Crystal Mooers has been decorating cakes for nearly three decades, including 15 years working as a cake decorator for large food chains. About seven years ago, she and her husband Steven decided to tap into the teamwork they'd honed raising five children together and started their own business: Just Cakes. Together, they provision parties of every sort with festively layered cakes.
Crystal festoons birthday sheet cakes with basic decorations or spruces them up with edible images, cutout shapes, or fondant designs. Her grooms' cakes express new husbands' interests, from cheering on a sports team to fixing up vintage cars to eating cake. Wedding-cake flavors, including butter pecan and red velvet, are spackled together with cheesecake mousse, peach-velvet topping, and other sweet fillings, creating multi-tiered masterpieces that realize newlyweds' confectionary dreams. She also shapes adult novelty cakes into risqué works of art for bachelor or bachelorette parties. To help hosts and hostesses put the finishing touches on their events, they rent out plate-topped columns, stands, pedestals, and fountains.
Just Cakes is a labor of love for the couple for reasons beyond their confectionary passions. They donate a percentage of the bakery's proceeds to help Crystal's sister pay her medical bills as she fights breast cancer.
With display cases brimming with a dozen or more cupcake varieties, the dessert chefs at The Sweet Tooth have deemed their shop a cupcakery. Made from scratch with fresh ingredients, regular flavors include a red velvet concoction called rouge, choc-o-mint, and vanilla vanilla, which comes crowned with a juicy maraschino cherry. Cookies harmoniously complement the cupcake selection, boasting seven varieties and barbershop-quartet-quality chops. The Sweet Tooth's blog keeps customers updated about seasonal flavors and the cupcake of the week, and the bakery also brings a touch of sweetness to the community by catering area events and partnering with local charities.
The bakery has joined up with mobile cupcake company, 3 Girls Cupcakes, whose cupcakes will be available at The Sweet Tooth's store location for an even larger assortment of flavors. Their mobile Cupcake Cruiser, meanwhile, delivers delectable eats around town.
Microorganisms are crucial to cuisine. Without them, wine, bread, and cheese would all be impossible. The living bacteria in the 60 rotating low-fat and fat-free frozen yogurts at Cherry Berry makes them thick, slightly tart, and healthy. The certified kosher yogurts boast four types of live active cultures as well as flavorings such as blackberry, key-lime pie, pistachio, and espresso. Dairy-free sorbets, no-sugar-added options, and a gluten-free menu cater to specific dietary restrictions, and seasonal options brim with eggnog and Easter candy like a third grader’s suitcase. After swirling sweet yogurt peaks into cups, guests heap on healthy and indulgent toppings such as granola, fresh fruits, and sweet candies before weighing their creations at the counter.
Ray Lamar hasn't spent decades perfecting his donuts. In fact, his namesake shops still use the same recipes that Ray developed in 1933—at the age of 17—when he got his first job working a donut fryer. World War II and a postwar career as a stockbroker interrupted Ray's donut-making pursuits, although he returned to his roots in 1960 when he founded the first LaMar's Donuts.
The shop went on to become a Kansas City icon, with crowds arriving well before 6 a.m. to line up outside the doors and taunt the roosters for sleeping in. Ray and his wife, Shannon, eventually decided to expand their business into a regional empire, and LaMar's Donuts currently boasts 27 franchised stores spread across six states.
Even with all of this growth, decades-old traditions still dictate how things are done. The workers prepare more than 75 different kinds of donuts, hand-making fresh batches of perennial favorites as well as recent inventions each and every morning. In addition to the original glazed creation that dates back to 1933, the menus can feature a variety of cake donuts with flavors such as red velvet, apple spice, and maple.
Since donuts and coffee go together as naturally as paper shredders and subpar report cards, the stores also prepare cappuccinos, mochas, and other coffee drinks. These are all made with handpicked beans that slowly roast inside Italian brick ovens.
In the Middle Cupcakes bakes spongy, gooey treats from scratch, and every mini cake encircles a melty surprise within its fluffy layers. Solicit the newly opened store's bakers for a 12-pack of moist morsels, many of which contain cocoa imported from Holland and France and real vanilla beans. The bakery boasts seasonal options and a regular menu populated by such creations as the chocolate-chip-cookie-dough cupcake—a velvety brown-sugar cake with eggless chocolate-chip cookie dough, cookie-dough buttercream, and a mini chocolate-chip cookie hat. The carrot-cake cupcake sports a raisin-and-walnut filling topped with rich cream-cheese frosting. The red-velvet creation teams red-velvet cake with a premium white-chocolate-chip center and a dense cream-cheese frosting, and the lemon cupcake—light lemon cake, white-chocolate-chip filling, lemon-buttercream frosting, sugar crystals, and a white daisy—reminds any close friend that lemonade isn't the only solution when life gives you tart citrus.
Owner Teresa Poppinga whips up micro-batches in-house to ensure fresh, high-quality ice creams, stocking the shop's glass freezer case with a wide variety of rotating flavors and used glow sticks. Unexpected scoops have included everything from cake batter and cinnamon bun to lemon cookie and Grape-Nuts. Poppy's also carries sorbet flavors and frozen custard crafted from whole eggs and a 10% milk-fat base. The Petite Summit Sampler (five mini-scoops, $3) paints your taste buds with a Crayola box full of flavors. Flavor monogamists can get their fix in a homemade waffle cone ($.60 for plain, $1 for chocolate dipped) or sugar cone ($2.35 for a single dip, two dips for $3.35). For a spoonable sweet, peruse the sundae menu's offerings, like the old-fashioned Slow Sundae (from $3.25 for small) lacquered in hot fudge and caramel and studded with pecans and a cherry on top. Continue to satiate a sweet tooth with parfaits, malts, shakes, and concretes, creamy blends of vanilla frozen custard and toppings like buttery pretzel bits and coconut shavings.