Cocktails and cake were always two of Tracey Glover's guiltiest pleasures. When she discovered that her friends felt the same way, Glover tinkered with the idea of combining the two. Fast-forward to the opening of Guilty Pleasurez Cocktail Cupcakes, the culmination of Glover's passion for sweets and spirits. Here, she custom bakes cocktail cupcakes: alcohol-infused treats that mimic the flavors of popular mixed drinks.
Depending on the order, Glover may bake chocolate and caramel cupcakes that taste of Baileys Irish Cream or whip up a batch of fuzzy navels that, like the piñata at a 21st birthday party, come filled with peach schnapps and orange Patrón. She also makes alcohol-free versions of many flavors, and every batch is a custom job.
When Carrie Staub was laid off from her 20-year career as a corporate travel agent, she tried her hand at baking as a way to stay productive while staying at home with her kids. Her first attempts at truffles weren't fancy, but as friends and family steadily devoured her creations, she gradually refined their look and taste until they were ready to go public.
Today, she hand-rolls, hand-dips, and hand-details cake pops for a growing fan base. "You'll never find any two that are exactly the same," she says, turning out a steady stream of intricate specialty designs and an assortment of classic flavors.
Carrie says the pops are especially popular as favors, and she's gotten orders for birthday parties, holidays, baby showers, and even a wedding. She carries a sketchbook to jot down ideas, though inspiration can strike with each individual order—such as her beer mug and cheeseburger pops, which are available at The Garage Bar & Sandwiches on Chicago's North Side.
The busier Cake Pop Charm gets, the more passionate Carrie is about her business. And her freedom from the traditional workday brings another benefit: She gets to see a lot more of her 4-year-old twins.
"I feel like I can have my cake pop and eat it, too," she says.
Behind John Dough Bakery's brick façade, a display case flush with pastries and shelves stacked with bread loaves volunteer ocular and aromatic reasons to sit and nosh. A lunchtime menu contains classic American sandwiches accompanied by pickle spears and kicked up with components such as fresh goat cheese. Half-soup, half-salad fusions sate indecisive eaters and Harvey Dents, and bite-size confections covered in chocolate or drizzled in icing satisfy sweet tooths.
Founded by cake connoisseur Diane Eenigenburg, La Petite Sweet tempts treat-seekers with a whimsical array of baked goodies, candies, and rivers of sugared bliss. Style a box of moist delicacies in cake flavors that typically include lemon, strawberry, carrot, and french vanilla. Traditional chocolate cupcakes bake into coco-rich puffs, enrapturing palates without waxy additives or scary Dracula lips. Those needing a more specific brand of sweet can mix and match cookies from La Petite's unrestrictive list of gluten-free offerings such as cranberry white chocolate, snicker doodle, and chocolate coconut macaroons. For either option, mix and match flavors, or take home a prepackaged box.
Rondi Stickney holds more than 10 weighty fitness certifications, which goes some way in explaining her super-toned physique. But muscles aren't her only focus—she's been helping clients overhaul their entire lifestyle for more than 30 years. Whether leading group fitness classes or coaching clients one-on-one, she leaves her charges with armfuls of healthy habits and advice. Personal-training sessions, which help clients to perfect form and avoid future injuries, run through custom-designed exercises built around each guest's fitness goals, whether they involve losing weight, toning muscle, or building the strength to punch the conference table in half for more effective PowerPoint presentations. Stickney also partners with doctors, physical therapists, massage therapists, and lifestyle coaches to help clients to attack their wellness goals from every angle.
Held in a studio dotted with cardio and strength-training equipment, classes such as boot camp, Zumba, and pole-dance fitness teem with fun ways to burn calories and build muscle mass. Family-focused sessions, such as TRX and Zumba, encourage clans to bond, and workshops fill collective consciousnesses with handy tips and strategies for preventing childhood obesity.
Though many fro-yo shops have sprung up in recent years, TCBY is no newcomer to the scene. Since 1981, its shops have been scooping, swirling, and topping their lower-fat treat in crunchy candy and fruity sprinkles—but that doesn't mean they've been coasting. They're still innovating, whether it's tweaking standby flavors or developing their signature honey-vanilla Greek frozen yogurt that dishes out protein and fiber without any fat. Fro-yo artisans blend up Beriyo smoothies in flavors such as mangolada and purely peach or infuse Shivers with a choice of sweet topping options. To celebrate a birthday or a jury-duty-selection-pool reunion, you can opt for frozen yogurt cakes and pies. The piece-accommodating treats are layered with frozen yogurt and rich toppings to forge flavors such as chocolate decadence and peanut-buttery fudge pie.