Mokaya Chocolates offers a unique variety of seasonal and holiday chocolates in addition to an assortment of truffles, bonbons, pastries and desserts of all kinds. It is now offering a variety of catering and delivery options. Treat yourself and stop in to pick up locally made chocolate the next time a craving hits. 638 Wealthy St. SE
Serving both Plainfield and Rockford, Sweetland Candies has a mission to be West Michigan’s finest homemade candies destination and to treat every customer like family. People, planet and profit are the principles that drive this faith-based company. Sweetland Candies believes strongly in recycling and using post-consumer products.
Founder Christ Naum immigrated from Greece to Canada in 1905, where he worked diligently to learn the art of candy making from his uncles. In 1919, Naum came
to America and started Sweetland Candies in Grand Rapids. The candy-making business stayed in the family through many generations and now John Jr.’s son, Andrew J. Naum (fourth generation), has been perfecting the art of candy-making taught to him by his grandfather.
Grand Rapids Cookie Co.
Andrea Kahn is originally from the Flint area but has lived in Grand Rapids for the last 20 years. She runs Grand Rapids Cookie Co. as a part-time side hustle. “In late 2019, a few friends and I were discussing how none of us had a ‘talent’ or really any traditional hobbies, so we each picked a hobby to start, and I chose to decorate cookies. I binged decorating videos on YouTube, joined Facebook cookie groups and researched recipes. I would bring the first attempts into work and then be asked to make cookies for our Christmas party. After that, I slowly got orders through word of mouth and referrals.”
It’s become a creative outlet for Kahn and a family affair — her mother, Linda, does the majority of the baking, while Kahn does the design and decoration. The cookies are not just visually appealing, she said, they taste amazing as well. Everything is handmade with high-quality ingredients. All the icing is hand-colored to ensure the most accurate match to the client’s decor. Kahn can create custom orders for any event, but be warned, the calendar books out 4-6 weeks in advance. See its Facebook page for information.
Pauls’ Moms’ Cookies
Jenna Vermeer was inspired to start a business that creates positive changes in the Grand Rapids community. She took up baking to exemplify “respect and dignity,” by selling cookies to one customer at a time to “empower women and stop homelessness.”
“Our cookies are more than just a delicious treat,” she said. “All the profits go toward Degagé’s Open Door Women’s Center, which provides shelter and resources for women in crisis. Additionally, your purchase supports a baking career for women who have stayed at the Open Door Center.”
By next spring, Vermeer hopes to open a retail shop in the front portion of Degagé Ministries. 144 S. Division Ave.
After years of baking cookies for family and friends, owner Marcqus Wright’s then 5-year-old daughter, Mariah, recommended that he start a business to share the family cookies with everyone. Mariah loves the idea of giving cookies as gifts for teachers, friends’ birthday parties, and just-because gifts, he said. This Black-owned family business creates new and unique recipes and uses high-quality ingredients that include real butter, real eggs, real vanilla and unbleached flour in its creations.
Daddy’s Dough is dedicated to putting love in every bite by ensuring consistent flavor and attention to detail, and it can meet orders for events of any size. There also are gluten-free and dairy-free cookie options. Daddy’s Dough cookies currently are available at Bridge Street Market, Horrocks Market, and the Grand Rapids Public Museum, or you can order through the website at daddysdough.com.
