Tag Archives: cupcake blog

The Comfort of Cupcake

25 Jan

North Carolina has got (cupcake) game!  Last month,  I was in the Raleigh area for less than 24 hours for a job interview and knew that I would need  cupcake comfort immediately after.  So that’s how I met The Cupcake Shoppe Bakery, “Raleigh’s first and finest cupcake boutique and bakery”, located just 6 miles from my interview.   I walked in, a bit uncomfortable in my uncustomary suit and wobbly shoes, and breathed a sigh of relief.  In this charming atmosphere among the pretty cupcakes, I could now relax (and pretend that that interview didn’t happen…not one of my top performances.  I blame it on the fluorescent lights, they make me cagey.)

The day of my visit, the Cupcake Shoppe Bakery offered up 13 different cupcake varieties with fun names like “What’s Up Doc?” {carrot cake with cinnamon cream cheese icing}, “Mint Condition” {chocolate cake with mint buttercream}, and “Cookie Monster” {vanilla cake with Oreo buttercream}.  They also feature flavors of the week!  Gingerbread, eggnog, and peppermint were on the menu when I was in town  as Christmas was just around the corner.   After about three other people came in, decided, ordered, and left, I finally had made my decision and departed happily with my four-pack!

Unfortunately, I let the hussle-bussle of the holidays get the best of Cupcake Crusade and am irresponsibly posting this review about a month after my visit.  I also let the interview frazzle get the best of me and didn’t take notes after engaging in my cupcake comfort – I just needed sugar STAT, then comfy pants, and then sleep.  Some cupcake reviewer I am, huh?!  I can say that I fondly remember the “Pretty in Pink” {fresh strawberry cake with strawberry buttercream} and thinking “this has Top 10 potential!”.  It was most satisfying!  Soft cake with the perfect blend strawberry and respectfully sweet buttercream.  The remaining three didn’t leave as dramatic an impression, but were pretty to look at nonetheless.

On to the break down!

The Cupcake Shoppe Bakery / 104 Glenwood Avenue, Raleigh, North Carolina

1. Price:$3 each / $33 dozen / Minis (available by special order) $16 dozen. On the pricier side…

2. Room temperature:  Yes

3.  Size:  Standard

4. Cake to Frosting Ratio:  1:1

5. Vegan, gluten-free, or sugar-free/low-sugar options: No

6. To-go packaging: Standard cardboard cupcake box, with no dividers (or seat belts as I like to think of them.  Cupcake safety is important to me!) inside.

7. Milk for sale?:  Yes!  Also found on site: Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Crush, Coffee, and free water (I’m a sucker for pretty drink dispensers).

8.  Other treats for non-cupcake enthusiasts you may have in tow: You’re in luck – homemade brownies, truffles, cookies, breakfast muffins, and marshmallows.

9.  Ambiance: Pretty!  They took a pink and brown color palette and created a classy/sweet setting.  The seating was cool (aluminum ladder-back chairs) blended with a romantic splash (chocolate brown-tufted wall benches)And pleasant lighting seemed to make the pale pink walls sparkle a bit.  Outdoor seating also in what seemed like a nice neighborhood.  Oh yeah, and the cash register is pretty darn cool too.

10. Service: Lovely, friendly folk at this well-kept cupcakery.   They bake daily here, and any cupcakes left at the end of the day are donated.  Also, the bakers come in at 3 AM!  I love baking cupcakes but wouldn’t last a week with that schedule.

11.  Three words to describe the The Cupcake Shoppe experience:  1) Calming 2) Chic 3) Charming

Thank you Cupcake Shoppe Bakery for making my very first North Carolina cupcakery visit a delightful one and providing cupcake comfort!

Cupcake Shoppe on Urbanspoon


Tickled Pink @ Pink Pastry Parlor

26 Mar

Ladies, want to feel like a kid again? If yes, then skip on over to the Pink Pastry Parlor!  (Sorry to discriminate fellas, but there just really isn’t anything manly about this place….which you may have already figured out based on its name.  Oh wait!  I just noticed that there’s an Earthworm cupcake on the menu.  That’s manly, right?)  

While Pink Pastry Parlor is a bakery, with lots and lots of cupcake flavors, they also specialize in princess-themed parties.  I don’t even have kids and found this a neat place -you just can’t help but be happy here!

