Guest Review | Kickin’ @ss in Boston, Mass.

Guest Crusader Rebecca is back again with a review of Kick*ss Cupcakes in Somerville, MA. Thanks Rebecca! 

On a recent trip to Boston with my fiancée, I used the Food Network “On the Road” App to find a good dinner spot. When looking over some options close to where we were staying, I noticed Kick*ss Cupcake right in Somerville, MA. They were featured on an episode of Kid in a Candy Store on Food Network and I KNEW I had to pick up a sample of their cupcake flavors and ask the crusaders if I could write a review!

The store is also a dairy bar serving ice cream and features fresh, local products; they also have a cupcake truck! There were so many appetizing flavors, but we settled on six flavors and one specialty “out of the ordinary” cupcake. They also feature a Deep Fried Cupcake, which you can make into a sundae. As delicious as this sounded, we opted to stick with the seven we already chose to take home.

The Green Monster

This chocolate cake featured a chocolate beer ganache center with green Sam Adams Cream Stout frosting and coco nibs. This cupcake exceeded our expectations! You could taste every single ingredient, but they also merged together in perfect unison. The chocolate cake was moist and fudge-like, almost tasting like raw brownie dough mixed with stout. It was delicious.

Cinna Punk (Vegan)

This moist pumpkin spice cake featured a cinnamon frosting, and boy did it pack a great cinnamon punch! The frosting melted in our mouths and this cake was a perfect fall selection.

Mojito

This rum-soaked cupcake has a sugar cane lime frosting with fresh mint. The cake was light, moist and VERY heavy on the rum – almost flammable! The frosting was light, sweet and flavorful. The fresh mint was a refreshing addition, but we would have liked a bit more mint flavor.

Lucky Cupcake

This was a lemon cupcake with white chocolate buttercream and candied ginger, complete with a personal fortune. We really enjoyed the texture and punch of the ginger, adding to the rich buttery flavor of the frosting. I  love lemon flavor and thought this cupcake could have used more. Regardless, the cake was moist and delicious, just like the others.

Cinnamon Chai Pecan Sticky

This spiced up cupcake was topped with gooey caramel and a pecan. Even though this cupcake did not have frosting, it had a great spice flavor. It was almost like a muffin, but had a wonderful crunchy texture and was super moist for having no frosting. The caramel on top was also tasty!

Super Chocolate

This chocolate brownie cupcake was fudgy, rich and could have easily stood alone without any frosting, but the bittersweet chocolate ganache and chocolate shavings added to its over the top rich flavor and texture variance.

In addition to the four flavors, we tried their specialty, the Cupcake Crisp in chocolate coconut. Their website describes this treat as, “A kicked up twist on the classic cupcake. Crunchy like a cookie then dipped in fine bittersweet chocolate and covered with your favorite toppings.” Even though it had a crunchy outside, it still had a rich fudge taste in the center.

If you ever find yourself outside Boston, make sure to check out this gem of a cupcake shop. With their use of interesting flavors, textures and ingredients, their cupcakes really do kick ass!

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

Summer Baking Experiement: Mojito Cupcakes (with Rum!)

When the time came for me to select a cupcake recipe for our DC Cupcake Picnic, I knew I wanted something with a summer flare. As I browsed through my collection of saved cupcake recipes (I feel like I’ll never bake them all…) I was torn between so many different options. In the end, I settled on a cupcake inspired by one of my favorite summer drinks, a Mojito.

The recipe I had started with a box mix, which as you know is the only way I bake. Unfortunately I can’t find where the recipe came from (if you know, please share and I will update this review), but here are the directions I had saved:

“Prepare 1 package of super moist butter recipe white cake mix according to directions, but substitute 1/2 cup of rum” and juice of 1 lime for roughly half the water (I put the rum and lime juice in the measuring cup first, then filled to 1 1/4 cup as the box instructed with water), and add the zest from the lime and ~ 1 oz. of finely chopped mint to the batter while mixing.

