Great Cupcakes & Packaging = One Happy Crusader

It’s no secret that I am a sucker for great packaging. But when there are 25 delicious mini cupcakes inside that great packaging, I go weak in the knees. It’s a bit (or a lot) nerdy, but I just can’t help myself.

For Christmas my husband ordered cupcakes from one of my favorite NYC locations, Baked by Melissa. I was in awe of the packaging. They arrived frozen, in a custom shipping box, complete with a custom printed Baked by Melissa ice pack. Since I’ve reviewed their cupcakes a couple times before (here and here) I’m going to focus on the amazing packaging.


(LOVE the slogan on the box!)

Inside the shipping box was the gift box that contained the tasty little gems. This sturdy box is not some cheap throw-away. Adorned with their logo on the top, their tie-dyed pattern on the inside, and sealed with a tie-dyed ribbon, it’s a keeper.

Once opened, you are face to face with ANOTHER piece of their unique packaging which keeps each tiny cupcake upright and protected from any rough handling that may occur during delivery. All 25 cupcakes were in perfect condition when I received them.

I like to call each little section built for the cupcakes “Freshness Pods.” My husband received the frozen cupcakes on Wednesday, December 21st and gave them to me on Friday, December 23rd. A week later, I was shocked that the cupcakes were still moist! I think each compartment somehow seals in the moisture and keeps the cupcakes from drying out. Hence the name “Freshness Pods.”

Since we really loved their December Mini of the Month, Snow Covered Pretzel, half of the container was filled with just them. The other half was a blend of some of our other favorite flavors like Cookie Dough, Cinnamon, and Peanut Butter & Jelly.

The only downside to them being frozen and then thawed is that the pretzels ended up being a bit chewy. They weren’t too bad and the flavor was still great, it just lacked the crunch from the store-bought ones we initially tried.

I was also excited to try the S’mores, since they were out of this flavor when I first went to their Fashion District location.

Like the Snow Covered Pretzel, the graham cracker ended up being a little chewy, but overall, I still enjoyed this one too.

January’s Mini of the Month is New York Cream, a take on Boston Cream with a custard filling and a chocolate drizzle. Boston Cream cake and doughnuts are a favorite of mine, so I would love to try this cupcake, but unfortunately I won’t be able to get to NYC this month (and I can’t justify the high shipping rates and $25 minimum just to try one flavor). If you get a chance to try it, let us know how it is, we’d love to hear about it!

Baked by Melissa seems to be doing everything right. From their tasty little cupcakes to their quality packaging, they remain on my list of favorites.

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

Recipe Review: S’mores Cups

smorescups1_watermark

I’ve mentioned before that I believe there are certain non-cupcake items that can be discussed on this blog because, to me, they are in the “cupcake family” and that cupcake lovers will also enjoy reading about them.  These delicious, and incredibly easy to make, S’more Cups are in that category. I’ve also mentioned before that I have a long list of recipes that I’ve been collecting, and in an effort to work through that list, I’ve decided to bake one at least once a month, and share my results here. This month’s recipe I came across from Pampered Chef (UPDATE: THEY HAVE REMOVED THE RECIPE FROM THEIR SITE – ALL MEASUREMENTS WERE ONLY AVAILABLE THROUGH PAMPERED CHEF). I knew our recent girls weekend getaway would be the perfect opportunity to make these. Us six girls have all gotten together for a weekend in the fall for the past 4 years, starting in tents, then moving to a rustic cabin, and this year, a nice house. The downside to the house was that there was no place to roast marshmallows for S’mores (which I’m usually put in charge of) so these little S’mores Cups were the next best thing.

You are going to be shocked how easy these are. I don’t have a lot of the Pampered Chef “equipment” so I had to improvise and they still weren’t hard to make:

Step 1:
Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Place graham crackers into a large resealable plastic bag. Finely crush into crumbs. Combine graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar and butter in Small Batter Bowl.

Step 2:
Using a small scoop, place a small amount of crumb mixture in each cup of a mini muffin pan. Press crumbs to form shallow cups with a Mini-Tart Shaper (I didn’t have this, so I used my fingers). Bake 4-5 minutes or until edges are bubbling.

Step 3:
While the crust is in the oven, break two of the candy bars into rectangles. Remove pan from oven; place one rectangle into each cup.

Step 4:
Cut marshmallows in half crosswise. Place one marshmallow half, cut-side down, into each cup. Return to oven 1-2 minutes or until marshmallows are just slightly softened. Remove from oven and cool 15 minutes. Carefully remove cups from pan. Cool completely.

Step 5:
Break remaining candy bars and place in bowl. Microwave on HIGH 1 minute-1 1/2 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring every 20 seconds. Dip the top of each marshmallow in melted chocolate. Turn top-side up and let stand 40 minutes-1 hour or until set.

Yield: 24 cups
Store the cups in a single layer in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Freezing is not recommended. For a richer chocolate flavor, substitute dark chocolate candy bars for the milk chocolate.

I think next time I’m going to try the dark chocolate. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I prefer dark chocolate to milk chocolate, so I think that would take these from AWESOME, to UNBELIEVABLE.

Either way, this simple treat was a huge hit for our girls “camping” trip, and I might be making them a staple at our yearly gatherings.

THIS RECIPE WAS NOT AN ORIGINAL RECIPE. ALL INSTRUCTIONS AND MEASUREMENTS ARE PROPERTY OF PAMPERED CHEF AND CAN BE FOUND ON THEIR WEBSITE, CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION. 

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

Safeway Gourmet Cupcakes… or so they call them.

This past weekend I visited my parents in Waldorf, MD, and came across Safeway’s Gourmet Cupcakes in their Bakery section. Instantly intrigued, I bought three: Mint Chocolate, S’mores, and Vanilla Pineapple (they were $2.99 per cupcake).

After leaving the Vanilla Pineapple with my Mom to try, I brought back the other two to share with Crusaders Jenn and Stacy!

After making glass bowls at McFadden Art Glass (yes, on top of eating lots of cupcakes the three of us also love doing artsy things like blowing glass!) we stopped by McDonalds to try said “gourmet” cupcakes. McDonalds happen to by close by and we had decided coffee would be a good companion to our cupcake sampling.

The Mint Chocolate cupcake was covered in mint and cookies butter cream icing with a chocolate covered Oreo on top – which we all agreed were the best parts of this cupcake as the cake was dry, almost tasteless and just plain dull. I could have eaten the icing all day, with it’s not-too-sweet minty cookie deliciousness, and did finish all of it, including what was stuck to the container.

I’ve been waiting to try a S’mores cupcake FOREVER and was very excited by the ganache covered icing with gram cereal and marshmallows on top. It looked better than it tasted, period. The cereal was very chewy, the chocolate overpowered the marshmallows, and again the cake was dry and tasteless. The three of us agreed – the silver lining of this cupcake was again the icing. Stacy, who is not a huge chocolate icing fan, really liked it, and that’s very impressive for grocery store icing! It was smooth, chocolatey, and not too sweet. I really like when chocolate (or cocoa) is allowed to shine in its own glory and not sweetened to the point of being unrecognizable. This icing allowed for that and we all went scraping for a little more of it – leaving the left over cake naked of it’s icing.

I’m not sure I would spend that much on Safeway cupcakes again – now, if they start selling just containers of the icing, count us in!

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