Category Archives: The Great DC Cupcake Quest

Baked & Wired – Smurfette, Strawberry, Raspberry Cloud

FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT

Well, it’s that time again, kiddos! We finally managed to find some time to make our pilgrimage to one of our favorite DC cupcakeries for a review threesome! Here’s what the website says about this week’s contestants:

l-r: Smurfette/Raspberry Dream/Strawberry

From left to right, we have…

the Smurfette: “Fresh blueberries are baked into vanilla cake, topped with lemon buttercream”

the Raspberry Cloud: “Lemon cake with a raspberry cream cheese frosting”

and Strawberry: “The bestseller! Vanilla cake with fresh strawberries folded in the batter and finished with a swirl of pink buttercream”

Kat:

Smurfette: I am a big fan of lemon and I quite enjoyed this one. Lemon buttercream frosting, sweet vanilla cake, with blueberries in the batter. The inclusion of whole berries made this one feel a lot lighter and healthier than it’s near cousin, the raspberry-preserve-filled lemony Rasmanian Devil. Still sweet, but you won’t feel so guilty. The berries had sunk to the lower half of the cake, so you have to make an effort to get all three tastes in one bite. A-

Raspberry Cloud: The lemon cake was as good as usual, but the flavor of the raspberry icing did not quite work for me. Tasted more like candy than fruit. C

Strawberry: The cake was unflavored but had strawberry bits mixed throughout. Also not as moist as most of the B&W cakes. Taken on it’s own, it was much more muffin-y than cake-y. The frosting was strawberry-flavored and supersweet. Together they made a pretty good cupcake. C+


Kendra:

Smurfette: I love blueberries in my baked goods–it’s hard to resist a freshly-baked blueberry muffin for breakfast. I was pretty excited to try out the Smurfette, since not only did it feature blueberries, it had a vanilla cake and lemon frosting (which makes it the delicious Rasmanian Devil’s bosom buddy). It’s a nice, fresh taste, though the blueberries end up being a bit  overwhelmed by the intensity of the lemon icing. B+

Raspberry Cloud: One of the cashiers told us that this was better than the Razzmanian Devil. UM, NOT SO MUCH. It was okay–can’t go wrong with the lemon cake here, nice an’ tart an’ moist, but the raspberry-cream cheese frosting does not beat out the raspberry jam-filled/lemon buttercream-frosted combo of the Razzmanian Devil. It’s certainly not bad, just very, very sweet. Cashier fail. C+

Strawberry: Er, I’m not sure how it’s labeled as the ‘most popular’ of the cupcake flavors on the website, because…well, it’s not that great. But I guess that’s the moral of the story here–WHAT IS POPULAR IS NOT ALWAYS RIGHT, that’s how it goes, right? Anyway, the cake was dry and bland, and the frosting was sugary-sweet, and I didn’t get any strawberry flavors out of this at all.  D

 

And a special guest review from an honorary Sugarvamp, Miss Mary!

Smurfette: the clear winner out of the three, and in a way, Smurfette combines the best qualities of the two that came before it.  The lemon buttercream is zingy and delicious, and the cake is perfectly soft and moist.  The cake part actually reminded me of a muffin, but while that was bad news for the Strawberry cupcake, Smurfette reminded me of the packaged blueberry muffins I used to get at the convenience store in college: amazingly moist but never soggy, and with just the right ratio of blueberry-to-cake parts.  A

Raspberry Cloud: At first, I was convinced that this cupcake reminded me of a candy flavor I couldn’t quite place – a lemon or lime jolly rancher, maybe? – , but after a few more bites and input from Kendra, I changed my mind – this cupcake is remarkably like sherbet.  The raspberry cream cheese frosting is smooth and light and almost melts in your mouth, but has a hint of a kick that really does mimic tangy, refreshing sherbet.  Add in the lemon cupcake base and you’ve got your summer treat.  I was surprised that I didn’t notice cream cheese overtones as I often do with cream cheese frosting.  This cupcake’s weak point is the actual cake part.  Not bad, per se, but it’s a little bland.  A solid B.

Strawberry: Katie observed that this cupcake is really more like a muffin, and not in a good way.  The texture of the actual cake is pretty coarse, and I wasn’t impressed with the frosting, either.  Forgettable.  I give it a C mainly because I tend not to like strawberry-flavored things, so someone who does might not be so turned off by this one.

…and here’s the Smurfette showing off her goodies:

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Factsheet & Review: Buzz Bakery

Buzz Bakery has always been on our to-review list, since they’re the ones behind the delicious 9:30 Club cupcake (a cupcake while watching the Dismemberment Plan? score!). They recently opened up a new location right across from the Ballston mall, which is way more metro-accessible than the original Slater’s Lane location.

nice display

Location:

For Alexandria: 901 Slaters Lane
Alexandria, VA 22314

For Arlington:818 N. Quincy Street

Arlington, Virginia, 22217


Transit:

Alexandria– about a mile from the Braddock Road station on the Blue line.

Arlington– a few blocks from either the Ballston or Braddock Road stations on the Orange line.

