About five years ago or so, cupcakes became “the thing” in cities like LA and NY. This was probably due to nostalgic Boomers longing for childhood sweets and fueled by a big push from appearances on “Sex and the City” and other trendy shows. Now, instead of becoming a waning trend (predicted by foodies in various blogs from 2008) cupcakes are now more popular than ever. And why not? With cupcakes there’s no arguing over who “gets the flower” or who gets the bigger or better piece. Plus, there’s something to be said for portion control.
If you haven’t tried gourmet cupcakes because you’re used to the processed ones from the grocery store, you’re probably wondering just what the fuss is all about. But one taste of a Sweet B gourmet delicacy will change every cupcake preconception you might have.
Francine Antista started Sweet B Gourmet Desserts just three months ago and yet her Murrieta Farmer’s Market booth is already a very popular destination. There you will find Francine, helped by family and friends, selling cupcakes that are just amazingly good.
Francine has always loved baking. When she was just ten years old she baked a pie that won second place at the Colorado State Fair. Since she was already known as “the baker” in her family, she figured why not use her culinary skills and do something she loves while spending more time with her family. So she gained access to a commercial kitchen and Sweet B (named after her baby son Braden) was born. When her first customers gobbled up the cupcakes and then wanted more, Francine says, “It was great reassurance. It meant that when my family said it was good they weren’t just saying that to be nice!”
Her menu is continuing to grow, depending on what people ask for. But for right now there are twenty flavors to choose from that range from the basic to the gourmet. Francine uses little sugar in her cakes but still magically manages to keep the sweetness. Her whipped frostings are light and fluffy and she assures, “it doesn’t leave that coating on the roof of the mouth where you need a toothbrush to brush it off.” She takes pride in using only the very freshest ingredients and, except for the Red Velvet Cupcakes, there are no artificial colorings. (Once she finds a way to make red velvet cupcakes look red naturally, she says she’ll eliminate the food coloring there too).
I first tried the Lemon Zest Cupcake and one bite told me that this was something special. It tastes the like the best lemonade you’ve ever had and even has a sugared slice of lemon gracing the top.
Next came the Carrot Cake Cupcake with mascarpone frosting. This is Francine’s husband’s favorite, and it’s no mystery why. The cake is oh-so-fresh and, thankfully, not oily like so many other carrot cakes made with less experienced hands. The spices are slightly different than you might expect but they really enhance the carrot cake flavor.
The Triple Threat is called that because it’s a marbled cake of chocolate and vanilla covered with whipped espresso frosting. A thread of caramel on top adds another touch so that the whole cupcake tastes like a delicious, creamy caramel macchiato.
The Peanut Butter Dream is just that – like the best dream about eating sweets you’ve ever had (it’s not just me that dreams about food, right?). Imagine a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup inside another Peanut Butter Cup and you’ve got an idea on what this cupcake is all about. That’s because Francine nestles a peanut butter cup inside a chocolate cupcake and tops it with whipped peanut butter frosting. Sweet B’s motto is “let us satisfy your sweet craving” and this cupcake definitely fulfills that promise.
If you’re a red velvet cake fan (and who isn’t?) then The Red Velvet Cupcake with cream cheese frosting is exactly what you’re looking for. This is southern comfort food at its best and I assure you it holds its own against any red velvet cake you might have had south of the Mason-Dixon line.
Sweet B isn’t just known for their cupcakes. They sell out of their cookies and cream puffs every weekend. Unfortunately there were no cookies to try but I did help myself to a cream puff. Full disclosure: I am usually not a big cream puff fan. Sure, if you give me one I’ll eat it but usually I find them too mushy and a bit cloying. But these cream puffs are rich – with just the right amount of sweetness – and are really, really good. Francine says, “A customer came by and told us that she had just come from Italy and these couldn’t possibly be as good as the ones there. She tried one anyway and ended up buying six more.” That pretty much says it all.
It’s Francine’s goal to get a storefront but for now you can find Sweet B at the Murrieta Farmer’s Market from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Sunday, in the northwest part of Village Walk Plaza off Village Walk Place and Kalmia Street.
If you friend Sweet B on Facebook, Francine will tell you what flavor cupcakes and creampuffs she’ll have on hand that weekend. You can also visit their website, pre-order anything on the menu, and pick it up the following weekend. They’ll even work out a custom flavor if you don’t see it listed. In addition Sweet B caters and offers free local delivery.