Throwback Thursday: Ashley’s Sweet Beginnings | Towson, MD

Today we are posting a “Throwback Thursday” review because it was almost a year ago that we first visited Ashley’s Sweet Beginnings (located in the Shops at Kenilworth in Towson, Maryland), but we never shared our thoughts. At that time, they were preparing for their grand opening, but were still opened for business, so we grabbed a variety of treats including cupcakes, macarons, truffles, and coffee.

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Ashley’s serves Zeke’s Coffee, which is a local Baltimore favorite, so we were already off to a good start. Along with her coffee, Crusader Jenn ordered the Triple Chocolate cupcake, a coffee macaron, and an pistachio macaron.

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Unfortunately Ashley’s refrigerates their cupcakes, which isn’t the best way to enjoy them while sitting in the cafe (we prefer our cupcakes at room temperature). Jenn still enjoyed the dense fudgey dark chocolate center and said that even though it was cold, the cake was still relatively moist, but it was just your average chocolate cake. The buttery chocolate frosting also would have been a nice balance to the dark chocolate center, but because the cupcake was cold, it was a bit on the hard side.

Like Jenn, I ordered one cupcake and two macarons with my coffee, but instead of being different, I selected the same coffee and pistachio macarons as her. However, I chose the PB&J cupcake and also included a chocolate raspberry liquor truffle with my purchase (which isn’t pictured — but it was delicious!).

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PB&J cupcakes are one of my favorite flavors, so the standard has been set pretty high for me. Overall this cupcake had really amazing, well-balance flavor, with the just the right amount of filling, but I think because of the refrigeration process, the cake was overly dry. It may have improved if I had let it get to room temperature. Even though the frosting was cold and a bit hard, the flavor was perfect and it had a nice creamy texture. Each cupcake was priced well at only $2.50.

Jenn and I really love their macarons and have become repeat customers. They are miniature sized with a price to match at only $1.00 each, which means we tend to get a variety of flavors depending on what’s available. They always have a nice crumbly shell and light fluffy texture on the inside. The flavor of the coffee macaron was a bit mild for me, but Crusader Jenn thought it was perfect, and the pistachio macaron had a wonderfully nutty flavor. Since then we’ve tried many flavors including lemon, raspberry, chocolate, vanilla, and more. I haven’t been disappointed yet!

My suggestion to anyone visiting Ashley’s is to take your cupcakes to go so you aren’t eating them cold. If you are sitting and staying for a while, I would recommend selecting macarons, truffles, or any of the variety of other pastries they offer.

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

 

 

 

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Baked by Melissa’s Spring 2015 Flavors

Baked by Melissa announced that they were offering some very special new flavors this spring… Cupcarons! What’s a Cupcaron you might ask? Well, if you guessed a teeny tiny mini cupcake topped with the smallest macaron you’ve ever seen, then you guessed correctly!

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Luckily, Crusader Elisa and I had already planned our annual girl’s weekend to NYC and we arrived in time to try these new mini treats shortly after they were released.

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(Flavors from left to right: Cotton Candy, Chocolate Graham, and Strawberry Cream)

I started with the Cotton Candy flavor because I don’t usually like cotton-candy flavored anything (unless it’s the real deal). I was actually surprised because it wasn’t awful. Maybe the miniscule size made it just enough to not be overbearing, but I would have glad eaten another.

After that I moved onto the Strawberry Cream. Sadly, I wasn’t a fan of this one at all. I know that it’s nearly impossible to pack in real strawberry flavor into something so small, but it tasted way to artificial to me. Crusader Elisa didn’t love the Cotton Candy or the Strawberry Cream either, but she thought the Strawberry Cream was better than the Cotton Candy.

I saved the Chocolate Graham for last because this flavor looked the most appealing (although the bright colors of the Cotton Candy and Strawberry Cream make those two much more fun to look at!). Of the three Cupcarons, this was by far my favorite flavor. However, compared to another flavor they had that day, Triple Chocolate Fudge, it was just “good.” The Triple Chocolate Fudge was AMAZING.

