Thursday, August 4, 2011

Cupcakes Canada!

A few weeks ago, my friend Christine came to Ajax for a Saturday morning breakfast.  Our choice for a delicious, nutritious breakfast spot?  

Why, Cupcakes Canada, of course!

We were so hard-core that we got there before they even opened and had to sit on the curb before we were let in...

We had such a hard time deciding what to get, everything looked so fresh and yummy!

We ended up with 4 flavours to sample and share between us

I had to go with their signature cupcake (which I had sampled and fallen in love with previously), the Canadian Maple Walnut - A Madagascar Bourbon vanilla cupcake infused with Canadian maple syrup, with swirls of maple fudge frosting and topped with chopped walnuts.  

We both loved this cupcake - the vanilla cake was moist, and the frosting is the perfect mix of sweet maple with fudgy decadence.  We were definitely saying 'Eh' to that one!

Our runner-up was the Strawberries and Cream - fresh pureed strawberries in a Madagascar Bourbon vanilla cupcake with strawberry infused buttercream icing.

The cake base was the same on this one, which we already were fans of.  The frosting was different than any other strawberry icings I have had - something in it gave it almost a yogurt-like taste and quality.  We both really enjoyed this frosting - the tartness mixed with the sweet pureed strawberry taste was fabulous!

3rd place goes to Classic Coconut - Madagascar Bourbon cake with vanilla cream cheese frosting topped with coconut shavings.

At this point we were a little bummed that every cupcake had the same cake base.  This one was good, but not great.  The coconut was fresh and gave a great flavour to the cream cheese frosting, but we probably wouldn't race to make this selection again.

Finally, Lemon Sunshine (also pictured above), was quite disappointing.  Both Christine and I love lemon, so we were really looking forward to tasting this one - a lemon infused cupcake with vanilla cream cheese frosting.  Unfortunately, it didn't live up to our expectations.  The cake lacked lemon flavour, and with a vanilla frosting, the cupcake was quite plain.  A few bites of this one were enough for us, and we didn't go back for more.

All in all, I'm definitely a fan of Cupcakes Canada, specifically their Maple Walnut cupcake.  I have friends who raved about a few of their chocolate flavours, which unfortunately I can't comment on due to my chocolate intolerance (sad, sad, sad).  The main thing this store lacks is variety in cake flavours - with all cakes having either Madagascar Bourbon vanilla or chocolate bases, there isn't much you can do to jazz up your cupcakes.  That being said, I would definitely go back, and am anxious to try some of their seasonal flavours, like Key Lime, Caramel Apple, and Gingerbread.

Here are our remains - thanks Christine for making the drive and enjoying breakfast with me!!

Stay tuned for a post on more of mine and Christine's cupcake adventures!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I'm Still Here!

Hellooooo all faithful cupcake lovers!  Sorry for my incredibly prolonged absence.  Life got a little bit insane with packing, saying goodbyes, driving across North America, and settling into a totally new life in Ontario, Canada.  

The bad news:  The closest Crumbs is now 540 kms away.

The good news:  Cupcakes Canada (a new fave) is right around the corner from where we're living.

I will blog soon in more detail about my recent cupcake adventures, but I wanted to at least let you all know that I am alive, well, and still eating cupcakes as often as I possibly can!

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Cupcake Diner

How cute is this?!  A few fellow cupcake lovers have forwarded the website of this brand-new business to me, and I definitely plan on catching this truck at some point this summer!

What a great idea - and the owner, Natalie, graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University 
(my alma mater)!  Way to go girl, can't wait to see your pink truck on the road soon!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Best of British Columbia!

After a little bit of a hiatus, let's go back in time to my trip to BC and finish up with the tastiest cupcake I had during my visit there!

You may recognize this cupcake shop from a TV show that aired last year on Slice Network in Canada, called 'Cupcake Girls'.  The show told the story of two best friends, Heather and Lori, who started their own cupcake shop after working in New York City for several years.  Going through the events of September 11th inspired them to finally realize their dream, and to return to a simpler life.   I loved watching the show and watching these two friends, neither one of them with any baking experience whatsoever, go through the stress and struggles of starting their own business.  

Today, business is booming for these Cupcake Girls.  From their first store opening in 2002, they now have several shops in the Greater Vancouver area, and even offer franchising!

Simply called Cupcakes, Heather and Lori's brainchild is a fantastic spot.  The decor in their stores is the best I have seen!  All pink and brown, bright and fun, their pretty shop and its cute awning beckon you inside.

(stock photos)

 We visited the Cupcakes located on Thurlow Street in downtown Vancouver.  About ten different flavours were offered, and it was so hard to choose just one!

 I ended up opting for their Pink Lemonade flavour - a lemon cupcake with a pink lemonade buttercream frosting.

Absolutely diviiiiiiine.

Moist, rich, sweet yet slightly tart lemon cake, with a frosting that really did taste just like pink lemonade.  Being one of my favourite drinks of all time, anything that tastes like pink lemonade rates pretty high in my books!

