Halloween Piñata Cupcakes

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A friend approached me about helping with a church bake sale, the weekend before Halloween. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to bring a little holiday-seasonal flare to the fundraiser. After passing by the White Chocolate Candy Corn M&Ms, inspiration struck. I’ve been looking for an excuse to make piñata cupcakes, so what could be better for a holiday focused around candy, than candy exploding out of a cupcake?

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I kept it simple by using box mixes for the cake (I struggle over doing this when it comes to bake sales, but I just can’t seem to get that light, fluffy texture from anything else…yet). I made the holes a little larger than I would for a filling, to accommodate the larger candy. For the frosting you can use your favorite vanilla or chocolate buttercream recipe.

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I thought an appropriate (or maybe just obvious) topper for cupcakes filled with Candy Corn M&Ms would be…Candy Corn!

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While I was shopping for my candy fillings and toppers, I passed the mini M&Ms. I was hoping to find chocolate M&Ms that were Halloween/Autumn colors, but failed. However, I figured that if the larger Candy Corn M&Ms didn’t work out I couldn’t go wrong with these tiny ones. Having the white chocolate and milk chocolate also offered up a nice variety for the sale.

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When I was considering what other candy could top the chocolate M&M cupcakes, I wanted to keep it nostalgic. After seeing the mini Hershey bars, I was sold. They’ve always been a favorite of mine and, just like with the candy corn on the other cupcakes, it seemed to make perfect sense.

The chocolate M&M cupcakes are the ones that SOLD OUT. I would have liked to get my hands on one, but I sacrificed for the greater good.

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In addition to the piñata cupcakes, I also made a bunch of simple, but festive, mini cupcakes with various combinations and toppers. Minis are always popular at bake sales because you can sell them a lower price and they are great for kids.

But I’m sure you are wondering, “So what did the piñata cupcakes look like on the inside? How did they work?”

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Well, they faired pretty well! I was a little concerned about the moisture from the cake affecting the candies. It did a little on the Candy Corn M&Ms, but not enough to make much of a difference. And I heard through the grapevine that the cupcakes with mini M&Ms were great!

But most importantly, the bake sale was successful and I was even asked to make more cupcakes for another fundraising event this weekend!

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

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Great Cupcakes & Packaging = One Happy Crusader

It’s no secret that I am a sucker for great packaging. But when there are 25 delicious mini cupcakes inside that great packaging, I go weak in the knees. It’s a bit (or a lot) nerdy, but I just can’t help myself.

For Christmas my husband ordered cupcakes from one of my favorite NYC locations, Baked by Melissa. I was in awe of the packaging. They arrived frozen, in a custom shipping box, complete with a custom printed Baked by Melissa ice pack. Since I’ve reviewed their cupcakes a couple times before (here and here) I’m going to focus on the amazing packaging.


(LOVE the slogan on the box!)

Inside the shipping box was the gift box that contained the tasty little gems. This sturdy box is not some cheap throw-away. Adorned with their logo on the top, their tie-dyed pattern on the inside, and sealed with a tie-dyed ribbon, it’s a keeper.

Once opened, you are face to face with ANOTHER piece of their unique packaging which keeps each tiny cupcake upright and protected from any rough handling that may occur during delivery. All 25 cupcakes were in perfect condition when I received them.

I like to call each little section built for the cupcakes “Freshness Pods.” My husband received the frozen cupcakes on Wednesday, December 21st and gave them to me on Friday, December 23rd. A week later, I was shocked that the cupcakes were still moist! I think each compartment somehow seals in the moisture and keeps the cupcakes from drying out. Hence the name “Freshness Pods.”

Since we really loved their December Mini of the Month, Snow Covered Pretzel, half of the container was filled with just them. The other half was a blend of some of our other favorite flavors like Cookie Dough, Cinnamon, and Peanut Butter & Jelly.

The only downside to them being frozen and then thawed is that the pretzels ended up being a bit chewy. They weren’t too bad and the flavor was still great, it just lacked the crunch from the store-bought ones we initially tried.

