Don't ask Houston-based chef Rebecca Masson for a cupcake. Instead, she’ll be offering something even better when her new bakeshop, Fluff Bake Bar, debuts at the end of May: a “Cup|Cake.” It’s no frosted muffin. We talked to Masson about what exactly this novel creation is, her use of mushrooms in desserts and how she celebrates Mother’s Day.

Chefs Feed: Ok, so what’s a “Cup|Cake,” exactly?

Rebecca Masson: About two and a half years ago, I decided that I wasn’t gonna make a cupcake ever again. They’re usually dry and the frosting ratio is way off. Someone had given me some cups with lids and I was messing around with them one day and decided to put a slice in a cup.

CF: So, you just put a slice of cake in the cup?

RM: No, we cut out rounds from a pan, put it in there, layer it with something crunchy and frosting or curd. There’s always three layers. There’s always a crunchy element, too. Texture is important because if everything is the same, it kinda gets boring. In my “Veruca Salt” cake, we use devil’s food cake, salted caramel buttercream and pretzels for crunch. It adds to the whole experience. Also, it’s named after my favorite Willy Wonka character: Veruca Salt.

The "Cup|Cakes" at Fluff Bake Bar in Houston. Photo by Mark Woolcott.

CF: What’s the most unusual ingredient you’ve worked with in a dessert?

RM: Last year I did this dessert for Indie Chef Week in Costa Mesa, we took white fungus—a dried mushroom that’s rehydrated—and we paired it with passion fruit. I had seen it once in a pastry cookbook in Denmark but had never used it. We did a crémeux in a glass and topped it with passion fruit curd and mushrooms.

CF: That sounds very similar to your milk chocolate crémeux with passion fruit and white fungus.

RM: Yes, and it’s on the opening menu.

CF: Do you think it’ll weird people out?

RM: Probably, at first. I always like to add an element of “wtf is that?” People have come to expect that from me, and in Houston people trust what I do.

CF: Have you ever used candy cap mushrooms?

RM: Yes! There are these culinary throw downs and one year they finally came out with mushrooms (as a featured ingredient). So I did a candy cap icebox pie with an oreo cookie crust, porcini powder and a pastry cream with the candy cap mushroom, then added toasted meringue and candied candy cap on top. I was the only girl and pastry chef competing—and unemployed at the time—and I beat nine guys.They called the third and second place winners and I didn’t hear my name, so I assumed that I hadn’t won and wasn’t even listening when they called my name for first place.

Milk chocolate crémeux with passion fruit and white fungus. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Masson.

CF: Mother’s Day is this Sunday. What’s your favorite brunch spot in Houston?

RM: My mom always likes to go to Ninfa’s on Navigation. She picks that every time.

CF: What’s your fondest Mother’s Day tradition?

RM: I hang out with her all day. We’re pretty low key.

CF: Is there something you like to do together in the kitchen?

RM: Sometimes we make carrot cake, but she prefers her carrot cake recipe over mine. So for Mother’s Day and her birthday, I use her recipe. One year I brought my version over and she didn’t want it.

CF: Did she teach you how to bake?

RM: No, in all honesty, cooking was never a big part of my life growing up. In college I worked at a coffee shop and started baking then.

CF: Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

RM: Be nice to your mom. You never know if she’ll become your business partner one day. My mom is an investor in Fluff Bake Bar.

Interview by Sara Bloomberg

Fluff Bake Bar is expected to open later this month. Follow chef Rebecca Masson on Twitter and Instagram for the latest updates. The bakery will be located at 304 Gray St., Houston, TX, 77002. Follow Fluff Bake Bar on Twitter and Instagram.