Gigi’s in Georgia

Guest Crusader Rebecca is back again with a review of Gigi’s Cupcakes, a successful chain with locations in 23 states. Thanks Rebecca!

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During a recent visit to Savannah, GA, I told my best friend we had to sample some cupcakes while I was there! Her daughters (and husband) were also excited to share in the tasting with me. We stopped at Gigi’s Cupcakes quaint shop and learned they offered cupcakes, mini cupcakes, and cheesecakes. We decided to pick out a few flavors and share them back at home. Minis have to be purchased by the dozen, so we went with single (very frosted!) cupcakes.

Carrot Cake & Snickerdoodle

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(Left to right: Carrot Cake and Snickerdoodle)

The Carrot Cake had a nice carrot cake flavor. I personally wish the frosting had been a bit more heavy on the cream cheese, as it was more sweet than savory.

The Snickerdoodle was my favorite cupcake of the bunch. There was a homemade mini cookie on top and the frosting had a rich taste of cookie dough. It had a strong cinnamon flavor and great texture, with a sugar crunch. Once again, the  cake was nothing special, but the frosting was standout!

Lemon Dream Supreme, Strawberries and Champagne, & Chocolate Salted Caramel

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(Left to right: Lemon Dream Supreme, Strawberries and Champagne, and Chocolate Salted Caramel)

The Lemon Dream Supreme cupcake had a nice lemon flavor, but I always want more! Overall, it was pleasant, but a bit more sweet than tart.

The Strawberries and Champagne was my least favorite cupcake. It was their daily special and one of my favorites from IcedGems, so I was looking forward to it. The cake tasted like a basic strawberry cake mix, not very strong on the flavor and the frosting was missing that kick of champagne. The sugar crystals added nice texture, but this cupcake lacked flavor overall.

The frosting on the Chocolate Salted Caramel cupcake was simply divine. A lovely rich caramel flavor with strong hints of salt, covered in chocolate ganache. The cake didn’t stand up to the frosting, as it lacked some flavor, but was not dry.

All-in-all the frostings were the standout pieces of these cupcakes! They are perfect for the frosting lover and I enjoyed sharing cupcakes with friends I don’t see enough!

– Review by Guest Crusader, Rebecca (Baltimore, MD)

Oooh So Sweet, and right around the corner!

Working in the Mount Vernon area there are a variety of choices when it comes to food, but sweets are harder to come by. I’d seen Ooh So Sweet many times while walking over to City Cafe or Plaza Art, but it never seemed to be open. A few weeks ago I ended up talking a photo of their hours so that I could get there when they were actually open and baked fresh.

When I finally managed to stop by during business hours, the friendly staff picked four cupcakes for me to share and taste. It took a few minutes for them to pull them together and I think it is because they are frosted to order! Frosting to order is a great way to make sure that toppings stay fresh and frosting doesn’t get crunchy – I wish more cupcakes places did this! I took the cupcakes with me to share with the other Crusaders, Leah (Crusader Jenn’s daughter), and our friend Jessica, after lunch at David and Dad’s Cafe. After eating our delicious lunches and catching up, we got into the cupcakes!

Snickerdoodle

Cinnamon and sweet, with a yummy filling! Moist, airy cake was complemented by the creamy, but slightly runny, pudding like filling and sweet sweet frosting. The filling oozed out of the side when Crusader Stacy unwrapped it, and made note that without a fork, this filled cupcake might be difficult to eat. We all agreed, but were also too busy savoring our bites to care too much.

Sweet Sin

Red velvet and chocolate cake batter swirled together should be baked more often! The cake, again, was moist and airy with great flavor. The frosting was a bit on the sweet side for me, and the Crusaders thought it tasted like it was “out of a tub,” not homemade. That didn’t bother us too much, as we all enjoyed this cupcake, even Crusader Jenn said she liked it, noting that, in general, she doesn’t love red velvet cupcakes.

Chocolate Salted Caramel

We all love salted caramel, and we all enjoyed this cupcake. Again, the other Crusaders thought the frosting tasted like it was “Duncan Hines” tub frosting, but also noted that didn’t bother them. (I’ve been out of the tub frosting loop for so long now, since I only ever make homemade, they pointed out that there have been many advances and that tub frosting has come a long way in a short time. Who knew!?) The moist chocolate cake had great flavor and I really loved the caramel drizzle. One of the best parts was the chocolate covered pretzel on top, which was still crunchy!