I was also excited to try the S’mores, since they were out of this flavor when I first went to their Fashion District location.

Like the Snow Covered Pretzel, the graham cracker ended up being a little chewy, but overall, I still enjoyed this one too.

January’s Mini of the Month is New York Cream, a take on Boston Cream with a custard filling and a chocolate drizzle. Boston Cream cake and doughnuts are a favorite of mine, so I would love to try this cupcake, but unfortunately I won’t be able to get to NYC this month (and I can’t justify the high shipping rates and $25 minimum just to try one flavor). If you get a chance to try it, let us know how it is, we’d love to hear about it!

Baked by Melissa seems to be doing everything right. From their tasty little cupcakes to their quality packaging, they remain on my list of favorites.

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

Good things come in small packages: Baked by Melissa

I’ve been wanting to check out Baked by Melissa‘s teeny tiny little cupcakes for quite some time now. When I found out they had opened a shop in the Fashion District of New York City, I knew I’d finally be able to stop by on one of my quick day/weekend trips to “The Big Apple.”


Photo borrowed from Baked by Melissa’s Facebook Page (click here). No harm or infringement intended.

This past weekend I visited a couple of friends in NYC and planned to stop at Baked by Melissa on my way back to Penn Station before heading home. I wasn’t there long, but the staff was very friendly and I could tell would have answered any questions I had. They made sure I had a menu to take with me so I could use it as a guide when I got home. I asked for one of each flavor, and since I was getting a dozen, two had to be repeated. The shop doesn’t have any space for seating, which is a little disappointing if you wanted to sit and enjoy a few, but since I was just grabbing and going, it wasn’t a big deal. I would guess that in this area most people are doing the same.

As I waited for my train to New Jersey to arrive, I was tempted to begin tasting, but I wanted to be able to savor each tiny treat, so I waited patiently, staring at the bag in anticipation.

When I got home I was finally able to get a good look at them:

How cute are they? Here are a couple photos for size reference:

Since they were so small and I was sharing them with my husband, I decided that we would eat them all that night. This was not hard to do, so I would highly recommend that everyone should get at least one of each flavor when visiting. It’s $10 for a dozen, which might seem pricey to some (in fact a girl in front of me said, very loudly, “I’m not paying $3 for 3!”), but my thought on this is that most cupcakes are about $3 a piece, so it works out to be about the same price/size.

Since there was such a variety, I’m going to focus on the least favorite, the favorites, and the most unique ones.

We ended up with 10 different flavors total (8 are pictured above). The least favorite was the Red Velvet (not pictured). The cake was dense and a little dry, however, my husband and I both agreed that the cream cheese frosting was great!

Our favorites were: Mint Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter & Jelly, and Cookie Dough. My husband really wished that I had duplicated the Cookie Dough one. I think, when I go back, I will make sure to get a bunch of those for him. The Peanut Butter & Jelly ended up being a total surprise to him. He’s a big peanut butter and chocolate fan, and doesn’t even eat PB&J sandwiches, but he really enjoyed this one too. My top picks were the Mint Chocolate Chip and the PB&J.

There was a tie for the most unique one: Chocolate Chip Pancake (shown above) and Milk & Cookies (show below).

The Chocolate Chip Pancake really tasted like a pancake. The cake was more dense than a typical cupcake, similar to a pancake, and the maple frosting was full of syrup-y flavor. When we tasted the Milk & Cookies we didn’t know what to expect. This is their flavor of the month, so it wasn’t on the menu and I hadn’t thought to ask when I was there. Our first reaction was, “It’s really clean tasting.” It’s very subtle and not too sweet. I would really like to try this one again, now that I know what flavor it is, but unfortunately won’t get back to NYC until December.

Overall, every cupcake that we tried was moist, light, and full of flavor (with the exception of the Red Velvet). This shop is located close to Penn Station, so I know that I will be going there again and again before heading home. Whether you are a local or a tourist I would highly recommend stopping at one of their 4 locations in SoHo, Union Square, Grand Central, or the Fashion District.

Next time I’m not so sure these little morsels of tastiness will make it back to Baltimore.

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