Baking Adventure: Tea Party Cupcakes

TeaPartyCupcakes_All

Our friend was putting together a tea party for her daughter’s 10th birthday, so when Crusader Stacy and I were asked if we wanted to help make cupcakes we immediately began brainstorming. We’ve been wanting to host an adult tea party of our own, but this event would have elegantly dressed tables, fun stations for nails, hair and dress-ups, and a photo booth, so we knew these cupcakes couldn’t be ordinary.

Stacy&Jenn
(Crusader Stacy and I also got to have a good time with the dress-ups and photo booth. Photo by Kenneth Adam, who donated his services for the day.)

Stacy suggested an idea she found, using chocolate or royal icing to create a “handle” on the cupcakes. After having experimented with royal icing in the past (and knowing how temperamental white chocolate can be), I choose that option. The birthday girl had one request, she wanted the cupcakes to have filling. Since she loved the Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes we’ve made before, I made those using a different raspberry filling and also made Vanilla Marshmallow cupcakes, a new flavor for me.

TeaPartyCupcakes_ChocolateRasp

The Vanilla Marshmallow cupcakes were very simple. I used yellow cake box mix, added in a packet of vanilla pudding mix, and then filled them with marshmallow fluff. For the frosting, I started with store-bought frosting and added in some extra butter, confectioner’s sugar, and vanilla extract, until the taste and texture was where I wanted it. Then I divided the vanilla frosting into two parts, so that I could match the color to the party theme.

TeaPartyCupcakes_GreenMarshmallow

I was really pleased with how the colors turned out. They matched perfectly! The cupcakes were very sweet, but for a bunch of 10-year-old girls, that was good. It turned out to be a very chic party and all the girls had a terrific time!

TeaPartyCupcakes_PeachMarshmallow

I’ve never been to a better tea party. Even if I was there as “the staff” I had a great time and picked up some ideas for when Stacy and I do finally have our own party.

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

Warming Up This Winter with Hot Beverage Cupcakes

As a graphic designer, you would hope that I would be impervious to products marketed specifically for the winter season. I know the tactics used to get shoppers to buy these products, so theoretically, this should keep me from purchasing them. Well cupcake lovers, this is not the case. I too fall subject to the snowflakes, fun type, and bold colorful photos. Exhibit A:

BeverageCupcakes2

When I saw this Betty Crocker Hot Chocolate cupcake mix, I almost danced in the grocery aisle. I can’t help myself. Sure, I know that it’s really just a normal chocolate cake mix with some mini marshmallows tossed in and a sub-par frosting mixture added to the box, but while my head says “don’t succumb to the festive graphics,” everything else inside of me screams, “BUY IT!”

So that is exactly what I did.

It turned out to be a good thing that I purchased this box mix because I signed up to make 3 dozen cupcakes for a charity event and knew the kids would love these. To go along with the “hot beverage theme” I also decided to make two dozen Coffee and Doughnuts cupcakes, which have been on my list for quite some time.

BeverageCupcakes1
(Coffee and Doughnuts and Hot Chocolate cupcakes ready to be eaten.)

Aren’t they pretty? I wish they all had turned out this well…

I decided not to modify the Hot Chocolate cupcake mix in order to provide you all with a review of exactly what I thought of Betty Crocker’s winter product. The directions say to beat the frosting while it cooks on the stove and that it will fluff up in the process. Unfortunately, I have no electrical outlet near my stove, so this proved to be a challenge—which I lost. The frosting ended up super runny and there didn’t appear to be enough for twelve cupcakes, so I added confectioners sugar until the consistency thickened and there looked to be enough for the dozen cupcakes I had cooling. This, however, made the frosting lose its marshmallow-like flavor and instead, just taste like sugar. Despite this, it went on the cupcake nicely and I figured the kids probably wouldn’t mind the sugary flavor.

BeverageCupcakes3
(I only have a few of these fancy teacup cupcake cups, so the majority of the cupcakes were baked in Christmas paper liners.)

I was really happy with the end result and added little marshmallows and a cookie roll to the top for the finishing touches. Sadly, when I woke the next day, the cupcakes looked like this:

BeverageCupcakes4

The frosting on about half of them had oozed and melted off the cupcakes, while the other half remained in place. I have no idea what happened. The cupcakes had completely cooled and (ignoring my usual “no fridge rule”) I left them in the fridge overnight, just to make sure the house didn’t get too warm with all the baking I was doing. In the end, I decided that these could not be taken to the event so only delivered six of these and two dozen of the coffee and doughnuts cupcakes, instead of the three dozen I initially promised.

