Michelle Spell, owner of Ava’s Cupcakes in Rockaway, is busy as Santa’s elves, whipping up holiday treats.
Spell, a 2012 winner of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, is a flavor wizard. Among scads of creations, Spell’s most popular cupcake of all may be tropical banana stuffed with guava compote and topped with cream cheese frosting.
But right now, for the holidays, chocolate and peppermint creations are flying out the door.
Spell’s Hot Chocolate Creampunk Cake, a twist on the 19th century industrial sci-fi genre called Steampunk, features spiced chocolate cake, dripped chocolate ganache glaze and bubbling roasted marshmallows perked with edible metallic dust. The $25 cake serves 8 to 12 people and is garnished with one of her popular edible chocolate peppermint spoons. You can add a chocolate plaque bearing your own holiday message for $5.
The spoons are created from a “proprietary blend of melted and molded peppermint covered in chocolate. You can stir it in your coffee and it just kind of melts away,” says Spell. “It’s so much fun.” The spoons can be purchased separately for $2 each.
Another holiday special is Spell’s humorous $25 Melted Snowman Cake. A puddle of white butter cream with cookie eyes and a frosting carrot nose is topped with a 6-inch round top hat made from any cake flavor you choose, including Spell’s signature red velvet.
Spell’s goodies are available for shipping, including her Sugar Selfies, six framed rectangles enclosing edible versions of the customer’s uploaded images for $36.
Growing up in Newark and Belleville, Spell loved to cook. After high school she became a personal chef and also worked for restaurants and caterers. She had four children, and in 2011 opened her company, naming it for Ava, her youngest.
“There’s a definite science behind baking,” Spell says. “If you add too much of something, you can have a mess. Creating recipes that are so particular, that was a challenge and I loved it.”
Spell offers Bake-a-Wish parties, classes and camps for kids. Each session can accommodate 10 to 22 students, and be tailored for any skill level, from beginner to advanced. Students get to take home what they bake in class.
20 Wall Street
Ava’s Signature Red Velvet Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes
- 2 ¾ Cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1 ½ Cups Granulated Sugar
- ¼ Cup Best Quality Cocoa Powder
- 1 tsp Baking Soda
- 1 tsp Salt
- 2 Eggs
- 1 Cup Vegetable Oil
- 1 Cup Buttermilk
- 1 Tsp Vanilla
- 1 Tsp White Vinegar
- ½ Cup Red Food Color
- Blend your dry ingredients in your mixing bowl.
- In a separate bowl, mix the first 5 wet ingredients together, add to your dry mix.
- Once fully incorporated, slowly adding food color and vinegar and mix well!
- Scoop and fill your cupcake pans 2/3 of the way
- Bake at 350 for 19 minutes
- Keeps for 5 days in an airtight container, 3 months in a freezer