Baking Experiment: Pumpkin S’mores Cupcakes

Fall is in full swing and it is officially pumpkin season. With these cool fall days I can’t help but think of toasting marshmallows by a campfire and making s’mores… What could be better than putting those ideas together for my next cupcake experiment? Ok, I’d love to claim this as my idea, but really it was Crusader Stacy’s. While away on our annual girls trip we were chatting about what kind of cupcake I should make and it all came together. Every year I make pumpkin pancakes on our trip and Crusader Stacy is our s’mores queen. BAM! An idea was born. And it might be my best cupcake yet!

After doing my usual research I settled on these recipes: a graham cracker crust, pumpkin pie spice cake, marshmallow fluff filling, chocolate buttercream with marshmallow fluff edge frosting, and crumbled graham cracker crust sprinkles on top.

PumpkinSmoresCupcake
(A little fall foliage for a fantastic fall flavor!)

Two of my favorite things put together created the perfect fall cupcake AND it was SO good. The graham cracker crust added a flavor and texture that helped make this cupcake truly taste like a s’more. The cake was moist, spicy and didn’t turn out muffiny (which some pumpkin cakes do). The frosting was smooth and, considering it was my first chocolate buttercream ever, it might be the best frosting I have ever made. I baked the leftover crust ingredients and crumbled it on top – that pop of crunch was the perfect way to finish this cupcake.

PumpkinSmoreCutHalf
(Check out that yummy filling!)

I did run into a couple of issues with this baking experiment. The first being that the cake recipe made many more than the 18 that was stated. Granted I had graham cracker crust in the bottom, but after making 2 dozen cupcakes, I had enough batter left over to make at least another dozen. The other issue I ran into is the marshmallow fluff edge on the frosting. I thought it would be as simple as lining the pastry bag with fluff, adding the frosting and presto. Well, not so much. Lining the pastry bag would have worked had I used two types of frosting, but the fluff was a bit too sticky and didn’t line the edges of the chocolate buttercream the way I wanted. It still looked cute and tasted great, so this was only a minor bump in an otherwise smooth baking road.

Overall this cupcake was a total baking success. Sweet, spicy, chocolatey, and with the perfect amount of pumpkin, this cupcake concoction embodies its namesake campfire treat. I’m so glad our girls trip inspired such a fun and interesting baking experiment. Who knows what we’ll come up with for my next flavor – if you’ve got an idea for an interesting (and filled) cupcake that you’d like me to make, let us know below!

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader Elisa (Baltimore, MD)

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More From Kimberley’s Bakeshoppe, One Of Our Most Popular Reviews

When I brought Kimberley’s Bakeshoppe cupcakes to one of our Summer Cupcake Picnics I had no idea how they would be perceived. I tried them and I liked them, but there would be some serious bakers there. However, after passing them around for our guests to taste, and revealing that the cupcakes were purchased from Walmart, everyone was shocked.

Kimberleys_OriginalFlavors
(Flavors from our previous review: Triple Chocolate, Vanilla Creme, and Lemon Ice.)

After posting our review, we have continued to get (mostly) positive comments from others who have found Kimberley’s Bakeshoppe cupcakes at various locations across the nation. It’s been one of our most popular reviews, with a total of 84 comments and growing weekly.

With the attention our review has received, we wanted contact Give & Go, the prepared foods company that makes Kimberley’s Bakeshoppe cupcakes, located in Toronto Canada. We told them about all the feedback we’ve seen and asked if they could provide us with any additional information about these mysterious cupcakes (they don’t have a website and are not featured on Give & Go’s site).

Give & Go was very prompt in their response and overwhelmed by the great comments you all have left for them. Out of gratitude they asked if they could send us some cupcakes. Of course our response was, “YES!” Shortly after that I received 48 cupcakes at my doorstep!

Kimberleys_Shipment
(This is what a shipping box packed with four dozen cupcakes looks like. Two dozen on top and two dozen on the bottom.)

