Winter Cupcakes for the Winter Cold

During our quest for holiday cupcakes, we encountered some that were more winter themed than Christmas themed. So, as the days get colder, we decided to share these cupcakes with you today.

The first two are from Fancy Cakes by Leslie.

Our first experience with Fancy Cakes was back during our 2011 Cupcake Tour. It was an overall crowd pleaser and a favorite to most of us that day. Crusader Elisa was lucky enough to sample their cupcakes again when her cupcake loving co-worker, Rebecca, brought them to her. Here are her thoughts:

Red Velvet with Purple Icing:
Red velvet is a tough cupcake to get right, and while I love Fancy Cakes, this one was not my favorite. The cake was dry and somewhat flavorless. The buttercream icing was the saving grace, with it’s sweet, buttery, savory flavor. Rarely do I eat the fondant toppings – I’m just not a fondant fan – but I do eat them from Fancy Cakes because they are simply scrumptious! So I enjoyed the glittery snowflake and scraped every bit of icing off the plate.

Chocolate with Raspberry Icing:
I love raspberries and so when Rebecca brought me this cupcake I was very excited! The chocolate cake was mild and not too sweet, and while it was a little dry, it really boasted chocolate flavor. The icing, while very sweet, had a true raspberry taste and I would bet that it was made with real raspberries and not some extract flavoring. This cupcake makes my list of cupcakes to order again, next time I am down that way.

The other cupcake we wanted to share is the Hot Chocolate from IcedGems Baking.

Elisa had a great experience with all the Christmas themed cupcakes from IcedGems, and this one was no different (from Elisa):

How can you not love a cupcake with marshmallows on top and a tiny straw for decoration? The cake was swirl cake – a cupcake rarity in my experience! I was so pleasantly surprised by the moist, swirling chocolate/vanilla cake, and then the icing just melded all the flavors together into a cohesive, creamy, yummy, chocolate-y cupcake. I would definitely order this cupcake again!

The Crusaders are excited about all the wintery flavors out there right now. Have you had any winter cupcakes yet? If not, you should definitely get out and see what your local cupcakeries have to offer!

Happy Winter!

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

Very Merry Christmas Cupcakes

Throughout the month of December the Crusaders (and a friend of the Crusaders)  have been gathering Christmas themed cupcakes to share in one big post. We hope you enjoy these reviews as you spend these next couple of days wrapping presents, baking, and spending time with family.

Crumbs Bake Shop – NYC
This year Crumbs had an assortment of cupcakes decorate and flavored for Christmas. Unfortunately, when Crusader Elisa and I stopped by they only had the following two, Vanilla/Vanilla and Vanilla/Chocolate with holiday sprinkles. We decided to go ahead and give them a try, since we haven’t had any of Crumbs classic flavors and we had waited in a long line. We were so glad we did!


(Crumbs Bake Shop’s Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting)

This cupcake blew me away! I’m still often pleasantly surprised by how good a vanilla cupcake can be. The cake was light, moist and very buttery. It brought back memories of the vanilla cake my mom used to make when I was a kid. The vanilla cream cheese frosting was the perfect compliment and it was double perfect because I ate half of this cupcake for breakfast. Vanilla is quickly becoming a favorite flavor of mine, which is still a bit shocking to me.


(Crumbs Bake Shop’s Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting)

The cake on this cupcake was exactly like the cake on the Vanilla/Vanilla cupcake. The frosting was just as light a fluffy as the vanilla cream cheese frosting, but the milk-chocolatiness of it complimented the vanilla cake perfectly.

Magnolia Bakery – NYC
While visiting NYC Elisa and I also stopped by Magnolia Bakery. It’s not typically our favorite place for cupcakes, but we were in the area and figured “why not?” They were out of a lot of options, but they did have these Red Velvet Rockette cupcakes left:


(Magnolia Bakery’s Red Velvet Cake with Whipped Vanilla Frosting)

Unfortunately this was not a good cupcake. The cake was really dry and dense and there wasn’t much flavor to it at all. The frosting was just okay too. Unfortunately the best part of this cupcake was the edible glitter and the chocolate Rockette on top. One redeeming quality was that even with how busy they were, the staff was incredibly friendly, so we had a great experience while we were there.

IcedGems – Baltimore, MD
IcedGems has a huge assortment of holiday flavors and decorated cupcakes this year. The options are amazing and thanks to one of Elisa’s co-workers – a fellow cupcake lover, Rebecca – Elisa has five to show you below. Thanks Rebecca for hooking us up with such awesome cupcakes!


(IcedGems’ Peppermint Cupcake)

Chocolate, peppermint, Hershey’s Kisses… what more can you ask for?! The perfect blend of sweet and peppermint, this cupcake made me go, “MMmmmmmmmm.” The cake was moist and rich with flavor, while the icing was smooth, creamy, and unfolded a peppermint taste on your tongue. Find their truck and buy one of these asap!


(IcedGems’ “Christmas Tree” holiday cupcake)

This was their “birthday cake” cupcake, which is fun-fetti cake with sweet buttercream icing. With it’s adorable star on top, this cupcake screams Christmas cheer! It was moist, delicious, sweet, savory, and just plain yummy. Simple flavors sometimes get lost in the mix of extravagant, complex, flavors, but this one was a shining star!


(IcedGems “Elf” holiday cupcake)

This adorable cupcake was very moist and sweet. It was a peanut butter swirl cake with vanilla buttercream icing. Elisa said that while it was really good, it wasn’t her favorite, but that there was some pretty steep competition with some of the other flavors.


