At Kathy's Cakes and Specialty Treats, artistic confectioners whip together an array of made-from-scratch sweets to sate cravings for classic or fruity tastes. Cupcake flavors include vanilla, chocolate, almond, and marble alongside colorful treats such as lemon, orange, and pineapple. Customers can choose to have their cupcakes filled in the middle with a dollop of strawberry cream, raspberry cream, whipped cream, or frosting that's as sweet and alluring as a chocolate-covered love letter. The three tables at Kathy's let partakers of dessert sit as they dip into their delicious rewards, and the nearby Oswego River makes for a relaxing place to fuse the cupcake-eating experience with a stroll, some fresh air, and a session of bare-footed water skiing.
One part ice-cream parlor, one part indoor playground. That’s Merlin’s Ice Cream and Bounce House’s recipe for all-in-one family entertainment. After ricocheting off the walls of inflatables, navigating obstacle courses, and slipping down slides, kids aged 10 and under rejoin their parents to make their own sundaes with housemade ice creams, sherbets, and frozen yogurts, as well as a variety of toppings.
When Nord Brue and Mike Dressell began perfecting their recipe with the help of a professional NYC bagel maker in 1983, the bagel was still an anomaly in the food world—it was, for the most part, geographically and culturally isolated in New York City. Fueled by a desire to change this reality, the duo opened up the first Bruegger's deli with the hope of eventually introducing the rest of the country to the bagel. Brue and Dressell have since realized their dream, sharing their distinctive recipes and culinary traditions at 300 locations spread across 26 states. To this day, they oven-bake their center-less bread rolls every morning and afternoon, populating counter displays that also brim with daily made breads, Vermont cream cheese, and custom-roasted coffee.
Executive Chef Philip Smith and his network of gourmands use the original five-ingredient recipe for their bagel dough, which they shape into more than 20 varieties. Certain menu items may vary from store to store across the country; they draw from each region's local recipes garnered from dialogue between local consumers and store bakers, eschewing the homogenized approach to food adopted by many national chains and preprogrammed chef bots.
Sometimes staffers slather bagels in eclectic cream cheeses such as wasabi, garden veggie, pumpkin, and smoked salmon, or they sandwich them around meats, cheeses, and spreads to evoke the flavor of chipotle or a california sushi roll. Culinary crews assemble meals from local, and often organic, produce and craft bagels and breads from locally milled flour. Baristas also pour house blends of only 100% arabica coffee that is certified sustainable by the Rainforest Alliance.
Tina Corso Hess and her team of bakers follow their own special recipe to craft artful cookie bouquets. Her signature cookie is a modified version of the classic shortbread with a softer texture that melts in your mouth. The Syracuse-based team bedecks 5–12 cookies with royal frosting, with a variety of designs that are ideal for birthdays, holidays, or a friend who just found out he's not the heir to a famous candy factory. Each 4- to 5-inch cookie is individually wrapped to preserve its design, keeping it fresh for up to 90 days without refrigeration.
A student of the baking arts for most of his life, Mario has more than 40 years of experience in the field, stretching back to when he learned the subtle art of yeast fermentation from a European immigrant. The same “from scratch” mentality still pervades his recipes for cakes, breads, rolls, and cookies made each day at Mario’s Bakery, Inc. Here, curved-glass display cases protect a colorful collection of delectables hewing to that from-scratch m.o.: traditional Italian cookies, buttery rugula, and flaky, honey-kissed baklava. Along with freshly baked bread and rolls, the shop also serves cakes with edible images, pastries and other specialties for various occasions.
Channeling the artistic vision she developed as a graphic designer, Dessert Muse owner Melissa Port devises cupcakes that please both the eyes and the mouth. She crafts each made-to-order cupcake using secret recipes handed down from her grandmother and infuses them with one of 17 everyday flavors or 12 seasonal flavors that rotate monthly. Among the collection of everyday flavors are the classic red velvet with roasted-pecan cream-cheese frosting and the unique margarita, which features a citrus cupcake topped with lime buttercream and pinches of sea salt and lime zest. If you want a souvenir version of the cupcake you just ate, Dessert Muse also offers bite-sized miniature 'cakes available in all 29 flavors.