I was flabbergasted. As much as I would like to eat 48 cupcakes, I knew I shouldn’t. But at the same time I couldn’t help feeling like a giddy little girl on the day of her birthday party. In addition to the three flavors I had already tried (Triple Chocolate, Lemon Ice, and Vanilla Crème), we had three new ones: Pumpkin Spice, Carrot Nut, and Red Velvet. Our readers mentioned all three of these, but I hadn’t been able to locate them yet. And now here they were!

Kimberleys_AllFlavors
(Kimberley Bakeshoppe’s six flavors all together.)

Give & Go informed us that they produce their own products and distribute them using a thaw and sell method, where products are shipped frozen to maintain freshness, but are thawed by the vendor and sold at room temperature. They give credit to their vendors who have adapted to the method in order to ensure that the highest quality product gets in the consumers’ hands.

When I received my cupcakes they were packed incredibly well, with dry ice, and still frozen solid. I’ve been keeping them in the freezer until I’m ready to eat one or give a few away. They have all been so fresh, with consistently moist, light cake and well balanced flavors and sweetness.

Pumpkin Spice

Kimberleys_Pumpkin

The cake on the Pumpkin Spice cupcake was perfectly spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove, and filled and topped with a whipped cream cheese frosting. I felt a little rebellious eating a fall cupcake in the middle of winter, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy every moment.

Carrot Nut

Kimberleys_Carrot

Out of all the flavors, this was my least favorite. That doesn’t mean it was horrible, because it still had moist cake and Kimberley’s great cream cheese frosting, however the cake didn’t have as much texture as I like in carrot cake. With the name Carrot Nut I expected to have a lot of nuts in the cake, but I didn’t detect any other than the crushed nut garnish on top, which wasn’t enough for me.

Red Velvet

Kimberleys_RedVelvet

We’ve heard a lot of good things about this cupcake from our readers. I’m not usually a Red Velvet fan, but after trying 4 of the 6 flavors I had high hopes for Kimberley’s version and it didn’t disappoint. The cake was rich and didn’t lack flavor. Although the description says that it has the whipped cream cheese frosting on top and as a filling, the frosting on this one seemed different than the filling, and had more of a marshmallow flavor. Maybe it was just the pairing with the cake, but whatever it was I liked it!

Kimberleys_VanillaBananaSplit
(Just for fun…I like to play around with cupcakes, so here is a Kimberley’s Vanilla Creme turned into a banana split. Oh, it’s VERY good!)

If you happen to pass by these cupcakes in Walmart, Target, Kroger, or another grocer, don’t hesitate to pick them up. Based on the comments it seems like they range in price from $2.99 to $4.99 for four, so you can’t go wrong. If for some reason you find that your product wasn’t moist and wonderful then you should definitely inform Give & Go. They seem to be an honest, hardworking group, who really value customer service and the feedback of their consumers. It’s always nice to find out that the people behind the cupcakes are just as great as their product!

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

P.S. I ate a Kimberley’s Triple Chocolate cupcake while writing this post. It seemed appropriate. 😉

Wegmans’ Cupcakes

I have a confession to make…Up until our annual fall girls’ weekend trip, I had never been into a Wegmans. Shameful, I know, especially in the Baltimore area. I’ve heard nothing but great things about Wegmans and the selection, so I’ve been dying to go. After hearing that their bakery offers “gourmet” cupcakes, we’ve had it on our list, but with so many cupcakeries to visit it had fallen to the wayside.

Since I haven’t managed to get to any of the local Wegmans, imagine my surprise when we passed a Wegmans in Williamsport, PA on the way to our cabin. I didn’t notice it on our first trip, but I think it’s been there for a while (it was kind of dated looking). Who knew Williamsport, PA would have a Wegmans?!

Wegmans_Girls
(Leah didn’t care that the “car” looked like it had been in numerous collisions.)

Leah was thrilled with the child’s play car that was in the front of the shopping cart. There was space for two, and Freya indulged us, but Leah took control of both steering wheels and went to town.

