If you have a pre-teen, odds are you’ve heard of The Cupcake Club, a book series written by 10-year-old Carrie Berk and her mom, New York Times bestselling author Sheryl Berk. It’s so popular, in fact, that Peace, Love and Cupcakes, the first book in the series, is being developed into a children’s musical at Vital Theatre in New York City for a Spring 2014 debut.
We spoke with Southampton resident and cupcake connoisseur Carrie Berk to find out more.
How did the idea for this series come about?
Four years ago, my teacher taught us about realistic fiction. I was really into Judy Moody books, and I would always write sequels to them. My teacher said, “You should write your own original characters, not someone else’s,” and the rest is history.
What is it about cupcakes that makes them so special, versus, say…cookies?
Cupcakes are little pieces of art! They have so many elements to them: the cake, the filling, the frosting, the piping technique, the decoration. A cookie is a cookie! You really can’t do much to it!
Can you tell us about some of your favorite cupcakes in the Hamptons?
I was really impressed with Tate’s. I love their cookies, but when I tried their cupcakes….wow! Very moist cake, very creamy frosting. I also liked Water Mill Cupcake a lot. We drove out to the store one weekend and I sampled so many flavors. I’ve also tried the Blue Duck cupcakes at Blue Duck Bakery—so cute!
What separates a bad cupcake from a great cupcake?
A bad cupcake is dry and flavorless and its frosting is way too sweet and whippy. A great cupcake is moist, bursting with flavor, has just the right balance of sweetness, and has a texture that enhances it. I’m also a fan of decorations—I like my cupcakes to leap off the bakery shelf!
Do you have a favorite cupcake recipe that you make at home?
We make a great butter cream frosting—we’ve really perfected it. You need the perfect balance of butter and sugar.
You’ve interviewed a number of famous bakers. Any who were particularly memorable? Anyone you’d love to meet?
I love Buddy Valastro, The Cake Boss. He just made my graduation cake from elementary school. I also love the sisters from DC Cupcakes and Sprinkles owner Candace Nelson. My very first interview was with Crumbs CEO and founder Jason Bauer. He is amazing. I just saw him last year at Super Saturday!
Your book Peace, Love and Cupcakes is about more than just cupcakes. It also tackles serious issues of bullying. Is that something inspired from personal experience?
A lot of the things I write about come from things I’ve seen. I also included issues like divorcing parents, juvenile diabetes and crushes in the other books in the series. I think it’s important and it helps kids understand they’re not alone.
How did the musical come about? Can you tell us a little bit about what we can expect?
My mom and I are huge Broadway buffs, so we’re so excited! Vital Theatre in New York City came to us and asked if they could do Peace, Love and Cupcakes as a musical. We said, “YES!!!!!”
Any cupcakes you’re dying to try that you haven’t tried yet?
I love trying cupcakes from all over the world. I’ve tried some from Rome, London, Paris, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Canada. I would really like to try Japanese or Chinese cupcakes—or Spanish ones. I’d like to know how other countries around the world make cupcakes.
What’s your all-time favorite cupcake?
Red Velvet and Salted Caramel.
You’ve done so much already. What do you want to be when you grow up?
I really want to be a New York Times bestselling author like my mom! Or maybe have my own show like Martha Stewart or Rachel Ray?
My dream, though, is to be a judge on Cupcake Wars.