Ava's Cupcakes in Rockaway Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes - out of this world. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Some of the selection available at Ava's Cupcakes. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
The treats I brought up from Ava's - introducing (L to R) Black Raspberry, Chocolate Salted Caramel, and Banana Guava. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Banana Guava cupcake = heaven Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
The Great Cupcake Quest –Ava’s Cupcakes…A “Must Visit” To The Cupcake Wars Winners In New Jersey
Saturday, March 24, 2012 • 1:11am
For those of you who have been longtime readers of The Alternative Press know that this column is about happenings all around New Jersey. I love to explore the Garden State, and report back to all of you these cool things. For those that are newer to it, I need to backtrack to help you catch up.
Part of my affinity with New Jersey venues has been a gastronomical quest.
And it all started very innocently…
Three years ago I happened to be reporting at an event in Summit, then take a run to the Paper Mill Playhouse for a show. In between, my friend Heather and I decided to grab some coffee at the Summit Diner (you can read an archive of the column here).
Now, first off, this little diner rocks. Anyone who knows me knows I love vintage, and this place is like stepping back in time, so it’s already got a thumbs up on my list.
On this particular day, both Heather and I were looking to grab something quickly before our trip to the Paper Mill, so I decided…what goes great with coffee…after reading the menu I quickly decided on cheesecake, which to me was a no-brainer.
I shortly ended up in cheesecake heaven enjoying one of the best slices I think I’ve ever had…and, I’ve enjoyed plenty of cheesecake in my life.
So that’s when the wheels started working, and I decided it would be fun once in a while to write about great places to have cheesecake…I coined those posts “The Great Cheesecake Quest”.
This was in May 2009 when I started posting about places in the area to savor some cheesecake…little did I realize I was on to something, when my column received a nod in an article about TheAlternativePress.com in Minyanville (click here to read what is a trip down Memory Lane for me, especially in terms of how our publication has grown).
Three years later, I’ve taken a number of Cheesecake Quests, and other trips…but then I decided on something new.
With the cupcake craze sweeping everywhere (in fact, here I was at the ribbon cutting at Thorlabs yesterday, and what was the highlight and centerpiece on the dessert table? Why cupcakes of course!), I thought it would be another great quest I could embark on, and start letting you all know where the best cupcakes are at.
Most of my posts (click here to read my column archive) focus on the Essex, Union, and Morris County areas. Naturally, our reading area has grown, with our new Newton area, so I will be exploring places here, there, and in between.
The last stop on my Great Cupcake Quest was in between…
I had read about Ava’s Cupcakes when one of my friends posted an article on Facebook about them. After reading I knew I just had to try.
All I will say is, I have tried a lot of cupcakes in my day, and, Ava’s Cupcakes are, hands down, the best I’ve ever had…seriously…
I’ve not only traveled for cupcakes to different spots around New Jersey, but, discovered my first “gourmet” cupcakes in Beverly Hills with my brother and his girlfriend at Sprinkles. Both of them love Sprinkles. It has the typical celebrity pull, Jessica Simpson apparently used to grab cupcakes there. Also to me, it had the pretentious attitude. “Close the door please,” an employee there kept grumpily reminding everyone. They claimed the L.A. heat would make the cupcakes melt…to me that’s scary in itself when people were whipping out the plastic for a half dozen cakes that they may not survive on a trip out the door…sorry they ought to send you home with a small portable fan for that price...
At Ava’s Cupcakes it was quaint, cute, and friendly…I liked the place the minute I walked in the door. You will too…for a preview of it, check out their audition tape for Cupcake Wars by clicking here…these folks are winners even outside of having unbelievable cupcakes…love their fun, and contagious spirits and energy.
Their story is a success story in the making, when the owner, a stay-at-home mom of 8 years, decided to start selling cupcakes to earn extra cash in the down economy. Within months, she was able to open up her retail store. It was named Ava’s Cupcakes because her then three-year-old daughter, Ava, spent time with her during each baking session in her kitchen, and, hence the name.
Ava’s Cupcakes is located in the heart of Downtown Rockaway, and obviously very popular with the locals there. I had walked in a few minutes before closing (8pm) on a Friday night, and, it was still busy.
I had read in the article about the Chocolate Salted Caramel cupcake, which is what I had planned to get that day. To me, that sounded decadent enough. Reading their website though, they have the most unique flavors: Rootbeer Float, Orange Creamsicle, Hot Apple Pie…OK, is your mouth watering yet?
After picking my Chocolate Salted Caramel, I opted for a Black Raspberry Cupcake that was on the menu for the day (click here to check out their Facebook page, they will post their daily selections there)…and I was also tempted to pickup Banana Guava, which apparently was one of the cupcakes that snagged them their Cupcake Wars victory.
What I thought was unique about the cupcakes, was..well, their uniqueness.
It’s not just the same cookie cutter (yes, guess I’m into baking analogies, which is apropos considering the topic) style of cupcake with the same generic swirly icing. Each cupcake has its own individual style, which I liked. So, for example, the style of the cupcakes that I bought were different in terms of cake batter, topping icing, and, even the shape of the swirl on the top of the cake. BOOM! One of the zillions of reasons why Ava's Cupcakes = Cupcake Wars winners.
The night that I’d stopped there, I just wrapped up a chiropractor’s appointment, and a leisurely stop at Toys R Us, browsing for a birthday gift for my niece while chatting with my sister on the phone. I didn’t eat any dinner in between, so this was a treat after a quick bite at home.
The first cupcake I attacked was the Chocolate Salted Caramel…it was so surprisingly amazing…first, the combination of salt and caramel was a treat…but even moreso was the caramel surprise in the middle of the cake. The cake by the way, was amazing too…out of this world chocolate spongy cake.
After number one, I was still hungry, so dove into number two…the black raspberry, which was also out of this world – another spongy cake with raspberry pieces, as well as a delectable raspberry icing.
OK, full, and didn’t want to overdo it, so enjoyed the Banana Guava the next morning as a breakfast treat…this one was amazing too – delicate banana taste in the icing, Guava filled in the middle of the cake…something like I’d never experienced before in terms of cupcakes.
If you are looking for a new cupcake adventure, I’d highly recommend a stop to Ava’s Cupcakes. In the meantime, I’ll be seeking out new adventures in New Jersey to share with you!
Check out Ava’s Cupcakes website then, definitely stop by there! Visit their website: http://www.avascupcakes.com/.
Jennifer Jean Miller is the Managing Editor, and CEO of The Alternative Press of Sussex County, a licensee of TheAlternativePress.com. She is a freelance reporter, photographer, and marketing consultant, and has worked with Straus News, LH! Weekly, and, The Alternative Press. Her adventures have led her all over various parts of New Jersey, and beyond, and, she enjoys sharing her travels, and interesting places to visit and experience, with her readers.
The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TheAlternativePress.com or anyone who works for TheAlternativePress.com. TheAlternativePress.com is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.