by Anne Pyburn Craig | photos by Roy Gumpel
Lucky you if you happen to wind up at the same gas station as Josie Eriole when she’s on her way home from work. The Moxie Cupcake maven has been known to pass out her leftovers to random strangers for the sheer fun of it. “You’d think I gave them gold!” she says. “But it makes me just as happy. I often hear someone in the shop say, ‘Some lady gave me cupcakes while pumping gas, and I just had to come in and get more!’”
One taste of a Moxie Cupcake, and it’s over. Your daydreams will be consumed with a longing for cupcakes in unheard of flavors like Vanilla Sky and Apple Blossom. It’s easy to see how this dynamic, jazz-singing baker has landed on a fast track from “my kids like my baking” to this year’s Best Gold Standard Cupcake of the Hudson Valley in just a couple of short, eventful years.
It might have overwhelmed a person with less, uh, moxie. “In three months, I had 12 wholesale accounts and was averaging about 1,000 cupcakes a week from my certified home kitchen,” recalls Eriole of her rise to cupcake stardom. “I either had to quit or open a shop.”
Cupcake freaks from all over the Hudson Valley and beyond are ecstatic. Fine organic ingredients—fair-trade cocoa, pure Madagascar vanilla beans, rich European butter, local eggs and fruit—are whipped into a kaleidoscope of cupcake choices, pictures of which Eriole gleefully posts to the shop’s Facebook page for her 6,600 or so friends to drool over.
“I’m always trying new things,” says the self-described foodie. She even once made an edible rainforest cake complete with a candy waterfall and a bubbling brook of Pop Rocks. “I love visiting new shops and looking at everything from their products to their branding to the layout of their space. In our new location, we have a full espresso bar and offer a full line of hot and frozen coffee drinks and smoothies. We also offer some savory options in the form of tapas, paninis, and soups.”
Eriole’s passionate focus is still on the cupcakes, including red velvet cupcakes, maple bacon cupcakes, Guinness Stout cupcakes, vegan cupcakes, and gluten-free cupcakes, by popular demand. “It took me awhile to develop the recipe—I didn’t want just to plop something on the shelf without really loving it,” says Eriole of the gluten-free offerings. “But people have really responded well to them, and they often sell out.” Cookie sandwiches have also been a big hit.
It’s been a wild ride so far for Josie Eriole. Her father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer as her new career was just taking off. “It was stressful and horrendous,” she recalls. “And the business just continued to grow and grow. I was spending my days in a hospital room and my nights baking cupcakes. He passed away the day after we opened the shop.”
That was in August 2011, and the shop received its first “Best Of” award from Hudson Valley Magazine just a month later; it’s received one every year since. “I absolutely love to make people happy, and our cupcakes definitely make people happy,” says Eriole. “I also love the actual shop itself—both being in it and visiting with customers. When it’s hopping, I am most happy. Still, I chuckle a little inside when somebody says, ‘I wish I could just quit my job and bake cupcakes.’ You have no idea how hard this is unless you’ve run a retail bakery.”
“My business philosophy is to do what you love in a warm, friendly environment, be happy about it, and take care of your customers and your employees as best you possibly can at that moment,” says the region’s reigning cupcake goddess, who still finds the time for the occasional jazz-singing gig. “I strive every day to make every customer’s experience in the shop memorable and happy.” And delicious.
Be sure to visit High Falls Mercantile this holiday season, and let its sights and smells transport you as you enjoy the sumptuous blend of painstakingly chosen vintage pieces, fine new goods, and furniture classics designed to be passed down for generations.
For more information,
visit Moxie Cupcake
at 184 Main St, New Paltz;