Starry Night’s Winter’s Night Treats

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I have to admit, it had been a while since I’d stopped into my favorite local cupcake shop, Starry Night Bakery and Coffeehouse. Cupcakes had been plentiful throughout the fall and sweets are never lacking at my house. But when they posted their new winter/Christmas flavors, I couldn’t stay away. I’m a sucker for new flavors. A push from Stacy, who wanted one or two for herself, didn’t hurt either.

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The White Chocolate Peppermint Mocha cupcake is the one that I couldn’t wait to dig in to. As soon as the little one was in bed for her nap, out it came. If you are a coffee lover like me, I’m sure just hearing the flavor combination is enough to make you swoon. The mocha and peppermint both came through, just like a well made peppermint mocha latte. Since Starry Night is a coffee shop, it’s no surprise that they know their coffee flavors. In fact, their coffee buttercream (which is also on their Mahoo Wahoo cupcake) is my all-time favorite. Unfortunately the white chocolate wasn’t present enough for me, but that could be because it’s a mild flavor and was overpowered by both the peppermint and coffee. It may have subtly balance out the other flavors though. Either way, the lack of white chocolate was clearly not a deterrent for me, as I’ve now ordered it two more times since.

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In addition to seeing a list of new flavors, Starry night also posted a photo of this cupcake in conjunction with a naming contest (“Peanut Butter Chocolate Time” won). Who wouldn’t want to try this bad-boy?  Starry Night is no stranger to a peanut butter chocolate combination, but they are always mixing it up. This cupcake obviously stands out, with a Girl Scouts Tagalong cookie on top, but also has chocolate frosting AND peanut butter frosting, with peanut butter chips baked into the chocolate cake. My cupcake happened to have a clump of chips all in the center. I’m not sure it that was an accident or intentional, but it was delicious. And, as always, very moist cake and smooth frosting.

(Update: Peanut Butter Chocolate Time is not always sold with half a cookie on top. Sometimes it only has chocolate chips topping the frosting.)

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The worst part about the above Spiced Cider cupcake was that I had to share it with the hubby. After hoarding the White Chocolate Peppermint Mocha cupcake all to myself, I thought it was the nice thing to do (after all, ’twas the season for giving, right?). This cupcake had the aroma of a snickerdoodle cookie, with a spiced apple cake. The cake was baked with a generous amount of fresh diced apples and the buttercream was sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. I’d be a happy girl if this cupcake reappears throughout the year.

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How can you not appreciate a cupcake with a tiny Gingerbread man on top? The cookie had the perfect spiced ginger flavor and consistency (not rock-solid like some). The cake also had the same, familiar spiced ginger “bite” which was mellowed by the sweet frosting, and the sugar crystals sprinkled on top add a nice crunchy texture.

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The cupcake above is called the Drunkin’ Elf, which is a chocolate bourbon cupcake with chocolate ganache frosting. It’s chocolatey goodness paired with booze…’nuff said.

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At a first glance, I thought this was another s’mores cupcake, but it’s really a Marshmallow Hot Chocolate cupcake. The chocolate cake is filled with a marshmallow filling, then topped with chocolate buttercream and garnished with a marshmallow and chocolate shavings. I was pleased with how the two flavors came through, without one overpowering the other.

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Eggnog isn’t for everyone. I can only handle it in small amounts myself, but there’s something about eggnog cupcakes that I love and this one was no exception. In addition to eggnog, it had a bit of spice (I’m guessing nutmeg) and I think even a hint of booze.

After such a successful tasting of all the winter flavors, I went back on New Year’s Eve. Last year my NYE cupcakes came from Starry Night, so now it’s a tradition.

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After talking with the owner, Shannon, she said that they’ll be keeping some of these flavors to offer throughout the season (and hopefully the year), but a couple (like the Eggnog cupcake) were only for the holidays. They are gearing up for new spring flavors in the next couple of months, so we’ll have to keep our eyes and ears posted to see what they come up with next!

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

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La Cakerie Brings Sweet and Savory to Towson

In my opinion there are a few factors, other than delicious baked treats and good customer service, that create a successful bakery: location, daily specials, new menu items, and excellent social media skills. Apparently La Cakerie agrees because they meet each item on the list and it has already made me a frequent visitor. If their location was any closer, I’d probably end up stopping in every other day (if not every day). I’m sure my waistline is thankful for that.

