Each week, pre-booked tours take kids into Mary Denning's kitchen, where they learn about the creation of various cakes, pies, cookies, and baked goods. In one corner of the bakery, they might see the baker using Mary's mother's recipe to stuff pasties with ground sirloin and veggies. In another, owner Mary Denning creates custom cakes for weddings and special occasions, using icing to sculpt intricate floral designs or replicas of the edible baseball caps worn by famous gingerbread athletes.
But the cake shop doesn’t just accommodate kids. Mary and her team want to share their sweet creations with as many people as possible, so they make sugar and gluten free desserts and—on select days—host baking classes.
The family-owned Toarmina's has served up its signature sweet sauce and gullet-stuffing, 24-inch pies since 1987. The menu boasts traditional pizzas ranging from the small one-topping ($8.99) to the two-footer with three toppings ($24.39)—a favorite at giant-division ultimate frisbee leagues. The casual eatery's aromatic ovens also cook up deep dish ($11.99–$13.99) and specialty picks such as the steak and cheese ($12.49–$28.99), which blankets melted mozzarella and american cheese over steak, mushrooms, onions, and golden italian dressing, and the veggie ($11.49–$25.99), a garden party of mushrooms, black olives, diced green peppers, and onions.
On a warm August day in 1938, a father and son unveiled the first sample of what was to become Dairy Queen, selling 1,600 samples on the first day, a feat as unheard of as a dragon that breathes ice. Its ensuing prolific expansion was fueled by its frozen treats, which propelled the dessert shop from 100 stores in 1947 to 1,446 in 1950. Today, their dessert recipes remain largely unchanged, and Dairy Queen has added chili cheese dogs, barbecue pork, and grilled chicken to its menu. Dairy Queen's enormous dessert menu boasts treats ranging from soft-serve cones and blizzards filled with cookies to takeaway ice-cream sandwiches and cakes.
Before Pam Turkin flung open the doors to the first Just Baked in 2009, she was just baking cupcakes on the weekends. But after her corporate travels took her past a growing number of cupcake shops outside of southeastern Michigan, she decided to turn her hobby into a career. She now helms 17 shops in the area, where she and her staff of dessert experts whip up eclectically flavored cupcakes such as red velvet cheesecake, chocolate chip cookie dough, and grumpy cake. In addition to the mouthwatering flavors, all of their items boast real butter, real eggs, and real milk as opposed to artificial ingredients from artificial cows and chickens.
Sweet 220 Pastries & Specialty Cakes, a second-place winner in WDIV’s best cake category, is owned and operated by husband and wife Hass and Dalia Maki. The couple pours their baking energies into crafting classic flavors, such as vanilla buttercream and red velvet, and creative concoctions such as chocolate-caramel crunch, mint-chocolate chip, and lemon cream cheese.
After greasing the Slip 'n Slide with vegetable oil and shedding winter's fluffy bathrobe and insulated socks, the best way to celebrate summer's approach is with a handful of velvety-soft frozen custard. The Ritter's menu features a cast of five to seven rotating daily flavors, including everything from fruit-based favorites such as cherry cordial and fresh banana to candy-inspired creations like caramel Snickers swirl. Order a cone of the flavor du jour ($1.99 and up), or opt for a signature Glacier ($3.29 and up), Ritter's frozen custard mixed with your topping of choice and served upside down to confuse your already delicate perception of reality and emphasize the delicacy's extreme thickness. If a list of 25+ toppings dizzies your decision-making noodle, submit your fate to the friendly ice-cream slingers and opt for a pre-designed signature sundae ($4.29) such as the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup–filled, whipped-cream-topped peanut-butter mountain. Celebrate your newfound superpowers and exploit your nemeses' weaknesses for chocolate and caramel with a frozen Snickers pie ($25.99).