Birthday Cupcakes from Corazon Cakery

Several months ago Corazon Cakery commented our our Facebook page and, after reading their stellar reviews and seeing pictures of their vibrant cupcakes, we knew we were going to have to try them for ourselves. It wasn’t long after adding them to our list that we saw a great Living Social voucher to get one dozen cupcakes for only $16. The expiration date was only four days after Crusader Elisa’s birthday, so I decided that would be the perfect time to order them.

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To my surprise, instead of just selecting one or two flavors when redeeming the Living Social Voucher, Corazon Cakery was offering sample packs with six different flavors (two of each flavor). Since they were for Elisa’s birthday, I let her decide on which sample pack we would order and she selected the  “Exotic Sampler” which came with: Peanut Butter and Strawberry Jam, Dirty Sanchez, Happy Ending, Cherry Jubilee, Cafe Mocha Latte, and Orange Creamsicle.

I had them delivered right to my office (for a small extra delivery fee) so I could take them directly to Elisa’s party and ensure they would be at their ultimate freshness. Megon, the owner and baker of Corazon Cakery, had the cupcakes packaged really well with pretty tissue paper. It was like a gift all on its own! And their aroma was amazing.

The birthday girl decided that we should cut them up and share, which was fine with me and the other party goers (there were lots of our cupcake loving friends  at the party, including Crusader Jenn and Guest Crusaders Beth and Rebecca).

Cherry Jubilee (Seasonal Flavor)

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Overall this was probably everyone’s least favorite cupcake of the dozen. It had a bit of a cough syrup taste (which is why I normally don’t like cherry flavored anything, except Cherry Coke. I LOVE Cherry Coke). Even though the majority of the group didn’t like it, Elisa said the artificial cherry flavor didn’t bother her and she happily finished her piece.

Orange Creamsicle

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This cupcake got mixed reviews. Overall everyone liked it, but not everyone loved it. I personally really liked it. Creamsicle cupcakes are becoming one of my favorite flavors, even though I never liked Creamsicle Popsicles as a kid. The cake on this cupcake was really moist and though some claimed the frosting had a bit of an artificial flavor to it, that didn’t bother me any. Someone actually made a good observation and said that the cake tasted very “creamsicle-y” while the frosting was more like orange soda.

Cafe Mocha Latte

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Being a total cupcake AND coffee addict I was most excited about this cupcake and its flavor did not disappoint. The coffee flavor was really present and the cupcake wasn’t too sweet. The only downside was that the cake was a little on the dry side. It wasn’t too bad, but we all felt it could have been more moist.

Peanut Butter and Strawberry Jam

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It’s no secret that PB&J cupcakes are high up on my list of favorites, and this cupcake sadly didn’t meet my expectations. There just didn’t seem to be that “POW” of nostalgia that I look for in a PB&J cupcake, but Guest Crusader Beth really enjoyed it.

Dirty Sanchez

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The Dirty Sanchez is a Mexican hot chocolate cake topped with bourbon vanilla frosting and garnished with spicy chocolate, which is right up Elisa’s alley. She loves mixing sweet with savory and gives this cupcake two thumbs up. I personally can’t handle the heat, so this cupcake just isn’t for me. Like the Cafe Mocha Latte, the cake also could have been a little more moist.

Happy Ending

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This cupcake was the clear favorite. After taking the first bite comments like, “Ohhh yeahhhh…” were muttered and Elisa said “it’s lovely.” The cake was super moist and it wasn’t too sweet but was very rich, with the flavors of the hazelnut cake, Nutella filling, and peanut butter all coming through.

Normally for a birthday celebration we would order cupcakes from a trusted source, but we were all glad to try new cupcakes. Corazon Cakery delivered a great product that we were happy to indulge in. When asked what her top three favorites were, Elisa listed the Nutella, Dirty Sanchez, and Orange Creamsicle. Jenn and I both agreed that the Nutella was our number one favorite, but we thought that the Cafe Mocha Latte would also make our top three.

If you are looking to order fun, unique, and vibrant cupcakes definitely visit Corazon Cakery’s website and give them a call!

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

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What Was I Thinking?

