Stay Sweet Cupcakery | Lewisburg, PA

Crisp air, leaves changing, pumpkin spice everything… fall is officially here and that means GIRLS WEEKEND! Crusaders Jenn, Elisa, and I always look forward to our annual getaway with our closest girl friends. It started in tents, but has since progressed to cabins fully loaded with bathrooms, beds, and TVs—basically it’s not rugged at all. But that’s okay with us because we are there for serious girl time, tents or no tents.

This year, our 6th anniversary of gathering together, we decided to head to Corning, NY. Year after year we have spotted billboards advertising various exhibits at the Corning Museum of Glass, and finally we made it our destination spot. You may remember that last summer Elisa and I stumbled across Walker Cake Co. during a brief stop in Corning, but after doing some research I couldn’t find any new spots that would guarantee cupcakes. So, on our way to Corning, we stopped in Lewisburg, PA, home of Stay Sweet Cupcakery. Stay Sweet has been on my radar for quite some time, but stopping there never seemed to work out, until now.

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When we visited Stay Sweet Cupcakery we decided to grab our cupcakes to go because we already stopped for about two hours in Sellinsgrove, PA (if you are ever passing through Sellinsgrove get raw oysters from BJ’s Steak House and a coffee at The Kind Cafe). Stay Sweet is an adorable little shop, with an inviting front porch and a small “general store” like atmosphere inside. Already behind schedule, we quickly chose six cupcakes (five different flavors) and were back on the road in a matter of minutes.

After an evening spent around a campfire with lots of seasonal beer, appetizers, baked ziti, red wine, and S’mores, we didn’t have the room in our bellies for cupcakes the night we arrived. The next day we spent time at the Corning Museum of Glass, making wind-chimes, glass sculptures, wandering the enormous gift shop, and trying to escape the rain (I was so relieved we weren’t in tents that weekend…). After dinner back at the cabin, we dove into the cupcakes while playing Cards Against Humanity (which is a hilarious game, thanks for bringing it Beth Lacey!).

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(Our Cupcake Loot: Caramel Latte, Heath Bar, Salted Caramel, Pineapple Coconut, and Peanut Butter Pie)

NOTE: Normally we like to try at least one cupcake right away, to really get the best feel for the freshness of the cake and frosting. But since we were sharing these with a group of girls and a cabin stocked with more food than we could eat, we didn’t try them until the following evening. They also ended staying in the box because we didn’t have the proper air-tight storage. I truly think this effected the moistness of the cake on all the cupcakes we tried, so we don’t want to fault Stay Sweet for that.

Caramel Latte

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Elisa and I were both really excited about this cupcake. So much so, that we ordered two of them as part of our half dozen. The coffee flavor was super present, almost too much though because it over-powered the caramel. Since I love coffee, this didn’t totally bother me, but the coffee grinds in the frosting did. I don’t mind a little bit here and there for texture, but it was a bit of an overkill, even for me.

Heath Bar

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Sadly, while this cupcake had a lot of excitement, it really wasn’t anything special. The Heath Bar flavor was missing so it ended up tasting more like a basic vanilla cupcake with chocolate frosting.

Salted Caramel

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I believe this flavor was voted one of the favorite flavors at the shop, so we had to get it and,with its great caramel flavor, it didn’t let us down. Some thought there could be more saltiness, but others thought it was just right.

Pineapple Coconut

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This may seem like a strange flavor for the fall, but Jenn said she wanted something “light and citrusy” so this is what we selected for her, and we are so glad we did! The filling in the middle seemed to keep this cupcake more moist than some of the others. There was a nice balance of coconut and pineapple flavor with buttery cake and smooth frosting. Definitely one of the favorites of the night!

Peanut Butter Pie

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I think we were all excited about this cupcake and it lived up to our expectations. The peanut butter flavor was fully there and, like the Pineapple Coconut cupcake, the delicious peanut butter filling made this one of the more moist cupcakes of the evening. So glad we selected this one.

We love crusading and we love our girls, so sharing cupcakes with them and hearing their thoughts is always fun for us. It was even better that it was on a weekend getaway with lots of food, drinks, and much needed catching up. Can’t wait until next year!

