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Baked Ideas
450 Broadway, near Grand St.
By appointment only
The staff here think of themselves as artists first and bakers second. “Candy cakes” in the image of cartoon icons, decorated with retro candy and licorice curls, are favorites. (Plain and chocolate are the only flavors, though—no ice cream). Also in high demand are personalized cookies, mostly sugar or spice, with elaborate icing-art. Cookies run from $2 to $15; $6 to $15 per person for cakes. Delivery upon request.

Cakes ’N Shapes
403 W. 39th St., near Ninth Ave.
This baking studio specializes in photo cakes but will also whip up sculpted designs in the shape of cartoon characters. Flavors are limited to chocolate and vanilla; frosting is buttercream. Photo cakes start at $65 for ten people; sculpted cakes at $195.

Birthday-Cake Alternative
Dylan’s Candy Bar
1011 Third Ave., at 60th St.
So your precocious 4-year-old is bored with traditional birthday cakes already? Indulge her jaded eye with a one-of-a-kind creation from Dylan Lauren, like a cake made of mini candy bars ($59), solid-chocolate “moon pie cakes” ($8), or “birthday cake” ice cream.

CBK Cookies of New York
226 E. 83rd St., near Second Ave.
By appointment only
These expert confectioners offer cupcakes ($2 each) and custom cakes ($75–$100) of cartoon characters, sports motifs, and the like. They also do hand-drawn cakes (from $150 for 40 to 50 people); you supply the photo or drawing, and they’ll re-create it on top of a two-layer cake (vanilla or chocolate, with buttercream frosting). Custom cookies start at $3 apiece.

Confetti Cakes
102 W. 87th St., near Columbus Ave.
By appointment only
Elisa Strauss can model a cake after just about anything; she’s done teddy bears, sneakers, and bathtubs. Flavors range from Valrhona chocolate to carrot with a range of fillings; cakes are topped with buttercream, fondant, chocolate ganache, or marzipan. Priced on request.

Cupcake Cafe
522 Ninth Ave., at 39th St.
Cupcake Cafe crafts dense cakes and cupcakes with the thickest buttercream frosting we’ve tasted. Choose from their signature floral designs and sports motifs for either. Cakes start at $4 a slice; cupcakes are $2 and $3 apiece.

Flour Girl
102 W. 87th St., near Columbus Ave.
French Culinary Institute grad Jeri Gottlieb decorates her cakes with cookies of all sorts—giraffes, high heels, roller skates, and skiers. And she doesn’t skimp on the fillings, which range from the delightful Brown Sugar Baby (chocolate cake with brown-sugar buttercream) to Top Carrot (carrot chiffon layered with sweet cream-cheese filling). Starts at $6 per serving.

JollyBe Bakery
At this small-scale Brooklyn bakery, you supply the theme, and visual artist Ruth Seidler hand-paints it with flavored fondant icing. Pick from sophisticated flavors like pear pound with framboise syrup and hazelnut with espresso buttercream, or go trad with chocolate on chocolate. From $7 per serving.

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From the Fall 2004 edition of the New York Family Guide