On any given day, Sarah Halterman can be found making handbags, corsets, baseball jerseys, or guitars—out of cake. Once an elementary schoolteacher, she founded Sweet Art Bakery in 2007 as an outlet for her love of custom baking. Today, she leads a team of five design assistants who help her turn 10 cake flavors such as dark chocolate, red velvet, strawberry, and spice into works of art suited to her customers' specifications and interests. She breathes life into her treats with 10 types of filling and icing, which include raspberry preserves, peanut-butter mousse, and chocolate buttercream. When not crafting custom cakes or their miniature cupcake cousins, Sarah fashions butter-citrus sugar cookies into the shapes of hats, owls, and snowmen, rolls cake balls and profiteroles, and dips strawberries in chocolate. She also leads monthly cake-decorating classes which, though geared toward beginners, also teach experienced bakers how to execute advanced kitchen moves or protect cakes from impatient guests by disguising them as scary predators.
Coffee Squared's Cuvee-trained baristas steam and beautify specialty drinks with skill as they multitask to craft pastries and sandwiches. Rich coffee ($1.75–$2.25) widens the drooping eyelids of patrons as steam billows up from piping-hot cups of organic Mighty Leaf tea ($2.05–$2.45) plucked from sustainable farms. Iced white mochas ($3.95–$4.25) send energizing chills down spines as masterfully brewed espresso and sweet cocoa tango down throat chutes. Guests can feel free to sink into sumptuous leather club chairs to work remotely or look up their elvish pseudonym on Coffee Squared's free WiFi network while gobbling up sandwiches and pastries ($1.75–$5) from a rotating menu. The list of hunger quenchers showcases such treats as cranberry blondies and kolacky—fruit poised in buttery dough rounds. Red brick peeks out from behind strategically destroyed drywall in the cozy cafe, creating an artistic canvas on which contemporary paintings hang and at which guests can look while daydreaming or free associating about masonry, freemasonry, the Founding Fathers, and mothers that have a tendency to get lost.
Ben & Jerry's came from humble beginnings—in 1978, its eponymous founders served ice cream out of a renovated Burlington gas station, and delivered pints of their now-classic flavors to grocery stores out of the back of Ben's VW Squareback wagon. Today, its myriad shops dispense cups, cones, shakes, and smoothies brimming with a variety of quirky flavors, including Phish Food and Cherry Garcia, named for famous revolutionary Cherry Garcia. The duo is also famous for their social responsibility, which is evident in their community activism and in their use of fair-trade products, such as cage-free eggs and sustainable, growth-hormone-free dairy.
In 1997, friends Dena Tripp and Debra Shwetz set out to create a luscious, melt-in-your-mouth bundt cake. What began as an endeavor in their own home kitchens soon blossomed into a bustling business with bakeries in 13 states. Rich cocoa browns and soft pastels lend a nostalgic feel to each bakery, where every day lava-powered ovens warm up batter made from fresh eggs, real butter, and cream cheese. Flavors such as chocolate chocolate chip, pecan praline, and white-chocolate raspberry remain constants on the menu, and a new flavor makes a guest appearance each month. Cakes come in several sizes, from the standard 8- or 10-inch bundt to the single-serving bundtlet and the bite-size bundtini, all frosted with a signature blend of cream cheese and butter.
Each Nothing Bundt Cakes location also houses its own stock of gifts. Patrons may come across the brightly hued handle of a confetti cake knife or opt to take home an old-fashioned tin, perfect for stowing coffee and imprisoning gingerbread men who have tried to run away. Contact the location of your choice for gift pricing and availability.
After being widowed in 1982, Ruby Lorraine Feagan, better known as Tootie, began supporting her family one pie at a time, building her reputation as she won a succession of baking contests throughout Texas hill country. Investor Don Merrill came into the fold after reading a flattering article in Southern Living magazine and subsequently tasting one of Tootie's crusty, buttery, 6-pound apple pies. Today, Tootie and her daughter continue to ensure the quality of Tootie Pie Co. Gourmet Café's 13 signature pie flavors — which also include lemon velvet, coconut supreme, and the Rachael Ray–praised pumpkin pie — as they're carefully crafted and delivered to customers' homes nationwide. The bakery's burgeoning fame has extended to the Food Network's Kid in a Candy Store, which featured Tootie's pie-on-a-stick, slices of signature desserts skewered and dipped in chocolate.
Inside Tootie's café, the menu of gourmet sandwiches includes sweet chicken salad with red grapes and pecans and italian grilled chicken panini with roasted red pepper and pesto or chipotle mayo. Sips of house coffee and espresso-based Milan mochas clear palates between bites better than vigorously shaking them Etch A Sketch–style.
The warm aroma of freshly baked waffle cones envelops every nook and cranny of Marble Slab Creamery, revving up guests’ senses with the promise of impending decadence. As the hand-rolled cones tan in their ovens, the store’s staff bustles about the premises whipping up fresh batches of super-premium ice cream in the on-site creamery and helping patrons select a flavor from a list of more than 50 options. This chef-driven dedication to gourmet ice cream began in 1983 with the company’s founding in Houston, Texas, when two French chefs were enlisted to create a recipe for Marble Slab Creamery’s signature sweet-cream ice cream using their culinary expertise.
Today, staffers utilize the frozen-slab technique of ice-cream architecture, scooping each customer’s choice of ice cream and mixins onto a chilled marble slab to mix the separate elements into one customized mélange. Though specializing in cone-based ice-cream treats, Marble Slab Creamery also offers a menu full of other scream-worthy confections including cakes, shakes, and ice cream cupcakes.