Starry Night’s Winter’s Night Treats

StarryNightWinter2013-14_ALL

I have to admit, it had been a while since I’d stopped into my favorite local cupcake shop, Starry Night Bakery and Coffeehouse. Cupcakes had been plentiful throughout the fall and sweets are never lacking at my house. But when they posted their new winter/Christmas flavors, I couldn’t stay away. I’m a sucker for new flavors. A push from Stacy, who wanted one or two for herself, didn’t hurt either.

StarryNightWinter2013-14_Peppermint

The White Chocolate Peppermint Mocha cupcake is the one that I couldn’t wait to dig in to. As soon as the little one was in bed for her nap, out it came. If you are a coffee lover like me, I’m sure just hearing the flavor combination is enough to make you swoon. The mocha and peppermint both came through, just like a well made peppermint mocha latte. Since Starry Night is a coffee shop, it’s no surprise that they know their coffee flavors. In fact, their coffee buttercream (which is also on their Mahoo Wahoo cupcake) is my all-time favorite. Unfortunately the white chocolate wasn’t present enough for me, but that could be because it’s a mild flavor and was overpowered by both the peppermint and coffee. It may have subtly balance out the other flavors though. Either way, the lack of white chocolate was clearly not a deterrent for me, as I’ve now ordered it two more times since.

StarryNightWinter2013-14_PBChocolateTime

In addition to seeing a list of new flavors, Starry night also posted a photo of this cupcake in conjunction with a naming contest (“Peanut Butter Chocolate Time” won). Who wouldn’t want to try this bad-boy?  Starry Night is no stranger to a peanut butter chocolate combination, but they are always mixing it up. This cupcake obviously stands out, with a Girl Scouts Tagalong cookie on top, but also has chocolate frosting AND peanut butter frosting, with peanut butter chips baked into the chocolate cake. My cupcake happened to have a clump of chips all in the center. I’m not sure it that was an accident or intentional, but it was delicious. And, as always, very moist cake and smooth frosting.

(Update: Peanut Butter Chocolate Time is not always sold with half a cookie on top. Sometimes it only has chocolate chips topping the frosting.)

StarryNightWinter2013-14_SpiceCookie

The worst part about the above Spiced Cider cupcake was that I had to share it with the hubby. After hoarding the White Chocolate Peppermint Mocha cupcake all to myself, I thought it was the nice thing to do (after all, ’twas the season for giving, right?). This cupcake had the aroma of a snickerdoodle cookie, with a spiced apple cake. The cake was baked with a generous amount of fresh diced apples and the buttercream was sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. I’d be a happy girl if this cupcake reappears throughout the year.

StarryNightWinter2013-14_Gingerbread

How can you not appreciate a cupcake with a tiny Gingerbread man on top? The cookie had the perfect spiced ginger flavor and consistency (not rock-solid like some). The cake also had the same, familiar spiced ginger “bite” which was mellowed by the sweet frosting, and the sugar crystals sprinkled on top add a nice crunchy texture.

StarryNightWinter2013-14_DrunkinElf

The cupcake above is called the Drunkin’ Elf, which is a chocolate bourbon cupcake with chocolate ganache frosting. It’s chocolatey goodness paired with booze…’nuff said.

StarryNightWinter2013-14_ChocolateMarshmallow

At a first glance, I thought this was another s’mores cupcake, but it’s really a Marshmallow Hot Chocolate cupcake. The chocolate cake is filled with a marshmallow filling, then topped with chocolate buttercream and garnished with a marshmallow and chocolate shavings. I was pleased with how the two flavors came through, without one overpowering the other.

StarryNightWinter2013-14_Eggnog

Eggnog isn’t for everyone. I can only handle it in small amounts myself, but there’s something about eggnog cupcakes that I love and this one was no exception. In addition to eggnog, it had a bit of spice (I’m guessing nutmeg) and I think even a hint of booze.

After such a successful tasting of all the winter flavors, I went back on New Year’s Eve. Last year my NYE cupcakes came from Starry Night, so now it’s a tradition.