Seating: Quite a few tables, chairs, benches, couches…pretty nice set-up in either location!

Sweets: Since it’s a bakery, it runs the gamut–brownies, pies, cookies, cupcakes, homemade pop-tarts…there’s also homemade granola bars, homemade ice cream, and savory things like paninis and waffles (well, waffles are still pretty sweet).

We split…

…a lemon-meringue pie with white chocolate shavings and poppyseed whipped cream, a homemade pop-tart…

…a 9:30 Club cupcake…

…and a Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough cupcake.

We’ll stick to reviewing just the cupcakes (though the pie and pop-tart were definitely worth trying).

Kendra:

9:30 Club Cupcake–This cupcake is the reason why I make sure I get to concerts early, since the club always inevitably runs out within thirty minutes of opening the doors. It’s basically an adult Hostess cupcake, complete with squiggle frosting (not evident from our photo–alas, these two cupcakes spent thirty minutes outside in 90-degree heat). Chocolate cake, chocolate ganache on top, and cream inside–an most excellent combination! The chocolate cake is moist, the ganache adds a nice bit of richness, and the cream filling takes you back to the days where you shoved any number of Hostess cupcakes/Twinkies/Ding Dongs/etc. down your maw. Drawback? It’s a bit expensive for the size, especially compared to Baked & Wired’s whoppers ($3.50).

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough–I have mixed feelings on this one. The filling is delicious (actual raw cookie dough, yessss!), and the mini oatmeal-cream sandwich cookie on top even more so, but the cake and frosting? Eh. The cake mimicks a chocolate chip cookie with the chips speckled throughout, but it was somewhat dry and bland; the frosting is an empty promise, as it looks like cookies n’ cream yet tastes like nothing. A disappointment, especially for the most expensive cupcake at $4.00(!!!).

Kat:

9:30 Club Cupcake–I have had dreams about this cupcake. I think it’s a great flavor. Chocolate, chocolate, and cream! Much as I love it, I get taste overload from chocolate-chocolate-chocolate flavors (such as Baked & Wired’s Chocolate Doom). I like flavor variety within my desserts, so this a a good mixup of the usual chocolate cupcake.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough–Hm. Nice, but the cookie dough cupcake at Frostings (in Richmond, VA) was so perfect that this Buzz version seems to fall short. Nothing remarkable. As Kendra says, not a good deal, value for dollar. I wouldn’t order it again.

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Baked & Wired Razmanian Devil Cupcake Review

razmanian devil is a lover, not a fighter

From  now on, when life gives me lemons, I’m gonna shove some raspberry preserves in the middle of it if I can get it to taste like this cupcake.

looney tunes circa 1993

Website says it’s “Lemon cake with a raspberry jam center topped with lemon buttercream“.

So what’s that like?

Kendra: This is usually what Kat and I would pair the Chocolate Cupcake of DOOM with–the citrus tartness offsets the extremely rich chocolate nicely. On its own, it’s still quite formidable–the lemon buttercream doesn’t have the same sweetness as the regular buttercream (for obvious reasons), and the lemon cake flavor is cut by the raspberry preserves. This cupcake has actually brought to my attention the fact that ‘lemon’ and ‘raspberry’ can be added to the ‘goes together like peanut butter and jelly’ echelon. A

Kat: MY FAVORITE. This cupcake is one of the sweeter ones, but I love it that way! It’s very light and refreshing, if a cupcake can be light and refreshing. I can actually manage to finish one of these on my own without getting overwhelmed by the flavor. Possibly because it does include two flavors in one. The raspberry and lemon are a perfect compliment to each other. This cupcake airs well with the Chocolate Cupcake of Doom. A+

usually has more raspberry filling

note–Usually the amount of raspberry filling isn’t quite as scant as what we had for this review–if it was consistently like this, I’d lower my score. –Kendra

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Factsheet & Review: Lavender Moon

lavender cupcakes more like, amirite?

Lavender Moon Cupcakery is slightly off the beaten path, since it’s not in D.C. proper (but it is near a metro!) and not even on the main street (King) in Old Town–but it’s definitely worth checking out. And hey, the owner used to be Donald Trump’s personal chef!

Location: 116 South Royal Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

Neighborhood: Old Town Alexandria

Transit: Closest Metro stop is King Street on the Blue Line; head east on King Street, down towards the Potomac. It’s a little less than a mile from the Metro.

part of the setup

Seating: It’s located in one of the old brick rowhouses, and has a few tables and chairs inside if you feel like hanging out. Otherwise, you could go next door to the Grape & Bean to get some coffee/wine with your cupcake.

Sweets: Since it’s just a cupcakery, all you get are cupcakes, $3.00 each.

Over two visits (6 cupcakes at once is a bit much, even for us!), we tried:

blackberry thyme

Blackberry Thyme!

Flourless Chocolate!

irish coffee cake!

Irish Coffee Cake!

lemon curd

Lemon Curd!

Green tea+Lavender!

