Entries Tagged as 'cupcakes'

January 25, 2012

cupcake taste test | ms. nene’s takes the cake bakery | kansas city metro

Local business owners “Stubbie” of E.F. Hobbs Coffee and Renee of Ms. Nene’s Takes the Cake ride around the Kansas City metro in their bright orange truck and brighten office monkeys’ days with a little sugar and plenty of smiles. If you stalk them follow them on Twitter, you can see where they’re headed so you can plan your day accordingly.

Or, if you’re like me, you can tweet them and they might just show up at the front door of your office.

ms. nene's takes the cake bakery kansas city

{Those cupcakes from Ms. Nene's Takes the Cake Bakery didn't last long.}

Upon approval from my office’s “Ministry of Fun” (aka spirit committee), CoffeeCakesKC rolled in to the parking lot and met a dozen or so of my cupcake-crazy coworkers and me to feed us red velvet, chocolate mint and chocolate with vanilla buttercream frosting cupcakes. Stubbie stood by to make hot drinks while Renee rounded up the cupcakes, which she sold out of within 10 minutes!

I was able to sample each available flavor of the day and buy an additional chocolate mint cupcake to take home to the teacher man. My coworker got the last red velvet, but offered me a bite for official taste test purposes. I couldn’t refuse.

ms nenes takes the cake cupcakes

{I got the red velvet cupcake, with pure white frosting, for my coworker and somehow managed to only eat half of one cupcake while the other two sat on my desk all day. Talk about self-control! Don't worry, though, I ate them with the teacher man later that evening.}

The red velvet cupcake had some pretty tasty frosting, but I was a bit surprised at the cake. It wasn’t as moist as I expected (so many of my online cupcake friends rave about Nene’s!), but I’m wondering if it was a fluke.

ms nene's takes the cake bakery red velvet cupcake

{The red velvet cupcake wasn't as moist as I'd expected it to be, but it did have a great, creamy frosting.}

I nibbled on one of the chocolate mint cupcakes at my desk throughout the day. The frosting deserved an A+ for fresh, minty flavor and silky texture, but as with the red velvet, the cake was just a tad bit dry. Nothing a little coffee couldn’t wash down, though.

chocolate mint cupcake ms nene's take the cake

{The kiss on top was a nice addition to the chocolate mint cupcake's perfect frosting, but I wish the cake was a bit more moist.}

I had a bite of the chocolate cupcake with vanilla buttercream frosting at home with the teacher man. Same verdict. Superb frosting atop cake that needs a bit more oomph.

chocolate with vanilla buttercream cupcake ms nene's takes the cake

{Chocolate drizzles atop perfect buttercream frosting makes me happy.}

Though my review is mixed, Ms. Nene’s Takes the Cake is still on my hit-list. The frosting made a big impact on my taste buds, and I’m just too intrigued by the other regular-rotation cupcakes to write off an imperfect batch. I’ve got until March to round up my favorite Kansas City cupcakes for another series with the Cupcake Crusaders — here’s to hoping I can lure the cupcake truck back to work for another taste test!

KC-area peeps who love Nene’s, which flavors should I try next? And who is coming with me? (@angelchrys, I’m talking to you.)

Do you have a mobile cupcakery in your town? How do you feel about food/dessert trucks? Tell me what you think in the comments section!

January 4, 2012

cupcake taste test | clock tower bakery | overland park, kansas

Clock Tower Bakery in downtown Overland Park, Kansas, is a sweet little bakery that carries more than just cupcakes. The teacher man and I have visited the shop for lunch and snacks on several occasions and dined on flaky croissants, delicious tamales (though they no longer carry them), local coffee and one of my favorites, lamb and goat cheese pizza. (Check my Facebook page to see a picture of the pizza!)

When I was conducting my highly scientific research to figure out my favorite cupcakes in the suburbs, I was finally able to sample some of Clock Tower’s cupcakes. Though the bakery didn’t make my top 5 list (competition was fierce!), Clock Tower does produce some just-fine cupcakes in traditional flavors and no-fuss designs.

I chose to try lemon, vanilla and red velvet cupcakes from the six-cupcake lineup that also includes pumpkin, chocolate and carrot. All cupcakes are $2.25, except for the chocolate, which is $2.75. My hunch is that, because lemon, vanilla and red velvet were the only ones left on the day I visited, the pumpkin, chocolate and carrot cupcakes must be really good. Either that or I just came on a day where only a select number of flavors were available.

lemon cupcake clock tower bakery overland park

{The lemon cupcake from Clock Tower Bakery wasn't lemony enough for my tastes.}

I love lemon cupcakes. Though I almost-always crave rich, decadent desserts, lemon is one of those flavors that always makes me happy. I like splashes of juicy, tangy flavor, but the lemon cupcake from Clock Tower didn’t deliver on that desire. It was lemony, but was more understated and sweet for my eccentric tastebuds.