We’ve all been there… You’re hungry. You’re craving something sweet. And there, sitting in front of you, is a cupcake. It’s really not a great looking cupcake. You know you’ll probably be disappointed. But it is a cupcake nonetheless. And you’re hungry. So you give in and buy the sketchy looking cupcake.

This has happened to me on multiple occasions. If it hasn’t happened to you, then well done. You have way more self control than I do.

Recently, after a crazy couple of days, I found myself starring at these jumbo sized cupcakes at my local Safeway:

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Not only was I curious about how these new gigantic cupcakes tasted, but I was in desperate need of a cupcake (don’t judge… I know you’ve been there too…) I was torn between a couple flavors, but went with my go-to comfort flavor, the Chocolate Raspberry.

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This cupcake was easily the size of two or three cupcakes combined, and a total steal at $2.99. Of course, since it was a grocery store cupcake, I proceeded with caution. While the cake had a subtle hint of raspberry flavor, the frosting completely tasted like cotton candy. There wasn’t an ounce of raspberry flavor present! I tasted it over and over again, to see if my tastes buds were off, but couldn’t get past the artificial cotton candy sweetness. For as much as I love real cotton candy, I don’t like anything that is trying to taste like it (or, in this cupcake’s case, that isn’t supposed to taste like it but still does). The cake was a little dry on the outside, but fairly moist on the inside, and after the day I had, I wasn’t going to be too picky. I finished the cake and trashed the frosting.

As I mentioned above, I have often purchased questionable cupcakes in the past, each producing mixed results. There are two times in particular that are especially memorable for me: first, an awful cupcake from Au Bon Pain in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, and second, a sketchy looking cupcake from Target in White Marsh, MD, which ended up being okay.

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(Vanilla cupcake from Au Bon Pain).

I had heard bad things about the cupcakes from Au Bon Pain, but I wanted some coffee so decided to stop in one afternoon. Of course, I couldn’t resist browsing the desserts while I was there and left with more than just an iced coffee (ignoring all advice to avoid the cupcakes). I really should have taken a closer look at the Vanilla cupcakes before spending $3 on it. The frosting looked like half melted wax, and it certainly didn’t taste any better. Even though you can see the vanilla bean specks, there wasn’t any vanilla flavor and it had a weird texture. While the cake had a decent flavor, it was completely void of any moisture, like a dried out sponge. I decided to try and microwave the cupcake to see if I could salvage the cake (the frosting was a lost cause), but that didn’t do anything to help, so into the trash it went. At least I had a tasty iced coffee to comfort me and my cupcake sadness.

With a handful of “What was I thinking” cupcake moments under my belt, you would think that I would learn when NOT to buy a cupcake, but we’ve vowed to try them all, and it’s something we take VERY seriously (well, as serious as cupcake eating can be). And, for as many bad experiences as I’ve had, there are also some not-so-bad ones too, like this Ticklebelly White Out cupcake from Target.

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I really wasn’t expecting much from this cupcake, but it came in a cute little to-go container, and since Crusader Jenn has had such great experiences with Kimberley’s Bakeshoppe (found at her local Walmart), I figured I’d give it a try. Plus, it was only $1.29.

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(Ticklebelly White Out cupcake from Target)

The cake was a little spongy and commercial tasting, but it was also more moist than a typical grocery store cake. The frosting was a little greasy (I think they used some kind of shortening as the base), but not overly sweet, with a nice flavor. The biggest surprise was the filling (I didn’t even know it had a filling!). It was a pastry cream that was actually pretty good. Overall, this cupcake was totally worth its low price—especially since I knew I could reuse the to-go container.

Ticklebelly also makes cake pops, molten cakes, dessert shots, and sheet cakes. I’m curious to see if Target carries any of their other products because I’ve only ever noticed the White Out cupcake and Red Velvet. They also offer Chocolate, Key Lime, PB&J, Pumpkin (seasonal), and Snickerdoodle filled cupcakes. According to their website, you can find their products at Kroger, Ralphs, Raley’s, Fred Meyer, and King Soopers, in addition to Target.

I think the most important things to remember when buying cupcakes are to keep an open mind, don’t expect too much, and always have a back up plan if you really need to feed your sweet tooth. In the world of cupcakes, whether you are at a high-end pastry shop or the local grocer, some are great and some are not, so why not give them all a try?

