In the wake of grandeur and fame, it's easy to forget the little guy. At Dragonfly Cakes, the bakers apply this principle to confections, elevating the smallest member of the cake family to the spotlight. They handcraft artisanal petits fours with natural ingredients, coating each triple-layer mini cake with buttercream, a splash of color, and ornate decorations. Their lemon petit four intertwines lemon filling with vanilla cake and lemon buttercream, and the chocolate petit four envelops chocolate cake and chocolate buttercream in a rich dark-chocolate ganache. They offer these treats predecorated in assorted boxes, or custom decorated for celebrations including Mother's Day, bridal showers, and Calvin Coolidge’s birthday. In their fully equipped kitchen, they also lead fun decorating classes, teaching students how to dip and ice their own delicate petits fours.
Founders Dena Tripp and Debra Shwetz started Nothing Bundt Cakes in Las Vegas with the simple aim of making cakes for their families and friends. But thanks to their handcrafted recipes, pure ingredients, and innovative decorating ideas, their business soon grew from a small home kitchen to a franchise, with locations in 13 states.
The custom-designed cakes?made with fresh eggs, real butter, and cream cheese?arrive in flavors ranging from white chocolate raspberry to lemon and chocolate chocolate chip. Thick, frosted petals atop each cake showcase the signature velvety cream-cheese frosting, which must be eaten swiftly before it glides away on a summer breeze.
A shingled two-story home has housed Muffin Mania since January 4, 1983, when late musician Rocky Sullivan opened the bakery to fulfill his Sicilian family's culinary legacy. Today, Rocky's wife, Ilona Agress, and his son, Dylan Galante, carry on the epicurean heritage by trekking to that same idyllic dwelling at 3 a.m. six days of the week to whip up fresh batches from scratch.
The duo shuns preservatives while assembling the café's rotating roster of muffins and instead brandishes all-natural ingredients to create such flavors as jalapeño and cheese and maple walnut. Sweet scones, croissants, and pastries join forces with top-quality coffee to devise powerful breakfasts, and Muffin Mania's fresh-baked bread cushions the hot and cold sandwiches that headline a smattering of lunch fare. A multitude of gluten-free and vegan muffins accommodate dietary requirements and some scavenger-hunt participants.
This 100% Latino-owned business uses 100% organic flour and 100% natural ingredients to assemble sweet and savory empanadas with a multilingual blend of Caribbean, Latin American, and Californian points of view. Herbivores and herbivoyeurs can delight their senses in the flavors of mushrooms with brie, onions, and spices ($45 per dozen), while their meat-minded brethren can tear into a savory, roasted chicken poblano with onion, poblano chile, red bell pepper, tomato, cilantro, and spices ($45 per dozen). To keep the taste buds on the other side of your tongue from rebelling and making everything taste like burnt hair, keep them happy with the apple-cinnamon-with-chocolate empanada infused with Turbinado sugar ($30 per dozen). These fresh and healthy treats come in both meal and cocktail size. As with square dancing, mixing and matching fillings is encouraged, as are odd-numbered orders.
Stephanie Kisak Tyson rekindled her life-long love for baking years ago when she began whipping up peanut butter treats for her old banking job's charity event. After rediscovering this passion for creating handmade baked goods, Stephanie founded her own company, A Piece of Cake and Confections, where she makes a living with toothsome creations such as baklava, gourmet cookies, and specialty cakes. In addition to supplying family dinners and birthday parties with fresh egg-nog pies, chocolate truffles, and cupcakes, A Piece of Cake instills the love of baking to its customers with plenty of hands-on cooking classes.
Though Andrea Ballus' wedding frustrations propelled her into reality-television fame, the camera never focused on personal drama?instead, it zoomed in on the cupcakes. As she planned her marriage, Andrea couldn't find a bakery innovative enough to cater her reception. Rather than settle for tired designs, she decided to create her own cupcakes, mixing confections in signature flavors and garnishing them with edible art. These concepts led to the first incarnation of Sift?a dessert venue whose ingenious edibles have since won first place on the Food Network's Cupcake Wars and returned to compete on Cupcake Champions.
Sift Dessert Bar's current cupcake menu pays homage to classic tastes as well as cunning combinations, from the Snickerdoodle and Samoa to the Berry Good Cheesecake?a vanilla cake atop a graham cracker crust, filled with raspberry jam and topped with cream cheese frosting. Visitors can pluck their favorites from the onsite displays or order custom servings that suit a wedding or party theme. In the past, Andrea and her staff have festooned cakes with images of cheerful dragonflies, company logos, and Pink Floyd album art as well as holiday graphics for New Year's and Christmas.
Alongside their signature item, Sift prepares a separate catalog of nostalgic desserts, including whoopie cookies, french macarons, and ice-cream sandwiches.