Simply Sweet Cupcakes: Having Fun and Seeing Success

When you walk into Simply Sweet Cupcakes in Egg Harbor City, New Jersey, you’re immediately taken by the sweet smell of cupcakes. With friendly faces behind the counter, your experience in the bakery begins happily. The owners of the shop, Jacquelin Ciaburri and Gina Ciaburri, are likely to be laughing in the kitchen, which further proves the existence of the easygoing, friendly atmosphere.

The cupcake case is filled with a variety of flavors from Tiramisu to Strawberry and they all look magnificent and as the owners said themselves, “pretty.” The shop workers were busy decorating cakes and talking to customers, while Gina and Jacquelin were individually wrapping their popular High Heel cupcakes for a party.

As I walked around the shop, I saw two little signs hanging on the walls. Both boasting cupcake-related sayings like “Life is short…eat more cupcakes.” At Simply Sweet, I’m almost positive it is easy to eat more cupcakes. After taking a break from wrapping their cupcakes, Gina and Jacquelin came over to talk to me, coffee in hand, trying to maintain their level of energy to continue with the rest of their day.

As they sat down, I took another quick glance around their shop and was intrigued to know why they decided to open a cupcake bakery. Often, small-business owners are “inspired” to open their business so I asked them what their inspiration was. “Nothing,” Jacquelin said with a laugh. “We were looking to just rent a kitchen, and then one of our customers recommended for us to come down here and take a look and we saw the place and I said no, and she said ‘yeah’ and that was that.”

Located in Egg Harbor City’s downtown section, the shop is surrounded by a plethora of little stores, giving the area a very cutesy, Main Street vibe. “The town needs help, businesses are closing because of the economy. It adds another business to the road so that’s what we decided to do instead of just renting a kitchen,” said Gina.

After only being open for about a year, their business, like many other cupcake businesses, has seen large success. They attribute this success to a few things like their creative style of baking, “We never write down our recipes,” said Jacquelin, their dynamic, “People come in here because we fight and they think it’s entertaining,” Gina explained, and the popularity of cupcakes in general “They’re cute and you can do so much with them. They’re individual. Instead of sitting down for an entire cake you can sit down and just have one,” said Jacquelin.

Gina and Jacquelin are sister-in-laws and they make quite the duo. They each agreed that if it were not for the other, they would not want to work in the shop. “I wouldn’t like working here, I’m going to regret saying this, I wouldn’t work here if she didn’t work here,” Jacquelin said with a laugh. “I think the main focus of what we do is we have a lot of fun and we laugh a lot, people think we’re nuts.” Their have-fun attitude gives their bakery life and when you bite into one of their delicious cupcakes, you can tell they are made with love.

Their advice for anyone thinking about opening their first cupcake bakery is, “Have fun, and you should probably know what you’re doing,” said Gina. As Gina said this, Jacquelin looked at her quizzically and said, “We didn’t know what we were doing. We still don’t know what we’re doing!” They both laughed. As an outsider, I think their success proves they’re doing something right.

Visit Simply Sweet Cupcakes online at their Facebook page or take a drive down to Egg Harbor City. They’re located at 132 Philadelphia Avenue, Egg Harbor City, New Jersey.

Video How-To: Skinny Cupcakes

Hi everyone!

Over the weekend, I was inspired by my recent chat with Gabrielle Terzano, my friend over at live, laugh, YUM!, to make “Skinny” cupcakes. After searching the internet for a good recipe to try, I found one for Skinny Vanilla Funfetti Cupcakes. The recipe was super simple, which is why I was drawn to it. I decided to document my first attempt at making these skinny cupcakes (a recipe I’ve never tried) by filming a How-To. I thought it would be a great way for my readers to see exactly how these cupcakes are made since they’re slightly different from regular cupcakes. The batter looks a little different and the icing definitely has an interesting texture to it, making a video the perfect way to clear up any and all worries someone may have while baking these skinny cupcakes for the first time. I hope you all enjoy this video and learn something new and give this recipe a try! My friends loved these cupcakes and loved that they’re only 120 calories a piece!

Have a great weekend 🙂

Audio Interview with Gabrielle Terzano

Gabrielle Terzano delivering a batch of her "Skinny" CupcakesPhoto Credit: live,laugh,YUM!

Gabrielle Terzano delivering a batch of her “Skinny” Cupcakes
Photo Credit: live,laugh,YUM!

