The luck required to pull a winning combo at Half Nuts, unlike the chance involved in scaling Gumdrop Mountain, is little because of the superabundance of savory sweets and a pleasant lack of molasses mudmonsters. Half Nuts stocks sugar-free candy, a huge variety of nostalgic sweets, and the 50 official flavors of Jelly Belly jellybeans. Swish open a bag and fill it with assorted nuts ($1.79–$17.99 per pound), chocolates ($3.99–$13.99 per pound), and unwrapped candy ($1.79-$7.99 per pound). Or, prepare for little-red-hooded rides to Grandma's house with a gift basket full of chocolate-covered nuts and color-coded jellybeans (starting at $19.69 for a two-pound basket). This Groupon is not valid for M&M's.
In the fall of 2010, a young couple named Jake and Heather strolled down the street in front of Simma's Bakery, enjoying the brisk Wisconsin weather. Heather chatted away lightheartedly as they walked their small, fluffy dog together, but Jake's heart and mind were racing. As they approached the storefront, the young man made his long-planned gesture toward the window, where, flanked by two white roses, sat a Simma's cheesecake. The signature chocolate ganache had been decorated with six red flower buds, swirling green vines, and five life-changing words written in white: "Heather, Will You Marry Me?" Jake got down on one knee and pulled out a ring to say with words what the cake had already said with icing.
Simma's Bakery has been a Milwaukee staple for more than 25 years, and its decadent desserts have shared more laughter and tears than a soap opera about birthday clowns. The mom-and-pop shop was founded by Simma Yundov, a woman who immigrated with her husband and two children to the United States from Russia in 1979. She built the bakery from the ground up, making a name for herself and touching the lives of countless people. After her death more than a decade ago, Simma's daughter carried on her mother's work and recently passed the brûlée torch to Mark and Peggy Carollo, who, Veil magazine, have years of experience in the family-run bakery business. Today, the walls are covered with awards and recognitions—tributes to Simma's legacy. The bakery was named one of the The Knot's Best of Weddings 2013 vendors, a top Wedding Cake Designer in the Shepherd Express Best of Milwaukee 2012 awards, and has been a winner or finalist in CityVoter's Best Cakes category for six years running. According to a 2009 article by the Badger Herald's Allie Demet—who grew up in the area and remembers celebrating childhood birthdays with Simma's cakes—the shop is one of the International Restaurant & Hospitality Ratings Bureau’s Top 25 Bakeries in America. The shop has also been voted the Best Place to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth in 2012 by both the editors and readers of M magazine.
The family at Grebe’s Bakery have honed their fresh breads, pastries, and cakes since 1937, developing dainties sought after by more than 300 stores throughout the Midwest. Visitors scan the display case for a single cake donut ($0.75) to sate a sugar hankering or a baker’s dozen of cinnamon rolls ($3.99) to lure Sunday morning cartoons out of the television. In the oven, small loaves of white bread ($1.79) and hard rolls ($2.29 for a package of six) develop fluffy interiors that greedily sop up gravy, as chocolate chips melt inside a butter-pecan danish ($4.29). Nimble hands decorate custom cakes ($19.99–$61.99) with designs and messages that distill the essence of an occasion or screen photos onto the icing that accurately depict the aftermath for private investigators.
It'z My Party Cakery is truly a family business, with owner and lead cake artist Judi Dadtka overseeing a staff that includes several of her children. Judi has been making cakes since she was 13, and her experience shows. Towering princess castles, SpongeBob under the sea, and an edible Lakers jersey all stand as vibrant examples of her and her kids’ baking skills, which blend design, carpentry, and art with tasty desserts. On a smaller scale, they whip up cupcakes, cake pops, truffles, and other baked goods, sharing these dainties with the general public and also delivering custom treats locally to terminally and critically ill children via the nonprofit organization Icing Smiles.
Those allergic to cute better bring an EpiPen if they're going to One Way. Exposed brick, low-key tunes, hanging lamps, and rotating artwork by local creative types give the place a chill charm easily inhaled or absorbed along with treats such as morning French toast ($6.75) and strawberry crêpes dolloped with whipped cream and dusted with powdered sugar ($6.25). There's plenty of more substantial fare too, such as the café's famous homemade meatloaf sandwich topped with almond barbecue chutney ($6.75) and the Asian broccoli slaw with cabbage, carrot, peas, noodles, and cashews.
Every day, Breadsmith kneads and breeds made-from-scratch breads, honoring the practices of centuries-old French bakers. The delectable dough sculptures receive the royal treatment, with all delicate yeast bubbles bursting inside of a 6-ton stone-hearth oven. The oven's sweltering heat creates a cushy crust for American-style breads. In the presence of lightning-quick steam injections, European-style breads take on a crisp, crumb-dressed outer core. April's daily bread offerings range from $3.65 to $7.50 a loaf and include french baguettes ($3.65), pepperjack sourdough ($7.50), country buttertop ($5.05), raisin cinnamon ($5.55), and apple pie bread ($6.70). Use today's Groupon to fill up the family with lusciously leavened loaves fresh from the oven—or wait for them to go stale and then wield them as harpoons during the next potato-soup hunt.
Cold Spoons Gelato dishes up frozen Italian treats made from fresh ingredients, compressing mounds of flavor into a sweet, mouth-massaging dairy delight. A rotating list of available flavors ensures several gelato varieties ($3.25 for small, $4.50 for medium, $5.75 for large) are on tap on any given day. Mix, match, and blend gelato flavors to cure clinically depressed taste buds, or try a gelato shake ($4.75), which blends the singular snack with the bone-, teeth-, and facial-hair-strengthening power of milk. Drop in to grab a quick dessert after a dinner out, or pick up a to-go pint and share a spoonful with a special someone or special taxi driver.