vanilla cupcake clock tower bakery overland park kansas

{Clock Tower's vanilla cupcake is pretty...vanilla.}

I rarely choose vanilla-on-vanilla cupackes. I’m just not a vanilla girl, unless there’s at least a ribbon of chocolate in it. I tried Clock Tower’s vanilla cupcake anyway, and it kind of helped me reassert these feelings. The cake was dry and the frosting didn’t make up for it at all. It was just…boring. But vanilla is used to that kind of criticism, right?

red velvet cupcake clock tower bakery overland park kansas

{I liked that the red velvet cupcake had a bit more color to it, thanks to red sprinkles.}

Red velvet is almost always an anchor in any respectable cupcakery or bakery. Clock Tower Bakery got this cupcake right. The cake was moist yet fluffy, and the frosting had a smooth, creamy consistency. I’d get this cupcake again, but I’m pretty curious to see how the pumpkin, chocolate and carrot cupcakes compare.

So far, I’m 1/3 on Clock Tower’s cupcakes, so I’m hoping the flavors I haven’t tried make up for my lack of excitement over the lemon and the vanilla. Regardless, I’ll still frequent this adorable bakery because even if all the cupcakes aren’t knockouts, the food and other pastries are fresh and delicious. Plus, the staff is extremely sweet and the open-kitchen design makes it fun to see all the bakers hard at work to make something that will please even the pickiest of palates.

Have you ever tried Clock Tower Bakery’s cupcakes? Do you visit a quaint, local bakery that makes lots of good stuff, even if cupcakes aren’t its shining star? Tell me what you  know in the comments section.

December 30, 2011

cupcake taste test | favorite cupcakeries in the kansas city suburbs, revisited

Happy last Friday of the year! For all of you who are resolving to work out more and eat sweets less, you should probably think about getting one last cupcake before you 1) have to squeeze into that hot new year’s eve outfit tomorrow and 2) have to pay your first month’s gym dues the next day.

For those of you who are resolving to find the best cupcakes in your area in 2012, I have a primer for you if you happen to be in the Kansas City suburbs!

Last month, the lovely ladies at Cupcake Crusaders and I did a fun cupcake taste test series where we named our favorite cupcakeries in our respective locations (KC ‘burbs for me, Baltimore City for them).

In case you missed the series, were confused, were too busy eating cupcakes or just want to revisit some of my favorite spots in Johnson County, I’ve rounded up some pictures, snippets of the reviews and links back to the original posts for you to read and join in the conversation.

Fifth-Favorite Cupcakery in the Kansas City Suburbs: Best Regards Bakery

chocolate decadence best regards bakery overland park kansas

{Chocolate Decadence cupcake from Best Regards Bakery in Overland Park, Kansas}

For a frosting fanatic like myself, I can attest to the deliciousness of the icing on this cupcake. It was smooth, velvety and rich — yet not overpowering — and really made the chocolate decadence cupcake a gem. The cake, however, was a tad bit dry. Nothing that a glass of milk couldn’t help, but I think the amazing frosting on this cake seriously made me consider Best Regards Bakery for my top five list.

Fourth-Favorite Cupcakery in the Kansas City Suburbs: Icing Cupcakery

mint chocolate chip cupcake icing cupcakery lenexa kansas

{Mint Chocolate Chip cupcake from Icing Cupcakery in Lenexa, Kansas}

The chocolate cake was so moist and rich and the minty green frosting had the right balance of flavor and texture — not too minty, but refreshing, and creamy, but not uber-thick and gooey.

The chocolate chips on top were a nice finish. Great addition of yet another texture — chewy crunch — that really solidified the “after-dinner mint” feel of this cupcake. I would definitely buy this cupcake again.

Third-Favorite Cupcakery in the Kansas City Suburbs: Sugar Rush

peanut butter cup cupcake sugar rush olathe kansas

{Peanut Butter Cup cupcake from Sugar Rush in Olathe, Kansas}

Chocolate cake, whipped peanut butter frosting and a Reese’s on top made this cupcake heavenly. The cake was perfect like the triple chocolate’s. I liked the fluffy consistency of this frosting — how’d they get peanut butter to seem so airy instead of sticky? If you’re a pb&c kind of gal or gent, get this cupcake.

Second-Favorite Cupcakery in the Kansas City Suburbs: Smallcakes

caramel apple cupcake smallcakes olathe overland park kansas

{Caramel Apple cupcake from Smallcakes, with locations in Overland Park and Olathe, Kansas}

The best thing about autumn is the arrival of caramel apple everything in candy and dessert shops. Caramel apple cupcakes are a little easier on your teeth — light caramel frosting doesn’t get stuck! I loved the bit of apple on top of this cupcake as well as the delicious caramel frosting and peanuts. The cake was great — very light and fluffy — and I could have easily had seconds of this one!