This cake batter was super easy to make and only required a handful of ingredients. The result was a moist cake that contained a complex level of flavors with the lime, mint, and rum.

That same recipe used a pre-made frosting, but since I recently decided that it’s easy to mix up and modify a simple buttercream frosting, I knew I had to find something else. While I was searching for the perfect mojito frosting, I came across instructions for a rum glaze. After having the Piña Colada cupcake from Roland Park Bagel Co. which had some sort of rum glaze, I knew I had to give it a shot.

The rum glaze I found came from the Cupcake Villains’ blog and only contained 4 ingredients! While the cupcakes were in the oven, my awesome baking assistant (AKA: my good friend, Kerry) and I tackled the glaze. It ended up being easier than we thought, so we left it on a low heat while the cupcakes finished baking and moved on to the frosting.

After finding tons of possible recipes to use for the mojito frosting, I decided to go with a recipe from Gooseberry Mooseberry. Her mint was WAY MORE finely chopped than mine was, so I’ll need to work on that, but overall, it turned out great.

I modified her recipe by omitting the triple sec and adding in just a splash (about 1 teaspoon) of the dark rum. I did this for two reasons: 1.) mojitos have rum, and 2.) I didn’t have triple sec, but I did have plenty of dark rum. I thought the rum was a good addition because it helped cut the tartness of the lime juice and lime zest, which was a little overpowering at first.

I really could not have been happier with the final results. Even my trusty assistant, Kerry, loved the cupcakes and she doesn’t even like mojitos. I would definitely call that a success.

Even though Kerry and I decided they were amazing, the real test would be how everyone else reacted to them the next day at the cupcake picnic (especially the real bakers!). Luckily I received nothing but positive feedback, praise, and shocked faces when I fessed up to starting out with a box mix. Maybe I should start keeping that little secret to myself?

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

Our DC Cupcake Picnic Recap!

Enjoying cupcakes, relaxing in the beautiful weather, and gathering with people who share a similar interest was what our first ever cupcake picnic was all about. This past Saturday the Crusaders, with the help from Joel (AKA: the Cupcake King) of Josie’s Confections, organized a cupcake picnic in Georgetown Waterfront Park. It was only a small gathering but it was filled with TONS of cupcakes and good times.

We were lucky enough to land a spot in the shade under a tree, and slowly everyone arrived. The group included us three Crusaders, my dad, Joel, Lamorea from That’s So Morie Cupcakes and her family, and fellow cupcake lover, Danielle, and her boyfriend.


(Candid shot of our some of our attendees. From the left going clockwise: my dad admiring Lamorea’s to-go wrapping for each of her cupcakes; Lamorea’s little girl (she’s so cute!); Lamorea going through her photos; happy cupcake eater, Charles; Crusader Jenn; and our youngest Crusader, Jenn’s daughter, Leah.)

After chatting for a few minutes, it was time to dive into the cupcakes! Joel, from Josie’s Confections, brought his signature Chicken N Waffle cupcake, as well as Salted Caramel minis, Strawberry Lemonade (which won the 4th place for People’s Choice at the NCACS’s Cupcake Challenge), and Maple Bacon.


(The AMAZING Chicken N Waffle cupcake! For information on ordering this cupcake call Joel at 301-541-7046, email him at joelegill@gmail.com or visit Josie’s Confections Facebook page.)


(Strawberry Lemonade with strawberry filling and candied lemon peels! For information on ordering this cupcake call Joel at 301-541-7046, email him at joelegill@gmail.com or visit Josie’s Confections Facebook page.)

Lamorea, from That’s So Morie Cupcakes, brought a big assortment of cupcakes all individual wrapped up and tied with a ribbon. She came totally prepared for people to take cupcakes home with them! Among her flavors were Pina Colada, Simply Strawberry, Chocolate Chocolate, and Citrus in the City.


