Sweet success for Elgin woman
CUTLINE: Jill Pfister of Elgin is pictured as she adds icing to her mocha-flavored cupcakes before topping each with a chocolate-covered coffee bean. The baker's rack in the background is a new addition to her workspace and allows for much more space for creating at her dining table. (submitted photo)
Sweet success for Elgin woman
While mouth-watering cupcakes in the flavors of candy bars and cookies are all the rage these days, some people don't know an Elgin woman has been baking the yummy mini cakes for a growing list of customers the past six months.
Hush, Hush Cupcakes grew from Jill Pfister's love for baking and being creative in the kitchen. After creating a group using social media, Pfister decided on three flavors, put out a post regarding the day they would be available for pickup, and began taking orders. She markets her product once a month with pickup available at her home in Elgin, on Saturday.
In September, flavors offered were Mocha, (dark chocolate cupcake covered in a coffee flavored buttercream topped with a chocolate-covered coffee bean), Salted Nut Roll, and Caramel Apple. In August, the varieties were Snicker's, Monster Cookie and White Wedding.
In six months, Jill has yet to repeat a flavor, possibly to the chagrin of customers whose taste buds were captivated by the Maple Bacon, Snickers or other flavors that got rave reviews. One month, Pfister had orders for 300 cupcakes.
"I think I surprised people with the Maple Bacon," she said. And, yes, the cupcake frosting really was topped with a bit of REAL bacon.
Jill explained that breakfast is a favorite meal in her family. While her Grandpa Pfister (Bill Sr.) was known for his pancakes topped with homemade applesauce, it was Grandma Mary who dished up comfort and goodness in biscuits and gravy.
Pfister, 30, said that by age 13, she was doing most of the cooking for her family. She added that her dad, Bill, did the grilling and breakfast meals, but otherwise, Jill was given free rein to try out recipes.
After graduation from Valley High School, Jill earned a degree in culinary arts at Kirkwood Community College. She also holds a baker's certificate. During her internship, she baked a lot of wedding cakes and kept crazy hours achieving the perfect cakes.
While she enjoys baking a great deal, the hours required (sometimes into the late night or early hours of the morning when it's a wedding being prepared for) aren't conducive to raising her 6-year-old son, Jake, as a single parent, she explained.
The next best thing?
Jill works as an inside sales associate at Martin Bros. in West Union and does her cupcake baking once a month.
Pfister has worked at Martin Bros., a food and food supply distributor the past six years. As an avid Iowa Hawkeye fan, she particularly appreciates her role as personal inside salesperson for the University of Iowa. Jill laughed when she explained it's not uncommon for other sales associates to refer clients with no clue as to how much food they'll need for a large event.
Because she typically spends eight hours baking, decorating and packaging the cupcakes – after an eight-hour day at her other job, the once-a-month offering suits her well for now.
Yet, as the long days of summer wane into the cooler, shorter days of fall, Pfister said she's considering adding "Soup to Go," to her fare.
Admitting to being a bit of a soup snob, she can relate to the “Soup Nazi” of “Seinfeld” fame when it comes to flavor.
"My chicken noodle soup always starts with a whole chicken,” she explained.
And Pfister's care to use whole foods in preparation of recipes has rubbed off on her young son.
"I like to have Jake in the kitchen as much as I can," she admitted with a nod in his direction. "He loves to help with cutting out the biscuits," noting that it's not unusual for him to comment while she's cooking.
"Did you remember to put in the onions? Did you add the flour?" he'll ask, knowing what seasonings and ingredients are used for specific dishes.
Jill and Jake also tended a good-sized garden this year, growing vegetables, herbs and other items needed in the process of canning foods for winter.
Like her other foods, Pfister's cupcakes are made completely from scratch. To add her own spin, she enjoys experimenting with different textures, such as adding apples to the spice cake flavor of the Caramel Apple cupcake offered in September. In October, the three new varieties will be Pumpkin Pecan, Chocolate/Orange, and Chunky Monkey.
Anyone wishing to order Hush, Hush Cupcakes can join the group on Facebook, where Jill posts information several weeks prior to the day she'll offer her creative baked delights. Or, you can email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.