Favorite Cupcakery in the Kansas City Suburbs: Dolce Baking Co.

pumpkin pie cupcake dolce baking co prairie village kansas

{Pumpkin Pie cupcake from Dolce Baking Co. in Prairie Village, Kansas}

A seasonal flavor, pumpkin pie, was moist and dense like pie but with a perfect dollop of frosting on top that was drizzled with caramel and a dash of sea salt. It was a true delight, and the way the sea salt complemented the caramel flavoring was impeccable. I’m a big fan of all things caramel, and though I’m usually just semi-excited about pumpkin (and pie, for that matter), this cupcake simply rocked.

In a few short months, the Crusaders and I will embark on another mission to find the best cupcakes in our respective areas; this time, I’m diving deep into the heart of Kansas City, Missouri, and Kansas City, Kansas, to find my favorite cupcakeries that straddle the state line. The Crusaders will go beyond their city limits to find their favorite cupcakeries in Baltimore County.

Who wants to join me? Who has recommendations to add to my long list of KC cupcakeries? Tell me what you know in the comments section.

November 29, 2011

guest post | cupcake taste test | midnite confection’s cupcakery | baltimore, maryland

This is a guest post from fellow cupcake addict Stacy of Cupcake Crusaders. Every Tuesday for the month of November she has named her top five favorite cupcake shops in the city of Baltimore, Maryland. Today, she names her #1 cupcakery. Visit Cupcake Crusaders today to see my #1 pick for favorite cupcakery in the Kansas City suburbs!

Located in the neighborhood of Federal Hill — south of Baltimore City’s Downtown and Inner Harbor area – is my selection for my ultimate favorite cupcakery in Baltimore City.

Midnite Confection’s Cupcakery can be found off the historic Charles Street, just steps away from the Cross Street Market. This section of Charles Street is lined with trees, boutique shops and restaurants which make this a perfect location for a cupcake shop. Midnite Confection’s was ranked as the #1 place to get cupcakes on Baltimore Magazine’s 2011 Best of Baltimore. While I didn’t agree with most of its rankings, this place was on the top of our list too.

midnight confection's cupcakery baltimore maryland

{Midnight Confection's Cupcakery is located in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo Courtesy Cupcake Crusaders}

When Midnite Confection’s hit the cupcake scene in Baltimore, I was impressed by two things. First, because they are situated in the heart of Federal Hill, the busy night life keeps them open until 10 p.m. on Fridays and 8 p.m. on Saturdays while most bakeries and cupcake shops in Baltimore have already closed. This means that if you ever need any cupcakes for a Friday night gathering, you can just drop by and get what you need.

The next thing that impressed me was the story about why this mother and son team started their business. According to their website, Aaron, the son, had a late night sweet tooth and his mother, Sandra, was unable to sleep, so the two of them ended up baking late into the night. The next morning the kitchen was filled with their “midnight confections” which they shared with family and friends. Word began to spread and eventually they were able to open their storefront in Federal Hill.

Midnite Confection’s late night hours were part of the reason for my first visit there. One Friday night, Crusader Elisa and I had plans to attend a local cupcake and wine tasting, but for some reason the event was cancelled. Remembering that Midnite Confection’s would be open until 10 p.m., Elisa and I decided to have our own cupcake and wine night. Together we headed to Federal Hill. When we walked in, we were immediately greeted with a smiling face. I believe this was one of the owners, Aaron. We selected six cupcakes and headed to the wine store across the street. After selecting a red wine, we made our way back to Elisa’s house.

midnight confection's cupcakes baltimore city and wine

{Armed with wine and cupcakes, the Cupcake Crusaders were ready for a relaxing night in, instead of out "on the town" like we initially planned. Cupcake flavors pictured (from top left going clockwise): Midnite (chocolate cake, chocolate chip cream cheese filling, and chocolate buttercream), Sublime-inal (lemon cake and lime buttercream frosting), Black Velvet with cream cheese frosting, Piña Colada, Spice Cake and Playboy (carrot cake and cream cheese frosting. Photo Courtesy Cupcake Crusaders}

All the cupcakes were amazing. Each brought something totally different to the table and were unique and wonderful in their own way.

Since then we’ve had Midnite Confection’s cupcakes time and time again and have rarely been disappointed. It would be impossible for me to recommend just one or two flavors so instead, I’m going to suggest that if you go, get a variety. First, definitely order their daily and/or weekly specials. I’ve tried many of their seasonal flavors ranging from Chocolate Cherry and Gingerbread to Spice Cake and Pina Colada.

midnight confection's baltimore maryland seasonal cupcakes

{Pictured above are two season flavors and a regular flavor. The two seasonal are Chocolate Cherry and Gingerbread. Photo Courtesy Cupcake Crusaders}

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not normally a fan of fruit-flavored frosting, but the Chocolate Cherry above was a great blend of sweet balanced fruitiness and rich chocolate. The Gingerbread was the perfect seasonal flavor for December (I had both of these in 2010).

