In 1937, something hot, delicious, and glazed rolled through the sleepy town of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Seventy-seven years later, Vernon Rudolph's secret doughnut recipe lives on within the hundreds of Krispy Kreme locations scattered across the globe as well as within the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History, where Krispy Kreme is heralded as a 20th-century American icon.
The entire doughnut-making process, which customers can view up close and personal at many of Krispy Kreme’s outposts, begins with fresh ingredients and ends with the click of a fluorescent sign bearing the words, "Hot Doughnuts Now." From the original, mold-breaking glazed doughnut to newer doughnut varieties, such as Chocolate Iced with Kreme Filling, Glazed Raspberry Filled, and Glazed Chocolate Cake, each round dainty pairs with piping-hot coffee for a compact snack easily tucked into a pocket or clown shoe.
The bakers at Sweet Dreams know it takes more than just fresh ingredients to produce their tasty treats—it also takes imagination. That's why they form their customized apple-spice and cookies-and-cream cakes into the shape of cartoonish robots, realistic-looking iPhones, and elegant designs that match wedding themes. They apply this level of attention to detail to their cookies, tarts, cheesecakes, and other creations, too: 10 cupcake flavors, including red velvet and caramel apple, take the form of Hello Kitty! designs and hamburgers. While Sweet Dreams' desserts may be fleeting, the consideration the company shows its customers is not. Bakers treat their wedding clients to a complimentary cake on the couple's one-year anniversary, and they also play their wedding song using instruments that only make silent music.
The pastry chefs at Auntie Em's Fine Foods & Pastries bake trays of fluffy cupped creations in flavors both familiar and inspired by Filipino traditions. Cupcake-cravers pick one flavor for their dozen from the menu, with such selections as carrot cake, chocolate ganache, and red velvet, the latter named for its improvisational use as a fabric swatch. Favored tastes from the Philippines include ube cupcakes—lent a vibrant purple color by a type of yam—and buko pandan, which are infused with coconut and pandan essence. Customers must phone in or skywrite their orders at least 24 hours in advance.
If the thought of freshly baked goods pulled right out of the oven isn't quite enough to lure you into Mazzetti's Bakery, perhaps the fact that they are created using zero preservatives and ultra-fresh ingredients will get you there. Mazzetti's confectioners whip up a panoply of baked goodies—including French and Danish pastries, bread, cookies, and pies—every day, and as a result, the business has been thriving for more than 38 years. For special occasions, they build whimsical custom cakes and cupcakes topped with creamy swirls of frosting and colorful sprinkles.
Real butter, fresh whole milk, flour, eggs, and pure vanilla. Each morning these fine ingredients are blended by hand in mixing bowls before being transformed into delectable cupcakes, cookies, pies, and empanadas. It's all part of Pacificakes Bake Shop daily commitment to fresh ingredients. That commitment leads to 25 exquisite cupcake flavors the likes of PB&J, french toast, and chocolate mocha. Cookies such as shortbread come in themed shapes, and pies are packed with fresh fruits such as strawberries and cranberries. Since they enjoy making these treats, they let kids in on the fun with baking classes and birthday decorating parties.
At Cups and Cakes, pretty much anything goes. Cupcakes might be seven inches wide. Cakes might be only four. The toppings might even include fried chicken. This delight in bending the rules is thanks to owner Jennifer, who—since the day she ran out of cake mix in her home kitchen and had to try baking from scratch—has reveled in experimentation. As a self-taught baker, she's figured out how to decorate her creations by hand, mix batter the Bay Guardian called "moist and addictive," and even turn carrot cake, of all things, into one of the bakery's most popular flavors—even without having to sweeten it with radishes.
The complete list of 81 flavors bears plenty of surprising concoctions, including cherry cola, margarita (with tequila-infused frosting, of course), and the art house—a ginger-beet cake with ginger-cream-cheese frosting. Flavors can be ordered as oversized, regular, or miniature cupcakes, and can, when possible, accommodate various dietary needs, especially acute cupcake deficiencies.