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

Ooh La La Cupcakery’s New Storefront is so Trés Chic

With a wall-mounted flat screen tv, a couple of high top tables with chairs, and bold black, white, and pink decor, Ooh La La Cupcakery‘s new location is certainly a big step up from their previous location in Inner Harbor (although, while that location wasn’t a full walk-in shop, they did a great job glamming it up as best they could).

Their new shop on 1216 North Charles Street opened at the beginning of February, less than a block away from where my weekly grad-school class meets. Even though it’s been over two months since their opening, I wasn’t able to stop in until this past weekend. Working full time, going to school, and keeping up with this blog have put a serious limit on any free time I used to have. Thinking back, it’s been about two months since I’ve actually gone cupcaking in a full service cupcake shop (I’m not counting stops at cupcake trucks, fundraising events, etc. Of course there have been cupcakes, just no new visits to actual cupcake shops).

There is something wonderful about stepping into a room filled with beautiful cupcake displays. I love the process of reading the names, asking questions, and narrowing the options down to my final selections. Obviously I like eating cupcakes, but I also really love the entire experience. However, if the service isn’t good, it can ruin that experience. On my first visit to Ooh La La in the Inner Harbor, I was helped by a young man who seemed less than eager, but this time, that same gentleman was AWESOME. He greeted me an enthusiastic “hello” and a warm smile before going over the flavors. I guess everyone has off days, and I was glad to see his happy side.

On that day Ooh La La had many refreshing warm-weather flavors and tasty looking classics available, so it wasn’t an easy choice to make. I saw the Birthday Cake cupcake and knew right away that it was going home with me (I can’t say no to anything with sprinkles). Then I decided on the Pistachio, Key Lime, and Lemon cupcakes as my remaining three.

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At first, I was a little disappointed that my cupcakes weren’t placed in a cupcake box (I’m always worried they will be smooshed and destroyed before I can take pictures), but the cupcakes were arranged neatly in their containers and carefully placed in a white bag with a pretty pink ribbon. They even included pink napkins and an information card on Ooh La La. And luckily their cupcakes are pretty sturdy and held up nicely on the ride home.

Pistachio Cupcake

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For some reason pistachio flavored food intrigues me, but I think I’ve decided that it’s just not a flavor I enjoy. There was absolutely nothing wrong with Ooh La La’s Pistachio cupcake. The cake was moist, the pistachio flavor was present throughout the cupcake, but I didn’t dig it as much as the others. But, if you love pistachios, then you should definitely try this cupcake.

Key Lime

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The cake on this cupcake was moist and had a nice key lime flavor, but the best part was the frosting. It was perfectly tangy and sweet. I REALLY wish this cupcake had a filling. It might actually be the first Key Lime cupcake I’ve tried that didn’t, and I think that it helps make the cupcake reminiscent of a Key Lime pie. Still, it was a tasty cupcake.

Lemon

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This cupcake was so good and exactly what I look for in a Lemon cupcake. Similar to the Key Lime cupcake, it was the perfect blend of tangy and sweet. This was easily my favorite of the four. There is really not much else to say other than: YUM.

Birthday Cake

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Sprinkles! As I mention above, the second I saw how jam-packed this cupcake was with sprinkles, I knew it was going to be all mine. Funfetti is one of my favorites, and this cupcake was like Funfetti taken to the next level. It even tasted almost like a spoonful of sprinkles! Which is a good thing—at least in my book. This cupcake was sweet, fun, and totally put a smile on my face.

Other than the fabulous new location and storefront, I really enjoyed how the cake AND frosting were flavored in all the cupcakes I purchased. More often than not, cupcake shops will use a basic yellow or chocolate cake as a base and then just flavor the frosting to create a variety, but not Ooh La La. They also offer chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate dipped pretzels, candy covered apples, and ice cream.

Their website is currently under construction, but they have been very active on their Facebook page, where you can follow them to stay updated on new flavors and specials.

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

Fenwick Bakery: A True Baltimore Bakery

Opening Day at Camden Yards is not an event to be taken lightly in Baltimore City. If you happen to be stuck at work (like me), don’t expect emails in your inbox or the phone to ring, it just won’t happen—or at least not often.

