A fuzzy brown teddy bear, a pink Chanel handbag, and a football helmet sit on a table, all just waiting to be bitten into. But teeth and taste buds needn't worry—these items have all been sculpted in cake form by the dessert artists at Cake Therapy. The pastry experts excel at transforming cakes into edible sculptures for birthday parties and weddings. Their creative eye also extends to cupcakes, which they craft to resemble tiny castles, cartoon characters, and flowers you can actually eat.
Fusion Yogurt Lounge doesn't limit itself to providing just one kind of pick-me-up, offering frozen yogurt as well as smoothies and coffee. In addition to classic frozen-yogurt flavors, such as tahitian vanilla and dark chocolate made with three cocoa powders, the shop offers more creative flavors, such as island coconut, birthday cake, and moon pie. Guests can add a dash of protein powder to fruit smoothies for a quick boost or indulge in sweeter options, such as the chocolate-covered strawberry. For those in need of a caffeine jolt, staff members carefully grind coffee beans, then french press, rather than bench-press, them for rich, flavorful cups of coffee.
With ample menu offerings throughout the day, the newly reopened Dominick’s is a one-stop eatery set to satisfy sweet and savory gourmet cravings. Select an imperial sandwich, such as the chicken caesar ($9.99) to tame unruly stomachs with succulent chicken and an iron fist. Feast on the piquancy of a vodka pizza ($15) or employ foam Hulk hands to grip an unwieldy half-pound portobello burger ($12.99). Fresh cannoli graces bakery shelves with fluffy dough and sugary filling, supported by a fleet of neatly assembled pastries. The café’s delicate chandeliers illuminate neat brick walls, glossy wooden tabletops, and the cheerful faces of Dominick's staff, which would otherwise be standing in the dark.
In 1988, Auntie Anne's founders Anne and Jonas Beiler purchased a Pennsylvania farmers' market stand, where they experimented with dough until they created a pretzel that seemed to strike the perfect chord with their customers. Today, at their more than 1,150 locations worldwide, the pretzel makers still hand roll the original recipe but have added to the menu with inventive options, such as the pepperoni pretzel and eight signature dipping sauces. The team constantly explores new uses for the pretzel dough, such as wrapping it around hot dogs, slicing it into bite-size nuggets, or using it to build historically accurate Austrian villages. To transform the snack into a meal, they accompany it with specialty drinks, including frozen-lemonade desserts.
When not twisting dough, Auntie Anne's team partners with the national charitable organization Alex?s Lemonade Stand Foundation, which raises funds to fight childhood cancer. They also reach out to the community through fundraising opportunities.
Cupcakestop’s owner Lev Ekster scouted bakers. He sampled recipes. Then, he took a step that may, at first, seem illogical: he bought a truck. Ekster’s entrepreneurial spirit—and desire to share his creations with everyone—inspired him to take Cupcakestop on the road as a mobile bakery. His handpicked staff still makes cupcakes from scratch and bedecks most with a two-tiered tuft of frosting. Flavors include banana strawberry, cream-cheese brownie, peanut butter and jelly, and the red velvet, which was deemed the best on an episode of Food Network’s “Food Feuds.” Since opening in 2009, Cupcakestop has become so popular that Ekster has opened permanent locations across the tri-state area, added a second truck to his mobile fleet, and forced his cupcakes to volunteer regularly so that they remain humble. Ekster also supports his community by donating any leftovers to City Harvest, where they help feed the less fortunate.
Taking the first bite of a cake from Ella’s Sweet Treats can be bittersweet, since it means destroying a work of art. The multitiered creations don seamless coats of fondant that command attention with majestic accents such as feathers, tiaras, or a message scrawled in icing that reads, “Hey, you. Look at this handsome cake.” The elegant designs invite forks to plunge into cores of chocolate, vanilla, red velvet, or strawberry cake in search of one of the nine available fillings, including cannoli cream or fresh strawberries and bananas. Presentation even matters for Ella’s cupcakes, which arrive with eye-catching swirls of buttercream frosting. The shop’s confectioners also shower their chocolate-covered apples with a hodgepodge of additional toppings, such as marshmallows, nuts, and sprinkles.