Despite the fact that ice cream parlors have been around for more than a century — offering that one, single, storied treat — some of us are still confounded when we hear of a new specialty dessert shop. Sure, cupcakeries have been around for a few years now, but these days we’ve got more unique options popping up like mushrooms all over Houston.
And truly they make sense. Specialty shops allow owners to concentrate on that one thing they love most. They can hone textures and flavors and processes, all to offer a more perfect treat.
I’m still hoping/waiting/praying for a pudding shop to open in these parts, but here are a few of our other recent (and semi-recent) dessert shop favorites to tide us over in the meantime.
The Bungalow Baker
Elizabeth Poirrier quit a successful career in pharmaceuticals to return to culinary school — and we’re sure glad she did. Now she’s the Bungalow Baker (in her Heights bungalow, of course), offering what we think are the best and most beautiful iced cookies in town. Order ‘em up for your next occasion — or just to have around.
Recently Elizabeth has started taking orders for cupcakes and sheet cakes, too.
Sugar Land is even sweeter now that we’ve found the Teacake Factory. Teacakes are a southern delicacy — neither a cake nor a cookie, but kind of a cake-like cookie. Heavy on the butter, light on the sweet, all delicious.
Traditional teacakes are plain or lemon-flavored, but the Teacake Factory offers several kicked-up varieties, including blueberry, butterscotch, coconut, red velvet and more.
We’re still enamored of the not-too-sweet treats at Midtown’s Dolce Delights: Gorgeous mini layer cakes filled with mousses and fruit purees, which give the cakes plenty of flavor and texture without a whole lot of sugary sweetness. They make for a lovely afternoon snack or ideal ending to a nice meal. (Dolce Delights also offers coffees, teas and a basic sandwich list.)
Nothing Bundt Cakes
Traditional cake lovers, here’s one for you. Stop by Nothing Bundt Cakes (at Post Oak/Westheimer) to check out the rainbow of beautifully cute cakes in various sizes. The mini-est is ideal for one to two people, while the maxi-est serves quite a crowd. Flavors range from chocolate, lemon, and red velvet to pecan-praline, cinnamon swirl and carrot.
Macaron by Patisse
As macarons enjoy their time in the spotlight, Houston welcomes Macaron by Patisse in the River Oaks Shopping Center on West Gray. Owner Sukaina Rajani is a self-taught baker, now crafting dozens of glorious flavors of macarons in her shop daily. Our favorite flavors so far are the lovely Blueberry Vanilla and life-altering Salted Caramel.
Order ‘em for a party, give as a gift, or just grab a box to have around.
Mighty Sweet Mini Pies
Open for little more than a month now, this family-run mini-pie shop in the Heights has carved out a niche and developed a following. The owners make hundreds of mini-pies from scratch a day, and while Pecan Pie is almost always on the list, the other four daily flavors rotate.
We’re always too slow to catch the Key Lime and Peanut Butter Chocolate, but heartily recommend the German Chocolate and Tangerine Chess.
Tiff’s Treats, an Austin-based biz, broke into the Houston market last year, tempting us with 10 daily types of fresh-baked cookies. The tiny storefront on the 59 feeder (near Weslayan) receives such a steady stream of traffic that they’ve opened additional spots in Midtown and the Med Center. Cookies are soft and chewy, and at 90 cents each, they won’t break your budget.
Houston’s ultimate sugar stop, Candylicious features a stunning array of colorful candies. The modern options are appealing, but the real reason to go is the retro stuff, throwbacks to the decades of old: rock candy, salt water taffy, pop rocks, swirl pops, orange slices, jelly beans, gum drops and more. It’s nostalgia unleashed. And don’t worry — there are plenty of chocolate options, too.
Did we miss your favorite? It happens — and we’re always looking for new places to try. Let us know your favorite specialty dessert shops in the comments section below.