Partying in Western New York with Cupcakes

Stacy and I have been traveling together for many years, and each time I’m reminded why she’s my favorite travel partner-in-crime! We always seem to find fun, even when we are least expecting it. This past weekend we trekked up to Hilton, NY for our friend Alli’s daughter, Freya’s, 1st birthday and house warming party. On our way there, we needed to stop for something to eat, and after randomly selecting an exit (Corning, NY to be exact) we ended up smack-dab in front of Walker Cake & Coffeehouse – with a cupcake on the awning!

It was kismet, we were meant to take that stop and run into our first cupcake taste of the trip. (Honestly, it would amaze people if they knew how often things like this happened when Stacy and I were together.)

Walker Cake & Coffeehouse Cupcakes:

“Mega” Size Chocolate Peanut Butter
In Stacy’s own words: “The ganache was thick and set up like the frosting on a chocolate frosted doughnut from DD… So good! The peanut butter frosting was really thick, almost like the peanut butter you would find in a buckeye or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. I have mixed feelings on whether that’s appropriate for a frosting, but it was SO GOOD. The cake was dense and crumbly but moist.

Carrot Cake
Unusual in flavor, this carrot cake might be the best carrot cake cupcake I’ve ever eaten. The frosting was not the usual cream cheese, but was a thick and subtly sweet buttercream, a perfect complement to the moist, spicy, and savory cake. This cake was not like any carrot cake I’ve ever had – there was something special about it – neither Stacy nor I could put our finger on what it was, but it really made this cake stand out and shine. I only wish I had gotten in the “mega” size, because this cupcake left me wanting more.

Soon after, we arrived at Freya’s 1st birthday party and enjoyed watching her play, spending time with our friends, relaxing with a beer, and eating the delicious cupcakes that Alli made for the party. They were a chocolate stout beer cake with a cream cheese frosting. YUM! They tasted as good as they looked, in fact, I couldn’t resist eating just one.

Stacy researched and found fantastic and fun things for us to do – so after eating a wonderful breakfast the next morning at our B&B, White Farm, we headed over to Avon, NY for a huge flea market. We found some fun items to purchase, walked around for a long while, and worked up an appetite for cupcakes.

Our first cupcake stop of the day was in Penfield, NY called Dollop. They’ve won Cupcake Wars and had an interesting “build-your-own” spin on a cupcakery. After selecting our cake, frosting, filling, and toppings we were ready to order, and eat!


“Peach Cobbler” (Vanilla Cake, Peach Filling, Cream Cheese Frosting, and topped with White Chocolate Chips)
So good! Loved the cream cheese frosting even if it was a bit runny. Vanilla cake was a great texture and the filling was perfect.

“Caramel Apple Pie” (Vanilla Cake, Apple Pie Filling, Caramel Frosting, and topped with Graham Crackers and Caramel Sauce)
This cupcake was just as good as the Peach Cobbler. The caramel drizzle was a great addition because the caramel frosting was very subtle. The star of this cupcake was really the filling though!

“Caramel S’mores” (Chocolate Cake, Marshmallow Filling, Caramel Frosting, and topped with Graham Crackers and Marshmallows)
Really worth the wait! The cake was moist and had great texture, the fluff filling was basically melted into the cake, but had great flavor, the icing was subtle in caramel flavor, and the graham cracker and marshmallow topping made this the perfect combination.

“Cinnamon Apple Pie” (Vanilla Cake, Apple Pie Filling, Cream Cheese Frosting, and topped with Cinnamon)
Yummy vanilla cake with very flavorful apple pie filling, cream cheese frosting and cinnamon sprinkled on top = delicious. All of the components of this cupcake were shinning stars, I couldn’t pick my favorite part, I just want to order another one.

Stacy and I agreed that the pricing at Dollop was a bit more than expected for that size cupcake:

Cake & Frosting: $2.50
Filling: $.25
Topping: $.50
**You can earn a free filling with your first Foursquare Check-in

However, after tasting the cupcakes, neither of us minded spending almost $4 for each one.

After Dollop, we headed to Pittsford, NY to visit Dolce Cupcakery. This adorable shop was in an old barn and was so cute; inside was really lovely, with adorable photos of kids eating cupcakes on the walls. What a slice of heaven that whole area is, situated right on the canal we decided to eat lunch there too, but back to the cupcakes:

Blueberry Pancake
This cupcake was a slight disappointment as the frosting seemed to be made with a large amount of shortening, which we weren’t fans of. It made the frosting lack depth of flavor and left your mouth coated in a greasy film. The cake had really great flavor and seemed to be a blend of blueberry cake and brown sugar cake. While the flavor was good, it was very dense, more like a muffin.

