Cupcakin’ in Houston: Crave Cupcakes

New York is great but every now and then you just have to get away.  I decided to take a trip to Houston and visit my good friend Erica.  This was my first time visiting the great state of Texas and it was a very interesting experience.

Me and the DJ
Erica and I at the Houston Howard alumni Family Reunion

Anytime I visit another city, I always plan a trip to their local cupcake shop.  After completing my Google search the top Houston based cupcake shop was Crave.

Crave

Crave’s shop has a nice clean layout when you walk in.  It was crowded with patrons trying to purchase cupcakes for Memorial weekend barbeques and parties.  What I liked about the shop was that you could see employees making the cupcakes.  It reminded me of how Georgetown Cupcakes have the open kitchen similar to Crave’s.

Cupcake display.
Cupcake display

Crave’s has a variety of cupcake flavors and the sizes are similar to Sprinkles.  After looking reviews, many people suggested the Red Velvet but I was in the mood for a fruitier refreshing flavor so I selected a Strawberry cupcake.  My friend picked out a Chocolate Espresso.

Chocolate Espresso & Strawberry cupcakes
Chocolate Espresso & Strawberry cupcakes

The strawberry cupcake was delicious.  It was the best strawberry cupcake I EVER had.  The cake and the frosting was mixed with real strawberries.  The cupcake had a great cake to frosting ratio.  I believe that is what makes a cupcake great.  You never want too much frosting.   My friend did not like her cupcake.  The frosting was bitter and it was probably made with dark chocolate.  The Chocolate Espresso cake was dry unlike my moist strawberry cake.

Strawberry

Crave also makes seasonal cupcakes and on display was a Margarita cupcake for adults only.  The staff told me that the frosting was made with real tequila.

Crave displaying their seasonal treat, Margarita Cupcakes.
Crave displaying their seasonal treat, Margarita Cupcakes.

As my friend and I ate our cupcakes I asked some regular customers about their experience.  One couple stated that Crave’s fruit cupcakes like strawberry, apple, lemon and banana along with their basic flavors like vanilla, chocolate, dulce de leche and red velvet are great choices.  The couple was not fond of the experimental flavors.

To sum up my trip to Houston, I found it to be a city of franchise establishments.  However, I was glad to discover new places like Crave and the Breakfast Klub, home to the best chicken & waffles ever!  The best part of the trip was spending time with my friend and watching her build her craft as a DJ.

DJ E-Stella at the Houston Howard Alumni Family Reunion
DJ E-Stella at the Houston Howard Alumni Family Reunion
Advertisements

Sweet Revenge

I finally cross this place off of my to-do-list.  I had my Sweet Revenge last weekend at the cozy West Village dessert and wine bar. I came across this place when I was searching for restaurants that served red velvet waffles.  I noticed there speciality was artisian cupcakes.  

What makes Sweet Revenge unique is the unique flavor combinations of their cupcakes and the treats are paired with imported wine or beer for a savory experience. Sweet Revenge was founded by Marlo Scott.  After being laid-off during the plight of our economy, she decided to make her own opportunities.  Inspired by her love for cupcakes and travel, Sweet Revenge was born in 2008. 

After watching segment on Sweet Revenge on the Cooking Channel, I decided to try the Crimson & Cream cupcake, raspberry red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. According to the menu, this cupcake can be paired with a raspberry Bellini or Belhaven, Scotland.  Since I am not a fan of beer so I choose the Bellini. The cupcake was rich in flavor.  It was a great balance of cocoa and raspberry flavor.  It had the perfect amount of frosting.  The bellini was a perfect beverage to match the cupcake.

This is a great place for a weekend afternoon.  Sweet Revenge also has happy-hours during the weekday with great deals on cupcakes and drinks. Next time I visit Sweet Revenge, I plan to try the red velvet belgian waffles and there are some other interesting cupcake and drink pairings that I may try:

Bird of Paradise – Lime Chiffon Cake with Mango Buttercream & Fresh Lime Zest & Mango Bellini or Palma Louca, Brazil

Carnivale – Mexican Vanilla Cake, Spiced Apple Filling, Salted Caramel Frosting & Mandra Rossa Pinot Grigio, Italy or Colomba White, France

Fresas y Nueces – Almond Cake and Strawberry Walnut Cream Cheese Frosting & Lunetta Prosecco, Italy or Fruli Strawberry White, Belgium

Tart – Lemon Vanilla Cake, Curd Center with Lemon Buttercream & Fresh Lemon Zest & Il Vino dell’Amore Moscato Spumante, Italy or Colomba White, France

Very Strawberry – Mexican Vanilla Cake with Strawberries and Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting & Lunetta Prosecco, Italy or Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, England

If you are visiting New York City or hanging out in the West Village make sure to stop by  and take part in a unique cupcaking experience.

