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Photo by Brian Kaiser.

Treat Yo Self: Sweets So Unique

Summer is in full swing, and with it the inevitable pressure to show a little skin.

Whether you’re squeezing into last year’s novelty tank (Editor’s note: I am) or trying to get a few extra miles out of that old bikini, you may be tempted to cut sweets out of your regular routine. As food professionals, we cannot endorse such drastic measures.

Instead, take a look at some of our choices for sweet treats that are just left of the center.

Don’t skip dessert, upgrade it!

Santo Brigadeiro | santobrigadeirousa.com

The next stop on our tour of extraordinary sweets is the cottage-made delights of Santo Brigadeiro. The Brigadeiro is a national desert of Brazil. These little round chocolate balls came to prominence in the post-war homes of Brazilian women, who, lacking access to fresh milk and sugar, turned to the much more abundant condensed milk and chocolate. While not exactly a household name in the States, these delights are ubiquitous at Brazilian birthday parties. Santo Brigadeiro shows us that this once humble confectionery is indeed worthy of the gourmet treatment, crafting unique flavors like bruleé, salted caramel, and golden pistachio. While not available in stores, orders can be made online. And keep your eyes peeled for these “Brazilian truffles” at this summer’s hippest weddings, clam bakes, and garden parties

Smallcakes | 1249 North Hamilton Rd. | smallcakescupcakery.com

Our first choice for a not-your-average indulgence comes to us from the newly minted Smallcakes in Gahanna, the “cupcakery and creamery,” chain that invaded just a short time ago. They serve cakes and those cakes are small—you may know them as cupcakes. All made in-house, Smallcakes boasts varietals like Lemon Drop, Snickers, and Birthday Cake. They also have a selection of house-churned ice creams in flavors like Lily’s Strawberry and Cafe Latte. Now, we know what you’re thinking, “Ice cream? Cupcakes? How are these seemingly ordinary treats anything but average?” Enter the Smash: a Wonkian amalgam of cake and cream that is anything but common. Served in a 16-ounce glass, this monster of a dessert combines a cupcake of your choice with two scoops of Smallcakes’ delightful old-style ice cream. The bottom layer is comprised of the cupcake stump followed by ice cream with the cupcake top, replete with frosting, serving as the cherry on this delicious take on a sundae. The clever layering and flavor combinations make for what feels like three different snacks in one, as the top of the cupcake pairs with the first scoop and the cupcake stump enfuses with the second ice cream flavor, creating the perfect snack for the glucose enthusiast. We recommend bringing a partner to help you polish off the Smallcakes’ Smash as it is equal parts rich and filling.

Mmelo | 445 N High St. | mmelo.co

Keeping with the theme of decadent bite-sized treats we need look no further than Mmelo Boutique Confections, located on Vine Street just up the block from North Market. Since the day the doors opened at this cozy Arena District café, Mmelo has been crafting some of the most unique and Instagram-worthy sweets in the city. Start with their namesake, the Marshmmelo, a sophisticated reimagining of the campfire classic. Flavors like pear-lemon-thyme and vanilla chai show why Mmelo’s titular snack never plays second fiddle to chocolate and Graham crackers. For an even more unique experience one must sample from Mmelo’s menu of Chocolate Tea Cakes, the two-bite treats that are almost too beautiful to eat. Flavors range from the simple, like caramelized banana caramel, to the challenging, like rosemary and shitake mushroom, and show why Mmelo is certainly the place for those of us with a sense of adventure that is as large as our sweet tooth.

Bake Me Happy | 106 E Moler St. | bakemehappygf.com

Finally, we head to Merion Village’s Bake Me Happy, the gluten free bakery that combines childhood nostalgia with a contemporary understanding of the needs of an increasingly diverse population of diners. Bake Me Happy, with their focus on those classic confections most commonly found in a grade school lunch box, shows that gluten free can actually be great, even for wheat eaters! Take for example their signature Oatmeal Cream Cloud, a loving pastiche of the Little Debbie original. When you see that rich cream wedged between two soft and sweet oatmeal cookies, the last thing on your mind is going to be the some missing wheat. Other better-without-gluten offerings include, Moon Pies, PopTarts, and Zebra Cakes. While there, pair your baked good with one of their seasonal beverages, which for the summer include, Rose Gold Iced Tea and Vietnamese Cold Coffee.

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