When ordering a cookie at a bakery, most people would expect to receive a single, circular sweet treat made of sugar, eggs, and flour. At Xtreme Desserts, however, a cookie is actually frosting, pie filling, or some other mixture sandwiched between two cookies. This intense take on treats extends to other confections such as brownie squares topped with ribbons of raspberry frosting, peanut butter cups, and cheesecake swirls. The shop also creates specialty cakes, which range from tiered, fondant-covered towers to oversized sandwich cookies that double as flotation devices in the event of a milk flood. Xtreme versions of cupcakes, bread pudding, parfaits, and cake balls round out the menu.
When it comes to the cakes at Passions Pastries, no two bites are every quite the same. That's because owner Darlene sneaks a hint of other desserts inside her cakes and cupcakes, separating layers of Meyer lemon cake with a lemon pie filling and topping a classic vanilla cake with banana pudding and crumbled wafers. Even her classic flavors incorporate unique elements, with carrot cupcakes sweetened with chunks of pineapple and chocolate-on-chocolate cupcakes topped with chocolate Italian buttercream. Her skills at baking, frosting, and keeping cakes from growing too large didn't just win her a spot on every local sweet tooth's radar; they also earned her a spot on the Food Network's popular Cupcake Wars.
Bakers at Beard Papa Sweet Cafe fill flaky Japanese double-layer cream puff shells with rich, preservative-free custard in a variety of flavors. Choose an original vanilla cream puff ($2.19), stuffed with velvety custard flavored with imported vanilla beans as sweet as the smile of a baby robot, or stock up on regular pastry spheres by the half-dozen or dozen ($11.55–$21.59). Customers can opt to add a specialty flavor ($2.55 each) to custardy cores, such as green tea made with premium Japanese tea or chocolate crafted from a blend of two high-quality European brands. Patrons may gather specialty puffs in groups of six ($13.55) or 12 ($25.50) to share with friends or presiding judges. Or peruse additional decadent sweets, including a personal-portioned cheesecake stick or fondant au chocolate, a single-serving cake made with Belgian chocolate and filled with an equally cocoarific center.
A connoisseur by birth, Mark Ukra comes from a family of Middle Eastern tea merchants dating back 400 years. Mark, who was dubbed the Tea Doctor by a pair of brew-sipping toddlers, continues in his forebears' footsteps by searching teahouses and stalking wild teapots around the world. He and his wife, Julie, bought the Tea Garden & Herbal Emporium to educate patrons about tea’s health benefits and share its subtle taste in the outdoor zen garden. The venture was a success, and the business has popped up in all sorts of media—The View, The New York Times, and Los Angeles Confidential magazine, to name just a few.
Dr. Tea’s library of more than 50 varieties of loose-leaf teas and more than 60 varieties of Chinese herbs includes award-winning CapaTeano drinks and Chinese herbal tonics. Its earthy blends range from standard Earl Grey, Darjeeling, and jasmine teas to tempting flavors including herbal caramel dream and black-label teas such as the rare Huo Shan Huang Ya tea. During monthly tea tastings, patrons can sip from samples of white, green, oolong, and black teas, followed by discussions of the four tea groups.