Though Andrea Ballus's 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's current cupcake menu pays homage to classic tastes as well as cunning combinations, from the snickerdoodle and red velvet cakes to the Knock Your Sox Off—a bavarian-cream-filled vanilla cake dipped in chocolate ganache. 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. They can even infuse the cupcake batter with a chosen wine, resulting in nearly perfect food and drink pairings.
Alongside their signature item, Sift prepares a separate catalog of nostalgic desserts, including whoopie cookies, macarons, and ice-cream sandwiches.
Delighting North American taste buds for a quarter century, Yogen Fruz's scoopers blend vanilla and chocolate frozen yogurt with a dozen fresh fruit flavors available in low-fat and no-fat varieties. The yogurt base combines with fruit mix-ins, such as blueberries, kiwis, and mangoes, to fashion sweet treats healthier than a high-fiber medical degree. Patrons can speckle their probiotic-infused scoops with 16 toppings, adding texture and flavor with options such as cereal, nuts, fresh fruit, and chocolate. Smoothies, fruit cups, and fruit-yogurt combos are also available.
Named after the great Humphrey Bogart, Bogie's Cafe slings French-American-style cuisine in a cozy diner infused with old Hollywood memorabilia and more quirky decor, such as the giant rubber ducky that doubled for the Maltese falcon. Its colorful interior sets a playful tone for diners looking to unwind over omelets at breakfast or burgers, sandwiches, and salads at lunch and French-American cuisine at dinner.
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.
The oenophiles at Napa Valley Toffee Company satiate cravings for local flavors with tastings of Napa-produced wines and luscious homemade chocolates. Synchronized sippers can indulge in a hodgepodge of five red and white nectars, each harvested from Napa-grown grapes, bottled by local wineries, and approved by the California Raisins. Though wine flights vary by tasting, guests can expect to nourish their palates with gulps from small case lots and nibbles from local vendors, such as Napa Farmhouse 1885, and Verve Coffee of Santa Cruz. Before heading home to wash off purple handlebar mustaches, sippers can treat themselves to $20 worth of goodies from the shop, where bottles of 2009 sauvignon blanc ($20) and Rescue Red ($15) hobnob with eight-ounce boxes of house-made chocolates ($11) and Drink the Leaf loose-leaf tea.
“My love of chocolate making came from my mother, who is from Newfoundland,” says Vintage Sweet Shoppe owner Debbie Dever. To stave off boredom during the region’s harsh winters, Debbie’s grandmother taught her children to craft candy and treats. Her mother passed the skills she learned on winter days down to Debbie, who channels her passion into her handmade truffles, flavored fudges, and chocolate-drenched nut clusters. Her signature wine-infused truffles pair sips of champagne, port wine, and Napa Valley vinos with complementary chocolates chosen based on cocoa content and willingness to tell embarrassing stories about their compatriots. Dever’s team of innovative chocolatiers has been making chocolates for more than 30 years and also hand-mold chocolate-covered wine bottles—featured on the Food Network—by shrink-wrapping full bottles of wine before coating their surfaces in dark or milk chocolate, leaving each label framed by an edible exterior. The shop also serves espresso coffee drinks, frozen yogurt, and ice cream.