Monica’s Gourmet Cookies
Monica’s Gourmet Cookies offers delicious, handcrafted cookies that are beloved for their fine ingredients, flavor, distinctive texture and sophisticated appearance. Beautifully packaged, the cookies come in a variety of flavor options such as the signature chocolate chip or peanut butter drizzle. There also are vegan and gluten-free options. Due to growing demand and Monica’s undeniable passion for her creations, the business is now offering catering for corporate gifting, weddings and events. Soon, Monica’s plans to launch a Gourmet Club. 3668 29th St. SE
Le Bon Macaron
Step into Le Bon Macaron in the trendy Eastown neighborhood and enjoy a Parisian experience in the Midwest. This French-inspired menu offers macaron flavors like jasmine, violet, chocolate, vanilla and raspberry — to name a few. Enjoy a latte, tea or cup of coffee with your macaron choices and relax in the small café. 951 Cherry St. SE
Sugar Momma’s is a vibrant bakery and café located in the southeast side of Grand Rapids in Cascade Township. It specializes in sweet and savory pastries, cakes, tortes and an assortment of breads. Certified pastry chef Haley McNeil-Chapman only uses the highest of quality ingredients, creating the most delicious desserts and pastries for all occasions. You can also grab a cup of coffee, a latte or one of several fruit and tea drink options here and take advantage of the free Wi-Fi in the café if you want to linger for a bit — but don’t blame us if the enticing aroma of fresh baked goods has you stocking up on sweet treats to take home. 6504 28th St. SE
Love’s Ice Cream & Chocolate
Chris McKellar is the owner, chef and artisan at Love’s Ice Cream & Chocolate in the Downtown Market. Love’s is known for its ice cream flights — allowing you to sample a variety of the flavors available in one sitting — and for its local, handmade holiday chocolates such as Easter Bunnies, Santa Clauses and even Michigan mitten-shaped chocolates.
Love’s creates ice cream and chocolate products from scratch on-site and the business has a liquor license, allowing it to serve cocktail floats and ice cream with ABV.
“Love’s Ice Cream & Chocolate was born out of a fascination for figuring out where ingredients come from and how to make common foods in a minimally processed way,” McKellar said. “We aim to inspire people to treat themselves and others better. As the chef and owner, I use the platform of Love’s to express my creativity, passion for good food and top-caliber ingredients, and to educate our customers.”
When asked what inspired this idea, McKellar said, “We start with asking, ‘What would be delicious?’ Our inspiration then culminates from the intersection of modern and timeless flavors. We make worthy treats for everyone. We recommend trying the classic vanilla bean ice cream and fudge brownie combination. Add hot fudge to put it over the top.”
Locally made ice cream
Furniture City Creamery
Rachel Franko is the owner and operator of Furniture City Creamery. Before opening the ice cream shop, Franko worked as a chemical engineer specializing in mixed development and had dreams of working in the food industry. Most of her recipes are inspired by her grandmother’s baked goods and are gluten-free. She takes pride in deconstructing her grandmother’s recipes and flavor profiles and figuring out how to make the ice cream taste just like her grandma’s cookies, cakes, etc. Peanut Butter Oreo is a local fan favorite here. 958 Cherry St. SE
Love’s Ice Cream & Chocolates
Concocting new flavors of ice cream is a dream job and Chris McKellar of Love’s Ice Cream & Chocolates gets to do it with each turn of the season. McKellar operates his business out of the Downtown Market, where he offers a rotating menu of ice creams. You can visit the online menu, where the day’s available flavors are updated. Love’s also has dairy-free vegan ice cream options. 435 Ionia Ave. SW
Nantucket Baking Company, Martha’s Vineyard and Lyon St. Café
The artistic side of pastry is what got her into the culinary arts. Baar grew up baking with her mother and she always wanted to channel her artistic creativity into something she was passionate about.
“Our shop is unique because we have so many different facets of our company,” she said. “You can stop by for a breakfast item, a loaf of bread or a treat throughout the day. For more specialty pastries you can stop by Martha’s Vineyard while grabbing a bottle of wine. The corner of Union and Lyon is what I would call a one-stop shop. We are also soon opening a second bakery location (Nantucket Baking Company is now open on Fuller Avenue) where we will be having some more experimental items. We’re all very excited to be growing and are excited to try out different products.”
Baar offered the following recommendations: Nantucket Baking Company’s chocolate chip cookie and blueberry muffins. “A phenomenal new product is the sticky toffee pudding,” she added. Also high on the list are Lyon St. Café’s olive oil cake with brown butter buttercream and Martha’s Vineyard’s chocolate peanut butter terrine — “sweet and salty, the best combo.”
The Local Epicurean
Get hands-on with your chocolates at The Local Epicurean, where you can indulge in the unique experience of learning to make truffle chocolate candies and desserts (see website for classes). This also is a great place to pick up a sweet treat for a housewarming party, birthday gathering or other special occasion worthy of chocolate celebration. The gift boxes are impressive and can be paired with a carefully selected bottle of wine. 1440 Wealthy St. SE.
