Teri Scheff, a skilled ceramics sculptor and the founder of Artrageous Desserts, augments celebrations with customizable cupcakes and cakes, in traditional stacks or eye-catching original designs. Armed with a spatula and steady hand, the playful artist crafts cakes for weddings or other special occasions in the likeness of family pets, a new car, or a conventional birthday cake's long-lost twin. The bakery's mature-cake division boasts racy designs in anatomically inspired shapes and adult-themed inscriptions.
Dayton-based Esther Price Chocolates draws upon eight decades of confectionary craft to build wonders rich with cocoa, cream, and fruity and savory fillings. Like Stephen Hawking’s checkbook, the 18-ounce box of light and dark assorted chocolates ($13.25) brings balance to an off-kilter universe, wrapping gold foil around Esther Price’s most in-demand delectables—peanut-butter cream, caramel pecans, chocolate-covered cherries, and more. Other offerings include nut-infused bark ($15 for two 8 oz. boxes), hot chocolate ($10.95 for 12 oz. tin), and chocolate-splashed sweetheart mints ($16 for two 16 oz. boxes) for whenever one needs to freshen up before kissing their dessert. In the interest of democratizing deliciousness, the shop also outputs a variety of sugar-free alternatives including sugar-free peanut butter truffles ($8.80 for 8 oz. box).
With graduations, weddings, and whale-wrestling season fast approaching, a customized party cake serves as a tasty treat for groups of gathered revelers. A 10-inch party cake from Maribelle serves about 30 people, and the cakery's abundant bounty of flavors and fillings will please even the most picky cake connoisseur. Plump a lemon almond cake with red raspberry filling, or infuse a rich German chocolate cake with fresh sliced strawberries or Frangelico cream. Any combination of bakery beautifying extras—be they fresh-cut or frosting flowers, chocolate-dipped strawberries, chocolate curls and shavings, or curly ribbons—are included in the price, so pile on the ornamentation to construct a memorable masterpiece.
One taste of Aroma’s more than 100 flavors—including chocolate amaretto, green apple, peanut butter, pistachio, watermelon, even earthworm—and you’ll understand why gelato is like ice cream multiplied by itself. Sporting a svelte 10% butterfat content (compared to ice cream’s 18%), gelato is also healthier and made by a process that doesn’t inject air into the mixture, resulting in a dense, delicious flavor that can only be adequately expressed with joyful bursts of Italian gibberish and interpretive dance battles. Aroma’s gelateria keeps 24 of its 100 flavors chilling in the display case at a cozy 5–10 degrees Fahrenheit, which you can sample in a variety of sizes, such as small ($2.75), medium ($3.25), large ($4), pint ($8), quart ($12), 1/2 gallon ($20), full pan (serves 40, $35), and wheelbarrow (party-sized, served with a giant spoon).
You won’t find stale cookies and days-old cakes within the glass display case at Sugar Darlin’s Sweets and Such. In fact, you won’t even find a display case. That’s because Sugar Darlin’s is an online sweet shop, helmed by loving couple and resident bakers Candece and Greg. The duo makes each of their decadent treats to order, from batches of red velvet whoopee pies to signature 3-D cakes customized for special events. They use an old family recipe to craft their decadent pie crust and pour more than a dozen fillings, such as pumpkin, cherry, and blueberry, inside. Crust-less desserts also reign supreme at the shop in the form of cakes and cheesecakes in nearly 30 different flavors, such as carrot cake, banana pudding, and sweet-potato streusel. Because they make everything by scratch and by themselves, Candece and Greg require at least 48 hours notice or a time machine for most orders.
The creative culinarians at Aquarius Star’s Om Café transform organic, local ingredients into savory salads, sandwiches, and wraps that pair perfectly with fair-trade coffee and tea. The menu offers meat-free munchers a slew of vegetarian and vegan options, including the shareable organic hummus and veggie plate ($8.75), Om’s grilled blackened-tofu wrap ($8.75), and the Om salad, topped with raw nuts and homemade lemon-garlic dressing ($9.75). Om Café's Double Decker turkey sandwich ($9.25) delights eco-conscious carnivores with its blend of free-range turkey, locally sourced veggies, and organic mustard, mayonnaise, or aioli.
Roxx Electrocafe, located near the UC campus, boasts three 42-inch televisions and a massive 73-inch-wide screen that display heated bouts of digital competition across the café's spacious interior. Fourteen powerful gaming computers ($4/hour) enable activities such as cooperative robotic testing in the depths of Portal 2 or competitive right-clicking contests on the battlefields of League of Legends or Heroes of Newerth. Late-night hours yield to marathon console-gaming sessions of Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Halo 3, and Rock Band ($4/hour)—all fueled by iced coffees ($2.50) and smoothies ($4), which ensure proper hydration and appropriate glottal lubrication. As the café's four Xbox 360s, four Wiis, and PlayStation 3 enchant eyes and coordinate drill teams of button-pressing thumbs, comfortable chairs and modern décor invite board games or study sessions.