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

Blast From the Past: Pazo’s Cupcakes & Cocktails

Back in March of 2010, the Crusaders and a few girlfriends met up several times at Pazo for their Thursday night Cupcakes & Cocktails event. Pazo is known for amazing food and a unique cocktail selection, but we didn’t always order the cupcakes with their recommended cocktail pairing, since we can eat many more cupcakes than we should drink cocktails. Below are the cupcakes we tried, way back when…
Angel Food Cupcake with Rasperry Sorbet, paired with La Vie en
Rose (Moscato d’Asti, Soho Lychee Liqueur, rose water, and a fresh
rose petal)
Pazo-Sorbet
This was the first of our cupcake and cocktail combos. The cake was light and airy, as angel food cake should be. The cocktail was so delicious that Crusader Stacy said it was, “probably the best drink I’ve ever had!” Even though this was a frosting-free cupcake, the pairing worked well together and was certainly a great start to the evening.
Chocolate Cupcake, paired with an Espresso Martini
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(Photo from Baltimore Sun, no harm or infringement intended.)
This chocolate cupcake topped with white chocolate mousse and drizzled with salted caramel was AMAZING! Not too sweet, and the little bit of saltiness was perfect! The chocolate martini cocktail was smooth and sweet with the perfect alcohol zing.
Bacon & Manchego Cupcake with Miticrema Mousse
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This cupcake was interesting. Not a typical dessert cupcake in flavor or texture, this cupcake was good, once you knew what to expect. It was a tasty and an interesting take on a cupcake and cocktail pairing.
Sweet Corn Cupcake with Butter Pecan Ice Cream & Caramel Corn topping
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Both our friend Beth’s and my favorite of all the cupcakes, this sweet corn cake was amazing and tasted a bit like caramel corn. The maple iceream alone was wonderful and with a STACK of homemade caramel corn on top, it is a cupcake that still stands out to me today!
Rum Baba Cupcake with Crème Fraiche & Candied Mint, paired with
Classic Elderflower Mondello Mojito St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur,
fresh lemon.
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This cupcake was very good, with a lightness that paired well with the cocktail. Lemony and fresh this was a cupcake that we would love to try again.
We Crusaders still enjoy going to Pazo, and try to stop by when we are in the Fell’s Point/Harbor East area. They have fantastic food, a too cool atmosphere and comfy couches. On a recent visit, Crusader Stacy and I ended up there late night, sipping unique cocktails and catching up. With or without cupcakes we love this Baltimore gem… if only they would bring back Cupcakes & Cocktails!

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader Elisa (Baltimore, MD)

Guest Review from Fizzy Party | Decadent Creations | Beaverton, Oregon

Our friend Tiffany, from Fizzy Party, is at it again! She’s sharing a review of Decadent Creations, located in Beaverton, Oregon. Thanks again, Tiffany!

Hello again fellow cupcake lovers. Tiffany here, bringing you cupcake reviews from Oregon. Today I’m reviewing Decadent Creations in my town of Beaverton, Oregon. Decadent Creations can only be purchased at farmers markets or by special order.

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While shopping at the farmers market in downtown Beaverton one Saturday, I came across a bakery booth tucked in amongst the fruits and vegetables. Well you know I had to stop and sample the cupcakes. On my first visit the only cupcake she had was the After Midnight. A devil’s food cake, dark chocolate ganache with chocolate crumbs. A chocolate lovers dream. I’m not a huge fan of an all chocolate cupcake, but I sampled one for you.

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The cake had a mild chocolate taste and was moist. The chocolate ganache was a little too much chocolate for me. However, if you’re a chocolate lover I think you’d really enjoy this cupcake.

The following Saturday I stopped by her booth again to see if she had a different flavor. She did. This time it was Vanilla Caramel with Sea Salt. Again, not one of my favorites in the cupcake world, but someones got to sample them for you.

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I was pleasantly surprised by this cupcake. I love caramel but am not a fan of salt. Normally salted caramel cupcakes are too salty for me. The salt is all I can taste. This cupcake had a nice light flavor to it with just the right amount of salt. I would buy this one again.

I’m hoping to try some of her other wonderful sounding cupcakes. White Chocolate Coconut, Anisette and Tangerine, Fresh Berry and Blue Man. If she ever has these available I’ll be sure to sample them for you and let you know how they taste.

– Review by Guest Crusader, Tiffany from Fizzy Party

A Second Chance for True “CakeLove”

We Crusaders want each cupcake we try to be great, sadly that isn’t always the case and sometimes we end up writing reviews that aren’t so sweet. Because we pride ourselves in being perfectly honest, good or bad, we will write about it. Every so often we hear back about changes that a baker or shop made after reading our review, with requests to try their cupcakes again. Well, we love eating cupcakes and are always up for giving a shop a second chance, so when CakeLove contacted us about giving them another try, we knew we had to go!

