photograph by Millie Holloman Photography

The buttercream was an accident. Tabitha Meready was experimenting in her kitchen, and she’d gotten distracted. While her back was turned, the mixer transformed powdered sugar and butter into something incredibly light and smooth.

At Meready’s downtown Wilmington shop, The Peppered Cupcake, that magic buttercream is the crowning glory on light, moist cupcakes in flavors like peach-and-lavender cobbler and banana pudding.

And the kitchen experiments continue: Meready never uses food coloring — she might add turmeric for a hint of yellow, raspberries for pink, or roasted sweet potatoes for orange.

For her signature cupcakes, inspired by a family recipe for Jezebel sauce, she stuffs vanilla cupcakes with a preserve of the day, frosts them, then adds a spoonful of mango-chili or peach-habanero pepper jelly on top for a sweet-and-spicy surprise.

The Peppered Cupcake
105 South Front Street
Wilmington, NC 28401
(910) 399-1088

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Katie Schanze is the assistant editor and digital editor of Our State.