Chocolate Covered Strawberry

WOW. We loved this cupcake. The moist cake had an interesting mix of real strawberry flavor and “fake” or freeze-dried strawberry flavor. With all of the sweet frosting on the other cupcakes, we all agreed that the dipped ganache topping of this one was the perfect complement to this cupcake. By far, this cupcake was our favorite of the four.

Overall, we really enjoyed the four flavors from Oooh So Sweet. Their moist and airy cake was a delight, and we all loved how beautifully decorated all the cupcakes were. It’s great to have a cupcakery right around the corner from work, even if the hours are a bit odd, and I might just have to swing by soon for another Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcake!

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

Lilly Magilly’s – A Gem in Gaithersburg, MD

Happening upon a new cupcake place is a delight! While in the Gaithersburg, MD area for a dentist appointment (yuck) I met my friend, Laura, after for some dinner. We chatted for a while, drank margaritas, and then she said there was a cupcake place around the corner! A NEW cupcakery I had never heard of!? How is that possible? (Just kidding of course.)

Lilly Magilly’s Cupcakery is an adorable shop in the Rio Shopping Center (near the movie theater) in Gaithersburg. The shop boasts cupcakes, but also has old fashioned sodas, homemade caramels, fun cupcake gear, and a chair fit for a cupcake queen (see below!).

Everything is black and pink, even the receipts! The nice staff told us they follow the Crusaders on Twitter and Facebook, so they were excited to know that we would be reviewing their cupcakes.

I decided on 4 cupcakes:

Salted Caramel

The deep dark chocolate cake really packed a smooth chocolate PUNCH of flavor! The not-too-sweet cake is paired with delicious salted caramel icing that is smooth and sweet, with a savory kick. I really enjoyed the caramel drizzle on top and scraped the cupcake liner clean. Yum!

Cookies & Cream

Sadly, this Cookies & Cream was a little disappointing since the cake was very dry and didn’t have much flavor. On top of that, the icing was too sweet for my taste. I loved the Oreo on top, because there’s never a bad time for an Oreo, but am not sure I would order this cupcake again.

Red Velvet

Oh joy! I really liked this red velvet cupcake. The cake was moist with a true red velvet flavor while the icing was light and had a “whipped” quality about it. The Sixlet on top was a really great touch and added a nice crunch of texture with the candy coating shell. This might be the best red velvet I’ve had since Sweet Bakery.

Snickerdoodle

While the cake was on the dryer side, this cupcake had fantastic flavor! The slightly crunchy cake top mimicked that of its namesake’s cookie. The cinnamon and sugar icing was very light and whipped, but full of flavor. Despite the dry cake, everything about this cupcake made me smile and it is a cupcake I would love to eat again.

Lilly Magilly’s cupcakes were an overall delight. I’m looking forward to stopping in again, the next time I am in the area, and trying other flavors. And I love my cute little cupcake button – I’ll wear it proudly and make sure to tell anyone who asks where I found it!

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

Favorite Cupcakes on the Outskirts of Baltimore City | Fresh Bakery | Owings Mills, MD

We are excited to introduce our next series! Every Tuesday for the next 5 weeks we will countdown our Top 5 favorite cupcake places outside of Baltimore City. In order to make sure we did the proper research and included places that would “qualify” we decide that any place that was within a 20 to 45 minute drive from the Baltimore City boundary would be included. If you don’t see a place that you think should have been featured in this Top 5 let us know! We do our best to research where the cupcakes are, but there’s no better way to find out than a recommendation!

Our 5th favorite cupcakery located outside of Baltimore City is Fresh Bakery. Fresh Bakery is currently stationed in the food court at the Owings Mills mall, but they used to have several kiosks spread out in malls around the outskirts of Baltimore City. My first experience with them, almost 2 years ago, was at one of those kiosks located in Towson Town Center. I randomly stumbled upon it on a shopping trip and ended up going home with four of their deliciously square (yep, they are square!) cupcakes.


(My first four cupcakes from Fresh Bakery were: Key Lime, Bananas Foster, Strawberry Chocolate, and Red Velvet)

After my first taste of these cupcakes, I was amazed at how moist and full of flavor they were. Each one of them was unique, yet wonderful.