On our first visit to La Cakerie we were lucky enough to leave with a variety of flavors like Vanilla, Chocolate Fudge, Chocolate Turtle, Chocolate Vanilla, Vanilla Chocolate, and Chocolate Peppermint.

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My overall impression of La Cakerie’s cupcakes was that they have the perfect balance of being not too sweet, but not too buttery. Jason, the owner and executive chef, has really found the perfect balance. Going into the tasting I was worried that these cupcakes would taste exactly like Flavor Cupcakery’s, since Jason previously worked there and some of the cupcakes had the same look, but he really has developed his own unique flavor.

One surprising thing I noticed about the cupcakes was that the vanilla cake was much more dense than I’m used to, while the chocolate cake was light and fluffy. Normally I’m a light and fluffy cake person, so at first this was a bit disappointing, however, after multiple visits I’m starting to appreciate their moist dense cake. La Cakerie’s vanilla cake also has a unique nutty taste to it, almost almond-like, which I really enjoy.

Since we’ve tried so many of La Cakerie’s cupcakes, for today’s review we are focusing on our favorites, as well as their special New Year’s cupcakes, their NFL Ravens playoff cupcakes, and one of their savory cupcakes.

PB&J

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PB&J cupcakes have become one of my all-time favorites. There’s something about the nostalgic flavors that have me constantly going back for more. La Cakerie’s PB&J cupcake completely met my expectations. At first I thought the cake was too dense for my liking, but the peanut butter frosting was so light and smooth that it had me thinking two words: frosting shots. I would be perfectly happy downing tubs of this peanut butter heaven.

Chocolate Peppermint

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The Chocolate Peppermint was Crusader Elisa’s favorite. She said, “Fantastic chocolate cake, moist, flavorful, not too sweet and just the right density. The peppermint frosting was also super smooth. It tasted like the holidays!” Crusader Jenn was surprised at how light the frosting was, and I think that it might possibly be the best peppermint frosting I’ve ever had.

Carrot Cake

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Jenn was the lucky Crusader who got to try this cupcake. She’s becoming the “Carrot Cake Crusader” so we couldn’t deny her. Her thoughts were that the cake had a great texture. Although the frosting was heavier than the others, she adds that would be expected with a cream cheese base. However, it was not overly rich or sweet in flavor, something difficult to find in a cream cheese frosting. She ended by saying it was “perfectly balanced.”

Peanut Butter Fudge

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Since this cupcake is Jason’s favorite, we decided we had to give our thoughts on it too. Like the PB&J, the frosting was to-die-for. Jenn thought this cupcake was more rich than the Chocolate Fudge, with the chocolate and peanut butter combination, including a chocolate ganache filling, which I loved. We can definitely see why this could be anyone’s favorite.

New Year’s Cupcakes

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After our first tasting I knew eventually I’d be going back for, but I had no idea how soon. When I saw that they were offering Strawberry Martini and Cosmo cupcakes on New Year’s Eve, I couldn’t deny myself. You may remember my not-so-successful Cosmo Cupcake experiment, so let me just say that Jason’s version blows mine out of the water. This cupcake had a TON of tasty filling, working well with the dense cake. The Strawberry Martini was good, but the star of the night was the Cosmo cupcake.

While there, I decided that having one of their egg and cheese breakfast pastries would be much better than making breakfast myself on New Year’s Day. This was the first of La Cakerie’s savory treats I tried, and its buttery richness really did hit the spot. Elisa tried a bacon and egg pastry, as well as a sausage and egg one, and had nothing but good things to say.

Raven’s Cupcakes

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Just when I thought I would finally be able to start my post-holiday healthy eating, the Ravens made it to the playoffs against the Denver Broncos. This brought purple cupcakes to most Baltimore and Maryland based bakeries, and I found myself back at La Cakerie less than two weeks after my previous visit. La Cakerie even added a “Bye Bye Broncos” creamsicle cupcake that was SO GOOD. Growing up I was never a big fan of the orange popsicles with their vanilla ice cream center, and I still don’t love them, but turn it into a cupcake and I’m so there.

Savory BBQ Chicken Cupcake

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Savory cupcakes raise a ton of controversy in the cupcake world. Who knew a cupcake could spark so much debate? We take our promise not to “rest until we’ve tried them all” very seriously, and if I can have any excuse to eat a cupcake for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, I’ll take it. This cupcake isn’t your typical cupcake, rather it is a corn based cake with a cheesy mashed potato “frosting” which is filled and topped with BBQ chicken. You may think that a corn based cake would be more muffin-like, but surprisingly this cake was actually very cake-like with just a touch of sweetness. My favorite bites of this cupcake were when all the components were blended together. Just make sure you heat it up before eating!

