Hamilton Bakery’s New Summer Flavors

Hey Cupcake Lovers! We are so sorry we’ve been gone for so long! We haven’t stopped eating cupcakes, so we are going to do our best (at least this summer) to catch up on all the reviews we’ve been wanting to share with you. Today we are reviewing two new summer flavors that Hamilton Bakery is serving this month: Key Lime and Neapolitan.

I have to admit, while I love Hamilton Bakery (they make the best scones) their cupcakes have never quite lived up to my expectations in the past. I really want to like them, but I often end up slightly disappointed, until now. I hoped that I would eventually be pleasantly surprised, so when I saw that they were giving one free cupcake to each customer during First Friday in the Baltimore neighborhood of Hamilton, and introducing special June flavors (Butter Pecan, Neapolitan, Key Lime, and Cookies and Cream), I thought it would be a great time to give them another try.

Key Lime

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At first, I was worried that this cupcake wouldn’t have a filling (I think Key Lime cupcake should always have a filling), but to my surprise, it did! I would have liked more, but it was very tasty. The frosting had subtle lime flavor and the cake was dense but very moist. Altogether, it was a really solid cupcake and was one of my favorites from Hamilton Bakery so far.

Neapolitan

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Hamilton Bakery offered two versions of this cupcake: one with vanilla cake and one with chocolate cake. I selected the cupcake with chocolate cake because the other option was topped with a large portion of milk chocolate frosting, which isn’t my favorite. However, all three frosting flavors ended up being very good. The strawberry was my favorite though, so I wish there was more of that. The last time I had a chocolate cake cupcake from Hamilton Bakery it was super dry, but not this time!

These were easily some of the best cupcakes I’ve eaten from Hamilton Bakery. Finally!

If you would like to try the new flavors, hurry! They’ll only be available for another week or so. If you would rather enjoy a FREE cupcake, stop by Hamilton Bakery during their next First Friday event (check their Facebook Page for more information). Just a little heads up, you can’t take the cupcake in a to-go box, so grab a cup of coffee or tea, and stay a little while.

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

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Catching Up with Cupcakes in Orlando, FL

There are some people in your life that, no matter how long it’s been since you’ve seen them, you can pick up exactly where you left off. These friends are the ones you can always count on to be there for you, even if you may not talk everyday. My friend, Marina, is one of those friends for me. We became friends in high school, but since then she has lived as close as Delaware or as far away as California. None of that matters though, because when we see each other, the days, weeks, months, or even years just seem like seconds.

Not only is Marina a great friend, she also has a serious sweet tooth (she recently became a certified pastry chef), so it makes perfect sense that when I was in Florida, her current home state, we would do a little bit of cupcaking. When it comes to organizing a day of cupcakes, I usually take the lead on deciding which places we will visit and in what order, but after giving Marina a list of possibilities, she narrowed it down and mapped them out. It was so nice to have someone else help with the planning.

We decided that if we paced ourselves we could manage four places: Raphsodic (a vegan bakery), Blue Bird Bake Shop, Sweet! by Good Golly Miss Holly, and Sweet Designs Kitchen.

After a tasty lunch at Thai Thani we made our way to Raphsodic, our first stop in downtown Orlando. Raphsodic has an eclectic vintage atmosphere which was carried through with their plates and mismatched antique forks. I must confess that I was really apprehensive about going to a vegan bakery after recently having had some bad experiences, but I think it’s important to review all kinds of cupcakes, especially for the vegan cupcake lovers out there. Marina and I proceeded with caution and ordered the Mocha cupcake to split.

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(Vegan Mocha cupcake from Raphsodic)

Expecting the worst, I was actually pleasantly surprised. The cake had a really nice chocolately coffee flavor, and it was moist (yay!). I thought the simple dairy free buttercream went well with the cake, but it was a little too dense for Marina, who prefers a much lighter frosting. Knowing we had three more places to visit, we left without quite satisfying our sweet tooth, but our next stop, Blue Bird Bake Shop, was just a short drive away.