Peanut Butter Chocolate
The cake was a bit heavy, but that is the only negative thing I have to say about this cupcake. The frosting was very flavorful, thick, and unlike the Blueberry Pancake cupcake didn’t seem to have any shortening in it, thank goodness. The cake had a peanut butter cup baked into it, which is always fun and adds another level of texture. Maybe it was the frosting that made me love this cupcake so much, maybe it was the chocolate flavor of the cake, either way, I scraped the plate clean.

It was a fantastic weekend, full of friends, food, drinks, and cupcakes. Stacy and I are so lucky to be able to travel all around and spend time doing things we both love. I can’t wait to see what our next trip will be, and I wonder what we’ll randomly run into next time!

– 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)

Weekend Cupcake: The Baltimore Area Cupcake Hobbyist

When a reader recommended Weekend Cupcake, I knew I had to check them out. We love getting suggestions on new cupcakes to try, so I immediate headed to their Facebook Page to scope them out. After browsing through their photos of tasty looking cupcakes and reading all the rave reviews on their timeline, I contacted them to find out where they are located and if they would be willing to put together a tasting dozen for us to sample. The creator of Weekend Cupcake, Mark, emailed me back right away and said he would be thrilled to do that for us!

Throughout our correspondences I learned that Mark refers to himself as a “Cupcake Hobbyist” and his goal is to “deliver affordable, tasty and gourmet cupcakes to customers so they have an enjoyable event.” Weekend Cupcake was looking better and better and I began counting down the days until it was time to pick up their cupcakes.

We decided on a tasting dozen that consisted of 4 different flavors. I knew 2 flavors would be Pineapple Upside Down Cake and Dark Chocolate Caramel Toffee Bar, the other 2 would be a surprise. After about a month or so of waiting, it was finally time to get my cupcakes. When Mark arrived at our agreed upon meet up location he took time to talk a bit and go over the cupcake flavors with me.

In addition to the 2 flavors I already knew about, Pineapple Upside Down Cake and Dark Chocolate Caramel Toffee Bar, there was also Chocolate Chocolate and Chocolate Peanut Butter. Knowing that I would never be able to finish all 12 on my own, I headed over to my sister’s house where she, Crusader Jenn, and I split them up (Crusader Elisa was unfortunately out of town that weekend). After my nieces went down for their naps, we dove in!

I started with the Dark Chocolate Caramel Toffee Bar pictured above. Ohhh.Emmm.Gee. The moist yellow cake was infused with toffee pieces and filled with a dark chocolate ganache. Then, the cupcake was topped (as you can see) with caramel, toffee, chocolate, and a Rolo candy piece. If I recall correctly, I mumbled many praises with a mouth full of cupcake.

Crusader Jenn decided to start with the classic Chocolate Chocolate cupcake. At first we thought it might have been topped with sea salt, but it turned out to be large sugar crystals, which kept this cupcake sweet and added a nice crunch. On its own, the cake was moist and light, however, probably could have been a little richer in flavor. But the frosting… WOW. So rich and creamy that it was a full on chocolate explosion. In fact, the frosting was so decadent that the light chocolate cake probably created a better overall cupcake experience.

My big sister, Alissa, choose the Peanut Butter Chocolate to sample first. She doesn’t join us on all our cupcake adventures, but she has been on enough to know a good cupcake when she tastes one, and this cupcake had her smiling from ear to ear. The big surprise was that this cupcake had a full size Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup baked inside the cake! Peanut Butter Chocolate is a favorite flavor for my husband so (being the wonderful wife that I am…) I shared with him. We both really enjoyed it and I think it may actually be one of the best Peanut Butter Chocolate’s he’s ever tried.

The last cupcake left was the Pineapple Upside Down Cake. This cupcakes is the perfect summer treat! It was light and moist with a pineapple ring and a maraschino cherry baked in the bottom.

Weekend Cupcake really did make my weekend! Crusader Jenn and I liked them so much that we are actually thinking of ordering some for our big 30th birthday coming up. His prices are very reasonable and his cupcakes are scrumptious. That’s a winning combination in my book.