…and ‘Butterscotch’, but I don’t think the cashier knew what she was talking about (it tasted like…nothing topped with a frosting that tasted slightly like peanut butter?).

Kendra: Lavender Moon opened a few years ago near my work, and initially it was a bit of a let down–a lack of consistent hours (half the time they were closed!) coupled with hit-or-miss flavors led to a shaky start. Since then, they’ve definitely improved–to the point where they are close to the top of my “Best DC-area Cupcakes” list. They’re willing to take chances with the flavors–roasted fig & basil, chestnut, and pomegranate have all made appearances. I appreciate this creativity, and the fact that the flavors are always rotating and different (coupled with a few tried n’ true mainstays) means that there’s always something new to try.

If there is anything to critique, it’s that an overwhelming majority of their flavors have cream cheese frosting–at least, from what my tastebuds can discern. While their cream cheese frosting isn’t bad at all (unlike Baked & Wired’s), it tends to overwhelm some of the more subtle flavors of the cake (like in the Green Tea Lavender). Also, as is the case with being creative–sometimes their flavors work (the blackberry thyme was refreshing and tasty tasty), and sometimes they don’t (their Tiramisu cake, while not bad, doesn’t really taste like tiramisu). Additionally, they don’t have a website, so you can’t check on what flavor will be available on any given day.

Kat: Lavender Moon is a top-tier cupcakery. They offer a lot of filled cupcakes and unusual flavors. The cupcakes are smaller than Baked & Wired’s, and the price is appropriate for the size. The cakes themselves are less sweet, with more emphasis on frosting and filling. The cream cheese frostings are light and delicious, though if you try several flavors in a row that use cream cheese they can be a bit samey. As Kendra mentioned, some flavors are more successful that others. The flourless chocolate cake and lemon curd are quite tasty, and I believe they are regulars. I have been seduced by the tiramisu twice, only to be a little disappointed that it tastes more like buttermilk pancakes (which is still a good taste of course!). If you are in Alexandria, you should definitely try Lavender Moon.

WE ARE SOOOO COOL

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Baked & Wired – Cherry Blossom (Seasonal)

Baked & Wired had a seasonal flavor to celebrate DC’s Cherry Blossom Festival. This cupcake was ‘vanilla cake with maraschino cherries mixed in the batter and topped with a cherry-flavored buttercream.’

Kat: This cupcake is so pink and pretty that it looks like something Barbie would eat, but is is definitely real food. The cake is as pink as the frosting, and has a bit of a syrup-like translucency. I’m used to maraschino cherries being served singly as a garnish, so all the chunks of cherry in the cake seemed quite indulgent. Mmmmm…preserved fruit. This is one of the sweetest cupcakes I have had from Baked & Wired, which definitely won’t be to everyone’s taste. B

Kendra: After you get past the fact that consuming this shockingly pink cupcake makes you look like a Pretty Pretty Princess, it’s not too bad. As Kat noted, it is verrrrry sweet, but the cherry flavor comes through enough to make this worth trying. Probably too sugary for most, but little  kids and people who love sweet things (like me) should probably enjoy this. B


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Baked & Wired Kaboom Cupcake Review

Oh dear lord.

check out that solid core of ganache!

Kaboom Cupcake:  Guinness vanilla cake, whiskey chocolate ganache center, and Bailey’s Irish buttercream frosting.

Kat: This was a St. Patrick’s Day special, but I hope it makes some more appearances! Each element of the cupcake was great and the combo was even greater. The Guinness cake tasted like vanilla with a malty finish. The deep chocolate core definitely had a little whiskey kick blending with the bittersweetness of the chocolate. And the frosting had a notably Irish cream flavor, unlike some other Bailey’s flavored things that taste only of cream. The cupcake was not a super-boozy  dessert like a tiramisu, instead it was a grown-up tasting cupcake with a bite. And a CHOCOLATE GANACHE CORE, did we mention the core? A+

Kendra: Ditto. Just…ditto. That chocolate core goes STRAIGHT THROUGH–it’s like Journey to the Center of the Earth, except with delicious chocolate instead of burning lava. A+


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Baked & Wired Mocha Cupcake Review

Lest you start thinking that we’re in cahoots with B&W, we’re gonna tell you that they aren’t perfect. Not all the cupcakes we’ve sampled have been hits (the Unporked Elvis comes to mind)–as far as I know, there aren’t any immaculate bakeries.

But man, their Mocha cupcake is a huge letdown, especially compared to the Vanilla Latté. What the hell happened? Et tu, BWute?

Kendra: As much as I love drinking mocha lattés, I’m going to stop eating them from now on. I haven’t noticed any of B&W’s other chocolate-cake based desserts being quite so dry and flavorless, so I don’t know what’s up with this. And the mocha frosting just doesn’t taste like much of anything other than cloying sweetness–I didn’t get any chocolate taste, or hints of espresso. Epic Fail. F

Kat: This is definitely a different cake than their other chocolate offerings. It is bitter without being chocolate-y, and notably drier. It does have coffee undertones, but the vanilla latte cupcake is a much richer experience. This cupcake is mediocre at best. D

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