(Alcohol Free Pina Colada all wrapped up! For more information on this cupcake call Lamorea at 443-603-8060, email her at Thatssomoriecupcakes@yahoo.com, or visit her Facebook page or website.)


(Citrus in the City! For more information on this cupcake call Lamorea at 443-603-8060, email her at Thatssomoriecupcakes@yahoo.com, or visit her Facebook page or website.)

Other cupcakes present included another Strawberry Lemonade, a variety from Red Velvet Cupcakery, an assortment from the Giant Bakery, and the Crusaders’ contributions: Mojito (me), Mocha Brownie (Jenn), and Strawberry Basil (Elisa).


(From top center moving clockwise: Strawberry Lemonade from Josie’s Confections; Chocolate Chocolate from That’s So Morie Cupcakes; Mocha Brownie from Crusader Jenn, Mojito from me; and Maple Bacon from Josie’s Confections.)


(Cupcakes scattered all over the place!)


(More cupcakes! They were everywhere!)

While we always enjoy eating cupcakes and chatting, the fun really started when Danielle said that she would still like the challenge of eating five cupcakes for the cupcake eating competition. She was the only one who stepped up in advance so we told her the prize was hers, but she was determined to earn her prize fair and square.


(It’s all smiles before you reach the 5th cupcake! She did a great job and was such a good sport!)

About halfway through Danielle’s challenge, the Cupcake King, Joel, decided he wanted to see what he could manage. Since he helped us put together the prize pack, he was entering the contest purely to take his title of Cupcake King to the next level.


(Joel smiled most of the way through, before hitting the more challenging chocolate cupcakes. But he still came out on top and decimated all 5 cupcakes!)

It was like witnessing an episode of Man Vs. Food in person. They both did an amazing job! Danielle put down 4.5 cupcakes is 5 minutes (at first she wasn’t focusing on her time so much, but picked up the pace as soon as Joel decided to join the fun) and Joel ate 5 cupcakes in 3 minutes and 45 seconds. He truly has earned his title, Cupcake King.

We couldn’t have asked for a better first picnic and we are really looking forward to the next two in our series. Sunday, July 29th we will be meeting at the Westminster Community Pond in Westminster, MD and on Saturday, August 25th we’ll meet in Patterson Park in Baltimore, MD. For more information click here. We hope you can join us and make those cupcake picnics just as memorable as this one in Georgetown Waterfront Park was!

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

We want to give a special THANK YOU to Joel, The Cupcake King, from Josie’s Confections for helping us organize this month’s Cupcake Picnic. He searched for the perfect location, helped us brainstorm activities, and even contributed nice Wilton products for the prize pack. Thanks Cupcake King! 🙂

National Capital Area Cake Show’s Cupcake Challange: Taste of the Seasons

This past Saturday, Crusader Jenn and I braved the nasty rain soaked roads and headed to the National Capital Area Cake Show‘s Cupcake Challenge in Annandale, VA. This year’s theme was ‘Taste of the Seasons’ which was well represented with approximately 75 entries. With this many entries and about 700 attendees, we knew we needed a plan of attack, so prior to the show we decided on the flavors we most wanted to sample.

Between the two of us, we only had about 3 duplicate flavors, so we sampled 15 flavors in total. Before I proceed, I should clarify that they were mini cupcakes, so it was easy to taste every flavor in one sitting.

After sampling them all, we decided that it would be slightly overwhelming for our readers to have a full description and critique of 15 flavors, so we have picked our very own 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners and then provided you with a peek at the remaining 12. (These selections are not reflective of the competition’s decisions and are solely those of the Crusaders and the 15 flavors we tried).

1st Place: French Vanilla Coffee Creme Brûlée (Season: Winter)

Baker: Inayah Zaman

This was our clear favorite of the night. Amazingly, you could taste all the flavors, and there was an added element of strawberry which was unexpected, but worked incredibly well. The edible gold glitter and the chocolate “handle” added the perfect finishing touches. We both voted for this as our favorite on the People’s Choice ballot.

