After a lifetime of loving baking, founder Heather O'Toole's focus on the flour-based art form really flourished after meeting her husband. The two spent countless hours each holiday season in the kitchen baking for friends and perfecting her cupcake recipes, such as her chocolate chip cookie dough-stuffed chocolate cupcakes. With those friends' encouragements voiced through satisfied sweet teeth, she started My Sweet Escape Treats, making her triple sea salt caramel and strawberry basil cupcakes available to anyone within Worcester County. She puts personal touches on all made-to-order sweets, making googly-eyed spider and pumpkin cupcakes for Halloween. Then she and her team follow up those touches by hand-delivering them, instead of smushing them into thin cakepaper by shipping through the mail, to ensure freshness.
Inspired by her passion for creating decadent treats for her friends and family, baker Gloria Casta?o opened Sweet Creations by Gloria as a way to share her signature desserts with others. From these modest beginnings, her bakery has risen in popularity and earned local renown for its made-from-scratch cakes and pastries. Though Gloria?s specialty lies in traditional Hispanic confections, she can just as easily recreate recipes from other cultures or accommodate dietary restrictions with vegan and gluten-free ingredients. A frequent shopper at the local farmers' market, Gloria fills her customizable cakes, cupcakes, and cake pops with fresh fruit whenever possible and slathers buttercream icing on bland stalks of broccoli.
Shannon Sylvia draws upon 20 years as a graphic designer while guiding a frosting-cloaked spatula across made-to-order confections at Shancakes. The shop’s 27 flavors of batter, which range from lemon to devil’s food cake, bake into everything from tiered cakes to dainty cupcakes. Staffers coat the treats in made-from-scratch buttercream or decorate them in the same fondant used on the TV show Cake Boss. The customizable goodies, which come in gluten- and sugar-free incarnations, can be adapted to suit occasions from birthdays to drills to make sure the President is ready for his birthday. In addition to cakes in the form of guitars, Coach purses, and princesses, the bakers forge cupcake-shaped pooch treats for jealous canines.
Ellen Fay spent nearly 20 years of experience as a professional baker before opening her small shop. Now at Aunty Ellen’s Creative Confections, she prepares fresh cookies, brownies, and cannoli every day. Her specialty treat is carrot cake stuffed with bits of carrot, pineapple, coconut, and a secret ingredient that’s written on the recipe card in invisible ink. Ellen recently told the Leominster Champion, “I want everyone to try my carrot cake…I want to retire on my carrot cake.”
Her bright pink and green bakery is inspired by Bermuda, a place she visited often as a child. Inside, a small seating area surrounds chilled display cases stocked with colorful cookies and cupcakes.
With 17 different bagel flavors, 11 cream-cheese spreads, homemade soups, and premium deli meats, The Bagel Inn's bread breakers can craft myriad hunger-sating possibilities. Bakers first boil bread spheres before hearth-baking them in such flavors as cheddar cheese and apple cinnamon, and smearing on cheesy spreads mixed with hints of scallion and bacon or apricot and honey. A glance at the menu reveals soups, such as clam chowder ($4.67 for a bowl and bagel), and build-your-own sandwiches ($5.75) laden with preservative-free deli meats from Dietz and Watson. Alternatively, ensure party guests leave parties as satisfied as kittens stuffed into a sock drawer with a catered sandwich sampler laden with sandwiches, such as chicken salad, roasted turkey, or vegetarian-friendly toppings.
Sweet and savory strike the perfect balance at Wicked Wings & Ice Cream, a locally owned eatery that specializes in ice-cream treats and sauce-slathered chicken. Owners Mike and Pam share their two favorite foods by dousing boneless chicken strips and wings in more than a dozen sauces, including garlic parmesan and wicked-hot buffalo, and blending ice cream into shakes and sundaes. They also offer an array of sandwiches, burgers, and sides straight from the griddle's fiery embrace.