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By Danielle Charbonneau
The story behind Coccadotts has all the makings of a Meg Ryan romantic comedy. The scene is Albany, New York. Boy meets girl and falls in love. Boy runs Dott’s Garage, an auto and towing shop on a busy urban street. Girl runs the attached mini market and bakery. His last name is Dott, hers is Cocca. Together, they create Coccadotts, the birth-child bakery of gourmet cupcakes.
This is the real life story of Rachel Cocca and Luke Dott, who started Coccadotts bakery in Albany in 2007. Since then, Coccadotts has expanded, opening a second shop in Myrtle Beach, and a third in Ft. Lauderdale, which opened in May.
Amber Gulnick, Rachel and Luke’s niece, moved to Florida in July to help run the new shop as the store’s Director of Operations. You’ll find her at the new Ft. Lauderdale shop early in the morning filling, frosting and decorating every cupcake.
The cupcakes are whimsical, decadent and colorful. With over 30 flavors glistening behind the display case, some adorable iced cookies (one looks like a Minion), and some fantastical, custom cakes, the shop wows the senses. There’s the “Cannoli Cupcake” (an almond cupcake, iced in sweet cannoli buttercream, garnished with crushed cannoli shells, chocolate chips and a chocolate-dipped cannoli ), the “Banana Pudding” (a vanilla cupcake with wafer baked into the bottom, banana custard filling and a banana buttercream frosting), or there’s Gulnick’s hands-down, all-time favorite, the “S’mores” (with graham cracker and marshmallow).
If the name Coccadotts sounds familiar, you may have seen the bakery on Food Network’s reality television series “Cupcake Wars.” Coccadotts competed in the competition three times (in 2010, 2012 and 2013). On their final appearance Coccadotts survived three rounds of competition to win first place and $10,000. When your mouth bites into one of Coccadotts’ moist cupcakes and melts through its luscious frosting, you’ll understand why the shop warranted so many appearances on the show.
The tiered cakes are special too. On the menu, Coccadotts lists ten different flavors of cake, nine different mouse fillings, five fruit fillings, three custard fillings and six frosting flavors. Together, that’s a lot of combinations, with a lot of room for creativity. Customers can request just about anything.
“People come in with pictures from Google or Pinterest and we will do our best to give them exactly what they want,” said Gulnick. “For me, it’s all about being creative.”
Some notable sculpted cakes in the Coccadotts gallery include a giant Patron bottle, a sea turtle and a police station.
“It’s really nice when you get to put their dream together,” said Gulnick, who remembers one customer crying tears of joy at the site of her husband’s photograph on a cake.
You can try one of Coccadotts’ creations at the Pompano Beach Fine Food and Wine Festival on Sept. 19 — the bakery will be bringing 500 assorted cupcakes, plus some creme puffs and eclairs. Or, enjoy a free cupcake by coming into the store and liking the bakery on Facebook. Coccadotts also delivers through UberEats and Delivery Dudes.
Coccadotts’ bakery is located at 6280 N. Federal Highway in Ft. Lauderdale. The hours of operation are Monday through Saturday, 11am to 7pm; and Sundays, 11am to 5pm. Please visit coccadotts.com or call 954-990-5034 for more information.