Armed with just a single, generations-old cookie recipe, Great American Cookies opened its first store in 1977, and the rest is history. Today, the franchise boasts locations in malls across the country and nabbed a coveted spot on Entrepreneur magazine?s 2012 Top 500 Franchises in the baked-goods category. As the shop?s reputation grew, so did its menu as chefs churned out a mouthwatering roster of gourmet-cookie recipes, each created and carefully tested in Atlanta. The tempting options now include snickerdoodle, peanut butter with M&Ms, and chewy pecan supreme, as well as freshly baked fudge and cheesecake brownies, and cookie sandwiches stuffed with frosting. The real show-stoppers, however, are the giant chocolate-chip cookie cakes, which can be customized with sweet, celebratory messages or shopping lists penned in colorful icing.
It was almost midnight when Sandra found her son Aaron bustling around the kitchen, looking to satisfy a late-night sweet craving. Cooking had been one of the family's shared passions for decades, so it was only a matter of moments before Sandra joined Aaron in digging through old cupcake recipes and experimenting with flavors and frosting. With the counters covered in sweets, the snack craving thoroughly satisfied, and the Sandman growing impatient, the two went to bed, only to awaken the next day and share their midnight creations with family and friends. The reaction was overwhelming. The mother-son team quickly found themselves baking for so many birthday parties and special events that they decided to start a business, eventually earning a spot on Baltimore magazine's list of Our Favorite Cupcakes.
At Midnite Confection?s Cupcakery, Sandra and Aaron continue to channel the enthusiasm and inventiveness they felt that first night. Their selection of more than 40 sweet treats includes signature flavors, such as birthday cake and a carrot-cake cupcake with organic carrots and a bit of pineapple, but also changes to include seasonal favorites. They also top their creations with decadent spreads such as whipped-pistachio or Grand Marnier?tinged icing. Although these handheld snacks are available at the store, Midnite Confection's food truck also travels the streets, spreading cupcakes to working folks.
Each day, the modern interior of Saturday Morning Cafe fills with the aromas of freshly brewed coffee, seafood and chicken sizzling on the grill, and sweet pastries. In warmer weather, these smells might mingle with an invigorating breeze from the Inner Harbor and the dulcet tones of far-off sea shanties in the outdoor seating area. In this casual atmosphere, diners indulge in comfort food, including french toast topped with berries and whipped cream, house-made waffles with Southern-fried chicken, and omelets stuffed with crab and shrimp. Later in the day, chefs prepare sandwiches and specialties such as barbecue chicken and fish and grits. The space also hosts occasional live performances from local musicians and showcases work from local artists.
The pastry chefs at Gone Cupcaking Across America share a wealth of gourmet cupcake experience with aspiring dessert artisans, in flavors that include whisked buttercream atop classic vanilla, chocolate, and red-velvet cake bases, and more exotic choices such as Grand Marnier or peaches 'n' cream. At lessons, students learn piping techniques, how to make frosting, and how to make iced flowers without the hassle of fertilizing regular flowers with milk and butter.
When Forever Yogurt claims that it has ?literally trillions of possibilities? for combining frozen-yogurt flavors and toppings, it is literally not kidding. At each location, some 16 flavors and 40 toppings challenge self-serve artists to twirl, sprinkle, and festoon cups of fro-yo to their own taste buds' content. Frozen masterpieces can accommodate preferences for low-fat, nonfat, nondairy, and no-sugar-added diets, as well as daily food-pyramid requirements for fresh blueberries, kiwi, and caramel-turtle cups.
Boheme Cafe quells tumultuous appetites with comfort food crafted from locally grown vegetables and kick-starts mornings with super-charged coffee drinks. Dive into the breakfast menu with the Ragin' Cajun, which snuggles scrambled eggs, sausage, green peppers, and onions together with chipotle spread in a tortilla blanket ($3.99). Those who prefer their energy in liquid form can sip a cup of coffee ($1.84/$1.95) brewed from Counter Culture beans, which are great for caffeinating bodies, minds, and imaginary friends.