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What really surprised me was how crisp and perfect the macaron-tops managed to stay on all three cupcakes. I didn’t eat them all the same day they were purchased, and so I was expecting them to possibly get a little stale and chewy, but that didn’t happen at all. They were perfect.

I’m not sure how long these Cupcarons will be available, so if you get a chance, definitely go try them for yourself!

While we were there, we also had a chance to try Baked by Melissa’s March mini-of-the-month: Cookies in Milk.

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This little cupcake was SO GOOD and packed a lot of flavor. It actually tasted like cookies dipped in milk. I don’t know how they do it, but Baked by Melissa has mastered the art of blending lots of different flavors in something that is so very small. We’ll definitely keep going back for more!

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

The Cupcake Ship has Set Sail at Harbor East’s Lamill Coffee Shop

There’s nothing worse than waiting too long for something and then missing out completely. This is what happen to us recently at Lamill Coffee in Baltimore’s Harbor East. For a brief moment they offered cupcakes, but we kept pushing off our visit and sadly they don’t make them anymore. When they first opened, they were also known for their beignets, which they also stopped selling. Ugh. Utter disappointment.

Lamill hit the Baltimore coffee scene with a bang, bringing their own roasted beans and a variety of brewing techniques, including hand drip and siphon—which is seriously cool to watch. The atmosphere is a mix of sleek and rustic, which they’ve blended really well. The blog, Dear Coffee I Love You, has written about their coffee process and has amazing photos of the interior. You can check that out here.

When we asked the nice employee why they stopped making cupcakes, she explained  that they were really just okay, and Lamill didn’t want a sub-par confection on their menu. I totally understand that and, lucky for us coffee-loving sweet eaters, we like just about anything made with sugar.

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While they don’t have beignets or cupcakes anymore (sigh…), they do still have a large assortment of pastries and cookies, including parisian macarons. We each selected a different macaron, and we each thought ours was the best. Elisa had the mint chocolate, Jenn got the cookies and cream, and I chose the blueberry. Lamill makes a great macaron with a perfectly crunchy outer shell and soft, moist, center. Each paired perfectly with our coffee selections.

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Though they don’t sell cupcakes or beignets anymore, they are making their own doughnuts with a variety of flavors. On our visit, they didn’t have them out at first, but just before we left had the opportunity to try one. The cake was a lot more dense than we anticipated, and a bit on the chewy side. I wouldn’t say it was a bad doughnut, just not at all what we expected. I would definitely like to try more.

Lamill is a great addition to the Baltimore Coffee scene. They have even started a campaign to encourage people to explore Baltimore’s local coffee shops, instead of sticking with the big names. To participate, just visit their shop and pick up their “Disloyalty Card.” You can also visit the participating coffee shops: Charmingtons, Pitango Gelato, Sidewalk Espresso, High Grounds, and Dooby’s. Once you’ve purchased a drink from each location and had your card stamped, you can receive a complimentary beverage from the shop of your choice. We think this is so awesome and a great excuse to explore the city.

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

A Bakeshop Called “Bakershop” in Arlington, VA

With the abundance of bakeries, cakeries, cupcakeries, pastry shops, and bake shoppes (or bakeshops) you might think that a new venture would go for a unique name to set themselves apart. But Bakeshop, on Fillmore Street in Arlington, VA, chose to go with the idea that “simple is better.”

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With the large, bold “Bakeshop” type on the storefront windows , there is no confusion on what you will find behind them. Once inside, you will see that Bakeshop is a blend of modern, classic, and quirky with a display of mismatched dessert stands showcasing Parisian macarons, cookies, and pretty little cupcakes.

After exploring their website and Facebook page, I knew I would be getting some macarons along with my cupcakes, but I was also interested in something they call “Oreo in a Blanket.” If you think an Oreo cookie can’t get any better, think again. Bakeshop has baked an Oreo inside of a chocolate chip cookie, which I can only imagine tastes like heaven. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up leaving with my entire wish list, because at $2.75 each, the Oreo in a Blanket cost more than their cupcakes or macarons, so I had to pass.

