Eat it too

Mary Allstead wanted a wholesome, homey feel for her cupcake bakery.

Mary Allstead wanted a wholesome, homey feel for her cupcake bakery.

Photo By Allison Young

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The first mention of the cupcake can be traced as far back as 1796, when a recipe notation mentions “a cake to be baked in small cups.” They evolved in the United States in the 19th century, and food historians have yet to pinpoint exactly where the name of the cupcake originated. There are two theories: One, the cakes were originally cooked in cups; and two, the ingredients used to make the cupcakes were measured out by the cup.

Mary Allstead had never baked anything from scratch in her life but walked into a cupcake store one day four years ago and knew this is what she wanted to do. She turned to the internet to watch YouTube videos to learn how to make cupcakes and frosting and today, Mix Cupcake Company creates 20 varieties of these personal cakes ($2.85 ea.) with 12 flavors on hand daily. She also bakes cookies ($1.95 ea.), brownies ($1.95ea.) and cake pops-on-a-stick ($1.75ea.).

When I walked into the place, my first thought was that it looked like my grandmother’s kitchen. Allstead wanted a wholesome, homey feel to the place. It’s very retro ’50s, with tables seating six or eight folks with room for 20 or so inside. The staffers wear old fashioned, handmade, patterned aprons with a little flower and frosting badges on the front. They make everything fresh and from scratch. Time went into crafting the delights and painstaking effort went into the frosting of these morsels of magnificence, something Allstead talks about with great pride.

After researching a lot of recipes, she got her creative bones rattling and divined some sinful flavors. Monkey Business is a banana cake with a cream cheese frosting drizzled with caramel and topped with a pretzel. Pure sweetness envelopes your taste buds as you sink your teeth into its sweet plump, foundation—a primal pleasure. Guittard chocolate from San Francisco, with a French heritage, made the chocolate cake she gave me. It conjured memories of a taste of adventure and childlike curiosity from my grandmother’s kitchen. This place is a great escape back to kiddom.

The marshmallow brownie with a chocolate Granché melts in your mouth and soon you experience a delightful, gooey mixture as flavors meld together, and you plan another attack for another delectable bite. This scrumptious indulgence hit my decadence spot big time. There was still room for a cookie. Of the seven varieties, including Oatmeal Raisin, White Chocolate Cranberry Pecan, Orange Creamsicle and Cinnamon Sugar, I couldn’t make up my mind until she mentioned Peanut Butter with Reese Pieces baked in and that was that.

My grandmother was the queen of peanut butter cookies, and I had to see how close these came to my memories. As a smile spread across my face, I could taste the crunch of real peanuts between my molars as the candies melted on my tongue. This was a new age peanut butter cookie. Grandma would have wanted me to live in a world of 21st century flavors.

Birthday parties for kids are a big thing, and Allstead has become the countess of custom fondants (one of several kinds of icing-like substances used to decorate or sculpt pastries). She can create just about any kind of design to fit atop her cupcake creations and has had a lot of success with her efforts. Weekly, she produces a limited number of gluten-free and vegan cupcakes and has a couple of local clients, like Too Soul Tea, offering her products.

When my grandmother baked, there was a whole lot of love going on and that’s why my memories of her, my cooking mentor, are always strong when comes to homemade desserts. And Mix Cupcake Company brought back many fond memories and tastes.