Crudsader Stacy was the first to try CakeLove about a year ago (read review), sadly it didn’t quite live up to her expectations. Kim LaMore, CakeLove’s Corporate Sales and Service Manager, saw our review this past February and contacted us about giving CakeLove another try. We were excited to hear that they made some changes after reading reviews from yelp, bloggers, and other social media outlets. (It is always nice when companies listen to their customers and take criticism in stride.)

After planning with Crusaders Jenn and Stacy, I set out to swing by CakeLove after the DC Rock & Roll 1/2 Marathon in March. When I got to the shop I was greeted by very friendly staff and choose 6 cupcakes to bring back to Baltimore. The Crusaders and I made plans to spend the next day together and try them in true “cupcake buffet” form.

Bailey’s
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Who wouldn’t want some Bailey’s and chocolate cake the day after running a 1/2 Marathon, oh, and on St. Patrick’s day! While we thought the chocolate cake was just ok, the frosting really stood out and packed a punch of Bailey’s flavor. When eaten together the cake and frosting combination was a win.

Coffee Chocolate
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All three of the Crusaders love coffee, so this flavor was a must when I made my selections, and this cupcake did not disappoint. While we agreed that the cake by itself was nothing extraordinary, the frosting was amazing and we could have eaten a tub of it. The cake in this instance was merely a vessel for the fantastic frosting.

Red Velvet
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As always, Red Velvet vexes me and my cupcake crusade. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t a stand out in this bunch. The frosting was very smooth and a bit sweet, with an interestingly different flavor to it, perhaps mascarpone and a bit of butter? I wouldn’t mind having more of that frosting, but am not sure I want it on their Red Velvet cupcake.

Salted Caramel
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Lovely swirls of caramel and salt crystals adorn the delicious frosting of this cupcake, sadly the cake underneath was a bit dry and crumbly. I personally loved the frosting, it was smooth, very buttery (my favorite), and Crusader Stacy agreed that it had great salted caramel flavor. Crusader Jenn thought the frosting didn’t balance the sweet and salty, so this wasn’t her favorite frosting or cupcake.

Strawberry Vanilla
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This cupcake reminded me more of Strawberry Shortcake than a cupcake. The cake was a dry and crumbly, like that of the Salted Caramel, and even though the frosting was smooth and had great flavor, it couldn’t save this cupcake from being just “ok.”

Triple Chocolate
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Sweeter than the rest, I was glad I saved this chocolate explosion for last! Rich and chocolatey, Crusader Stacy wished she had a glass of milk to drink with it. The shavings on top added a nice texture. And while super sweet isn’t always my style, this is a cupcake I would eat again and again.

CakeLove obviously made some fantastic changes to their recipes and we enjoyed their re-vamped cupcakes. We cannot thank them enough for reaching out to us! Not only did it give me a reason to eat cupcakes after running 13.1 miles, but it also gave us a fresh perspective on this very accomplished bakery. (And an added bonus for our readers: Kim sent along some interview questions to Warren Brown himself! Watch for that interview tomorrow.)

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

Everyone Wins with La Casa de Sweets!

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This year the Crusaders were unable to host a Bake Sale for No Kid Hungry like we did last year. However we still wanted to help out Jackie, from La Casa de Sweets reach her goal. When she posted the menu for her pre-order bake sale, we couldn’t resist. First, a dozen cupcakes were only $20. Wow! Secondly, the flavors sounded amazing. I decided to throw a dozen cookies on top of my order, because those also sounded too good to pass up.

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I’m so glad I followed my instincts with these cookies. All of them were chewy! I’ve told Jackie before that it seems like magic when a baker makes a cookie that stays chewy for days. The Peanut Butter Oatmeal was gluten-free and I never would have guessed it. Neither did my daughter or husband who gobbled them up. The Fudgy Brownie cookies had a thin crunchy exterior, but were very soft on the inside and just melted in my mouth. And the Chewy Chocolate Chip cookies, which I first tried when Jackie donated a couple dozen to our Passionately Pink Bake Sale, were the most perfect chocolate chip cookies you could imagine.

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La Casa de Sweets’ cupcakes can all be summed up by a quote from my husband after trying the Chocolate Salted Caramel, “La Casa de Yum.” The chocolate cake was moist and even with a generous drizzle of caramel, the cupcake wasn’t overly sweet. For me, it was a harmonious balance of flavors.