Crusader Jenn was with me and we decided to take three cupcakes and three macarons home with us. I selected a Lemon cupcake, a Lemon macaron, and a Peaches N Cream macaron. Jenn decided to stay in the car with her sleeping daughter, Leah, and asked that I pick out two cupcakes and one macaron for her, so I chose a Cookies N Cream cupcake, a Strawberry Lemonade cupcake, and a Salted Peanut macaron.

Lemon Cupcake

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The frosting on this Lemon cupcake didn’t seem to have much (if any) lemon flavor to it, but it was smooth, light, and creamy. While the cake had more flavor, it seemed like there was an extra flavor in there which reminded me of a lemon poppyseed muffin. The cake was far from muffin-like though with its moist, fluffly, and light texture. Even though this cupcake didn’t have the burst of fresh citrus flavor I prefer in a Lemon cupcake, it was still really tasty.

Strawberry Lemonade

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Crusader Jenn said that this cupcake was moist and light, but it had a bit of a weird flavor that tasted more like candy than fresh fruit. Even though you can see the strawberries in the frosting she said she couldn’t taste it at all.

Cookies N Cream

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Crusader Jenn said that this cupcake was better than the Strawberry Lemonade but it still was nothing special, and that while it had the same nice texture, the chocolate cake tasted a bit like a box mix. She also said that the frosting was good by itself, with a good cookies and cream flavor, but that with the cake it just tasted like a chocolate cupcake. She added that, “I don’t usually say this, but it needed more frosting for a true cookies and cream flavor.”

Macarons

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I think macarons accompany cupcakes in a great way. Small and packed with flavor, if a bakery or coffee shop sells them, I will almost always buy one or two. I’m still not an expert on macarons, but these were $2 a piece which I think is about the normal average cost of one. The outer shell of the cookie was not quite as smooth as I’m normally used to seeing, but that didn’t stop me from diving it. I thought the Peaches N Cream really could have used more flavor, but the lemon one was great. It had a more true lemon flavor than the cupcake from Bakeshop, so it was a happy surprise. Jenn said that the Salted Peanut macaron was the best of all three treats she tried from Bakeshop because it had lots of rich flavor that was a good balance of sweet and salty. She felt like it might have been a little more airy than she’s had in the past (I thought the same about mine), but that since it had a nice crunchy outside and was soft and moist on the inside it was still really enjoyable.

Bakeshop’s cupcakes are on the small side, but priced well at only $2 each. If I ever find myself in their neighborhood again, I would definitely stop in to get some macarons. I might even grab a new cupcake flavor or two (at only $2 each, how could I say “no?”).

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

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)

The Sweet Lobby: Getting out the Vote


(Boston cream cupcakes displaying each candidate and a lemon cream telling us to vote.)

It’s impossible to ignore that the presidential election is right around the corner and The Sweet Lobby, located in DC’s Capital Hill and winner of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, has started campaign polls and debates of their own. They are selling cupcakes and macarons with presidential candidate and party logos at their shop and tracking the sales to see which is more popular. You can also visit The Sweet Lobby’s Facebook page or Twitter page to track the results and join in the debate, “Which best represents your favorite candidate: a cupcake or a macaron?”


(Signage outside of the store promoting their election debate.)

The location of The Sweet Lobby makes it the perfect business to promote voting, while engaging our sweet tooth. We love that they are doing something to get people excited about the election. They also offer generic “Vote 2012” confections and are participating in Get Out The Vote initiatives, including providing voter registration information.


(Not only does The Sweet Lobby specialize in cupcakes they’ve also become well known for their macarons.)

Crusaders Stacy, Elisa, and myself decided spend the afternoon in DC together after The Sweet Lobby invited us to sample some of their campaign cupcakes and macarons. Although one of our friends, Guest Crusader Kristina, has visited the shop and had a lot of good things to say in her review, it was our first time there and our inner design geeks were in heaven. The branding features clean design, with a look that is consistent throughout the packaging, storefront signage, and interior design. Not to mention their creative custom boxes, which fit the products perfectly and allow for easy and safe travel.