Today I got to speak with Gabrielle Terzano, a 22 year old cupcake enthusiast from Mount Laurel, New Jersey. Gabrielle, a Rowan University alumna, started her healthy eating blog, live, laugh, YUM! a few months ago after family and friends wanted a place to see all of her healthy recipes. I discovered her blog through Instagram, where she posts pictures of everything she makes right after she’s finished making it. Her posts about her “skinny” cupcakes caught my eye but after browsing through her blog I noticed that her recipes aren’t limited to cupcakes alone. Gabrielle has mastered the art of oatmeal and pancakes as well as some dinner recipes. She is a true inspiration for anyone looking to eat healthy all while maintaining savory and delicious flavors as well as for people who want to start a blog based off of something they love to do. Check out my interview with Gabrielle here and then go and take a look at her blog. It’s fun, fresh and food friendly!

Friday Flavors: Saint Patrick’s Day deliciousness

flavor friday

 

There’s nothing I enjoy more than baking holiday-inspired cupcakes. With Saint Patrick’s Day this Sunday (March 17) I realized I’ll be spending lots of time in the kitchen making green, Irish-inspired goodies. I took some time to find recipes that I’m dying to try and thought that my followers might enjoy trying them too! I’m featuring four recipes to symbolize the four leaf clover, a symbol of luck in Ireland!

I’ve never tried vegan cupcakes, but these Vegan Irish Cream Cupcakes from Pumpkin Honey have piqued my interest. Made with homemade Irish Cream and a simple cupcake recipe, these cupcakes aren’t green but they’re the perfect way to have an Irish taste while also remaining as healthy as a cupcake can be!

Last St. Patrick’s Day, I made a modified version of these Lucky Charm Cupcakes from Just Call Me Maria. Her version includes finely crushed Lucky Charms inside the cupcakes, which makes for  fun surprise when you take a bite. The cupcakes themselves are green, which is very fun for the kids! This recipe is super simple and easy to follow and sure to bring a smile to everyone’s face.

Green Velvet cupcakes are super simple and the easiest way to show your Irish pride through your baking. All you need other than the usual cupcake necessities is green food dye, which you can find at any grocery store near all of the baking supplies. A Bitchin’ Kitchen provides an easy recipe to follow and has amazing pictures to give you an idea of how you can decorate them once they come out of the oven!

Last but not least are these delicious Thin Mint-Chocolate Cupcakes from The Culinary ChroniclesThese cupcakes feature the incredibly popular Girl Scout cookies, Thin Mints. The recipe is slightly more difficult than the others, but it is certainly worth the work! Not only are these nice to look at, they are filled with a surprising, but sweet minty flavor.

I hope you all have a fantastic Saint Patrick’s Day and you try at least one of these recipes to help you celebrate!

Within the next two weeks, keep your eyes peeled for a review on a local bakery! I’m working on a lot of great things and can’t wait to introduce my followers to some amazing local cupcake bakeries!

Have a great weekend!

 

Friday Flavors: After a long week, try a drink-inspired cupcake

flavor friday

For most of us, the work week is a long one. This weekend, try relaxing with a drink-inspired cupcake. These are often just as fun to make as they are to eat and usually quite simple to fix up in a hurry.

First up is a Mudslide Cupcake from The Curvy Carrot. These cupcakes are infused with Kahlua in both the cake and the icing. Not much Kahlua is required and you can easily alter the recipe as you like. If you enjoy a chocolatey taste with a little kick, these are perfect for you.

The cold months can make summer seem so far away. To take your mind off of the chilly temperatures, try a Rum Cupcake with Pineapple FrostingBoulder Locavore came up with a delicious rum cupcake that can feature your favorite kind of rum in the cake. The pineapple frosting adds a beachy feel to the cupcakes and can take you from cold to warm with one bite.

Going off of the rum cupcakes, I Am Baker  features a Margarita Cupcake to add some sunshine to your day. This site uses a box cake mix for the cake and a small amount of tequila. As previously mentioned, all of these recipes can be altered to add as much or as little alcohol as you like.

Strawberry cupcakes are already highly popular, but adding champagne makes them perfect for a swanky weekend get-together or even a relaxing night in. The Cupcake Recipes shows a Strawberry Champagne recipe that’s super simple. You will taste a hint of champagne in the frosting as it is infused with 1/4 cup of champagne. Sounds delicious!

With Saint Patrick’s Day around the corner, Irish Car Bomb cupcakes sound perfect. Brown Eyed Baker posted a decadent recipe that features Irish whiskey and Bailey’s Irish Cream. It’s a simple yet delicious recipe that will get you in the mood for the upcoming holiday.

Try these this weekend to relax and unwind!

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.