After a debilitating car accident left Elyissia Wassung’s mother, Barbara, unable to commute to work, she stayed busy in the kitchen, devising her own homemade chocolates. Nine-year-old Elyissia would then load her mother’s sweets into a shopping cart and sell them door-to-door around the neighborhood, learning entrepreneurial skills that would last a lifetime. After leaving a telecom job as an adult, Elyissia returned to selling chocolates by founding 2 Chicks with Chocolate (the other chick being her mom), teaming up with master chocolatier Patrick Coston and lead chocolatier Stephanie Vazquez. The dessert innovators create diverse flavors, such as spiced pear and caramel ganache, s’mores, and hazelnut praline, from scratch with spices and sea salt. Customers can also create their own bars online without venturing into the store, building on a selection of chocolate bases and toppings that range from pistachios to gummy bears. The store also hosts chocolate classes and enlivens parties with chocolate fountains and chocolate tastings.
Bakers at Peace of Cake craft their cupcakes with fresh ingredients for rich texture. They create a rotating menu of flavors, including raspberry swirl stuffed with jam and cookie dough filled with real cookie dough and crowned with chocolate frosting.
Manhattan Bagel’s expert dough-smiths craft 21 flavors of fresh-baked bagels daily, serving them alongside a menu of deli-style sandwiches made with Boar’s Head meats and cheeses. Vainly search for the beginning or end of a traditionally flavored bagel ($.89 each, $8.99 a dozen), such as everything and pumpernickel, or explore the innovative tastescape of the french-toast variety, which doubles as an engagement ring for a Parisian giantess. Diners can festoon their bagels with cheese and eggs cooked any way ($2.49) or wrap mandibles around the grilled Ellis Island pastrami sandwich, sealed with gooey swiss cheese and onion ($6.49). Patrons can also sip on a selection from the espresso bar while noshing on the Wall Street roast beef ($6.49), a diversified sandwich portfolio of roast beef and mild horseradish sauce on a cheddar roll.
There's literally no sweeter war won than cupcake war. Just ask Ruthie and Ron Bzdewka, who in 2008 founded House of Cupcakes in Princeton, New Jersey after taking home top honors from the second season of Food Network's Cupcake Wars. The owners' cupcakes are even more in demand than they were before their victory on the show, which is why they now fling them at celebrities during special events including the MTV Music Awards. The secret to Ruthie and Ron's success: their grandma's cupcake recipe, which is the basis for increasing selection of more than 45 unique flavors, such as the award-winning Espresso Brownie, Salted Caramel, and Coconut Vanilla Snowball.
Not limiting their expertise to cupcake orders, baked goods-lovers can delight their palette with the tastes of other creations, including push-pops, cake-pops, cookies, mini-cupcakes, gourmet banana pudding, and brownies. Gourmet handmade ice cream sandwiches are also available, and are made from scratch with a choice from 15 different cookies, brownies, and 30+ ice cream flavors. Their large selection can be produced into custom orders for any event, such as color-coordinated cupcakes for weddings, logo-emblazoned pull-apart cakes for corporate outings, and tailored treats for baby showers or birthdays.
A flaky danish enfolds prunes and almond paste. A banana-cream pie sports tufts of fresh-whipped cream. There’s a certain nostalgic quality to the baked goods at La Bonbonniere Bake Shoppe, which is fitting for a place whose origins date back to 1952, the year nostalgia was discovered. Each morning, seasoned bakers whip up cupcakes, batches of real buttercream frosting, and sugar-laced pastries. They also knead dough for nearly a dozen varieties of bread including french, rye, and pumpernickel.
Though sweets are the shop’s focus, they have a full-catering menu with soups, sandwiches, and hot meals. In addition, they offer a wide variety of canned jams and salsa, plus organic dog treats.
Grill N Fill Bagels stops morning and midday hunger dead in its tracks with a menu of fresh-from-the-oven bagels, deli sandwiches, salads, and soups. Chefs boil and bake breakfast rings daily, serving 14 different flavors, including blueberry and whole wheat. Freshly sliced bagels are then cemented together with butter or cream-cheese spreads that are made from scratch every day. Lunchtime eaters can flip their favorite Third Eye Blind CD to choose between triple-decker clubs and the restaurant’s signature three-layer sloppy joes.