I think that if La Cakerie continues to offer a wide range of baked goods and actively promote themselves via social media, they will have no problem keeping their customers happy and reaching any goals they have for the future.

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader Stacy (Baltimore, MD)

Guest Review | Brewed Awakenings at Lynchburg College | Lynchburg, VA

We have another new guest reviewer! Our good friend Ashley recently graduated from Lynchburg College and spent her entire last semester sending us photos of all the cupcakes she encountered while there. Since her classes kept her busy, she wasn’t able to write up a review for us while she was there, but now that summer is in full swing she took some time to share her experiences with us! In this first review she chronicles the cupcakes she tried from one specific location on campus. Thanks Ashley!

I must admit that when Jenn, Stacy, and Elisa started talking about cupcakes all the time I never thought that it would escalate to the creation of this awesome blog that I enjoy following so much. Cupcakes really are the perfect sweet for me because they are generally pretty small so they are the perfect size for someone who wants to limit his or her sweets intake (like me). While I am nowhere near the cupcake “expert” that the Crusaders are, I have since started eating cupcakes more frequently and find myself capturing the moment in a photo each time to share with the Crusaders and give them my own personal thumbs up or down.

I recently graduated from Lynchburg College, a small liberal arts college in Lynchburg, Virginia and during my last semester there I often visited Brewed Awakenings, the coffee shop located in the building where I worked. One day, while I waited in line I noticed some amazingly delicious looking cupcakes. My initial thought was, “Brewed has cupcakes now!?” – this is when I knew the cupcake phenomenon had reached Lynchburg and I couldn’t resist buying one to see if they were as good as they looked.

One of my favorite flavor combinations is peanut butter and chocolate, something I share with Crusader Jenn’s husband, so without hesitation I chose their Peanut Butter and Chocolate cupcake.

I took just enough time to take a picture of it before I rushed to work with my cupcake so that I could dig in. Considering this was the first cupcake I got from Brewed Awakenings I was not quite sure what to expect. After the first bite, however, I was completely sold. This cake was so moist and complemented by the peanut butter frosting and topped off perfectly with a piece of a Reese’s Cup, my favorite candy. The flavors blended well and completely satisfied my peanut butter and chocolate addiction.

I am very much a creature of habit, so on each visit to Brewed Awakenings I was tempted to get the peanut butter and chocolate cupcake again, but as the semester progressed I deviated and ended up trying several other cupcakes:

Key Lime:

This cupcake was just as, if not more, moist than the peanut butter and chocolate cupcake. I was originally not sure what to think about key lime because I have not had much of it in the past, but the woman working behind the counter insisted it was delicious so I took her word for it. She was certainly correct! The cake was moist and had the perfect amount of lime mixed in with it and the frosting was delicious with specks of lime sprinkled on top of it. Yet again I was completely sold! I would definitely recommend that, if you have yet to do so, you try a key lime cupcake next time you see one!

S’mores:

I love s’mores so words cannot express how completely excited I was about this cupcake.

Just looking at this cupcake my mouth started watering. The frosting with the graham cracker sprinkled on top of it with the mini marshmallows looked so delicious.  Maybe it was the mental build up, maybe it was the fact that the past cupcakes were so good, or maybe it was a mixture of the two but I was sadly disappointed by this cupcake. The frosting and everything on it tasted fine and made the cupcake edible but the cake portion of the cupcake was very dry and resembled corn bread texture (which was surprising based on how moist the past cupcakes were). This was very disappointing especially because I am not a big fan of the texture of corn bread. Perhaps if the cake portion of the cupcake was a little better it could be a totally different cupcake, but I definitely need to try a good s’more cupcake sometime to alter my current opinion on them.

Peppermint Patty:

Following my disappointment from the s’more cupcake I was a little nervous but I dug in anyway. I was relieved when the cake was more moist than the s’more cupcake, although not as moist as the peanut butter and key lime cupcakes. This cupcake was exactly like a peppermint patty with the chocolate covering and the peppermint filling frosting. The flavors all blended really well together and made for a very nice redemption cupcake. The only minor complaint that I have about it is that it was extremely sweet; however, in my opinion, peppermint patties are also extremely sweet so I suppose it was very fitting.

