With names like Pucker-Up, Chocolate Ginger and White Wedding, it's hard to pass up the gourmet cupcakes baked and sold by Jennifer Roberts, whose business Mon Petit Cupcakes is one of the busiest spots at Thursday's on First & Third.
"These are the best cupcakes I have ever had," said customer Vicki Johnson.
Moist in texture and beautifully frosted, Roberts' cupcakes are not too sweet, and the balance of flavors is something very unique in a baked item, much less a cupcake.
Roberts, who runs her business out of Winona, has worked hard to present the best product she can.
"I use all local, sustainable sources, mostly organic," she says. Ingredients include flour from Bay State Milling, butter from Organic Valley Farms and Winona's own Watkins products.
The cupcakes are lways baked from scratch. Roberts brings about 900 cupcakes to Thursday's on First & Third. She bakes them in two sizes: regular and two-bite minis. Though she offers 28 different flavors, she brings seven of the most popular along with two specials, which she rotates from week to week. So far, Wedding White has been her biggest seller.
Ironically, Roberts' training is in dietetics and nutrition. She's initiated a Diabetes Education program at St. Elizabeth's hospital in Wabasha and has completed a Master's Degree in nutrition.
So how does her past tie in with the sweet present?
"I believe strongly in the French Paradox, which is basically just a small portion of something that is made with all the best ingredients — butter, cream, you name it. The French have that principle down, and that is one reason they are so fit," she said.
So how did this energetic mother of two get into baking?
"I have always been a baker, and in fact, at age 7, I entered a county fair in Illinois. I came in second with a whole grain oatmeal raisin cookie I had baked," Roberts said. "About four years ago, with young children, I decided I wanted to do something with baking. This was it."
It has grown into a very seemingly successful venture. In one week, she recently baked 1,700 cupcakes for special orders, another arm of her business.
When needed, Roberts calls upon her friend Ann Lynch, also from Winona, who helps with frosting the cupcakes. Otherwise, Roberts does all of the work and baking herself, though she gives a lot of credit to her husband for his support.
"(I) couldn't do it without him," she says.