NOTL baker’s delicious confections are a decadent treat
Laura Crocco swirls the top of each cupcake with sweet buttercream, adding colourful sprinkles and just the right touch of love.
The result: beautiful, edible works of art, each made from scratch.
On this day, with 20 dozen custom cupcake orders to prepare for Valentine’s Day, the Niagara-on-the-Lake business owner is up early.
Many days she rises at 4 or 5 a.m. to ensure her afternoon orders are ready.
That is the lot of bakers – toiling away in the dark, early-morning hours to create their delicious confections.
Crocco moved to Niagara-on-the-Lake 24 years ago from Thunder Bay with her husband, Jeffrey.
She launched her company, Cupcakes by Laura, after he died in 2020.
He was the executive vice-president of the World Wide Travel One Agency Group in St. Catharines and “he wanted me to open up a cupcake business and we were going to open up a store downtown,” she said.
“After he passed, I figured now’s the time. Life’s short, right?”
Crocco does all the baking herself from her home in Niagara-on-the-Lake, along with the help of her two kids, Victoria and Chris Crocco, who both attended Parliament Oak Public School.
Victoria is in charge of the photography and Chris takes care of the business’s finances.
Before she opened Cupcakes by Laura, Crocco sought advice from Rebecca deBoer and her sister Mandy Visser, who both own businesses in NOTL.
DeBoer and her husband Steve own Zoom Leisure Bikes, while Visser runs deBakker, an online bakery in town.
“Rebecca said to do it in your house for a year because you never know. You want to make sure you really love to do it before you start investing,” Crocco said.
Two years later, Crocco is thankful she started from home because of how COVID-19 wreaked havoc on small businesses.
Despite the challenges of COVID and losing her husband, Crocco said going into business was the right choice.
“I’ve been baking since I was a teenager, 12-13 years old, so I just enjoy it.”
As for downtime, Crocco laughed, “There is no time.”
Ordering is easy online, she said. Search “Cupcakes by Laura” to get to her Google site, then click the how-to button and follow the steps.
Crocco’s creations also can be found on Instagram through clb.bakery and on Facebook under Cupcakes by Laura.
The baker offers free delivery in Niagara-on-the-Lake and St. Davids. Delivery is $10 for orders outside that zone – or clients can pick them up at her home.
Crocco also does cupcakes for weddings.
“My smallest wedding was about 20 people and the largest one was 400, and that one was quite the adventure.”
Orders can be placed the day before with a minimum of a dozen cupcakes, said Crocco.
“Oreo, vanilla, chocolate, the gamut. Whatever you’re really interested in, I can probably do.”
Her most popular cupcake is chocolate and peanut butter fudge.
Crocco makes each of them with a Reese’s peanut butter cup at the bottom, then a chocolate cupcake, chocolate and peanut buttercream, and a peanut butter cup on top.
The buttercream is made with real butter and no shortening, which means they’ll only last around two or three days.
She also makes sweet dog treats called “pupcakes.”
“It’s all-natural, it’s perfectly healthy for dogs, and mine loves it,” she said.
Crocco is always working on new cupcake concepts, such as a peach cupcake for the annual Peach Festival in NOTL.
And she also has an idea to help people grab cupcakes on the go when walking in downtown NOTL.
Once Crocco has a retail store, instead of wrappers she plans on using cones to hold the cupcakes – easier, no mess and it eliminates waste.
“Hopefully, this year, we are going to open up with a storefront downtown,” she said.