Cupcake Love

Cupcake Credit Kate HigginsMid-winter blues have you down? There’s an easy fix for that:

Grab a cupcake!

The serving-size treats have been around for hundreds of years, but over the last decade they have exploded in popularity thanks to their customizable nature and cute stature.

“They’re fun and easy for parties. Their size is the perfect single portion and everyone can have their own favorite flavor,” says Kristen Rowell, the owner and executive pastry chef at Sweet Hearts Patisserie in Annapolis. “I don’t think cupcakes will be going anywhere anytime soon.”

Local cupcake lovers are in luck. The Baltimore area is home to some fantastic bakeries turning out cupcakes that are irresistible in every way. Check out a few of our favorites:

Icedgems213 Main St., Reisterstown (or visit on social media for truck locations); 443-690-7056; icedgemsbaking.com

Last May, Brittany Daniels took over as the new owner of the popular Icedgems cupcake truck and bakery. She has been having a blast ever since.

People love the bakery’s flavors, especially unusual ones like Maryland crab (chocolate cake with Old Bay-spiked chocolate icing and a chocolate crab on top), banana split and honey lavender. And they like them even more when they’re delivered by truck.

“When we’re in the truck, people are so lively!” she says. “It’s all excitement!”

Icedgems offers gluten-free and vegan cakes and cupcakes and can accommodate some allergies.

La CakerieLocations in Mount Vernon and Towson; lacakerie.com

La Cakerie’s owner Jason Hisley knows a thing or two about baking – and about the spotlight. Hisley has appeared on multiple Food Network shows, including “Cupcake Wars,” “Cake Wars” and “Cutthroat Kitchen.”

The bakery’s “Cake Wars winning flavor” – chocolate cake with salted caramel and pecan filling, topped with ganache and vanilla buttercream – is consistently one of its most popular cupcakes, says wedding and event coordinator Lauren Delfico. The bakery offers dozens of flavors every day, including seasonal options, all of which are a hit with customers.

La Cakerie is not a nut-, dairy- or gluten-free bakery, but they do their best to avoid cross-contamination and they offer a gluten-free and a vegan cupcake daily.

Sweet Hearts PatisserieClock Tower Place, 1410 Forest Drive, Annapolis; 410-263-6513; sweetheartspatisserie.com

“Sweet” might be right there in the name of this Annapolis bakery, but owner and Executive Pastry Chef Kristen Rowell knows that the best cupcakes are ones that keep their sweetness in check.

“The thing people enjoy most about our cupcakes is that they are not overly sweet and the flavors are pure,” she says. Icings are made with real butter, so they are silky, not grainy, and the cupcakes themselves are flavored with all-natural ingredients like whole vanilla beans, fresh fruit purees and zests, and dark chocolate.

Sweet Hearts does not have any gluten-free cupcakes and the bakers do often use common allergens. However, when requested in advance, they may be able to accommodate some less-severe allergies.

Flavor Cupcakery. Locations in Bel Air and Cockeysville; flavorcupcakery.com

Pop into one of Flavor Cupcakery’s two shops on any given day and you are sure to find a surprise. The local bakery, a 2011 Food Network “Cupcake Wars” winner, offers over a dozen different flavors every day. That includes 10 “classics” – tried-and-true favorites that stay on the menu all the time – plus a handful of unusual flavors, like Fluffernutter and French Toast (with bacon, if you want it).

Owner Shelley Stannard says people love the classics, but she also believes that much of the bakery’s appeal comes from the creative, ever-changing mix of choices. “There’s always a unique and new flavor available,” she says.

Flavor Cupcakery offers gluten-free and vegan options.

Touche Touchet. Atholton Shopping Center, 10400 Shaker Drive, Columbia; 410-997-9338; touchetouchetbakery.com

Slightly oversized, moist and sweet, cupcakes are one of the big draws at this charming Columbia bakery. (The coffee is excellent, too.)

“People come by and talk about how great our cupcakes taste,” says store manager Belinda Nanan. “The red velvet is our most popular. It’s chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting.”

Touche Touchet’s cupcakes aren’t just tasty; they’re also great-looking. Decorated with everything from baseballs to butterflies, they are as fun to look at as they are to eat.

Though Touche Touchet does not offer any gluten-free cupcakes, they do have gluten-free flourless cake bites and cookies. BC

Photo credit: Kate Higgins 

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