When Forest Mars Sr. was a boy, in 1911, he watched with rapt attention as his mother, Ethel, crafted gourmet chocolates in their kitchen. 70 years later, he honored her memory by making chocolates of his own in Henderson, Nevada, where today a small factory still whips up his mother's recipes alongside modern confections. Traditional candies mingle nuts, crème liqueurs, and caramels with dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and truffles. Handpicked pecans float amid chocolate and butter in Ethel M's signature brittles, and milk, dark, and sugar-free chocolate envelops bite-sized treats such as espresso beans, pretzels, and fruit. Ethel M Chocolates invites visitors to tour the factory, where chocolatiers prove sweets can be made without preservatives or the witchcraft of Keebler elves, before sending candies to seven Las Vegas–area shops.
Gleaning her baking skills from her mother and grandmother, Gigi's Cupcakes' eponymous owner and founder opened her first cupcake hub in 2008, drawing upon her entrepreneurial spirit and gift for crafting beautifully topped cupcakes. The franchised cupcakery now has 80 locations, each of which churns out flavors that rotate daily and are made fresh every morning. The shop's selection of more than 30 flavors includes wedding cake, Scarlett’s red velvet, and Miss Princess. Patrons can pick out sweet treats from the daily selection or preorder them at least one day in advance online, by phone, or via singing telegram.
Bentley's extensive menu delivers coffee beverages, teas, and snacks to the open hands of patrons. Regular coffee, tea, or hot cocoa fits into 16- and 24-ounce containers ($1.50/$2), and additional bean-based drinks ($2/$3) take the form of a caramel macchiato, white-chocolate mocha, and flavored lattes. The E.M.T. and caramel mocha employ a double-shot of espresso ($3/$4) and pair well with breakfast pastries ($2) such as muffins, danishes, turnovers, and bagels, or a hefty breakfast burrito, stuffed with a daunting pound of eggs, cheese, hash browns, and a choice of sausage, bacon, or vegetables ($3/$5).
Pura Vida Bakery & Bystro chef and owner Mayra Trabulse has one goal: to create compassionate cuisine with a level of flavor that reflects her diverse cultural background. As she shared with Katherine Fernelius of Vegas Seven, Mayra is half Lebanese and half Cuban, and was born and raised in Mexico City. After moving to Las Vegas and attending community college, Mayra found herself unfulfilled. She decided to relocate to Florida, where she began to explore the politics of eating and her own relationship with food. She founded a catering business and became a private vegan chef before returning once more to Las Vegas to share her signature Caribbean- and Southwest-inspired dishes with Nevadans.
Mayra incorporated the Spanish phrase "pura vida" into the moniker of her eatery because it's a greeting or a farewell that can signify a sense of community and enjoying life slowly. That's exactly what she wants diners to feel at the restaurant, where she uses local, organic, fair-trade ingredients and incorporates macrobiotic, Ayurvedic, and raw-food principles in her low-temperature cooking. Mayra enhances her creations with unrefined oils and sweeteners and grinds whole spices for maximum flavor. Boasting a designated gluten-free area of her kitchen, she can cater to most any dietary restriction—Vanessa Meier of The Green Girl Next Door blog described how Mayra composed custom, on-the-fly dishes that were "beautiful and clearly prepared with so much love" for her and her husband.
And Meier isn't the only critic to take note of the blossoming restaurant: it earned Las Vegas Weekly’s 2012 Best Vegan Eating award and was named the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Dining Pick of the Week in October 2012. Mayra and her team also cater special events and bake custom vegan wedding cakes for couples being married by an Elvis wearing faux-blue-suede shoes.
“You can’t be mad when you’re eating gelato,” says Gelato Café CEO and managing member Ronnie Lee, who counts on his scoops of creamy gelato and fruity sorbet to cheer everyone who visits his walkup stand on Las Vegas Boulevard. Inspired by more than a decade of living in Italy as an award-winning techno and dance pop star, Lee scoops more than 18 flavors of dense gelato into house-made waffle bowls. Each bite comes with rich flavor, as well as fewer calories and less butterfat than ice cream. Friendly staffers pour gourmet Illy coffee and European-style hot chocolate to complement each cone, bowl, and sundae. In addition to its location in the Fashion Show Mall, Gelato Café’s scoops also grace the Four Seasons, conventions for companies such as Yahoo, and dinner tables in several restaurants throughout the city.:
An online bakery, Sweet Affairs Bake Shop keeps its virtual display cases stocked with a diverse selection of couture desserts and decadent treats. The menu includes made-from-scratch cupcakes, full-size cakes, truffles, and s’mores, all of which forego preservatives and pre-packaged additives in favor of natural ingredients. Sweet Affairs’ motto, “Variety is the spice of life,” manifests itself in the shop’s seemingly endless number of flavors, fillings, frostings, and extras.