Confection Perfection

By staff June 1, 2008

Does the queen eat mango scones? She would if she visited The Wired Whisk Bakehouse, a bakery that “creates swanky pastries from scratch.” Owner/chef Christine Nordstrom, a graduate of Johnson & Wales University, specializes in customized cut-out cookies and cupcakes. The queen would be royally delighted by Nordstrom’s adventures with scones, from the tropical mango to a lemonberry version that fuses dried blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. Why wait for teatime? 4141 S. Tamiami Trail, Suite 13, Sarasota (941) 921-4445.

It’s no secret that Floribbean Flo’s, Sarasota’s celebrated “tropical bakery,” makes some of the best Key lime pie around. Did you know they also make Key lime cake? Well, now you do. Flo and her baking gang use Key lime juice as a soaking glaze to keep this cake deliciously moist for days without preservatives. If you want to send a friend a tangy taste of Florida, this cake is right on key. 7644 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota (941) 922-2888.

Let’s be clear. Frangipani is a flower that grows in the Pacific. Frangipane is a custard filling usually made from almonds—the kind you’ll find in the mouth-watering frangipane pear tarts at Morton’s Market. Each tart presents almond-flavored frangipane, flaky pastry crust and poached pears in a pinwheel design. The tarts come in many tempting varieties—including apricot, French apple, and chocolate pecan and walnut. Relish this rich, intoxicating treat either warm from the oven or chilled. 1924 S Osprey Ave., Sarasota (941) 955-9856.

Chef/owner Debbie Geiger of Debbie Appleseed learned the ABCs of traditional Amish pie baking as a child—and has taken those time-tested basics to an exciting new level. She offers nearly 20 varieties of pies, but Dutch Apple pie is her signature, transforming this most pedestrian staple into an edible ode to the apple. Her secret? Less sugar, sweeter apples and more butter for a crispier, flakier crust. Ask about her pie-of-the-month club. (941) 713-7300;

Sarasota’s Cupcakes a go-go will create a “cupcake for every event.” Themes include “New England clambake,” “scuba treats” and “Geritol” (complete with edible hearing aids, walkers and canes). “We put a creative twist on an old tradition,” says co-owner Sheree Origi. “Cupcakes are the great unifier. Whatever your age, income or interests may be, everybody loves a cupcake.” Want to send an especially sweet message? Order a dozen cupcakes adorned with butter cream roses and presented in a long-stem, floral box. 2079 Siesta Drive, Sarasota (941) 355-6351.

Dylan Elhajoui, pastry chef at Pastry Art, takes classic Charlotte Russe for a walk on the wild side with his decadent Charlotte. On a foundation of a flourless chocolate trifle, Elhajoui adds alternating layers of caramel and cinnamon mousse, tops that off with wine-drenched poached pears, then substitutes the Charlotte’s traditional ring of ladyfingers with caramelized walnuts. The first bite results in shock and “ahhhh.” “Your mouth won’t know what to do with it,” he says. Yes, it will. Pastry Art Bakery, 1512 Main St., Sarasota (941) 955-7545;

Chef Larry Barrett of Simply Gourmet isn’t humble about his cookies. “They’re the best in town,” he says. They may also be the largest. The Big Kahuna is probably the biggest, baddest chocolate chip cookie out there. Barrett packs these 3.5-ounce behemoths with chocolate, nuts and other insanely tasty goodies. Why does Barrett, famed for his gourmet catering, spend time turning out such homey treats? “Inside, I’m just a kid who loves cookies,” he says. Aren’t we all? Simply Gourmet, 4783 Swift Road, Sarasota (941) 929-0066.

You don’t have to be from Brazil to be a nut for its most popular confection—the brigadeiro, miniature spheres of fudge made from chocolate and condensed milk and topped with chocolate sprinkles or cocoa. You can taste these and other Brazilian specialties, both sweet and salty, at Sweet Talk Café. Regis Moreira, the co-owner of this convivial deli and bakery, invites you to linger over “cafezinho” (little coffee) and other sweet Brazilian treats. Sweet Talk Café, 2704 Stickney Point Road, Sarasota (941) 923-1467.

Truffle cake is no trifle at Peterbrooke Chocolatier. These accomplished chocolatologists have concocted a deliciously decadent dessert recipe—a tasty (and flourless) combination of Peterbrooke's signature dark chocolate and espresso bean powder. You can have your cake and take it with you ready-made—or you can make your own with Peterbrooke’s Truffle Cake Kit. Some assembly required, but who cares? You’ll wind up with a Peterbrooke classic and a food memory to last a lifetime. Peterbrooke Chocolatier, 3800 S. Tamiami Trail, Paradise Plaza, Sarasota (941) 330-4302.

What could be more essentiel than bread and chocolate? The French combine the two in pain au chocolat, a chocolate-filled croissant that’s typically eaten at breakfast or as a late-afternoon snack. C’est La Vie offers a light and buttery version with layers of flaky dough wrapped around a hearty dose of rich dark chocolate. This treat will melt in your mouth, especially if you’re lucky enough to get there when it just pops out of the oven. C'est La Vie, 1553 Main St., Sarasota (941) 906-9575.

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