January 10, 2013 | 10:28am
Two new extra-sweet shops specializing in foods made with sugar, spice and everything deliciously indulgent recently opened on the 500-block of Clematis St. in downtown West Palm Beach.
Serving up a few of our favorite foods -- like flavored kettle corn, fancy cupcakes, special order cakes, coffee and tea -- it's a new way to enjoy Clematis St. by day.
Welcome Cafe Sweets Bakery and Best Darn Kettle Corn, each offering a taste of gourmet goodies for diners, shoppers and those just looking for something new and different from this once desolate strip of the city's downtown area.
For a closer look at these two new shops, keep reading:
Cafe Sweets Bakery
505 Clematis St., West Palm Beach
This small bakery is a bright new addition to the block, offering up a variety of baked goods made fresh and on-premise daily, but with a Southern twist. Family-owned Cafe Sweets represents three-generations of bakers, starting with "Grandma Emma," whose made-from-scratch desserts represent Southern-style baking at its best. The tradition continued with her daughter, Cora, who shared the family secrets with her own daughter, Cafe Sweets owner Sharlyn Davis. Trained at the Art Institute of New York City as a pastry chef, Davis honed her family's Southern-style secrets to create some of the best desserts around.
But don't think just desserts. Cafe Sweets can be a great breakfast or post-lunch stop, where you can pair a cup of Joe with fresh-baked muffins, croissants and cinnamon rolls. It's also a great place to end an evening out on Clematis St., with a good selection of cookies, brownies, cannolis, pies and cakes that can be carried out, or made to order.
The sweetest part of Cafe Sweets, however, are the cupcakes -- an entire display case full of specialty gourmet selections, more than 35 varieties in total available for take-out (when available) or special order. A few unfamiliar takes: blueberry cheesecake, peaches and cream, key lime pie, pina colada and blue Hawaiian.
What we like best about Cafe Sweets cupcakes: they're the real deal. Not a single flavor disappoints, each guaranteed to taste better than your average cupcake. The banana pudding, for example, features a rich banana-flavored buttercream frosting -- but it's the cake that shines. Dense and moist, it's like a slice of fresh-baked banana bread. The same goes for all their selections, including a German chocolate that's a tiny bite of the real thing, and the S'mores, which features a miniature mound of the real dessert heaped onto the frosting.
Need a little less sweet in your life? The bakery also makes sugar-free cupcakes, and can accomodate most allergies or special dietary requirements for special orders.
527 Clematis St., West Palm Beach
Best Darn Kettle Corn opened in late November, the third location in a family-owned operation from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The West Palm Beach shop is run by Kimberly McCay, whose mother Sherry started making kettle corn several years ago using a small mobile unit to pop kettle corn for sale at local festivals and fairs in the Philadelphia area.
"It was so successful, friends and family asked why we didn't make it all year. They wanted a way to be able to buy it anytime," said McCay, who helped her family to open the West Palm Beach store after attending school at nearby Northwood University.
According to McCay, Best Darn Kettle Corn's online business has grown so much in recent years, the family needed a third location to help with product shipping. The West Palm store presented the ideal location, she told Clean Plate Charlie during a recent interview.
Today, Best Darn Kettle Corn offers over 45 different flavors, including specialty ones like Bar-B-Que, golden cheddar, S'mores and birthday cake -- even holiday flavors like white chocolate candy cane. Although it varies by region, McCay said one of the most popular flavors continues to be their cinnamon bun surprise, and chocolate covered cherry.
Right now the retail store on Clematis focuses on selling its fresh-popped kettle corn by the bucket or bag, as well as convenient carry-out paper cones ($3.50 to $13.95). There are also pre-packaged plastic tubs in various flavors available for purchase to ship to friends and family. The store will also begin selling saltwater taffy and coffee in the next few months, said McCay.