Deep down, owner Leslie Butler always wanted a job naming nail polish and lipstick shades. But her love of working with people, as well as her great affection for cake, led her to instead apply her naming skills to more than 100 cupcake flavors at The Lofty Cafe. Monikers like “The Devil Wears Raspberry” might need a bit of elaboration (chocolate cupcake with raspberry filling, topped with chocolate frosting and a raspberry candy speckled with brimstone), but others are deliciously self-explanatory: vanilla chai spice, maple bacon, and Boston cream. Many flavors are themed by season or occasion. A daily menu determines a few flavors that will be at hand, but customers can score any flavor if they order ahead.
Though it’s hard to imagine so many flavors fitting in Butler’s kitchen, that’s exactly where Butler and her daughter began their business. Unsurprisingly, they eventually expanded their space to offer a dining room and a full kitchen to suit their baking needs. Now they have the capacity to create many cupcake flavors that can be filled or topped with an array of sweets.
Without any formal culinary training, Christina Hoehn started tinkering with cake balls for a baking competition at her workplace. Following her co-worker’s unanimous approval of her german-chocolate, peanut-butter, and red-velvet spheres, Christina decided to take a risk and create Cake Kisses. Working from a pallet of fruity and decadent flavors, her cake balls and cake pops earn rave reviews for their moist center and detailed designs. Christina decorates ornate scenes, such as a phalanx of cake balls in the shape of tiny birds, smiling pandas, or football helmets. Christina also works one-on-one with brides to create special cake-lings for weddings, building tiny treats that can replace the wedding cake or sub-in for ping-pong balls.
A family-owned bakery, DS Cupcakes carts out dozens of its customizable confections each day, including sheet cakes, round cakes, and its namesake cupcakes. The team doesn’t make it easy to narrow down a choice either, as 16 cream-cheese and buttercream frostings dollop the moist cakes available in a dozen flavors, such as gingerbread, strawberry cheesecake, and pumpkin spice. Sweet fillings also nestle within the fluffy hiding places, waiting to envelop unsuspecting tongues with flavors of apple, raspberry, fudge, and others.
Behind Bluekiwi's sunny blue door, servers sprinkle dollops of nonfat frozen yogurt with fresh fruit and candy toppings. The owner draws from a degree in hospitality with an emphasis on nutrition to craft wholesome icy treats and answer customer questions and concerns, while counseling them against common nutritional errors such as trying to eat plastic fruit. The rotating selection of fresh yogurt flavors, such as classic California tart, cupcake, and cherry amaretto, teem with calcium, potassium, and live active cultures. Containers of freshly hewed fruit line countertops alongside dry cereal and candy toppings, while a stock of miniature cupcakes can deluge taste buds with mouthfuls of peanut-butter cup, cinnamon, and red-velvet flavors. Blue tabletops and Frank Gehry–style stools allow customers to linger over treats and chitchat, while whiteboard walls allow them to draw out detailed map reminders of where they parked their cars.
The fondant petals of a magnolia flower cascade down the face of a cake, fading from white to violet to midnight blue. Bunches of white roses burst from the top of a quintuple-layered, frosty white cake. Singular and elegant, cakes such as these have earned The West Side Bakery a variety of awards.
Though custom cakes are The West Side Bakery’s specialty, pastry chefs apply the same meticulous standards to other award-winning baked goods. They bake seasonal fruit pies, craft peach hazelnut tiramisu, and make more than a dozen varieties of cheesecake. Pastries run the gamut from simple shortbreads and biscotti to éclairs and cannolis. Additionally, the shop touts a huge vegan menu that includes vegan cakes, baklava, and tarts.
Patrons are welcome to take a seat at one of the cozy shop’s tables and devour their treats with a cup of cappuccino. If, unlike the cookie monster, they can’t justify eating dessert for every meal, they can also grab a tasty sandwich, fresh salad, or bowl of hot soup.
Cupcake Castle, true to its name, is a haven for cupcake lovers of all ages. In addition to more than 100 cupcake flavors, including peppermint patty and bubblegum, the café serves cake pops and cupshakes, which turn a cupcake of any flavor into a delectable milk shake. Youngsters can show off their artistic chops by decorating their own cupcakes with an unlimited supply of sprinkles and colored icing. In a Candy Land-themed room, Cupcake Castle hosts birthday parties chock full of treats, from a fruit-punch fountain to popcorn and cotton-candy machines. The birthday star gets a big cupcake cake–in any flavor–while every child gets to decorate two cupcakes and take them home to show off to parents or elementary-school admissions officers.