Usually they have two to three seasonal flavors, so it would probably be best to order a half-dozen when you visit so you can also include three of their regulars: Playboy, Sublime-inal and Black Velvet.

carrot cake cupcake from midnite confection's in baltimore maryland

{Playboy from Midnite Confection's Cupcakery. This carrot cake cupcake is filled with carrots, a hint of pineapple, a great blend of spices and topped off with creamy cream cheese frosting. Photo Courtesy Cupcake Crusaders}

sublime-inal cupcake midnight confection's baltimore maryland

{Sublime-inal from Midnite Confection's Cupcakery. This lemon cake cupcake is topped with a lime buttercream frosting and combines tartness and sweetness for a perfect summer taste that you can have year around. Photo Courtesy Cupcake Crusaders}

black velvet cupcake midnite confection's baltimore maryland

{Midnite Confection's Cupcakery's signature cupcake, Black Velvet with cream cheese frosting. This cupcake differs from a red velvet because it is more rich and "velvety." Photo Courtesy Cupcake Crusaders}

Midnite Confection’s is my No. 1 favorite cupcakery in Baltimore City because they offer the full package. Besides their stellar cupcakes and late hours, they have what I think is the best service among the competition. I think Aaron, one of the owners, has always been the one standing behind the counter when I’ve gone there and he’s always willing to chat, laugh or just give a smile. They also utilized their Twitter and Facebook accounts on a daily basis, informing their fans of daily and weekly flavors and occasional store closings.

Midnite Confection’s has everything a No. 1 cupakery should have. And I am proud to have them in my city and hope that anyone visiting or living here will give them a try. If you do stop in, make sure to tell them that the Cupcake Crusaders say hello. :)

Does a cupcakery need to have more than just great cupcakes for you to consider it “one of the best?” If so, what do you think makes a No. 1 cupcakery? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

November 22, 2011

guest post | cupcake taste test | sweet bakery | baltimore, maryland

This is a guest post from fellow cupcake addict Stacy of Cupcake Crusaders. Every Tuesday for the month of November, check out Stacy’s guest posts as she names her top five favorite cupcake shops in the city of Baltimore, Maryland. Visit Cupcake Crusaders every Tuesday in November to see my top five picks for favorite cupcakeries in the Kansas City suburbs!

Before this past spring, Sweet Bakery was located in Ellicott City, a neighboring town to Baltimore City. The other Crusaders and I were very excited when they decided to relocate because this meant they would be much more accessible to us. Now they are located just a “hop, skip and jump” away from Crusader Elisa’s office, which could be a serious threat to our waistlines. Their move also means that they were able to make our “Top 5” list as our second-favorite cupcake shop inside of Baltimore City.

Our first experience with Sweet Bakery was when it was located on Main Street in downtown Ellicott City. It was in the fall of 2010 and we decided to stop into the bakery our our way to a restaurant also located along Main Street. This restaurant/bar was celebrating  “Oktoberfest,” and Sweet Bakery had a pumpkin spice cupcake; we knew this would go great with the fall seasonal beers we would be sampling.

pumpkin spice cupcake and beer sweet bakery baltimore maryland

{Who says cupcakes and beer don't go together? We think with the right beers and right cupcake flavors they can be a great combination. Photo Courtesy Cupcake Crusaders}

Our first encounter with Sweet Bakery, after their move into Baltimore City, was a just a few months ago. Crusader Elisa and I decided to have a “Cupcake Night” at my house. We chose three places to get cupcakes from and Sweet Bakery was one of those three. Because Elisa is the only Crusader who has visited this new location, I asked her to describe it for us:

“Sweet Bakery is located in the heart of Mt. Vernon on the quaint and charming West Read Street. With a hip barber shop next door and an eclectic antique toy shop across the street, this little bakery fits right into the neighborhood! This location is just a stone’s throw away from Charles Street and its many restaurants, as well as the State Center Metro stop, University of Baltimore and the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. A chalkboard has “Today’s Specials” written on it and greets you as you walk into the shop. The cupcakes are in a vintage glass bakery case on glass cake stands;  also found in the case are cannolis, tarts, pastries and larger cakes. With local artwork on the walls, the shop itself couldn’t be more inviting, or perfectly matched for the area.”

sweet bakery baltimore maryland

{Sweet Bakery located at 239 W. Read St. in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo Courtesy Cupcake Crusaders}

sweet bakery baltimore maryland cupcake display case

{Sweet Bakery offers more than just cupcakes. But when their cupcakes are so good, why get anything else? Photo Courtesy Cupcake Crusaders}

For our “Cupcake Night” we sampled four flavors, but the best of the night was the red velvet. It was wonderfully soft, moist, fluffy and full of rich flavor. I find that red velvet can sometimes lack flavor or, even worse, taste of food coloring, but not Sweet Bakery’s red velvet.

sweet bakery cupcakes baltimore maryland

{Cupcake selection from Sweet Bakery for our "Cupcake Night" — chocolate cake with vanilla frosting, red velvet, vanilla cake with vanilla frosting and carrot cake. Photo Courtesy Cupcake Crusaders}

