A pub crawl or wine swirl may be the trend, but Bastrop offers several unique sweet shops making a sweet stroll an option.
THE SUGAR SHACK
The Sugar Shack, just off Loop 150 before the Colorado River bridge, has a twenty-two-year history in Bastrop. People’s eyes light up upon walking into the Sugar Shack with its shelves of old-fashioned bulk candies, homemade fudge, gourmet popcorn, truffles, cakes, pies and a sundry array of other sweet treats and gifts.
“Walking into the Sugar Shack is an experience---it’s a candy store,” owner Druseilla Rogers said. “Grandparents share memories with grandchildren of candies they once enjoyed. Kids who have been good all week come in to pick out a special treat. It’s unlike purchasing online.”
The first lure is the truffle counter, full of beautifully created hand-made truffles supplied by the Sweet Shop USA out of Fort Worth since 1972. And another draw is the hand-dipped Blue Bell ice cream counter.
Along with hard-to-find old-fashioned bulk candies like seasonal gummy brains and eyeballs, the Sugar Shack creates unique delights, a number concocted by family members. Roger’s favorite created by her husband is the PB&O---an Oreo cookie that has been stuffed with a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and then dipped in chocolate. Another treat, created by Roger’s daughter, features a skewer of 3 marshmallows, drizzled with caramel, hand dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with pecans.
If that’s not enough yummy goodness, ten years ago when Rogers expanded, she sought out a cake/pie vendor to offer her clientele dessert by the slice. Daily, the Sugar Shack features at least eight staple cake flavors from the renowned Lawler’s Bakery located in Humble, Texas that also provides desserts to high-end hotels such as The Driskell in Austin. Flavors including chocolate eruption with turtle cheesecake and red velvet cheesecake are the foundation for a variety of seasonal cakes and pies.
“I went to food shows seeking out a consistent product in these cakes and pies. No matter what slice you get today or tomorrow, the quality and consistency is there,” Rogers said. “If you’re going to eat the cake, it has to be worth the calories.”
Regardless the season, Rogers offers the community special events such as the current pumpkin painting and decorating experience followed later this year with a visit from Santa Clause. Rogers said that it’s the people of the great community of Bastrop that have kept her business here.
TOUGH COOKIE BAKERY
Just across the Old Iron Bridge is Bastrop’s newest sweet shop Tough Cookie located alongside the Colorado River in Colorado River Crossing. Tough Cookie, dubbed a community-center meeting place, is a healthy sweet shop alternative offering vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and organic options.
Owner Chris McEwan said this from-scratch bakery utilizing local ingredients is a bakery built by friends. It took McEwan’s family about five years to get back and running after they lost everything, including all bakery equipment, in the 2011 Bastrop Complex Fires. Literally, friends coming together at dinner constructed bakery shelving and tables.
McEwan said that Tough Cookie attracts people not only with its scrumptious cinnamon rolls, quiches, breads, pretzels, brownies, and sausage and biscuits, but the bakery site, with its long front porch, is in the midst of small-town main street feel with nature all around.
“The community is tremendous. We were personally affected by the 2011 fires and we have felt the outpouring of community support for our bakery,” McEwan said.
Just up the sidewalk from Tough Cookie at Colorado River Crossing to Historical Downtown Main Street, Simply Sweet opened doors welcome shoppers and return customers with a colorful collection of delicious cupcakes. These aren’t just “any old cupcakes,” either. In fact, this bakery has just been named Best Bastrop Cupcake and Best of Bastrop County Bakery.
Simply Sweet offers cupcakes and mini cupcakes in four to five daily flavors. Owners and bakers Sheila and Steven Sarff, rotate another two to three specialty flavors daily, often depending upon the ingredients most available for the season. Baked fresh daily, popular flavors like chocolate peanut butter, cookies and cream, red velvet, key lime pie, and strawberry take a back seat to fall flavors like pecan pie or pumpkin spice. Check out the flavors of the day on Facebook.
“Around five years ago Sheila and I needed a career change so we found ourselves opening our cupcake shop in downtown Bastrop,” Steven said. “Sheila experiments with the flavors and has created delicious cupcakes including my favorite we have around Valentines, cherry chocolate chip.”
With cupcakes made from scratch and no artificial flavorings—a strawberry cupcake features real strawberries—word of mouth has helped Simply Sweets serves numerous new and returning customers from areas all around Bastrop including Austin. The Sarffs often provide their cupcakes to local businesses and organizations and like to offer community discounts. Currently, on Thursdays, any customer wearing a Simply Sweets t-shirt while purchasing cupcakes at the shop will receive 10% off their order.
Perhaps the most traditional bakery in this list is Johnson’s Bakery located a little off the beaten path of Old Austin Highway.
“Our bakery bakes everything from scratch each day, unlike the grocery stores whose baked items are merely received frozen,” owner Jennifer Johnson said. “We’re baking from my grandmother’s recipes so we are in the business of ‘Edible love.’”
Whether it’s the lemon bars made from hand zested lemons, an assortment of cookies in the case or Johnson’s favorite a cupcake based off of Paula Dean’s Mississippi Mud cake, bakery patrons feel good at Johnson’s Bakery.
“I tell my employees they have to have a servant’s heart; we are here to serve,” Johnson said. “I love people through food. I may not remember a name, but I do remember the person’s favorite baked item.”
Along with cookies, bars, and cake pops, Johnson also likes to decorate cakes, including those specially ordered. She shares cake decorating with kids every Saturday at cake decorating classes. Realizing that sometimes families don’t have the time to whip up a from-scratch cookie to decorate with homemade icing, Johnson offers cookie-making kits to families so that they can have the shared creative experience at home without all the fuss.
So, whether looking for something to do besides a pub crawl or wine swirl or just wanting to satisfy that sweet tooth, come to Bastrop for a delicious sweet shop experience.