Art of the Table
This specialty store offers high-end chocolates and ice cream. Have the staff customize a gift basket to please your sweet tooth the next time you are looking for the perfect present. 606 Wealthy St. SE
This neighborhood hotspot is a specialty grocery store where you can stock up on everything from produce and to-go meals to wine and craft beer. It also offers a dessert case stocked with lushly frosted cupcakes, gooey bars and more. If you are looking for a last-minute dessert to go with your evening meal, this is the place to visit. 200 Union Ave. NE
Grand Rapids Community College
Chef Wilfredo Barajas is a culinary art educator with a professional background as a culinary chef. He has traveled the country and worked in some of the best kitchens in the industry, such as Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, The Peninsula Hotel in Chicago and many other venues. Along the way, he has studied under some of the industry’s best culinary professionals. Barajas shares his journey and passion for cooking in the kitchen and walks us through what the GRCC culinary program looks like.
“I have had the opportunity to share my education, knowledge and professional experiences with the students at Secchia Institute for Culinary Education and Grand Rapids Community College,” he said.
In this role, Barajas aims to prepare students to become technicians, problem solvers and critical thinkers of the future.
“Culinary educators are a special breed of instructors that need years of experience to master and apply their craft. We go beyond instructing theory and defining terms; we also teach students how to move their hands and bodies to obtain the physical skills needed to manipulate food and work efficiently.”
Barajas believes the future of cooking is food science and that the foundation relies heavily on using food science to teach how these culinary techniques work. Students can learn pastry through the Culinary Associates Degree in Applied Arts and Science or earn the Baking and Pastry Certificate.
Barajas says the word “chef” is just a word. It doesn’t have value unless you have the knowledge and experience to back it up. As a culinary educator, Barajas believes that the modern chef should be extremely educated and versatile with education in science, math, arts, business and communication.
He said the bakery class at GRCC has all of the tools, ingredients and equipment needed to simulate any professional environment. The program includes seven weeks in a professional bakery and then students have the confidence to work in any bakery in town. Another key selling point for the culinary program is that the students get plenty of hands-on experience. GRCC operates the Heritage Restaurant and the Art’s and Bev’s Bistro, which allow students to learn to mass-produce recipes and get valuable hands-on practice with tailored culinary instruction.
Rise Authentic Baking Co.
At Rise Authentic Baking Co., everything is made from scratch with fresh ingredients. With a mission to “represent the conscious side of the pastry,” the Rise team prides itself on creative spin-offs of classics. Its peanut butter cookies are a fan favorite — made from scratch with a sugar dusting before baking in the ovens, you will taste the freshness in every bite. Peanut allergy? Rise also has snickerdoodles, chocolate chip and double chocolate chip cookies available. Rise specializes in gluten-free, vegan and soy-free baked goods as well as smoothie bowls, toast options, empanadas and more. 1220 W. Fulton St.
If you have a gluten allergy, look for the Kind Crumbs label. Owner Rebecca Duiven started the specialty bakery after being diagnosed with celiac disease. Kind Crumbs items are available all around town at grocery stores and specialty markets. You also can order gluten-free cakes for any event or occasion. Vegan and dairy-free options also are available.
Cyclops Bake Shop
Cyclops Bake Shop arose from Kara Bolt’s desire to create plant-based, custom-decorated sugar cookies. The Cyclops name comes from the name of Bolt’s one-eyed cat. Bolt has a vast array of experiences, including a degree from Kendall College of Art and Design and having worked in several bakeries and high-end patisseries that culminated in her decision to start her own organic bakery business. Cyclops Bakeshop is known for its fun, unique designs. Bolt makes her own cookie cutters, allowing for custom cookie designs of any type. Visit @cyclopsbakeshop to order and view past cookie images.
Bit stands for “Believe In This” and the business stands by its product as “the best,” noting its goal is to “change the way we live and eat for the better bit by bit.” Specializing in vegan and gluten-free desserts, Bit Baking is a one-stop shop for all things sweet. The company serves everything from macarons, cookies and milkshakes to chocolate-covered strawberries, fresh croissants and much more. With new products made fresh daily, there is always something that will keep you coming back for more. 2770 Ridgemoor St. SE
Kind Crumbs is a celiac-owned wholesale gluten-free bakery in Grand Rapids. Specializing in cakes, Kind Crumbs provides gluten-free and allergy-friendly baked goods to restaurants, grocery stores, coffee shops and other businesses around town. In addition to being gluten-free, all of its products are dairy-free and soy-free, and many are also egg-free and corn-free.
