Sisters-in-law Jacquelin, left, and Gina Ciaburri, owners of Simply Sweet Cupcakes in Egg harbor City, like to kid around at work. But, they were serious competitors on the Food Network's 'Cupcake Wars' episode that airs tonight.

An Egg Harbor City bakery won the Food Network show “Cupcake Wars” in October, but the public announcement at the end of Sunday night’s show felt like the first real taste of victory, one of the owners said.

Sisters-in-law Jacquelin and Gina Ciaburri weren’t allowed to disclose how they did in the competition. But they didn’t feel like celebrating even with their families when they first returned home, Jacquelin said.

Hurricane Sandy hit while they were gone and — while the two came home to minor damage — Jacquelin said celebrating even privately with their families didn’t feel appropriate.

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But as they gathered with supporters Sunday night to watch the show, they finally felt it was a celebration.

“I don’t even know if I could put into words what it means to us,” Jacquelin said. “It’s by far the biggest thing that ever happened to us. We’re just grateful what it could possibly do for the town to bring awareness to Egg Harbor City.”

The Food Network show pits four teams against one another to create cupcakes using certain ingredients for a specific event. This time it was the Harlem Globetrotters with guest judge Herbert “Flight Time” Lang.

“They were just looking for a taste of New York,” Jacquelin said.

For the one challenge, they had ingredients that included hot dogs, bagels and cream cheese, pastrami and pizza.

While the pair first looked to the hot dogs, when that didn’t seem to work, they thought: “What’s more New York than a pastrami cupcake.”

The center had a sweet mustard glaze with a honey mustard buttercream frosting created by Gina.

“It tastes like a pastrami sandwich,” Jacquelin said.

“One of the judges, Candace Nelson, told us that any New York deli would be proud to sell this in any of their stores,” Gina said.

The final round of the show has the two remaining teams display all of their cupcake creations made during the show on a display that fits the theme. The Ciaburris’ included the Empire State Building at the front on a basketball court with the iconic spinning ball atop the whole display, with the cupcakes on bleachers held up by basketball player cutouts.

“It was very important to us that the ball actually spun,” Jacquelin said. “We were grateful they were able to do that.”

All of the cupcake flavors they made on the show were being sold Monday at Simply Sweet Cupcakes on Philadelphia Avenue. In addition to the pastrami, there was chocolate peanut butter, coffee with Bailey’s Irish Cream, and honey roasted peanut.

As for keeping their sweet secret all these months, it wasn’t easy, Jacquelin said.

“if you know Gina and I, we both have incredibly big mouths,” she said. “It was very, very difficult.”

Contact Lynda Cohen:


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Five years as Ocean County bureau chief, 12 years as regional news editor (not continuous), 10 years as copy editor (also not continuous), all at The Press of Atlantic City.

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