Entrepreneurial moms launch booming cupcake business

By Raquel Garcia….

Piping Gourmet partners Leslie Kaplan (left), her son Josh and partner Carolyn Shulevitz offer their unique cupcake recipe to shoppers at Whole Foods Market in the Village.

While sharing her signature chocolate and hazelnut frosted mini-cupcakes on sale at Pinecrest’s Whole Foods Market on a recent Saturday morning, an elated Leslie Kaplan gave the nation’s current economic doldrums as part of the reason for the successful lkaunch of her new business. “Recession is the grandfather of invention,” she said.

Kaplan started her frozen cupcake batter business with an old friend, top chef Carolyn Shulevitz, after recruiting her to help cater a dinner aboard a luxury yacht. The pair discovered that their cupcake batter could be frozen, yet retain its taste, batter volume and color. Today the entrepreneurial moms have launched rapidly expanding business called “Ready. Set. Cupcake!” In 17 Whole Foods Markets around Florida and in the Epicure Gourmet Market on Miami Beach.

“We started with a very high standard of quality,” said Shulevitz. “So it just happened to be healthier. We use non-hydrogenated palm oil in the butter cream, unbleached flour, everything is natural. There are no artificial ingredients or we would not be able to be on the shelves of Whole Foods.”

Shulevitz, a Florida International University graduate, says there is no similar product on the market.

“Once you defrost the ready-to-use frozen cake batter, you can cut the tip from its wrap and pipe it out,” she said. “Or cut along the dotted line, open up the wrap and add your own flavoring, like dulce leche, guava, hazelnut.”

A Culinary Institute of America graduate, Shulevitz says moderation is the key when indulging in sweets.

“Everything in moderation as long as it is clean sugar with no artificial processing,” she said. “It is the stabilizers that preserve the shelf lives of products and chemically change the food, thereby making it harder for your body to process. The more raw the sugar, the easier it is for your body to process. Our ingredients are all natural.”

Kaplan’s hospitality industry experience and Shulevitz’s years of experience with her own catering business have evolved into a complimentary partnership.

“Between the two of us, we have worked the front and back of the house so we understand the dynamics of the business,” said Kaplan. “And we have been friends since our kids were babies.”

Although “Ready. Set. Cupcake!” has only been on the market for a few weeks, the entrepreneurs seem to be off to a running start judging by the enthusiastic reactions of shoppers.

“Since we got started with our display table here at Whole Foods, the response has been very positive,” said Shulevitz. “By the time we leave, we usually hear the cashiers talking about our product. And the customers tell us they really like the frozen batter concept. Initially they think it is a mix and then they find out it is a pre-made batter and they are just amazed. It makes the cupcake making process so much easier.”

For more information, go to <www.readysetcupcake.com> or call 305- 532-6776.

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