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Have I mentioned before that I LOVE lemon cupcakes? I’m sure I have, but if not, well…I LOVE lemon cupcakes. And La Casa de Sweets’ version sits at a high ranking. The cake on the Lemon Mascarpone cupcake was on the dense side, but not dry. I found the lemon flavor to be refreshing (not artificial), not overly sweet, and perfectly tart.

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I have a secret about the last cupcake, Chocolate Peanut Butter: I didn’t tell my husband that it was egg and dairy free. He still doesn’t know (well, maybe now he does). Chocolate and peanut butter combinations are his favorite, so I wanted to get an unbiased review from him. All I got was a bunch of caveman like sounds, that resemble, “MmmHmmm.” With that, I’d have to say he was completely satisfied. The chocolate peanut butter cake was more moist than the Chocolate Salted Caramel, which was hard to believe. The cupcake was rich, decadent, and bursting with flavor, even though from its appearance it seemed like a simple cake with just a glaze on top.

Even though I felt like I was the winner, with these cupcakes and cookies as my prize, La Casa de Sweets met their goal, raising over $1,000 in one week for No Kid Hungry, through bake sale purchases and donations. That’s amazing!

It isn’t too late to donate. If you’d like to help out, please visit La Casa de Sweets’ donation page. Thanks!

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

Gotta Play to Win!

SHPContest_Me (Photo by Sweet Hearts Patisserie)

If you follow us on Facebook, you may have seen that last week I won Sweet Hearts Patisserie‘s contest! I rarely win anything, so for a long time that discouraged me from entering contests, but then I heard the phrases, “Gotta play to win,” and, “Someone has to be a winner!” Now, I participate in more blog giveaways and Facebook contests, and it has paid off! By guessing the correct number of Easter eggs in a basket, from a photo that Sweet Hearts Patisserie posted on their Facebook page, I won a dozen cupcakes!

SHPContest_Cupcakes (Check out my prize! Chocolate Silk, Salted Caramel, French Vanilla, Strawberry Cream, and Lemon Berry cupcakes.)

The best part of winning a dozen cupcakes was the opportunity to spend the afternoon in Annapolis, having lunch with my dad and in-laws, while sharing my winnings. My mom-in-law loved the Lemon Berry cupcake we’ve tried before, and my dad enjoyed his Chocolate Silk cupcake just as much as the last time. The French Vanilla, Salted Caramel, and Strawberry Cream cupcakes were new to both my dad and I.

French Vanilla

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My dad and I both agreed that, while the vanilla cake was very dense, it was still moist and full of flavor. The frosting was equally as delicious and creamy, like vanilla ice cream.

Salted Caramel

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My dad left the Salted Caramel cupcakes to me because he isn’t a fan of the flavor combination. This cupcake used the same vanilla cake, topped with salted caramel frosting and sprinkled with sea salt. Just like all of their frosting, it was smooth and buttery.

Strawberry Cream

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The Strawberry Cream cupcake had a fresh strawberry cake, topped with strawberry buttercream. The cake was incredibly moist and the frosting tasted like a strawberry milkshake. I’ll be dreaming about this cupcake!

Sweet Hearts Patisserie’s Easter contests didn’t end last week. The Easter eggs used in the guessing game were hidden in Downtown Annapolis last Friday…all 105 of them! The eggs contain a slip of paper entitling the holder to a free treat, so if you find yourself downtown keep your eyes open (or just head over to Sweet Hearts Patisserie for an Easter treat…that might be easier than hunting down an egg)!

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

Trekked from Arizona, Pt. 2

Healthy Guest Crusader Rebecca trekked cupcakes for me all the way from Arizona, and managed to stop by more than one cupcake location. My previous review about Sweet Things Cupcake Shoppe in Tucson went very well, so I was hoping that the cupcakes and cake truffle pops from Caketini in Gilbert AZ, would be just as delicious.

There were two HUGE cupcakes and six cake truffle pops for me to sample:

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Almost too pretty to eat, this cupcake was simply beautiful, and tasted great too. The cake was airy with a classic vanilla flavor. The frosting was light, smooth and not very sweet. It also seemed to be whipped and it was very buttery, which is right up my alley. The carefully drizzled caramel and cracked salt crystals on top added flavor and texture that took this cupcake over the top. Definitely a cupcake I would eat again, and even one I would trek back from Arizona!