Fresh Bakery’s only downside is their location. While they used to be housed in several shopping centers (Arundel Mills, Columbia, and Towson Town Center), they are now only located in the Owings Mills mall. For anyone who has been there recently, you know that this mall doesn’t have a lot to offer. It seems to be slowly closing down so there are very few stores and food options remaining. This means that you will most likely have to make a separate trip there just for these cupcakes. When they were placed throughout several great malls, their cupcakes were the perfect end to a successful (or not-so-successful) shopping excursion.

Over time, the Crusaders and I have had many encounters with Fresh Bakery’s cupcakes and I have never had a bad experience with any. We do have our favorites though, so for now we are going to focus on just a few that we would highly recommend to anyone.

Vanilla

By now most of you probably know about my growing fascination with vanilla cupcakes. Some may find them boring, but I think they are a great classic when done well and Fresh Bakery knows how to make this classic a standout. There is an intense vanilla flavor that creates a total birthday party in your mouth. The cake is also very airy and moist which is a great contrast to the thick creamy frosting.

Apple Pie

You can’t really go wrong when apples and caramel are paired together, and this cupcake is no exception. The sweet caramel melded into the moist cake which was brimming with perfectly cooked apples. I’d rather have this cupcake than actual apple pie any day.

Cookie Dough

I’m a big fan of cookie dough straight from the bowl (or a store bought container…), so this cupcake combines two of my favorite things. The cookie dough isn’t just a light sprinkling throughout the cake or frosting, instead there is a big ball of it baked right in the center.

Look at all that wonderful cookie goodness! You might think that the frosting would play second fiddle to the awesomeness of the cookie dough in the cake, but that’s not the case at all. The frosting itself manages to taste exactly like cookie dough too! I don’t know how they do it, but if you get a chance, you must experience this cupcake for yourself.

Snickerdoodle

I’ve had some really tasty snickerdoodle cupcakes recently, and this is one of them. Sweet, moist and packed with cinnamon flavor. You really can’t ask for more from this tiny treat. It is a definite must try.

Despite the less than perfect location, Fresh Bakery provides creative and mouth watering square cupcakes. If the shape isn’t already unique enough, their flavor combinations always make me want to return to try something I haven’t already tried. But they have also proven that even though they can go over the top, they can also keep it simple and cater to those who prefer the more classic flavors. So whether you are looking for something different or an old fashioned standard, Fresh Bakery delivers.

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

Guest Post: Kim’s 30th Birthday Cupcakes

Today we are sharing our 2nd guest review from our friend Kim! Last weekend she celebrated her 30th birthday and took on the task of baking and decorating 4 different flavors of cupcakes. Below she talks about her experience. Happy Birthday Kim!

For my 30th birthday my husband, Jesse, threw me a party. He asked me if I wanted a cake or cupcakes. I just looked at him, waited and minute and said, “Really?” with a little smirk. He replied, “Yea, that’s what I thought.” So the next step was to figure out where would we get the cupcakes?

After discussing places like Caroline’s Cupcakes (prior to hearing they were closing), IcedGems, and a couple of others, I suggested that I could make them. For Christmas, Jesse had gotten me a wonderful cupcake cook book – Betty Crocker Big Book of Cupcakes – and I thought this may be a more cost effective alternative. This way I could also choose flavors I wanted and make as many or few as I wanted, with no ordering restrictions. Besides, I used to love baking.

What I really like about this book is that it gives you recipes to make the basic cupcake flavors from scratch, or on most pages they give you the option to “use a cake mix”. I spent an evening looking through the book and choosing a few different flavors. I settled on four different ones: The Snickerdoodle (page 60), Banana-Chocolate Chip (page 72), Mini Candy Bar (the non-name brand for Butterfinger) (page 106), and the one I was most looking forward to, Mini Raspberry-Filled Chocolate cupcakes (page 110). However with the last two, I decided I was going to make them regular sized instead of minis.

So the day before the party I set most of the day aside just to bake. I decided to ask my brother to come and help because I was making so many (and sadly, unlike on Cupcake Wars, Betty doesn’t provide four assistants!) I would use the boxed cake batters, as well as some pre-made icings.