I loved all of the cute merchandise for sale in Cupcakes too - t-shirts, pink and brown polka-dotted aprons, and reusable bags, which I picked up for myself (please ignore the fact that my dad and sister look slightly pyscho in the following photo):

Heather and Lori's story of following their cupcake dreams inspires me, so I'll leave off with the link to their Facebook page.  Aren't they just the cutest?!  Them, their store, and their cupcakes!  Fantastic!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Seattle's Best Cupcake!

After a few fun days in Bellingham, we headed back down to Seattle for the tail end of our trip. One of the girls I was traveling with asked a few local students where the best spot to get a cupcake was, and they suggested Cupcake Royale.  This bakery has a few locations, but my two fellow tasters and I visited their Ballard store, which was in a really pretty area of downtown Seattle.  

My first impression upon walking into Cupcake Royale was that the shop was 'hardcore cute'. There was pink everywhere, but it was contrasted against black accents and the largest amount of tattooed males that I've ever seen working in a bakery.  The decor really worked though, I loved its 'tough' industrial feel with just the right amount of pretty touches.  Maybe a photo will help to give you a better idea of what I mean:

About a dozen flavours were offered that day, including some very interesting combinations, like Maple Whiskey Bacon:

We picked this one up for our friend Micah, and he quite enjoyed it.  The more 'masculine' cupcakes with ingredients like bacon seem to be very trendy right now and are popping up everywhere!

Us girls each chose a different flavour to try.  Molly went for the Triple Threat - chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate!

I had the Lemon Drop,

And Abby opted for the Salted Caramel:

I'll get to the cupcakes in a second, but I want to first comment on the coffee that is also offered at Cupcake Royale.  I had a cappucino and Molly had a vanilla latte, and they were both excellent, let alone pretty with their cute foam designs:

But I digress.  Onto the cupcakes!!

Wow.  Wow wow wow wow wow.  I think this was the only word coming out of our mouths as we scarfed down our delicious treats.  These cupcakes were some of the best I have ever eaten.

Let me say again....

These cupcakes are some of the best I have EVER eaten!!

Seriously.  The cake was unlike any other cake I have ever tried.  In texture it resembled the airiness of an angel food cake, but in reality it was much denser and more rich.  And the frosting was just perfect - creamy, sweet, and with just the right amount of tart lemon flavour.

Molly loved her Triple Threat - the cake was moist and rich, and the frosting was divine!

And Abby's Salted Caramel cupcake....oh my word.  If I could eat chocolate without severe consequences, I would have marched right back up to the counter and ordered one of those for myself too.  The frosting was to die for - you could really taste the salty caramel, and it mixed so well with the chocolate cake.  Heavenly.

Ya'll know how much I love Crumbs, and I have to admit that its going to take one heck of a cupcake to ever beat out one of theirs, but Cupcake Royale is most definitely up there at the top of my list.  From the coffee to the ambience to their all-natural ingredients (everything is organic and from local farmers - love that!), Cupcake Royale in Seattle is one of my most favourite, favourite bakeries ever.  I can see why it has been voted 'Seattle's Best Cupcake'!

They even encouraged composting and social responsibility, asking customers to take care of cleaning off their own tables and placing dirty silverware and dishes in the bus tub:

Here are Molly and Abby with their cakes.  Aren't they cute?!!

I'm honestly still dreaming about how good those cupcakes were!  I can only hope that one day I will be able to return to Seattle and to this wonderful spot.  Thank you Cupcake Royale for making a gloomy, rainy day in Washington so much more enjoyable for us three girls!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cupcakes in the Northwest!

First of all, my apologies once again for another long absence.  Mark and I were out of town for a week for Spring Break with the band he plays in at school, and just returned on Sunday.  We spent the week in the Northwest, in Washington state, a place I have always wanted to visit.

Despite typical Pacific Northwestern rainy weather, we were still able to take in some of the beauty and see the sights in both Bellingham and Seattle.

Love all those trees!!

The band members are dear friends and were kind enough to indulge me on a few cupcake outings.  This shop in Bellingham looked really cute but unfortunately was closed the day we stopped by.  

 So our first official stop was Katie's Cupcakes in Fairhaven, a cute historic section of Bellingham.  My sister-in-law, a fellow foodie, gave me the heads-up and let me know that this bakery was in town!

The shop was bright and airy, with lots of white and big windows to let natural light in.

Katie's Cupcakes are simple in decoration, and they offer about 6 flavours each day

I loved that they offered 'mini' cupcakes, for just $1.50 each.  I decided to go for a mini Banana Carmel cupcake

About to partake in some banana goodness...

Yum!  The Banana Carmel was delish, and just the right size for an afternoon snack.  This was the first banana flavoured cupcake I have had that didn't just taste like a banana muffin with frosting on top.  Well done Katie!

Our friend Micah also purchased a cupcake, which I forgot to take a photo of, but it was - get this - a DONUT cupcake!  Genius!  Cinnamony sugary goodness :)

Both Fairhaven and Katie's Cupcakes are super cute and a fun stop if you are ever in the beautiful Bellingham area!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Crazy for Crumbs!