If you would like to find out more about Weekend Cupcake visit their Facebook Page or email Mark at weekendcupcake@gmail.com.

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

Santoni’s Marketplace “Gourmet” Cupcakes

I used to pass Santoni’s Marketplace & Catering (Glyndon, MD) every day on my way to and from work and think, “I should stop and pick up something for dinner or dessert.” They have a great deli and homemade dessert selection, but since I was often eager to get home I rarely went in. Now I still pass by once or twice a month, on my way to a playgroup meet-up, so when Crusader Stacy reminded me that they have cupcakes I thought, “Now I really need to stop in!”

The selection of mini cheesecakes, mousses, pastries, and other baked goods made it difficult to concentrate on the cupcakes (yes even for me!), but I redirected my focus to the selection. I was originally just going to pick up a couple, but the cupcakes looked impressive, so I ended up choosing 4 of the 6 flavor options.

Peanut Butter Chocolate:
If you don’t already know, the Crusaders’ husbands are big fans of this combination, which is one of the reasons we frequently review peanut butter chocolate cupcakes.


(In the display case the candies looked like they were coated with sugar, however upon closer inspection, they were just old. Eww. I didn’t eat them.)

While the chocolate ganache frosting on this cupcake was really good, I was extremely turned off by the condition of the peanut butter candies on top. My only thought as to why they looked the way they did is that maybe the cupcakes had been refrigerated at some point and then condensation built up on the candies when they were being brought back down to room temperature, causing the cracked-crystallized effect. The cake was also dense and dry and didn’t have much peanut butter flavor.

Cookies ‘N Cream:
All the cookie pieces in the frosting made me believe this cupcake would pack a big cookies ‘n cream flavor, unfortunately it did not.


(Looks tasty, right?)

The frosting was very sweet and just tasted like your standard American buttercream and the cake was dry and crumbly. I really wanted to like this cupcake, but sadly it just didn’t impress me.

Key Lime:
Key lime cupcakes are another favorite for my husband and me, so while I was a little worried by the bright green color, I decided we should give Santoni’s a try.


(The bright frosting definitely makes a statement!)

This cupcake was probably one of the best from the selection. Although the bright green frosting proved to be a warning for artificial lime flavor, it was tangy and had a nice creamy texture and the cake was very moist and fluffy.

Cookie Dough:
Any cupcake with half a cookie on top (and one dipped in chocolate, no less) is a strong contender in my book.


(It’s like two treats in one!)

Like the Peanut Butter Chocolate cupcake, I believe this cupcake was a little old. After biting into it, I noticed that the outside of the frosting was darker than the inside (and had that hard coating that frosting gets after awhile) and didn’t have much flavor. The chocolate cake was also dry and crumbly. Although I didn’t finish the cupcake, I did try the cookie center, which was tasty and could have been the redeeming quality, had the rest of the cupcake been good.

After sampling these cupcakes, I won’t be getting any in the future from Santoni’s. I suspect that some weren’t baked fresh that day, which could have led to the poor quality. While I think their other market selections are good, the cupcakes just didn’t live up to the gourmet name, despite their appearance.

I also think I’m becoming a little bit of a cupcake snob. 😉

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

Due to comments, we thought we should offer a close-up example of the old candies on the Peanut Butter Chocolate cupcake. I’m not even entirely sure how this could happen, go unnoticed, and still be put out for sale:

Rewarding Ourselves with a Cupcake for Baking Cupcakes: Snickerdoodles’ Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcake

It makes absolutely no sense. Why would anyone in their right mind purchase a cupcake when they are on their way to help bake and decorate 3 dozen cupcakes? Well, ladies and gentleman, I might be a little (or a lot) cupcake crazy. A couple weeks ago my sisters asked me to pick up very special birthday cookies for my niece’s first birthday party from Snickerdoodles Bakery in Hampstead, MD.

While waiting to be helped, I spotted this amazing work of art:

I debated for about half a second before deciding I was buying this cupcake and sharing it with my sisters, even though we would be baking rows upon rows of cupcakes.

Luckily my sisters know me pretty well and they were not shocked at all that I arrived with a cupcake. After getting most of the food and baking done for the party we decided it was time to divide this massive cupcake up between us. In addition to the peanut butter frosting there was a gooey peanut butter filling. I’ve never seen this in a Peanut Butter Chocolate cupcake before and couldn’t wait to dive into my piece! As expected, it was moist, rich, and sweet.

