Easter with IcedGems!

Easter is a holiday I look forward to all year, not only is it an important religious day to me, it also boasts time with family and friends, fantastic food, and chocolate bunnies. This year, like always, I headed down to my parents’ house to spend some time with them and of course I could not come empty handed – so I brought some Easter cupcakes from IcedGems with me to share!

A while ago Healthy Crusader Rebecca told me she was going to order some cupcakes for her Easter celebration and had ordered some for me too! When she went to pick up her order of regular and mini cupcakes, she also received FREE egg-shaped cake truffles! Luckily Rebecca shared the delightful French Toast cake truffle with me which I quickly ate up! (Each time I eat a flavor of cake truffles I love them, but my favorite is the French Toast!)

(French Toast Egg-Cake Truffle)

Rebecca also shared the mini cupcakes – sweetly decorated for the upcoming Easter Sunday and equally as sweet tasting – with me and her staff.

(Minis: French Toast with a Robbins Egg, Black Velvet with bunny sprinkles, & Lemon)

On Saturday I made the hour+ trek to my parents’ house, and they were not shocked when I showed up with IcedGems cupcakes. My Mom loves vanilla and my Dad loves chocolate, so there was something for both of them!

Birthday Cake with an Easter decoration twist

With there being a “Birthday Cake” vanilla cake with Madagascar bourbon vanilla buttercream icing, I knew my Mom would want to try that one first! I’m not always into the basic flavors, but this is a cupcake I am happy to eat again and again. Mom agrees too!

Lemon with Spring Flowers

The lemon cupcake was divine! I love true citrus flavor and this cupcake was no citrus joke. It was very tangy and tart – maybe too much for some people, but not me. I loved the color of the cake and the flecks of lemon zest in the icing.

Easter Peep S’mores

I love IcedGems S’mores cupcake, but add a Peep and you’ve got a combination that I cannot resist! Peeps are such an Easter tradition, I love how they were incorporated into a flavor that marries so well with having a sugar coated marshmallow chick on top. And of course, I enjoyed eating it too.

Chocolate Lava Nest

Simply put: This cupcake is a chocolate lovers dream. And the egg candy toppers were a cute touch, had they been the same color I would have thought they were bunny ears sticking out of the ground.

I’m always impressed with IcedGems ability to have consistently good flavors, moist cake, delicious icing, and great decorations. The fact that they have special deals, like our Valentines Day treats and Easter treats, and take custom orders is great for a cupcake lover who wants to share with others. It almost doesn’t feel like a holiday to me without IcedGems cupcakes! I’m so glad I could bring some home to share with my wonderful family, on a day as special as Easter. No need for chocolate bunnies when you have yummy cupcakes!

Did you have cupcakes this weekend? Or perhaps you made some to share with your friends and family – did you decorate them in Easter decor?

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

We are working to help end childhood hunger!
Together we can make a difference!

CLICK HERE TO DONATE!

Advertisements

The Cupcakes You Didn’t See | IcedGems Creations | Reisterstown, MD

As I mentioned in yesterdays post, the Crusaders and I have tried just about every flavor that IcedGems Creations has offered in the past few months. We listed our favorites for you, but here are some you haven’t seen yet:

Ban-offee

(While the coffee flavor in this was too subtle for me, the natural banana flavor was spot on.)

Bear Claw


(This cupcake was very close to making my “must try” list. The cake reminds me of the bear claws my Dad used to make at the doughnut shop he owned when I was a kid.)

Caramel Apple

(Sweet and decadent, this cupcake truly lives up to its name. The icing alone makes this cupcake a smart purchase.)

Chocolate Cherry


(This rich chocolate cake was given an interesting cherry twist.)

Italian Wedding Cake

(Mascarpone filling with an almond flavor = delicious.)

Raspberry Lemonade

(With a light lemon flavor and a sweet raspberry icing, this adorable cupcake is as sweet as it is cute.)

Rosewater

(While I am not afraid of eating flowers (or baking with them) this cupcake was a bit too “rosey” for me.)

Smores


(Not quite enough marshmallow flavor for me, but still a great chocolate cupcake.)

Strawberry Cheesecake


(Not the typical “mini-cheesecake in a cupcake cup” this is truly a cake with cheesecake flavor and fantastic icing to top it all off!)

Have you been to IcedGems Creations (either the store front or visited the cupcake truck)? What are your favorite flavors? Are there any the Crusaders have not tried that you think we should?

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


Will Flavor Cupcakery “Win” the Crusaders Vote?

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We started with the Peanut Butter Chocolate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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)