Update: The Cupcake Corral is now The Cedar Ridge Cafe, with same wonderful cupcakes and a few extra treats on the menu.
Rarely is there a pastry that brings more joy to the soul than the perfect cupcake.
Even I, who often fails to enjoy in the delights of baked sweets, can appreciate the beauty, both visual and in taste, that can be experienced in a well made cupcake treat.
Imagine my delight in discovering the Cupcake Corral only two blocks away (oh dear) from my house in our beautiful Maplewood, NJ neighborhood.
Joe Ramaikas is a self-taught baker, and owns the cafe with his wife Felice. This former music industry career man taught himself to bake cupcakes, something he explains very matter-of-factly, “It’s something I liked to do, and I am just very good with the details – measuring and such – of baking.”
Almost like nothing. When in fact, I have talked to many celebrated chefs who would confess to avoiding a career in pastry at all cost because of the meticulousness it requires for perfection.
Lucky for me and my waist line, Cupcake Corral doesn’t just serve up cupcakes. Turns out I have hit the jack pot in finding one of the best local coffee shops in the area. Ramaikas will be the first to admit that coffee is very important to him and making sure he partners with some of the best purveyors around is something he always aims at.
I spent some time on a rainy morning sitting in this quaint coffee shop, surrounded by Western-decor, enjoying a really good café au lait and eating a tasty broccoli, bacon and cheese frittata – another house specialty. The space is warm and inviting, the kind of eatery that can convince a person to drop a few grand on a down payment for a house nearby just so they call this “their place”. As a New Yorker, you see, I understand the importance of bragging rights when it comes to neighborhood coffee shops.
And if you must have a cupcake when you visit (and really, you must) then I can direct you to my favorites so far:
The Charlie chocolate cupcake, topped with chocolate frosting and shredded coconut.
Yes, I know.
I’m not done.
You should also try the C+C (cookies and cream) vanilla or chocolate cupcake with a baked Oreo-style cookie topped with vanilla buttercream dipped in crushed cookies. Or maybe you might want to try their award-winning Jolene buttermilk cupcake, topped with buttercream frosting and blueberries.
If cupcakes are not what you are craving, then have some of their anzac flour-less cookies made using rolled oats and honey in their ingredients.
Needless to say, I have found “my place” and I welcome you to visit when you are around. Take a seat by the window, stay awhile, have a cup of coffee or tea (or two). Maybe even something to eat. You might find it can easily become your place too.
Cause good cupcakes have a way of doing that.
The Cedar Ridge Cafe- 410 Ridgewood Road, Maplewood, NJ 07040 Tel: 973-327-2286