Sweetest Ways: Special Blend

Allergies and dietary needs shouldn't stop you from enjoying the sweet life. Here's a roundup of bakeries focused on creating alternative treats.
Open Since What You'll Find Try This Why Eat This
nut-free 2010 Cupcakes, cookies, brownies, cheesecakes, poppy seed roll, tiramisu, biscotti A dozen faux peanut butter cookies ($15) are made with sunflower seed spread. "Some people are acquiring a peanut allergy [later in life], so they know what peanut butter tastes like," says co-owner Jean Campolo. "They can have a fake peanut butter cookie and it tastes like the real thing, so much it kind of makes them nervous!" "The kid with the food allergy always has the odd food that nobody else has," says Campolo. "So when you're eating, that's an enjoyable part of family time together, and now that they can all enjoy the same dessert, it's even that much more special for them."
vegan 2011 Cookies, brownies, cupcakes, cake pops, cakes, cheesecakes, pies, cinnamon rolls, muffins, scones, protein bars Animal products out, soy and hemp milk and vegetable-based butter in — the lavender cupcake ($3) is one of the shop's best-sellers. "It's a vanilla cake, and we make a lavender simple syrup in-house. We soak that into the cake," says co-owner Tiffany O'Neill. "We put on vanilla frosting and sprinkle fresh lavender petals on top." "All of our ingredients we buy are organic," says O'Neill. "You're not going to have any high-fructose corn syrup. You're not going to have any trans fats or hydrogenated oils. So right off the bat, it's a completely different product, regardless whether it has eggs or not."
gluten-free 2008 Breads, cakes, cupcakes, cake balls, cookies, biscotti, pies, pastries, breakfast bars, pizza crust Julie Vangelos' cream cheese frosted carrot cake ($14-$28) is the most requested cake from her home's gluten-free kitchen. "I have a customer — she's not even gluten-free — and she orders my carrot cake." Shredded carrots and walnuts preserve the traditional flavor, while crushed pineapple keeps this cake moist for days. "My goal is to make things taste like they have wheat in them," says Vangelos. "If you substitute too many things, you lose the integrity of what you are really trying to accomplish. I try to do what I do and do it good."
low-calorie 2010 Cupcakes, cakes, cake balls, cake pops, sugar cookies, biscotti, macarons, miniature pies Rachel Hough makes her cupcakes using egg whites instead of egg yolks, and applesauce in- stead of oil to trim the fat and sugar. "All of our products are half the calories, half the fat and half the sugar of a normal product the same size," she says. Try her 221-calorie original chocolate cupcake ($2.75) with a peanut butter cup and chocolate peanut butter frosting. "You're not going to find any chemicals or unnatural stuff in our products," says Hough. "It's all natural ways of cutting calories, fat and sugar."
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