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Old 10-24-2013, 08:41 PM
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Default Robicelli’s cupcakes meet-the-authors book signing at Casa Belvdere, Grymes Hill, SI

Bay Ridge cupcake crafters dish on parenthood, life and the professional food service business
Pamela Silvestri/Staten Island Advance By Pamela Silvestri/Staten Island Advance
on October 24, 2013 at 8:00 AM, updated October 24, 2013 at 8:28 AM

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Bay Ridge bakers Allison and Matt Robicelli have stories from the food industry to share. And, their first cookbook “Robicelli’s: A Love Story, with Cupcakes” (Viking, 2013) expresses their blossoming career in words (and expletives) among recipes along with candid discussions about parenthood in an era which they dub as “the Great Recession.”

The couple, parents of two small children, own a lauded wholesale cupcake company, Robicelli’s based in Bay Ridge. They closed their bricks-and-mortar business four years ago. But on the heels of their just-published book another brick-and-mortar store (yes, named Robicelli’s) soon opens at 9009 5th Ave.

Matt is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute, an endeavor pursued after 9/11 when he was injured on the job as an FDNY paramedic. Allison is a food humorist and blogger who comes from the restaurant business as a caterer, line cook and pastry chef. At 33, she considers herself a “street-smart girl from Brooklyn,” hence the salty language sprinkled in the cookbook’s dialogue.

“If it wasn’t for curse words and grandiose hand gestures, I don’t know if Brooklynites would even be able to communicate,” Allision quips in the book.

Part of marketing the 300-page tome includes signings on Staten Island, starting at Casa Belvedere on Grymes Hill tomorrow. “Staten Island’s awesome,” Allison enthused, adding, “I love the cultural scene here.” She included the borough in the book’s marketing as she believes that Bay Ridge residents and Staten Islanders are similar. She and Matt are fourth generation Italian-Americans muddling through some hectic times and a rough economy, circumstances with which others in the borough may identify.

“It’s the story of trying to make it in the Great Recession with kids...and a business,” said Mrs. Robicelli in a recent phone call.

“We’re trying to find that perfect balance,” she said.

“We have all these people on TV, like The Cake Boss.... people think it’s a cake walk,” said Allison. “Knock on wood we’ve made it. We’ve sacrificed a lot to get here.”

The book was released last week but has already received accolades from local bloggers and received a review prior to publication from Publisher’s Weekly, a trade paper.

“Most importantly, my father has read all the way up to page 54 after 4 weeks of having a copy and declared it ‘pretty good,’” joked Allison.

Her advice to budding chefs is, “If you like baking, work in a bakery. If you want headaches, own the bakery.”

And, on the upside, she noted, “If you really love it, you work really hard, it will pay off.”

The menu tasting

Here is a list of the cupcakes Allison and Matt Robicelli will sample at Casa Belvedere — 79 Howard Ave., Grymes Hill; 718-273-7660 — from their first book, “Robicelli’s: A Love Story with Cupcakes.” The tasting is available by reservation through Casa, an Italian cultural center, for $50 per guest. The cost includes cupcakes, hors d’oeuvres, wine and an opportunity to have a cookbook (available for sale) signed by the authors.

The Laurenzano

A presentation fresh fig cake topped with goat cheese buttercream, crispy prosciutto and fig-balsamic gastrique


Bea Arthur

A black coffee chocolate cake with cheesecake buttercream and espresso ganache 


Apple Maple Crisp

Fresh apple cake with vanilla buttercream, roasted apple butter, oat crisp and maple syrup


(Makes 1 dozen)

2 cups of peeled, shredded, drained, and pressed apples (about 2 large cooking apples)

1 cup granulated sugar

¾ cup brown sugar

1/3 cup grade B maple syrup

1 cup canola oil

4 large eggs plus 1 large egg white, lightly beaten

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, sifted, plus extra if needed

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Buttercream (see accompanying recipe)

Maple Oat Crisp (see accompanying recipe)

Grade A Maple Syrup to finish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with 12 baking cups.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the apples, granulated sugar, and brown sugar and mix on medium-low until well combined, about 1 minute. With the mixer running, slowly pour in the maple syrup, canola oil, and eggs. Continue mixing until combined. Stop the mixer, remove the bowl and paddle, and use the paddle to scrape the insides of the bowl, making sure everything is fully incorporated.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg, and add to the batter. Mix on medium until just combined, 10 to 20 seconds. Remove the bowl and paddle from the mixer and use the paddle to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, ensuring that everything is well mixed.

Scoop the batter into the prepared baking cups, filling them three-quarters of the way. Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. The cupcakes are done when the centers spring back when you touch them.

Remove the cupcakes from the oven and let to cool completely while you make the oat crisp and buttercream.

Use a pastry bag to pipe buttercream on top of the cupcakes. Top each cupcake with Maple Oat Crisp and a drizzle of Grade A maple syrup.


(Makes about 3 cups)

3 sticks unsalted butter

2 cups 10X powdered sugar

8 ounces mascarpone cheese

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup heavy cream

Throw everything that isn’t sugar into the bowl. Beat the heck out of that stuff. When that stuff’s fluffy, start adding your sugar a 1/4 cup at a time, eating a bit in between. Do it on low to keep the sugar from flying out of the bowl and getting on your primo duds. Add vanilla and whip.

Whip some cream in bit by bit until it’s spreadable.


6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter, softened

1½ cups quick-cooking oats

¾ cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ cup grade B maple syrup

½ cup all-purpose flour

Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. In the mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, oats, brown sugar, and salt on high speed until well mixed. Drizzle in the maple syrup. Turn the mixer to low and add the flour, a bit at a time, until the mixture is crumbly.

Crumble the oat crisp loosely across the baking sheet, letting the mixture fall through your finger in small clumps. Bake for 5 minutes, remove the pan, stir the crisp to redistribute, then bake for another 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool completely before using.


(Makes about 5 cups)

3 pounds cooking apples

1 cup apple cider

1 cup granulated sugar

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup grade B maple syrup

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 vanilla bean, split

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground cardamom

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Peel, core, and finely chop the apples, reserving any juices that come out of them. Place in the slow-cooker pot with the apple cider, granulated sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, lemon juice, salt, vanilla bean, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and nutmeg. Set to low for 9 hours. If you want to do this before you go to bed, that would be smart — you’ll be using your time wisely, and wake up to a house that smells amazing.

Remove the lid of the pot, give the mixture a good stir, then set to high and continue to cook for another 3 hours to allow the excess moisture to evaporate and the flavors to concentrate. If for any reason the apple butter gets too thick, add more apple cider, ¼ cup at a time, until the desired consistency is reached.

Fish out the vanilla bean. Transfer the apple butter to a food processor and blend until smooth. If you don’t have a food processor, you can use an immersion blender, or just leave the butter slightly chunky. It’s not really “butter” that way, but it is still delicious.

— Adapted from a recipe by Allison and Matt Robicelli “Robicelli’s: A love story, with cupcakes” (Viking: 2013)
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