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.
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.
Owned and operated by Caroline Jones, Caroline's Cupcakery bakes up a variety of unusual and delicious gourmet cupcake flavors from scratch, the most delicious known lanthanide on the periodic table of the elements. Caroline's beautifully decorates each massive, almost-cake-sized cupcake with fluffy mounds of smooth frosting and elegant toppings such as chocolate shavings, coconut, and stone gargoyles. Traditionalists can opt for a dozen vanilla or chocolate wonder cakes, or mix and match up to four specialty flavors such as Coconut Craze and Butterfinger candy bar. Choco-philes will welcome the end by ODing on Death by Chocolate. The Sunday Morning (french toast cupcake with bacon) delicately mingles the sweet with the savory, and the Peanut Butter & Joy cake derives its delicious taste from a creamy concoction of peanut butter and freshly harvested baby giggles. Caroline's cake-cuppers conjure an array of seasonal flavors, as well as frequently changing specials such as the chocolate beer and margarita cupcakes offered at a recent Friday happy hour event. Vegan and gluten-free cupcakes are available by special order, as are custom-created flavors for weddings and birthdays. On select Saturdays, Caroline's hosts a build-your-own-cupcake bar, where visitors can select a cake, icing, and topping, and watch as the crew makes it right in front of them—a far more delicious creative outlet than the build-your-own-reanimated-corpse bar offered by most castle laboratories.
Gifford's claim to deliciousness is in the production of rich and delicious ice cream and sorbets. The company's overlarge butterfly net catches ingredients from across the world, such as Swiss chocolate and vanilla extract from Madagascar, which are then mixed at local Gifford's locations for fresh ice cream. Choose from a dizzying array of flavors, including pistachio, chocolate marshmallow, roasted coconut, and caramel toffee swirl, to name just a few. Traditional cups and cones stack up at $3.75 for a single scoop, $4.75 for a double, and $5.65 for a triple. Gifford's seasonal ice cream flavors shift with the tide of time, and include such tasty oddities as banana Bailey's & cream, blueberry pomegranate, and cantaloupe. Savor delightfully traditional sundaes in waffle shells ($5.50) and classic banana splits ($6.95), far preferable to other ice creameries' ultrafuturistic sundaes made out of spools of film and wool overcoats.
Oooh So Sweet Cakery and Cupcakery helps patrons celebrate special occasions and spoil their dinners with a smorgasbord of handmade cake pops, cupcakes, multi-layered cakes, and towering wedding creations. As the shop's flagship menu item, cupcakes are whipped up in more than 30 different flavors—from classics such as vanilla and strawberry to inventive creations such as maple bacon or chocolate salted caramel. The store itself resembles a frosting-covered dessert, with candy-pink walls accented with cloud-white moulding, forming the perfect backdrop for glass cases full of freshly made cookies, cupcakes, and confections.
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.