StarryNightWinter2013-14_NewYears

After talking with the owner, Shannon, she said that they’ll be keeping some of these flavors to offer throughout the season (and hopefully the year), but a couple (like the Eggnog cupcake) were only for the holidays. They are gearing up for new spring flavors in the next couple of months, so we’ll have to keep our eyes and ears posted to see what they come up with next!

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

Advertisements

Winter Cupcake Craze: The Cupcakes You Haven’t Seen

You may have noticed, but we’ve been eating a lot of cupcakes this winter. Okay, we eat a lot of cupcakes all the time…but there is something about the winter and wanting rich comfort foods, versus light and refreshing flavors in the spring and summer. We’ve already reviewed a lot of winter flavors for you, like Chocolate Peppermint from La Cakerie and Sweet Hearts Patisserie, Eggnog from Vanilla Pastry Studio and PamCakes, Apple Cinnamon from Dessert Affairs, and we can’t forget the seasonal minis Crusader Stacy tried from Disney’s Epcot.

Aside from all these cupcakes we’ve consumed throughout winter, we’ve neglected to share with you some of the other new flavors we’ve tried from the bakeries we visit (very) frequently. Some are more seasonal flavors, others are flavors to satisfy you on a cold night. All were delicious.

Kupcakes & Co.: Cinnabon Cupcake and Reindeer Cake Pop

Kupcakes&Co_WinterCinnabon

This year, Kupcakes & Co. had the same seasonal flavors as last winter. While we had our share of those again this year, I was also able to try a new flavor: Cinnabon. With their rotating menu and huge flavor selection, you might see flavors you haven’t tried before depending on the day you stop in. I really loved the Cinnabon cupcake, but I’m a sucker for a good spiced cake. Kupcakes & Co.’s cream cheese frosting can be too sweet for me sometimes (not that it stops me), but the cinnamon from the cake and the crumble topping balanced it perfectly.

Kupcakes&Co_WinterReindeerCakepop

While I was in there one day, the owner Michelle succumbed to Leah’s cuteness and gave her one of their reindeer cake pops. It was so well done that I had to snap photos before Leah devoured it. Kupcakes & Co. has added custom cake pops to their menu, so for each holiday you can stop in and find something creative and cute. They also had Santa hat cake pops, and now for Valentine’s Day, they have roses.

Snickerdoodles Bakery and Coffee House: Sugar Cookie, Eggnog, Nutella, and Éclair Cupcake

Snickerdoodles_FourUp
(Top left to right: Sugar Cookie and Eggnog cupcakes. Bottom left to right: Nutella and Éclair cupcakes.)

Snickerdoodles has been added to the list of bakeries that are household names. My husband will randomly say (on the few cupcake-less nights we have), “I wish we had some Snickerdoodles.” I also now have my big sister hooked. The Sugar Cookie and Eggnog cupcakes were special holiday flavors, and they totally lived up to their name. The cake in the Sugar Cookie cupcake had actual bits of sugar cookie in it and everything about it really tasted like a sugar cookie. I was very surprised, having expected it to just taste like a vanilla cupcake. The Éclair and Nutella cupcakes are regulars that are rotated. Yes, that’s a mini éclair on top (like the mini cannoli on their Cannoli cupcake). The Éclair cupcake could have used more pastry filling for my taste, but I’m addicted to that stuff. The Nutella cupcake was lacking in hazelnut flavor, but was still a decadent, delightful treat.

Starry Night Bakery and Coffeehouse: German Chocolate, Peanut Butter Lovers, and Sunday Morning Breakfast Cupcakes

StarryNight_FourUp
(Top left: Starry Night’s new logo. Top right: German Chocolate Cake cupcake. Bottom left to right: Peanut Butter Lovers and Sunday Morning Breakfast cupcakes.)

