Amélie’s French Bakery
With spacious environs and a French shabby-chic décor, Amélie’s is the perfect place to hang out any time of day or night leisurely enjoying a perfectly prepared dessert. Everyone knows about the salted caramel brownie, but don’t miss the elegant Petit Fours. Available in flavors like black and white chocolate, and chocolate four spice, these delicate desserts are miniature works of art.
Black Velvet Patisserie
After thirty-two years in the newspaper business, Eric Greenwell decided to pursue his passion for baking. Upon graduation from the French Pastry School in Chicago, he opened Black Velvet earlier this year. The Chocolate Financiers, two-bite, dense cake treats, sans icing or filling, pair perfectly with a cup of coffee.
Chef’s Choice Gourmet Pastries
11 Union St. South, Concord, 704-792-2433
At Chef’s Choice, glass display cases are filled with cakes, cookies, and pastries baked by owner Tim Mills himself. His Carrot Cake is one of the crowd pleasers. Sold only whole, the cake is moist and sweet with just the right amount of spice.
Southern Cake Queen
If you are lucky enough to meet up with Emma Merisier’s pink Southern Cake Queen food truck, angle for one of her Strawberry Cupcakes: fresh strawberries are puréed into the batter, then topped with pink vanilla buttercream icing—perfect for Valentine’s Day.
Food trucks were nothing new to Portland, Oregon, native Shannon Turrell. “It seemed like a fun idea, bringing cupcakes to people,” she says. She always has six or seven different types of cupcake on hand, selected from her collection of around forty recipes. Do not miss the Elvis: banana cake iced with peanut butter frosting and topped with candied bacon.
Chris and Missy Wallace have more than 160 different cupcake recipes that they offer on a rotating basis. Once a month, they offer cupcake and wine pairings, and they even use wine to make some flavors. Pink Lemon Chardonnay is one tasty example: chardonnay is mixed into the batter, and the cupcake is filled with lemon curd, iced with pomegranate buttercream, and topped with pomegranate seeds and sugared lemon zest.
Polka Dot Bake Shop
This petite cupcake bakery in the Parktowne Village shopping center has a big following. The Tuxedo Cupcake, which is only made Thursdays and Saturdays, took first prize in this year’s Taste of Charlotte dessert category. Chocolate-studded cream cheese is baked into a devil’s food cupcake, which is then smeared with more cream cheese icing. “It’s like a tiny cheesecake is inside the chocolate cupcake,” enthuses manager Katelyn Goetz.
The Bakery Shoppe
Husband-and-wife team Barry and Loretta Northrup specialize in cakes serving six to 100 people as well as muffins, Danishes, fritters, coffee cakes, and assorted cookies and pies. Don’t miss the White and Dark Chocolate Curl, in which Venetian cream and chocolate ganache is layered in devil’s food and white cake, then covered in whipped cream icing and a scattering of white and dark chocolate curls.
Nova’s is known for its organic, European-style breads, but it also offers tasty pastries and breakfast sweet breads. Chocolate éclairs, princess doughnuts (or cream puffs), and enormous brownies are all delish, while the Glorious Morning Muffin, filled with carrots, raisins, walnuts, coconut, and apples (served either room temp or toasted), is a knockout.
Elsa and Manuel Mendoza do the baking while their daughters, Paola and Natalia, run the front of the house in the respective locations. The dessert that devoted customers clamber for is the Surprise—flavored chocolate cake balls covered in chocolate ganache.
Cupcakes have taken Heather McDonnell from passionate, South Carolina cupcake baker to winner of the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. The winning dessert was her Sweet Tea Cupcake. Made by infusing the batter with sweet tea, McDonnell adds lemon zest into the cake, then tops it with sweet-tea-infused butter cream frosting.
Sunflour Baking Company
Debbie Bartok and her daughters, Johannah and Marion, bake everything from scratch and strive to use organic and local ingredients. Sunflour stays open late, offering movie-goers a late-night sweet and a coffee or glass of wine after the show. Don’t miss the Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout Beer Cake. Sold whole or by the slice, this decadent chocolate-mocha layer cake is made with stout brewed in Farmville.
Brenda Lord and daughter Heather Allen offer as many as twenty different cupcake flavors each day. Don’t miss the Mississippi Mud cupcake: a dense brownie cake is layered with marshmallow and then iced with a fudgy chocolate icing.
Tiz Benson has been baking elegant desserts for seventeen years. From inside Suarez Bakery, Tizzerts is known for its decadent Chocolate Truffle Cake, but Tizzerts also sells lush cupcakes that are like mini Tizzerts cakes.