The Coffee and Doughnuts cupcakes actually ended up being much easier to make than the Betty Crocker Hot Chocolate cupcakes. I used my typical chocolate cake modification for box mix (one box of instant chocolate pudding and mini chocolate chips). For the frosting, I made a simple buttercream recipe (3 sticks of butter and about 5 cups of confectioners sugar to taste) and then mixed one to two tablespoons of cream with about a tablespoon of instant decaf coffee and added it to the frosting. I just did everything to taste, so if you like a sweeter frosting you can use more sugar and if you prefer a more buttery frosting, just use less sugar. It’s really as easy as that.

BeverageCupcakes5

To make these cupcakes even easier, I bought pre-made doughnut holes and placed them on top before delivering them to the party. These cupcakes were a huge hit, and I have to admit, the coffee buttercream was some of the best frosting I’ve ever made.

Since there was some frosting leftover, I decided to freeze it to make cakepops at a later time. I also had some frozen chocolate cake leftover from removing the center of cupcakes for fillings, so all I had to do was thaw the cake pieces and frosting, mix those together, roll into balls, and freeze. For the chocolate coating, I didn’t want it to be too thick, so I turned to one of my favorite blogs, Love from the Oven. From there, I navigated my way to Simply Designing, which recommended to add a bit of vegetable oil to the chocolate while melting it.

BeverageCupcakes6

The cakepops dipped well into the melted chocolate and, as I had hoped, there was only a thin layer of coating. I was worried that some of my family wouldn’t like them because of the coffee flavor (they aren’t all addicted coffee drinkers like my sisters and I), but the chocolate ended up overpowering the coffee, so everyone loved them. Next time I will add some instant coffee granules to the cake/frosting mixture to bump that flavor up more, but for this occasion, I think it was perfect and that the coffee undertones actually helped to enhance the chocolate flavor.

Even though not all of these hot beverage cupcakes turned out as I had hoped, I still have many “beverage themed” cupcakes I would like to explore, like tea-infused and Dr. Pepper cupcakes. My advice, however, is this: skip Betty Crocker’s Hot Chocolate cupcake mix, and make your own version of a Hot Chocolate cupcake instead. You’ll thank me later.

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader Stacy (Baltimore, MD)

Sandwiches, Cupcakes, and Friends: Lunchtime Break at Roland Park Bakery and Deli

About a week or so ago, Crusaders Jenn, Elisa, and I decided to get together for a rare mid-week lunch. Even though Elisa and I work relatively close to each other, for some reason we never seem to meet up for lunch. After some discussion on where to meet, we decided that we would go to Roland Park Bakery and Deli, which recently relocated to Chestnut Avenue in Hampden. They have been in business for almost 30 years and are well known for their delicious sandwiches and baked goods. Cupcakes aren’t their main focus, but on a previous trip there I noticed that there was a small selection so we thought this would be the perfect lunch spot for us.

After each of us ordered our sandwiches (we all chose the daily special which was sliced turkey breast on freshly baked bread with cranberry sauce – SO GOOD!), we decided to share two cupcakes. There aren’t any labels for the cupcakes and instead of asking for the flavors, we pointed to two which looked like a classic vanilla and a slightly more fancy one that looked like a S’mores cupcake.

What we first thought was Vanilla/Vanilla with a colored frosting, ended up actually having a hint of lemon flavoring. Even if this cupcake doesn’t look like something special, it was actually really good. The frosting was sweet, but since there was just a smear of it on top, it didn’t overpower the cupcake. The cake was moist and actually had a bit of a crunch around the edges which we all enjoyed.

Unfortunately the second cupcake didn’t go over as well.

As I mentioned above, at first glance we thought this was a S’mores cupcake, but after further examination we realized it was more of a chocolate marshmallow cupcake topped with a Charleston Chew. While the Lemon Vanilla cupcake was right on target, this one was a miss for us. The marshmallows on top were stale and chewy, the chocolate cake was dry, and the frosting was way too sweet. Elisa didn’t seem to mind the cake too much though and she thought that the combination of the sweet frosting with the mild chocolate cake balanced out well flavor wise. My thoughts? Not so much. After one bite, I decided I was done.

Even though one cupcake was a win and the other wasn’t, their cupcake prices are really good, their sandwiches are amazing, and their cookie selection is extensive. It’s no surprise why they have maintained a well loved business for over 25 years.

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

Another Single-Serving Treat That We Love: Mallow Crunchies at the Mallow Bar!

We are going to take a minor detour from cupcakes today to share with you another personal-sized snack that everyone seems to love – rice crispy treats. In particular, Mallow Crunchies‘ rice crispy treats. Because, let’s be honest, what cupcake lover doesn’t also love a good rice crispy treat? Mallow Crunchies (previously Mallow Munchies) has been around the Baltimore area for quite some time now, but they recently opened their Mallow Bar in Rosedale, MD, just minutes from the city/county line.