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(Blue Bird Bake Shop)

Like Raphsodic, Blue Bird Bake Shop also had an eclectic selection of mismatched plates (in fact, it’s the largest collection I’ve ever seen) and their decor was a stunning blend of rustic chic. Beautiful blue and brown tones filled the shop and Marina and I couldn’t stop “oohing” and “ahhing” as we ate our cupcakes. This time around we each got our own cupcakes; I choose the Neapolitan and Marina selected the Chocolate Raspberry.

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(Neapolitan and Chocolate Raspberry cupcakes from Blue Bird Bake Shop)

Neapolitan is one of those flavors I’m seeing more and more bakeries offer, and when it’s done right, it’s awesome. This cupcake was no exception. The frosting tasted just like strawberry ice cream and the vanilla and chocolate cake was moist and delicious. Despite feeling that the cake on the Chocolate Raspberry cupcake was a little more dense than Marina normally prefers, she said that overall, “it was really yummy.”

After eating our cupcakes and browsing the t-shirts, coffee products, and uniquely flavored marshmallows, we headed to our next stop, Sweet! by Good Golly Miss Holly (a two time Cupcake Wars winner).

Sweet! not only sells cupcakes, they also have a huge selection of frozen yogurt and toppings, but Marina and I didn’t let this distract us from our mission. We made our way passed the froyo machines and straight to the cupcakes.

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(Menu from Sweet! by Good Golly Miss Holly)

Sampling as many different flavors as possible is always fun, and since Sweet! sells primarily minis, that made it an easy task. They had a ton of flavors available and Marina and I spent a lot of time narrowing our choices down to six each. I decided on the Coffee, Peanut Butter and Jelly, Tiramisu, White Chocolate Raspberry, Banana, and Cinnamon. Some of the flavors were just okay and some were great. The big disappointment for me was the Tiramisu.

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(Tiramisu cupcake from Sweet! by Good Golly Miss Holly)

The first Tiramisu cupcake I ever tried was from Sublime, in Wyomissing, PA, (review here). None have been as good since then, but Sweet!’s didn’t even taste like Tiramisu. Luckily, it was only a mini and I had other flavors to enjoy, like the Coffee and Cinnamon, which were AMAZING. Each packed tons of flavor in such a small size. I could have easily eaten two of each on that visit.

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(Cinnamon and Coffee cupcakes from Sweet! by Good Golly Miss Holly)

After our visit at Sweet!, Marina and I found ourselves entering a cupcake coma, so decided to do a little shopping before making our way to our final stop, Sweet Designs Kitchen. Even with shopping and a 40 minute drive, we were still cupcaked-out when we arrived at Sweet Designs Kitchen. It was the end of the day, and their selection was limited, but the staff was super friendly. We decided to get two cupcakes each, to go.

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(Coconut Key Lime and Orange Creamsicle cupcakes from Sweet Designs Kitchen)

After all the cupcakes we tried that day I realized that I was in Florida and hadn’t yet gotten any citrus flavors. I happily remedied that and got the Coconut Key Lime and Orange Creamsicle cupcakes, while Marina choose the alcohol-free Mocha Lua and Banana’s Foster cupcakes. Unfortunately, Marina didn’t eat hers until a day later and I ended up waiting two days. Both of us felt that the cake was dry, but we really can’t fault Sweet Designs Kitchen for that since we didn’t try them when they were fresh. Even though the cake was dry I thought that the flavors of my cupcake were really fantastic, especially the fillings. The Coconut Key Lime was my favorite and I thought the key lime curd filling blended really well with the coconut frosting. Marina thought that the frostings on her cupcakes were both too heavy and that the cake was a little bland, but agreed that the fillings in her two cupcakes were really great.

It’s no secret that a day filled with cupcakes is guaranteed to be a great day for me, but getting to spend time with a good friend who really enjoys critiquing cupcakes as much as I do is even better. It was also really nice to catch up with Marina in between bites of cake and frosting, especially because she is expecting a little bundle of joy in a few months. Hopefully, Marina will pass along the “sweet tooth gene” to her little one, because when it comes to cupcake adventures, I always like to think “the more, the merrier.”

