequent meet ups. Of course they wouldn’t be complete without our city’s cupcake trucks, IcedGems Baking and Cupcake Runners.

We have reviewed IcedGems Baking many times before. Every week they are out and about stopping at the city’s various neighborhoods, so everyone gets a chance to indulge in a special treat at least once a week should they choose to do so. Even with their busy schedule and a storefront in Reisterstown, you can always count on them to be at the Gathering.

Cupcake Runners are a bit more difficult to track down and they aren’t able to make it out to every Gathering, but finally, on one very rainy night, I found myself standing at the side of their truck ready to place my order. Their selection was fairly limited, not at all like the list of fifteen or more flavors that IcedGems typically has, but they were incredible friendly and I happily walked away with a Classic Vanilla cupcake and a Lemon cupcake.

Unfortunately both cupcakes didn’t make it home in perfect condition… I think the combination of the bag, the soft frosting, and trying to manage an umbrella in the pouring rain was just too much working against the little sweet treats.

The first of the two, the Vanilla, actually made it out okay:

This was an old school cupcake with no frills or bells and whistles. It was moist and light, with a subtle, but present, vanilla flavor.

The Lemon was very much the same (minus the tragic looking frosting):

It had really great lemon flavor, but was also just a simple classic cupcake. While I really enjoy all the interesting and unique flavor combinations bakers are creating with cupcakes, it is nice to just get back to basics sometimes. Cupcake Runners has proven that they can make a good cupcake. I recently saw that they also have some new “happy hour” cupcakes they are selling, but the last Gathering they attended was rained out. Hopefully I’ll be able to track them down again and sample their more elaborate flavors as well.

That same night, I also decided to stop by the IcedGems truck to try a new flavor I saw them post to their Facebook page: Neapolitan.

Like the traditional ice cream flavor, this Neapolitan cupcake is a blend of vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. As a kid I would always opt for just the vanilla and chocolate portion of this mixture, but have grown to love the combination of all three flavors as an adult. This cupcake did not disappoint. Each flavor presented itself well, from the marbled vanilla and chocolate cake, to the sweet strawberry frosting.

That night I only chose that one flavor from IcedGems Baking, but a little while later my co-workers and I were surprised with half a dozen IcedGems cupcakes from our boss!

There was a great variety of flavors like Lemon Raspberry, Strawberry Cheesecake, Peaches N Cream, Victoria (vanilla with strawberry jam), French Toast, and Chocolate Raspberry. Luckily my co-workers share my same thoughts on sharing (you get to try more flavors that way), so we started cutting cupcakes up and every one could take pieces of which ever they wanted to try. That day I finally tried the Strawberry Cheesecake (it had been on my “must try” list for quite some time…), the Lemon Raspberry, the Peaches N Cream, and the French Toast.

The Strawberry Cheesecake was exactly what I was hoping it would be. The rich “cheese cake” frosting was smooth and wonderful, and the strawberry filling complemented the savoriness of the frosting to create a well balanced treat.

The French Toast was another stand out to me. This is one of Crusader Elisa’s favorites, which she reviewed here, and now I know why. She best described it as “maple/cinnamon/cake heaven.” I’m so glad I could finally experience it for myself.

IcedGems also included a Chocolate Salted Caramel cake truffle which contained the perfect salty and sweet balance to create a to-die-for bite-sized morsel.

The food truck craze  seems to be making its way slowly to all the major cities in the US, and I am very happy to say that we have two great cupcake trucks that are a part of this growing industry.

If you haven’t had a chance to visit one, or both, of these cupcake trucks, you can look them up on their Facebook pages (here and here) to find out where their next stop will be.

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

Easter with IcedGems!

Easter is a holiday I look forward to all year, not only is it an important religious day to me, it also boasts time with family and friends, fantastic food, and chocolate bunnies. This year, like always, I headed down to my parents’ house to spend some time with them and of course I could not come empty handed – so I brought some Easter cupcakes from IcedGems with me to share!

A while ago Healthy Crusader Rebecca told me she was going to order some cupcakes for her Easter celebration and had ordered some for me too! When she went to pick up her order of regular and mini cupcakes, she also received FREE egg-shaped cake truffles! Luckily Rebecca shared the delightful French Toast cake truffle with me which I quickly ate up! (Each time I eat a flavor of cake truffles I love them, but my favorite is the French Toast!)

(French Toast Egg-Cake Truffle)

Rebecca also shared the mini cupcakes – sweetly decorated for the upcoming Easter Sunday and equally as sweet tasting – with me and her staff.

(Minis: French Toast with a Robbins Egg, Black Velvet with bunny sprinkles, & Lemon)

On Saturday I made the hour+ trek to my parents’ house, and they were not shocked when I showed up with IcedGems cupcakes. My Mom loves vanilla and my Dad loves chocolate, so there was something for both of them!

Birthday Cake with an Easter decoration twist

With there being a “Birthday Cake” vanilla cake with Madagascar bourbon vanilla buttercream icing, I knew my Mom would want to try that one first! I’m not always into the basic flavors, but this is a cupcake I am happy to eat again and again. Mom agrees too!

Lemon with Spring Flowers

The lemon cupcake was divine! I love true citrus flavor and this cupcake was no citrus joke. It was very tangy and tart – maybe too much for some people, but not me. I loved the color of the cake and the flecks of lemon zest in the icing.

Easter Peep S’mores

I love IcedGems S’mores cupcake, but add a Peep and you’ve got a combination that I cannot resist! Peeps are such an Easter tradition, I love how they were incorporated into a flavor that marries so well with having a sugar coated marshmallow chick on top. And of course, I enjoyed eating it too.

