Naticakes is a boutique cupcake and fro-yo shop that sates sweet teeth with more than 30 flavors of their bite-sized treats. The cupcake cache tests the sugary limits of the imagination, with inventive treats that range from the classic (vanilla-chocolate-chip, banana split, and german chocolate) to exotic varietals such as the gummy-worm-topped Dirt and Worms cake, or the coffee-frosted Opera cake, filled with a fervent sense of romanticism. Dulche de leche cakes arrive brimming with a creamy caramel topping, and the Pretty Princess double-strawberry cake complements its ruby-red interior with a tiara of pink sugar crystals.
Boasting baking savvy showcased in magazines and on Food Network's Cupcake Wars, Ivey Childers devises decadent confections in more than 20 playfully named flavors. Each miniature morsel is baked from scratch daily, then adorned with a balanced dose of creamy frosting before taking its place amid the shop's Victorian-inspired décor. Customers can savor the pillowy sweetness of Big Dreams, a strawberry cupcake crowned in cream-cheese icing whose recipe came to the owner in her sleep. Or they can dive into the rich custard center of the Boss cupcake, which infiltrates French dessert armies with an éclair-frosting disguise. The Good Kisser tops the ganache-covered goodness of chocolate cake with the zest of mint buttercream frosting and Andes mint pieces, merging light and dark sides more sweetly than Jekyll and Hyde’s grandma.
King Kandy of Candyland fame wasn’t born into royalty; he fought sweet tooth and sweet nail to gain power over that barbarous confectionary kingdom. Today’s Groupon recalls a time when a man’s worth was measured by the amount of sweet treats in his possession. For $20, you get $45 worth of gourmet desserts at Merveilleux Confections, the rustic-chic chocolate kitchen located in The Factory at Franklin.
Adults sip gourmet coffee as they unleash their children onto elaborate play equipment within Sodium's spacious facility, which also hosts labs for kids to experiment with art, music, and technology. Seated atop posh leather couches gripping steaming cups of freshly brewed lattes, cappuccinos, or mochas, parents watch their offspring scramble up wooden rungs and into a towering tree fort within Sodium’s cheerful yellow walls. Equipped with rock walls for older kids and complex mock villages complete with imagination-fostering grocery stores, diners, and credit unions for preschool entrepreneurs, Sodium’s play space caters to young explorers of all ages and interests. In addition to freeform playtime, kids supplement academics with organized workshops such as math and science tutoring, as well as raucous drumming, messy arts and crafts, and stimulating discussions about relativity.
In addition an extensive variety of bean-juice beverages with Zoka Coffee (which won the coveted Macro Roaster of the Year award from Roast Magazine in 2007), Maxximo Jo's offers a full menu of tea, specialty cold drinks, smoothies, freshly made gelato, sorbetto, and baked goods. Actors playing grooms get in character over the intermingling of white and dark chocolate in the tuxedo ($3.45/sm), while real-life brides gulp white-chocolate mocha frappes ($3.65/sm) to make dress trains perky enough to hover above the ground. For a classic fix, slurp the silky combination of steamed milk and espresso in a café latte ($2.85 for a small), or treat tasters to a walk on the wild side with a mocha valencia (dark chocolate with a twist of orange, $3.45/sm). Wake from dreams of cows balancing papayas on their noses with 100% fruit peach-pear-apricot smoothies ($3.80/sm) or Maxximo Jo's large selection of fresh gelato and sorbetto flavors ($4 for 6 oz. cup), often featuring favorites such as pistachio, guava, and caramel.
Schakolad Chocolate Factory, pronounced just like the chocolate factory it's named after, exemplifies chocolate craft by freshly preparing all of its decadent morsels on-site and out of the highest quality ingredients. The Schakolad world is one in which strawberries enjoy a casual bath in chocolate streams and one-bite truffles dress themselves in polite paper ruffles under the meticulous eye of trained chocolate artists. A boutique experience greets all customers, with seasonal marches of cocoa bunnies and sweetly arranged displays of assorted treats.