Since then, Elisa has dropped by Sweet Bakery many times, but the next time we all had them together was on a girls weekend getaway. She got a variety of different flavors (of course including the red velvet).

sweet bakery cupcake baltimore maryland

{When six girls get together, sweets are a must and these cupcakes from Sweet Bakery were a hit. Flavors included key lime, vanilla vanilla, red velvet, vanilla with chocolate frosting and chocolate chip. Photo Courtesy Cupcake Crusaders}

Again, one of the shining stars was the red velvet.

red velvet cupcake sweet bakery baltimore maryland

{Red Velvet from Sweet Bakery. Photo Courtesy Cupcake Crusaders}

However, the key lime and the vanilla cake with chocolate frosting were also among the favorites.

key lime cupcake sweet bakery baltimore maryland

{Key Lime from Sweet Bakery. Photo Courtesy Cupcake Crusaders}

The key lime had the perfect sweet and tangy combination it needs. Someone also pointed out that it seems to have been made with actual key lime flavor, and not just lime flavor, which is often substituted for key limes.

vanilla cupcake with chocolate frosting sweet bakery baltimore maryland

{Vanilla cake with chocolate frosting from Sweet Bakery. Photo Courtesy Cupcake Crusaders}

I was so glad that Elisa selected a flavor with the chocolate frosting because I realized that I hadn’t yet tried it. Boy was it good. Creamy, decadent and not too sweet, just how I like my chocolate frosting.

Sweet Bakery made our No. 2 spot because they consistently put out a good cupcake. The only thing we wish is that they would offer more of a variety. Sometimes they only have four or five to choose from, but at least we know those four or five will be great, and usually they have the red velvet, which is really all anyone needs to try (if you have to pick just one).

Elisa has made it somewhat of a personal mission to find the best red velvet cupcake and she believes that Sweet Bakery has taken first place with their perfectly moist, flavorful cake and cream cheese icing that is a perfect balance of cream cheese and sweetness.

Simply put, it made our list because it is a great bakery that makes fantastic cupcakes. The staff is friendly and helpful and even their coffee is delicious. So, if you get a chance, stop in to browse the art from local artists that hangs on the walls and relax with a cupcake.

Do you like red velvet? Do you have a favorite cupcakery or bakery that you think makes the perfect one? What do you think makes a perfect red velvet cupcake? Let us know your thoughts!

November 15, 2011

guest post | cupcake taste test | charm city cupcakes | baltimore, maryland

This is a guest post from fellow cupcake addict Stacy of Cupcake Crusaders. Every Tuesday for the month of November, check out Stacy’s guest posts as she names her top five favorite cupcake shops in the city of Baltimore, Maryland. Visit Cupcake Crusaders every Tuesday in November to see my top five picks for favorite cupcakeries in the Kansas City suburbs!

While most Baltimore City cupcakeries have only been around for a couple years (or less), Charm City Cupcakes was ahead of the “cupcake craze” when it opened six years ago. With three locations now, Charm City Cupcakes is definitely doing something right, and we have happily chosen it as our third favorite cupcakery in Baltimore City.

Crusader Jenn and I first discovered Charm City Cupcakes while it was still in its youth. It advertised a “Mini Cupcake Sale” and our employer said we could head to the shop and pick some up for the office. This was it was before we had our blog and when Charm City Cupcakes only had its flagship location at 326 North Charles Street. There are no photos from this field trip, but we never forgot how much we liked the black bottom cupcake topped with chocolate buttercream. Looking back, this might have been the first time Crusader Jenn or I had a taste of gourmet cupcakes.

My next encounter with Charm City Cupcakes was years later (fall of 2010) when Crusader Elisa surprised me with cupcakes for my bachelorette party. She got a mixed variety including Black Eyed Susan, Vanilla/Vanilla, Almond Raspberry and Chocolate Mint.

charm city cupcakes baltimore maryland

{Sharing cupcakes means you get to try more flavors. Cupcakes from Charm City Cupcakes from the flagship store on Charles Street in Baltimore City. Photo Courtesy Cupcake Crusaders}

We didn’t have a chance to eat them out with the other girls, which was OK with us because it meant we got more to ourselves later that night. This cupcake tasting went just as well as the first, and while we felt the Black Eyed Susan (vanilla cake and frosting with a chocolate filling) and the Vanilla/Vanilla were a little boring, the Chocolate Mint and Almond Raspberry stood out, each with a great blend of well-balanced flavors.

