This red velvet cupcake from Crumbville, TX, is more than meets the eye ... or tummy.

Dumplings. Calzones. Thanksgiving stuffing (dressing cooked inside the turkey, salmonella be damned). My general belief is that any edible item can be improved upon by stuffing it with something else edible. Needless to say, that guy with a really long name who invented the roti sans pareil, the OG French turducken with 17 different fowl swallowing each other in matryoshka doll fashion, is my hero.

I cried for weeks when Keebler discontinued Magic Middles. I probably would have had to take a leave of absence from my job if I hadn’t conveniently been employed part-time at an ice cream shop, which allowed me to redirect my grief and eat my feelings.

Hence, Ella Russell, owner and head baker at the Third Ward's Crumbville, TX, is a woman after my own heart. Among her many terrific creations is something she dubbed the “stuffed cup,” a cupcake with a cookie inside of it. What’s even more exciting is that many of the stuffed cups are made without animal products and can be enjoyed without guilt for those who embrace a vegan lifestyle.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic I stopped by Crumbville, where I was greeted by Russell’s affable son DJ. I was tickled to learn that Russell designs cookies dedicated to favorite artists, and I was further impressed that all of her celebrity inspirations save one (Nicki Minaj) have tried their namesake cookies. Chance the Rapper apparently ordered a special delivery of his eponymous cookie made from a butter dough mixed with graham cracker bits, honey roasted cashews, and milk chocolate-covered wafers.

In the spirit of moderation, I only bought a red velvet stuffed cup, a vegan “Oreo,” and two Cookie Minaj cookies (strawberry oatmeal dough with white chocolate chips), because someone has to make up for the fact that the Harajuku Barbie hasn't yet tried her namesake treat.

My “Oreo” was two chewy dark chocolate cookies sandwiched with filling not made with real cream, but it was still remarkably rich. Although I am one of those obnoxious “white chocolate is not chocolate” people, the sweet berry background flavor of the Cookies Minaj made the high sugary notes of the processed chips more than tolerable. Sort of like Minaj’s music.

The star of my basket of baked goods, however, was definitely the oversize red velvet cupcake with its moist crumb, rich cocoa flavor, and thick crown of luscious buttercream frosting. And halfway through the cupcake I discovered the promised prize inside: a buttery sugar cookie.

You can pre-order most of Crumbville's treats (like the the Oreo and the Cookies Minaj), then pick them up any time from noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday–Saturday. 

Crumbville is currently part of the Project Row Houses’ Small Business Incubation program, which strives to “afford creative entrepreneurs the opportunity of operating within a close-knit community of artists and activists, in addition to operating on a neighborhood level with members of the Third Ward community and beyond,” according to the program. Thus, a huge added bonus to stuffing myself on Russell’s stuffed cups, and my incentive to continue to do so on a regular basis, is that I’m supporting a promising enterprise right in my own neighborhood.

Winner, winner, stuffed cupcakes are my idea of dinner.

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