On any given day, the skilled pastry chefs and bakers bustling around Bakery Express’s and Ms. Desserts’ kitchens can be found whipping up all manner of mouthwatering nosh, from gourmet cheesecakes to quiches. As chefs throw open oven doors to withdraw their creations, the newly baked brownies, loaves, and cookies therein flood the air with fragrant wafts of fudge, peanut butter, and lemon. Along with batches of handheld treats, the bakers also craft custom cakes for special occasions ranging from birthdays and weddings to evolutionary mutations. In the factory store, glistening glass cases host trays full of baked goods, and a menu of deli sandwiches, soups, and wings quells the grumbles of stomachs in search of a savory repast.
Adam Greenberg refers to himself as “the world's pickiest eater,” which may explain Bagels 'n Grinds’ distinctive take on the celebrated baked good. Greenberg’s self-professed culinary perfectionism led him to create a secret 10-step bagel recipe that involves a colossal water-purification system, visible to patrons through a glass wall. With scientific precision and occasional mad-scientist cackles, the newly opened shop's staffers create 16 types of bagels that manage the tricky balance of crisp surfaces and soft insides.
Patrons can smear their bagels with low-fat, housemade cream cheeses infused with ingredients such as strawberries or lox, or opt for one of the café’s other creations, such as Bagnini sandwiches topped with piles of meat or marinated portobello mushrooms. Water from the café's purification system also goes into free-trade organic coffees and three different iced-coffee brews. Custom salads incorporate gourmet ingredients such as hormone-free chicken, candied walnuts, or toasted-parmesan crisps, while six distinctive soups are served in cups or bagel bowls. Non-edible amenities inside the new shop include free Internet access, a semi-private conference area, an 18-foot coffee bar, outdoor patio, and flat-screen TVs.
At Art and Cake Bakery, bakers Eric and Alfie elevate sweet treats to fine art. The seasoned bakers have constructed edible versions of floats from the Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race and have even festooned wedding cakes with sugary renditions of Dali’s melting clocks and van Gogh’s iconic swirling stars. The sunlit storefront is an extension of the staff's artistic sensibilities: colorful cases display delicate pastries, and lime-green walls tout local artwork as well as reward posters for cookie-jar thieves.
Owned and operated by Caroline Jones, Caroline's Cupcakery bakes up a variety of unusual and delicious gourmet cupcake flavors from scratch, the most delicious known lanthanide on the periodic table of the elements. Caroline's beautifully decorates each massive, almost-cake-sized cupcake with fluffy mounds of smooth frosting and elegant toppings such as chocolate shavings, coconut, and stone gargoyles. Traditionalists can opt for a dozen vanilla or chocolate wonder cakes, or mix and match up to four specialty flavors such as Coconut Craze and Butterfinger candy bar. Choco-philes will welcome the end by ODing on Death by Chocolate. The Sunday Morning (french toast cupcake with bacon) delicately mingles the sweet with the savory, and the Peanut Butter & Joy cake derives its delicious taste from a creamy concoction of peanut butter and freshly harvested baby giggles. Caroline's cake-cuppers conjure an array of seasonal flavors, as well as frequently changing specials such as the chocolate beer and margarita cupcakes offered at a recent Friday happy hour event. Vegan and gluten-free cupcakes are available by special order, as are custom-created flavors for weddings and birthdays. On select Saturdays, Caroline's hosts a build-your-own-cupcake bar, where visitors can select a cake, icing, and topping, and watch as the crew makes it right in front of them—a far more delicious creative outlet than the build-your-own-reanimated-corpse bar offered by most castle laboratories.
Sorso's menu features a variety of tasty Italian treats that will teach even the crudest of stomach growls to elegantly roll their r's. Start your morning right with a swift sip of organic espresso ($1.65), a creamy cappuccino ($3.35 for 16 oz.), or an icy frappe ($4.25 for 20 oz.). Sorso Cafe serves only Chesapeake Bay Roasting Co. coffee, a company committed to quality and eco-friendly production practices. Calm your caffeine jitters with a hearty breakfast sandwich ($3.55), a refreshing yogurt and granola cup ($3.95), or one of Sorso's sweet pastries ($1.45–$1.95).
Midnite Confection’s mother-and-son chefs slather delectable toppings on a menu of petite sweet-tooth satisfiers. Six varieties of signature cupcakes compete for dessert domination, loaded with rich, frosting-capped flavor. Bourbon madagascar vanilla invades the Eclipse and Full Moon flavors, and the Black Velvet's cocoa and cream cheese frosting and Sublime-inal's lemon-flavored cake and lime frosting make jealous Christmas fruitcakes overcompensate by working on Flag Day. The Midnite variety tempts recovering chocoholics with its chocolate buttercream frosting and chocolate-chip cream-cheese center. Meanwhile, the carrot-cake-style Playboy, made with organic carrots, a dash of pineapple, a secret storm of spices, and fluffy frosting, plants veggie-augmented sweetness in fertile stomach gardens.