cupcake_smallCupcakes, once relegated to school birthday parties and bake sales, have become the darling of the gourmet crowd. Now, Marcie Williams has taken the single-serving treat to a whole new level.

In May, Marcie and her husband, Derek, opened Blake’s Cafe and Cupcakery. Her signature cupcake is Caramel By The Sea, with a surprise topping. Salt.

“It’s our most popular,” Marcie said of the caramel cake, topped with a fanciful twirl of buttercream icing, a drizzle of caramel and a sprinkle of sea salt. “People drive here just to get it.”

I’m an avowed chocolate fiend, so I didn’t think a nonchocolate cupcake would be my favorite. But when I took a bite of Caramel By The Sea, I froze. I actually stopped chewing to fully appreciate the flavors melding in my mouth.

Of course, my love affair by the sea didn’t stop me from trying a chocolate cupcake as well. The Coco-mond is the cupcake version of an Almond Joy candy bar. It’s chocolate cake so dark it’s black, with a creamy coconut filling, topped with chocolate ganache and a sprinkle of sliced almonds. Oh, my.

“Quality is very important to me,” Marcie said. “I make everything from scratch.”

It shows. And it sells.

“We’re doing about 120 to 150 cupcakes a day,” she said.

Customers buy them individually and by the dozen.

“They make a lovely gift. We have people giving them as a hostess gift, or to someone who is maybe feeling a little down,” she said.

Cupcakes are packaged in specially designed boxes with two or four or more nesting holes, then tied with a perky bow.

“The nice thing about cupcakes is you can get a sampling of however many you want,” Marcie said. “I like variety. I don’t like to get a whole pie, I just want one slice.”

Blake’s Cafe and Cupcakery, on Massillon Road (State Route 241) in a former Arabica coffeehouse, has a clean, nonfussy decor. The menu includes sandwiches, wraps and salads.

“Very few people who eat here don’t order a cupcake to go with it,” Marcie said.

The cupcakes are small by today’s biggie-size standards.

“I like that it’s a small portion, so we don’t overeat,” Marcie explained. “Everyone is watching their weight, but you don’t want to totally deprive yourself.”

Marcie often experiments with new flavor combinations, and offers them as daily specials.

“A recent one we rolled out was the Cherry Godmother, made with fresh Bing cherries and vanilla butter frosting,” Marcie said.

The latest cupcake takes its lead from the Caramel By The Sea.

“We did a fun one, the French Toast and Bacon,” Marcie said, laughing. “It’s caramel cake, with some maple syrup down the center of the cake, then maple buttercream frosting, and crispy bacon on top.”

BLAKE’S CAFE AND CUPCAKERY

(NAMED AFTER THE OWNERS’ SON, BLAKE)
1840 Town Park Blvd., Green (one mile from Interstate 77)
(330) 899-9968
Open: 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Cupcakes: $1.95 each, or $22 a dozen

SWEET TALKING

More locally made sweet treats: If elegance is on the menu, try the subtly flavored tiramisu or the handsome red velvet cake from Hazel Artisan Bakery, at 1176 S. Main St. in North Canton. Both creations are top sellers. Instead of the usual cream cheese frosting, the red velvet cake is adorned with thick layers of cooked butter cream. While at the bakery, check out the array of crusty bread loaves. Not as sweet as cake, but just as satisfying. (330) 497-8078.

Is it October yet? When fall rolls around, I roll over to Taggarts Ice Cream, at 1401 Fulton Rd. NW in Canton, for one of my favorite seasonal treats. The cookie baker and the ice cream maker join forces to create an ice cream sandwich worth every calorie. Homemade pumpkin ice cream is slathered between two thick, soft ginger cookies. Oh my, oh my. Better call ahead to make sure they’re not sold out. (330) 452-6844.

Recent reports say we should be eating three or four servings of fruit a day. That’s a perfect excuse to visit Mezzaluna’s Italian Grill for a luscious fruit pie. Try the cherry. The filling is not oversweetened, allowing the tartness of the cherries to shine through. The sturdy yet tender pie crust is topped with streusel. Heavenly. If you’ve had your daily servings of fruit, try another customer favorite — the 4-inch-tall chocolate peanut butter pie. Mezzaluna’s is at 301 W. Lincoln Way in Minerva. (330) 868-4100.

Cookies — not just for kids anymore. The Turtle Cookie at Appletree, a tiny lunch spot at 2108 Fremont Pl. SW in Canton, is designed for discerning adult palates. Saying it is a buttery cookie studded with nuts and caramel doesn’t do it justice. Just get one. You’ll see. (330) 454-9920.

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Saimi Bergmann

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