The sweet-toothed masterminds of Yo So Cool chill health-conscious tongues with calcium-rich, self-serve frozen yogurt in 12 flavors du jour ($0.42/ounce). Visitors to the modern dessert lair can fill 100% recyclable cups with fruity frozen treats such as the sweet mango, tangy pomegranate, and fresh blueberry; or indulge baked-good hankerings with creamy-cheesecake and red-velvet varietals. Dessert artisans paint frozen canvases with more than 30 toppings including fresh fruit, popular cereals such as Quarterback Crunch, candy, cookies, white-chocolate-iced cake balls, and syrupy syrups. The kosher-certified sweet swirls contain live active cultures and come in gluten-free, sugar-free, and non- and low-fat varieties.
Armed with just a single, generations-old cookie recipe, Great American Cookies opened its first store in 1977, and the rest is history. Today, the franchise boasts locations in malls across the country and nabbed a coveted spot on Entrepreneur magazine?s 2012 Top 500 Franchises in the baked-goods category. As the shop?s reputation grew, so did its menu as chefs churned out a mouthwatering roster of gourmet-cookie recipes, each created and carefully tested in Atlanta. The tempting options now include snickerdoodle, peanut butter with M&Ms, and chewy pecan supreme, as well as freshly baked fudge and cheesecake brownies, and cookie sandwiches stuffed with frosting. The real show-stoppers, however, are the giant chocolate-chip cookie cakes, which can be customized with sweet, celebratory messages or shopping lists penned in colorful icing.
Aromas of baking sourdough, amber rye, and brioche bread waft from the ovens of Texas French Bread, winner of the Austin Chronicle's Restaurant Poll Readers award for Best Bread in 2009, 2010, and 2011. For the past three decades, these ovens have been churning out artisan breads, pastries, and desserts made from scratch, and under the helm of brothers Ben and Murphy Willcott, the ovens now cook a dinner menu of local and sustainable rustic French fare, earning a place in the top five on the Growers Alliance of Central Texas's Truly Local 2011 restaurants survey. Yet neither of the brothers set out to be bakers. Murph, a Harvard law-school graduate and lawyer, and Ben, a student of English literature, both enjoyed staying up late, cooking, and coordinating aprons with spatulas so they decided to take over Texas French Bread with the goal of turning it from bakery into bistro because, as Murph claims, "rock star and/or Hollywood movie mogul seemed like a stretch."
In the kitchen, Ben crafts a weekly rotating menu hewn under the guidelines of famed chef Alice Waters, with local, fresh, and simple ingredients from the urban farms of Boggy Creek and Angel Valley, served in season at their peak. Meanwhile, the pastry chef sculpts key-lime tartlets, cupcakes, and cream puffs to accompany cups of coffee or espresso drinks made with locally roasted beans from Anderson's Coffee Company. The house blend combines premium East African beans with a Costa Rican hard bean, barrel-cooked to a medium-brown, full-city roast to jump-start mornings without licking a car battery.
Amazing Kakes sugar artists Yvette Humbert and Kim Sanchez, whose creations have been featured on the Food Network and in The Knot’s Best of Weddings 2010, apply their artistry to made-to-order wedding cakes, cupcakes, and cake pops. The flavorings and fondant in their cakes hail from Switzerland, imparting a distinct European note to flavors that range in complexity from red velvet to champagne bellini. The duo's commitment to detail extends to its firm stance on only designing wedding cakes in-person, though the two have flown as far as San Francisco and the moon to construct and attend to celebratory pastries.
Humbert and her fleet of instructors share their expertise in cake-making classes, teaching students to mimic their magic in a roomy, sunlit classroom. In general classes, including topics such as how to make fondant or gum-paste flowers, bakers add new techniques to their repertoires, and during more specific classes, they learn to build cakes that resemble anything from the University of Texas at Austin tower to a high-heeled shoe. All materials are generally provided, allowing students to observe firsthand Amazing Kakes’ efforts to use exclusively sustainable and nontoxic products.
It was a fateful night in January 1999 when the bellies of college sophomores Leon and Tiffany started to rumble. The two UT Austin students convened at Leon's apartment, where they whipped up a batch of chocolate-chip cookies in his oven. As they chewed on the warm, gooey fruits of their labor, the pair was struck by the idea to sell these freshly baked cookies to their fellow students. They began delivering treats to their peers during evening study breaks before expanding their customer base to include parents and Austin residents, all the while renting the back kitchen of a local restaurant to accommodate the growing demand.
Fifteen years later, the indulgent lure of Tiff's Treats has helped Leon and Tiffany open 13 locations throughout Austin, Dallas, and Houston. Within these bakeries, kitchen crews sculpt fresh dough into 10 types of cookies, supplementing the gooey morsels with decadent brownies and signature Tiffwiches?vanilla Blue Bell ice cream sandwiched between two warm cookies. Bakers hand-deliver batches every day, pulling them fresh from the oven instead of the overheated engine block of the delivery car.
In early 2010, small business owners David Ansel and Matt Shook both happened to grab a midday bite at the same local bakery, according to the Austin Chronicle. As David lamented the summer lags at his soup shop, Matt commiserated with recollections of wintertime dry spells at his smoothie business. The solution suddenly became clear: they would combine their seasonally oriented enterprises and together enjoy thriving business year-round.
Matt and David’s joint enterprise, Juicebox & Soup Peddler, launched in a small, rehabbed shed. There, the duo began to dispense their largely vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free soups and sandwiches through a food window, as well as appease patrons with fruity juices and smoothie blends that are easier to throw in rivals’ faces than wet cement. In June of 2012, their venture expanded to include a storefront splashed with an orange hue and a mural of veggies, as well as a booming delivery branch that drops ready-to-heat soups and sandwiches on doorsteps or down chimneys.