Cake & Islands Dessert Shoppe
With a whimsical clock tower, colorful paint job and a large red seahorse cutout that echoes its logo, Cake & Islands Dessert Shoppe is the type of storefront that beckons the passerby. Open the front door and you are greeted by the aroma of what’s baking out back, perhaps chocolate or almond or, as on a recent visit, lemon. This has to be the best use of a former garage…
The lighthearted spirit promised by the exterior continues inside this sweet store with its glossy white and vivid turquoise walls. Large glass jars hold brightly colored gumballs, rock candy, and barley pops. One display cabinet is dedicated to Cake & Islands signature Sea Glass Candy, that really does look just like the wave- and sand-worn glass that beachcombers are always hoping to find. With ten colorful flavor varieties from which to choose—bearing catchy Cape Cod names like Ptown Pink, Dennis Port Dunes, Truro Treasures and Sandy Neck Sandbar—it’s hard to pick just one.
Among a nice selection of local and specialty items such as Chequessett Chocolate, McCrea’s Caramels and Wellfleet Sea Salt, you’ll find little bags of beachy treats: coated chocolate “rocks” and creamy homemade white chocolate starfish.
Above the shelves, large photos show off some of the colorful creations for which Cake & Islands Dessert Shoppe is best known. The main retail space holds the star attraction: a lighted case full of brightly colored cupcakes and macarons (the evanescent sandwich-like French confection filled with buttercream).
Beyond the display case, the open kitchen is where Carolyn and Steve Graves work their magic in creating the cakes that are the centerpieces of celebrations of all kinds. It’s here, where once there were car hoists, rolling tool chests and pneumatic socket wrenches (this former garage is where Steve bought his first car), this talented team brings weddings, birthdays and other festivities to life with styles of cakes and items for custom dessert tables that run the gamut from tasteful and tasty to fun and frivolous…and everything in between.
Although she dreamt of becoming a chef and attending culinary school, Carolyn graduated Endicott College with a B.A. in International Hospitality, became a wife, a mom to children Sadie and Sammie, and began decorating cakes as a hobby for friends and family. She received such glowing accolades that she and Steve decided to make it a business, and opened Cake & Islands Dessert Shoppe in January of 2015. With Steve baking and Carolyn decorating, the demand for their cakes, dessert tables, macarons and Sea Glass Candy has quickly grown beyond what they could have imagined, especially after being featured on Boston’s TV news magazine, “Chronicle”, just before Memorial Day weekend five months after opening.
Carolyn has no bounds when it comes to cake creativity, often precisely matching colors to the event themes. Kids’ parties might feature cakes that are based on animated or movie characters, and cakes for the older crowd might showcase the guest of honor’s vocation or favorite hobby. Carolyn once made a cake to look just like the kids’ game “Operation” for a nurse, complete with a lit up nose!
If Carolyn is the visually artistic partner of this dynamic duo, Steve is the busy baker and macaron maker. Steve spent more than 20 years as an executive chef in various locations around the Cape and Nantucket, so he knows his way around a kitchen. He seems to be in constant motion, taking muffins out of the oven to cool (next to the many layers of cakes) while he’s frosting cupcakes, and then switching to stirring batter. Steve is the all-important man behind the curtain, making sure that when you bite into these works of art, you are just as impressed with the flavors.
And then there are the macarons. Steve spent hours upon hours perfecting his recipe, and it paid off. The cookies are lightly crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside and actually melt in your mouth, with fillings that are creamy and just sweet enough. You’ll find up to 15 flavor variations of these gluten-free delicacies, from saffron vanilla to apricot cardamom.
And, every now and then during the summer or on weekends, you might even catch soon-to-be-11-year-old Sadie pitching in by helping Steve top off macarons, working closely with Carolyn on some of the production work that goes into the fine details of a special cake order, or rearranging the display case and shelves out front to give them a fresh new look. The creativity seems to have been passed down to the next generation.
When the holidays roll around, Cake & Islands takes orders for Thanksgiving pies, Christmas cookies and dessert tables for both personal and business parties. Cake & Islands also puts together gift packages, and they’ll ship their Sea Glass candy anywhere in the country through their website during the cooler months, when the hot temperatures won’t compromise the candy.
Once you’ve finally made your decision and your purchases are being boxed, you’ll get a useful bit of advice from the baker: “If you don’t eat all the macarons tonight (right!), make sure you put them in an air-tight container so they don’t get soggy,” or “Take the cupcakes out of the refrigerator five minutes before you eat them so they come up to room temperature. They taste better that way, the flavor is more pronounced.”
Whether it’s a bridal or baby shower, wedding, birthday, holiday party, company function or family reunion, Cake & Islands not only provides that something sweet to leave people smiling, they create art that’s good enough to eat!
The Graves’ focus on freshness and quality takes priority over quantity, so customers need to get their orders in early during the busiest times of the year.
Cake & Islands
587 Main Street, Dennis Port
508-258-0582 / cakeandislands.com