Classic Chocolate and Classic Vanilla:

These two are some of the less memorable cupcakes.  They weren’t horrible but they also didn’t stand out to me as fantastic either.

I wish I were able to tell you who brought these cupcakes to Brewed Awakenings; however, every time I asked the workers behind the counter they did not seem to have an answer for me. The closest thing I got to an answer was that they were delivered by a personal baker who only operates from her house and does not have an actual bakery. If I find out any additional information I will be sure to update everyone!

– Review by Guest Crusader, Ashley (Lynchburg, VA)

Good to “The Last Crumb?”

While Christmas shopping at the Annapolis Mall with my mom, we happened upon The Last Crumb, an adorable little cupcake kiosk. Part of the larger smoothie kiosk, Smoothie Sensations, the owner’s wife bakes cupcakes to be sold on weekends. (Because this is a one-woman operation, which her husband supports, she currently does not have a website.) Luckily, we were there on a Sunday and they had a decent selection of mini and full-size cupcakes left for us to choose from. The set up was playful and cute, with a glass case and covered cake stand, and the staff were very sweet and helpful.

I LOVE minis, so I bought every mini flavor available (and at only $1 per mini, that is a deal too) and one full-size cupcake, that was not available as a mini.

Now, onto the cupcakes!

Pink Cotton Candy

This cupcake was the only cupcake I would not order again and was also the only full-size one I ordered. Since there was not much of a description, I assumed this cupcake would be very sweet and taste like cotton candy, sadly it was neither sweet nor cotton candy tasting. The cake was vanilla, but that wasn’t the issue, its dry, brittle texture and lack of flavor was its undoing. The icing was sweet, but tasted simply like confectioners sugar. The melted cotton candy on top may have given this cupcake some more flavor if there had been more of it. Overall, this cupcake looked beautiful and whimsical, but didn’t have much taste at all.

Red Velvet

Being the Red Velvet Crusader, I almost HAVE to get it – this little mini red velvet was very good. The icing was a vanilla buttercream, not the standard cream cheese icing, and had vanilla beans swirled through, creating a beautiful look. The bright red cake was a little dry, but had a great flavor. I would be very interested in trying their full-size red velvet to see if it was slightly better, being larger and able to hold onto more moisture within the cake.

Almond

This little mini packed a PUNCH of flavors! While the cake was a moist and savory almond flavor, the icing was a vanilla lemon buttercream. These complex flavors worked very well together, but apart, the icing was just a bit too sweet for my taste. I really love almond cake and this cake was amazing.

Black Bottom

Moist rich chocolate cake and cheesecake topped with chocolate mousse icing that was smooth, creamy, and not too sweet. Black bottoms are always a good idea, and this one had something extra. Maybe it was the icing, maybe it was the fact that it was a perfectly moist little mini: whatever it was, I wish I had gotten a regular size cupcake of this flavor, and plan on getting one the next time I am at Annapolis Mall.

Gingerbread

Because it was around the holiday season, The Last Crumb had some great holiday flavors available. This little gingerbread did not disappoint! The spiced cake AND icing might be a bit much for some people, and maybe a full-size cupcake would have been too much, but this spicy mini is perfect for me. I loved the true spice cake that revealed a different spice flavor with each bite. Add the spiced buttercream icing that was smooth, sweet, creamy, and of course spicy, and this gingerbread mini really shined.

Peppermint Chocolate

This tiny morsel of a cupcake left me wanting more! Between the incredibly moist and rich chocolate cake and the swirling, smooth peppermint icing, this cupcake really embodied its flavor profile. The chocolate peppermint bar on top was just an added bonus. I’m not huge on chocolate cake, but this cake in particular is one of the best I have ever had.

All in all my cupcake experience with The Last Crumb was a great one! I would really like to go back and get some of the mini cupcakes in full-size to test their moistness, as none of the minis were dry, but the one full-size cupcake was. It amazes me that this woman comes up with these flavor combinations, in mini and full size cupcakes, just for fun on the weekends. I would definitely recommend stopping by on a Saturday or Sunday to get some bite-sized cupcake treats!

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

Very Merry Christmas Cupcakes

Throughout the month of December the Crusaders (and a friend of the Crusaders)  have been gathering Christmas themed cupcakes to share in one big post. We hope you enjoy these reviews as you spend these next couple of days wrapping presents, baking, and spending time with family.

