You know you’ve reached the pinnacle of success in life when you get paid to eat cheesecake.
I could officially say I was “living the dream” one August weekend as I taste-tested sweets from Severna Park’s premier bakeries to discover who offers the gooiest, most tantalizing and most decadent desserts in town (the sacrifices I make for you, dear reader).
Cakes and Confections Bakery Cafe, Lisa’s Cakepops and Kirsten’s Cakery all offer some of the best desserts you can find in Severna Park (and probably well beyond). I ordered a plethora of glistening sugary confections to take home and called on a few dining companions for help reviewing these treats.
Cake pops, macaroons, cupcakes, cheesecake, cookies, brownies, tarts, truffles and crumb cakes were all on the mouthwatering menu. I cheerfully damned my diet and dug in.
Cakes and Confections Bakery Café
341 Ritchie Highway
It’s fun to browse the front counter at Cakes and Confections with its appealing, colorful dessert offerings prominently displayed. Owner Michael Brown, when asked about customers’ favorite cakes, quickly pointed to the vanilla raspberry. After tasting a sample, I can see why. With just a small bite, I immediately tasted the buttery vanilla flavor of the buttercream icing mixed with the raspberry filling – delightful! The best part about this cake is it’s not overly sweet, even with the generous amount of icing; rather, the cake offers a balance of thick cream and sweet fruity flavor. The rich texture makes it a decadent dessert worth returning for.
Brown also provided a slice of key lime pie, cookies and a coconut macaroon. I’m picky on my chocolate chip cookies. I’ve silently judged more than my fair share of cookies that taste like they were rolled out from a store-bought frozen cookie dough (“homemade or bust” is my motto). This was a good cookie — soft baked, with old-fashioned homemade flavor and large, melty chocolate chips. As much as I liked the good old chocolate chip cookie, I had to admit I liked the coconut macaroon even better. It was everything a macaroon should be — chewy and toasted to a nice brown color on the outside, soft and filled with shredded coconut on the inside, and dipped in a sweet milk chocolate. In all honesty, I prefer dark chocolate to balance out some of the sweetness from this cookie, but many people like the milk chocolate and will find a satisfying after-dinner sweet in this cookie.
Finally, the key lime pie was a creamy, tangy dessert topped with whipped cream. This is very sweet, so grab some strong coffee to pair with it.
836 Ritchie Highway
Have you ever craved a birthday cake but there were no birthday parties on the horizon? Cake pops (cake molded into bite-sized balls and covered in icing) offer a great way to indulge in a little bit of cake (or try a few flavors) without purchasing an entire cake. Lisa’s Cakepops is a go-to place for cake pops in our area. Lisa Edelman Schneidermann and her husband, Glen, own the shop. Together they make and decorate cake pops that she sells locally and nationally. Lisa provided us a variety of pops including salted caramel, red velvet, strawberries and cream, “funfetti,” marble and double chocolate chip pops, each wrapped in cellophane with pretty bows.
All of the pops were moist and dense. Each of the cakes coated my mouth with a layer of creamy frosting, and the cake was so soft I barely had to chew. Here’s a quick breakdown of the pops:
COVID restrictions have forced Lisa to come up with some creative ideas that have been well received. She offers “do it yourself” kits with the pops, icing and all the decorations. She plans to offer a Halloween box in the fall, and folks are already getting excited about it.
541 Baltimore Annapolis Boulevard
Pastry Chef Hannah Abell at Kirsten’s Cakery’s presented me with a gift-worthy bounty of goodies, including several truffles, macaroons, cupcakes and a chunk of pumpkin crumb cake.
The shop closed for six weeks during the COVID shutdown, but owner Kirsten Klein said business has been booming since reopening — and for good reason. The shop is pretty and inviting, with mouth-watering smells wafting through the air and tantalizing goodies presented beautifully.
My absolute favorite of the bunch was the chocolate fudge cupcake topped with loads of deep chocolate icing, the definition of flavorful and satisfying. I also bought a key lime cupcake, which was rich but sweet for my taste.
Truffles are always fun, another one of those desserts that is so rich and indulgent that you really only need a couple of bites to feel satisfied and not overwhelmed. The chocolate, orange cream, and pumpkin were all very moist (it was a tie between the moistness of these truffles and the cakepops described earlier). A layer of colored icing made for a lovely presentation and a lot of flavor in a tiny package.
The macaroons were so pretty, we felt bad eating them. A blue-colored macaroon with vanilla filling, rolled in sprinkles, along with a white and brown “smores” macaroon, caught the eye of my other grandson (who does not have gluten allergies). If you have a serious sweet tooth, these two macaroons should be your go-to sweets (think marshmallow and frosting level sugary, which can hit the spot if you’re looking for a sugar rush). The raspberry macaroon was my favorite of the three; it boasted a layer of tart raspberry jam atop a layer of frosting that delivered a one-two flavor punch.
The pumpkin crumb cake was the epitome of comfort food, like a pumpkin spice latte in cake form. It had superbly spiced pumpkin cake on the bottom and soft coffee cake crumble on top, dusted in powdered sugar.