The Dancing Deer Baking Co. story begins nearly two decades ago, when three Bostonians opened up a small bakery on a busy corner. The trio christened their company after an antique shop run by one of their grandmothers supplied them with a recipe for a dark-gingerbread cake. One afternoon, a food writer from Hollywood stumbled into the shop, hoping to find directions. After tasting one of their cakes, the captivated writer brought the bakery to the attention of the media, and soon their cookies, brownies, and cakes were being lauded by magazines, newspapers, and television programs throughout the country.
Today, Dancing Deer’s boldly colorful packages ship to households across the US and line the shelves of numerous gourmet and specialty retailers. Back at the bakery, chefs continue to whip all-natural, kosher ingredients into decadent cookies, brownies, and cakes. Committed to giving back to their local communities, Dancing Deer owns and operates The Sweet Home Project, which funds direct-action programs to help underprivileged families and the occasional one-legged gingerbread man.
Judy Rosenberg didn’t set out to be an award-winning chef or an NPR-lauded cookbook author. The owner of Rosie’s Bakery found her calling in 1974 after attending art school and gobbling desserts at some of New York’s finest bakeries, becoming inspired to forge her own batch of sweets. When the staff of a local cheesecake shop got hooked on her homemade cookies, she knew she’d found a recipe for success. Since then, she’s expanded her culinary repertoire to include fudge-nut brownies, bavarian-cream fruit tarts, and more than 14 types of muffins and scones.
Each recipe teems with real, old-fashioned ingredients, such as butter, cream, sugar, and edible monocles. Cakes come in circular layers and rectangular sheets, boasting flavors such as carrot and mocha. Filled with snickerdoodles and chocolate-chip rounds, the cookie lineup conjures more childhood memories than a psychiatrist who rides to work in an ice-cream truck.
Even though Lulu’s Sweet Shoppe's owner, Sandy Russo, perfected her baking skills at culinary school, her confectionary education began many years before that. As a child, Sandy's mother taught her the basics of mixing, measuring, and baking treats that had all their neighbors clamoring for more. Later in life, Sandy decided to help others enjoy the same level of giddy indulgence by opening her own sweet shop, where she transforms 24 different flavors of batter into desserts ranging from dainty mini cupcakes to half-sheet cakes that serve 48.
She crafts each treat from scratch, using premium ingredients to create flavors such as s'mores, German chocolate, red velvet cheesecake, Nutella, and lemon curd. To complement her menu of cupcakes, she also stocks the shop with retro candies that jog memories of childhood more effectively than a tattered teddy bear trained in hypnotism.
On the countertop at Cakeology—a Top 5 finisher in the 2011 Boston A-List's Best Cupcakes race and a winner of Food Network's Cupcake Wars—trays of the day's fresh cupcakes and French macarons stand at attention. Six best-selling cupcakes, including boston cream pie, carrot cake, and double chocolate, grace the menu year-round. They're joined each week by three rotating flavors, such as key-lime pie, Guinness, and white-chocolate coconut. Sharing these treats with all of Boston and Cambridge is The Brucemobile, a yellow delivery van painted with a picture of Cakeology's panda mascot, Bruce, whose bamboo cupcakes have yet to make the menu.
The caffeine connoisseurs at Boston Common Coffee Co. roast their own beans at a local facility for optimal freshness, pairing the sleep-shaking sips with a sumptuous spread of energizing eats. The in-house bakers and cooks whip up morning mouthfuls in the form of breakfast sandwiches ($3.23–$4.25), muffin tops ($1.85), and freshly baked bagels and croissants ($1.15+), crafted using local ingredients whenever possible to ensure quality. Sink into the eatery's plush leather couches while sinking teeth into the asparagus strata⎯a quiche-like entree made from bread, asparagus, tomatoes, and cheese ($4.25)—or the sourdough-ensconced Prince panini ($6.75–$6.95), a roasted turkey, cheddar, tomato, and dijon-mustard sandwich whose deliciousness can only be expressed as an unpronounceable symbol. Patrons can also opt to take a slice of the coffee pie home by purchasing Boston Common Coffee's flavored, fair traded, or varietal coffees by the pound ($10.25+).
The creative confectioners at Sweet N Nasty enliven revelry with erotic cakes, titillating chocolates, and novelty treats. Chefs embellish naughty cakes ($28.95+) or cupcakes ($2.50 each or $28.50/dozen) with chocolate handcuffs and edible human anatomy, ideal for adding a new level of intimacy to meetings with tax attorneys. Chocolate pops bear everything from derrieres ($2.59) to suggestive fruit ($3.59). For a tamer treat, the chocolate iPod ($3.49) prevents patrons from gnawing on real electronics, and a chocolate Porsche ($9.99) and mink coat ($2.99) let taste buds live out financial fantasies.