“After suffering from chronic migraines, stomach pain and other health problems throughout my 20s, my doctor diagnosed me with celiac disease in 2009, and put me on a strict gluten-free diet,” said Kind Crumbs owner Rebecca Duiven. “My health improved drastically on the gluten-free diet, especially after I also gave up eating dairy and soy. But I learned from personal experience, and from interacting with others who lived with food allergies and intolerances, that having food restrictions can greatly impact a person’s emotional well-being and social life. I became determined to bake treats that were just as good, or better, than what I ate before going gluten-free. I started converting traditional recipes to gluten-free during my spare time, which quickly became a side business.”
Kind Crumbs grew from a cottage business to a small commercial bakery operating out of a catering kitchen.
Old Fashioned Cheesecake
Bourbon-soaked cherries, candied pecans, gingersnap crust, orange caramel … what better toppings on a delectable cheesecake? $7.25. 438 Bridge St. NW
Ella’s Banana Pudding
GRNoir Wine & Jazz
Comes with fresh bananas, vanilla wafers, and is topped with whipped cream and white chocolate shavings. It is reminiscent of the owner’s grandmother’s pudding and brings a smile to faces with every bite. $6. 35 S. Division Ave.
The Apple Galette
The perfect comfort food dessert. Hot spiced apples wrapped in house-made pie crust, served with cinnamon whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, salted caramel sauce and crunchy pecan praline. $7. 1001 Monroe Ave. NW
Amore Trattoria Italiana
Amore has original tiramisu (coffee and chocolate) but also is known for wild flavors that change seasonally: blueberry tiramisu during local blueberry season, strawberry tiramisu during local strawberry season, etc. It consists of a layer of lady fingers dipped in berries and liquor, then mascarpone cream, then amaretti cookies and more mascarpone cream. Topped with the berries and edible glitter. $9. 5080 Alpine Ave. NW
Made with goat cheese rather than cream cheese, which creates a light and airy texture. The enhanced flavor from the goat cheese is complemented by cranberry coulis, apple preserves and a spent grain graham cracker crust. $10. 235 Louis St. NW
Five Spice Chinese Steam Cake
Features ginger buttercream, citrus, lemon curd, candied puffed rice and mint that creates a dissolving texture as you savor each bite. $7. 1429 Lake Drive SE
Chocolate Cherry Torte
Includes layers of rich chocolate cake, red sour cherries and chocolate Bavarian cream, wrapped in chocolate ganache and topped with whipped cream, maraschino cherries and chocolate shavings. $12. 60 Ottawa Ave. NW
The inspiration behind the desserts at MDRD at the Amway Grand Plaza is, most notably, the flavor profiles of Spain.
“We try to push ourselves to deliver highly polished techniques and attention-grabbing plateings, similar to what one would find when dining out in Spain, which diners can see in both the el limón and the årbol de caramelo. I also can’t leave out our crema catalana, a traditional Spanish dessert that has interesting yet subtle citrus and cinnamon notes,” MDRD pastry chef Doug Orr said.
Orr has an extensive background in the culinary world and has been part of the Grand Rapids food scene for decades.
“I decided to turn toward pastry during my second year of culinary school, right here in Grand Rapids. I was attending Grand Rapids Community College to be a savory chef, yet was amazed by master pastry chef Gilles Renusson who, at the time, also happened to be the pastry chef here at the Amway Grand Plaza. When I saw him write on a cake in chocolate, it changed my world and my career path. Soon after witnessing that, I became his intern, developing skills, understanding, technique and experience. I am forever grateful to call him a friend, and because of him, I now teach cake decorating at GRCC as an adjunct instructor.”
Custom cakes and cupcakes
Dreamscape Desserts started after owner Julie Couturier was asked by her sisters to create their wedding cakes and cupcakes. In 2010, she decided to make it into a business, and in 2020 she opened her Alpine Avenue retail location. The relaxed and welcoming atmosphere, paired with excellent customer service and unique flavor combinations, is what makes Dreamscape Desserts stand out.
