When Taressa Neal was selling candles for a living, she baked cupcakes for clients as gifts. She called them “burning” cupcakes.
The cupcakes lasted, the candles didn’t. The name stuck.
Last Saturday, Neal opened Burning Cupcakes in a small, low-slung building near Sixth Avenue and Stevens in the space that formerly housed Kitchen2Kitchen, a meals ready/catering outfit. Neal opened Burning Cupcakes with business partner JoAnn McCullon, who handles the operation side of the business while Neal is chief baker.
Burning Cupcakes aims to be a full-service dessert bakery withtarts, brownies and myriad treats beyond just cupcakes. Expect to see the inventory expand soon.
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Neal is not a professional pastry chef. She attended the cooking school of Mom and Grandma, learning to bake in her family kitchen in tiny Vader, Wash. Neal never considered becoming a professional baker until her candle clients and fans of her cupcakes encouraged her to turn her cupcake gifts into a catering business. She rented commercial kitchen space and began baking cupcakes for brides, about 90 percent of her clients. After two years of catering, she began shopping for a retail location.
The store is small, but attractively decorated in blue and black. A small seating area offers enough room for moms or students to meet comfortably. Burning Cupcakes serves drip coffee, but no espresso.
The bakery case held eight cupcake flavors on my anonymous visit, but the number and flavors change depending on supplies and customer demand.
The cupcake bases tasted light and spongy, rather than the dense breadiness that some cupcakes can carry. Frostings tasted sweet without being cloying. The whipped mousse on the lemon cupcake was ethereal and light, tinged lightly with citrus (the cake base tasted more assertively of lemon). The frosting on the strawberry shortcake nestled tidbits of berries. The peanut butter frosting tasted rich and nutty, a luscious yin to the yang of the peanut butter cupcake base. The frosting on the red velvet was chunky and gritty (a technical problem with the cream cheese incorporating thoroughly, or so it tasted).
Look for these other cupcake flavors in the bakery case: porter (yes, as in the beer), mint chocolate truffle, lemon drop, cherry coke, midnight truffle, chai tea, coconut and snickerdoodle.
For calorie counters, Neal's cupcakes seem smaller than you’ll find at other cupcake bakeries, and the frosting ratio seemed more proportionate, compared to other local shops. Cupcakes are $2.85 each. Other treats range from 75 cents for cookies to $2 for brownies and truffles. Mini and full-sized tarts are available for purchase, as will be pies soon. Quiche will cost $3.25 a slice. Watch for more bakery items to be added to the menu in the coming weeks.
Note: For those who purchased empanadas from Pampeana Empanadas at Kitchen2Kitchen, the company will continue to sell their empanadas on Wednesdays at Burning Cupcakes. Here is a note I received via e-mail from Pampeana, “Pampeana Empanadas will be selling from the Tacoma location every Wednesday from 10am - 6pm, starting May 25th. Customers who would like to pre-order empanadas for pickup can mix and match their order and place in advance by emailing email@example.com or calling 253-752-2586.” Website here.
Burning Cupcakes Where: 4312 Sixth Ave, TacomaPhone: 253-476-1169Website: http://www.burningcupcakes.comHours: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday
DONUT SHOP OPENING ON SIXTH
And more sweets are coming to Sixth Avenue. The buzz on Sixth for the last week has been the Buck Naked Donuts, which announced with a sign last week that the business would open at the space formerly occupied by The Herban Café (2602 Sixth Avenue; the storefront has been empty for quite some time).
I confirmed with the leasing agent for the building that the business will open, but I’m still trying to reach the owners.. For anyone interested in that building, the retail space that formerly housed the Urban Gourmet kitchen store next door is still available for leasing. If you’re interested in the space, e-mail me for details (my aim is to convince you to open a pie shop there. You’ve been warned).
CORINA TREATS ARE TREMENDOUS SWEETS, THE PROOF IS IN THE (BANANA) PUDDING
If we’re going to talk sweets on Sixth Avenue, Corina must be part of the conversation. Corina long has been my go-to bakery for coffee and guilty indulgence. Located just down the hill from the core of the Sixth Avenue business/restaurant district, Corina bakes up some of the best pies, cakes and sweet treats in town. Not to mention their delicious soda bread.
Pies are never too sweet, the crust always flaky and good. I stopped in last week for a slice of mixed berry pie and it tasted like summer – a tart mixture of blueberries and raspberries was picture perfect in a decorative lattice-top pie.
The texture of a brownie made with Valhalla coffee was cakey with just a hint of moist fudginess; the coffee deepened the chocolate notes. Banana pudding was better than anything that ever could come out of a box – creamy pudding with an assertive banana flavor was layered with Nilla wafers and fresh banana slices (just like Grandma used to make). If you’re having a bad day, you really need a plastic cup of Corina’s banana pudding, which a former co-worker affectionately (and accurately) once described as “banana crack.”
Corina BakeryWhere: 510 Sixth Ave., TacomaInfo: 253-627-5070, http://www.corinabakery.comHours: 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m.-4p.m. Sunday.