(Their first store front, located at 8767-A Philadelphia Road, Rosedale, MD 21237)

Any Baltimorean who frequents local farmers’ markets and coffee shops has probably already encountered Mallow Crunchies, but now you can go to their shop, drink some Zekes coffee and munch on a Crunchie while sitting with a group of friends or doing some work on your laptop (they have free wifi!). Their shop decor is a mix of chic and family friendly. On my visit, not only was the owner, Nikki, there to tell me all about the flavor combinations they had available, but the whole family was present (she has some seriously adorable children!).

I was attempting to be good that day. My goal was to leave with one Mallow Crunchie and one homemade marshmallow. (Did I mention that Nikki makes ALL of her marshmallow from scratch? It’s AMAZING.) Instead I left with this:

Yes, you are seeing that correctly. Instead of one treat and one marshmallow I left with three treats, one marshmallow, and two homemade caramels (made by another local vendor). I somehow couldn’t stop myself. And I’m glad I didn’t. Each treat offered something totally unique and it would have been a shame to miss out on any of them!

The first treat I tasted was the Kettle Corn.

At first glance this treat looks like an “original” but there is tons of popcorn mixed in with the crispy rice cereal. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this but surprisingly it had a strong popcorn flavor. Blended with the sweet marshmallow this crispy treat stayed true to its name and delivered a perfect kettle corn flavor.

The next treat I tried was the CaraMallow (caramel).

This treat was sweet, gooey, and wonderful. The homemade caramel mixed with the homemade marshmallow and crispy rice cereal was a nice spin on a classic rice crispy treat.

The last I tried, Trail Mix, was my overall favorite.

The cranberries and pumpkin seeds mixed with the sweetness of this treat created a tart, salty, sweet snack that worked so well together. The pumpkin seeds also added a nice crunch which created a more elaborate texture than the other two flavors.

Overall I was thoroughly pleased with my visit and the goodies I took home. I look forward to going back with friends and sitting to really enjoy the atmosphere.

If you haven’t visited the Mallow Bar yet, plan a visit soon. They are conveniently located among all the many shopping centers found throughout Rosedale and would be an easy stop to add while you are out running errands.  🙂

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

We are working to help end childhood hunger!
Together we can make a difference!

CLICK HERE TO DONATE!

Favorite Cupcakes on the Outskirts of Baltimore City | Kupcakes & Co. | Elkridge, MD

Every Tuesday through the month of March we began counting down our Top 5 favorite cupcake places outside of Baltimore City and today, we are finally at #1! 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 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 our 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!

We can’t say enough great things about Kupcakes & Co., located off Meadowridge Road in Elkridge, MD. Their little shop (which you can find around the back of a small shopping center) is stylishly decorated in their signature pink and black and features a custom built cupcake display case.


(Love the black and pink colors with the polka dots!)


(I’ve never seen a cupcake display quite like this!)

We instantly fell in love with Kupcakes & Co. during our first visit to their shop for Kupcakes with Santa. Not only did they “wow” us with their amazing cupcakes, but their hospitality was, and has always been, top-notch. It’s no wonder you often find a line going the entire length of the store, or even out the front door. But don’t let that deter you. They’ve got a great system down and you won’t have to wait long!

While none of us have ever tasted a cupcake we didn’t like, we want to share with you just a few of our favorite flavors:

Fluffernutter

This cupcake represents the classic fluffernutter sandwich that combines marshmallow fluff and peanut butter. You can actually see each of those components swirled in the frosting. It is also topped with a marshmallow dipped in peanut butter, which is a cleaver addition. Trying to slowly savor this cupcake was no small feat because it was so good it had me rushing to get to the next bite.

Blueberry Danish

Breakfast flavored cupcakes may not be a new concept in the cupcake world (Anyone familiar with the maple-bacon craze? Kupcakes & Co. has that too!) but this twist on a standard breakfast favorite has me wishing it was okay to eat cupcakes everyday for breakfast. The blueberry cake blends with their amazing cream cheese frosting to perfectly represent an actual blueberry danish.

The Elvis

I haven’t had the opportunity to try this peanut butter banana cupcake, but Crusader Jenn recommends this one and says that it is, “So moist and delicious.” I’ll definitely be getting it on my next visit!

Lemon Meringue

This cupcake has a lemon curd filling with a meringue topping and tastes just like a slice of lemon meringue pie, but with the added bonus of deliciously moist cake. My husband loves lemon meringue pie, so I’ll have to pick one of these up for him on my next visit too!

In addition to their stellar customer service and incredible cupcakes, there is one thing that truly seals the deal on Kupcakes & Co. taking our number one spot for favorite cupcakery on the outskirts of Baltimore City and that is their commitment to giving back to the community. Whether they are hosting events to raise money for pediatric units or creating special cupcakes that support cancer research and awareness, Kupcakes & Co. is always helping out with a great cause. So, if you haven’t already been to their shop, make sure to stop by and be blown away by their cupcakes and their service. And tell them the Crusaders say “hi!” 🙂

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

We are working to help end childhood hunger!
Together we can make a difference!

CLICK HERE TO DONATE!