Who says you can’t buy happiness? At the Sweetooth bake shop in Katonah, you definitely can; and it doesn’t even cost much. At a time when many of us have to cut back to make ends meet, a little luxury can be just what the doctor ordered to pick up those droopy spirits. And the doctor in this case is owner Dr. Stacie Calian, one of the top dentists in Westchester County.
If at first sweet shop and dental office seem an incongruous pairing, on reflection, it makes perfect sense. To be successful, both venues require absolute cleanliness, perfection in execution, and a unique combination of science and art. You must also build the right team. Dr. Calian found her star baker in Pastry Chef Kaitlyn Lennox Christoff, and the rest is culinary history.
Chef Kaitlyn comes with stellar credentials; she’s a CIA grad who’s worked in some of the finest restaurants and hotels in the country, including the Ritz Carlton and The Four Seasons. But just as importantly, as a vegetarian herself, she has a keen appreciation for the importance of using the freshest possible locally sourced ingredients. And given a little advance notice, Chef Kaitlyn can whip up amazing treats for those with special dietary needs like glucose and lactose intolerance. Everything in the shop is nut free. Not surprisingly, Sweetooth, though only open since January, has a loyal following. Many customers stop in on the way to work every day. One devoted dad makes sure that his daughter, who has food restrictions, has a special treat to look forward to every week.
I’m a cupcake connoisseur. I love sweets, but I have to watch my weight. So, cupcakes provide the perfect combo of portion control and craving satisfaction. But I’ve never had cupcakes as good as the ones offered at Sweetooth. They are decadently rich, but never heavy. They fill you up without weighing you down. Best of all, you can really taste the individual flavors. All cupcakes sell for $3.25.
My husband can’t stand anything too sugary; he’s one of those odd people who rarely wants dessert, so I was happily surprised that he raved about the carrot cake cupcake (above). Created with a delicate ginger flavor, and topped with a cream cheese frosting light enough to float on air, they can easily take the place of muffins for breakfast.
If I knew I had only one day to live, the word that would immediately spring to my mind is “chocolate.” Then, I wouldn’t have to decide between the outrageously divine Death By Chocolate cupcake, with bittersweet chocolate ganache; the prettiest cupcake ever, chocolate peppermint with pink maraschino frosting (below); or the chocolate flourless with toasted espresso meringue, which is astonishingly even gluten free. Of course, I would cheat, and throw in the Apple Pie cupcake, made with local apples and cream from upstate Ronnybrook Farms.
Those of us on a budget can appreciate the fact that we’re getting the same completely handmade products, the same dedication to seasonal and locally grown ingredients, and the same creativity that Chef Kaitlyn puts into her special events baking. A spectacular six-tiered wedding cake can- and has- run up to $5000. The beautiful $90 Spring Celebration Cake is a favorite with discriminating hostesses who want to hear “Wow!” from their guests.
When I was in the shop, I struck up a conversation with a lady who’s a Sweetooth regular. What is it, I asked, that keeps you coming back? “I always buy the cupcakes when I need a gift, because everyone adores them, and the presentation is so attractive,” replied the wise consumer. In the words of the great showman Billy Rose, “If you only have $5 to spend on a gift, buy a $5 bar of soap.” A dozen cupcakes cost $36. Big luxury, small price.
Lest I leave you with the wrong impression, Sweetooth serves a lot more than cupcakes. Try the smoothest, creamiest cappuccino you can imagine (small=$3; large=$3.50). There are also croissants (plain=$1.99, chocolate=$2.15), muffin tops ($2.50), quiche ($4.99), and meringue cookies (six for $2). Chef Kaitlyn even makes puppy scones (six for $3).
Manager Tori Quaranta and six other staff members complete Dr. Calian and Chef Kaitlyn’s team. The fact that there are so many women involved is no coincidence, and the warm, nurturing atmosphere of Sweetooth is fostered by a boss who genuinely cares about the welfare of her employees, and a staff that’s skilled in the art of hospitality. In the words of Chef Kaitlyn, “It’s service that will always set you apart. We are dedicated to making sure that the customers feel comfortable. It’s our goal to see to it that everyone leaves here with a smile on their face.”
Another reason to return? Sweetooth is constantly evolving. Soon, Italian ices will be served. There’ll be baking classes, special events for couples, and evenings that include wine. Chef Kaitlyn welcomes ideas from the patrons, and right now, dreaming of spring, she’s using her artistic talent to create delightful flower shapes for her frostings. Plans for e-businesss are proceeding rapidly, and in the near future, everyone who loves quality baked goods will develop a “Sweetooth.”
Just remember, you heard it here first.
43 Katonah Avenue
Katonah NY 10536
All prices are subject to change.
Photos by John Warner
Michall Jeffers is an accomplished Cultural Journalist and unrepentant Foodie, with a black belt in shopping. She writes extensively, both in print and online. Her eponymous cable TV show is syndicated throughout the tri-state area, and features celebrity interviews, reviews, and commentary. www.michalljeffers.com