Saturday, August 28, 2010

About Cupcakes After Dark

At a ripe young age, the owner and operator of Cupcakes After Dark knew she was destined for something great. She had her first stint with cupcakes at the age of 6 and recalls the experience fondly. It was nearly Christmas and she begged her mom for a chance to bake with a few childhood friends. "I was like the mad hatter hosting a UN-birthday," she explains. "Madly in love with the idea of creating such a sweet and delicious treat, I couldn't have been further from UN-happy!" Little did she know, her future would be just as sweet.

"I owe much of my creativity to my mother. As a child, she bought me every art project, coloring book and crayon that she could get her hands on," she recalls. "In high school, I qualified for Honor's Art because of her influence."

In the year 2000, Gricel Mendoza Chavez discovered fondant, a dough-like frosting made of sugar, gelatin and a few other ingredients. It was then that she would never look back. "My cousin's birthday was around the corner and she was into Bratz dolls at the time. My aunt asked if I would make her the cake, so I happily agreed." She decided to give fondant a try, but this initial experience rendered far from expert results. The fondant wrinkled as she attempted to color it with liquid food coloring - a big no-no! She couldn't figure out how to smooth it out, so bumps pertruded from underneath it. To make a long story short, the kids loved it, but she knew there was more to learn.

"My husband inspired me to pursue baking and decorating as a hobby in 2005," she says. A natural artist, Gricel does not have formal training, but is blessed with the ability to make art of food. She has been perfecting her craft most of her life, but more intensely within the past 5 years. "Now," she says, "it's time to open Cupcakes After Dark."

What's in name?

Cupcakes After Dark is a reflection of how Gricel's journey will begin. A full-time Special Events Director, she has only after dark hours and weekends to create her custom cake and cupcake masterpieces. When asked how she will balance a full-time job and a cupcake business, she replied, "if you have a passion for something, then anything is possible!" Opening soon, it is almost time for this Cupcakes After Dark owner to begin living her childhood dream.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Gimme S'More

lot has happened these past couple of days. I have taken everything I learned from last week's food safety training class and applied it to the license application. Soon after organizing a list of 'to-do's', my hubby and his two brothers installed a much needed handwashing sink. They had to run a series of piping from the main compartment sink. It didn't take them long to complete, but it sure was a lot of work. Meanwhile, I rearranged everything! It was so tough on my back and really consuming of my time, but hey it's for my business. What has to be done will be done.

Yesterday, my sister-in-law, Jessica, came by to help me put recipes to paper. Have you ever noticed that it's easier to automatically dial a phone number than recite it out loud from memory. That was me yesterday. Baking the recipe from memory sure is easier than jotting it down on a scrap piece of paper. Somehow she managed to read through multiple levels of chicken scratch and scribble. 5 hours she put in last night, plus another 6 today. That's committment.

I met with Las Cruces' most talented illustrator/artist this evening about logo design for CCAD. I couldn't let him leave without a taste. So, I baked a smore cupcake, complete with a graham cracker crust, chocolate cream cheese fudge, a hershey square, marshmallow and graham cracker on top! He asked for seconds. Is that a good sign? ;) His name is Jason Salas, creator of Perk At Work, an online comic. Check out his website sometime at It has a little something for everyone. We discussed the look that I'm going for, plus colors to incorporate and those to stay away from. This isn't going to be your typical cupcake logo. I'm excited to see it, tweak it, then present it to future Cupcakes After Dark eaters!

Thanks for reading - I'll see you after dark,


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Food Safety Training? Check.

I'm one step closer to starting this business.

Today, I took a food safety training course at the New Mexico Environment Department. A charming gal by the name of Marci taught the course; also an inspector from what I understand. I wasn't bored the entire time. Now, I don't know if that stemmed from my excitement or genuine interest; probably both. We were shown examples of 'no no's' from other restaurants and some of the mistakes were just so silly. The photos reminded me of the occassional email forward that shows all these dumb things not to do. I guess we can all learn from each others mistakes!

It's amazing how many "aha" moments you can have in a 3 hour session. I learned about biological, chemical, and physical hazards that can occur in food processing, but most importantly, I now know how to avoid them. I also have a new working knowledge of bacterias, how they grow, where, what risk factors increase growth and so on.

Have you ever felt like you had food poisoning? Did you blame it on the last thing you ate? Most people do. Food poisoning can actually take up to 5 days to surface! Some viruses, like Hepatitis A, may not make even make you sick for 10 to....50 days! Wow.