Philly Cupcake

I went to Philadelphia for the very first time last weekend.  My cousin Jessica showed me a great time.  I listened to a jazz band at a soul food spot called Warm Daddy’s with Breah, I ate a Philly Cheesesteak from Jim’s Steaks, I gazed upon the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence was signed and I got to cheer on Afro-Blue at my cousin-in-law’s Kappa fundraiser.  However, no trip can be complete without visiting a cupcakery.

Breah suggested Philly Cupcake and after scanning the website, I knew I had to add it to my to-do-list. I find the bakery to be cute, antique and girly.  All of the cupcakes were displayed in pink 1970’s Victoria Secret cases.  What I loved about Philly Cupcake is that it had at least 20 flavors to choose from unlike most cupcakeries that may only serve the basic flavors or no more than ten flavors.  What I did not like is that they did not take debit cards and that I felt rushed when trying to decide what I wanted to purchase.

After scanning the options, I decided to try the Banana Rama and Strawberry Lemonade cupcake.  I picked out a Carrot and a Vanilla Bean cupcake for my cousins.  The cupcakes are expensive compared to other places.  The Strawberry Lemonade, Carrot and Vanilla cupcake were $3.  The Banana Rama is listed as a “Fancy Cupcake” and therefore it cost $4.  The Banana Rama cupcake was my first time having bananas and chocolate together.  The rich banana cake was topped with a fluffy buttercream that had the consistency of whipped cream and dipped in white chocolate.  The Strawberry Lemonade cupcake was lemon cake with a great strawberry buttercream.

The moist cake is complimented with just enough icing. The buttercream was not too thick or overwhelming in taste.  It was quite perfect.  Next time I visit Philly Cupcake, I want to try the Banana Split which is a banana cake with chocolate, vanilla and strawberry buttercream.

Eating Out NYC: Spot Dessert Bar

In a discrete location on St. Marks Place is a dessert bar that you would want to try.  A while ago, I purchased a Living Social deal to get $20 worth of food and drinks at Spot Dessert Bar.  My friend Kirsten and I decided to fulfill our sweet tooth after eating at Pommes Frites and decide that last night would be the night.

Spot is located on an Asian influence block in East Village so I do not know why I was surprised that the diners and employees were also Asian.  It made me nervous because I am not a fan of Asian inspired cuisine but I had to get my moneys worth so I took a chance.

After being seated, my eyes drew to the White Miso Semifreddo dessert tapa that was featured in the pictorial menu.  My friend ordered the Condensed Milk with Chocolate Chip Cookie ice cream sandwich.  Then we both order a homemade soda.  I had Berry Berry and she had the Mango.

Spots also serve cupcakes and I know you all are surprised that I did not order one but I had to try something different.

My White Miso Semifreddo is one of the eight dessert tapas that Spot’s serve.  It included cake with condense milk ice cream in the center, raspberries, EVOO, sesame tuile and raspberry sorbet.   A tuile is a cookie and according to the dessert bar’s menu it should have been an almond tuile.  I also should of asked what EVOO was before I order, because I later learned that it was extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) with was poured over the cake and gave each bite a strong sour taste after the nice sweet pleasant touch to the tongue.  Next time I would ask for them to skip the EVOO.  LOL!  I guess you all can assume that I am not an olive oil user and I usually don’t use it with food but I use it for my hair.  

Kirsten’s ice cream sandwich was amazing and the cookie had just enough chocolate chips.  I appreciated the fact that they cut her sandwich into fourths because in November we went to the Meatball Shop and ordered ice cream sandwiches that were not cut and it was messy.  Spot also serves a peanut butter cookie with ovaltine ice cream in sandwich form.

