Outside the Pink Pastry Box: Unique Bakery Treats from Coast to Coast

Ever since the Cronut phenomenon, chefs across the country have been looking for ways to set themselves apart. There's no doubt that fun and inventive baked goods are the way to do it. Here are 10 bakeries across the nation offering one-of-a-kind treats. 

10 One-of-a-Kind Treats

New York pastry wizard Dominique Ansel's imaginative croissant-meets-doughnut creation is perhaps the most buzzed-about dessert in history. Endless queues and myriad impostors hatched in its wake, yet there are other compelling, if not more under-the-radar, bakery offerings worth devouring. From coast to coast, here are 10 one-of-a-kind treats.

Charleston, S.C.: Popsicles at Sugar Bakeshop

Lime sugar cookies certainly tempt, but stifling Southern temperatures make the ice pops at this Cannonborough-Elliotborough bakery a no-brainer come summertime. Owners Bill Bowick and David Bouffard, both former architects, puree fresh fruits from local farmers to make their cool, icy slabs in flavors such as strawberry, lemon-blueberry and creamy peach. Order the watermelon and, for a more piquant twist, they will dust it in salt from Charleston’s own Bulls Bay Saltworks.

Chicago: Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies at Floriole Cafe and Bakery

Among the buckwheat scones and honey pecan sticky buns found at Sandra and Mathieu Holl's Lincoln Park bakery, one discovers the peanut butter and jelly cookie. Two golden-brown orbs, spun from creamy peanut butter, vanilla, and white and brown sugars — yes, they're safe for flour-shunning dessert fans — are sealed by a blob of homemade raspberry jam.

Houston: Chickpea Fudge at Pondicheri Bake Lab + Shop

Masala eggs and butter chicken curries usually bring the crowds to Pondicheri. Then, Anita Jaisinghani decided to open a bakery above her Upper Kirby Indian cafe, and her affinity for spices also became illuminated in pumpkin chai pie and saffron-infused yogurt. The cardamom-forward besan mithai, a sunflower and pumpkin seed-strewn chickpea fudge, is a particularly novel departure from the usual barrage of chocolate versions.

Los Angeles: Coconut Shortbread at Proof

Na Young Ma changes the offerings at her Atwater Village bakery all the time, so becoming smitten with, say, the coconut shortbread can lead to heartbreak. On the upside, this also means repeat visits bring a lineup of such rotating beauties as chocolate sandwich cookies stuffed with mint ganache, and hand pies bursting with fresh blueberries.

Minneapolis: Ham-and-Cheese Croissant at Salty Tart Bakery

When at Michelle Gayer's Midtown Global Market institution, rhubarb galettes and double-chunk chocolate cookies vie for attention with a savory delight: the flaky, twice-baked ham on a cheese croissant, dressed with salt and pepper.

New York: Calamansi and Bitter Plum Danish at Bien Cuit

Zachary Golper and Kate Wheatcroft's esteemed Brooklyn bakery turns out delicious chocolate croissants and raisin walnut bread, but breakfast particularly gets an upgrade in the form of a Danish. Baked with a mix of fresh calamansi curd and bitter plum-soaked cream, the unconventional pinwheel-shaped pastry is garnished with wish-we-saw-more-of-it real pomegranate.

Portland: Pretzel-Dough Bagels at Nuvrei Fine Cakes & Pastries

In the mornings, coffee with a hulking chocolate-almond croissant is a go-to order for many patrons of Marius Pop's Pearl District favorite. But the hand-formed bagels, far from the usual too-plump suspects, are equally satisfying. Available in such varieties as cheddar jalapeno and fleur de sel, they are all cleverly fashioned from pretzel dough.

San Antonio: Pop Tarts at Bakery Lorraine

Jeremy Mandrell and Anne Ng met while working at Thomas Keller's Bouchon, in Napa Valley, and at this Pearl bakery, the husband-and-wife team maintains an affinity for French pastry with ethereal kouign-amann and macarons. Yet this does not mean overlooking the crimped Pop Tart, a homemade version of the supermarket breakfast staple, with strawberry jam oozing from the frosted, sprinkles-draped confection.

San Francisco: The Rebel Within at Craftsman and Wolves

All of the options at Craftsman and Wolves, William Werner's contemporary Mission District patisserie, are as good-looking as the gleaming space. Think matcha snickerdoodles as well as passion fruit and black sesame tarts. The Rebel Within, however, has emerged as the bakery's cult hit. Dive into this Asiago-sausage-green onion muffin to let the soft, runny egg encased inside joyfully gush forth.

Washington, D.C.: Cold-Brew Chocolate Float at RareSweets

Just like its caffeinated sibling, cold-brew coffee, the cold-brew chocolate soda float served at RareSweets, inside City Center, is robust and quenching. Made with single-origin cacao nibs and soda water, it properly enters indulgent dessert territory with a scoop of owner and Pastry Chef Meredith Tomason’s lavender, vanilla bean or caramel ice creams.