Cupcake break

Cupcakes exploded as the new foodie trend in major cities years ago, but - as trends are often wont to do - only filtered into Syracuse more recently. Which is fine by Manlius baker Jen Comfort, who revels in the chance to be the first to do something. And in this case, that means stocking a shiny steel cart with cupcakes and taking her sweets to the streets in the Syracuse area's first cupcake cart.

By about 9:30 last Monday morning, the day's menu went up on the Nonpareils Boutique Bakery Facebook page: plain, chocolate with chocolate buttercream and ganache, chocolate peanut butter, and clementine with orange scented butter cream.

Three hours later, Comfort trucked her cart to debut in Eastwood Plaza on James Street and set up temporary shop just off the sidewalk.

Comfort has served high-end cakes and sweets from her Manlius bakery, Nonpareils, for about 10 years. In 2010, it was "time to grow up a little," she said, which included a name change for the shop (formerly She Takes the Cake), and a chance to try something different, incorporate social media and "bring the fun back" to the business.

"Cupcakes are an extension of what I already have been doing," Comfort said. But going mobile "was a way to branch out, get around and do something fun, new and exciting."

She'll continue taking and making custom cake, cupcake and cookie orders, she said, and the bakery showroom at 8195 Cazenovia Road in Manlius will be open from noon to 3 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays.

The Nonpareils Cupcake Cart will set up in Eastwood Plaza Mondays from 12:30 to 4 p.m., and at Manlius Farmer's Market on Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. - weather permitting and cash only. The day's flavor lineup will be posted on the Nonpareils Facebook page and Twitter account, @cnycupcakeccart. Customers should check Twitter for updates about sell-outs and in case weather causes her to pack up early, Comfort suggested.

She said she plans to expand the cart's regular locations as the season continues and that the cart is available for event rental, too.

And if you're tempted, but just can't allow yourself one of Comfort's mouth-watering single-serve treats, consider this: underneath the icing, a cupcake and muffin are pretty much the same thing.

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