A Baker with a Heart in PA

Everyone knows the story of the Tin Man and his yearning to “only have a heart.” Luckily for him, the Wonderful Wizard had everything under control in the land of Oz. While Evans City is in Pennsylvania and not Oz, it seems the Tin Man has landed there and has his heart set on baking.

TinManSweetsSign

Tin Man Sweets is an adorable bakery in that little town, just north of Pittsburgh. Named the number 2 cupcake in Pittsburgh, I knew they deserved a visit. My Nona’s 81st birthday in March was the perfect excuse to head up that way to hang out and eat cupcakes. The shop is full of baked goods; pies, muffins, donuts, bread, even gluten free options, but I only went home with 3 cupcakes to taste.

Vanilla Vanilla
TinVanilla

Standard flavors aren’t always my thing as I prefer more exciting combinations, but this cupcake was a vanilla masterpiece. The perfectly moist cake and smooth frosting were both bursting with vanilla flavor. My only issue with this cupcake was that it was gone in too few bites.

Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting
TinChocPB

All three of the Crusaders like flavor combinations with peanut butter, and this cupcake wouldn’t disappoint any of us. Chocolate cake, so often, seems to be dryer and too sweet. Not the case with this cupcake, it was simply sweet enough, moist, and very rich. The peanut butter frosting was smooth and creamy with a punch of peanut flavor.

Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting
TinBananPB

Wow was I glad that I saved this cupcake to eat last. The banana cake was light and moist, unlike most which are dense and muffiny, and had true ripe banana flavor. Paired with the same smooth peanut butter frosting, the flavor combination is one of my new favorites! I liked this cupcake so much that I might have to try and make my own version of this cupcake for my next baking experiment!

TinManSweetsTrio
(My Tin Man “trio,” with my favorite in front!)

With a heart of gold, this bakery was worth the trip out to Evans City. Moist cake, smooth frostings, and great flavor combinations made Tin Man Sweets cupcakes the perfect dessert for a visit with Nona. The next time I make the trip up that way I plan on stopping in and trying some of Tin Man’s other sweet offerings, as well as bringing back some cupcakes for Crusaders Jenn and Stacy to try!

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

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Florida Fun, Relaxation, and Treats! Simply Cupcakes of Naples

After a week of sweet reviews from our recent trip to Florida, we have finally arrived at our last one, Simply Cupcakes of Naples. Before heading to Florida I would often stalk visit Simply Cupcakes’ Facebook page admiring all their cupcake photos, so I knew we had to stop in to sample their oversized cupcakes.

When we arrived at Simply Cupcakes the owners and staff were in the middle of a meeting, but that didn’t keep them from taking a break to show us all the flavors and talk a little bit about the company. We learned that the company was started in 2006 by selling cupcakes at a local farmers market and now there are many locations throughout Florida and the United States. We also learned that Simply Cupcakes offers a program to help bakers start up a Simply Cupcakes online company. It’s not a normal franchise opportunity, but rather, they go over things like legal requirements for at home baking, calculating your costs, marketing yourself, and even provide recipes. It’s everything you need to start up your own Simply Cupcakes!

After learning so much about Simply Cupcakes, we were ready to get some cupcakes! I immediately knew two of the flavors I would be getting: Funky Monkey and Key Lime (their signature flavor). When Simple Cupcakes posted about Funky Monkey on their Facebook page I couldn’t help but comment, and they happily told me they would make sure that flavor was there for us to try!

The remaining cupcakes we decided on were Carrot Cake, Red Velvet (for Crusader Elisa), Hint of Mint, and Raspberry Almond. We found out that they predominantly use an Italian meringue buttercream for their frosting which gives each cupcake a lightness that is greatly appreciated in the hot Florida air.

Funky Monkey:

The Funky Monkey cupcake was everything I dreamed it would be. Banana cake, chocolate ganache, peanut butter filling and a strongly flavored, yet light and airy, whipped peanut butter frosting. Crusader Jenn and I both agree that this is one of our all time favorite cupcakes.

Key Lime:

Made with a key lime curd filling, this cupcake was another crowd pleaser. Any one who has ever tasted a regular lime vs a key lime knows that the key lime packs more flavor and more tartness than the regular lime. It’s no wonder that this is the signature cupcake of a Florida cupcakery.

Carrot Cake:

I wish I could say that I tried this nicely decorated cupcake, but we purchased this for my Nana (one of the most wonderful grandmothers ever!). She loves carrot cake so when we saw that Simply Cupcakes had that option, we quickly added it to our growing list of flavors we would be purchasing that day.

Red Velvet:

This Red Velvet is another that I didn’t have a chance to try since it was for Crusader Elisa. I have to admit though, that with its tasteful, yet simple, decorations it traveled quite well from Fort Myers to Baltimore in my cupcake container.

Hint of Mint:

After reading the notes for this cupcake that Crusader Jenn took (yes, we often take actual notes…) I had to laugh because she wrote: “Stacy grunted twice: ‘ganache… mmmmm…'” I sure do enjoy my cupcakes. 😉 At first I thought the frosting could have used more mint flavor, but looking back it was the perfect amount for sitting by the pool on a warm day. I think if it had been any stronger it may have made the cupcake feel much heavier, which is not what you want on a hot day.

Raspberry Almond:

This cupcake was a great way to finish our tasting with. It had a fluffy almond flavored cake, raspberry preserves smeared on top, and was finished with a soft Italian meringue buttercream and almond shavings. It was light and refreshing. Another perfect treat when relaxing by the water.

I’ve always looked forward to visiting my family in Florida. I spent countless summers there growing up and it really is like a second home to me. Now that we have discovered some amazing cupcake places it will make our visits there even “sweeter.”

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

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)

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