As y’all are well aware at this point (and if you aren’t you really need to work on your observation skills), I am from Kansas. Seeing as I have only been in Pittsburgh two months, I haven’t had a ton of time to try all the different bakeries and food niches here.
However, back home, I knew all the spots to check out and all the places to bring out-of-towners. I know eastern Kansas like the back of my hand. I decided to share some of this knowledge.
Here is a map of some of the well-known dessert eateries in the area. Most of them have specialties (cupcakes, cookies, donuts), but all of them have an aspect that makes them a unique experience.
View Map Mashup Kansas in a full screen map
Let’s get to reviewing!
A) KC Donut Company – Oh, sweet child of mine. These donuts are the cream of the crop. In a somewhat complicated ordeal, KC Donut Company is located where a LaMar’s Donut used to be. Then, LaMar’s moved to another location. However, KC Donut bought the recipes. So, when you go to KC Donut, you are really eating a classic LaMar’s donut, but when you go to the new LaMar’s, it tastes like feet. Got it? Probably not. It’s okay. Just know: KC Donut Company > LaMar’s
My go to donut is the Boston Crème, a long john with chocolate icing and pudding in the center. If you want to get real crazy, you can get maple icing instead of chocolate. Equally delicious. I’m salivating just thinking about these oblong shapes of heaven.
The perk of KC Donut Company is the sheer size of their donuts aka HUGE. I can’t even fathom eating a whole donut in one sitting. My stomach lurches at the thought of so much sweetness. But in my mind, that just means more to eat later! You really can’t go wrong with any donut here. You probably know what you like, so for the first time, I recommend sticking to the classic.
B) Cupcake a la Mode – This cupcake story is fairly stereotypical – lots of chocolate and vanilla cakes with the frosting carrying the bulk of the flavor. I wasn’t extremely impressed with their actually cakes. They weren’t bad necessarily but definitely nothing to write home about.
This may be when you ask, “Now, Megan. Why is it on this list then?”
Well, kind reader. Let me explain.
There is a certain novelty when eating at Cupcake a la Mode. This store has what I call an ice cream shop mentality. Customers are able to pick the cake bottom, and then build it up, choosing different frosting flavors and toppings. Think something like a self-serve frozen yogurt store.
It makes for a fun experience, especially when little children are involved. Messy, but fun nonetheless. I would recommend this joint if you were going more for the experience than the actual food.
C) Smallcakes – Read here for a more complete analysis on the company.
As I mentioned before, Smallcakes is most notable for the moist cakes. The size of these “cupcakes” are borderline obscene. They feature an un-godly amount of buttercream on the top of each cupcake. More than likely the cake will tilt when left to its own free will because of the insurmountable amount of frosting. I usually end up scooping off at least half of it. They could easily serve two people, in my opinion.
Another thing to consider when looking into bakeries is price. The cupcakes at Smallcakes run at $3 a cupcake. As a poor college student, this makes a trip here a luxury. Or only necessary when mom’s with me.
However, I will say, bias aside, they are probably my favorite gourmet cupcakes in the area. I have an extreme infatuation with carrot cake and their carrot cupcake is to die for. It would be up there with one of my last edible moments in life.
D) Blue Chip Cookies – Oh my heart and soul. Shut it down. Make it stop, for the love of god. A gourmet cookie shop? I can’t handle this. These cookies are a party in your mouth to say the least.
I always get a big kick out of all the special designs they have. I make a point to go there over the holiday season because nothing makes me smile more than snowman shaped sugar cookies dosed in icing.
I generally go for the classic: Chocolate Chip. However, I’ve recently begun thinking about exploring my adventurous side. The almond toffee chip is calling my name. I think I can hear it here in the depths of Pittsburgh. Nuts, toffee, and chocolate? I am so there.
One of the neato things about this store is how dedicated they are to health. Ironic, yes. But true. Their cookies contain no preservatives. They also contain no trans fat. So, there. Now you can felt guiltless nom-ing on these treats.
Additionally, if you come there near closing, their cookies are half-off. So you may be craving some cookies at approximately 8:30-ish daily? Just a thought…
E) 3 Women and an Oven – This is on the list for places not to go. Ouch. Yikes. That stings. But really. If you are craving a cake, this is not the place to help the cause. Their cakes are unbelievably dry. To be fair, I’ve never actually had one of their full cakes. However, their bite size babycakes were uncomfortably dry. Perhaps they are more experienced in the art of large cakes.
The one thing I will give this bakery is creativity. Their cakes are decorated adorably. The babycakes are in tiny little Bundt cake form. Their cakes don artfully done swirls and delectable dollops of buttercream.
They are most well known for their Pink Champagne flavor. I’ll give them credit for innovative ideas as well. I’ve never run into another bakery that cake flavor.
So there you folks go! If you’re ever in this area of Kansas, you know have no excuse to skip on the dessert! And don’t say Kansas offers nothing decent besides barbecue. It simply is a fallacy.