Reality Bites, but Cupcakes Are Sweet. Sounds like a wise proverb, but truthfully I just made it up to illustrate the fantastic sweetness with a humorous edge (see trompe l'oeil "pancake" cupcake, above) that goes on in the kitchen (which is then documented on the web) of Ashley Foxen, proprietress of Reality Bites Cupcakes. This sweet blog and small baking business is based in NYC, where Miss Foxen focuses on making the big apple just a little sweeter each day.
Recently, we decided to learn a bit more about each other by conducting some e-mail interviews. Here is the link to her corresponding interview with me; and now, here are the scintillating questions I asked her, punctuated with images of her sweet cupcake creations:
First things first. Who-what-where-when-why?
Who: Ashley Foxen
What: Reality Bites Cupcakes
When: Est. September 2012
Why: I found my artsy self in the corporate world, desperately trying to find a way to fulfill my creative needs while working a full time job. For fun, I began baking for coworkers' birthdays, and it all snow balled from there! I hadn't even thought of defining myself as a "food artist" until reading CakeSpy, but I think it's perfect. I have found a way to combine my art background with my deep desire to make people happy.
How: That is a wonderful question! I work out of my apartment, which you may realize cannot be all that big in NYC. But, I have found a way to make it work by both maximizing the use of the space I have (from the counters to the windowsills) and traveling to my family's home in the suburbs for bigger, more complicated projects. Which leads me to mention my sister and mother who have been incredible helps in this whole process. They are the brains and brawn of Reality Bites.
What (in your opinion) is the finest trompe l'oeil cupcake you've ever made, and why? Hands down, it is the "bagel" cupcakes. They are an original idea, inspired by a food New York does best. These cupcakes even fool me, as I tend to crave the doughy goodness of a real bagel, when seconds earlier I was ready for dessert! They tease the taste buds more so than any other cupcake I have made.
Tell me about a life changing cupcake you've eaten. Oddly enough, I don't think it was a cupcake, but an entire chocolate cake. It was my first birthday, and instead of having to share it with everyone, my mother put the whole cake in front of me. It was a yellow cake with chocolate frosting- plain and simple- and it was all mine. I have never looked so happy as I do in the photos from that day. There is cake everywhere, particularly all over my face, hands and in my hair, but the smile on my face is priceless. How can anything top that? Clearly, I found joy in baked goods at a very young age.
If you went back 200 years in time, how would you describe the modern-day cupcake craze to our forefathers? This is a tough one. How do you explain to anyone of that time that people wait in line for hours for baked goods? I guess I would explain that the cupcake craze has caused wars in the future- go with a topic they may be familiar with. Claiming one's cupcake territory is important, and while no one has died, Cupcake Wars gets pretty intense!
What are the biggest differences between the baked goods of NYC and Paris, another place you've lived? I studied abroad in Paris and made a valiant attempt to eat my way through the City of Light. From macaroons (which NYC has since imported) to chocolate croissants, to a crepe with Nutella, I taste tested everything- a few times. There is something about the baked goods of Paris that makes them unlike those anywhere else. Everything tastes so fresh that it somehow becomes guilt free (or so I told myself). Maybe it is because things don't appear to be as mass produced there, but the treats of Paris all feel as if they are made just for you- particularly the crepe vendors on every other street that make them in front of you.
What is your biggest dessert dream? A cup of frozen yogurt that does not melt, refills itself, and cannot give me brain freeze.