Without any formal culinary training, Christina Hoehn started tinkering with cake balls for a baking competition at her workplace. Following her co-worker’s unanimous approval of her german-chocolate, peanut-butter, and red-velvet spheres, Christina decided to take a risk and create Cake Kisses. Working from a pallet of fruity and decadent flavors, her cake balls and cake pops earn rave reviews for their moist center and detailed designs. Christina decorates ornate scenes, such as a phalanx of cake balls in the shape of tiny birds, smiling pandas, or football helmets. Christina also works one-on-one with brides to create special cake-lings for weddings, building tiny treats that can replace the wedding cake or sub-in for ping-pong balls.
Deep down, owner Leslie Butler always wanted a job naming nail polish and lipstick shades. But her love of working with people, as well as her great affection for cake, led her to instead apply her naming skills to more than 100 cupcake flavors at The Lofty Cafe. Monikers like “The Devil Wears Raspberry” might need a bit of elaboration (chocolate cupcake with raspberry filling, topped with chocolate frosting and a raspberry candy speckled with brimstone), but others are deliciously self-explanatory: vanilla chai spice, maple bacon, and Boston cream. Many flavors are themed by season or occasion. A daily menu determines a few flavors that will be at hand, but customers can score any flavor if they order ahead.
Though it’s hard to imagine so many flavors fitting in Butler’s kitchen, that’s exactly where Butler and her daughter began their business. Unsurprisingly, they eventually expanded their space to offer a dining room and a full kitchen to suit their baking needs. Now they have the capacity to create many cupcake flavors that can be filled or topped with an array of sweets.
We're a family owned chocolate and pastry shop. Our goal is to continually set and raise the bar for just what people around here are eating for dessert. Chocolate truffles, carrot cake that may be the best you've ever had, layered dessert shooters, macaroons, and those seemingly-ubiquitous cupcakes . . . it's all here!
Named Akron’s Best Coffee Shop by CityVoters in 2010, Nervous Dog percolates palates with locally roasted beans, soothing smells, and a small menu irrigated with pastries and tasty sandwiches. To prepare for a busy workday filled with consolidating files with a flaming broadsword, grab a small coffee ($1.75), or opt for a more complex tongue massaging with a small latte ($2.95), cappuccino ($2.95), or mocha ($3.55). The various tasty pastries are baked daily, ensuring that they’re fresher than a cryogenically frozen bouquet of daisies ($2.35 each, on average). For heartier appetites and edible-strata enthusiasts, the Stow location serves up sandwiches, buckling under the weight of a quarter pound of Boar's Head deli meat and snuggled between slices of french, italian, or ciabatta bread, or a New York bagel ($6.85). Customers on the run and method actors doing research for a Boo Radley portrayal can stock up on invigorating coffee with a one-pound bag of beans ($12.85).
At the Root Café, the staff’s passion for food takes a backseat to their passion for community. That’s not to say they don’t love making their steaming cups of coffee, baked goods, and fruity smoothies, but the true reason behind their culinary efforts is to keep guests fed and happy during a range of community-oriented events. Each month the café features activities such as poetry readings, children’s playtime, comedy shows, and forums about current events, serving as a place for locals to hang out and build bonds. While the atmosphere is always jovial, clients who wish to get work done can utilize the shop’s free Wi-Fi.
A family-owned bakery, DS Cupcakes carts out dozens of its customizable confections each day, including sheet cakes, round cakes, and its namesake cupcakes. The team doesn’t make it easy to narrow down a choice either, as 16 cream-cheese and buttercream frostings dollop the moist cakes available in a dozen flavors, such as gingerbread, strawberry cheesecake, and pumpkin spice. Sweet fillings also nestle within the fluffy hiding places, waiting to envelop unsuspecting tongues with flavors of apple, raspberry, fudge, and others.
Once a ramshackle ice-cream store with a loyal Akron following, today Zack's Fire and Ice serves barbecue along with its cones with help from new owner and former pastor Randy Stewart and his wife, Kathy. The Stewarts have lived in the Southwest and up and down the East Coast, so rather than adhere strictly to any one regional barbecue style, they synthesize their favorite elements from a number of traditions to create an eatery with the welcoming spirit of a backyard cookout. The kitchen slow smokes brisket, ribs, pork, and turkey breast and slathers them with sauces such as honey and apple bourbon. Frozen treats such as sorbet and frozen yogurt stay chilly at the ice-cream counter alongside hard-packed ice cream in flavors such as pumpkin pecan, oatmeal cookie, and Superman, designed to freeze enemies’ brains faster than a speeding bullet.