Who ever thought that cupcakes could be sexy? Obviously the producers of television's Sex in the City and the crowds of customers who line up inside, and often outside, New York's tiny Magnolia Bakery until 12:30 a.m. on weekends for the buttercream and colorful sprinkle-topped treats.
Magnolia was already the talk of the town when it was featured about four years ago as a favorite snack spot for the famous femme fatales on the hit series. Actually, the shop has been feeding the cupcake cravings of local families, students from nearby New York University and tourists visiting the Big Apple's West Greenwich Village since 1996, says Owner Alyssa Torey.
Originally, the bakery began producing cupcakes as a way to use up the batter left over from its Southernstyle layer cakes, Torey explains. But as the cupcakes took on a life of their own, they also took over a lot of the bakery's production, requiring four dedicated icers to swirl on the pastel-colored buttercream by hand and scatter the homemade sprinkles throughout the day.
Two of those icers work in the bakery's front window, a logistical solution to production space crunch in the 700-sq.-ft. facility and a constant reminder of Magnolia's commitment to freshness. And, even though the bakery still sells a large number of layer cakes (of the 10 flavors offered each day, Red Velvet and coconut are the most popular), banana pudding, cheesecakes, ice box cakes, cookies, bars and squares, the cupcakes fly out the door almost as fast as their icing sets.
“We have to limit customers to a dozen cupcakes at a time, unless they advance order,” Torey notes. “It wasn't an arbitrary decision. We just want to make sure that there are enough to go around.”
Despite Magnolia's celebrity, Torey has managed to maintain the bakery's low-key ambience, combiningthe warm welcome of an oldfashioned kitchen and the hip attitude of a Village hotspot. She has even shared the formulas and techniques for making some of her most famous desserts in “The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook: Old Fashioned Recipes from New York's Sweetest Bakery,” co-authored with former partner Jennifer Appel and a new solo effort called “More From Magnolia Bakery: Recipes From the World Famous Bakery and Alyssa Torey's Kitchen.
A 37,500-lb. chocolate chip cookie should be enough to satisfy anybody's sweet tooth. But wholesale customers of Scott Blackwell's Immaculate Baking Company can't seem to get enough of the company's signature sweets.
Baking the “World's Biggest Cookie”-(a Guinness Book of Records-certified feat) in its Flat Rock, N.C. backyard was a major undertaking for Immaculate Baking that required months of planning as well as designing and building a temporary oven to cook the gigantic confection. But the effort paid off big-time in terms of national publicity, local good will, and raising awareness and funds for the company's notforprofit Folk Artist's Foundation (FAF).
At the event, pieces of the 100-ft. round cookie, made from the same recipe as Immaculate's popular Chocobilly variety, were sold for immediate consumption and on the company's Web site as a specially packaged commemorative collectible for $10 per piece. Proceeds from the sales will help fund the construction of a folk art museum to be built adjacent to Immaculate's 22,000-sq.-ft. baking facility.
Supporting American folk art is an integral part of the company's mission. Each of its 11 products, consisting of 10 cookie varieties and Mojos chocolate-covered biscotti bites, features a different work by a local artist.
Although the baking of the “World's Biggest Cookie” was originally conceived as a one-time-only event, Blackwell recently agreed to hitch up his homemade oven and take it on the road for a repeat performance at a customer's retail location.-This time, money raised from sales of the freshly baked colossal cookie was donated to a local children's charity.
The event also whet attendees' appetites for the bakery's other allnatural flavors. In fact, response from the public and media was so positive and cookie sales so high that the retailer asked Immaculate Baking to repeat the event at a number of its other locations.
In between road trips, individuals and groups can watch Immaculate bakers whip up batches of Pumpkin Gingerlies, Leapin' Lemon, Sweet Georgia Brownie and other top-selling confections from the second floor viewing room Blackwell recently installed at his Flat Rock facility. From this vantage point, visitors can get a taste of all the action on the 6,000-sq.-ft. production floor and of the cookies as they come fresh from the oven.