Bolstered by chocolate-making credentials gained by studying in Italy and San Francisco, Coco's Chocolate Cafe owner Fred Moore leads his team as they handcraft a menu of drinking chocolates and rich treats made from Valrhona and El Rey products. They give their signature turtles a twist with Madagascar vanilla beans, dip orange peels into pools of dark chocolate, and crown bourbon balls with sprinkles of chopped pecans. For romantic occasions, they also create lifelike chocolate roses ideal for presenting to a loved one or laying at the grave of a chocolate bunny. Inside the cozy café, warm lighting splashes from pendant lights onto tangerine walls and granite-topped tables as customers devour european mousse in white-chocolate cups and cool off with vanilla affogatos—chilled espresso and ice cream topped with fresh whipped cream and served in martini glasses. The shade of a red awning makes the outdoor patio's wrought-iron tables ideal for savoring homemade ice creams, such as peppermint-infused mint chocolate chip, espresso vanilla, and a vegan cashew-based variety.
When the Perry and Burke families joined forces to open Sweet n Swirly, they shared a vision of promoting a healthier alternative to ice cream. Neither family could have predicted, however, how quickly that vision would catch on.
Today, visitors stream into a trio of cheery, welcoming locations in Kentucky and Indiana, eagerly sidling up to self-serve stations that protrude from walls painted in vibrant pinks and purples. These stations pump out 10 creamy flavors at any given time, including no-sugar-added options and nondairy sorbets.
The ever-changing lineup of flavors runs the gamut from refreshing to decadent. On one side of the spectrum are tart, summery variations such as blueberry, ginger lemonade, and non-dairy sorbet, whereas choices inspired by more traditional desserts include peanut butter and root-beer float. A candy wall proffers toppings such as jellybeans and chocolate sunflower seeds.
Caramanda's skilled bakers can whip up freshly baked cupcakes in maple pecan and caramel banana cream or sumptuous butterscotch and peanut butter chunk cookies for carryout. The bakery also employs skilled 3D cake-makers, who can morph fondant into a dragon for a birthday, or create a pair of wearable cake gloves for an upcoming boxing match.
The talented team at Heitzman Pink Box Bakery has been churning out handcrafted sweets and freshly baked goods for more than 120 years. The enticing aromas drift out from four locations, each boasting made-from-scratch meringue pies along with tangy loaves of sourdough bread. In addition to whipping up italian cream and red velvet specialty flavored cakes, the team flexes their creativity with custom varieties: they transform digital files into edible desserts and whittle sheet cakes into miniature castles or to-scale studio apartments. The bakers also personalize five shapes of wedding cake by encouraging clients to bring in their own colorful ribbons, fresh flowers, and ornaments.
Choices Yogurt Bar lays out a spread of 15 healthy frozen yogurts and 50 toppings and keeps health-savvy patrons informed by posting the treats' nutrition stats online. Tongues travel across a varied landscape of yogurt flavors⎯from Blueberry Acai Original Tart to smooth and creamy Country Vanilla⎯each packed with beneficial live cultures that aid in digestion, help reduce cholesterol, and introduce stomach to opera. Cups weigh in at the counter as patrons check email or skateboard the web over the shop's free WiFi.
Dedicated to combining the pleasures of tea and "good, wholesome food," according to co-owner Karter Louis in the Louisville Eccentric Observer, Hillbilly Tea invites patrons to sip at organic whole leaf teas and feast on mountain-inspired fare made from locally sourced ingredients. Like in a lavish dollhouse sauna, steam rises from mugs filled with black, green, herbal, and rare teas, from the sweet, full-bodied sweet grass tea to the aromatic Remedy tea. Ingredients from local enterprises such as Duncan Farms and Stone Cross Farms combine for contemporary fare based on traditional Appalachian recipes, and vegetarian options such as barbecue tofu skewers slay hunger more effectively than a medieval knight in a chain-mail apron. Praised for its "old-fashioned country cooking" by the Courier Journal, Hillbilly Tea complements its brunch, lunch, and dinner dishes with savory additions such as chai butter and tomato jam.