This past Friday was Opening Day and even the local bakeries get into the spirit. Fenwick Bakery never misses a chance to celebrate our city’s sporting events, so on Friday they converted their Fedora (a cupcake baked without a liner, flipped upside down, and then covered in a chocolate shell whose shape mimics its namesake) into an Orioles’ Rally Cap:

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(Photo from Fenwick Bakery’s Facebook Page. No harm or infringement intended.)

Fenwick Bakery is a true Baltimore bakery (and although their address says Parkville they are still within city limits). According to them, their “love story” began when the two original owners married in 1913 and opened a bakery shortly after (originally named Uebersax Bakery). A century later, it has only had three different owners and still uses original recipes.

When you first walk in, you are immediately struck by the smell of fresh doughnuts. If that’s not enough to put a smile on your face, the two displays filled with baked goods that make up most of their small storefront surely will. But don’t expect any fancy decor or over the top greetings. Fenwick Bakery is a no-frills bakery that only promises to produce fresh, tasty treats. The women behind the counter won’t greet you with an over-the-top smile and perky “hello,” but they will ask you what they can get for you and put your order together quickly. If you are lucky, you might even get called “hon” or “babe.”

Unfortunately we didn’t have a chance to pick up their recent Orioles’ Rally Cap Fedoras, but it did remind us that we have been bad bloggers and haven’t shared ANY of the treats we’ve enjoyed from Fenwick Bakery, including the Fedora.

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(Their classic Fedora and a Black Bottom cupcake we tried on our first visit)

When we tried the Fedora it had the perfect, rich, moist chocolate cake. The Black Bottom cupcake was the same, and might have been the best Black Bottom I’ve ever eaten.

On our first visit they didn’t have any regular cupcakes, but it wasn’t long after that I decided I NEEDED to try their doughnuts. While there, I saw they had made special Ravens cupcakes for the playoff games (yes that was about 3 months ago…did I mention I’ve been a bad blogger?).

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Words can’t describe how unbelievably amazing their doughnuts are. They don’t have a ton of flashy flavors like Dunkin Donuts or Fractured Prune, but they are melt in your mouth amazing.

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After having a great experience with the Fedora, Black Bottoms, and doughnuts, I had high expectations for their cupcakes. Unfortunately, they didn’t live up to my hopes. The cake was dry and the frosting tasted different than that of the oh-so-wonderful frosting on their doughnuts. I was bummed.

I don’t think I’d get their cupcakes again (never say “never” though, right?), but this down-to-earth bakery still has a lot to offer. And there is no way I can stay away from those crazy-good doughnuts for very long.

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

Groovy Girl Cupcakes

We love getting tips and cupcake sightings from our family, friends, and readers. Without their recommendations, we’d miss out on so many opportunities to try new cupcakes. A recent “tip-off” lead us to Groovy Girl Cupcakes, a trailer fully equipped with a commercial kitchen, located in Cockeysville, MD.

We don’t typically find ourselves in that area very often, but we each recently completed an eight week beginners’ calligraphy course with CCBC. So, every Thursday after work I would head up York Road for our evening class. I’m not sure how I missed the cupcake trailer, maybe because it’s parked by a gas station and I’ve never thought to glance in that direction?

After talking with Crusaders Jenn and Elisa, I decided to get just two flavors (Elisa wasn’t joining us for class that evening). They had about 8 flavors to choose from and it was really hard to just pick two, but I settled on the Butter Pecan (that was an easy selection) and the S’mores (came highly recommended).

Jenn and I decided that it probably wasn’t the best idea to eat cupcakes in the middle of our calligraphy class (things can get messy with pens, ink, and paper strewn all over our desks), so before going our separate ways, there was a solid debate on who would take which cupcake. Normally, we would just cut them in half, but we hadn’t taken any pictures and didn’t have a knife. In the end, since I bought the cupcakes, I won with my choice of the Butter Pecan.

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(Like my fun little graphic? Learning the basics to calligraphy was so much fun! The three of us have decided to join the local guild and continue learning new techniques and experimenting with different pens, inks, and paper. We are addicted.)