Once I honed in on the cupcakes, I was blown away by all the flavors to choose from.  I counted 46 varieties on their (online) menu, and had about 34 to choose from on the day of my visit.   The only downside to all that was a pretty severe indecisivity flare-up.  (side note: is indecisivity a legit word? If not, can I take credit for creating it?)  I mean, how awesome do Mississippi Mud, Banana Puddin’, and ButterFinger cupcakes sound?  Plus, they have Strawberry cupcake with either cream cheese or buttercream frosting.  Me and my cream cheese frosting dispassionate-ways thank you Pink Pastry!  I finally selected the following lot:

~Banana Puddin’ ~ Italian Cream ~ Snickers ~ Strawberry (with buttercream frosting!) ~ Red Velvet~Cookie Dough~S’more~Cinn-A-Swirl

That’s a big lot, I know.  So I think I gotta fess up here, that I made two trips to PPP recently.  One time to pick up dessert for dinner with my neighbors, but I didn’t have my camera (drat!) .  I figured I could easily just pop back in later that week since it’s on my way home from work.  So, when I returned days later armed with my camera I couldn’t resist getting some more.  I, seriously, have NO willpower.

All of these cupcakes were good – definitely no bad eggs in the bunch.  And I think everyone in my group thoroughly enjoyed them.  Very fresh, moist cake.  Stellar frosting/cake ratio, for me at least (and if you’re looking at these photos and thinking “those look heavy on the frosting side”, just know that it’s not a dense frosting but has a light, almost whipped texture).  Also, I found their appearance commendable – dainty and fluffy, yet creative and fun.  Some things that really stood out to me – how indulgent the Italian Cream tasted; that the Cinn-A-Swirl wasn’t very cinnamon-y; the fact that Steve liked the Banana Puddin’ when he has always claimed to only like actual bananas and nothing banana flavored;  that the Snicker cupcake really tasted like a Snickers; and how yummy the S’mores was, not to mention cute with that little Teddy Graham on top.

So that’s all she wrote…for that section at least.  Here’s the ol’ break down (note:  I added a new category, Check out #10!)

Pink Pastry Parlor / Spalding Center at 6385 Spalding Dr. Suite C, Norcross GA / www.pinkpastryparlor.com 

  1. Price:  $2 each / $22 dozen

2. Room temperature:  Yup! 

3.  Size:   Petite.  Even though these cupcakes are on the dainty side, I wasn’t left feeling deprived of either cake or frosting.

4. Vegan or gluten-free options:  None to be found on-site or online.

5. To-go packaging:  It depends on how many cupcakes you get – a single cupcake could go in an individual-sized plastic clamshell; three cupcakes go in a larger clamshell; four cupcakes go in the cute pink cardboard box with window and dividers inside.  The only thing I left wanting was a small, paper shopping bag.  Since the clamshell containers didn’t have those braces (for lack of a technical term) inside, putting them in a flat-bottomed bag would decrease their toppling-over odds. 

6. Milk for sale?:  I only spotted bottled water and cans of soda.  But how cute would it be to serve strawberry milk here?!  You know, to keep with the whole pink scheme.

7.  Other treats for non-cupcake enthusiasts you may have in tow: Yes ma’am!  Pick out an “award-winning” brownie, cookie (one of which is called “chunk-in-the-trunk”!),  a scoop of ice cream or pudding.  Then online, you’ll also find a variety of pies, cheesecakes, cobblers and bars.

8.  Ambiance:  Pink!  There are pink walls, pink booths, pink curtains, pink merchandise, pink bakery boxes, etc.  Upon entering, you get the sense that Pink Pasty Parlor is a bona fide, homespun bakery with a fun, girlie side.  Add some splashes of retro and southern sweetness in there and before you know it, you’ve forgotten all your troubles.  Plenty of places to sit and enjoy your sweets, and some young-hearted merchandise to browse when you’re done…like tiaras! 

9. Service:  Southern hospitality is alive and well in Norcross, GA.   I really felt like a valued customer at Pink Pastry Parlor.

10.  Three words to describe the Pink Pastry Parlor experience: (*this is my new category!  What do you think?) 

1)  girlie 

2) festive

3) whimsical

All in all, I was very pleased with my experience at Pink Pastry.  And if my nieces lived in Georgia, I would surely plan a party for them there.  No Top 10 cupcake  just yet, but that may change.  They already made a repeat customer out of me, and like I said it’s on my way home from work.  I’m pretty sure my lack of willpower will yet again get the best of me and I’ll find myself standing in front of their cupcake counter, feeling like a kid all over again.

Pink Pastry Parlor on Urbanspoon

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Sugar Island – How Sweet It Is!

1 Mar

Yippee skippee!!  Seriously folks, crossing borders and adding FLORIDA to Cupcake Crusade’s coverage really calls for a “yippee skippee”, right?! 

Here’s what went down.  My mom and I road tripped it down to southwest Florida to visit family and had a really  great time.  It was awesome seeing relatives I hadn’t seen in a while and the weather was oh so nice.  On one of the days there, we ventured over the Charlotte Harbor to stroll about Punta Gorda.  I was a young lass when I last visited Punta Gorda (Spanish for “Fat Point”) and didn’t remember it too well.  My mom, however, was interested in seeing what changed since Hurricane Charley extensively damaged the coastal community in 2004.  Apparently, a lot!   After the devestating storm, they quickly got to work restoring and rebuilding their city, while retaining the downtown’s historic character.  And I think they did a great job – I found Punta Gorda quaint and vibrant at the same time, appreciated its walkability and the fact that they have a cupcakery!