Things have been very busy around here the past few weeks with family visiting from home.  We love hosting our loved ones, and Crumbs has become a must-visit spot for everyone who comes to stay in So Cal.

I promise to get back to my cupcake reviews soon, but for now, here are some photos from the past several weeks!

First, a visit to Crumbs in Glendale with friends from bible study.  I just love sharing my cupcake joy with good friends!

The girls trying to make their decisions

Time to enjoy!

My choice - one of my Crumbs favourites, the  Raspberry Swirl.  Love their coffee too!

The end of February brought my brother Jordan and his fiancee Sarah.  Though our day at the Americana was cold and rainy, the cupcakes were worth the trip.

All of our selections!

Jord had the Peanut Butter Cup (he was pretty intense about it!)

Mark had the Twinkie

Sarah had the Almond Joy

And I had a new one for me, the Elvis, which is definitely going to be added to my regular rotation.  Peanut butter and vanilla.  Mmmm.

A few days after Sarah and Jordan left, my Uncle Darryl and cousin Halle arrived!  Halle is quite the baker herself, and has even dabbled in cake decorating a bit, so she was anxious to get to Crumbs.

Both Uncle D and Halle opted for the Cosmopolitan, which you may recall as the #1 cupcake of the SoCal Cupcake Tour!

A wise choice if I do say so myself.

Here's Halle with the Cosmos.

And sampling...

She loves it!

Let me just say that though these visits are so wonderful, they have not been good for my waistline.  I think I may need to stay away from cupcake temptation for a few weeks to avoid gaining any more than I already have.

Yeah, right.  

Who am I kidding?!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Big City Cupcakes

Last spring I traveled to Vancouver, British Columbia for my little sister's graduation from film school.  My family is wonderful, and they indulged me a few times on this trip by making stops at some cupcakeries.

First up was Big City Cupcakes (website here), a short 10-minute walk from my sister's apartment in Yaletown.  

Big City Cupcakes has 6 of their own locations in the Vancouver area.  In addition to this, their products are sold at over 10 other retailers throughout the province of BC.

This bakery definitely has the 'big city' feel.  The decor is minimalist, with lots of black, grey, white and chrome (sorry didn't take any pics of the inside).

The staff at the downtown Vancouver location were sooo friendly and helpful.  By the time we left, the girl behind the counter pretty much knew our entire life stories, and us hers!  In addition to becoming mine, my mom's, and my sister's new BFF, she was also very informative about their cupcakes!

15 flavours are offered daily at Big City Cupcakes.  I chose Lemon Drop, and my mom went with a Chocolate Mounds (chocolate cupcake topped with a ganache centre topped with coconut butter cream, rolled in coconut and drizzled with ganache).  I am completely blanking on what my sister ordered...but here she is about to enjoy it!

These cupcakes were delish - moist and flavourful, and the frosting was yummy too - I just wished there was a bit more of it!  

Big City Cupcakes also offers gluten, dairy, and egg free options for people with sensitivities or allergies, which is a great bonus that not many other bakeries can boast about.  

They also have the cutest 'cupcake cuddlers' for weddings.  I grabbed this photo from their website - don't you love these?!

All in all, I enjoyed Big City Cupcakes, but was underwhelmed with their flavour options and decor.  Big points for customer service though!  Overall, I would rate them at a 7 out of 10, all things considered.

During my week in Vancouver, I visited three cupcake shops.  More BC blogs to come!!

Monday, February 21, 2011

The little shop that started it all!

Thinking back, my cupcake love definitely started about 5 years ago, when I walked through the doors of this place:

Located at 271 King Street West in Kitchener, Ontario, about 30 minutes from my hometown, is The Cake Box.  I was inspired as soon as I stepped inside of this cute bakery and coffee shop.  The decor is simple and sweet, with some of their most creative and fun cake designs on display.  

The Cake Box offers 10-12 cupcake flavours each day, and also takes orders for special occasions.  I don't even remember what kind of cupcake I purchased my first time there, but I remember loving it!  The Cake Box is the kind of place that you want to sit and visit with a good friend over a cupcake and your coffee of choice.  I love their espresso, and my most favourite part about this shop is their Sprinkle Bar.  Before enjoying your cupcake, you can customize it with your own extra sprinkles!

Here are a few of their creations (photos are from their website)

Another really fun part of The Cake Box is its open concept.  You can grab a seat at the bar and watch the bakers work their magic right in front of your eyes!  The Cake Box is the only place I have seen this feature, and I really loved watching the employees decorate cakes and cupcakes.

I was thrilled over Christmas break to discover The Cake Box has a second location, in St. Jacobs, a cute mennonite town that my dad, sister and I visit every Christmas Eve.  I enjoyed a lemon cupcake with lemon buttercream icing, and it was fantastic!  Here's a peak at the inside of The Cake Box 2 in St. Jacobs:

If you are in the area, I highly recommend both of these locations.  Bring a friend, settle into one of their comfy chairs with a latte and a cupcake, and enjoy the shop that started all the cupcake love for me.  

Maybe you will fall in love too!