2nd Place: Cherry Blossom Sake (Season: Unknown)

Baker: Wanda Cushing

The delicate gum paste cherry blossom on top of this mini cupcake matched the mild sake and cherry flavors. Both flavors complemented each other nicely creating a really enjoyable and totally unique cupcake.

3rd Place: Chocolate Covered Coconut Robin’s Egg (Season: Spring)

BAKER: Monica Pearson of Monica’s Sugar Studio
(This year’s 1st place winner in the ‘Professional Spring’ category, voted by the competition judges. This baker was also last year’s ‘Best Professional Cupcake’ winner)

This adorable mini cupcake had really good coconut flavor throughout. The coconut blended well with the chocolate which somehow managed not to be overpowering. There was even a coconut filling in this tiny little treat!

As you can see, the competition was fierce! Here is a glimpse at the other flavors we tried, with a special “Honorable Mention” for a cupcake we thought was great, but didn’t make it into our final 3:

Honorable Mention: Root Beer Float (Season: Summer)
Baker: Deanna Rybak
(This year’s 1st place winner in the ‘Amateur Summer’ category, voted by the competition judges.)

1: Gluten Free Eggnog Coco (Season: Winter) – BAKER: Caroline Litt
2: Gingerbread with Lemon Curd (Season: Winter)
– BAKER: Trevor Burroughs, “The Cake Guy” featured on Food Network’s Sweet Genius
3: Carrot with Orange Marmalade (Season: Spring)
– BAKER: Linda McLean
4: Orange Creamsicle (Season: Spring)
– BAKER: Sandy Schmuff, Dessertabilities
5: German Chocolate Easter Egg Nests Cake Ball (Season: Spring)
– BAKER: Emily Baird, Alexandria Cake Pop Company (They won this year’s 1st place winner in the ‘Professional Winter’ category for their Peppermint Chocolate Cake Pop, voted by the competition judges.)
6: Piñajito (Pineapple Mojito) (Season: Summer)
– BAKER: Catherine Baroang
7: Peach cobbler (Season: Summer)
– BAKER: Lora Gookin, Gâteau (This year’s 1st place winner in the ‘Professional Summer’ category, voted by the competition judges.)
8: Maple & Rum Flavored Pumpkin (Season: Fall)
– BAKER: Juanita Holloway
9: Chocolate Bacon Chipotle (Season: Fall)
– BAKER: Kyle Downes (Tied for 6th Place People’s Choice)
10: Red wine poached pear (Season: Fall)
– BAKER: Tracy Fuller, Simply Desserts
11: Gluten Free Chai Brown Butter Meringue (Season: Fall)
– BAKER: Becky Rink

After sampling all of these bite sized treats, we headed to the auditorium for a live demonstration by Doron Petersan, owner of Sticky Fingers Bakery. Sticky Fingers is a vegan bakery that has competed three times on the Food Network’s show, Cupcake Wars. They have won twice and are the first vegan bakery to ever win on an All-Stars show.

Doron’s demonstration was entertaining and full of great advice for upcoming bakers like, “Take business classes, the rest is easy. You like to eat, you taste it, if you like the way it tastes, it’s good.” That evening she was showing us all how she makes her Chocolate Bananas Foster cupcake. Even with all the sampling we had done, by the end of the demo, our mouths were watering hoping to one day try that cupcake.

Following the live demo was a book signing where we got to meet Doron. She couldn’t have been nicer and even posed for a quick picture with us!

We promised her we would be visiting her shop in DC this summer, when the weather got better, and we can’t wait! You will probably also see some of the recipes from her book posted on our blog as I dabble into the vegan baking world!

Overall it was a great night that couldn’t have ended on a better note!

To see a full list of the official National Capital Area Cake Show’s Cupcake Challenge winners click here.

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