Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Dining

Tampa bakery celebrates Valentine's Day with reality-check cupcakes

First there was a bad break up. Then there was the long-distance relationship. Anne Vela, co-owner of Tampa's Cafe Hey, had lots of inspiration for her Anti-Valentine's Cupcakes.

She's added to the lineup every year for the past four. Available at the cafe for $4 for four and $10 for 10 cupcakes, these confections fit the bill for lonely-hearts parties or just a bittersweet consolation if Cupid's arrow hasn't found purchase this year. Orders for anti-Valentine's treats are being taken now, and even for bittersweet sentiment, it's best to call soon.

Yes, there's the Long Distance Relationship (delicate and bittersweet pink grapefruit glaze and black tea cake) and the It's Not You, It's Me (corn cake with banana fondant), but she's added ones like the I Am Soooo Happy for You! (with bitter melon and aloe, it's white on white cake with pearl and sparkly sprinkles), which, she says, "A lot of girls get really into. It's supposed to look like wedding cake, but it's really bitter."

Vela says the spicy ones go over well. There's the Hurts so Good (cinnamon and red chili chocolate cake with chocolate cinnamon ganache) and the Burning Sensation (Sriracha chocolate cake and sichuan pepper chocolate sesame frosting).

"There are two guys every year who come in and get the Burning Sensation for their friends," says Vela, adding that an anti-Valentine's cupcake called Broke and Alone at 2:30 Saturday Morning (malt cupcake with raspberry icing) brought some unexpected notoriety. A nod to tall cans of Joose 12 percent malt liquor made in fruity flavors, it caught the eye of Joose producers last year.

"It's an homage to the malt liquor you get from the corner store. They thought it was awesome. They even sent us a care package. It was funny for us."

The biggest seller has been the Eat Dirt, which she describes as a "chocolate fudge chocolate fudge fudge brownie with sour gummy worms," just about the definition of sweet revenge.

"This has been an opportunity for us to be creative around the shop. We came up with flavors that would go against this canned Hallmark celebration."

Cafe Hey is located at 1540 N Franklin St., Tampa. Orders can be placed by calling (813) 221-5150.

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