This pastry shop is known for having some of the most flavorful cupcakes around town. The cupcake flights are a must-try and include a dozen mini cupcakes in 12 different flavors. This dessert shop focuses on flavor and creating new combinations that might not be considered a typical “cake” flavor. The flavors are spread throughout the whole cupcake. For example, the salted caramel cupcake is a caramel cake with salted caramel buttercream. Favorites include apple pie, root beer float and almond joy. 3448 Alpine Ave. NW.
The team at Cakabakery creates every dessert with taste in mind. No boxed mixes or premade toppings here. For years, owner Jason Kakabaker created cakes for family and friends and then realized that baking had become his full-time passion. Vegan and gluten-free options are always on the menu at Cakabakery — no animals were harmed in the making of your favorite treats, including cupcakes, cookies, pies and more. And its gluten-free options are made with natural alternatives like agave nectar, milled whole almonds and rich, dark chocolate. While some of these items will be available in store, you should order ahead to ensure that the treats you love will be ready in time for your next event (or craving). 919 E. Fulton St.
Birthday parties, first communions, bar mitzvahs, open houses, quinceaneras, bridal showers, baby showers and, of course, weddings — the one thing all these celebrations have in common is cake. Connie’s Cakes provides everything from a simple sheet cake to an elaborate five-tier, fondant-covered masterpiece. Connie’s also offers cookies, brownies, full-size and mini cupcakes, and vegan and gluten-free cakes. At iloveconniescakes.com, you can view photos and get inspired from past cake designs.
Sisters Connie Hennip and Wanda Faber began their careers making and decorating cakes at Family Fare. The pair decided to enter into a partnership and open Connie’s Cakes -n- Crafts in 1995. After 15 years in business, Connie decided to retire from the business side of the operation, and her niece, Mary Scheidel, purchased the business in early 2010 and renamed it Connie’s Cakes LLC. While the ownership may have changed, the same great cakes, iced in the original buttercream, are still available. 1416 Robinson Road SE
Flour House Cakes & Co.
Flour House Cakes & Co. is a home-based, Black-owned cakery and design studio in Rockford that specializes in custom couture wedding cakes and confections for major events. Owner Lincoln Alexander comes from a long line of bakers who did it for love and not money, and he wants to continue that tradition. His philosophy is that good baking takes place in the comforts of the home. All confections are handmade with the finest ingredients that are often provided by local farmers and grocers.
Alexander’s mother was his inspiration. “She always told me to retool and rethink but never copy. She told me my creations were my legacy so to never fear to make them my own,” he said.
Alexander’s designs vary from traditional wedding styles to realistic-looking designs and can even take the shape of your favorite Disney character. Inquiries and orders can be placed through flourhousecakes.com.
The Salted Cupcake
In addition to a storefront, The Salted Cupcake can bring the flavor to you — with a food truck that is available for events, weddings and private parties. The food truck has a trendy design that makes it a fun addition to the party backdrop and, of course, its cupcakes are filled with delicious flavor options that include Kit Kat, apple pie, banana cream pie, margarita, Nutella and peach melba — just to name a few. Each cupcake is designed to be photo-ready and can be gift-wrapped for any occasion. 2481 32nd St. SE
GR Cookies and Cupcakes by Design
Cookies by Design and Cupcakes by Design have been locally owned and servicing the Grand Rapids area for over 20 years. The array of cupcake and cookie options provides a tasty treat for everyone’s pallet. Cookies by Design offers fresh-baked, hand-delivered cookie gifts that are perfect for any occasion while Cupcakes by Design bakes more than two dozen cupcake flavors every day. Stop in and treat yourself at the Grandville location or visit the website at grandrapidscookiesandcupcakebydesign.com. 3080 44th St. SW
The owner of Edgewood Bakery, Rita Selles, grew up in a household where baking was the order of the day, and that is where she learned to be comfortable in the kitchen alongside her mother at a young age. It wasn’t until spending several years in France that
her interest in baking became more serious.
“While I have always baked for family and friends, I decided in 2015 to enroll at the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education right here in Grand Rapids. I loved the Baking and Pastry Certificate program — and I soon knew I wanted to start my very own bakery business. In the fall of 2017, Edgewood Bakery opened as a home-based bakery.”
