Cupcakes have become so old they're almost new again, but there's more than cupcakes going on at Sweet Arleen's, a bakery that opened recently in Plano at the southwest corner of Park and Preston roads.
Specifically, there is bread pudding, and that's what drew owner Tiffany Jordan to open the first Texas franchise of this tiny California chain. Sweet Arleen's was founded in 2008 by Arleen Scavone, a former banker who'd always dabbled in baking. It was Scavone's sophisticated recipes for bread pudding and cupcakes that drew Jordan to request a franchise.
"I saw Sweet Arleen's when it was featured on Unique Sweets, a show on the Cooking Channel where they were highlighting her bread pudding," Jordan says. "I knew that would be a good thing for Texas and realized that was what I wanted to do. It was only after I got onto their website that I realized their main product is cupcakes, which has won contests on shows like Food Network's Cupcake Wars."
Jordan felt a twinge of hesitation about stepping into the oversaturated world of cupcakes.
"Cupcakes are a lot more competitive and more difficult, but Arleen's cupcakes are very good," she says. "They're fairly complicated. We use Swiss meringue butter cream, and that's unusual. They're good because they're not too sweet. The cake is a little denser. But they're temperamental. We have to have staffers who are trained. We're not just whipping together cream and powdered sugar."
Out of approximately 20 flavor options, they do about 14 a day, such as mocha truffle, a vanilla cupcake with chocolate fudge filling and espresso buttercream; banana cupcake with butterscotch filling and banana caramel buttercream icing; and chocolate marshmallow, a devil's food cake with a marshmallow center and a glossy chocolate icing on top, not unlike the familiar Ding Dong. They come in a regular size for about $3.50 per cupcake, as well as a mini version for $1.50 to $1.75 each.
The bread puddings come in muffin-size single servings, $5.50 for regular or $1.75 for mini; they come in flavors too. "We don't actually have a plain bread pudding," Jordan says. "We do unique twists like French toast, maple bacon, white chocolate blueberry, dulce de leche."
They do monthly and seasonal flavors as well, such as the recent pumpkin bread pudding with the soft texture of pumpkin pie that Jordan says was a hot seller through November and December. For January, the flavor of the month for both cupcakes and bread pudding is red velvet.
"We're using our red velvet cupcakes to make croutons for the bread pudding," she says. "I feel like our bread puddings could be the star."