(Storefront and packaging. The macarons fit perfectly into the long box and we love the handle on the cupcake carrier.)


(Just a sampling of the selection.)


(Making a decision is not easy, but the girls working that day were very helpful in making suggestions.)

Once we started eying up the selection, we couldn’t help but take more home with us than planned. In addition to Boston Cream and Lemon Cream election cupcakes and presidential macaroons gifted to us, we also took home a seasonal Caramel Apple cupcake, a Chocolate Raspberry MacTop, and a few extra macarons. If the selection of cupcakes and macarons isn’t enough (and it is!), they also offer their own line of shortcakes and tea.

Boston Cream
The Boston Cream cupcake seen in the photos above is a vanilla cake filled with pastry cream, dipped in chocolate ganache and topped with whipped vanilla frosting. This is one of the best Boston Cream cupcakes I’ve had. The cake is on the denser side, but since the frosting is light it’s the perfect balance. Not too sweet, not too buttery, not too savory…my mouth was happy.

Lemon Cream
The cupcake had the perfect amount of tartness mixed with sweet. Just like the Boston Cream, the vanilla cake was on the denser side, but moist, then filled with lemon cream  and topped with whipped lemon frosting.

Caramel Apple


(Compared with some of the other cupcakes the Caramel Apple has an understated look, but the caramel swirl and autumn flavor spoke to me.)

This cupcake had a caramel apple cake with cream cheese frosting, drizzled with caramel. The cake was dense but very moist and contained fresh apples with a subtle caramel flavor (which I liked because otherwise it can make the cupcake too sweet). I felt like the cream cheese frosting overpowered the cake, however since it was so tasty I’d still go back for more.

Chocolate Raspberry MacTop


(Yes, that IS a mini raspberry macaron on top of a decadent chocolate raspberry cupcake.)

The Sweet Lobby originally created the first MacTop on their episode of Cupcake Wars. Since then, they’ve created an entire line of flavor combinations, including the Chocolate Raspberry. Here’s what Crusader Stacy had to say about it:

Wow. Chocolate Raspberry is one of my all time favorite combinations and this was no exception. At first I wasn’t sure what to expect because the frosting appeared to be milk chocolate, which I’m not really a fan of, but it surprisingly complemented the dark chocolate ganache and moist, fudgy cake very well. The mini macaron on top was, of course, perfect. Nice and tart, the way raspberry anything should be. The cupcake portion seemed to have some kind of subtle raspberry flavor, but there was no filling so I’m not entirely sure if the chocolate cake was flavored with raspberries or if it was the lingering aftertaste of the macaron. The cupcake and macaron combined resulted in a wonderfully decadent treat.

Macarons

(Assorted selection includes Olive Oil Walnut Pecorino, Sweet Potato Pecan, Orange Ginger, Coffee, and Strawberry Basil.)

There’s no denying that when it comes to macarons, The Sweet Lobby knows what they are doing. Their election macarons are named the Obamamac and Romneymac. They appear to be plain, however they consist of almond meringue shells filled with premium Belgian white chocolate ganache infused with vanilla beans from Madagascar and Tahiti. The only way to describe it is delicious. We all really loved the selections we picked, which ranged from simple to complex in flavor combinations. Crusader Stacy said she couldn’t put her Sweet Potato Pecan down and Elisa was very enthusiastic about the Strawberry Basil. I tried the Olive Oil Walnut Pecorino, which came recommended. Although it sounds strange, the olive oil complemented the walnut well.

When you stop by The Sweet Lobby you’ll have a lot to think about. Obamamac or Romneymac? Cupcake, macaron, or MacTop? And that’s before you even decide on a flavor. But whatever sweet treat you choose, your taste buds won’t be disappointed. We’ll have an interview with The Sweet Lobby for you soon, so keep a lookout for it!

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

*We were lucky to be gifted some of our treats, but, as ever, this review reflects our honest opinion. We will gladly patronize The Sweet Lobby in the future and we are happy that we purchased some additional treats to share our thoughts on as well.