You all already know how much we like Starry Night’s Quirky Cupcakes, and with all the love they receive from their customers, they keep adding to the line of flavors. I really like German Chocolate cake, mostly because of that coconut topping stuff, so I’m also a fan of it in cupcake form. Paired with Starry Night’s rich chocolate ganache frosting, it was heaven. The Sunday Morning Breakfast cupcake had maple frosting, topped with a caramel drizzle and chocolate chips. My notes for this and the Peanut Butter Lovers cupcake was, “Mmmmmm,” and that’s it.  There may have been wine involved in this cupcake tasting…

IcedGems: Winter Wonderland Cupcake

IcedGemsWinterWonderland

Crusader Elisa picked this IcedGems seasonal cupcake up to try, while the rest of us drooled with envy. Here’s what she had to say about it:

This cupcake was just as its title described, a winter wonderland treat! The vanilla cake had white chocolate chips and dried cranberries in it and was perfectly moist and not too dense, which can be hard to achieve when dried fruit is added to cake. The frosting was a delicious orange buttercream that paired well with the cake flavors. Honestly, I was a little skeptical about how “Winter Wonderland” this cupcake would taste, but there was something about the way the cranberry and orange flavors mixed with the vanilla cake and white chocolate chips that made the flavors come together and create a very wintertime/really good fruit cake flavor. The adorable little white chocolate topper and dried cranberries were great decorations, and added to the wintertime feel. It was a really great cupcake for anyone who likes fruit flavors paired together and I hope to see it again next winter.

We hope that you’ve consumed some great cupcakes this winter, like we have. If you haven’t, it’s still not too late to get out there and make us Crusaders proud!

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

Winter Cupcakes for the Winter Cold

During our quest for holiday cupcakes, we encountered some that were more winter themed than Christmas themed. So, as the days get colder, we decided to share these cupcakes with you today.

The first two are from Fancy Cakes by Leslie.

Our first experience with Fancy Cakes was back during our 2011 Cupcake Tour. It was an overall crowd pleaser and a favorite to most of us that day. Crusader Elisa was lucky enough to sample their cupcakes again when her cupcake loving co-worker, Rebecca, brought them to her. Here are her thoughts:

Red Velvet with Purple Icing:
Red velvet is a tough cupcake to get right, and while I love Fancy Cakes, this one was not my favorite. The cake was dry and somewhat flavorless. The buttercream icing was the saving grace, with it’s sweet, buttery, savory flavor. Rarely do I eat the fondant toppings – I’m just not a fondant fan – but I do eat them from Fancy Cakes because they are simply scrumptious! So I enjoyed the glittery snowflake and scraped every bit of icing off the plate.

Chocolate with Raspberry Icing:
I love raspberries and so when Rebecca brought me this cupcake I was very excited! The chocolate cake was mild and not too sweet, and while it was a little dry, it really boasted chocolate flavor. The icing, while very sweet, had a true raspberry taste and I would bet that it was made with real raspberries and not some extract flavoring. This cupcake makes my list of cupcakes to order again, next time I am down that way.

The other cupcake we wanted to share is the Hot Chocolate from IcedGems Baking.

Elisa had a great experience with all the Christmas themed cupcakes from IcedGems, and this one was no different (from Elisa):

How can you not love a cupcake with marshmallows on top and a tiny straw for decoration? The cake was swirl cake – a cupcake rarity in my experience! I was so pleasantly surprised by the moist, swirling chocolate/vanilla cake, and then the icing just melded all the flavors together into a cohesive, creamy, yummy, chocolate-y cupcake. I would definitely order this cupcake again!

The Crusaders are excited about all the wintery flavors out there right now. Have you had any winter cupcakes yet? If not, you should definitely get out and see what your local cupcakeries have to offer!

Happy Winter!

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

Deck the… Cupcakes?

If you celebrate Christmas, I hope that your tree is up, your house is decorated and you have finished all your shopping. Well, maybe you haven’t finished ALL your shopping… but since Christmas is less than a week away, we wanted to share some of our favorite Christmas decorations for your cupcakes so that it’s not just your baking skills that impress your family and friends.

Cupcake Liners
A great place to start when “Christmafying” your cupcakes is with the liners. Here are two that we think would be a great addition to any dessert table:

1.Martha Stewart Crafts Holiday Cupcake Wrappers (Photo Courtesy of Scrapbook.com)
2. Meri Meri’s Christmas Cupcake Cases (Photo Courtesy of Meri Meri)

Cupcake Wrappers
If you want to take it just a step further, instead of just using liners, add these cupcake wrappers to any cupcakes for an instant “wow” effect.


