Richardson Farms: Cookie Dough Cupcake

On a recent lunch trip into Richardson Farms (located in White Marsh, Maryland), I spotted a single cupcake flavor in their bakery display. This was my first time in Richardson Farms, but I’ve only heard amazing things about their food, so there was no question that I was getting the Cookie Dough cupcake to complete my lunch order.

Photo Aug 13, 5 31 45 PM

I was excited to try this cupcake since it was an unexpected treat, and it wasn’t an everyday classic chocolate or vanilla. Unfortunately it was only okay. The frosting was just a standard buttercream, and nothing really stuck out as amazing or unique about it. The cake was dense, crumbly, and a bit dry. Luckily the “cookie dough” portion of the cupcake was really good, and totally saved this cupcake. When eaten with the cake and frosting, the flavors all balanced out really well. I don’t know if it was intentional, but the “cookie dough” part was fully cooked and at the bottom of the cupcake. I think it would have worked better at the center of the cupcake (and more “doughy”), but since it was a large cupcake, I ended up eating it with a fork so that didn’t matter too much.

The man working in the bakery department was very nice and served up the cupcake with a large smile and told me that this flavor had gotten approval from his family. Because of his hospitality, the decent price (only $2.50), and the overall flavor combination, I would give them another try to see if the cake’s texture was better on other varieties. And who can say “no” to a pretty cupcake served with a kind smile?

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

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What Was I Thinking?

We’ve all been there… You’re hungry. You’re craving something sweet. And there, sitting in front of you, is a cupcake. It’s really not a great looking cupcake. You know you’ll probably be disappointed. But it is a cupcake nonetheless. And you’re hungry. So you give in and buy the sketchy looking cupcake.

This has happened to me on multiple occasions. If it hasn’t happened to you, then well done. You have way more self control than I do.

Recently, after a crazy couple of days, I found myself starring at these jumbo sized cupcakes at my local Safeway:

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Not only was I curious about how these new gigantic cupcakes tasted, but I was in desperate need of a cupcake (don’t judge… I know you’ve been there too…) I was torn between a couple flavors, but went with my go-to comfort flavor, the Chocolate Raspberry.

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This cupcake was easily the size of two or three cupcakes combined, and a total steal at $2.99. Of course, since it was a grocery store cupcake, I proceeded with caution. While the cake had a subtle hint of raspberry flavor, the frosting completely tasted like cotton candy. There wasn’t an ounce of raspberry flavor present! I tasted it over and over again, to see if my tastes buds were off, but couldn’t get past the artificial cotton candy sweetness. For as much as I love real cotton candy, I don’t like anything that is trying to taste like it (or, in this cupcake’s case, that isn’t supposed to taste like it but still does). The cake was a little dry on the outside, but fairly moist on the inside, and after the day I had, I wasn’t going to be too picky. I finished the cake and trashed the frosting.

As I mentioned above, I have often purchased questionable cupcakes in the past, each producing mixed results. There are two times in particular that are especially memorable for me: first, an awful cupcake from Au Bon Pain in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, and second, a sketchy looking cupcake from Target in White Marsh, MD, which ended up being okay.

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(Vanilla cupcake from Au Bon Pain).

I had heard bad things about the cupcakes from Au Bon Pain, but I wanted some coffee so decided to stop in one afternoon. Of course, I couldn’t resist browsing the desserts while I was there and left with more than just an iced coffee (ignoring all advice to avoid the cupcakes). I really should have taken a closer look at the Vanilla cupcakes before spending $3 on it. The frosting looked like half melted wax, and it certainly didn’t taste any better. Even though you can see the vanilla bean specks, there wasn’t any vanilla flavor and it had a weird texture. While the cake had a decent flavor, it was completely void of any moisture, like a dried out sponge. I decided to try and microwave the cupcake to see if I could salvage the cake (the frosting was a lost cause), but that didn’t do anything to help, so into the trash it went. At least I had a tasty iced coffee to comfort me and my cupcake sadness.

With a handful of “What was I thinking” cupcake moments under my belt, you would think that I would learn when NOT to buy a cupcake, but we’ve vowed to try them all, and it’s something we take VERY seriously (well, as serious as cupcake eating can be). And, for as many bad experiences as I’ve had, there are also some not-so-bad ones too, like this Ticklebelly White Out cupcake from Target.

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I really wasn’t expecting much from this cupcake, but it came in a cute little to-go container, and since Crusader Jenn has had such great experiences with Kimberley’s Bakeshoppe (found at her local Walmart), I figured I’d give it a try. Plus, it was only $1.29.

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(Ticklebelly White Out cupcake from Target)

The cake was a little spongy and commercial tasting, but it was also more moist than a typical grocery store cake. The frosting was a little greasy (I think they used some kind of shortening as the base), but not overly sweet, with a nice flavor. The biggest surprise was the filling (I didn’t even know it had a filling!). It was a pastry cream that was actually pretty good. Overall, this cupcake was totally worth its low price—especially since I knew I could reuse the to-go container.

Ticklebelly also makes cake pops, molten cakes, dessert shots, and sheet cakes. I’m curious to see if Target carries any of their other products because I’ve only ever noticed the White Out cupcake and Red Velvet. They also offer Chocolate, Key Lime, PB&J, Pumpkin (seasonal), and Snickerdoodle filled cupcakes. According to their website, you can find their products at Kroger, Ralphs, Raley’s, Fred Meyer, and King Soopers, in addition to Target.

I think the most important things to remember when buying cupcakes are to keep an open mind, don’t expect too much, and always have a back up plan if you really need to feed your sweet tooth. In the world of cupcakes, whether you are at a high-end pastry shop or the local grocer, some are great and some are not, so why not give them all a try?

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

Cupcakes at IKEA!

I recently discovered something about myself. There will no doubt be skeptics, but cupcake lovers…I have cupcake premonitions. Okay, maybe it was just a wishful desire. On a recent trip to IKEA, Crusader Stacy, our sister, and I were going to meet at the IKEA Restaurant & Café for lunch and then shopping. On my way there I thought, “Hmm…I wonder if there will be cupcakes? They’ve never had them before. But maybe they will this time.” Low and behold, as we were finding a table, I spotted it. A half eaten cupcake on someone’s lunch tray. Besides us, who else brings a cupcake into a cafeteria?

As I made my way up to the counter, I didn’t see any cupcakes in the display case. Just as I was starting to think I was wrong, an employee brought out a new stash.

At first I just thought it would be a regular vanilla cupcake, but when I was able to read the description it said that it was an elderflower cupcake, “Sweet, floral, and delicious. This is a cupcake like no other! Go ahead, treat yourself.” At only $1.29 and with that description, how could you not?

The cupcakes are on the smaller side, but the cake is moist and the frosting isn’t overly sweet. Just as the description said, there are fairly strong floral notes to the cupcake, so if you don’t like floral foods, then this cupcake isn’t for you. Our sister Alissa said, “It’s not bad, but I just don’t think it’s my thing,” but Stacy and I both enjoyed it. So, the next time you are at IKEA to pick up your modular furniture and Swedish meatballs, take a peak in the dessert cabinet and see if they have any cupcakes that day.

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