Guest Review | First Annual Cupcake-A-Palooza | DC Area

When we found out our graphic design colleague, Kristina, was in a cupcake club and had organized their first ever Cupcake-A-Palooza, we had to find out more. Luckily she agreed to be a Guest Crusader and share her story and reviews with everyone! Thanks Kristina!

What’s Cupcake-A-Palooza you ask?

Well, it all started about a year ago, with me, two of my friends and our mutual love for cupcakes. We decided we needed a cupcake club. Better yet, a SECRET cupcake club, just because that’s more fun, complete with a secret handshake and secret knock! We started meeting once a month, and on members’ birthdays, just to eat and critique those delicious mini cakes. Little by little we started inviting more friends (and cupcake lovers) until we completed the group at 6 (it’s worth mentioning, we are coed). This way, when we bought a dozen cupcakes, everyone could have 2.

And then Cupcake-A-Palooza came to life. We realized there were so many cupcake shops we were missing out on because either they didn’t deliver, or they were not feasible to get to during a workday.  So we picked a day – August 10th – where we would take the day off of work and go on what is now dubbed “a cupcake crawl.” We decided to hold our first annual event in DC.

We chose 10 bakeries/cupcakeries to try and one of the club members graciously mapped out our plan of attack. But what is Cupcake-A-Palooza without an event T-Shirt? I’m not only a cupcake lover, I’m a graphic designer, and so, our t-shirts were born.


(Our official Cupcake-A-Palooza t-shirts, complete with a concert tour inspired list of stops!)

Decked out in our matching tees, we headed into DC and began Cupcake-A-Palooza. After four hours of eating cupcakes, here’s how I think the shops rate (with the help of some of my club members)…

1. Baked & Wired (Georgetown)
This happened to be our first stop. So not only did I need a cupcake, I needed some caffeine! I decided on the Dirty Chai cupcake. And just to stick with the theme, a Chai Latte. Both were outstanding!


(The staff at Baked & Wired was just as fun as their hand drawn flavor signs)

The cupcake was bigger than usual, but the cake was perfectly moist throughout. The espresso buttercream melted in my mouth and was just strong enough to complement the spice of the cake. As an extra treat, it was topped with a chocolate covered espresso bean. Yum! This cupcake and latte left me longing for fall…

2. The Sweet Lobby (Capitol Hill)
This was our final stop of the day. There were so many interesting flavor choices, that I went a little cupcake crazy here. I decided on Chocolate Raspberry, Green Tea Pistachio, Caramel Apple, Bananas Foster, Butterscotch Crunch, and Pineapple Inside Out. I gave a couple of them to another club member and gifted a couple. Ultimately, I only tried two.


(Top row, from left to right: Chocolate Raspberry, Butterscotch Crunch, and Green Tea Pistachio. Bottom row, from left to right: Caramel Apple, Pineapple Inside Out, and Bananas Foster)

The Butterscotch Crunch won me over in two bites. As soon as I hit the butterscotch center, I was sold. The vanilla cake and buttercream were an excellent balance so that the butterscotch flavor was not overpowering. Topping it off, were some Butterfinger crumbles.

As an avid Green Tea drinker, the Green Tea Pistachio cupcake was an obvious choice. Although, I’ll admit, I was skeptical. This cupcake is a Cupcake Wars Winner and one of The Sweet Lobby’s signature “MacTops,” meaning it had a Green Tea macaroon on top.  At first I thought, this is different…then, half way through, I thought, this is good! I enjoyed the cake with the bits of pistachio and macaroon most. I wasn’t crazy about the green tea buttercream; I would have liked it to be a little sweeter.

3. Georgetown Cupcake (Georgetown)
With all the hype and long lines…I really didn’t want to love Georgetown Cupcake, but it was inevitable. I was excited to try one of their seasonal cupcakes, Banana Split. Complete with sprinkles, hazelnut bits, fudge drizzle and a cherry on top, I felt like I was indulging in the real dessert. The vanilla cream cheese frosting was so smooth and acted as the ice cream, while the fudge center mixed perfectly with the banana cake.

