home SWEET home: Q&A with at-home baker, Jacki Chinosi

Jacki Chinosi in her kitchen

Jacki Chinosi in her kitchen

Dreams are often formed in the comfort of one’s own home. For Jacki Chinosi, her home is where the dream has stayed. Five years ago, Chinosi realized she had a knack for baking cupcakes, really good cupcakes, that her friends and family alike could not stop complementing. “Every time we had a family gathering, I’d experiment with a different kind of cupcake,” she said. “And each time someone would come up to me and say that it was the best cupcake they’d ever eaten. It kind of got the wheels turning.” Chinosi formulated her own recipes and techniques and now bakes cupcakes for parties out of her home.

Have you always been interested in baking?

Yes, as a kid my mom and I used to bake together all the time. She was always making things for church functions and for holidays and I always remember wanting to help. It was fun. I also really liked putting ingredients together and seeing how they created something delicious.

When did you start experimenting with cupcake recipes?

It really started about five years ago when I was pregnant with my second child. I was constantly craving cupcakes and so I figured instead of spending lots of money on gourmet ones or going through the hassle of trying to find a good place to go, I’d make them myself. So I went online and looked things up and added my own spin on recipes I thought I’d like and it kind of just worked. I made my husband and my sister-in-law try them and they loved them and they’re my harshest critics so I knew if they liked them, others would too, which is why I started bringing them to functions and things.

Do you plan on opening your own cupcake bakery one day?

I mean, would I love to do that? Yes. Do I see that happening any time in the near future, no. I only say that because I have four kids now and I’m constantly busy with them and I can’t imagine opening a bakery because that’s like another baby. Honestly, baking out of my house is easy and just as efficient as having my own business. I get to choose when I work and who I work for and I can make sure that whoever needs me to make cupcakes for them gets exactly what he or she wants because I am able to focus on only that specific order.

So for people who dream of owning their own bakery one day, would you advise them to start off at home?

If you have this dream and you don’t have the opportunity to open your own place, starting at home is great. You obviously don’t get to reach out to as many people as you would if you had an actual bakery but it’s a great way to get experience and learn the tricks and trades of cupcake baking because you get to do it at your own pace. You always have to start somewhere and I think that there could be worse places to begin than at your own home.

Any at-home tips for novice cupcake bakers?

My best and easiest tip is a trick for box mixes. They usually call for oil and water in the recipe but if you substitute the oil for butter and the water for milk, it ends up much more moist and rich and it tastes like you made it from scratch. I hardly do this because I make all of my cupcakes from scratch but when I want to whip up something quick for the kids, I’ll do this. It’s a great secret.

What makes your cupcakes unique?

Everything I bake is made in my own home. Not many other bakers can say that! Also, they’re delicious and relatively cheap. Since I make them mostly for my friends and family, I don’t charge that much. I do it because I love it, not to make a profit. I think that could be considered pretty unique too!

Do you think the cupcake craze is here to stay?

Well, all I know is that everyone I talk to about cupcakes talks so much about how “obsessed” they are with them so needless to say, I think they’re here to stay. There’s so many varieties, there is literally one for everyone.

What do you think most people would say is the hardest part about cupcake baking?

For me, it was frosting! Frosting a cupcake is so difficult the first few times! Maybe it’s because I’m a perfectionist, but I messed up a hundred times before I got one right. For people just starting out, I would definitely think that making them look pretty is the most difficult thing ever. Watch a lot of videos and read things about frosting and just do as you see, that’s the only piece of advice I have. Practice makes perfect!

What is your favorite part about cupcake baking?

The smile on the faces of the people who eat them. There’s nothing like seeing someone bite into something you made and smile. It makes it worth it.

Chinosi does not have a website nor was she comfortable with listing her phone number on the blog. As of now, she only accepts orders from friends and family or referrals. She hopes that one day, she can have a bakery and really test her skills.

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A Sweet Review: My Little Kupkake, Collingswood

inside store

When you walk into My Little Kupkake on Haddon Avenue in Collingswood, you’re greeted by friendly faces and bright colors on the walls. The shop is tiny but big enough to hold the case full of cupcakes, handmade children’s hats and a few chairs nestled by the window. It feels homey and welcoming, like you could spend hours there on a lazy afternoon.

I spent a few minutes checking out the plethora of flavors the shop offered and I decided on a classic Carrot cupcake after Darlene, the shop manager, explained to me that it’s a fan favorite. “We have over 150 flavors, but we do have our fan favorites that we keep in the case every day. Carrot is definitely one of those,” she said.

I could easily tell why. The cupcake itself was moist and delicious, filled with walnuts and raisins and shreds of carrot. The icing, a cream cheese based one, was delectable. “We always use the classic cream cheese icing for Carrot and Red Velvet, it seems to get good reviews,” she explained to me.

Before going into the shop, I walked briefly around Haddon Avenue and noticed that most of the stores on the street were food based, making My Little Kupkake fit in perfectly but also stand out. The shop is the one of the only dessert one on the strip and easily gains lots of attention from patrons who just ate lunch or dinner down the street.

With “cupcakeries” popping up all around the area, I was curious as to what Darlene thought made My Little Kupkake unique. After spending a minute or two thinking about her response, she explained, “I think it’s our size. We’re tiny and family-run, it’s more intimate. Also, our flavors seem to be a big hit.”