WegmansCupcakes_All

While Leah and Freya “drove,” Crusaders Stacy, Elisa, and I beelined for the bakery. We found their basic cupcakes, but walked down the counter a little further and found their “gourmet” cupcakes neatly packaged in really nice individual cupcakes containers, which Stacy and I had to save (example here). Once I saw the Peanut Butter Chocolate, I knew I had to get that one to take back to my peanut-butter-chocolate-loving husband. Stacy claimed a Pumpkin Spice as hers, so Elisa decided on the Carrot Cake.

Chocolate Peanut Butter:

WegmansCupcakes_ChocolatePeanutButter

For me, this cupcake was just okay. I was really surprised to see that there was a whipped vanilla filling. If anything, I would have expected a peanut butter filling. The peanut butter drizzle wasn’t enough to bring out the flavor over the chocolate ganache frosting and chocolate cake, so in the end it just tasted like a decent chocolate cupcake.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcake:

WegmansCupcakes_Pumpkin

Crusader Stacy thought the pumpkin cake in this cupcake had great flavor and was super moist, but the cream cheese frosting was a little too rich. She said that she ended up scraping off most of the frosting and just leaving a little bit behind for flavor.

Carrot Cupcake:

WegmansCupcakes_CarrotCake

Elisa enjoyed the very moist cake that had a lovely hint of spice in this cupcake. She said, “I really liked the pieces of carrot in the cake and the addition of raisins. The cream cheese frosting was on the sweeter side, but because the cake had so much spice, it really worked. The cake to frosting ratio was perfect and I thought the size of the cupcake was perfect. I would definitely get this cupcake again.”

Our thoughts all varied, which may have to do with our selections, however I think it’s safe to say that Wegmans has cupcakes that are better than the average grocery store. And you get a single cupcake container that can be reused, so that’s an added bonus! Have you had Wegmans’ cupcakes? Let us know what you thought.

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

Apple, Maple, Pumpkin, Spice – The Flavors of Fall

This time of year we can’t seem to resist anything with a fall seasonal flavor, which means we have tried many random cupcakes from several locations that we want to share with you. What better way to do that then one big post?! The cupcakes below are from: AngelCakes in Frederick, MD; Sweet Sin Bakery and Cafe in Baltimore, MD; Caffe Latte’da in Baltimore, MD; Crumbs Bake Shop in Clarendon, VA; Georgetown Cupcake in Bethesda, MD; Starry Night Bakery and Coffeehouse in Westminster, MD; and Snickerdoodles Bakery in Coffee House in Hampstead, MD.

AngelCakes – Frederick, MD
Pumpkin Spice Cupcake

Last time I reviewed AngelCakes it was a bit of a mixed review. I tried two cupakes, but only really enjoyed one. Well, this Pumpkin Spice cupcake work out in my favor with its super moist cake and great pumpkin spice flavor. The frosting was sweet, but not overly so. This cupcake actually reminded me a lot of a Dunkin Donut’s pumpkin doughnut, which isn’t a bad thing (I could eat those doughnuts all day, every day if my waistline would let me).

Sweet Sin Bakery and Cafe (AKA: Sweet 27 – Gluten Free) – Baltimore, MD
Pumpkin Spice and Pumpkin Apple Caramel Cupcakes

Sweet Sin can often be a hit or miss, but their Chocolate Raspberry cupcake is completely decadent and just that alone has me thinking about their cupcakes often—its close proximity to my day job doesn’t hurt either. Plus, they are gluten free, so kind of healthy too, right? (Don’t burst my bubble on this…) Recently, I found myself with a fierce cupcake craving, so decided to stop in and see what fall cupcakes were on the menu. They actually had about four seasonal flavors that day, so I selected Pumpkin Spice and Pumpkin Apple Caramel. Unfortunately only one really worked for me. The Pumpkin Apple Caramel had large chunks of baked apples, but also contained a weird spice flavor that just didn’t win me over. Luckily the Pumpkin Spice saved the day and ended up having a great flavor and smooth frosting. The cake on both was a bit dense and the texture wasn’t totally like “normal” cake, but since I convince myself that I was eating a healthy cupcake I decided to overlook that.

