Mariana Cortez of Bunnie Cakes Talks Cupcake Wars, Vegan Baking, and Valentine's Day
Mariana Cortez started baking vegan sweets back in 2009 as a way to fulfill her son's dietary restrictions. At the time, she never imagined she'd be the first person to open a vegan bakery in Miami.
Courtesy Bunnie Cakes Vegan treats at Bunnie Cakes
Now, Bunnie Cakes is celebrating its one year anniversary -- just a few days shy of Valentine's Day. What better way to say "I love you" than with mini vegan cupcakes topped with edible hearts?
This Sunday, Cortez is offering prizes, mini cakes, and other wonderful activities. We recently spoke to Cortez, who was featured on Food Network's Cupcake Wars, about her appearance on the show, her bakery, and what guests can expect at her anniversary celebration.
Short Order: It's hard to believe it has been a year since Bunnie Cakes opened its storefront. What's the past year been like?
Mariana Cortez: Amazing and unbelievable. I'm so happy for all our achievements! We were featured on Food Network's Cupcake Wars, we were voted Miami New Times' best vegan bakery, and we tripled our sales projections for our first year. But more importantly, we gave vegan and gluten-free options to kids and people that didn't have any before. Finally, all my dreams came true and exceeded my own expectations.
Tell us about Cupcake Wars. How did that experience change you as a baker? What did you learn or what's the most important thing you walked away with?
I was so nervous! During the first round I made a corn-arugula cupcake and the batter came out wrong -- I put an extra cup of sugar. I realized that the cupcakes were not right when I had 10 minutes left on the clock. I started making a second batch and took them out of the oven with 1 minute left on the clock.
When we decorated them, the frosting melted, and it was a complete mess. Standing in front of the judges, I was shaking. I couldn't stand still, but luckily the cupcake and the flavor was a complete success! The judges were impressed and I was even more impressed. Hearing from top chefs that every single cupcake I made was beautiful and delicious was surreal. The whole filming was surreal. I stayed in L.A. for almost a week, and even though I missed my children every minute, the experience was unforgettable.
We heard you're going to have all the flavors you made on the show available at the party. Anything that you've never had before?
For the first time at the store we are going to have the Key lime pie/coconut pie cupcake. It has a graham cracker crust, key lime cake, and toasted coconut frosting. This is my favorite cupcake of all time -- the combination of flavors and textures are amazing and this will be the first time I'll be offering this cupcake to the public.
We'll also have our most popular guava cupcake (it's our top seller), as well as the surprising corn-arugula cupcake, which is contrary to what everyone expects. It's truly spectacular, delicious, and different!