Cushy Cakes Are Raising the Cupcake Bar

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It's getting harder and harder these days to distinguish between the slews of gourmet cupcake operations that keep springing up. So here's some help. Cushy Cakes uses Guinness Beer and Kahlua coffee liqueur in certain recipes.

Owner and self-taught baker Melissa Wilde Jarquin is breaking the baking sheet mold with novel takes on the trite treat. And all of her creations are made with organic ingredients.

Cushy Cakes, based in Aventura, offers 17 seasonal flavors, including strawberries and champagne, red-velvet, dulce de leche and a Guinness beer-flavored cupcake that is topped with Kahlua frosting. She even offers an option for mornings after over-indulging in alcohol-infused treats-- a café con leche cupcake. Jarquin also makes gluten-free cakes and is experimenting with natural sweeteners in efforts to create low-carb options.

Cupcakes can be ordered in miniature, regular and jumbo sizes and a dozen cakes go for $20. The baker said she keeps her prices lower than many of her competitors.

"You should never have to pay $40 for cupcakes," she said.

With no current store front, Jarquin works from home or rents commercial kitchen spaces when she needs to. But plans are in the works for a Cushy Cakes shop in the near future. She is now mostly doing catering for events, from showers to weddings to board meetings

Jarquin, a former nursing student, said she found her new calling while baking for her son Ethan's first birthday party last September. The night before the party, her husband found her in the kitchen at 5a.m., fixating over the cupcakes she was preparing.

"I lost myself in it," she said.

The 26-year-old business owner said she then enrolled herself in "YouTube university" and began learning how to intricately design cupcakes. She read endless reviews of local competitor's cakes and personally tasted all of them in her quest to develop her own recipes. Jarquin said she worked tirelessly to create a line of cupcakes that were not too dry or worst off, too moist, like those of one certain local cupcake monopoly that will remain nameless.

"I must have made vanilla cupcakes 30 times before I got it right," she said.

A few months later, she came up with a catchy name, incorporated her business and began promoting Cushy Cakes by donating cupcakes to various community charity events.

Jarquin now runs the business with the help of only one delivery worker. She single-handily takes every order, produces dozens of cupcakes and creates decorative wonders of out marshmallows to top them. Pumping out about 45 orders a month, Jarquin accredits social media outlets for her new-found success. She boasts that 70 percent of her referrals come from Facebook.

But Cushy Cakes might be converting in the near future. Jarquin, who is not Jewish, said she has been receiving numerous requests throughout the predominately Jewish area to go Kosher. She said she is entertaining the idea, especially after realizing she would have weekends off due to Sabbath observances.

And when asked if she thought her cupcake business could eventually fall at the feet of rising "gourmet doughnut" establishments, she answered, "I don't feel threatened at all...I've never seen a beer and Kahlua doughnut."

Cushy Cakes
3300 NE 192nd St., Aventura (Scheduled pick-ups only)


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