Cafe Latte’da – Baltimore, MD
Pumpkin Cupcake

This cupcake is a bit like a muffin pretending to be a cupcake. The cake’s texture screams, “I’m a muffin!” but, the flavor of the “cake” is really nice and the cream cheese frosting on top is smooth with just the right amount of sweetness. This cupcake is also HUGE which means you can share it or eat half immediately and save the rest for later (or just eat the whole thing in one sitting, we won’t judge).

Crumbs Bakery – Clarendon, VA

Pumpkin

Pumpkin… sadly this cupcake did not live up to its namesake. The cake was moist and delicious, but didn’t taste like pumpkin at all, the icing was the same…both had a lovely vanilla flavor—which after a bit of searching on their website I discovered that Crumbs has two cupcakes that reference pumpkin: one that is just vanilla and one that is actually pumpkin flavored. As a Vanilla cupcake, this cupcake did NOT disappoint. Simple in flavor, but decorated for the season!

Apple Cobbler

Streusel Crumbs = Heaven. Filled with apple pie preserves, covered in delicious vanilla buttercream and topped with streusel crumbs, this cupcake flavor is amazing and complex. It didn’t just taste like apple cobbler, it embodied and elevated the flavors of its namesake dessert.

Georgetown Cupcake – Bethesda, MD
Pumpkin Spice and Caramel Apple Cupcakes

For November Georgetown Cupcake has some fantastic fall flavor offerings; including the two pictured above: Pumpkin Spice and Caramel Apple. The Pumpkin Spice cupcake was just as I remembered it from our 2011 Cupcake Tour—a little dense, but the flavors were amazing. The cake was full of spices while the cream cheese icing had a subtle maple flavor. Caramel Apple, whoa! The apple cake was moist and the dolce de leche filling adds a whole new level of flavor to this cupcake. Both cupcakes are fall-tastic!

Starry Night Bakery and Coffeehouse – Westminster, MD
Amaretto Chai Spice Cupcake

Starry Night released this new flavor after I went in this year to pick their other 2012 Fall Seasonal cupcakes. Luckily they had them on my most recent visit! This cupcake was moist and light, full of flavor. It seemed more like a spice cake to me, but I’m not a big chai tea drinker (unlike Crusader Elisa). The chai buttercream was smooth and I think I picked up notes of cinnamon. Another winning cupcake from Starry Night!

Snickerdoodles Bakery and Coffee House – Hampstead, MD
Apple Cinnamon Cupcake

This Apple Cinnamon cupcake was amazing, to say the least. Snickerdoodles tends to always fill their large gourmet cupcakes, even if just with a whipped frosting, but this cupcake was filled with an apple cinnamon compote and topped with cinnamon buttercream. The crumb around the edge added a nice texture and gave it the feeling of an apple crisp.

We hope that you were able to get out this fall and taste some seasonal cupcakes. Fall flavors are some of our favorites, but now with Thanksgiving bringing the season to a close, we are ready for the cupcakes that winter has to offer!

– Reviews by the Cupcake Crusaders

A Waste of $10.50 | Guest Review | City Cakes | New York, New York

We are excited to have another guest review from our NYC dweller, Jen. She’s been on many cupcake adventures with us and has taken the time to write today’s review on a new shop she visited, City Cakes. Thanks Jen!

Over the summer, I got an internship in the design department of Abrams Books. It’s been a cool experience, especially for a bookworm and craft queen like me, and it’s close enough to my apartment that I’ve been able to walk to work every day. During the hot and humid summer days, I was all about the frozen yogurt places on the way home, but once it started to cool down, I noticed the teeny tiny City Cakes bakery. Normally, I avoid anything food-related that is in a basement because NYC is a pretty grungy place, but when I saw that they have an A (it’s NYC law that all places that serve food have health code letter grades displayed in their front windows) I decided that one day I’d give it a go.