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Funfetti cake with vanilla buttercream and sprinkles on top = an Elisa kinda cupcake! Most of my friends know about my love of funfetti, Crusader Stacy even made me funfetti cupcakes for my 30th birthday, so I was dying to try this cupcake. Like the Salted Caramel, the cake was moist and light, but very flavorful and FULL of funfetti specks throughout. The vanilla buttercream frosting was smooth and sweet, pairing well with the cake. The edible glitter and sprinkles on top certainly didn’t hurt my affection for this cupcake; it looked like a party and tasted like one too.

Cake Truffles: (clockwise from top) Carrot Cake, Chocolate Strawberry, Key Lime, Red Velvet with Milk Chocolate, Red Velvet with White Chocolate, & Chocolate Hazelnut

CakeTini-TrufPops1WOW – Aren’t these so pretty all lined up? Maybe cake pops/cake truffle pops should always be sold in half dozens. lol.

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The shop staff recommended that the truffles be refrigerated and then eaten, as they prefer people to be able to crunch into the chocolate coating, so that’s just what I did. Each truffle was better than the next. All were moist and full of flavor, all had fantastic texture, and all were devoured in a day. (My goal had been to eat 3 and save 3 for the next day, but they were too good to stop eating!) My two favorites were the Red Velvet with White Chocolate and Chocolate Strawberry. While these two stood out, I would be more than happy to eat any of them again. By far some of the BEST cake truffles I have ever had the pleasure of eating.

If all of Arizona’s cupcakes are as good as the cupcakes I tried from Sweet Things Cupcake Shoppe and Caketini, that Arizona is one lucky state! There wasn’t one bad cupcake or cake truffle in the bunch, and that’s very impressive considering they passed through two time zones on a plane and were already a day old. A special thanks to Healthy Guest Crusader Rebecca (and her fiance Jim) for trekking these treats back for me – if this is the kind of payment I get for watching their new puppy Shelby, then count me in!

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

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)

J Café: A Hidden Gem

Just as their website says, J Café really is a hidden gem, located on Main Street in downtown Westminster. Crusader Stacy had mentioned them about a year ago, but I wasn’t sure that they were a regular cupcake-carrying establishment, so I never rushed over there. Luckily Stacy reminded me of J Café last week, when they were debuting their seasonal pumpkin cupcake. With no plans for the day, I decided an outing was in order.

(Photo from http://www.myjcafe.com No copyright infringement intended.)

I’ve probably driven past J Café a hundred times, but its understated exterior blends perfectly with the historic Main Street surroundings. I was glad to see that the interior also mimics the traditional Victorian style, with an open entry way, original plank floors, narrow staircase (for what I’m assuming is residential space on the top floors), and a long hallway that leads to the back, where the “front” counter is. Seating is situated in the two large rooms off either side of the hall. At the counter was a display case that was filled with a respectable selection of cupcakes, particularly for a café that seems to focus on breakfast and lunch. There were probably 6-8 cupcakes to choose from. I went with the seasonal Pumpkin Maple cupcake and the Sweet Potato, since it also seemed appropriate for the fall. However, I really want to try the Limoncello!

The cupcakes were tightly packaged in a deli container, but didn’t budge much and made it home successfully. The biggest flaw in the packaging was that Leah could see the cupcakes. My girl has really developed a big love for sweets, but since I planned on waiting to share the cupcakes with my husband later that night, I was left with a very disappointed little girl. (Don’t worry. She got over it easily with a pumpkin spiced Hershey Kiss.)

Pumpkin Maple Cupcake

This cupcake had a soft, moist cake, with a buttery, maple-spiced frosting. The flavors were perfectly balanced and Crusader Elisa (the biggest butter lover you’ll ever meet) would have loved it.

Sweet Potato Cupcake

The Sweet Potato cupcake had a salted caramel frosting and was topped with a candied pecan. The cake was soft and moist, just like the pumpkin, but also had pieces of fresh sweet potato. The frosting was also buttery, and balanced the perfect level of sweetness.

The cupcakes are a normal size and have a home-baked feel to them, which is comforting and goes perfectly with the warmth of the café. After tasting the cupcakes, seeing how nice the venue is, and checking out the breakfast and lunch menu, I can’t believe I waited so long to try them out. I’m looking forward to going back when I can sit with friends and enjoy a full meal, with cupcakes for dessert.

