Sugar artist and pastry chef Cherry Duran has been turning whole eggs and pure vanilla extract into edible works of art for 20 years. Simple sheet cakes can be transformed into favorite animals, popular cartoon characters, and beloved bank tellers at the bidding of her capable hands as she carves three-dimensional, icing-covered likenesses and uses photo-scan technology to imprint images onto frosting. She also whips up bunches of delectable cupcakes, cookies, and brownies to suit any type of get-together and helps home bakers to hone their batter-wrangling form in cake-decorating classes for differing skill levels.
Sara Brinson loved making cupcakes with her family and friends. When she died unexpectedly in 2007, a cupcake bakery seemed a fitting way to honor her memory. Since then, executive chef Eric Smith has assembled a menu of 21 original, seasonally inspired cupcake recipes. Rather than being slathered with inches of frosting, each treat conveys its unique flavor profile with elegant minimalism. A single blueberry perches on pristine buttercream, a cluster of toasted marshmallows sits like a cloud that drifted too close to the sun atop a cocoa-puff-inspired creation, and a ring of br?l?ed pineapple perfectly fits an upside-down-style cakelet.
Customers stopping in to pick up special orders for weddings or parties might still be tempted to sit and enjoy the sweet smells for a while inside the bakery?s two cafes, one a dollhouse of a cottage in Edmond, and the other a mod-styled, royal-frosting-white downtown space. Both locations reach out to their communities in a variety of ways, from selecting charities to benefit with their sales to date-night and family events.
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 list of Top 500 Franchises in the baked-goods category. The shop?s reputation grew, and 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&M?s, and chewy pecan supreme, as well as freshly baked fudge and cheesecake brownies and cookie sandwiches stuffed with frosting. The real showstoppers, however, are the giant chocolate-chip cookie cakes, which can be customized with sweet, celebratory messages or shopping lists penned in colorful icing.
The smell of baking cookies wafts out into the street, enticing guests inside to pick out their favorite cookie from 1 Smart Cookie’s row of 13 cookie jars. The clear glass, still steamy from the freshly baked fare, lets guests peruse the selection before choosing and mull over the benefits of classic, chewy chocolate chip over a seasonal flavor such as pumpkin spice or a unique variety such as Coconut Paradise. If clients desire something for a special occasion, baker Cindy Hoehner can craft the cookies into larger cookie cakes, shape cookies into themed treats, or even provide premade dough for at-home baking bonding sessions. She also hosts birthday parties for little ones during the week, allowing girls to dress up, ice their own cookies, and play games while chowing down on homemade cookies.
Gene Leiterman spends his days at a culinary college teaching the art of pastry making and his evenings at CocoFlow Chocolate Cafe molding his favorite medium. His chocolate handiwork ranges from truffles infused with rose syrup to edible sculptures--he once carved a 20-pound chocolate Easter bunny, which proceeded to lay several Cadbury eggs. He's also filled the café's menu with slices of cake, fresh crepes, and hand-painted bon-bons, such as the pistachio crème with swirls of colorful cocoa butter. During CocoFlow's hands-on weekend classes, students learn to craft their own chocolates using machinery-free European techniques that they can replicate at home.
The dairy aficionados at Rusty's Frozen Custard create icy, slowly churned goodies crafted so thick that customers are even encouraged to turn their treats upside down to fully appreciate their density. Luscious custards coat tongues in classic flavors of vanilla or strawberry, and when dunked into fountain drinks, create bubbly floats. Sundaes and shakes, meanwhile, can be outfitted with more than 35 toppings, including Oreo pieces, Nerds, or M&M's. Rusty’s crew also excels at making specialty drinks, such as lattes and low-fat smoothies, which can be enjoyed while relaxing on outdoor seating.