Our homemade sodas were really cool.  I loved the matching straws and the sorbet that they used as flavoring.  It reminded me of an ice cream float but with sorbet and without the root beer.

I would come here again for the chill young atmosphere and for the cupcakes and cookies.  They have some great daily deals on cupcake & beverage combos, happy hours and student discounts.

Thanks for reading and check out Kirsten’s blog, Seven Bedroom Suite.

Cupcakin’ in NYC: Part 2

Burgers & Cupcakes

I came across a Living Social deal for a restaurant in New York called Burgers & Cupcakes.  I could not believe that there would be a spot that served my two favorite things.  So my friend Kirsten and I bought the coupons and decided to check it out.

We first tried their food.  I had a burger and she ordered a pizza.  Both entrées were delicious.  Next we order dessert and of course that was cupcakes.  They have an assortment of flavors, I choose the strawberry and she got a raspberry cheesecake.

We were disappointed in the cupcakes.  My strawberry tasted like a vanilla cupcake with a strawberry on top.  They attempted to bake a strawberry inside the cupcake but there was a tiny smudge of puree at the bottom of the cake.  Kirsten did not like hers either but she did have more filling than I did.  We had a little leftover on our coupon to get another cupcake but we decided not to.

 Sprinkles

So I have heard great things about Sprinkles from my friends in Washington, DC.  I also see Sprinkles featured on many entertainment blogs because the owner/founder of Sprinkles is a judge on Cupcake Wars.  Sprinkles’ has shops in most of the major U.S. cities.

I finally got the chance to visit the midtown store that Mariah Carey loves to visit.  They have an assortment of flavor cupcakes featured on different days.  On the day that I visited I decided to purchase a banana and lemon cupcake.

The banana cupcake was good, but compared to other banana cupcakes it was not the best.  The lemon cupcake was good too, but I do believe that Hello Cupcake has the best lemon cupcake.

Molly’s Cupcakes

Day 1- I decided to try the banana and mixed berry mini.

The banana cupcake was rich and fresh.  I can tell that real bananas were used to make the cupcake, which makes this one different from the other banana cupcakes that I have tried.  What I like about their banana cupcake is that it was apart of the basic flavors that they serve which means I can add whatever icing or sprinkles that I want.  I wanted the cream cheese icing but was told that I would need to eat it right away if I got it so I stuck with basic vanilla.  The server suggested the brown butter icing and I think I will get that next time.

Next I ate the mixed berry mini.  When I took it out of the carrying container I could smell the freshness of the berries and whipped cream icing.  I felt like I was at the store and not at home eating this amazing cupcake.  I was surprised that the icing was whipped cream but it made for a great balance to the fruit puree inside of the mini.

 

Day 2:  My cupcakes held up well for the next day.  I tried the Cookies & Cream and cake batter mini.

 cu

The cookies & cream cupcake was also rich.  I am not a devil’s food cake fan, but I did appreciate this cupcake.  Molly’s cookies & cream has a whipped cream frosting with a half of Oreo on the top.  You will notice that the cupcake was dipped in chocolate so there is a nice chocolate coating on the top of the cake.  Once you take a bite a nice fudge filling oozes out of the cake.  It was my chocolate heaven.

 

Lastly, I ate the cake batter mini.  It’s a cute funfetti cupcake with blue butter cream icing.  The cake was nice and spongy.  Once you begin to eat you will taste a nice cake batter filling which works well with this cake.

Overall, I had a great cupcaking experience with Molly’s.  I would have to make it my favorite cupcake spot in NY thus far. However, I would come here to get an assortment of minis instead of spending money on the regular size.  The regular sized cupcakes were rich and because this place has so many flavors that you would want to try it would be best to start out with minis.  The filled minis are $2.00 and the basic are $1.25.  The regular basic cupcake is $2.25 and the filled cupcake is $3.75.   They have a fall cupcake called apple pie with apple puree that I would love to try when I return.

Until next time…Stay sweet!

