Flavors prevail for Raleigh's Sweetheart Treats cupcake shop

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FIVE QUESTIONS WITH ... 

By Jennifer Primrose

In this edition of Five Questions With ... we reached out to Mary Hinton, owner of Sweetheart Treats, located in the Falls River Shopping Center in north Raleigh. Soon to be celebrating 1-year in April, we first met at a wine and cupcake pairing at neighboring business, Uncorked Wine & Coffee Café, for a Valentine’s Day tasting prior to opening at this location. 

This family business is a full service bakery making and selling treats such as brownies, cake push pops, Rice Krispy Treats – but most known for its cupcakes, including a line of gluten free and vegan cupcakes. They are also known for the "Drunken Cupcake" which are made with wine, champagne and high-end spirits. We recently caught up with Mary to learn a little more about her and what inspired Sweetheart Treats to become what it is today.

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What made you decide to open up a store and sell cupcakes for a living? What were you doing prior to baking treats? 

I was ready for a professional change. After working in senior-level management for someone else my entire career, I decided to bid on myself and became an entrepreneur. My mom had the vision for the cupcake business. So it was a natural decision because who doesn’t love cupcakes?

I wanted to create happiness for people and I believe that is what I am doing.

Culinary is a form of art. Tell us how you create life into your works of art that others enjoy. What's your inspiration with creating the cakes and coming up with different and unique flavors? 

I like to have fun with my treats. I think it is extremely important for people to connect with desserts. Something becomes your favorite, because it speaks to all the things you love. So, I like to ask a lot of questions when working with a client and that way I’m able to bring something to life that I know they’ll love. It’s like baking for your friends at that point! I may get a special request for something and in working with a client may come up with something new that I can then add to the menu. I also get inspiration from friends and family. This is one of the reasons all of my cupcakes have names. They are created based on someone I've met. 

Speaking of flavors … how many different cupcake flavors have you come up with? From the icing to the batter itself, what is your favorite? What is your most popular cupcakes? 

I’m not sure of the exact number at this point, but I have over 180 flavors. My favorite is The Alice – a sweet potato cupcake. I love this cupcake because it is named after my grandmother and it reminds me of her amazing sweet potato pies she always bakes for me. My most popular cupcake is The April – triple chocolate. To this day, I have sold over 2,000 of these cupcakes.

Some of our other popular cupcakes are The Mark – Oreo, The Mel – honeybun, The Louis – banana pudding, The Speedy – orange crème, The Lavern – funnel cake, and The Donald – maple bacon.

Related Story: Raleigh candy makers win Good Food Awards

You came up with what is known as the “drunken cupcake.” How did you come up with this concept? And tell us about some of the drunken cupcakes you’ve created in the past … and is there anything new we can look forward to? 

It’s a play off the traditional holiday cakes that have rum or some other kind of cognac. People have been cooking with alcohol forever, but I have taken that concept and paired my recipes with liquor and liqueurs that accentuate the flavors. One of the more popular of the drunken cupcake is The Vanessa – Champagne, The Jeezy – margarita, and The Patrick – Irish car bomb cupcakes. I have a couple of ideas for new cupcake flavors, but I can’t give away all my secrets! I must give my customers something to look forward to! Just know that Valentine’s Day is coming up as well as our 1-year anniversary on April 28, and a cupcake happy hour. So we will have some great things in store in the next couple of months.

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Now that you have a storefront location in the Falls River Shopping Center what are the future plans for Sweetheart Treats? What can we look forward to in 2018 so we can all get our sugar fix? 

We are just getting started! I love having an actual store where I can interact with my customers and see the effect Sweetheart Treats has on their day, but we want to be able to spread our joy nationwide. An expansion is in our future along with online sales and new partnerships! You can look forward to getting your sugar fix in more places than one!

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Keep up-to-date with Sweetheart Treats by visiting their web page at www.sweethearttreatsnc.com or follow along on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/sweethearttreatsnc/

If you or someone you know would like to be featured in a monthly Five Questions With, please send an email to  trianglearoundtown@gmail.com.