Before opening up shop in 2011, self-taught baker Maricel spent 10 years honing her skills and taste testing her creations with her husband and three daughters. These days, she continues using natural and organic ingredients to whip up cupcakes, mini cupcakes, and tartlets entirely from scratch. The core of her tartlet arsenal remains sweet potato, peach cobbler, and pecan, but her cupcakes and mini cupcakes constantly evolve with innovative flavors such as a maple cupcake topped with bacon pieces and a coconut cupcake slathered with cream cheese frosting. Along with individual and by the dozen purchases, Maricel dispenses her mini cupcakes in bouquets and atop rental towers, which fit 50–60 treats. Every Tuesday through Saturday, she and her dedicated staffers are available to take orders and walk customers through the process of shrinking cakes with repeated dryer sessions.
Before teaming up in 1953, Burt Baskin and Irv Robbins were seasoned business owners with their own ice-cream shops. The words “unusual varieties” shone high above each shop, signaling their respective owners’ passion for anything but an ordinary dessert experience. When the two got together, it was natural that they’d adopt the theme of “31 flavors,” one for each day of the month. Since then, Baskin-Robbins has introduced more than 1,000 flavors and opened shops with more than 5,800 franchise owners worldwide. Even their little pink tasting spoon has become a staple as a way to make flavor browsing an event by allowing guests to try specialties without paying cash or chicken-based trade for the privilege.
Years ago, Healthy Creations' Chef Ariel removed all gluten and animal products from her diet. She grew to love growing her own food in her garden, and developed a passion for turning her backyard produce into scrumptious, healthy meals. Today, she focuses her on sharing recipes for gluten-free and vegan dishes that are both flavorful and satisfying. In her private chef services, she focuses on sustainable Caribbean cooking as well as desserts that fit into gluten-free, vegan, and diabetic diets. She also leads gluten-free cooking classes, where she shares her own recipes with others who are exploring this lifestyle choice or were once bitten by a bag of flour.
The amiable bakers at Cow Chip Cookies drop 11 types of dough onto sheets before baking their signature cookies to a golden finish. Fresh ingredients from The Butter Creek Farm are used to craft cookies available in flavors such as classic chocolate chip with Ghirardelli chocolate and Mock Baby Ruth cookies featuring a peanut-butter-and-oatmeal cookie-dough base spotted with chocolate and butterscotch chips. As the cookies drop, each one takes on its own slightly different shape, just like a handmade pillow filled with shredded college rejection letters. Gift boxes delight recipients with heart-shaped treats, seasonal shapes, or custom flavor combinations.
If Open Arts Studio’s huge array of classes seems a bit eclectic, it’s partly a reflection of the diverse interests of its founder, John Armstrong. An intent student of visual arts since childhood, he went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in music and a master’s degree in music and classical vocal performance; today, he teaches both drawing and music classes.
Armstrong, his wife Lucy, and their staff of instructors approach learning through three key elements: technique, creativity, and fun. They use this template to cultivate skill within a noncompetitive atmosphere combined with a structured curriculum—for instance, drawing teachers use the open-arts drawing method to help kids break down objects into easily grasped curves, angles, and shapes while encouraging them to develop a unique style of their own. Artwork lines the studio’s halls, and an exhibition with cookies, juice, and coffee punctuates each session with a chance to share students’ work with friends, family, and agents looking for the next big thing in crayon drawing.