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A bakery is about to open, and taste buds are already tingling.
Published Jul. 9, 2010

In recent years, companies have opened in Hernando County to sell all sorts of things.

Ship interiors. Auto parts. Computers.

But when times are tough, sometimes the best move is to start small. And sweet.

Like Kahlua mousse cupcakes with chocolate whipped cream frosting.

At least that's the hope of the owner of Cupcake Heaven, which will open later this month in the Timber Pines Centre on U.S. 19.

Owner Denise Cornelius and her assistant manager, Diane Falco, have perfected recipes for red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, key lime cupcakes, and feathery fudge cupcakes with chocolate pudding centers.

They have dozens of recipes and a customer base eager to indulge.

On a recent morning, while they sampled recipes to find the best vanilla cupcake, a woman stopped by on her way to the hair salon.

She was hoping to bring a few sweet treats.

"It's exciting," Cornelius said. "All day long people stop in and say, 'I can't wait for you to open.'"

Cornelius, 50, has been baking as far back as she can remember.

"As a kid, my favorite toy was my Easy-Bake oven," she said. "I loved the little cakes they used to make."

Originally from Michigan, Cornelius moved from San Diego to the Tampa Bay area in 2005. She has two daughters, one in high school and one just starting out in college. Over the years, she has owned a day care and worked in various restaurants, most recently at Carrabba's Italian Grill, where she met Falco.

Cornelius has always loved cupcakes. As stores specializing in cupcakes became popular nationwide, she began experimenting with recipes of her own. She had always dreamed of owning a shop, and the idea of Cupcake Heaven was born.

At first the shop will offer five different kinds of fresh-baked cupcakes each day, priced at $2.25 apiece. The shop will take special orders and plans to offer a delivery service as well. The menu includes ice cream cupcakes and low-sugar options.

Ice cream cupcakes are made of a layer of cake, a layer of Blue Bell Ice Cream and whipped cream frosting on top.

"At the end of the day, I want you to say, 'That was a really good cupcake,'" said Cornelius.

Cupcake Heaven will have a small seating area and also serve coffee and other beverages. The shop will offer rewards cards and special programs for schools and classrooms, including discounted cupcakes for classroom birthdays.

While cupcake specialty shops are generally popular in metropolitan areas, Cornelius isn't worried. "We all still like our sweets wherever we are," she said.

Shary Lyssy Marshall can be reached at