Jose Cuervo tequila with fresh lime. Kahl?a mixed with Baileys Irish Cream. Captain Morgan with Coke. At After Hours Cupcake Bar, you can't drink these concoctions, but you can eat them. These familiar cocktails are the ingredients for alcohol-infused gourmet cupcakes that serve as unique desserts to match with after-dinner drinks or to celebrate the anniversary of Prohibition?s repeal. To sate the sober crowd, After Hours also crafts a selection of virgin flavors that, while a shade more traditional, still surprise. Playful flavors include peanut butter and jelly and root-beer float, which comes coated in marshmallow buttercream frosting pierced with a miniscule straw.
Rachel's Bake Shop might be a small local business, but owner Rachel Broughten has built a national fan base. It's made up of folks like one Florida woman who calls Rachel's cake shooters "addictive" and a San Diegan who goes out of her way to stop by when making trips through Arizona. It's not surprising, then, that the bakery has won awards from both The Knot and WeddingWire for its custom confections, and was also voted among the Valley's best dessert spots in 2013 by ABC15 viewers. Rachel?a Le Cordon Bleu trained pastry chef?makes old-fashioned cakes as well as cupcakes, brownies, and push-up cakes, with a choice of cake flavors, frostings, and fillings. Specialty flavors include pink velvet and snickerdoodle, which can sometimes be made vegan or gluten-free.
From its humble beginnings in Kankakee, Illinois, in 1938, Dairy Queen has grown from a delicious experiment in soft-serve ice cream to a household name with more than 5,900 restaurants around the world. The shop's signature frozen delights are built upon frosty foundations of creamy chocolate or vanilla soft serve, which swirl idyllically into cones, cups, sundaes, Peanut Buster parfaits, and the chain's iconic Blizzard treats, blended with crumbled candy and other mix-ins. Ice-cream cakes cleverly conceal surprise fillings of fudge and chocolate crunch between layers of vanilla and chocolate ice cream, providing sweet, sliceable sustenance for birthday parties and other special occasions.
Fruit rules the roost on the other side of the slushy emporium, where Orange Julius blends its signature frothy drinks crafted from fruit juice, ice, and a "magic” powdered sweetener that explains why they disappear from most customers’ cups minutes after the first delicious sip. Real fruit purée forms the basis for the shop's smoothies, which also come in diet-friendly light versions that boast one-third fewer calories than regular smoothies.
Though the loaves you buy off the shelves at Wildflower Bread Company might be warm from the oven, they might not have been made fresh that day. That's not because Wildflower uses frozen dough—rather, its bakers are firm believers in slow-rising bread, letting their handcrafted dough rise for 16–24 hours before it ever sees an oven. So every morning, dough mixed and hand-shaped the previous day is worked into one of 18 styles of bread. The house specialties include classic baguettes, rye bread sprinkled with pasilla chilies, pretzels, or loaves worked through with rosemary and sea salt. These breads can be bought by the loaf or enjoyed as the anchors of a gourmet sandwich, an edible soup bowl, or a side for salad or pasta. The bakers also make room in their ovens for scones, tarts, and cakes, taking care of their customers' sweet teeth so they can stop chaining the table sugar to the coffee station.
After making a few pilgrimages to frozen-yogurt shops across the country, the founders of Yogurtopia came up with their own recipe for success. They only wanted to use high-quality frozen yogurt and toppings that emphasized both good taste and health.
Now, the shop?s creamy frozen treats swirl from self-serve machines in more than 90 flavors, such as nonfat swiss chocolate, low-fat cookies 'n' cream, and no-sugar-added wild strawberry. A bountiful toppings bar cascades fresh fruit, nuts, and candy options such as rainbow sprinkles, gummy bears, and Butterfingers on top of the frosty swirls.
After making desserts at Vincent on Camelback and La Dolce Vita, Le Cordon Bleu London–trained pastry chef Rachel Saunders became the co-owner of TopIt Cupcakes, where she handcrafts a rotating variety of cupcakes. Standards, such as salted caramel on chocolate cake, are available every day, and special-guest confections, including pancake maple and bacon, french toast, and s'mores, make cameos on the menu once a week. She can finish cupcakes with special designs upon request, or leave them bare for patrons to frost and top their treats with an assortment of candies or IOUs spelled out in sprinkles.