Crumbs Bake Shop – NYC
This year Crumbs had an assortment of cupcakes decorate and flavored for Christmas. Unfortunately, when Crusader Elisa and I stopped by they only had the following two, Vanilla/Vanilla and Vanilla/Chocolate with holiday sprinkles. We decided to go ahead and give them a try, since we haven’t had any of Crumbs classic flavors and we had waited in a long line. We were so glad we did!


(Crumbs Bake Shop’s Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting)

This cupcake blew me away! I’m still often pleasantly surprised by how good a vanilla cupcake can be. The cake was light, moist and very buttery. It brought back memories of the vanilla cake my mom used to make when I was a kid. The vanilla cream cheese frosting was the perfect compliment and it was double perfect because I ate half of this cupcake for breakfast. Vanilla is quickly becoming a favorite flavor of mine, which is still a bit shocking to me.


(Crumbs Bake Shop’s Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting)

The cake on this cupcake was exactly like the cake on the Vanilla/Vanilla cupcake. The frosting was just as light a fluffy as the vanilla cream cheese frosting, but the milk-chocolatiness of it complimented the vanilla cake perfectly.

Magnolia Bakery – NYC
While visiting NYC Elisa and I also stopped by Magnolia Bakery. It’s not typically our favorite place for cupcakes, but we were in the area and figured “why not?” They were out of a lot of options, but they did have these Red Velvet Rockette cupcakes left:


(Magnolia Bakery’s Red Velvet Cake with Whipped Vanilla Frosting)

Unfortunately this was not a good cupcake. The cake was really dry and dense and there wasn’t much flavor to it at all. The frosting was just okay too. Unfortunately the best part of this cupcake was the edible glitter and the chocolate Rockette on top. One redeeming quality was that even with how busy they were, the staff was incredibly friendly, so we had a great experience while we were there.

IcedGems – Baltimore, MD
IcedGems has a huge assortment of holiday flavors and decorated cupcakes this year. The options are amazing and thanks to one of Elisa’s co-workers – a fellow cupcake lover, Rebecca – Elisa has five to show you below. Thanks Rebecca for hooking us up with such awesome cupcakes!


(IcedGems’ Peppermint Cupcake)

Chocolate, peppermint, Hershey’s Kisses… what more can you ask for?! The perfect blend of sweet and peppermint, this cupcake made me go, “MMmmmmmmmm.” The cake was moist and rich with flavor, while the icing was smooth, creamy, and unfolded a peppermint taste on your tongue. Find their truck and buy one of these asap!


(IcedGems’ “Christmas Tree” holiday cupcake)

This was their “birthday cake” cupcake, which is fun-fetti cake with sweet buttercream icing. With it’s adorable star on top, this cupcake screams Christmas cheer! It was moist, delicious, sweet, savory, and just plain yummy. Simple flavors sometimes get lost in the mix of extravagant, complex, flavors, but this one was a shining star!


(IcedGems “Elf” holiday cupcake)

This adorable cupcake was very moist and sweet. It was a peanut butter swirl cake with vanilla buttercream icing. Elisa said that while it was really good, it wasn’t her favorite, but that there was some pretty steep competition with some of the other flavors.


(IcedGems “Santa Pants” holiday cupcake)

This chocolate cupcake was very good. With Santa’s legs sticking out of it like he’s stuck in a chimney, the flavorful cupcake was a sweet treat – with it’s reese’s peanut butter cup and marshmallow on top, this cupcake wasn’t just fun, it was flavorful too!


(IcedGems’ Egg Nog Cupcake)

Rebecca said that this cupcake was very good. In her own words, “The buttercream frosting was smooth with the right hint of spice and richness. While the cake wasn’t as moist as the others, it was also eaten a couple of days after it was purchased, and was still light with a nice kick of spice in it as well.  With an edible, white chocolate ornament on top, this cupcake all around was great!”

** IcedGems also very kindly gave Rebecca a Red Velvet, knowing that it’s Elisa’s favorite. We will be sharing that review in a separate post in the next week or two. So keep an eye out for that!  🙂

Sprinkles Cupcakes – Georgetown, DC
Another big “THANKS!” must go out to our newest Guest Crusader, Rebecca, for bringing a Red Velvet Sprinkles Cupcake to Elisa and sharing a review of the chocolate peppermint she got for herself.