Unfortunately, because the main location wasn’t the most convenient for any of the Crusaders, it would be another year before we indulged in the deliciousness again, but this time from the quaint little shop located at 1340 Smith Avenue in the Mt. Washington neighborhood of Baltimore City. I was randomly in that area running an errand on my lunch break when I spotted it. (Actually, I was out hoping to get ice cream, but that shop was closed so I was even more excited than normal to spot a cupcake place).

charm city cupcakes mount washington baltimore maryland

{Cute little shop located in Mt. Washington. The shop is only big enough for a small counter, display and about four people. Photo Courtesy Cupcake Crusaders}

The nice gentleman working behind the counter asked how I was doing, explained all the flavors to me and waited patiently as I made my decision. This is always really important to me because I think one of the wonderful things about cupcakes is the whole experience. When the employee is a bit of a “Grinch” or even just unwilling to engage in conversation or offer a smile, it makes the experience a little less enjoyable. Let’s face it, if you are selling something that brings smiles to faces, you should be offering one as well. I mean, they are cupcakes. Cupcakes are happy treats. And the man behind the counter did not disappoint.

During this trip, I selected the Mint Chocolate Chip and a Chocolate Turtle. The Mint Chocolate Chip was different than it had been a year ago. Before, it was chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and a mint filling, but this time it was chocolate cake with a mint frosting and little semi sweet chocolate chips on top.

mint chocolate chip cupcake charm city cupcakes

{Mint Chocolate Chip cupcake from Charm City Cupcakes. Photo Courtesy Cupcake Crusaders}

I’m a big fan of chocolate and mint together, so right away I was really excited about this one. The frosting was light and fluffy and full of minty goodness. It had a chocolate ganache filling, which I wasn’t expecting but was a fantastic addition.

{Chocolate Turtle from Charm City Cupcakes. Photo Courtesy Cupcake Crusaders}

While the Mint Chocolate Chip was everything I was hoping it would be, the Chocolate Turtle was the better of the two.

The chocolate cake was filled with caramel that was nice and gooey, and the chocolate frosting was light and smooth. The pecan/caramel mixture that tops the cupcake was very similar to what you might find on a Cinnabon® pecan sticky bun (I could eat huge bowls of the mixture). This entire cupcake worked well. It was decadent without being overly sweet.

Because the Mt. Washington location is so close to me, I have now been there twice in one month. For my most recent visit, I had received an email about a fundraising event for Breast Cancer Awareness. All you had to do was place an order for a dozen mini cupcakes, and a portion of the proceeds would be donated. I received this email about a week before a weekend getaway with some friends. I knew this would be the perfect treat to bring to a gathering that included six women. I was limited to getting a minimum of six cupcakes per flavor, so I went with two flavors: Chocolate Cannoli and Almond Raspberry.

charmed city cupcake breast cancer awareness cupcakes

{Charm City Cupcakes took the time to add pink ribbon and a business card to the Breast Cancer Awareness mini cupcakes. I knew these would be a big hit with the girls. Photo Courtesy Cupcake Crusaders}

The group was not unanimous in the choice of favorite cupcake. Some thought that the Chocolate Canoli worked better and that it packed in a lot of flavor while not being too sweet. Others thought that the Almond Raspberry was a perfect blend of nut and fruit and that the sweetness only served to complement those flavors.

charm city cupcakes chocolate cannoli

{Chocolate Cannoli from Charm City Cupcakes. Photo Courtesy Cupcake Crusaders}

When I picked up the cupcakes, I was a little surprised that the cake wasn’t chocolate. Because it was a “Chocolate Cannoli” cupcake, I expected full-on chocolatiness. However, that may have overpowered the cannoli filling that was present as a filling and as a garnish on top of the chocolate frosting. The most important part of this cupcake, the cannoli cream, was everything I want in a cannoli cream. It instantly reminded me of the cannoli cream from Vaccaro’s, an Italian pastry shop in Baltimore, which is perfectly smooth and not gritty like some not-so-great cannolis I’ve tasted before.

charm city cupcakes almond raspberry cupcake

{Almond Raspberry from Charm City Cupcakes in Baltimore. Photo Courtesy Cupcake Crusaders}

Even though the Chocolate Cannoli was the favorite of the majority of the group, I personally preferred the Almond Raspberry. I love almonds and raspberries, and when the two are combined I think it is a harmonious blend that is meant for each other. I typically stay away from fruit-infused frostings because I find that they can sometimes taste like cheap candy, but this frosting seemed like it was made with fresh raspberries, and not some syrupy mixture from a bottle. The other girls thought that it was too sweet though, but maybe because it was just a mini cupcake, I thought it was fine? Or maybe my sweet tooth was in overdrive that day? Either way, I enjoyed every morsel of that bite-sized cake.

Overall, the moist cake, perfect frosting-to-cake ratio and super-convenient location are what placed Charm City Cupcakes on our “Top 5” list. One of the major letdowns about Charm City Cupcakes, though, which is one of the reasons it’s only number three, involve the social media and marketing efforts. Charm City Cupcakes isn’t using its Facebook page to the full advantage by posting daily, weekly or even monthly flavors and specials. I’d definitely go more if I saw they had a new flavor I wanted to try or had one I knew I already loved. But, if you are looking for a good cupcake — actually, a great cupcake — then you should stop in and see what’s in the display case that day. Even if you don’t know what you’ll be able to get, you won’t be disappointed.