 

Cupcakin’ in Other Cities

The Atlanta Cupcake Factory– Atlanta

 

I went to visit Reneeka in Atlanta and she told me she wanted to take me to the Atlanta Cupcake shop.  It was such a tiny cute shop in midtown Atlanta.  It was Halloween weekend so the cupcakes were festive and decorated with huge candy appliques.  I was not a fan of those but it worked for the holiday.  I ordered a lemon and a pineapple.  The salesperson told me that there would be pineapple surprise in my cupcake.  There was no surprise but there was a dime sized drop of pineapple on top of the icing just the the picture above. The cake was called sugar cookie (vanilla) and the icing was vanilla.  My lemon cupcake was good.  I was hungry from drinking all night so I did not get to savor the taste of my lemon cupcake.

 The Cupcakery– Las Vegas

Before I left for Vegas in October, I looked up some cupcake places to try but I was not sure if we would be able to make it to one of them.  Fortunately, we were sort of lost walking around the Aria hotel and somehow we ended up in the Monte Carlo where we came across the The Cupcakery.  My friend Stacia and I were so excited because it was a place that we had on our list to try.  Based on the website there were a few that took my interest but because of the time of day we were limited to the basic choices for flavors.  I picked out a lemon and Stacia had the carrot cake.  The cupcakes were presented well and I loved the carrying case that we had.  I we both enjoyed the moist cake and the taste of the icing.

 

Cupcakin’ in New York

I love cupcakes!  If you want to make me smile then buy me one. It’s one way to win my heart or be forgiven. LOL! I’ve made it my business to try different bakeries in the city.

I had my 1st cupcakery experience with Crumbs about 3 years ago.  My hometown of Clarksville, TN did not have cupcakeries at the time and either went to Georgetown at night when it was not open or I never wanted to stand in line at Georgetown Cupcakes back then therefore Crumbs got me hooked on this new food trend called cupcakes. My favorite Crumbs’ cupcake is the Cookies & Cream.  I’m not a devil’s food cake fan, but this cupcake is a must try.

Last summer I tried Magnolia Cupcakes.  It’s always crowded and I never have the opportunity to eat the cupcake when I purchase it which is a FAIL.  The first time I tried it I went back to Granny’s and placed it in the refrigerator and when I was ready to eat it was cold and hard and defrosting it took a long time.  I went again and I told my friend that I wanted to try it fresh but we went back to Granny’s and my story clearly went over her head because she placed the cupcakes in the fridge like I told her not too.  FAIL once again.  The funny thing about all of this is that my suitemate brought to my attention that the Magnolia website states, “Never refrigerate or freeze Magnolia cupcakes or cakes.” This should definitely be on display at the store or on the box.  Oh well, maybe one day I will get to have a Magnolia cupcake at room tempature.

This summer I’ve tried 3 new cupcakeries.

Baked By Melissa is a mini cupcake shop with an assortment of flavors and colors.  I’ve tried the Cookie & Cream, Tie-Dye and the monthly flavors:  Rice Krispy Treat and Firecracker.  The monthly features are excited and fun to try.  What I like about going here is that the bite size treats are fulfilling and I don’t feel guilty after enjoying them.

I love watching Bravo’s Real Housewives’ series and the former RHONY star, Bethenny Frankel has her own show.  On an episode of her show, Bethenny and her husband stop by Two Little Red Hens.  I, also, seen this bakery featured in blogs so of course I added it to my cupcake bucket list.  This place by far is my favorite.  The people are friendly and they bakery has an assortment of cupcake flavors and other bakery items like biscuits, pies, cookies and cakes.  I tried a Black & White, Lemon and Banana cupcake.  The Banana cupcake is my favorite from here, because it reminded me of the D.C. cupcakery, Hello Cupcakes where Vanilla Gorilla was my favorite cupcake to buy.

Today I went to Soho, and my friend and I stopped by Little Cupcake Bakeshop.  It was crowded and had a Magnolia Bakery feel.  I tried the Strawberry Lemon cupcake, but I was not impressed.  The icing was amazing but it was too strong for the weak lemon cake.  It was nothing like Hello Cupcake’s Pink Lemonade or it’s Lucy which has raspberry buttercream and lemon cake.  I bought my friend a Red Velvet and it was good.  This bakeshop also offers Blue Velvet.  I’m still not understanding the concept of Red Velvet and how much people crave it, but to each his own.  Next time I go to Little Cupcake Bakeshop, I will try the classic flavors so that I can provide a better comparison.

I hope you all enjoy my cupcake experience in NY.  If you have any places that you suggest that I try feel free to tweet them to me or comment on this post with suggestions.