A stack of hefty Harry Potter novels sits atop a table, along with a few odds and ends that look like they belong to Harry himself: a wand, a Gryffindor scarf, a pair of circular spectacles. But the grinning girl posing behind the books isn’t smiling because she just encountered the boy wizard. She’s beaming because today is her Sweet 16 party, and the items in front of her are actually elaborate cakes masquerading as novels and wizard accessories. The birthday girl has Annie’s Culinary Creations to thank. The bakers at Annie’s specialize in crafting cakes that reflect each customer’s personality, whether that means a cake shaped like a flip-flop, an electric guitar, or Indiana Jones’s hat and suitcase. The bakers create these varied masterpieces with equally varied flavor options, including peanut-butter-cup filling (a customer favorite), almond buttercream icing, and marshmallow fondant. And the confectioner’s more traditional offerings such as petit fours, cookies, and three-tiered wedding cakes still inspire awe with their meticulous craftsmanship.
Some quick Texas facts: the state bird is the mockingbird; the state motto is "friendship;" and the state cupcake is berry pecan. Lisa Britten didn't think that her baked goods had governing potential until 2010, when her signature flavor was sworn in as the official cupcake of Texas after winning a statewide contest. The famed cupcake didn't receive any bodyguards, however. On the contrary?anyone can eat it if they time their trip to Sugar Queen Cupcakes just right.
Berry pecan is one of several rotating favorites on the shop's menu. Others include snickerdoodle, coconut cream, and even pancakes and bacon. Thankfully, though, mainstays such as cream cheese lime and chocolate chocolate chip are available every day. Lisa can also stack her cupcakes in tiers for special events. Her creative themes might delight the eye with cheery sunflowers or add a rustic charm to pumpkin-spice cupcakes by arranging them atop a slice of tree trunk.
For more than a quarter of a century, Roza and Sam Volfson—owners of both A&J Bakery and In the Mix Bakery—have labored at the ovens, honing their craft in professional kitchens, culinary schools, and catering services until they perfected the techniques used to craft each of their mouthwatering personalized desserts. After emigrating from Russia in the early '80s, the couple brought with them years of training in European pastry craft, along with Roza's own original recipes for conjuring lavishly decorated, multitier wedding cakes and then patiently chiseling them down into lovely petits fours. Beyond crafting custom confections for the likes of the Dallas Mavericks and Bank of America, the duo has also won numerous accolades for their sugary treats, including a 2010 nomination for Best Bakery for Sweets by D Magazine and an award for Best Cinnamon Rolls in Dallas from the Dallas Observer in 2003.
It?s no coincidence that Eatzi sounds a bit like the word ?easy??convenience is exactly what the European-style market?s founders had in mind. But unlike typical to-go spots, Eatzi?s convenience doesn?t equate to mediocre quality. Instead, chefs sear meat and other hot entrees fresh for customers at the open-air grill. They fill display cases with gourmet salads and sides and allow shoppers to sample anything in order to make a decision. And on the bakery side, a European baker with more than 30 years of experience oversees the production of fresh loaves of bread and makes sure that each baguette will fit in the standard Parisian bike basket. Of course, there are plenty of artisan cheeses, deli meats, olive oils, vinegars, marinades, and mustards for the taking in the market, too. The staff can even help pair a bottle of champagne or cabernet with chosen meals.
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.