Chocolate Lava Nest

Simply put: This cupcake is a chocolate lovers dream. And the egg candy toppers were a cute touch, had they been the same color I would have thought they were bunny ears sticking out of the ground.

I’m always impressed with IcedGems ability to have consistently good flavors, moist cake, delicious icing, and great decorations. The fact that they have special deals, like our Valentines Day treats and Easter treats, and take custom orders is great for a cupcake lover who wants to share with others. It almost doesn’t feel like a holiday to me without IcedGems cupcakes! I’m so glad I could bring some home to share with my wonderful family, on a day as special as Easter. No need for chocolate bunnies when you have yummy cupcakes!

Did you have cupcakes this weekend? Or perhaps you made some to share with your friends and family – did you decorate them in Easter decor?

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

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The Cupcakes You Didn’t See | IcedGems Creations | Reisterstown, MD

As I mentioned in yesterdays post, the Crusaders and I have tried just about every flavor that IcedGems Creations has offered in the past few months. We listed our favorites for you, but here are some you haven’t seen yet:

Ban-offee

(While the coffee flavor in this was too subtle for me, the natural banana flavor was spot on.)

Bear Claw


(This cupcake was very close to making my “must try” list. The cake reminds me of the bear claws my Dad used to make at the doughnut shop he owned when I was a kid.)

Caramel Apple

(Sweet and decadent, this cupcake truly lives up to its name. The icing alone makes this cupcake a smart purchase.)

Chocolate Cherry


(This rich chocolate cake was given an interesting cherry twist.)

Italian Wedding Cake

(Mascarpone filling with an almond flavor = delicious.)

Raspberry Lemonade

(With a light lemon flavor and a sweet raspberry icing, this adorable cupcake is as sweet as it is cute.)

Rosewater

(While I am not afraid of eating flowers (or baking with them) this cupcake was a bit too “rosey” for me.)

Smores


(Not quite enough marshmallow flavor for me, but still a great chocolate cupcake.)

Strawberry Cheesecake


(Not the typical “mini-cheesecake in a cupcake cup” this is truly a cake with cheesecake flavor and fantastic icing to top it all off!)

Have you been to IcedGems Creations (either the store front or visited the cupcake truck)? What are your favorite flavors? Are there any the Crusaders have not tried that you think we should?

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


Favorite Cupcakes on the Outskirts of Baltimore City | IcedGems Creations | Reisterstown, MD

Every Tuesday for the month of March (and the first week in April) we will be counting down our Top 5 favorite cupcake places outside of Baltimore City. In order to make sure we did the proper research and included places that would “qualify” we decided that any place that was within a 20 to 45 minute drive from the Baltimore City boundary would be included. If you don’t see a place that you think should have been featured in this Top 5 let us know! We do our best to research where the cupcakes are, but there is no better way to find out than a recommendation!

IcedGems Dessert Creations storefront located in Reisterstown, MD and boasts an array of sugary bliss Tuesday through Saturday (and Sunday in the warmer months). You can stop by and grab a cookie, whoopie pie, cake truffle, or, of course, a cupcake!

(Photo from IcedGems’ Facebook page, no harm or infringement intended)

While I have not had the pleasure of stopping by the store in Reisterstown, us “city folk” are lucky enough to have their Cupcake Truck to follow around Baltimore city! They post the truck schedule well in advance on their Facebook page and stop at locations all over the city. Recently they participated in the WOW – Women of the World festival and were parked in front of the Meyerhoff for two days, where I finally got to meet up with the truck and its delicious confections.

My first IcedGems experience was a couple of months ago when a co-worker brought back a Red Velvet that the staff had given to her just for me (see post). For me, it was love at first bite! Since that fateful moment, I have had the pleasure of eating almost every flavor IcedGems has to offer, below are a few of the Crusaders favorites.

Birthday Cake


Fun-fetti cake with a sweet bourbon vanilla icing – sounds so simple, and yet is so satisfying! I’m not a huge fan of the “basic flavors” but this is the one that I would order again and again. The sprinkles in the cake, and on top, are reminiscent of my childhood and make me smile every time I think of this cupcake. (This happens to be one of Crusader Stacy’s favorites as well!)

French Toast

Breakfast in cupcake form = maple/cinnamon/cake heaven. Rarely do you find a cupcake that tastes exactly like the “meal” it is meant to represent, but this one does so perfectly! The cake’s flavor is so perfect that I think sometimes it must have been dipped in an egg and cinnamon mixture and cooked in a frying pan. The maple icing is divine and just the right amount of sweetness for the moist and savory cake.

Strawberry Champagne

This very delicious cupcake was a special for IcedGems Valentine’s Dozen – and this was the standout cupcake of the bunch. The “brut” cake was moist and had the perfect hint of tangy champagne, while the strawberry icing was fresh and sweet. I hope to see this on their menu more often as it is a fantastic cupcake that stands out in my mind as one of my all time favorites.

Red Velvet

My love/hate relationship with red velvet is no secret: the ups, the downs, the disasters, and the beautiful successes. IcedGems Red Velvet is moist, rich, decadent without being overly so, and truly has that red velvet flavor that is so hard to attain. Their cream cheese icing is a delicate balance of sweet and cheesy. For me, this red velvet reigns supreme among all others in the Baltimore area.

Overall the Crusaders have enjoyed IcedGems cupcakes and they take the #3 spot on our Top 5! While you might encounter a dry cupcake here or there, they are definitely a shop – or in my case, a truck – to track down and visit. The friendly staff will help you pick out flavors and sweets that are sure to satisfy your sugary craving.

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