In the wake of grandeur and fame, it's easy to forget the little guy. At Dragonfly Cakes, the bakers apply this principle to confections, elevating the smallest member of the cake family to the spotlight. They handcraft artisanal petits fours with natural ingredients, coating each triple-layer mini cake with buttercream, a splash of color, and ornate decorations. Their lemon petit four intertwines lemon filling with vanilla cake and lemon buttercream, and the chocolate petit four envelops chocolate cake and chocolate buttercream in a rich dark-chocolate ganache. They offer these treats predecorated in assorted boxes, or custom decorated for celebrations including Mother's Day, bridal showers, and Calvin Coolidge’s birthday. In their fully equipped kitchen, they also lead fun decorating classes, teaching students how to dip and ice their own delicate petits fours.
Founders Dena Tripp and Debra Shwetz started Nothing Bundt Cakes in Las Vegas with the simple aim of making cakes for their families and friends. But thanks to their handcrafted recipes, pure ingredients, and innovative decorating ideas, their business soon grew from a small home kitchen to a franchise, with locations in 13 states.
The custom-designed cakes?made with fresh eggs, real butter, and cream cheese?arrive in flavors ranging from white chocolate raspberry to lemon and chocolate chocolate chip. Thick, frosted petals atop each cake showcase the signature velvety cream-cheese frosting, which must be eaten swiftly before it glides away on a summer breeze.
A shingled two-story home has housed Muffin Mania since January 4, 1983, when late musician Rocky Sullivan opened the bakery to fulfill his Sicilian family's culinary legacy. Today, Rocky's wife, Ilona Agress, and his son, Dylan Galante, carry on the epicurean heritage by trekking to that same idyllic dwelling at 3 a.m. six days of the week to whip up fresh batches from scratch.
The duo shuns preservatives while assembling the café's rotating roster of muffins and instead brandishes all-natural ingredients to create such flavors as jalapeño and cheese and maple walnut. Sweet scones, croissants, and pastries join forces with top-quality coffee to devise powerful breakfasts, and Muffin Mania's fresh-baked bread cushions the hot and cold sandwiches that headline a smattering of lunch fare. A multitude of gluten-free and vegan muffins accommodate dietary requirements and some scavenger-hunt participants.
This 100% Latino-owned business uses 100% organic flour and 100% natural ingredients to assemble sweet and savory empanadas with a multilingual blend of Caribbean, Latin American, and Californian points of view. Herbivores and herbivoyeurs can delight their senses in the flavors of mushrooms with brie, onions, and spices ($45 per dozen), while their meat-minded brethren can tear into a savory, roasted chicken poblano with onion, poblano chile, red bell pepper, tomato, cilantro, and spices ($45 per dozen). To keep the taste buds on the other side of your tongue from rebelling and making everything taste like burnt hair, keep them happy with the apple-cinnamon-with-chocolate empanada infused with Turbinado sugar ($30 per dozen). These fresh and healthy treats come in both meal and cocktail size. As with square dancing, mixing and matching fillings is encouraged, as are odd-numbered orders.
Stephanie Kisak Tyson rekindled her life-long love for baking years ago when she began whipping up peanut butter treats for her old banking job's charity event. After rediscovering this passion for creating handmade baked goods, Stephanie founded her own company, A Piece of Cake and Confections, where she makes a living with toothsome creations such as baklava, gourmet cookies, and specialty cakes. In addition to supplying family dinners and birthday parties with fresh egg-nog pies, chocolate truffles, and cupcakes, A Piece of Cake instills the love of baking to its customers with plenty of hands-on cooking classes.
Although Gabriel Maldonado left his hometown of Michoacan, Mexico in the early 1940s for new opportunities in the United States, he wasn't able to leave behind his family's century-long baking traditions. After long days of laying railroad tracks around Suisun Bay, he spent his evenings in a refurbished garage space, baking sweet pastries and breads inside an old pizza oven. The next morning, he would load the baked goods into his 1938 Cadillac and sell them to the local port and plant workers. He finally laid down firmer roots for his business in 1951, establishing La Victoria Bakery in the Mission District.
The current pastry chef, Luis Villavelazquez, recently upgraded the bakery's Mexican pastries to gourmet status by fusing Latin ingredients into famous French confections. In addition to vegan-friendly items and traditional cookies and cakes crafted from fresh eggs and milk, the 60-year-old panaderia churns out pan dulce from a family recipe passed down through generations of text messages as well as locally roasted fair-trade coffee and Argentinean empanadas.