Snickerdoodles Bakery has some seriously amazing cupcakes. They might be a bit out of the way for some (like me), but are definitely worth a visit.

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

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Elisa’s Windy City Cupcake Adventure!

Traveling to new cities in the U.S. is something I always enjoy. Who wouldn’t? New food, shops, people, transportation, museums, art, culture, cupcakes… the experiences I have in each new city are truly the souvenirs I bring home with me. Recently my Aunt Jodi and I decided to hop on flights from our respective cities, Baltimore for me and Cleveland for her, and meet in Chicago for a weekend visit with her other niece Jamie (and Jamie’s boyfriend too!). And what trip would be complete without cupcakes?

Not only had the Crusaders done research and created a list of different cupcakes places in the Chicago areas I would be visiting, Jamie knew of a cupcake baker who delivered and had a dozen cupcakes waiting for me to try upon my arrival! Also, while out exploring the city, Jodi, Jamie, and I also visited a place in Wicker Park called “bake” to sample their cupcakes. Below are a little about the cupcakeries, and of course reviews!

Flirty Cupcakes – Delivered to Logan Square! (Storefront in West Town Area)

Flirty Cupcakes is a shop (called the Dessert Garage), cupcake truck, and delivery service that began with a spark of nostalgia and a love of cupcakes. After seeing an old ice-cream truck, the owner was inspired to create that same feeling of excitement she felt as a kid when the ice cream truck drove by, but for adults and with cupcakes. While I did not get to visit the Dessert Garage, the photos on their website are really cool and it was reviewed by one of my other favorite blogs, Design Sponge. The next time I am in Chicago visiting, the Dessert Garage will definitely be on my list of things to do. But back to the cupcakes…

The “Flirty” Dozen! (A VERY special thank you to Jamie for getting these!)

While almost every cupcake in the box made me go Mmmmmmmm, (and yes, I did try all 12), my three favorites are the following: (Cupcake photos from Flirty Cupcakes’ website, no harm or infringement intended – they are much better than my photos turned out!)

PB&C

Peanut butter and chocolate is a favorite combination of all the Crusaders, so this cupcake with its peanut butter cup topper immediately stuck out to me! It was clear what kind of cupcake this was, however, I would not have guessed that it had a peanut butter ganache filling – I’d never even heard of peanut butter ganache! Smooth, creamy, sweet, savory, this filling complemented the richer and thicker chocolate ganache on top and the moist chocolate cake. I like cupcakes that balance sweet and savory, where each flavor can be tasted on its own, but together create a whole new flavor sensation; and this peanut butter and chocolate cupcake achieved that perfect balance.

The McDreamy

Dr. Derek Shepherd may not be a cupcake, but if his good looks were edible, they would be this cupcake! The moist chocolate cake with cream cheese and chocolate morsel filling was very much like a “black bottom.” With smooth and “dreamy” cream cheese icing on top, the decadence of this cupcake becomes clear, and makes you want another.

Devil in Disguise

Finding a good red velvet cupcake anywhere can be difficult, as you have seen in our many many posts, but at Flirty Cupcakes they have this flavor nailed. The almost impossibly moist cake is not just topped with their delightfully dreamy cream cheese icing, but also filled with it! Great red velvet AND filled? I think I met my cupcake soul mate!

Check out all the flavors they have to offer, listed on their website, and if you are in town, stop by the Dessert Garage, find the truck, or have some delivered to your hotel! It’ll be worth it!

BAKE – Wicker Park Area

BAKE attracted me right away when I read on their website about the husband and wife baking duo, who both loved sweets since childhood and have 30 years of combined baking experience. After we shopped and ate lunch in Wicker Park, we walked over to see what sweet confections they had to offer. We almost missed the shop, as the sign was small and hard to see on the window, thank goodness for smart phones with maps!

It was later in the day on Saturday, so our cupcake flavor options were limited, but we settled on a Nutella Malt Cupcake – that was HUGE! Definitely enough for the three of us to share, we cut it up and tasted while soaking in the shop decor. Cute “bake” signs clumped together on one wall, with fun patterned fabric canvases on the opposite wall, huge windows, fun vintage plates, and friendly staff all complement this little shop.

Now for the cupcake review:

Nutella Malt

This cupcake was good, but not phenomenal. The cake was moist and buttery, as was the icing, and neither were overly sweet (which is a plus for me) but I yearned for more of that hazelnut and cocoa flavor that is so specifically Nutella. And I love malt anything, but missed it completely in this cupcake, minus the malt ball on top.

