Custom Cakes and Desserts by Newburgh’s Perfect Sweets
Posted in Black Owned Businesses | Last Updated November 23, 2020
Specialty custom cakes and desserts like this adorable cake are a specialty at Perfect Sweets a black-owned business in Newburgh, N.Y.
Love makes the difference at Perfect Sweets.
Some occasions call for nothing so much as the perfect custom dessert. It’s a love language. And at Newburgh’s Perfect Sweets, it’s spoken with musical fluency.
Customers choose from Perfect Sweets’ lengthy menu featuring custom cakes and desserts like cheesecakes, cookies, pies, and layer cakes.
There are vegan and gluten-free choices, and customers discover their order is flawless, a delight to the eye, and a revelation to the taste buds.
Hasina Grice, entrepreneur/owner at Perfect Sweets, Newburgh
All-natural, custom cakes and desserts
Pandemic or no pandemic, Perfect Sweets has been thriving. Part of the recipe for success is in the all-natural and artfully blended ingredients. But another part is undoubtedly the warmth, dedication, and wisdom of Perfect Sweets’ master baker, Hasina Grice, whose entrepreneurial spirit and perfectionism infuse every creation.
It all began with an EZ-Bake Oven.
Her favorite present as a kid, the youngest of eight, was her EZ-Bake Oven.
And when Grice ran out of the EZ Bake mixes, her mom told her to improvise. “She wasn’t about to spend all kinds of money on those little envelopes,” she says.
“But because I learned watching her, I could improve on them anyway. She was taught old school, South Carolina. It’s not written down so much as ‘it should feel just like this when you stir it.’
You could help prep, but you didn’t mess with her stove.”
Growing up in Newburgh
Her parents had moved from Beacon to Newburgh, into a house that, shall we say, needed some TLC. “My dad purchased an abandoned building on Third Street that was not really fit to live in.
It had no walls; every day after school, we’d put our work clothes on and be the construction crew.
Job one was ‘go to school and get an education,’ but my dad had timed how long it took to walk home, and he didn’t play about that.”
Returning to Newburgh with a degree in sociology from Wake Forest University in North Carolina, Grice worked with Rural Opportunities and the adoption and foster care services of Orange County, then with Newburgh Enlarged City Schools, helping special education students make the transition to adult life.
When the grant for that position ended, she decided it was time for her own transition.
This “Spiderman” inspired custom birthday cake is a perfect example of the detailed and delicious custom cakes and desserts available at Perfect Sweets.
Food Network inspires a career change.
“I was the first kid in my family to graduate college, and I felt like I had to use that degree even as it started to feel like I was pursuing someone else’s dream.
Meanwhile, I had been toying with pursuing my passion. The Food Network had blown up, so I was always trying this or that…I’d never stopped loving to cook and bake.”
It took a nudge from her husband, educator and Newburgh city councilman Anthony Grice, to get her to make the leap. “He was all, ‘Why don’t you do what you really want to do?’ while I was still hung up on, ‘I’m in my 30s, and this is crazy,” Grice says.
“I knew I was signing up for something very intense, and we have three young sons. He was my rock. He said, ‘Babe, we’ll be fine, I’ll hold it down.’”
Educator and Newburgh city councilman Anthony Grice encouraged and supported wife Hasina Grice as she pursued her dream.
Enrolling at the Culinary Institute of America
She enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America’s two-year Baking and Pastry Arts program.
“It’s like a freight train. You hit the ground running, and you don’t stop. You move through it with a cohort, and if you miss three classes, you fail. You’re getting up at 3 AM to stand on your feet for six straight hours. Everyone else was like 18; I discovered aches and pains I never knew existed.”
She persisted, completing a six-week externship of seven-day-a-week baking at a golf club in New Jersey.
“Cookies all day long, hundreds and hundreds of cookies, till you never want to see another cookie again. Once the chef realized I was competent, he started taking Sundays off…Again, there were those moments of, ‘what the heck am I actually doing?’
A salutatorian with an associate’s degree gets to work.
But when the dust — flour? — settled, Grice found herself graduating as salutatorian with her associates’ degree.
That was in 2016.
Soon after that, she established Perfect Sweets LLC and began crafting custom desserts and delicious joy for the multitudes.
Love is Sweet is the tagline for Perfect Sweets of Newburgh’s custom desserts.
Hitting Newburgh and Hudson Valley market right in the tastebuds.
“It’s a challenge; I’m a one-woman show, and I pride myself on exceeding every expectation,” she says.
“Everything’s got to be done with excellence and love. If your foot breaks, you wrap it up and finish the job. That’s why I wanted my own business instead of working for someone else, that standard.”
Butter, no preservatives, and the best and freshest of everything
All Perfect Sweets baked goods are created with natural ingredients: butter instead of shortening, no preservatives, no tricks. “You can read my ingredients list and recognize everything,” she says.
“My frosting is butter, eggs, and sugar — nobody should eat baked goods so full of chemicals the ants won’t touch them. I’m very conscious of what I put into my body, and I make everything as if I was making it for myself and my family.”
For now, she bakes at home, wearing out a lot of ovens and filling a dedicated fridge with the delectable results.
As the orders started to multiply, she knew she was onto something.
“The craziest gig might have been WinterFest at Crystal Lake,” she says. “I was hired by Scenic Hudson to make 500 individual desserts. I was up for 25 straight hours. I got a little delirious. But people loved the results, and I got invited back, and the organizers told me people kept asking, ‘Is Perfect Sweets going to be there again?’ I was so happy with that.”
Overjoyed customers like this little girl love their custom cakes. Perfect Sweets makes custom desserts for every occasion!
A New Service; Drop off cookies
When the pandemic hit, cake orders dropped off for a while, so Grice started a drop-off cookie service.
Things have picked back up nicely.
“Some people book weeks in advance, especially during busy times. It can be a challenge — you can only fit so many perfect, custom three-layer cakes, and I’ve thought about taking it to the next level and expanding.
But I want to build equity, not just rent.”
Regardless, she says, Perfect Sweets is here to stay. “You might see me pull up somewhere in a food truck,” Grice says.
“I may start a YouTube channel, too; there’ve been lots of requests for that. I may do more plant-based things; I’ve been eating that way and feeling great.
And I may yet open a storefront if I find the right affordable space.”
Some things absolutely will not change, her insistence on impeccable standards and the intangible ingredients of love and joy. that make her custom cakes a hit.
“People send me the pictures from their kid’s first glimpse of the cake, their wide eyes, and delighted faces, and it’s all so worth it,” says Grice.
“Every morning when I wake up and go into that kitchen, I get my mind right because the stickers say ‘Handmade with Love’ and I live that with every move,” she says. “I truly believe you can taste that, and it’s why I’m succeeding.
Think of me as a spare relative — I’m channeling the aunties of sixty years ago, that dedication topped with advanced education. And when somebody says, “Oh my! I didn’t know a cookie could taste like that!” I know I’m doing it right.”
How do I order my custom cake or dessert?
Contact Perfect Sweets to inquire about the process, and to learn about lead time and availability. Please note: No order is final until Hasina confirms all details and a deposit has been received. She will work with you to get you the perfect custom cake or dessert of your dreams!