I could have been Queen for a Day if I had been born in September, and the most popular kid in school if my mother were Josie Eriole. Eriole, owner/operator of Moxie Cupcake at 215 Main Street in New Paltz, is a Queen of Cupcakes and an Empress of Cool. A jazz singer with a knack for snacks, she started Moxie as a side business operating out of her certified home kitchen: Imagine chromatic scales bouncing off chrome appliances.
She struck a chord with cupcake-lovers, and within a year’s time had standing orders to supply cafés and coffeeshops in Kingston, New Paltz, Poughkeepsie and Rosendale, as well as private customers clamoring for special-event centerpieces. Moxie Cupcake sold out of 2,000 cupcakes in less than three hours at the Gardiner Cupcake Festival, and has 3,130 Facebook fans.
Why do Moxie’s frosting peaks tower above the competition? It starts with an essential excellence of ingredients: organic fair-trade chocolates; pure Madagascar bourbon vanilla beans; local fruits, vegetables, dairy and eggs. Everything – including a Nutellaesque chocolate/hazelnut filling – is made from scratch, sans preservatives or stabilizers. The cupcakes are never too-too-sweet, and taste like the flavors that they’re meant to convey.
In a nod to Eriole’s musical roots, cupcake names are culled from song titles and lyrics. My favorite is “School Days”: vanilla cake filled with jelly made from local berries, topped with a pouf of peanut butter frosting and an animal cracker. This riff on the lunchbox classic PB&J transports me back to grade school in a good way, salving those psychological wounds with buttercream. As a birthday bonus, animal crackers come in my astrological sign, which is not something that those smug Virgos can say.
Another excellent choice is “Apple Blossom,” a spice cake boasting chunks of Gala Red apples from Wright’s Farm in Gardiner. It’s topped with cinnamon buttercream and a brown-sugar drizzle. Of commensurate deliciousness is “Sunday Morning,” a French toast cupcake with maple syrup buttercream and organic bacon crumbles. When either of these is in the ovens, I’m sure that the smell overwhelmingly compels anyone in the nearby neighborhood to enter, purchase and consume.
The shop opened its doors on August 24, but celebrated its grand opening just last weekend. It’s a functional and fun space on the ground level of the back of the building, easily accessed from Route 299 but shielded from traffic. Alternating walls are magenta, chocolate buttercream and ganache. There are tables and comfy chairs in a side room, and a bar with stools opposing the front counter where cupcakes crowd tiered silver display trays. You can dine outside, or get your cupcakes packed to go in lunchbag-brown boxes. Flavors of the Day are posted on a chalkboard, beyond which lies a commercial kitchen filled with trays of cupcakes in various states of preparation being attended to by bakers.
You can also attend to your own: Moxie offers do-it-yourself cupcakes for those with a specific flavor combination in mind. Another innovation is an ever-changing Moxie Savory Special. The weekend of September 2, the special was a cupcake-sized sausage-and-pepper meat loaf, topped with garlic Yukon gold potato that resembled a plume of frosting, served with a local cherry tomato salad in apple cider/basil/garlic vinaigrette. You could follow it up with a cup of fair-trade coffee and “La Dolce Vita,” a yellow-cake cupcake with cannoli filling, crowned with chocolate whipped cream and an adorable homemade cannolo. It’s cupcakes all grown up.
Moxie Cupcake is open Wednesdays from noon to 4 p.m. and Thursdays through Sundays from noon to 6 p.m. For more information, call (845) 255-2253 or visit Facebook.com/MoxieCupcake.