I would definitely go back to BAKE and give their cupcakes another try; and had they not been so large, perhaps I would have tried the Vanilla Vanilla and Chocolate Vanilla flavors they were offering that same day. Next time I would like to try some of their other baked goods, because they had a S’mores Brownie that looked divine!

Both Flirty Cupcakes and BAKE were great, and definitely cupcakes I wouldn’t mind eating the next time I am in the Windy City! Seeing the sites, shopping in the vintage stores, visiting the Art Institute, eating some fantastic tacos, and of course eating great cupcakes are all souvenir memories I brought back with me. But most of all I loved spending time with my wonderful Aunt Jodi and her amazing niece Jamie. I can’t wait to plan my next “new-to-me” city adventure and find some cupcakes to taste!

Have you been to the Windy City, or live there? If so, what’s your favorite Chicago cupcakery?

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

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Guest Review | Sweet Carolina Cupcakes | Hilton Head, SC

We are excited to have a new Guest Crusader, Erin! She is a friend of the Crusaders who LOVES cupcakes. She is sharing a review with us today on Sweet Carolina Cupcakes, a cupcakery she stumbled across on a recent trip to South Carolina. Thanks for sharing this with us Erin!

Recently I drove to South Carolina to visit my friend who lives on Hilton Head Island. Now if you’ve ever been to Hilton Head, you know there’s not much to do on the island except go to the beach and other ocean related activities (such as surfing). As my luck had it, it rained for the majority of my visit, so for lack of something better to do, my friend suggested that we walk around the Coligny Plaza Shopping Center.

Sweet Carolina Cupcakes is located in the middle of the maze of shop that is Coligny Plaza, but if you do make the effort to find it, you’ll find it’s well worth the hunt. On their website, they claim to be “The Lowcountry’s Premiere Cupcakery” and they apparently offer different flavors on different days of the week.

The shop itself has a blindingly bright lime green and hot pink color scheme and is pretty small. The common area only had two 2-person tables and a back wall bar to sit at.

The day we were there, they had ten flavors to choose from (pictured below).


(Top Row: Peanut Butter Cup, Red Velvet, Carrot Cake, Coconut Snowball, Chocoholic
Bottom Row: Wedding Cake, Raspberry Zinger, Sweet Carolina, Classic Vanilla with Chocolate or Vanilla Icing and Classic Chocolate with Chocolate or Vanilla Icing.)

They also had a small selection of muffins and whoopee pies for non-cupcake people. The cupcakes themselves are larger than what I would consider an average-sized cupcake. They were closer to the size of a large muffin, but were priced averagely at 3.50 each.

While I was trying to choose my flavor, I asked what the Sweet Carolina (a bright pink cupcake with vanilla icing and pink sprinkles) was and was told that is was Sweet Carolina Cupcakes’ take on a “pink red-velvet” cupcake. I didn’t end up buying this one because I am not a huge fan of red velvet, but I wondered what Red Velvet Cupcake Crusader Elisa would think of a pink-velvet cupcake.

After quite a long deliberation I settled on the following cupcakes.

Peanut Butter Cup

My boyfriend actually chose peanut better cup because he doesn’t really like desserts or sweets EXCEPT for anything that is peanut butter flavored (I know, I think he’s crazy for not liking sweets). He did let me have a bite though. The chocolate cake was moist and full of dark chocolaty goodness. The cake was also very light and fluffy. The icing was smooth and VERY peanut buttery. My boyfriend who loves peanut butter thought the icing was great. I thought that the dark chocolate was a little overpowered by the peanut butter flavor, but I am also not a huge peanut butter fan, so I probably would never order this flavor for myself.

Carrot Cake

I ended up choosing a Carrot Cake cupcake for myself and was not disappointed by my choice. The cake, again, was light and fluffy, especially for carrot cake. I think the lightness of the cake was a great feature since the cupcakes were larger than average. If the cake had been too dense and “meaty,” I don’t think I would have wanted/been able to eat a whole cupcake (which I did easily). The flavor of the cake was not very spiced, but it did have a great texture of nuts, carrots and coconut. The icing tasted like a combination of buttercream and cream cheese and was pretty smooth and thick. Overall, I enjoyed this cupcake, although I did end up left with a mound of icing on my plate that I didn’t eat (I like my cupcake to icing ration about 2-1 cupcake to icing).

