The sugar-savvy staff of The Gingerbread Shop furnishes holiday crafters with the oodles of candied accouterments needed to create their own delectable gingerbread domiciles, hosts candy-filled gingerbread-house-building workshops, and constructs premade edible abodes for sweets enthusiasts. Customers may opt to have a customized handmade gingerbread house shipped directly to their homes or to a loved one in all its royal-icing-bound and decorated domesticity. The house can grace your holiday table, be gifted to the acquisitions intern, or serve as a home for errant glazed hams. Each handcrafted house can be customized, allowing meticulous house builders to add a name, date, or Lilliputian real-estate appraiser to each delectable creation. Alternatively, in preparation for each one-hour gingerbread-house workshop, participants settle into the festive shop environs before settling down to embellish houses with a cornucopia of delicious items including red hots, mints, sprinkles, gumdrops, and candy-framed mortgage-payment checks. Royal icing in an array of hues binds walls and roofs together, and punch, cookies, and Christmas music twinkling in the background enhance the nostalgic and festive experience.
A self-proclaimed sculpture-cake confectioner, Sweetest Desserts rolls out a menu filled with fresh batches of hand-decorated and artfully crafted cakes, cupcakes, and other desserts. Using quality ingredients, the bakery creates a variety of custom cupcakes ($12.50/dozen), which are available in more than 25 base flavors, such as classic crisp vanilla, decadent mocha crunch, and moist southern red velvet. Optional fillings ($2.25/dozen) include chocolate ganache, lemon cream, and va va vanilla mousse. Fresh, succulent strawberries are drizzled and dressed in milk, dark, and white chocolate before being accessorized with nuts and coconut shavings ($19.95 for 18), and tasty tartlets ($13.95/dozen) are stuffed with apples, berries, and white chocolate mousse before they sashay across your mouth’s red carpet. Customers can either visit the bake shop in person or opt for delivery, which is available to Pittsburgh and surrounding areas within a 50-mile radius for an additional fee of $6 to $11.
Though its sweet shoppe is a new addition, Charlie's has been serving ice cream for over 30 years, long enough to witness both I Love the '80s and its original source material. Try your tongue on one of Charlie's time-honored soft-serve treats in chocolate ($2/medium), vanilla ($2/medium), yogurt ($2.35/medium), or Dole ($2.35/medium) in a cake cone. Charlie's can also add any of 36 flavors, including butterscotch, espresso, cheesecake, mango, and many more into any of its soft-serve flavors. Or opt to sharpen your teeth on two scoops of classically flavored hard-serve in a cake cone ($2.25). Sugar-free options in butter pecan and fudge ripple help keep discerning diets in tact. Ice cream is also skillfully injected into cakes, pies, and cookie sandwiches, bridging the gap between Charlie's old and Charlie's new with a filling more satisfying than caulk. Swing by the sweet shoppe portion of the dessertery to pick up some home-style baked goods, such as cookies, brownies, crème horns, muffins, tarts, apple dumplings, cakes, savory pepperoni rolls, and more. Pie, cake, and other large orders must be placed 24–48 hours in advance.
In her bio, Margaret Harris jokes that she "may have had her first 'cup of tea' when she was only one day old." That's because Harris was raised in Poland, where tea, she writes, "is the primary household beverage." Today, she applies her training at the Warsaw Medical College to discuss the health benefits of her brews with customers at her tea-and-coffee shop, Margaret's Fine Imports. In addition to stocking more than 200 types of loose-leaf tea, from Chinese green tea to British teas such as Taylor's Yorkshire Gold tea and PG Tips, Harris completes proper tea times with German and Polish sweets, Asian-style tea sets, and napkins autographed by the Mad Hatter.
The proudly independent family crew that runs The Pittsburgh Bagel Factory brings the same commitment to tasty food and early-rising work ethics that made their bagels a local staple to their new Craig St. location. After baking their bagels, which include everything from savory onion to multigrain wildberry, the kitchen staff puts them to work, schmearing them with cream cheese concoctions or sandwiching them with deli meats including oven-roasted turkey and kosher salami. Custom blends of eggs, morning meats, and cheese gussy up handheld comestibles, while burgers flip from sizzling grills to challah buns dressed with toppings ranging from grilled onions and mushrooms to fried eggs and peach barbecue sauce. Staff also pull shots of espresso to add to steaming mugs that vanquish sleepiness from faces.
The pastry chefs at Gone Cupcaking Across America share a wealth of gourmet cupcake experience with aspiring dessert artisans, in flavors that include whisked buttercream atop classic vanilla, chocolate, and red-velvet cake bases, and more exotic choices such as Grand Marnier or peaches 'n' cream. At lessons, students learn piping techniques, how to make frosting, and how to make iced flowers without the hassle of fertilizing regular flowers with milk and butter.