Another club member tried Georgetown Cupcake’s other season flavor, Blueberry Cheesecake. The fresh blueberry cheesecake was just as advertised. The cupcake had the graham cracker bottom, adding to the authenticity of a cheesecake. While there was no icing, the top had a soft cheese texture and a blue fondant flower.

4. Hello Cupcake (Dupont Circle)
This shop prides itself on its use of fresh and all natural ingredients. Well, it’s working. It was a no brainer as soon as I saw the selection; I went for the flavor of the month, Root Beer Float.

I imagined sipping the real thing while I enjoyed this spicy/sweet cupcake topped with vanilla cream cheese frosting (my absolute favorite) and a fun chocolate straw. This cupcake was rather refreshing.

5. Sweet Themez Cake & Cupcake (Adams Morgan)
The employee in this shop won brownie points with his enthusiasm over our Cupcake-A-Palooza tees. He even offered me a dozen free cupcakes if I send him one!


(Sweet Themez isn’t as glitzy as some of the other shops from the outside, but it’s worth the stop)

I can’t vouch for myself on this one, but one of the club members had the Cookies ‘n’ Cream cupcake. The scent of the cupcake was amazing – it made you want to dig right in! While the rich chocolate cake was moist, it crumbled. The icing and the mini Oreo on top made the cupcake.

6. Red Velvet Cupcakery (Penn Quarter)
This shop is teeny, tiny. So if you pay them a visit, don’t plan on staying to enjoy your cupcake inside. As a coffee lover, I chose the Hazelnut Café cupcake.


(Hazelnut Café on the left, another club member’s Carrot Cake cupcake on the right.)

However, I was disappointed. The cake was pretty dry and was only saved by the bits of crunchy hazelnuts throughout. I wasn’t a fan of the whipped icing, as I always prefer something creamier, but the pinch of espresso on top was a nice touch.

7. Sprinkles Cupcakes (Georgetown)
I was really looking forward to trying Sprinkles, as I had heard mixed reviews. I’m a sucker for pumpkin anything, so I went for their Pumpkin cupcake.

I was really hoping to taste pumpkin, but the flavor was barely there. It was overpowered by the cinnamon cream cheese frosting, which was the only part of the cupcake that I enjoyed. On top was one of Sprinkles signature modern dots, which added no flavor value.

8. Sticky Fingers Sweets & Eats (Columbia Heights)
This shop is 100% vegan. While I am not, I recommended we add this shop to our list of stops 1) Because I liked the name 2) They were two time Cupcake War Winners and 3) My mom went dairy free in the past year for health reasons, so I wanted to taste things from her perspective.

I had not had a red velvet cupcake all day, so I tried theirs. Unfortunately, I couldn’t even finish it, and neither could my fellow club member. I found the cake to be plastic-y and lacking in flavor, but as the shops name suggests, it actually was also sticky! I thought the icing was grainy, and was not up to par with the other cream cheese icings of the day. Lesson learned: I need my dairy.

However, another club member saw it differently. She tried the Lavender Lemon. Although she found the cake to be denser than non-vegan cupcakes, she thought it was moist and quite delicious. The lavender flavor was very present, without being overwhelming. Lesson learned: try it for yourself!

Out of the 10 stops we planned to make on Cupcake-A-Palooza, we only made it to 8.

When we got to Cupcake Felicity, or at least, what used to be Cupcake Felicity, it was no longer there. Instead there was a café called Bread & Brew. We found out that Felicity, who also makes 100% vegan cupcakes, now sells her cupcakes to the café. Unfortunately, they did not have any available that day. Chatman’s D’Vine Bakery & Café was supposed to be our last stop, but by 2PM we were stuffed and coming down off our sugar high. The shop didn’t open until 3PM, so we decided to save it for another time.

Our first annual Cupcake-A-Palooza was a fun, sweet filled day! Up Next: Cupcake-A-Palooza 2013, Northern VA…

– Review by Guest Crusader, Kristina (Baltimore, MD)