1. Bella Cupcake Couture Cupcake Wrapper (Photo Courtesy of ChefTool.com)
2. Cakedoodle on Esty.com (Photo Courtesy of Cakeadoodle)

Free Printable Cupcake Toppers
Want to show your crafty side, but still want something professional looking? Try out these FREE cupcake toppers printables. All you have to do is print and construct at home yourself.

1. Cheery Cupcake Toppers from Bake It Pretty (Photo Courtesy of Pink Bake It Pretty)
2. Printable Christmas Cupcake Decorations from Craft Jr. (Photo Courtesy of Craft Jr.)

Decorative Cupcake Toppers
Would you rather purchase your cupcake toppers? No assembly required? How about these options?

1. Ho! Ho! Ho! Holiday Cupcake Topper from Stunique (Photo Courtesy of Stunique)
2. Christmas Character Cupcake Picks from Oriental Trading (Photo Courtesy of Oriental Trading)

Edible Cupcake Toppers
While paper cupcake toppers are great, what about a cupcake topper that you can eat? Here are a couple we love:

1. Santa Clause Fondant Cupcake Toppers Cake and Kids on Etsy.com (Photo Courtesy of Cakes and Kids)
2. Lucks Royal Icing Decorations (Photo Courtesy of ChefTools.com)

Cupcake Kits
Want to get the full package instead of “mixing and matching?” Look at these cupcake kits that include the liners AND the cupcake toppers.

1. Meri Meri’s ‘Tis the Season Cupcake Kit (Photo Courtesy of William-Sonoma)
2. Wilton’s Holiday Homemade Cupcake Combo Pack (Photo Courtesy of Amazon.com)

Cupcake Boxes
Giving the gift of cupcakes? Then you’ll probably need some packaging for them. Instead of trying to figure out how you are going to wrap a box of cupcakes, order these holiday cupcake boxes. All the hard work has been done for you!

1. Christmas Cupcake Boxes (Photo Courtesy of Oriental Trading)
2. Cookie and Cupcake Boxes (Photo Courtesy of Crate & Barrel)

This time of year can be stressful for some, but don’t let your holiday baking stress you out. Instead, have fun with it. We hope these cupcake decorating ideas have helped spark some ideas!

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

Welcome Winter!

I know the first day of winter really isn’t until December 22nd, but since today is December 1st, and it’s finally cold after the warm streak we’ve had, I thought would be fun to share some creative ways to dress up your cupcakes for the season.

While the decorations in the photo above lean more towards the Christmas side of winter, below I’ve shared some that are strictly winter-themed so that anyone of any background or religion can enjoy. Even people living in warm weather can enjoy a snowflake or cute penguin, right? If you’ve come across winter-themed items you don’t see below, please share them in our comments section! We are always looking for fun decorations and know our readers will enjoy it as well.

Cupcake Wrappers
There are so many beautiful designer cupcake wrappers available, but here are two we thought were extra nice:


1. Dress My Cupcake (Photo Courtesy of Dress My Cupcakes)
2. PaperShops Home & Holiday Keepsakes on Esty.com (Photo Courtesy of PaperShops)

Cupcake Toppers
Are you like me and maybe not the best at decorative frosting techniques? Then cupcake toppers will be your best friend. Here are two that go from the ultra classy to the super cute:

1. Pink Cherry Momma on Esty.com (Photo Courtesy of Pink Cherry Momma)
2. Ciao Bambino on Esty.com (Photo Courtesy of Cia Bambino)

Edible Cupcake Toppers
While paper cupcake toppers are great, what about a cupcake topper that you can eat? Added bonus, your family and friends will think that you’ve mastered the art of fondant or gum paste. Here are a couple we love:

1. Two Sweet Cakes on Etsy.com (Photo Courtesy of Two Sweet Cakes)
2. Topperville on Etsy.com (Photo Courtesy of Topperville)

We hope these ideas have helped you spark new ideas or use these to jazz up your own cupcakes this winter. Cupcakes are fun, so have fun with them!

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