Butter Pecan isn’t a flavor that I come across often, so I was really hoping this would be a great cupcake. Plus, the service at the cupcake trailer was wonderful and you could tell that the baker invests a lot of love into her treats. Giving a bad review with such good service is never fun. I wish I could say that this cupcake was amazing, but really, it was just good. Not bad, but just okay. The overall flavor of the cupcake was a nice blend of sweet and buttery with really strong pecan flavor (they do get extra points for this, I love pecans!), however the cake was a little dry.

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Jenn had similar thoughts on the S’mores cupcake. She told me that the chocolate cake had a graham cracker baked into the bottom and it was filled with a light marshmallow filling, “that was wonderful.” But like mine, the cake was a little dry around the outer edges, however she thought that the combined flavors were really good.

I wish I had taken a picture of the cupcake trailer, but it was dark and I was on a time crunch. If you get a chance, if for no other reason than to see their adorable trailer and experience their great customer service, you should definitely stop by and try a cupcake or two for yourself.

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

Noshing With the Neighbors

Getting to know your neighbors can be a scary thing. Everyone seems to stay in their homes these days and therefore never really get out to meet their neighbors. Hamilton is a little different. My husband, Ken, and I moved into our home almost two years ago and have actually gotten to know quite a few of our neighbors. People stop for a quick chat while we are out walking our dog or playing in the yard with her. Unfortunately most of these neighbors are about forty or fifty years older than us. However, just last week we went to our first neighborhood dinner with a group that was around our age, cleverly named “Neighborhood Nosh.” Since we only knew a couple of people there, the idea of sitting down with individuals we had never met was a bit daunting, but I was excited to get to know some of our peers who live down the street or around the corner. Even better, I knew there would be cupcakes.

One member of the group, who we already knew, was Devon from Pink Rhino Cupcakes. Devon makes fiercely amazing booze-infused cupcakes and it had been a while since I’d had one (last review here). The dinner theme that night was Italian, so Devon brought Tiramisu cupcakes (one of my favorites flavors that I rarely find).

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I’m not a tiramisu expert by any means. I didn’t grow up eating delectable tiramisu desserts at fancy restaurants or anything like that. But for some reason, when a tiramisu flavored cupcake is done well, I can’t get enough of it. I’m sure it has something to do with my serious coffee addiction (which is increasingly getting worse).

Devon admitted she was a bit nervous that I would be trying (and blogging about) her cupcake, but already knowing the quality of her baking, I wasn’t worried. The cake was moist, as I expected, and the flavors were incredible. I gobbled up the cupcake before I could analyze the components, but I don’t think anything characteristic to tiramisu was missing. And the chocolate covered coffee bean on top was the perfect crunchy finish.

Pink Rhino Cupcakes bakes cupcakes fresh to order and trust me, they are perfect for any shindig that is 21 and over. For more information visit their website or Facebook page, then order the boozie combo of your choice and become the party favorite for bringing these fabulous cupcakes.

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

Artifact Coffee: Lunch with Coffee and Cupcakes

I would venture to say that I love coffee just as much as cupcakes. The variety alone gets me excited: espresso, cappuccino, latte, macchiato, cream, sugar, the list goes on. With all the options and flavors I could go weeks without repeating the same order.

I’ve recently decided that Artifact Coffee, located in Hampden (Baltimore, MD), may have the best coffee ever. Not only is their coffee superb, but they have created an atmosphere that makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Mismatched antique tables, chairs, and displays surround you and even the baristas are adorned in clothing from the past. In addition to amazing coffee, Crusader Elisa and I recently discovered that they sell chocolate cupcakes.

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Elisa and I were doing our best to be “good” so we split one cupcake and each had two small (but glorious) bites. Chocolate cupcakes aren’t always my favorite because I find that the cake is often not rich enough, or the frosting is too sweet and more like milk chocolate, but Artifact chocolate cupcake is perfection: rich, moist, dark, and completely decadent.

Another thing to love about this cupcake was that the liner looked and felt like a coffee filter. I have no idea where they got these, but they fit so well with the antique and coffee theme found throughout Artifact.

Artifact’s coffee is so wonderful that they’ve already sealed the deal on me as a repeat customer, but knowing that on future visits I might be able to combine two of my favorite things puts a big smile on my face.

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader Stacy (Baltimore, MD)