From behind a frozen granite slab, the staff of Cold Stone Creamery blends custom servings of ice cream and creative mix-ins to fit customers’ exact specifications. Founded by Donald and Susan Sutherland in 1988, Cold Stone began under the hot Arizona sun, eventually spreading its frosty fingers to encompass more than 1,400 locations worldwide. Despite the size of the company, each location’s staff keeps up the handcrafted quality, making ice cream onsite every day and using those signature spades to create delicious pointillist art against the freezer wall.
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.
After emigrating to Baltimore from Palermo, Italy, Gioacchino Vaccaro wanted to share the pastries of his homeland with his new neighbors. In 1956, he founded his eponymous pastry shop, an establishment that has since expanded to include four locations. The culinary team dishes out cannoli that ensconce homemade ricotta filling, three-tiered rum cake, and crunchy biscotti cookies.
Beyond pastries, the eateries toast paninis and stuff classic mufalato sandwiches with Italian pepper ham, mortadella, and salami. To complement their meals, visitors can sip hand-crafted espresso drinks, such as cappuccinos in traditional “Italiano” style and house style, served with a dollop of whipped cream. For more adult pours, patrons can opt for assorted martinis, beers, and dessert wines.
Cake craftswoman Cynthia adds a sweet, artful touch to weddings, birthday parties, and events with custom cakes pulled fresh from her oven and wildly creative imagination. She sifts, mixes, and ices one-of-a-kind confectionery marvels—in chocolate, vanilla, and red velvet—to each client’s specifications. No two creations look the same, and each custom goody pushes her ingenuity as she achieves such unlikely designs as a Chucky doll, Nikon camera, or motorcycle. Traditional tiered cakes further demonstrate Cynthia’s artistry and attention to detail with precisely crafted flowers, lace, and filigree fit for the Queen of England’s midnight snack.
Gathered around Shaquille O’Neal in front of the chalkboard scribbled with the day’s ice cream flavors, the staff of Taharka Bros. is positively beaming. While the visit from a basketball legend brings a crowd of admirers into their shop, Taharka’s ice cream wizards have no problem attracting throngs of fans sans the help of Shaq’s presence. Voted one of Baltimore's "Great Milkshakes" by The Baltimore Sun in 2011, and crowned "Best Ice Cream" by Baltimore Magazine in its Best of Baltimore 2010 edition, devotees are drawn in by the eatery's "irresistible ice-cream menu," which includes decadent flavors such as honey graham and salty caramel. Adding to the draw is its ability to "satisfy [your] ravenous social conscience" with its management training program that "offers the chance for urban youth to get a foothold in the workplace." Throughout the day, the entrepreneurial young staffers hone business skills as they hand-make batches of frozen confections using fresh ingredients such as fruits and magic beanstalk beans plucked from local farms. The sense of community and teamwork that goes into the creation of every scoop reflects Taharka Bros.' support of initiatives that uphold civic involvement, social justice, and cultural exchange through the arts.
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.