For those who have never been to a self-serve fro-yo place, Planet Yogurt is a veritable dessert buffet for the senses. Heading toward the back of the airy and immaculate space, visitors can find a lineup of machines that dispense ribbons of frozen yogurt into awaiting cups. After filling cups with a single flavor or combination, head to the toppings bar to deck out desserts with fresh fruit or crushed-up candy bars.
In 1954, Gino's Italian Market's founder, Anthony Paparella, moved from the teeming fisheries of Bari to Hoboken, New Jersey, where he married a fellow Italian and worked as a builder for nearly 20 years. After retiring to South Florida in '73, Paparella brought a taste of his homeland stateside by opening a bustling bazaar filled with fresh produce, succulent meats, and sweet desserts.
The market's commitment to tradition and family can be found in all of its business practices, from its catered feasts of traditional baked pastas and rib roasts, to e-mail correspondences from the resident Nonna that contain expert advice on party planning, recipes, and optimal angles for cheek-pinching. Shoppers consult Nonna Anna and handy recipe guides to concoct rich sauces and tasty entrees from the store's bountiful selection of cheese, wine, ripe tomatoes, and imported Italian goods.
In addition to rounding out dinner plates with house-made prosciutto bread, fresh chicken, and juicy cuts of beef, Gino's graces weddings, desserts, and banquets with custom cakes and pastries.
Though Abdaliz has graced Cake Whimsy's frosted tops with life-size fondant Mardi Gras masks and delicate swirls of gold-flecked frosting, the seasoned pastry chef doesn’t want her cakes’ exteriors to be their most memorable asset. She recruits fresh ingredients to create her made-to-order collection of baked treats: the juice of ripe limes enlivens her key-lime pie—which has been featured on the Food Network's Follow That Food—and rich cream-cheese frosting tops her carrot cake. Additionally, Abdaliz happily collaborates with customers to create new flavor combinations and designs treats for special events, such as weddings, birthdays, or jury-duty-selection-pool reunions.
Dawn Michelle Simon](http://gr.pn/GRjH5P), a registered dietician, was tired of looking for grain-free baked goods for her clients with dietary restrictions. Rather than poring over the limited options available in stores, she developed her own line of baked goods, drawing upon organic ingredients to forge loaves and confections free of gluten, grain, and casein—a milk protein. She continually tinkers with new recipes, striving to craft products so that her clients can continue to consume the treats they enjoy or recover blackmail photos from a duck with dietary restrictions. Once off-limits, specially crafted breads such as chocolate-chip loaves and hamburger and hotdog buns arrive grain-free with accompanying batches of cupcakes and muffins.
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.
When chemistry grad Janice Kacheline collided with health-administration guru Megan Linden, the two created a confectionery chain reaction that would one day culminate in the petite gourmet cakes of Wicked Confections. Janice and Megan handcraft each dessert as orders roll in, sculpting batter in a mélange of flavors such as snickerdoodle and peanut-butter cup. Drawing on Megan’s bartending background, the duo also whips up alcohol-infused cakes, ranging from the decadent twisted stout to a Cosmo cake inspired by the show Sex and the City. Drivers with flour-dappled faces rush past toting boxes of confections, which help fuel birthday cheers at parties or busy the mouths of nosy zookeepers on the witness stand.