If you happen to spot a small lavender truck in Reston or Tysons Corner, parked curbside midday, do yourself a favor: Stop and buy a cupcake. Or maybe two or three. You have just come across a newcomer to the mobile food trucks in Northern Virginia: SweetArt, baked for and driven by Leanne Tacktill, from the Alexandria part of Fairfax County.
“It’s a cute little truck,” she said, “It sets me apart.” That’s so true when you size her up to her fellow truckers in their large, mobile kitchens. When you peek inside, you find it is just large enough to hold several stacked trays of packaged cupcake—about 300 in all—ready for eager customers to stop by. To date, the favorite flavors, she said, are red velvet and salted caramel. She also offers vanilla, cookies n’ cream, and pineapple upside down cake, among others, and is planning on orange cream, like a Creamsicle.
Since cupcakes are such a hot culinary commodity with bakers and vendors sprinkled across the metro area, it is a safe question to ask, “ Why cupcakes?” As Tacktill, who has a culinary degree in baking from Stratford University, explained, “I love to bake, and cupcakes are easy to focus on. These are especially easy to sell in a truck. These are single serving, self contained, and come in lots of different flavors.”
Sizing up the local food truck market, she realized that plenty of vendors have captured the chicken, sandwich, hot dog, and international-cuisine markets, but no one in the Fairfax County area sells cupcakes from a truck. So gathering up her courage and plenty of energy, she started driving her truck out about three months ago, picking out Business Center Drive in Reston on Wednesdays and Solutions Drive in Tysons on Fridays.
She does head to Arlington one day a week for their farmers’ market, but will not venture into D.C. There, she noted, traffic is always a problem, and D.C. already has about three cupcake trucks anyway.
As the mother of a small daughter and the sole truck driver, how does she fit all the baking in? It’s a very busy life, she said, noting that she leaves the house before 6 a.m. to get her work done. “I bake on weekends and nights,” she said. “It is not 9-to-5. This takes long hours, and a lot of time on my feet, but to do something well that I believe in, it is worth it.”
Her fans seem to appreciate the product. On a recent Friday in Tysons, she sold out of all 300 cupcakes in 2 hours. “There are so few cupcake places in Reston and Tysons,” she said, “and people love something sweet to eat.” As more learn of SweetArt from social media and word of mouth, Tacktill not only expects her business to grow, but hopes for some baking help soon, and plans to offer a variety of specialty cupcakes for festivals, fundraisers, and private parties. Yum...
For more information, visit the website: http://www.sweetarttruck.com or the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SweetArtTruck or track the truck down Wednesdays and Fridays at its local locations.
Makes about 12 standard cupcakes
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 c buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.
Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon together. In mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter with sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between additions and scraping sides of bowl. Add the vanilla.
Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with 2 additions of buttermilk, mixing well after each addition. Divide batter among prepared tins, filling each cup three-quarters full.
Bake for about 20 minutes, checking and rotating pans after 10 minutes. Cool in pans for 5 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely. Frost with any vanilla icing and dust with cinnamon sugar.