(Sprinkles Cupcakes’ Chocolate Peppermint Cupcake)

This cupcake is described as a “Belgian dark chocolate cake topped with bittersweet chocolate-peppermint frosting. Sprinkled with crushed peppermint candies, it will get everyone rockin’ around the Christmas tree!” Apparently Rebecca agrees because she said, “Delicious! Moist, yummy, and great flavor.”


(Sprinkles Cupcakes’ Red Velvet Cupcake)

From Elisa: “Having previously reviewed the red velvet cupcake from Sprinkles, I was afraid this one wouldn’t live up to my memories… But it just confirmed my original review of simply scrumptious cake with fabulous cream cheese icing. Anytime I go there, I will have to get their red velvet.”

We hope whether you are baking cupcakes or ordering them from your local bakery, that you and your family have a very “sweet” Christmas.

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

‘Tis the season for Peppermint Chocolate!

After tasting seasonal cupcakes from several delicious bakeries, I decided I wanted to try to create one myself for the winter. I did some research and selected a chocolate peppermint cupcake. A blogger at WeAreNotMartha.com raved about this icing, so I knew I had to try it. However her thoughts on the cake made me think that I should look around for another recipe. Without a personal referral and with my limited experience baking from scratch I found myself struggling to find one. How do you know it will be good? I decided not to chance it and looked up my old friend…Duncan Hines. I wanted these to be rich chocolate so when I saw their Triple Chocolate cake mix, I knew this was the one for me.


(Above are some of the ingredients I had to purchase for my baking adventure. Icing from scratch was a new experience for me!)

Following the instructions on the package, I mixed up the batter and the separate fudge mix. They had special instructions for cupcakes, which said to pour the batter into the cups first and then to dollop on a scoop of the fudge mixture, allowing it to sit on top.

After baking the cupcakes I was excited to see that that fudge sank, creating a chocolaty filling.


(In the future I’ll be more careful about how I put the scoop on top so that each cupcake has a more perfect fudge center.)

Next up…the icing. This was definitely the part I was most nervous about. First I prepped the candy canes. I wanted to do what the website suggested, mixing a peppermint powder in with the icing. I started by breaking the candy canes down. I attempted to crush them with a rolling pin, but even my (hardly used) marble rolling pin couldn’t accomplish this. Then I saw, out of the corner of my eye, my food processor. Perfect!


(The food processor demolished the candy canes down to a beautiful peppermint dust.)

I also crunched up some bigger pieces of candy cane, using the blunt end of a butter knife, to use as toppers later. After the candy canes had been taken care of, I moved on to the actual icing. I followed the instructions on the site, but when it came time to add 2 more cups of powered sugar after the initial 3 cups it just seems like the icing was going to be too thick. The instructions mentioned that you should just keep adding powered sugar until reaching the desired consistency, so I added the remainder of the bag I’d purchased; maybe half a cup. The flavor was where I wanted it too: Minty, buttery, and sweet.

I knew that with the sunken centers in my cupcakes, I really wanted to pipe the icing. But I don’t own piping bags and had not thought about this in advance. So I improvised using…A ZIPLOCK BAG! I was really pleased with myself for making this alternative work and with the results:


(I sprinkled on some of the peppermint dust and topped with some candy cane chunks.)

Not bad for a first timer using a Ziploc bag, huh?

Now for the important thing…how do they taste? All I can say is that the icing makes these cupcakes. It really is delicious. But, I can’t deny that that fudge center of the Duncan Hines cake mix takes these cupcakes to the next level. Normally a box cake mix wouldn’t be rich enough to handle the intensity of the peppermint icing. However, the chocolaty center creates a perfect balance.

So if you are feeling adventurous but don’t trust your baking abilities, allow yourself to take some short cuts. In the end you’ll be able to learn a few new tricks without overwhelming yourself and hopefully have an end product that makes the little extra work worthwhile.

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

Kupcakes with Santa

It’s not every day that you get to eat cupcakes, make ornaments, have your photo taken with Santa and help give back to the community. But Kupcakes & Co. made that happen for kids and adults last Saturday. They organized and hosted an event called Kupcakes with Santa and 100% of the proceed went to Howard General Hospital Pediatrics. This little family owned shop – that has only been open for about 5 months – had a line out the door all day and ended up raising $2,500 to donate to the hospital. If you go to their website you can read the wonderful story about their business, but really, you should go there to experience their warmth and friendliness first hand.

