Pastry chef Ly Lo is a tremendously gifted icing artist. At this year’s Minnesota Monthly Food and Wine show, her cake, shaped like a golden Italian Renaissance harvest chalice, handily walked away with the Czar of Cakes crown. Lo’s business partner at Sweets Bakeshop, Krista Steinbach, is a tremendously gifted flavor artist. Her grapefruit-sparkler cupcake is so citrus-fragrant, so light and flavorful that, while you’re eating one, you suddenly realize that the cupcake has the exact fragrance of dreams of summer. Together, the two are unstoppable.
Their original Sweets Bakeshop in St. Paul is a must-visit site for hostess gifts, especially because of the macarons, which rival Ladurée’s in Paris. (Try the salted caramel, the habañero chocolate, the mint-basil, and then try the rest.) Now, the second Sweets Bakeshop, in a sleepy strip mall on 48th and Nicollet, threatens to elevate every birthday party in the south metro. Here’s how: first, you call and order however many cupcakes you need, for $3 apiece (or mini-cupcakes, for $1.50 each), in the 10 flavors offered daily, including mojito (for grownups) or peanut-butter-cup (for the sippy-cup set). Then when you go to get your cupcakes, you discover that they’re utterly adorable, each decorated with an upside down comma of buttery frosting, each comma of frosting topped with something like a candied walnut or a fondant cut-out. Then, Sweets Bakeshop rents you a fancy multi-tiered cake stand to take home. You head home with your cupcakes, install them on your fancy cake stand, and voilà! You suddenly have an event that’s glamorous and tasteful, delicious and adorable—an unstoppable combination and a delight.