And that fine cupcakery is none other than Sugar Island Cupcakes.  It’s a super cute, blue and white cottage (it isn’t a historic  building, but it is located in a National Register Historic District) on Sullivan Street.  We ventured in, and were greeted by 1) a kind and lively couple and 2) by the cupcake case filled with jumbo cupcakes.  We learned that the couple originally started their business doing custom cakes.  Then, after many requests for cupcakes, they started selling the individual-sized treats at Punta Gorda’s farmers market.  Those did so well, they were able to open up the Sugar Island cottage in 2010.  

At first, I was a little taken aback by the partially-filled cupcake case.  It wasn’t packed to the gills with pastel buttercreams or flashy toppings.  It was simply filled with a modest amount of individually-packaged (jumbo!) cupcakes in familiar flavors like coconut, red velvet, chocolate chip, and boston cream.   Given the large size of the cake portion, I was also a little concerned about the cake/frosting ratio.  A little voice inside my head (the inner frosting freak) was lamenting “there’s not enough frosting!!”.  But don’t let all this fool you!  Once we got the cupcakes home, I noticed that each one was impeccably frosted and thoughtfully adorned with a pinch of crystal sugar sprinkles.  Then, we cut the cupcakes in half and TA-DA!  The surprise filling.  My inner frosting freak let out a huge sigh of relief.  The Scarlett’s Red Velvet was filled with cheesecake mousse, the Boston Creamers was filled with Bavarian cream, and the Coconut Overdose was filled with coconut mousse.  Now, I only tasted the red velvet and the coconut cupcakes and let me just say they were Ahh-mazing!  The cake was fresh and flavorful, the frosting was sweet and fluffy, and the fillings pulled everything together so nicely to ensure a well-balance bite!   My family all seemed to really enjoy their bites as well, and my cute cousins Josh and Aubrey cleaned their plates (sign of success, right?). 

Our daily offerings at Sugar Island Cupcakes

Going back to the cupcake case…I have noticed at a few other cupcakeries, where the case is chock full of showy cupcakes that end up tasting mediocre.  Either because the flavors were underwhelming and/or the cake part was dry (possibly after sitting in the fridge for a few days.)  And I’m starting to learn that that is way more of drag than seeing a half-full cupcake case.   I know that Sugar Island cupcakes can sell fast, and when they sell out – they sell out.  That means no leftovers filling up the case the next day.  And that way you know and can taste that what you get is fresh!!! And boy,  is it mmm…mmm…good!!   

Keep your eye out for their less familiar “guest flavors”, like 24 Karot, Lemon Baby, Strawberry not so Shortcake, PB&J, Black and Whites, and Mocha Grande!

Let’s break it down now, shall we?

Sugar Island Cupcakes / 322 Sullivan Street Punta Gorda, FL / www.sugarislandcupcakes.com 

1. Price:  $3  each / half dozen: $17 / baker’s dozen: $33.  Given that these cupcakes are jumbo and filled, I’d say you get your money’s worth.

2. Room temperature:  Yes!

3.  Size:  Let’s hear it for jumbo!

4. Vegan or gluten-free options:  No such luck.

5. To-go packaging:  Those cleverly crafted, individually sized plastic clamshell (that really hold the cupcake in place) with logo sticker on top.

6. Milk for sale?:   Yup!  You can also sip on coffee, bottled water, or a can of soda.

7.  Other treats for non-cupcake enthusiasts you may have in tow:  No.  But you’d be in luck if your non-cupcake enthusiast is in the market for a cake.  These guys also make custom designed wedding cakes (www.bakedoccasions.com).

8.  Ambiance:  Being in a charming cottage with a wrap-around porch and singular iconic palm tree out front, I was won over before I even stepped inside.   The interior, with its pale green walls and dark furniture, felt refreshing and is probably even more so on a hot day.  Lots of wedding cake things scattered about.  It kinda made me want to order a 4-tiered, multi-colored, fondant cake just because.  (Hmmm… that’s clever visual merchandising they’re doing.)  A couple tables and chairs are on location, so no need to eat and run.

 9. Service:  So nice!  We were warmly welcomed and well taken care off.

Soooo…I loved the Scarlett’s Red Velvet, but I looooooooved the Coconut Overdose that without a doubt it will take a spot on the Top 10 list!  The coconut mousse filling was heavenly!  That blended with the white chocolate icing and just the right amount of coconut and vanilla  – it was a thing of beauty! Sugar Island Cupcakes is one island I wouldn’t mind being stranded on!

Just wanted to send a thank you shout out to my Port Charlotte family for your sweet hospitality and contribution to this review!  Thanks mom for treating me to the cupcakes!  Y’all are such great company!