At Edgewood Bakery, you can find European-inspired desserts along with American classics. Try the chocolate truffle cake or the opera cake. The chocolate truffle cake is a smooth and creamy whipped chocolate ganache (chocolate and cream) on an almond sponge cake base, while the opera cake has the added interest of two coffee-infused layers of almond sponge cake with coffee buttercream and chocolate ganache. 1617 Edgewood Ave. SE
Seth Berkowitz founded Insomnia Cookies in 2003 while attending the University of Pennsylvania after recognizing the need for a quick and easy cookie delivery service. The warm, delicious cookies are conveniently delivered right to the doors of customers. Insomnia Cookies has more than 100 locations around the country, including here in Grand Rapids. Whether you’re feeding a craving or a crowd, Insomnia offers cookies, brownies, ice cream, cookie cakes and even cold milk. Most Insomnia locations deliver from 10 a.m.-3 a.m. daily. 44 Ionia Ave. SW.
Start your morning with a sugar high
Brown Butter Crêperie
Brown Butter Crêperie and Café began in 2015 as a food truck and continues to serve the community at farmers markets and special events around West Michigan. Brown Butter Crêperie also has set up shop in Eastown’s historic Windmill Building. Here, you will experience a taste of France with gourmet sweets and savory crêpes spun to perfection on steaming griddles. Brown Butter Crêperie is a cozy café that is all about atmosphere and décor, which is the first thing you notice when you walk through the door; the second thing you notice is the aromas of fresh baked goods and coffee. The gourmet Belgian waffles are a must-try around here. 1436 Wealthy St. SE
Did someone say brunch? At Morning Belle, you are welcomed in by the vibrant garden fabrics, a plant-friendly atmosphere and shiplap design. This is a great spot where you can gather with friends and family and enjoy an extensive menu that fits everyone’s tastes. On the sweet side, indulge in a glazed doughnut waffle. Morning Belle is a great place to relax with friends and connect with family. 1600 East Beltline Ave. NE and 434 Bridge St. NW
Anna’s House is a retro-style diner with a modern edge and vintage atmosphere that is complete with vintage toasters serving as wall décor, vintage teapots and lively colors that are sure to awaken you during your morning visit. Anna’s House has been family-owned and -operated in West Michigan since 2002. Its menu offers an entire category of “sweets favorites” to choose from, including the chicken n’ waffles and chocolate quinoa breakfast bowl. You can also find plenty of gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan and vegetarian options. Multiple locations
Field & Fire Café
This European-inspired café with a farm-to-table menu has plenty to satisfy a sugary morning craving. Keep it light with a pain au chocolat croissant, almond croissant, cream cheese danish or cruffin. Pastry options change daily and often sell out before noon, so it pays be an early bird. 820 Monroe Ave. NW, Suite 100
Field & Fire Bakery and Café
Hannah Fink traded in a career in the music industry for one as a pastry chef.
“Sourdough brought me to baking,” Fink said. “I lived in Nashville, Tennessee, for a good long while, working in the music industry. It was so much fun, but it was so much hard work — ‘the hustle’ — I got burnt out. I figured out how to make sourdough to nourish my body. I loved the slow pace, the intuition my hands held with the process.
“I eventually left Nashville to be a pastry chef in my hometown to get a mental break. Turns out, it’s what I wanted to be doing with my hands. So here I am, geeking out over good food with my coworkers and pinching myself every day at 7 a.m. that I just baked hundreds of croissants for a living.”
Fink describes her passion and the joy that can be found while kneading bread.
“Baked goods tell a story,” she said. “I became a sourdough enthusiast early on in my baking journey because I thought it was so freaking cool that I was making bread archaically, the same way cavemen were making bread. I love making food that celebrates seasons, cultures and occasions. When I bake, it is almost always for others to consume. It’s my love language. The joy of a baked good knows no bounds. Therefore, my inspiration comes from making things that feel good, that I know will make others feel good. I don’t need wacko flavor combinations, but I love ’em. Just the same as I love a good classic.”
This story can be found in the July/August 2021 issue of Grand Rapids Magazine. To get more stories delivered to your mailbox, subscribe here.