Review: Cakes of all flavors and sizes in the Southwest metro

From cake pops to sheet cake and ice cream cake to cheesecake, it’s the dessert of choice.

Whether you’re on the pie or cake side of the on-going pie vs. cake debate, it can be argued pretty handily that cake is the overall winner.  After all, we don’t celebrate our birthdays with pie. So, with our apologies to the pie loyalists out there, we’re all about cake this month. And we’re not even going to turn on our ovens to bake one. Whether you’re packing a picnic or planning a party, we’ve selected seven local hot spots to find cake in all its mouth-watering forms: cupcakes, cake pops, ice cream and cheese.   NEAPOLITAN ICE CREAM CAKE Cold Stone Creamery Ice cream cake elicits giddy memories of many a childhood birthday party, and it deserves to carry the tradition in perpetuity. These masterpieces of cream and cake are definitely too complicated to make at home; Cold Stone Creamery offers a wide-range of confections that will silence any horde of cake-hungry children (for thirty seconds, at least). We loved the busy Neapolitan: eight layers of strawberry, chocolate and vanilla ice creams sandwiched between yellow, devil’s food and red velvet cakes, doused with fudge and strawberry puree and finished with strawberry frosting and fresh berries. Uff-da! Serves 8. Order 24 hours in advance. $27.99. 582 Prairie Center Dr.; Eden Prairie; 952.943.9538; ​   GLUTEN FREE CHEESECAKEJerry’s Foods The most popular cakes at Jerry’s are inspired by Cartoon Network characters, like Thomas the Tank and Dora the Explorer, but on-site cake baker/decorator Sam Verba loves to devise her own creations, such as a gluten-free cheesecake. She started with her own much-tweaked cheesecake recipe from home, made from whipped cream cheese, lemon, vanilla and egg and only a small amount of sweetener. Next Verba explored the supermarket’s health food aisle to come up with a suitable—and tasty—crust to replace the typical graham cracker version. She settled on arrowroot sugar cookie crumbs mixed with honey-nut corn chex to great effect. Fruit toppings are available, but it’s divine in the nude. $9.99. 9625 Anderson Lakes Pkwy; Eden Prairie, 952.941.9680; CAKE POPS Byerly’s If you’re looking for a fun twist on the same-old, same-old cake thing, pick up some trendy cake pops: golf-ball sized balls of cake dipped in dark or white chocolate, and best of all, on a stick, because we Minnesotans can’t resist any kind of food on a stick. Cake pops look cute, are fun to eat and are much less caloric than a typical big ol’ wedge of the stuff. They are available in white, red velvet or chocolate cake and can be decorated with all kinds of sprinkles, stripes, animals and even the ever-so-popular mustaches. Self-serve or by the dozen. $2.49 apiece; custom decorated, $4.99. 800 West 78th St.; Chanhassen; 952.474.1298; BABY CAKE: CHOCOLATE ON CHOCOLATE Fresh Seasons Market After Stephanie Villanueva attended culinary school in Austin, Texas, she found herself decorating cakes at Fresh Seasons Market in Victoria, where she pipes out edible artwork that will charm your socks off. She did not hesitate to recommend the chocolate on chocolate cake, a dark and dense two-layer number with a lighter milk chocolate buttercream frosting. She directed us to a freezer case of baby cakes; we chose a darling chocolate-on-chocolate bedecked with her lovingly crafted intricate baby blue roses and meandering green vines. This is the perfect treat for a weeknight dinner or festive lunch. $5.99. 7999 Victoria Dr.; Victoria; 952.443.1600; VEGAN CARROT CAKE Lakewinds Natural Foods “It makes us happy to make other people happy with cake,” Courtney Blount says. A graduate of the baking program at the Art Institute in Minneapolis, Blount does the baking and decorating for both the Minnetonka and Chanhassen Lakewinds bakeries. Lakewinds offers eight to ten vegan and gluten free cakes. We didn’t miss the butter, eggs or milk in the vegan carrot cake. Carrot cake purists would approve as well: there is no meddling pineapple nor bothersome nuts. The moist, tender crumb is chock full of coarsely grated carrots and kissed with cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Even the Tofutti “cream cheese” frosting nails it. The only sweetener is maple syrup, and the decorations are made with all-natural food coloring. Order 48 hours in advance. Single slice, $3.49 in grab ‘n’ go; 6-inch round, $19.99; nine-inch round, $29.99; ¼ sheet, $39.99; ½ sheet, $49.99; full sheet, $79.99. 435 Pond Promenade, Chanhassen; 952.697.3366; MARY ANNE’S MAPLE COFFEE CAKE Kowalski’s Market Mary Anne Kowalski loved the maple coffee cake that the store’s bakery made, so they named it after her. It’s a classic coffee cake made from a lightly sweet, buttery Danish-type dough. It’s baked on a thick layer of caramel, brown sugar, butter and almonds then flipped like an upside down cake. The final, perfect touch: a healthy drizzling of maple icing. They’re super-popular, so call ahead. Wash it down with a dark roast coffee. Eight-inch round, $6.99. 16500 W. 78th St.; Eden Prairie; 952.937.9585;   BIG ASS CHOCOLATE CAKEGreen Olive Catering “People don’t buy it for its looks,” says Mary Sjodin, owner of Green Olive Catering. “But when we post its availability on Facebook, chocolate lovers will drive for miles to get a piece of it.” It’s no surprise that Green Olive Catering pastry chef Bridget Cousin’s “Big Ass Chocolate cake” has achieved cult status. After all, it is a chocolate freak’s dream come true: dense, triple layer chocolate cake spiked with espresso and slathered in a rich chocolate butter cream frosting. “I’ve never tasted anything quite that intense,” Sjodin says. “It makes your fillings dance. If chocolate lovers read this, they’re going to want a piece.” Serves 16-20. Whole cake, $48; Single slice, $4.99. 37 W. 1st St.; Waconia; 952.442.3949;