Do you follow cupcakeries on Facebook or Twitter? Would you go get cupcakes just because they mention a flavor that sounds tasty? Or do you only pick up cupcakes for special occasions? Let us know in the comments section below. We’d love to hear your thoughts!

November 8, 2011

guest post | cupcake taste test | caroline’s cupcakery | baltimore, maryland

This is a guest post from fellow cupcake addict Stacy of Cupcake Crusaders. Every Tuesday for the month of November, check out Stacy’s guest posts as she names her top five favorite cupcake shops in the city of Baltimore, Maryland. Visit Cupcake Crusaders every Tuesday in November (OK, except for today because Stacy is on vacation and I’m behind — find my post this Thursday!) to see my top five picks for favorite cupcakeries in the Kansas City suburbs!

Caroline’s Cupcakery is an adorable little cupcake shop sporting pink walls and a variety of cupcake memorabilia. It even has its own cupcake crossing sign outside its main location, along Fort Avenue, in the Baltimore City neighborhood of Locust Point.

Recently, Caroline’s Cupcakery expanded with a new storefront in the Harbor East neighborhood, but unfortunately only Cupkcake Crusader Elisa has had the opportunity to visit. I’m not sure whether the new cupcakery has a “cupcake crossing” sign beckoning passersby to come in and enjoy the offerings, which would be a shame, since it is so darn cute.

caroline's cupcakery baltimore maryland

{Caroline's Cupcakery's location at 1433 East Fort Avenue is decked out top to bottom with cupcakes, including signage and a cupcake crossing sign on the exterior of the shop. Photo Courtesy Cupcake Crusaders}

Shortly after it opened on Fort Avenue, Caroline’s hosted a “Cupcake and Wine Tasting.” Crusader Jenn and I could not miss out on the opportunity to sample two of our treasured palate pleasers. The night was filled with a variety of mini cupcakes and sips of wine paired specifically to each cupcake flavor. It was such a great experience that Caroline’s Cupcakery immediately became a place we would continue to support time and time again.

peanut butter and joy mini cupcake caroline's cupcakery baltimore maryland

{Peanut Butter and Joy Mini Cupcake from the "Cupcake and Wine Tasting." (Notice the wine in the background? Wine is great with cupcakes.) Photo Courtesy Cupcake Crusaders}

That night we found some of our all-time favorites, like the Peanut Butter and Joy (pictured above) and the Citrus Wonder with Lemon Drizzle. One thing we didn’t realize that night was how Caroline’s trademark is the mile-high frosting “tower.” This, and this alone, is what places Caroline’s Cupcakery in our #4 spot for our choice cupcake locations in Baltimore City, and not higher on our list.

mile high frosting at caroline's cupcakery in baltimore, maryland

{Would you like some cake with your frosting? Caroline's Cupcakery is known for its over-the-top frosting application. Photo Courtesy Cupcake Crusaders}

Luckily the frosting is delicious, but we are pretty picky about the cake-to-frosting ratio when it comes to cupcakes, and this just leans way too heavily on the frosting side. The only way to approach one of Caroline’s cupcakes is to eat half of the frosting off first, which brings me back to, “luckily the frosting is delicious.”

The skyscraper of creamy sweetness does not stop us from loving every morsel of Caroline’s cupcakes; in fact, we like them so much we ordered them for Crusader Jenn’s baby shower this past June. The flavors included were Citrus Wonder with Lemon Drizzle, Peanut Butter with Chocolate and Vanilla Vanilla (for those less adventurous).

They were a huge hit with all the ladies at the shower, and we were happy to spread cupcake love to all the guests. Not only is the frosting appetizing, but the cake stands up to it as an equal and doesn’t get overshadowed (as long as you eat half of the frosting off first).

caroline's cupcakes baby shower cupcakes baltimore maryland

{Caroline's cupcakes fancied up for Crusader Jenn's baby shower. These actually ended up having less frosting than the norm, which seemed to be just the right amount. Photo Courtesy Cupcake Crusaders}

I think the Citrus Wonder might be one of Caroline’s best options. I haven’t tried all the offerings yet, and don’t know that I’ll ever be able to since the cupcakery is always adding new flavors, but this is definitely a standout.

Another recommendation I have is to select anything with dark chocolate buttercream frosting if you are a chocolate lover. It is smooth, rich and just all-around awesome.

caroline's cupcakery banana chocolate chip cupcake baltimore maryland

{Caroline's Banana Chocolate Chip features the mouth-watering dark chocolate buttercream frosting. Photo Courtesy Cupcake Crusaders}

Have you been to Caroline’s Cupcakery? Do you like a lot of frosting or a little dollop? How important is the cake to frosting ratio for your perfect cupcake experience? We’d love to get your opinion on this. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

November 1, 2011

guest post | cupcake taste test | roland park bagel co. | baltimore, maryland

This is a guest post from fellow cupcake addict Stacy of Cupcake Crusaders. Every Tuesday for the month of November, check out Stacy’s guest posts as she names her top five favorite cupcake shops in the city of Baltimore, Maryland. Visit Cupcake Crusaders every Tuesday in November to see my top five picks for favorite cupcakeries in the Kansas City suburbs!

