Vegan decadence at Sweet Avenue Bake Shop

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Rutherford, N.J.

What it is: vegan bakery
Why we love it: Though their luscious cupcakes are vegan, owners Jake and Danielle Vance make them defiantly decadent, with an array of seasonal flavors that change monthly. We saw cotton candy, s’mores, and piña colada when we visited.

“We’re a traditional bakery that happens to be vegan,” Jake says. “We didn’t set out to be super-healthy.” The cupcakes start with unbleached wheat flour or a bean-based gluten-free flour blend and bone-char-free and vegan white sugar; margarine and shortening in frostings are dairy-free.

A shiny bakery case is the centerpiece of the compact shop; pristine white trays display rows of colorful cupcakes, along with sweet treats like the popular cookie dough cake truffles, and the gluten-free vanilla or chocolate sugar cake balls.
Most customers take cupcakes home in old-fashioned boxes bearing the shop’s tattoo-inspired logo. But if you can’t wait to sink your teeth into Sweet Avenue’s treats, the shop’s shocking-pink bench makes a perfect perch.

Bonus: The best seller at Sweet Avenue: Red velvet cupcakes that hark back to the luscious home baking of Jake’s Texas childhood. “Not a lot of bakeries do a real red velvet, and I missed it,” he says. “Ours took a lot of trial and error and a ton of research. But it was worth it.” Customers agree. “The vegan community has been so good to us,” Jake says. “We’re thankful.”

See also Ask A Chef: Ann Gentry