The friends I was with also got Red Velvet, Chocoholic and Classic Chocolate with Vanilla Icing cupcakes. (Sadly I didn’t manage to get photos of them before they were devoured.) My friend who bought the Red Velvet said it was better than the Peanut Butter Cup (which she also tried) and my friend who bought the Chocoholic cupcake couldn’t stop talking about how good it was and asking when he could go back and get another.

Overall, Sweet Carolina Cupcakes gets a big stamp of approval. Their cupcakes are larger than average, reasonably priced and full of flavor. If you’re ever on Hilton Head Island, make sure you stop by and try one!

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

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The Cupcakes You Didn’t See | Starry Night Bakery and Coffeehouse | Westminster, MD

Even with all of our Starry Night reviews, there are still cupcakes that haven’t been seen by our followers! Around Oreo’s 100 year anniversary, Starry Night went crazy creating Oreo-stuffed cupcakes. Being a cupcake lover AND an Oreo lover, how could I resist? I initially went in for what I thought would be a few cupcakes, and left with a dozen! Starry Night seems to always do this to me, but thankfully I have people to share with! While I was picking up my Oreo stuffed cupcakes, they also had a couple of candy themed cupcakes that made it into my dessert box.

One of my favorites from the cookies and candy themed collection was the Nutter Butter:

Starry Night’s chocolate ganache frosting is a perfect match for the peanut buttery goodness of the cupcake. This cupcake should be a permanent offering, it is THAT good!

Every other cupcake in the collection was also perfectly moist and delicious:

1: Oreo stuffed chocolate cake with American buttercream
2: Oreo stuffed red velvet cake with American buttercream
3: Oreo stuffed yellow cake with peanut butter frosting
4: Oreo stuffed chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting
5: Berry ‘licious – Berry Oreo stuffed yellow cake with berry buttercream
6: Choco Mint – Mint Oreo stuffed chocolate cake with chocolate mint buttercream
7: Junior Mint – Junior Mint stuffed yellow cake with chocolate mint butter cream
8: Twix – Twix stuffed yellow cake with caramel buttercream

Of course with stuffed cupcakes, we also have to show you the inside. The cookies held up well during baking and added a nice crunchy texture:

1: Example of the regular Oreo stuffed cake
2: Example of the Mint Oreo stuffed cake (you can see hints of the green Oreo cream)
3: Example of the Berry Oreo stuffed cake (you can see hints of the pink Oreo cream)
4: Twix stuffed cake
5: Junior Mint stuffed cake (this didn’t hold up as well as the cookies)

Starry Night’s Oreo and candy stuffed creations give you a great idea of the fun flavor combinations you will find in their bakery. More recently they also added a Samoa cupcake to the menu, fashioned after the popular Girl Scout’s cookie!

This cupcake has a caramel cake, frosted with chocolate ganache and topped with plenty of toasted coconut and half of a Samoa cookie! It’s the perfect execution of a Samoa in cupcake form.

There have been a few other new additions to the spring cupcake collection at Starry Night, so they will be seeing the Crusaders again soon!

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

Favorite Cupcakes on the Outskirts of Baltimore City | Touché Touchet Bakery and Pastry Shop | Columbia, MD

Every Tuesday for the month of March (and the first week in April) we will be counting down our Top 5 favorite cupcake places outside of Baltimore City. 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 20 to 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 this 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!

During our research to find our Top 5 places outside of Baltimore City, we came across Touché Touchet Bakery and Pastry Shop located in Columbia, MD. Touché Touchet creates beautiful cakes, cupcakes, sugar cookies and even makes savory pastries and delicious coffee for those who might be looking for something to go with their sweet treat of choice. Since it isn’t located in the shopping/restaurant hub of Columbia, we had never been there before.

On the day we visited Touché Touchet, we had the pleasure to be accompanied by my sister and her two adorable daughters. Our niece, Lylah, is 2 years old and already showing signs of being a little cupcake connoisseur.


(Lylah enjoying a basic vanilla cupcake with chocolate frosting. Her technique is still a bit questionable, but her enthusiasm makes up for it).

As you can see in the above photo, Touché Touchet has a great little seating area complete with table lamps and adorable cupcake table clothes. Seating areas are a great bonus to any bakery or cupcakery, especially when you’ve got the little ones with you.