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

Cupcakes + Wolf Trap + Idina Menzel = Perfect Night Out with Cupcakes from Edibles Incredible

It’s no secret that the Crusaders are theater geeks and, as such, we of course have a favorite Broadway performer: Idina Menzel. Some of you may know her as the woman who originated Maureen in Rent, others from Elphaba in Wicked. However, it’s not only her Broadway resume that has given her the title of favorite performer for the Crusaders. She is also an amazing songwriter and we love her solo albums. When we found out she would be returning to Wolf Trap (Vienna, VA), we thought there would be no better way to spend the day than to pick up cupcakes from bakeries nearby, and arrive early to picnic in the grass. Any time we can combine theater with cupcakes is a good day for us.


(Above is our cupcake loot from Edibles Incredible, Cupcakes! Cupcakery and Sticky Fingers. Reviews for Cupcakes! Cupcakery and Sticky Fingers coming this week. And, it wouldn’t be tailgating without a little booze, Crusader-style, with Cupcake Vineyards Prosecco.)

Guest Crusader Ashley, who is also an Idina fan, visited for the weekend to attend the concert with us. She had visited Edibles Incredible (Reston, VA) with family the month before. Since it is only 15 minutes from Wolf Trap we thought, what better place to go?

Edibles Incredible caters to more than just cupcake lovers. They also sell whole cakes, chocolates, fudge, gift baskets, specialty and wedding cakes. One of the things that surprised me when we walked in was the size of the cupcakes. Ashley hadn’t adequately warned me that they are the large ones, right on par with Snickerdoodles Bakery (which we have reviewed a few times) and can easily feed two people (the cupcakes are priced at $3.95, which is understandable with the size). The shop is located in the Reston Town Center, which ended up being perfect for Ashley and I. It’s a great outdoor shopping area, so we were also able to grab dinner. If we had more time, it would have been nice to sit outside and eat dinner and a cupcake, but concert parking was a priority for us, so we grabbed our food and were on our way.


(Cute, but can you see the predicament the packaging puts one in when it comes time for removal?)

Our cupcakes were uniquely packaged in Chinese food containers. While this is a creative idea, it doesn’t bode well for the cupcakes. There is a paper “lift-strip” but with cupcakes so large, and the strip not always landing perfectly under the cupcake, it doesn’t help very much. We really like to have our cupcakes coming out of their packaging perfect, or nearly perfect, looking. The cupcakes at Edibles Incredible were already a little messy looking in the display case, and these containers just made the frosting worse. Aside from liking our cupcakes pretty, trying to get them out of the container just made a sticky mess of my fingers and hands…not cool when you are on a blanket and eating outside!

The first cupcake we tasted from Edibles Incredible was the Butterscotch Baby. When Ashley and I saw the description we had to have it: butterscotch cake, with caramel buttercream frosting, filled with caramel, and topped with homemade toffee candy. This was our favorite of the two we purchased, although still not the best. The caramel filling was like a chewy caramel and the cake tasted like Duncan Hines’ yellow cake mix. Because it was richer, denser, and moister than a box mix, Crusader Stacy and I actually really liked the cake. But Crusader Elisa was disappointed and wished she could taste the butterscotch the cake was supposed to have.

Ashley and I also decided to purchase the Neapolitan cupcake for all of us to try. It had a little bit of everything, including a marble strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate cake, strawberry filling, and topped with the three different buttercreams to mimic the ice cream. Us Crusaders recently had a great Neapolitan cupcake from IcedGems, so I was hopefully we’d be getting something that fell into the same category. Unfortunately the cupcake was overly sweet, and no particular flavor came through, even when trying parts of the cake separately. The filling, which was similar to strawberry jam, seemed out of place and overpowered the cupcake. Although the cake was moist, it wasn’t enough to save this treat.

We passed on the Lemon Dream Pie during this trip because Ashley had tried it on her previous visit. It looked and sounded very good (you all know we are suckers for curd fillings), but Ashley informed me that, although she liked the overall flavor, the cupcake was very sweet for her taste.

I’ve been trying to decide if I would give Edibles Incredible’s cupcakes another chance. I think that I would. The one unifying factor was that they all had moist cake, and that’s one of the most important things to me. Flavors seem to be hit or miss, but having only tried two myself, I’m curious to see how some others stand up.

This week we’ll bring you more reviews from our Wolf Trap cupcake tailgating tasting, so stay posted!