“A lot of other places just have a chocolate or vanilla base for the cupcake and they flavor the icing, but we bake everything into the cupcake. For example, if it’s a Snicker’s cupcake, you’re going to find actual Snickers baked into the cupcake. Our chocolate peanut butter cupcake has peanut butter on the inside. We like to surprise people when they take a bite,” she said.

flavors

To get an outsider’s view on the cupcakes, I spent some time with one of the customers in the shop. Delaney Platas was visiting the area with her mother when they decided to check out My Little Kupkake.

“I’ve been craving a cupcake for a while and this happened to be here,  I didn’t even know but I’m glad it is,” she said, smiling.

Platas tried the Chocolate Peanut Butter cupcake and couldn’t say anything but nice things about it. “It was absolutely delicious. I loved it. I’ll definitely be back.”

choc peanut butter

The shop is open seven days a week, with different flavors in the case each day. It’s located at 685 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, NJ. Check out their website, here!

Overall Rating: 8.5/10

Friday Flavors

flavor friday

 

 

After a long week, there’s nothing more relaxing than keeping things simple. This week, SJ Cupcake is featuring classic, simple cupcake recipes for you to try over the weekend.

Red Velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing have become a staple in the cupcake world over the past few years. Brown Eyed Baker features a delicious and easy recipe for the classic flavor that will surely be a hit no matter who you serve these to.

With hundreds of Chocolate cupcake recipes out there and each recipe claiming to be the best, it’s hard to decide which one is really worth trying. Since the theme of this week is simplicity, I chose Baking Bites’ recipe, which features the simplest of ingredients. If chocolate is one of your weaknesses, definitely give this easy recipe a try.

Considering Vanilla cupcakes are my personal favorite, I am constantly making them for all different occasions. Some recipes are better than others, of course, but after trying this recipe from Baked Bree a few weeks ago, I discovered that this simple recipe works best. The greatest thing about vanilla cupcakes is you have endless possibilities for what flavor the icing can be.

While Strawberry  isn’t always everyone’s favorite flavor, it’s a definite classic and when done right, it’s downright delicious. My Baking Addiction features a healthy and quite simple strawberry cupcake recipe that will make this cold, winter weekend feel a little bit brighter.

Carrot cake is a classic flavor found in most bakeries and cupcakeries are no exception. The Comfort of Cooking has a fairly simple recipe for this timeless flavor. Try it and see how easy it really is.

Hopefully these recipes give you something easy and delicious to try and help you remember why sometimes it’s good to go back to basics. Enjoy the cupcakes and take pictures if you try them!

Look out for my first interview with a local cupcake shop, My Little Kupkake in Collingswood. Have a great weekend!

A sweet look at what’s ahead

Hey guys! Over the next few weeks I’m hoping to get a lot of things accomplished with this blog. For starters, I’m planning on visiting a bunch of local cupcake bakeries to get a chance to sit down with the owners or employees to see what it takes to run a cupcake shop and to get some first-hand tips on cupcake baking.

I’m really interested in hearing what people in the cupcake business have to say about the cupcake craze that’s swept the nation over the past few years. I’d love to know why they think it’s happened and if they think the craving for cupcakes is here to stay.

Cupcake Bakeries tend to have a “cutesy” feel to them, so I’d like to go out and find the one that has the most welcoming and “sweet” look to it. Keep your eyes peeled for photos from my favorite cupcakeries in the area.

If anyone has any suggestions of good cupcake shops in the South Jersey area, feel free to let me know. I’m more than willing to try new places and report on them.

Have a sweet day.

Flavor Friday: Try something new this weekend

flavor friday

To celebrate the end of the workweek and the beginning of the weekend, SJ Cupcake wants to present you with this week’s most delicious cupcake flavors. Whether you’re planning on spending the entire weekend on your couch or in the kitchen trying your hand at these recipes, they’re sure to pique your interest and awaken your taste buds!

First up is Cupcake Project with Tiramisu Cupcakes. For anyone that loves a classic dessert, these cupcakes will hit the spot.

Chocolate and peanut butter have forever been a fan-favorite combination and the same has proven to be true in cupcake form. Susie Homemaker came up with a decadent Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcake that will have people talking long after they’ve tasted it.

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, Lady Behind the Curtain came up with Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes. Festive and delicious, these cupcakes are perfect for loved ones during this romantic time of year.

If you’re feeling sophisticated over the weekend, try LemonSugar’s Champagne Cupcake. They look just delicious as they taste, but according to the site, are incredibly easy to make. I’d say that’s a win/win situation for all.

The Salted Caramel craze has taken the nation by a storm and it’s showing in the cupcake world. Cooking Classy debuted their version of the sweet/salty combination and if it tastes anything like the picture looks, it’s bound to be one of the best cupcakes you eat all weekend.

Check out these recipes and try them yourself over the weekend! If yours turn out as good, post pictures to my Twitter account @SJ_Cupcake!

Happy Baking and have a great weekend!

Welcome to the Sweet Life

Hello! My name is Victoria Converse. I’m a junior, Public Relations major at Rowan University. This semester, I am taking an Online Journalism class that is allowing me to spend the next 15 weeks exploring something I’m interested in. I chose to blog about cupcakes because over the past few years, I’ve discovered I have a love for baking cupcakes and would ultimately love to open my own cupcake bakery at some point in my life.

The purpose of this blog is to get an inside look at the art of cupcake baking by visiting local bakeries and interviewing the owners and employees. I hope to gain insight as to what goes into having your own bakery, how to create the perfect cupcake and why the cupcake craze has exploded all over the country. I also plan to come up with my own recipes and how-to tips for novice bakers, like myself. Check out my Twitter account and see what else is happening in the world of cupcakes.

I’m very excited to go on this cupcake journey and I’m hoping that at the end of these 15 weeks, life will be a little sweeter.