Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Heavenly flavors hit the Spot

Have you ever walked into a bakery and instantly knew how delicious everything must be just by the way it smells? That's just how it is at The Sweet Spot Bake Shoppe in Chester, which smells just as good as Christmas morning, if not better.

The Sweet Spot recently won best bakery, voted by you, the readers, in the Mendham, Chester, Washington Township area.

"You're getting real ingredients, which a lot of people have definitely been craving" co-owner Cheryl Burger says, "We've seen that reaction; they're dying to have real things again."

The Sweet Spot isn't your typical bakery and might not have some of the items that you might be expecting from a bakery, such as fruit tarts and pies. Instead, this visually appealing shop specializes in one particular treat, one that's grown very big over the past few years — cupcakes.

"Obviously, cupcakes are popular right now," says Burger, who runs the shop with her sister, Carolyn, "It's a hot item, and I think we had seen a lot of cupcake places popping up."

Carolyn had seen a lot of cupcake shops in particular as she once worked in the city before the two opened The Sweet Spot.

"I sold title insurance and my sister worked for the Wendy Williams show," Burger says of their previous occupations, "So it was definitely a huge change for both of us, but both of us grew up baking, (and) have always loved baking."

The two own the shop and it's truly a family-run business, as the sisters usually bring in their father, mother, and younger sister to help out when orders get very specific or big.

"I do most of the baking and Carolyn does most of the decorating," Burger says, "My dad's here Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, to help up front; my mom is here throughout the week. She's either making frosting or doing fondant decorations for us. She's very good with miniature things.

"Our younger sister will also be here over the weekends sometimes," Burger adds,

It's good that the whole family's involved, because even though they just opened up this past February, they've already been pushing a great deal of their product, with a lot of patrons even suggesting new flavors for their cupcakes, which the sisters are happy to make if they think it would be good for the shop.

"The vanilla latte was one," Burger says about a customer suggestion, "I was like 'that's easy enough.' We have vanilla cupcakes, (and the coffee butter cream, and) I think that was out the next day, or later that day."

Also popular are the "worms in dirt" cupcakes, which feature Gummy Worms poking out of them, S'mores cupcakes, and the big daddy of them all, the red velvet cupcake, for which Burger, though she likes them, doesn't really see what all the fuss is about.

"I mean, it tastes fine, but people go nuts for it, and I'm like, 'it's just fine for me,' " Burger says, laughing.

"There's others where I'm like, 'this is really, really good,' " Burger adds, "I'm a purist, vanilla cake with chocolate frosting, like that, I'm like, 'oh, my God, this is the best thing ever.' "

While The Sweet Spot might not have many of the other items that you would find in a typical bakery, it does have two other treats: larger variations of their cupcakes, and a nice selection of cookies.

"We have cookies, a couple of bar cookies and things like that," Burger says, "Because there isn't a bakery in town, we wanted to have a little something that people could take."

She says some people like to mix and match, combining their cupcakes with their cookie products.

"A lot of people have us cut up the bar cookies into quarters, and they'll combine that with our mini cupcakes and do this little dessert platter," Burger explains, "And that's a good grab-and-go (item) if you want to walk around town. You know, just grab a big chocolate chip cookie and you're out the door, ready to go."

The sisters are also greatly into giving back, participating in an event called "Share Our Strength," which aims to help end childhood hunger in America, and Relay for Life, at West Morris Mendham and West Morris Central high schools, which is the main fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

"We're here, (and) we're happy to be here in the area," Burger says, "Anything that we can give back in the immediate area, we're more than happy to do it."

The sisters also are happy to patch the hole that opened in the town when the original bakery closed down.

"Chester bakery has been gone for a while, and we grew up in Long Valley, so all of our birthday cakes when we were little were from Chester bakery," Burger recall, "We were familiar with the area and we couldn't believe that a (standalone) bakery hadn't come in here in the meantime, and we were very happy to fill that void."

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