While most folks are finalizing their Thanksgiving menu this week, Cory Grace will once again turn her kitchen into a full service bakery, churning out custom cakes, delicious cookies and special-occasion gift baskets, overflowing with all manner of confections.
The owner of Corinna’s Creations has been building her small business for nearly a decade in the Danvers home she grew up in, located in the Prep area, all while working her day job as payroll clerk at Danvers Town Hall.
A self described creative spirit, Grace has always enjoyed craft-making, painting and making wreaths, skills she utilizes for Corinna’s Creations in her cookie and cake decorating and building her unique special occasion baskets.
Corinna’s Creations was born out of a love for baking, a skill Grace honed during visits with her grandmother where the two would bond over brownies, cookies and bars. Over time she slowly built a solid reputation and steady clientele of repeat customers.
She described her gift baskets as, “the perfect gift to bring if you’re going to someone's house.”
The baskets are customized to meet the individual taste of the customer, and can include any variation of homemade treats, from gingerbread cookies, biscotti and homemade cheese spread, to flavored cocoa mixes and the extremely popular homemade turtles. Children’s baskets can contain all kind of goodies, like brownies, chocolate covered pretzels, iced cookie pops and chocolate covered popcorn.
According to the owner, Corinna’s Creations cakes contain the freshest ingredients and the most unique flavor combinations her customers desire - from basic chocolate, white and marble to carrot, red velvet and coffee ganache.
“I can infuse most any flavor into the cake, so it really depends on the customer's preference,” she said.
She makes a marshmallow fondant to cover decorated cakes that is as delicious as it is beautiful and sleek. But she said she prefers to combine fondant covered cakes with her homemade frosting, because, “You have to follow through and make it appeal to the taste, too...” Plus, she added, “I think my frosting is really, really good, I want people to taste it.”
When asked what her most memorable cakes have been, she points to two cakes where she said she felt she really challenged herself. One of her most elaborate creations was a casino themed cake, which was actually three cakes, a royal flush card cake, dice, and one that was a roulette wheel. Her butterfly cake stands out as a favorite, due to the intricacy of the handiwork of the sugar butterflies on wire, and the cut-out diamonds encircling the entire cake. Both of these creations are featured on the Corinna’s Creations website.
In a profession where perfectionism pays off, Grace admits to being slightly obsessive. In fact, she laughed, “... I have to have things in line: all cans facing forward, the towels have to hang perfectly straight in the bathroom; I even organize my grocery cart at the grocery store. It's ridiculous and takes a lot of energy out of you...”
Grace attended The Essex Agricultural School after graduating Danvers High School, with the idea she would become a hairdresser, but she soon learned this was not a fit for her, and decided instead on a degree in the culinary arts. She had always enjoyed baking during visits with her grandmother, who taught her everything she needed to know about baking cookies, pies and bars, so she immersed herself in the culinary world, taking advanced classes and reading up on everything to do with cake decorating. A self taught cake decorator, Grace would often teach techniques to classmates during this time.
After working for many years as a cook at the Hunt Nursing Home, and then as bakery manager at Henry’s in North Beverly where she met her husband, who is also a baker. Grace became a business owner in Salem when she bought Rita’s Party fare, selling cake decorating supplies. But the timing wasn’t right for business ownership, and Grace decided to go back to school to get her accounting degree.
While raising a family, which includes 21-year-old Salem State student Dylan, and Colby, an 18-year-old senior at DHS, working a day job and running an in-home bakery may sound like an overwhelming undertaking for most, Grace takes it all in stride. She described herself as extremely energetic, and added, “I am not a sedentary person,” she said. “For me to sit and watch a movie is a big thing.”
Grace said the most rewarding part of Corinna’s Creations is knowing her creations are playing such an integral role in the special occasions of her customers.
“Usually they'll call or email me or I'll see them somewhere, and they’ll tell me, ‘the next time, we’re getting a bigger one,’ or, ‘I didn't get any because my kids ate it all,’ stuff like that. But seeing the look on their faces, and knowing you made them happy, that’s the best feeling in the world.”