While you probably don’t mind reading about the shop itself, I’m sure what you are really interested in is the cupcakes? Well, the ones we tried were great! Here are our reviews:

Peanut Butter and Jelly

I’m a big fan of PB&J cupcakes, but before trying this one at Touché Touchet I had only found one other that I really loved. To me, there is something special about taking two nostalgic foods and combining them together. The peanut butter frosting was rich, light, creamy, and not too sweet. Then, the dollop of tart raspberry jam you see on top was only the tip of the iceberg.

I’ve never seen so much filling inside of a cupcake before! Normally it’s just enough to give a little surprise, but the filling in this cupcake ensures you get the full PB&J experience with every bite.

Chocolate Raspberry

Like the Peanut Butter and Jelly, Chocolate Raspberry is another favorite flavor of mine. So much so, that I rarely encounter anything with this mixture that I’m not a fan of, but this cupcake makes others look insignificant. It may be a contender for my ultimate favorite Chocolate Raspberry cupcake. The filling was the same featured in the Peanut Butter and Jelly, but instead paired with decadent, moist, and chocolatey cake and frosting.

Peanut Butter Chocolate

Jenn ordered this cupcake and said that it uses the same great cake from the Chocolate Raspberry and the smooth, creamy peanut butter frosting from the Peanut Butter and Jelly to create a deliciously classic cupcake.

Key Lime

This Key Lime cupcake was one of Elisa’s two selections. She said that it was moist and sweet, with a subtle key lime flavor. Elisa typically prefers a citrus flavored cupcake which has the flavoring in the cake or the icing (or both) and not just in a filling, like this cupcake. However, once she got to the filling, it all came together for her and she thought the key lime flavor was very nice and worked well with the vanilla cake and the light, sweet, icing.

Black and White Marble

This was Elisa’s second selection and she really enjoyed it. She said, “the mixture of icings was playful and a delight, and the cake was a traditional marble cake, which I rarely see and absolutely love. The chocolate icing was really very good and stands out as the signature component of this cupcake.”

Overall we really enjoyed our time at Touché Touchet. The atmosphere and the cupcakes were both great and are the reason why this “new-to-us” shop has taken the #4 spot on our Top 5 list. While it might not be in a super convenient location for any of the Crusaders, I hope to return and enjoy more cupcakes with a cup of coffee in their quaint seating area. And who knows, after more visits, maybe they will move up our Top 5 list?

If you are in the Columbia area, we would highly recommend stopping by Touché Touchet the next time you are on the hunt for some tasty, large, gourmet cupcakes!

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

Will Flavor Cupcakery “Win” the Crusaders Vote?

Several months ago, prior to their appearance (and win) on Cupcake Wars, a couple of friends told the Crusaders about Flavor Cupcakery, located north of Baltimore City in Bel Air, Maryland. We were unable to make it to their storefront location before the show aired, but after their success, we knew we had to check them out. So, last Saturday, Crusader Elisa, some good friends and I met for brunch followed by cupcakes at Flavor. The day was warm for January and brunch was great, it was a perfect way to start the day!


(Flavor’s shop located at 118 North Tollgate Road  Bel Air, MD 21014)

When we arrived at Flavor there were a few customers ahead of us, which was great as we could shop the fun merchandise and make our cupcake selections.


(They had some great t-shirts! See the peach “LOVE” shirt at the top right? That shirt belongs to me now.)

The staff were amazingly friendly. Patient, full of smiles and willing to answer all our questions. They couldn’t have been a better fit in the adorable cupcake shop.

We all decided to have a cupcake there and then take a bunch home. They didn’t have any seating inside, but they did have a small table and a bench outside. Since the weather was so beautiful, we took the chance to enjoy it.

I decided that I would have the Cupcake Wars flavor, Modern Fruit Cake, first.

I was so intrigued by this flavor and didn’t know what to expect. The rum vanilla bean frosting was not too sweet and very creamy, like butter. The five spice vanilla cake was very dense, but still moist and had a great flavor which the spices really came through. While the frosting and cake already formed a great cupcake, the filling is really what made it stand out.

The filling was full of raisins, cherries and walnuts and had a great gooey texture. Overall this cupcake had so many different levels of textures and flavors that all worked cohesively. It was the only Cupcake Wars cupcake they had that day, but I would love to see what their other ones taste like. It’s amazing to me that this cupcake was thought up in minutes, not weeks.

While we were there, Elisa decided to have the Snickerdoodle one she bought.

