Enthusiastic baker Nefertiti Angelini hand-picks 97 percent organic ingredients such as tahitian and bourbon vanilla beans to shape cupcakes inspired by such iconic treats as s'mores, peanut butter and jelly, and key-lime pie. The confections pop out of the oven several dozen at a time before donning crunchy or juicy toppings, letting an expansive and ever-changing array of flavor combinations press their noses to the hand-labeled display case. Beyond their eye-catching exteriors, most cakelets harbor gooey centers overstuffed with cream cheese, ganache, peanut butter, or caramel matryoshka dolls. Aromas drift past the storefront's crystal chandelier and bright bouquets into its Reston neighborhood. The CupCake Ladi often expands her energies into charitable works as well: as the Orange County Register has reported, Nefertiti donates hundreds of cupcakes a week to fund ventures including German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County and the March of Dimes.
One cupcake looks much like another, which is why Red Velvet Cupcakery's pastry chefs pay such careful attention to what makes them different: the ingredients. Even before a Red Velvet customer takes a bite, they'll probably smell the presence of European butter, Valrhona chocolate, Maldon sea salt, local dairy products, French-style buttercream, and accents made from 24K gold leaf.
That difference was tasted by Washington Post Express, which concluded that Red Velvet's devil's-food cupcake "is sinfully satisfying" with its rich buttermilk cake topped with Valrhona bittersweet-chocolate ganache. It likewise hailed the red-velvet Southern Belle's whipped cream-cheese frosting as "simple, elegant, and too scrumptious for words." To ensure fresh cupcakes?and to keep their wastebaskets available for crumpled-up paper during "writer's block" montages?Red Velvet donates each day's remainders to local shelters and nonprofit organizations.
Since opening their first location in 1996, Robeks' associates and franchise owners across the country have been passionate about the benefits of healthier eating, and what they can do to help guests maintain active and healthy lifestyles, all through portable smoothies. Customers can step up to the counter and order from a menu of fresh, premium ingredients in unique, made-to-order combinations. Robeks Premium Fruit Smoothies aims to create innovative ways to reach the daily recommended 9-13 servings of fruits and vegetables without compromising on flavor. Each Robeks Premium Fruit Smoothies location makes a concerted effort to support the neighborhood it resides in, through local organizations, such as Save the Children.
CakeLove's baking staff, led by owner and Food Network's Sugar Rush host Warren Brown, specializes in cupcakes and cakes, baking batches from scratch daily with fresh, natural butter, sugar, eggs, and more. Each location's rotating selection of vanilla, chocolate, red-velvet, banana, carrot, and pumpkin cake bases is smothered with a variety of flavored buttercreams. Chocoholics can silence grumbling sweet tooths with creative concoctions like Cynthia's sin (chocolate cake dipped in chocolate ganache, topped with peanut butter buttercream, drizzled with chocolate and caramel, and sprinkled with candied peanuts), while those longing for a tropical getaway can abduct their tongue to a farflung locale with the lime on the coconut (shredded coconut and lime zest on a vanilla cupcake with lime buttercream). Cupcakes are $3.25 each, $19.50 for a half dozen, and $39 for a baker's dozen. Other sweet forms of gourmet baked goods ($2–$5), as well as the bakery's six-inch to 12-inch layer cakes ($25–$130), can sugary-up birthdays or candy-coat a van full of Shriner cars.
Behind the brick façade of Plush Gelato & Coffee, owners Dinh and Henry Luong handcraft a rainbow of velvety gelatos and sorbets to match a variety of custom-brewed coffee and lattes. Spheres of creamy gelato scooped away from frosty peaks woo sweet teeth with locally sourced and seasonal flavors such as chocolate hazelnut, nutella cookie, and vietnamese coffee ($3.75 for small; $4.50 for medium; $5.25 for large). Blood orange, strawberry, and mango juices freeze into smooth sorbet with a unique texture that comes from millions of microscopic crystals. Rather than licking a car battery, awaken somnolent palates with a large cup of piping hot coffee ($2.25) or a foamy latte ($3.75).
The inside joke behind the name of Lara Stuckey's bakery goes all the way back to her childhood. As she told the Fairfax Times, "When my sister and I said silly things, we would call them 'fluffy thoughts.'" The reference to her youth is appropriate, considering that's when Lara got her start at baking by whipping up treats in her Easy-Bake oven. Her pursuit of culinary skills continued throughout her life, including during a period when she would design cakes at night after returning home from her full-time therapist job. At the urging of her friends, Lara eventually left her job to dedicate herself to her true passion at Fluffy Thoughts Cakes.
The bakery looks as cheerful as the story behind its development. Bright baubles hang from the walls, spotlighting display cases of specialty cakes and cupcakes made with Valrhona chocolate, pure European butter, and fresh fruit. Cupcake flavors rotate frequently, but they typically include inventive creations such as an apple cupcake with bacon bits and a pina colada cupcake that gives you the ability to play the piano if you practice the piano a lot while you eat it. Lara is also a longtime painter and sketch artist, so sculpting towering specialty cakes with intricate designs and imaginative shapes comes naturally to her.