(IcedGems “Santa Pants” holiday cupcake)

This chocolate cupcake was very good. With Santa’s legs sticking out of it like he’s stuck in a chimney, the flavorful cupcake was a sweet treat – with it’s reese’s peanut butter cup and marshmallow on top, this cupcake wasn’t just fun, it was flavorful too!


(IcedGems’ Egg Nog Cupcake)

Rebecca said that this cupcake was very good. In her own words, “The buttercream frosting was smooth with the right hint of spice and richness. While the cake wasn’t as moist as the others, it was also eaten a couple of days after it was purchased, and was still light with a nice kick of spice in it as well.  With an edible, white chocolate ornament on top, this cupcake all around was great!”

** IcedGems also very kindly gave Rebecca a Red Velvet, knowing that it’s Elisa’s favorite. We will be sharing that review in a separate post in the next week or two. So keep an eye out for that!  🙂

Sprinkles Cupcakes – Georgetown, DC
Another big “THANKS!” must go out to our newest Guest Crusader, Rebecca, for bringing a Red Velvet Sprinkles Cupcake to Elisa and sharing a review of the chocolate peppermint she got for herself.


(Sprinkles Cupcakes’ Chocolate Peppermint Cupcake)

This cupcake is described as a “Belgian dark chocolate cake topped with bittersweet chocolate-peppermint frosting. Sprinkled with crushed peppermint candies, it will get everyone rockin’ around the Christmas tree!” Apparently Rebecca agrees because she said, “Delicious! Moist, yummy, and great flavor.”


(Sprinkles Cupcakes’ Red Velvet Cupcake)

From Elisa: “Having previously reviewed the red velvet cupcake from Sprinkles, I was afraid this one wouldn’t live up to my memories… But it just confirmed my original review of simply scrumptious cake with fabulous cream cheese icing. Anytime I go there, I will have to get their red velvet.”

We hope whether you are baking cupcakes or ordering them from your local bakery, that you and your family have a very “sweet” Christmas.

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

IcedGems Baking: Artisan, Dry, or Just Inconsistent?

Recently there were some big debates on IcedGems Facebook page about whether their cupcakes are good or bad. Specifically, one customer complained saying that she bought 6 cupcakes that were very dry. IcedGems responded by saying that they “bake artisnal cake from scratch packed with flavor and the crumb is different to mass produced cake with enhancers.” Then, they basically went on to suggest that she was use to crappy store-bought cakes so she wouldn’t be able to appreciate their cakes. They did offer to replace them though, which is a nice gesture.

When I first read this I wanted to jump in with my thoughts for a couple reasons. First, NEVER suggest that a paying customer might not have good taste. If you do, you risk loosing a customer and any friends of theirs. Second, my first experience from IcedGems was a cupcake from their truck, and it was dry. There is no question about it. While this blog might be new, I’ve been eating cupcakes for a long time from bake shops and cupcakeries all over the United States, and I know when one is dry. BUT I didn’t respond. Instead, I decided to give them the chance to prove me wrong, I purchased two cupcakes from their store front yesterday.

Before I get into my review of the actual cupcake, I want to critique their packaging methods:

If you aren’t sure what you are looking at, let me describe it for you. The do not use boxes when you purchase one or two (or I’m guessing three) cupcakes. Instead, they treat your beautifully decorated cupcake like it’s a doughnut or bagel and throw it into a bag wrapped in parchment paper. I understand that boxes add cost, but to me this isn’t cool. Someone has taken the time to decorate this little treat, and you are going to possibly mess that up, so the person who spent $2.50 on each little “gem” can’t enjoy the time that went into it? It just makes no sense to me. Single serving boxes aren’t expensive when ordered in bulk and you can raise the price to $3 if need be. I really didn’t want these to be messed up and dry so I was very careful with the bags, and when I got home I immediately stored them in my cupcake containers to insure they stayed as moist (or as dry) as they were when I got them while letting them get to room temperature:

Okay, now on to my review. The first cupcake I tried was the Turtle:

I have to say, I was really bracing myself for the worst, becuase of my last experience, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. The cake wasn’t the moistest chocolate cake I have ever had (Georgetown Cupcakes and, surprisingly, Roland Park Bagel are), but it also wasn’t as dry as the chocolate cake from my prior experience with their truck. The frosting was REALLY sweet, but I do understand that some people like overly sweet frosting, and that’s okay. The texture was good and it was full of flavor, and that is important. I have to admit though, while I loved the “caramel balls” and chunks of chocolate in the cake, this cupcake probably wouldn’t keep me coming for more.

So, how about the second cupcake? Was that any better? For my second selection, I chose the Apple Caramel. (I must have been in a caramel mood yesterday…)

The squishy apple things on top were a bit strange, so I pulled those off, but otherwise this cupcake was the standout of the two. The cake was very moist and filled with apples and caramel. The frosting was still really sweet, but it seemed to be balanced out better by the apple flavor. This cupcake, I would get again.

So, what are my final thoughts? Artisan, dry, or inconsistent? I would have to say, inconsistent. I have no doubts that IcedGems is totally capable of baking a decent cupcake. But I do think that they are not consistent. If they produced a quality product more frequently, 25% of the feedback on that one Facebook post would not have been negative. So IcedGems, I think you should work on your quality control. If you do that, then I have no doubts that you could compete with some of my Baltimore favorites.

For more information on IcedGems Baking, visit: www.icedgemsbaking.com.

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

UPDATE: Since this review, the Crusaders have been amazed at how much we have been enjoying IcedGems. Not only have all their cupcakes been great, but their customer service has been stellar!