Here are her thoughts on this cupcake: “This cupcake really spoke cinnamon to me! The cake was teaming with cinnamon and the butter cream icing swirled with it as well. You might be thinking, that’s too much cinnamon, but the flavor was spot on! Not over powering at all! The moist cake complimented the buttery icing, creating a smooth, not-too-sweet cupcake that I could eat over and over again. On top of tasting great, this cupcake was beautiful in color and texture.”

So far, we were two for two! Our two friends decided to eat the S’mores cupcake they selected. It consisted of a graham cracker pie crust, chocolate cake, and a marshmallow frosting.

Elisa also got this cupcake and tried it later, at home. She said, “The shocking part of this cupcake was when all three components were eaten together it completely tasted like a smore, but when eaten apart, I couldn’t taste the marshmallow flavor in the icing. That minor detail didn’t matter, because together the buttery graham cracker pie crust, moist chocolate cake, and buttery sneakily marshmallow flavor, created one rich and whimsical cupcake.”

All in all, we left there very happy and with many cupcakes to indulge in later. I also left with a dozen cake truffles since my husband and I were having company over that night. But I’ll post more on those later. For now, we’ll get back to the cupcakes.

Crusader Jenn was coming to my house the next day and really wanted to try these cupcakes too, so I saved the remaining five (of my initial half a dozen) so we could enjoy together.

We started with the Peanut Butter Chocolate.

The dome of peanut butter frosting really had us excited. It was a little less “frosting-like” and a little more peanut buttery, but still was a very satisfying peanut butter mixture. Unfortunately the chocolate cake was crumbly and dry. We were super bummed about this and hesitant to move on to the next cupcake, a Double Chocolate cupcake with chocolate cake and dark chocolate frosting.

As we suspected, the cake was also dry and crumbly, but the frosting was amazing! I’m a big fan of dark chocolate and this frosting hit the mark. If the cake had been more rich and moist this cupcake would have been a big winner.

We still had 3 cupcakes to go, so we decided to go with the last cupcake that contained chocolate cake: The Salted Caramel.

Surprisingly, the cake wasn’t dry and the smooth salted caramel frosting was UNBELIEVABLE! This is easily the best salted caramel frosting I’ve ever tasted. It was just the right blend of sweet and savory. The saltiness didn’t over power the caramel and likewise, the caramel didn’t overpower the saltiness. It was a perfect combination. I was so glad I decided to get this one!

With only two left to go, I decided to give the Vanilla a try. If you’ve been reading recently, you’ll know that lately I’ve been really into Vanilla. I used to think it was boring, but I’ve had some cupcakes that had great vanilla flavor and have decided that, when done correctly, it’s a tasty classic.

Unfortunately this Vanilla didn’t do it for me. The cake was moist and the frosting was creamy, but it lacked the punch of vanilla flavor that I was looking for. So, not a total disappointment, just not the best I’ve had.

With that, it was time for the last cupcake, the Mixed Berry one.

This cupcake is vanilla cake, with a raspberry filling and a strawberry frosting. Normally, I’m not a fan of strawberry frostings, but this cupcake was AMAZING. It was definitely my favorite of the bunch. On its own, the frosting was really sweet, but with the mild vanilla cake and the tart raspberry filling, it all worked so well together.

The filling was the biggest surprise. The way it was so evenly distributed in the cupcake was really nice. It ensured that with every bite you got the raspberry and strawberry flavors mixed together. I would drive the half hour to have another bite of this cupcake. It was so good!

As I mentioned above, I also got some cake truffles for “game night” at my house. They had three flavors in the shop, Salted Caramel, Chocolate Funfetti, and Double Chocolate, so I requested a mixture of them.

The first I tried, before everyone arrived, was the Salted Caramel. Like the cupcake, it was a great blend of salty and sweet. Later that night I sampled the Chocolate Funfetti which was dipped in white chocolate. This little cake truffle was packed with rich chocolatey sweetness. After just one, a tall glass of milk would have been wonderful. I didn’t try the Double Chocolate until the next day and strangely, something seemed “off” about it. We aren’t sure what it was, but there were three of us tasting it and we all couldn’t quite place it.

Overall, I was really happy with my Flavor experience. There may have been some things that weren’t my favorite, but the treats that were good, were really good.

I’m so happy that our Maryland cupcakeries are getting so much recognition on a show like Cupcake Wars. One day, I hope to visit all the Maryland locations that have competed.

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