This new Avon restaurant has a secret weapon — managing partner Tony Calanni’s wife Angela, who prepares all of the restaurant’s desserts, including tiramisu, lemon curd cheesecake, chocolate layered cake with espresso frosting and — everyone’s favorite — cassata cake. But don’t expect the fluffy custard-and-strawberries Americanized version. Both Tony and Angela were born in Sicily — and stay true to their roots. “Angela’s kind of a stickler,” Tony says. “She uses the original Sicilian recipe with candied ricotta filling. It’s probably the best cassata cake in America.”
32045 Detroit Ave., Avon, 440-471-7459, verandabistrobar.com
Gourmet Malted Milk Balls — Suzin L. Chocolatier
A box of chocolates? Been there. Done that. Surprise your Valentine with gourmet malted milk balls ($10.95 a pound) from this Elyria chocolatier. Yes, they’ve got classic milk and dark chocolate varieties, but they also have 11 other flavors, including maple, espresso, cookies and cream, mint cookies, coconut, coffee and cream, raspberry and peanut butter.
230 Broad St., Elyria, 440-323-3372; 1561 Cooper Foster Park Road, Amherst, 440-282-1050, suzinl.com
Salted Caramel Pretzel Brownie — Blue Rooster Bakehouse
A brownie with a crust? Yes, please. Especially if that crust is made of crushed pretzels, then topped with a fudgy brownie and finished off with salted caramel. Leo and Wendy Boes opened this Oberlin bakery, which offers plenty of cozy spots for snacking and socializing, three years ago. Though both teachers by training, Leo and Wendy are now full-time bakers, a skill they learned from their parents and grandparents. “The entire family pitched in to create dinners and simple, sweet treats,” Wendy says. While you’re there, check out the lemon curd croissants, caramel apple pecan cake, mushroom onion Swiss puffs, blueberry goat cheese tarts, vegan banana bread and more. Prices range from $1.50 to $7 per dessert.
38 S. Main St., Oberlin, 440-774-4833, facebook.com/blueroosterbakehouse
Red Velvet Cheesecake — Café Melissa
Available only in February, this cheesecake ($6.50 a slice or $75 for a whole 12-inch cheesecake) is a Valentine’s Day favorite in Avon Lake. Pastry chef Megan Godinez’s creation starts with an Oreo cookie crust, topped with a layer of red velvet cake sandwiched between vanilla bean cheesecake and finished with whipped cream. While you’re there, pick up a few triple-dipped strawberries made with milk, dark and white Callebaut Belgian chocolate.
32950 Walker Road, Avon Lake, 440-961-0072, cafemelissa.com
Glazed Croissant Donut — Kiedrowski’s Bakery
Tim and Terri Kiedrowski were making croissants some 30 years ago at their Amherst bakery when Tim got an idea. “Hmmm, I wonder what it would be like if we fried it,” he remembers saying. So he did just that, let the croissant cool, glazed it with butter and then sprinkled streusel on top. “They’re fantastic,” Tim says. “We make 10 to 20 dozen a day and some days they’re gone by 9 a.m.” Kiedrowski’s croissant donut sells for 85 cents, but Tim heard of a similar treat selling in New York City for $10. The take home? Pick up at least a half dozen to share and enjoy.
2267 Cooper Foster Park Road, Amherst, 440-282-2700, kiedrowskibakery.com