OUT AT the edge of Skidaway, just before the border of Sandfly, lies a bright little spot of sweetness that I have noted on my long drives into Savannah from the Southside.
The great big cupcake sign definitely catches the eye as you drive past, and in warmer weather, families tend to gather outside at the café tables amongst the potted plants, while indulging in tasty treats. I kept making a note to stop by yet never seemed to get around to it.
Recently my foodie buddy Falko and I had made a trip to Broughton for a fabulous lunch, and held off on dessert just to take a break at this curious little spot and see what they had to offer.
The inside is painted the soft pink of a little girl’s satin-lined jewelry box, and filled to the brim with an amazing array of cookie cutters, cake pans and funky retro signage, and though the BlueBell Ice-cream cooler makes you anticipate, “Wow, and ice-cream too?,” I found it stocked with Savannah’s answer to the Slushie: multiple flavors of Thrills, the frozen icy treat that apparently sells phenomenally well here even in winter—Thrills also fill an extra cooler in back.
Talking with the owner, Dolores Montoya, a dark-eyed Latina with silky black hair and only the smallest, rather distinguished, brush of silver among the strands, I became even more intrigued. I have found that when you take the time to investigate off the beaten path you can come upon some surprising and interesting stories.
Her longtime career, before making a success of baking, was as a Private Investigator in her hometown of Albuquerque, NM. It’s a pretty vivid stretch to go from securing photos of erring spouses and suspicious deeds to sporting a frilly pink apron and serving up cupcakes and cookies at Just Desserts.
Delores handles it all with aplomb.
“You know, it used to be that, as a P.I., part of the job was to deliver things like subpoenas and bad news, sometimes terrible news, but with Just Desserts I deliver sweetness, happiness and wonderful flavor!”
Those singular flavors are what make her bakery stand out among many. “If you want genuine Key Lime or fresh Strawberry that’s what you’re going to get here—I use only the finest quality ingredients. If you want a fancy tower of frosting and decoration, go someplace else.”
My foodie buddy and I were both suitably impressed by the rich taste of the Key Lime cupcake and the fragrance of fresh strawberry tickles the nose and palate even before you taste the Strawberry beauty topped in creamy icing.
We have both lamented that visually stunning desserts often fail to deliver when it comes to taste, and frosting can turn out to be a sugar-bomb composed of vegetable shortening and little to none of the promised flavor.
Dolores produces 35 different flavors daily and each of the eight cuties was moist, tender, suitably topped with creamy swirls and very, very tasty indeed.
“Nothing goes for sale in this shop until we have perfected it, made it uniquely our own.” Delores tells me with pride.
I ask her about the numerous cookie molds on the walls and she laughs, “That’s from my first home business, Cookies on a Stick! Just before we moved here I had gone to a cooking class at a local college, just as a hobby away from a stressful job, and they presented us with a cookie bouquet as a gift. I thought that was charming and so happy-looking! My husband Dale told me, ‘That’s gonna be your next endeavor!’ and so it was! I expanded that business with Just Desserts four years ago.”
Cupcakes are a foodie trend that came into prominence around the time that Sex in the City featured them in a well-known episode. Currently many weddings are replacing the expensive mix of multi-layered cakes, columns and intricate fixtures with a cupcake tower and an elaborate wedding cake topper--this is one of Delores’ specialties.
The customers who came in while we were there had plenty of recommendations, “Oh, you cannot leave without trying the Strawberry Lemonade cupcake, and come back when she has the Limon Ricotta on Friday—absolutely fantastic!”
“They have THE best chocolate chip cookie I’ve ever had anywhere, and my husband loves the Oatmeal Scotchies .”
Another lady proclaimed the Carrot Cake with pineapple frosting to be a must-have.”
So, people, you see I gotta make it back soon and order myself some Happiness, specially designed and perfectly baked, to be delivered with a smile!