As the Crusaders have mentioned about a hundred times already, pumpkin + cupcakes = awesome… usually. When I saw this sign outside of City Cakes in early October, I decided that the time had come to venture inside. So today I did.

I walked down the metal stairs and into the awkward tiny hallway, and was surprised at exactly how small this place is. It would be cramped with three customers inside, though surprisingly they had about ten different cupcake flavors displayed in and on top of the case. They also have cookies, and the sample I tried, which I believe was chocolate with white chocolate chips, was very yummy. (In hindsight, I should have skipped the cupcakes and gotten some cookies…) There were two or three employees talking behind the counter, in an area not much bigger than the front and I couldn’t help but notice how spacious my studio apartment seemed compared to this place.  I was worried initially that they wouldn’t accept credit cards, as I rarely carry cash, but they do with a $10 minimum, which was perfect because I wanted to get four cupcakes.

I chose two of the pumpkin spice cupcakes, as those were the reason I came in, (and I didn’t want to have to share), then one red velvet, and one salted caramel, for my hubby and I to split. The total came to $10.50, which I thought was pretty reasonable considering the usual NYC cupcake prices are a bit higher.

I was very excited to try all of the cupcakes, but especially the pumpkin spice, so we dug into those first.

When cupcakes have a lot of frosting, as all of these did, I start licking off some of the frosting before I take a bite of the cake, so that the frosting doesn’t completely overwhelm the flavor of the cake (I’m strange, I know). So anyway, I noticed that the cream cheese frosting had a sort of strange tanginess to it, but I couldn’t quite figure out what it was. It made the roof of my mouth tingle, and not in a good way, but I’m not always the biggest fan of cream cheese frosting, so I figured I’d just move on to the cake.

My hubby’s first comment was, “Well this is dense.” Huge understatement. The cake was denser than pumpkin bread, and nowhere near as tasty. I managed to make it halfway through, but had to stop. It just wasn’t good. My hubby only made it about ¾ of the way through, and he can usually finish anything! I felt bad for throwing half of the cupcake away, but I had hope for the next ones.

Next up was the red velvet cupcake. We split this one and boy am I glad I didn’t buy two of them. I hate to say it, but this cupcake could very well be the very worst cupcake I have ever eaten. Ever.

It looked good and smelled good (as they all did) but the cream cheese frosting was just okay. The cake was just as dense as the pumpkin, but it was seriously like eating sawdust. I honestly don’t know how a cupcake can be that dry. We both threw our halves away after only one small bite. So disappointing, but I know from experience that it is hit or miss with red velvet, and usually it’s more of a miss.

Finally was the salted caramel. Even after the other two cupcakes, I had hope for this one – how can you possibly screw up salted caramel?

Cutting it in half was a huge mess, as caramel was everywhere, but licking my fingers was delicious at least. This frosting was buttercream, and it tasted alright, but was a bit crunchy as if it had been sitting out for a day already. The caramel drizzle was the only thing that saved it. I could taste a bit of the saltiness in the frosting, but I didn’t eat too much of it as it was nothing special and kind of stale. Moving on to the cake, which I believe was caramel flavored. It wasn’t horrible, but it was still pretty dry. I thought it was the best of all three, until I noticed little chunks in both bites I took, which suggested that they didn’t stir the batter enough before baking it. That kind of grossed me out and it was nothing special, so that one went in the trash too. The hubby threw his away about halfway through, but he said if he absolutely had to choose, that would be his favorite of the night too.

I am very disappointed that the cupcakes from City Cakes were so lackluster, but more than that I’m disappointed that I didn’t have any ice cream or yummy desserts in my apartment that could take the bad taste out of my mouth! Blech.

– Review by Guest Crusader, Jen (New York, New York)