So, what's next for this hobby decorator turned soon to be business owner? Well, I need a plumber. There are some modifications that must be done to my 2-compartment sink followed by the addition of a hand-washing only sink, work which appears to require cutting my living room wall open! Shoot.

Then, I can submit the application and be one step closer to becoming your go-to cupcake dealer!
I have opportunities coming up for some of you lucky ducks to try my recipes before anyone else, so stay tuned.

See you after dark ~

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Cherry recipe makes the cut

On Wednesday night, my husband and I headed to Roswell for a business trip. Not a cupcake business trip, but one for my "8-5". I have an aunt and uncle who live up there, so we bunked with them for the night.

Soon after we arrived, they took us on a quick tour of the town...quick because it's really small ;)

Anyway, Norma & Toby, my aunt and uncle, plus cousins Neira and Mimi took us to one of the gas stations that they own, which is probably the cleanest in town! I was amazed at how much variety they had. Everything you could think of, plus the best burrito's from NM Burrito Company. I remember Toby showing us these "Pickle pops" and I couldn't help but laugh. It's basically a pickle lollipop, but soaked in pickle juice - YUCK. He said, "they're not selling." Would you buy one?

So, I got my work done early Thursday morning, then we all visited the UFO museum. It was worth the $5. If you really want to learn about the events that occured in that Roswell field in 1946 you have to stay in the museum for quite some time. The museum consists of a bunch of testimonials, newspaper clippings and other framed pieces that give you the 'facts' as they know them and allows you to make up your mind. Then at the end, you're greeted by props from one of the movies based on the crash. I can't remember the name of the movie. Oh, and the cutesy little gift shop that is typical of a museum, it was very underpriced. I purchased a 36" plastic alien for $3.50. It was a souvenir for my brother. He got it tonight, by the way, and was totally enthralled with it.

What does this have to do with cupcakes? I know...getting there I promise.

As we made the 3 hour drive back to Las Cruces, my husband and I decided to visit the shops in Ruidoso for a bit. We grabbed a pizza, some sweets, and a butter pecan ice cream for me. On the road again. Last stop - Tularosa, Eagle Ranch, where the Dugger's went. My husband was on a mission to get a big bag of pistachios for my father-in-law. He got them, along with a box of baklava, a bottle of red wine, the cutest cupcake necklace ever, a bottle of green chile spices, and a bottle of cherry cider from Carizozo, NM.

One sip was all it took! I couldn't wait to put some of that delicious cherry cider in an after dark cupcake. I created a recipe this evening to incorporate not only the cherry cider, but chunks of cherries inside the batter. My parents and my brother came by while I was testing this new recipe that I had just dreamed up. In the middle of all the talking, I forgot to add the flour! So, the first batch was completely ruined, but the next produced the best looking and tasting little cherry cupcake. It's so moist and the cherry chucks just burst of flavor in your mouth. Can you just smell the aroma? This is definitely going to be an after dark recipe.

So, I need your help. What should I name this cupcake?
I'd love to hear your feedback. If your suggestion is chosen, I will not only post your photo on my blog, but when I start my business, you will get a dozen of these 'to be named' delights free of charge :) Email me:

See you after dark - goodnight!

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Family Affair

This is a photo of the cake and cupcakes that were made for Jeff & Veronica's baby shower (Justin's brother and our sister-in-law). Chocolate, italian cream, & red velvet cupcakes were topped with different color variations of buttercream and dusted with edible glitter. Decorative circles were cut from fondant, painted, then piped with letters and set atop some of the cupcakes. 

Every event in the Chavez family is a big one! We go "all out" as they say. This time was no different. We baked over 200 mini and regular sized cupcakes, plus I created a mini replica of the monkey that was featured on the invitations.

It was a true labor of love. Jessica Chavez, Veronica Chavez, myself, Elena Wood, and my mom all pitched in to create this spectacular set-up. Jessica's boyfriend and my husband even got stuck with dish duty sometime around 3am. That's right, our heads didn't meet a pillow until 4! Whew. 

That's what family is for. :)


To Blog or Not to Blog?

That WAS the question...
And here we are, you and I, this first post, and many creative conversations to come. From business news to recipes and decorating ideas, I hope to create a landing spot for you to interact on. Lets be friends...