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

Baltimore Cupcake Trucks: IcedGems Baking & Cupcake Runners

Most Baltimore City residents are familiar with the food truck rally, called The Gathering, which takes place just about every Friday night at various spots throughout the city. This gathering gives those who aren’t able to visit each truck during the middle of the week a chance to come out and eat some great food from any vendor they choose. Some of the most popular food trucks, like Miss Shirley’s, the Gypsy Queen, and Kooper’s Chowound Burger Wagon are often (if not always) present at these frequent meet ups. Of course they wouldn’t be complete without our city’s cupcake trucks, IcedGems Baking and Cupcake Runners.

We have reviewed IcedGems Baking many times before. Every week they are out and about stopping at the city’s various neighborhoods, so everyone gets a chance to indulge in a special treat at least once a week should they choose to do so. Even with their busy schedule and a storefront in Reisterstown, you can always count on them to be at the Gathering.

Cupcake Runners are a bit more difficult to track down and they aren’t able to make it out to every Gathering, but finally, on one very rainy night, I found myself standing at the side of their truck ready to place my order. Their selection was fairly limited, not at all like the list of fifteen or more flavors that IcedGems typically has, but they were incredible friendly and I happily walked away with a Classic Vanilla cupcake and a Lemon cupcake.

Unfortunately both cupcakes didn’t make it home in perfect condition… I think the combination of the bag, the soft frosting, and trying to manage an umbrella in the pouring rain was just too much working against the little sweet treats.

The first of the two, the Vanilla, actually made it out okay:

This was an old school cupcake with no frills or bells and whistles. It was moist and light, with a subtle, but present, vanilla flavor.

The Lemon was very much the same (minus the tragic looking frosting):

It had really great lemon flavor, but was also just a simple classic cupcake. While I really enjoy all the interesting and unique flavor combinations bakers are creating with cupcakes, it is nice to just get back to basics sometimes. Cupcake Runners has proven that they can make a good cupcake. I recently saw that they also have some new “happy hour” cupcakes they are selling, but the last Gathering they attended was rained out. Hopefully I’ll be able to track them down again and sample their more elaborate flavors as well.

That same night, I also decided to stop by the IcedGems truck to try a new flavor I saw them post to their Facebook page: Neapolitan.

Like the traditional ice cream flavor, this Neapolitan cupcake is a blend of vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. As a kid I would always opt for just the vanilla and chocolate portion of this mixture, but have grown to love the combination of all three flavors as an adult. This cupcake did not disappoint. Each flavor presented itself well, from the marbled vanilla and chocolate cake, to the sweet strawberry frosting.

That night I only chose that one flavor from IcedGems Baking, but a little while later my co-workers and I were surprised with half a dozen IcedGems cupcakes from our boss!

There was a great variety of flavors like Lemon Raspberry, Strawberry Cheesecake, Peaches N Cream, Victoria (vanilla with strawberry jam), French Toast, and Chocolate Raspberry. Luckily my co-workers share my same thoughts on sharing (you get to try more flavors that way), so we started cutting cupcakes up and every one could take pieces of which ever they wanted to try. That day I finally tried the Strawberry Cheesecake (it had been on my “must try” list for quite some time…), the Lemon Raspberry, the Peaches N Cream, and the French Toast.

The Strawberry Cheesecake was exactly what I was hoping it would be. The rich “cheese cake” frosting was smooth and wonderful, and the strawberry filling complemented the savoriness of the frosting to create a well balanced treat.

The French Toast was another stand out to me. This is one of Crusader Elisa’s favorites, which she reviewed here, and now I know why. She best described it as “maple/cinnamon/cake heaven.” I’m so glad I could finally experience it for myself.

IcedGems also included a Chocolate Salted Caramel cake truffle which contained the perfect salty and sweet balance to create a to-die-for bite-sized morsel.

The food truck craze  seems to be making its way slowly to all the major cities in the US, and I am very happy to say that we have two great cupcake trucks that are a part of this growing industry.

If you haven’t had a chance to visit one, or both, of these cupcake trucks, you can look them up on their Facebook pages (here and here) to find out where their next stop will be.

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