The Cupcake Crusaders have been wanting to visit their storefront for quite some time, but it was really the youngest Crusader who finally got us there. Since it’s Jenn’s daughter, Leah’s, first Christmas she couldn’t pass up a chance to meet Santa, even if she’s still too young to indulge in cupcakes with us. The adult Crusaders were excited to finally taste Kupcake & Co.’s sweet treats. Combine that with Santa photos and a good cause? We are there.


(Who says your ever too old to take a picture with Santa? From left to right: me (Stacy); Guest Crusader – Beth Lacey; Santa (duh); Elisa; and Jenn)

As soon as we arrived there were a ton of people and excitement in the air. The line was quite long, but as we waited we were asked what cupcakes we would like and told they would be ready for us at the register. Sure enough, they were. After putting them in the car we heading back in for some crafts and Santa.


(The shop was decked out in holiday decor, including a small tree with this hand painted ornament with their logo!)

While there, the owner of Kupcakes & Co., Michelle, took a minute to speak with us and get to know us a little. She was so sweet and told us how it was always her goal, from the beginning, to give back to the community. Not only do they do events like these, but every week they freeze cupcakes that are left over at the end of the day and donate them to homeless shelters.

Crusader Jenn and her husband ate two cupcakes from their box of a dozen while we were there, so they already knew how good they were, but even though Elisa and I still hadn’t tried ours we left the shop that day already madly in love with Kupcakes & Co.

We ended up getting a ton of different flavors between the 3 of us, but for today’s post, since it is the holiday season, we are going to focus on the following holiday flavors: Candy Cane, Gingerbread Latte (cupcake and cake pop), Hot Chocolate, Egg Nog and Snickerdoodle (since it’s a “cookie” flavor, and this is the season of cookies, I’m counting it as a holiday flavor).

Candy Cane

This adorable cupcake tasted just like a holiday candy cane! It was a mint explosion, but in a light refreshing way. The cake was moist, soft, and very flavorful. While it had little red dots throughout it, the cake mostly tasted like delicious yellow/vanilla cake. The icing was divinely smooth and scrumptiously peppermint! Together, it was the perfect holiday cupcake and the teeny tiny candy canes on top we a nice change from the normal peppermint pieces that adorn peppermint cupcakes.

Gingerbread Latte

This cupcake is pure heaven! We loved the TRUE ginger flavor and the spiciness of the very moist and perfectly textured cake! The cream cheese icing was smooth, creamy, sweet, and savory! The bite of the ginger with the creaminess of the icing really created a perfectly balanced cupcake. It was so good that Elisa said she savored every bite and would make a trip down to Elkridge just to get one!

Gingerbread Latte Cake Pop

Like the cupcake, this Gingerbread Cake Pop had that true ginger taste and spiciness. It was a perfect compliment to the sweet white chocolate that surrounded it. This bite size treat went perfect with a small glass of milk. I think that Santa would love some of these left by the tree on Christmas Eve instead of cookies (he gets plenty of those)!

Hot Chocolate

This was a big crowd pleaser and it was Jenn’s favorite of all the cupcakes she tried. We both agreed that is was the perfect hot chocolate cupcake. The chocolate cake was moist and rich, and the marshmallow frosting was fluffy and light. We later found out that the frosting is a combination between marshmallow fluff and a meringue. (What a clever combination that works so well with this flavor!) Elisa and I shared one, but I think we both secretly wished we had one of our own.

Egg Nog

This cupcake flavor is one that I’ve been pining for all season. It was made with both an egg nog frosting and egg nog flavored cake. Despite flavor in both it’s not overpowering, but it makes sure that you taste egg nog in every bite. It is sweet though, so make sure to keep the glass of milk nearby!

Snickerdoodle

I was the only one to get this flavor. The other girls sure did miss out! While it wasn’t my favorite of the bunch (I think the Hot Chocolate and Egg Nog won that fight), it was still so good. Full on cinnamon flavor that reminded me of the actual cookie. The addition of the sweet cinnamon frosting was a great compliment to the soft cake.

Overall, I think we can all agree that Kupcakes & Co. has taken a spot on our favorites list. The cupcakes are on the large side (but no so large you can’t enjoy all to yourself in one sitting) and only $2.50 each. They bake fresh daily, so you never have to worry about day-old cupcakes. The whole day was a wonderful and we are all looking forward to our next visit there.

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