The first batter we made was the Snickerdoodle. It was easy enough, and just required a couple additions to a white cake box batter, like adding cinnamon and adjusting the ingredients. Then we made the Candy Bar batter, which was simply adding in some crushed up Butterfinger candy bar pieces to a white batter mix. Next up was the Banana-Chocolate Chip, again merely adding chocolate chips and smooshed ripened bananas. And finally the Raspberry Chocolate. For this I guess I didn’t read the “use a cake mix” box properly. It said I needed a chocolate batter with pudding. However I got a Devil’s Food batter and a box of pudding. Luckily my brother was here, and he finagled it so it worked out. After almost a full day of baking I decided to hold off and do the frosting the next morning.

The next morning, before the party, I got a jump on making a couple of the frostings and decorating all the finished cupcakes – we made about two dozen of each flavor.

The first one was the Snicker doodle. This was pretty simple – the recipe was almost exactly like icing I make on my own, except with different measurements and the addition of cinnamon. They turned out great. The decorating was simply the combination of cinnamon and sugar.

Next I made the chocolate icing for the Candy Bar cupcakes. This was just like my normal icing recipe, except adjusting some measurements. The only thing the decorations called for were more crushed Butterfinger pieces.

For the Banana-chocolate Chip I used a can of Chocolate icing, and decorated them with Banana Runts candies and a couple of chocolate chips.

Finally the Raspberry-filled Chocolate cupcakes: These were a bit more work. I scooped the centers out, filled them with some raspberry jam that I made sure wasn’t lumpy. Then pureed some thawed, frozen raspberries, and mixed it with some Whipped Vanilla icing. It was a little runnier that I had expected, but it still turned out nice. For the decorations, I placed a raspberry gummy candy on top.

All in all, they turned out great, and were a HUGE hit at the party.  I even got a few people telling me they were going to pay me to make some for their own parties!

Since I did all this hard work for my party, on my actual birthday (which was Superbowl Sunday), I was treated to a Chocolate Raspberry cupcake from IcedGems Baking. Yummy!

– Review by Guest Crusader, Kim (Maryland)

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)

Sublime Cupcakes in PA is just that: SUBLIME!

I’m so excited to present this post from our first guest Cupcake Crusader, Elisa. She’s been on so many cupcake adventures with me and I know she’ll be going on many more. Enjoy and look out for many more posts from her.  – Stacy

I was randomly in the area of Wyomissing, PA when a friend recommended that we stop by this little shop. The set-up was adorable with fantastic photography on the walls and simple stands that let the cupcakes speak for themselves. There were even cupcakes I have never seen anywhere else. With so many great options, it made it very difficult to choose just 12. Somehow I powered through.

I went with the following:
(1) French Toast  •  (2) Grasshopper  •  (3) PeanutButterCup  •  (4) Strawberry Lemonade  •  (5) Ruby Red  •  (6) Snickerdoodle  •   (7) Dandycake  •  (8) Sublime Keylime  •  (9) Black & White  •  (10) Vanilla Nutella  •  (11) Chocolate Squared  •  (12) The Original


Photos borrowed from Sublime Cupcakes’ Facebook Page (click here). No harm or infringement intended.

We decided to eat one while we were there, so I went with the Grasshopper (2), as I am a huge fan of mint. Sure enough, the cake was very moist, chocolately and the buttercream mint icing was smooth, buttery, and fluffy. If you like “Thin Mints” make sure to get one of these!

Later that night I dove into the Strawberry Lemonade (4) & Ruby Red (5). (I have found if I keep some time in-between eating, I can put away quite a few cupcakes in one day.) Out of the two the Rudy Red was the standout, as it is the only grapefruit cupcake I have ever had! It was light, refreshing, and screamed SUMMER!

My favorite is a tie though, as the next day I ate both of these for lunch: French Toast (1) & Snickerdoodle (6). Anyone who knows me, knows my love of bacon (In fact Stacy bought me a fantastic book about bacon last year!) so that right away was a treat, on an already wonderful cupcake. Just the right amount of salty/sweet with delectable little bits of cinnamon in the cake too! The Snickerdoodle reminded me of the homemade cookies my Nona makes at Christmas, and the frosting was sweet, but mild with the sugar, cinnamon, and I suspect a hint of nutmeg.

Three days later I finished them all off, and even the very last one was good, maybe a little dry from sitting for three days, but still delicious!

All in all, this a place I want to drive 2 hours to go to again, and again – and next time (if Stacy and Jenn aren’t with me on the trip) I will have to bring some back to share!

Find Sublime Cupcakes on Facebook and check out their menu! (And stop by if you happen to be in their area.)

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