TROY — Chloe Stirling is banking enough cupcake bucks at age 11 that mom Heather is a bit concerned.
"Mom said she'd match what I had (in a savings account) at 16 for a car," said Chloe, who has been making, selling and donating cupcakes for two years.
Heather laughed, not revealing how much has been put away, but "she's a darn good saver. I thought, 'Uh oh, we may be in trouble.'"
Working out of her family's kitchen, the sixth-grader at Triad Middle School is busy almost every week with her business, Hey, Cupcake! She lost count of how many cakes and cupcakes she has created, but it's been hundreds. Considering she also runs her own pet-sitting business, No Bones About It, with about a dozen year-round clients, and plays soccer, Chloe has a full schedule.
On a recent weeknight, she was perched on a chair at the kitchen counter, deftly piping sparkling turquoise buttercream frosting out of a pastry bag and onto a giant cupcake.
"When I started, I was really not stable with the bag," she said. She has learned to put the right amount of filling in the bag and work with the right tip -- she has more than two dozen. Her vanilla frosting recipe is a secret, but it involves butter.
"So, what I do is make the cupcakes the night before, then come home and decorate them," she said. The cake that night was for her dad Chad's 38th birthday.
Heather, 36, a Realtor with Remax Alliance in Collinsville, is amazed at her daughter's ability to improvise.
"She's never done one of those before," she said, pointing to the big cupcake. "I get nervous when she's making something for somebody (who's paying) because I'm afraid it's not going to work out, but she always makes it come out beautiful."
Chad, who works for Spengler Plumbing, is the beneficiary of many of Chloe's baked goods. "When I make a mistake, I give it my dad."
Her sister Sophia, 8, let out a whopping laugh: "We all get a cupcake in the end!"
For her last birthday, Sophia, who also plays soccer, got a 3-dimensional soccer ball cake.
"We cooked it forever," said Heather. Even so, the middle didn't get done. What to do?
"We scooped it out and put pudding in it," said Chloe. Sophia liked it even better that way.
Cupcake-making has taken over the kitchen. A big KitchenAid mixer in the corner was given to the young baker by her "granny and papa," Debbie and Cary Dix, of Collinsville.
"But I really need another one so I can make batter with one and icing with another," Chloe said.
Heather said they added a second refrigerator and extra shelving for baking pans and supplies.
Great-aunt Jennifer Juwer started Chloe down the path to making cupcakes.
"She took me to a class at Michaels (Crafts) and we made Valentine's Day cupcakes," she said. "It was really fun. I learned how to use a bag and mix colors."
Chloe charges $10 for a dozen cupcakes and $2 for each specialty cupcake. But when a boy in her school was battling cancer in 2012, she donated cupcakes for a fundraiser.
"He was a really big Cubs fan, so I made white cupcakes with orange and blue sprinkles."
Her largest order so far has been 220 cupcakes, donated for another cancer fundraiser.
Some orders have been smaller, but no small task. Take the 12 pairs of high-heel cupcakes she made for a birthday party.
"It takes about five minutes for each one," Chloe said of the engineering and decorating required. Each cupcake is the foot of the shoe, with a Milano cookie attached to it with icing as the arch. The tall heel connected to the "arch" is a filled cylindral cookie called a Pirouette.
She also tackled Christmas tree cupcakes over the holidays, delivering them to residents of The Arbors at Parkway Gardens in Fairview Heights.
Chloe topped each cupcake with an ice cream sugar cone, then frosted them in green.
"I may never make those again. They took a long time."
She just finished a Minecraft cake for a friend's birthday. February orders include sock monkey cupcakes for a baby shower.
And about that bank account: A car at 16 would be sweet, but Chloe has her mind on more important goals.
She really hopes some day to meet New Jersey baker Buddy Valastro, who stars in "The Cake Boss" on TV.
"I'm saving for a bakery," Chloe said of her long-range plan.
For more information about Chloe Stirling's business, Hey, Cupcake!, contact Heather Stirling via email at email@example.com
Chloe Stirling's favorites:
Food: Baked fish and ice cream, not together
Music: Hip-hop and pop, especially Fallout Boy and Imagine Dragon
Book: "Hunger Games"
TV: Anything on Animal Planet and "Cake Boss"
Movie: "Hunger Games"
Subject in school: Science
In her spare time: Likes to dance and draw