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

Battle of the Cupcakeries: Sweet Angela’s and AngelCakes in Frederick, MD

I’ve only found myself in Frederick, MD a few times in my life (I can literally count the amount of times on one hand), but it’s a great little city, with a fabulous Downtown/Main Street area that is quaint and stylish at the same time. I haven’t had a lot of time to fully enjoy the shops and restaurants, but if you are looking for a short day trip from Baltimore or DC, it’s a good choice, with plenty to keep you entertained (including a short drive to Linganore Winecellars).

On a recent work related visit, I decided to check out their “cupcake scene.” After doing some Google research, I was shocked to see that there were actually several options. I selected two shops that appeared to be fairly close together: Sweet Angela’s Cupcakery and AngelCakes.

The cinder-block exterior of AngeCakeswas a little less than welcoming (and very different than the norm in Frederick), but they did their best by painting it a bright white and adding nice touches like the awning, sign, and light fixtures. After seeing this, I wasn’t sure what to expect on the inside but was pleasantly surprised by the trendy, modern appearance and cool blue and gray tones. I was immediate greeted and quickly placed my order (Key Lime and Salted Caramel) as the selection wasn’t overwhelmingly large.

Crossing the street to place the cupcakes in my car, I was stunned to see my next cupcake stop visible just about a block away. I knew they were close, but not that close! Happy that I wouldn’t have to walk far, I practically skipped down the sidewalk to my next destination.

If you think that AngelCakes signage is enough to catch your eye, there is no way you can miss Sweet Angela’s Cupcakery. In appearance, Sweet Angela’s is the exact opposite of AngelCakes. While AngelCakes is blue and trendy, Sweet Angela’s is very pink and cutesy, complete with cupcake illustrations on the walls. Despite the differences in decor, their flavor selection was actually quite similar. So similar in fact, that I ended up getting a Key Lime at Sweet Angela’s and thought a Key Lime Challenge would be in order. They didn’t have Salted Caramel though, so I stuck with a classic: Vanilla.

As soon as I got home the Key Lime Challenge was on. Visually, each had aspects I liked: Sweet Angela’s had a nice light colored cake, while AngelCakes’ was dark and looked to be a bit over-baked. Then, AngelCakes’ Key Lime cupcake had fresh lime zest on top, but Sweet Angela’s just had a gummy candy I knew I wouldn’t eat. But the true test would be the first bite.

Sweet Angela’s Key Lime:
The description stated that this cupcake was a fresh key lime cake with fresh squeezed lime juice, topped with buttercream frosting with a hint of lime and garnished with lime zest, but my cupcake was obviously not garnished with lime zest.

I could feel how soft and moist the cake was when pulling back the cupcake liner. It was also dense and a little sticky too, almost like a combination between pound cake and angel food cake. There was only a slight tartness with the cake, but the frosting was very tart; however, it was more of a generic tartness (not specifically key lime) and was artificial tasting.

AngelCakes’ Key Lime:

At first I thought this cupcake might be dry after seeing that the top of the cake was a dark brown, but it wasn’t too bad. It wasn’t as moist as Sweet Angela’s but it definitely was not overly dry either. Although you can see the fresh lime zest in the cake (unlike Sweet Angela’s), you couldn’t taste it, which was a bit disappointing. Even the frosting, while light and fluffy, only had just a hint of lime. Overall the key lime flavor just wasn’t present enough in either cupcake, but AngelCakes tasted a bit more authentic and more like a homemade cupcake, so wins my vote in the Key Lime Challenge.

After the Key Lime challenge it was on to the other cupcakes.

Sweet Angela’s Classic Vanilla:

I’ve come to really enjoy vanilla cupcakes, but this was a letdown for me because the vanilla flavor was really not present at all. The cake lacked flavor of any kind and the frosting tasted like a straight buttercream with maybe a touch of inexpensive vanilla extract.

AngelCakes’ Salted Caramel:

My initial reaction was, “This is a good cupcake!” I only planned on eating half (and saving the other half for later), but after my first bite I knew that wouldn’t happen. The cake was  more moist than their Key Lime cupcake (even the next day) and it had a really nice caramel flavor. The frosting also had a great caramel flavor and the saltiness was well represented.

Even though Sweet Angela’s cupcakes were a bit cheaper than AngelCakes’ ($2.50 versus $2.75), I don’t think I would go back there, especially with AngelCakes just a block away. AngelCakes doesn’t make my favorites lists, but there was something nice about their homemade quality.

If you are ever in the Downtown Frederick area, maybe you could visit both shops and have a little “Battle of the Cupcakeries” too?

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