Gwen Willhite founded Cookies by Design in 1983, when an unsatisfying brainstorming session about gift ideas led her to ponder one question: why should flowers and sweets remain separate? Her solution was to design the cookie bouquet, where custom, hand-decorated cookies are displayed on sticks and arranged like flowers in gift baskets. Her invention quickly became a popular gift among locals, particularly those allergic to real blooms or too bashful to look at naked cookies.
Twenty-five years later, there are more than 200 Cookies by Design locations across the country. Each shop's team of bakers creates cookie baskets with a degree of care that matches Willhite's original vision, decorating and arranging sweet shapes for birthdays, holidays, and any other special occasion.
The Marble Slab Creamery sensory experience begins by just walking past the storefront, where the buttery scent of fresh-baked waffle cones drifts out into the air. Gourmet ice creams are freshly crafted on site from Marble Slab?s original recipe, enticing customer's eyes with a rainbow of colors. Once clients have made a flavor selection, they choose from a smorgasbord of mix-ins, from fresh fruit to nuts to candy and crumbled cookies. An ice cream chef then hand-folds these ingredients into the ice cream atop a frosty marble slab before packing the finished custom flavor into a house-made waffle cone.
In addition to hand-held treats, Marble Slab Creamery sends customers home with ice cream cakes with customized flavors and mix-ins, cupcakes, and hand-packed quarts. The store's catering team can even spruce up a corporate get-together or school function by bringing in a sundae bar.
At each Tropical Smoothie Cafe location, healthy choices abound with drinks consisting of fresh fruit and snacks loaded with veggies and premium meats and cheeses. The café’s colorful repertoire of smoothies runs the gamut from creamy, dessert-based indulgent creations to light and refreshing low-fat fruit options or frosty drinks boosted with supplements. Strawberries, bananas, and peaches mingle with exotic açaí and goji berries to form mouthwatering concoctions designed to deliver health-boosting antioxidants, essential nutrients and laser-vision-inducing vitamins. Drinks pair with ciabatta and griddled flatbread during breakfast and lunch, as well as with made-to-order salads and a host of wraps and sandwiches.
When serving as the centerpiece for an exhibit of fine crystal and china, an ornate cake made in the likeness of a table by Cut the Cake's bakers proved to be deceptively realistic. An inadvertently placed box sank into the cake’s edible wood grain and prompted an emergency visit from cake decorator Julie Manning, whose confectionary talents and keen aesthetic eye enabled her to quickly touch up the damaged buttercream before dawn.
Manning applies the same innovative spirit and attention to detail to each memorable wedding cake she creates, earning Cut the Cake five-star awards from Wedding Wire’s Bride’s Choice Awards in 2010, 2011, and 2012. In addition to brides-to-be and ambassadors from Candyland, her clientele has included icons such as James Brown, Lauryn Hill, and B.B. King.
In addition to cake staples such as vanilla and chocolate, Manning also bakes pieces with nontraditional flavors such as piña colada and chocolate mint with crumbled cookies. For an extra dose of sugar, she can accessorize her confections with one of 21 sweet or fruit-packed fillings.
When clients bite into a slice of cake from B350 Degrees Pastry Shop, they don't just taste gooey chocolate or rich buttercream frosting. They taste the freshness. That's because head pastry chef Ernesto Materan bakes each cake the morning of a special event to ensure it's moist until the last slice is served. He blends together cakes the old-fashioned way, in which he whirrs together butter and flour with handpicked strawberries and rich cocoa to make his signature cake flavors. He specializes in a select number of flavors, including lemon, almond, and red velvet, which he then customizes with his decadent fillings. These can include anything from raspberry jam to dulce de leche or amaretto mousse, all of which play off the crumbly cakes and creamy frostings. He makes his cake beautiful using fondant to create designs, or embraces simplicity with frosting options, such as chocolate ganache or buttercream.
Though many fro-yo shops have sprung up in recent years, TCBY is no newcomer to the scene. Since 1981, its shops have been scooping, swirling, and topping their lower-fat treat in crunchy candy and fruity sprinkles—but that doesn't mean they've been coasting. They're still innovating, whether it's tweaking standby flavors or developing their signature honey-vanilla Greek frozen yogurt that dishes out protein and fiber without any fat. Fro-yo artisans blend up Beriyo smoothies in flavors such as mangolada and purely peach or infuse Shivers with a choice of sweet topping options. To celebrate a birthday or a jury-duty-selection-pool reunion, you can opt for frozen yogurt cakes and pies. The piece-accommodating treats are layered with frozen yogurt and rich toppings to forge flavors such as chocolate decadence and peanut-buttery fudge pie.