Roland Park Bagel Co. is a corner bagel shop located on Coldspring Avenue in the Roland Park neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland. It primarily serves bagels (obviously), coffee, sandwiches and paninis, but it also has cupcakes! I was really surprised to see them on Baltimore magazine’s top 10 list for cupcakes and knew the other crusaders and I had to try them.

roland park bagel co baltimore city maryland

{Roland Park Bagel Co. is located at 500 W. Cold Spring Lane in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo Courtesy Cupcake Crusaders}

After I saw them on the list, Crusader Elisa and I decided to organize a “cupcake night” at my house, but unfortunately Crusader Jenn couldn’t join us (we did save some leftovers for her though). We decided to get cupcakes from three locations, one being Roland Park Bagel Co. The shop doesn’t have an online cupcake menu, though; instead it has about eight rotating daily flavors.

roland park bagel co cupcakes baltimore maryland

{Roland Park Bagel Co. has a wide selection of cupcakes and other sweets. Photo Courtesy Cupcake Crusaders}

On my first visit, some of the cupcakes didn’t have labels, and the person who helped me didn’t seem to know which flavors were which, so I got what I thought was a cookies and cream cupcake and a black bottom with caramel frosting cupcake.

roland bagel co cupcakes

{Chocolate Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting and a Salted Caramel Cupcake from Roland Park Bagel Co. Photo Courtesy Cupcake Crusaders}

The cookies and cream was actually some kind of chocolate cupcake with a cream cheese frosting and the black bottom with caramel frosting had a hint of saltiness (which we love with our caramel). Even though the employee behind the counter didn’t know the cupcakes too well, they were excellent, which is why we had to include them in our top five favorites for the city of Baltimore. The cake was rich and fluffy and both frostings were creamy and flavorful. I also love that they are the only place in Baltimore proper that uses parchment paper instead of cupcake wrappers. I think it’s kind of neat and sets them apart.

roland baking co cupcakes

{Pumpkin Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Cookies and Cream Cupcake from Roland Park Bagel Co. Photo Courtesy Cupcake Crusaders}

Besides not always having a strong knowledge of what the flavors of the day are, sometimes the staff can be less than cordial. They aren’t rude, but they don’t go out of their way to make you smile, either. These reasons, combined with their sub-par packaging (see below) are why Roland Park Bagel Co. isn’t higher on our list. If the staff would share a smile or two, and if they invested in proper cupcake carryout containers, Roland Park Bagel would easily place higher on our list.

roland bagel co cupcakes

{Frosting fail. Photo Courtesy Cupcake Crusaders}

It’s hard to recommend a cupcake (if we had to pick one or two) because the shop does rotate flavors on a daily basis, but if you are ever there, I would say to get one with cream cheese frosting. The shop has really perfected its recipe for this, and it is a definite must-have. On my most recent visit, I selected the pumpkin cupcake with cream cheese frosting. The pumpkin cake had plenty of pumpkin flavor, but was a little on the dry side, which is not common for Roland Bagel Co. cake, but the frosting was mouth-watering delicious. It definitely was the star of the cupcake.

Pumpkin Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting from Roland Park Bagel Co.

{Pumpkin Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting from Roland Park Bagel Co. Photo Courtesy Cupcake Crusaders}

I would also recommend anything with chocolate cake from Roland Park Bagel Co. For a bagel bakery, its chocolate cake manages to be right up there with the best cupcakeries in the city of Baltimore. I also got the real cookies and cream cupcake on my most-recent trip (not the one they claimed was cookies and cream during my first visit). The frosting evoked an Oreo cookie, just like I expect from a cookies and cream cupcake, and the chocolate cake was decadently rich and wonderful, even two days after purchasing it.

Cookies and Cream Cupcake from Roland Park Bagel Co.

{Cookies and Cream Cupcake from Roland Park Bagel Co. Photo Courtesy Cupcake Crusaders}

If you are ever in the Baltimore area and are craving some bagels, paninis (which are also really good) and cupcakes, Roland Park Bagel Co. is your one-stop shop for them all. The shop has a nice area to sit and enjoy your fare, or you can take everything to go. Just watch out if you get your cupcakes to go because they might not be as pretty as they were when you ordered them — but they will still taste great, you can count on that!

Have you ever visited Roland Park Bagel Co.? Do you prefer to get cupcakes from “proper cupcakeries,” or will you chance it on one-stop shops like this one? Tell me your thoughts in the comments section — and tell me any recommendations for more delicious East Coast cupcakeries!

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