Welcome to Sugar High, a series devoted solely to spotlighting the best ways to sate a sweet tooth in St. Louis. We'll sample the best the city has to offer at restaurants, bakeries and holes-in-the-wall, and provide some insight on how these confections are made along the way.
"The general vision I've always had is to offer sweet treats that are vegan, but not typical. Or boring. Stimulating, you might say. Pushing ideas. Pushing flavors," says baker Lauren Holste, who started Stimulus Baking Company five years ago as an excuse to share her innovative desserts to the masses.
For years her home creations found their way to south-city events, and into the hands of family and friends. Thanks to Lulu's Local Eatery (3201 South Grand; 314-357-7717), where Holste works as a line cook, the general public can now get a taste of Stimulus' sweets nearly any day of the week. Choose from cake flavors such as "Root-Beer Float" and "Salted-Caramel Cashew," or keep an eye out for the one that really put a signature spin on it all: the "Pad-Thai Cupcake."
See also: First Look: Lulu's Local Eatery
The ingenious concoction begins with a soft, spongy tamarind-lime cake and comes topped with creamy peanut-butter frosting spiked with soy sauce. A garnish of chopped peanuts, a lime wedge and a spoonful of chilis give it an attractive, identifying finish that's also intended to make dessert an interactive experience.
"It's tart and sweet, and some parts are savory or even spicy," Holste says. "Squeeze the lime, if you want. Mix the chili paste and peanuts in, or not."
Holste goes on to describe her style as "seriously modern and a little whimsical -- traditional platforms made weird," and it's all evident in the rotating sets of cakes that show up at Lulu's daily. Decomposed dishes find their way into cupcake components and range from recognizable favorites including banana split and chocolate-covered almond themes to more adventurous options. The "Salsa Verde," for instance, features a cumin-coriander spiced cake, lime buttercream and candied jalapenos.
To keep track of which varieties are available on any given day, simply follow Stimulus Baking Company on Facebook. No matter which treat you try, she urges newcomers to "be adventurous." With all the flavors within to discover, you won't even notice -- or miss -- the lack of traditional ingredients.
Previously on Sugar High: - La Bonne Bouchée's Strawberry-Mousseline Cake - Pie Oh My's Pumpkin-Maple Pecan Pie - Annie Moons' Banana-Split Muffins - Cyrano's Carrot Cake - Whitebox Eatery's Cheese Pastry - Comet Coffee's Mousse Cakes - Whisk's Apple-Cinnamon "Pop Tartlets" - The London Tea Room's Blueberry-Lemon Cake - Corner 17's Fluffy Ice - The Fountain on Locust's "Banana Bourbon" Sundae - Vinnie's Pinwheel Baklava - Red Fox Baking & Catering's Lemon Tart - Sugarfire Smokehouse's Crack Pie - Russell on Macklind's Coconut Cake - The Kitchen Sink's Sweet Potato Fries - Giovanni's Kitchen's Panna Cotta Trio - Crepes Etc.'s Crepe Cake - Cafe Ventana's Beignets - Frida's Raspberry-Chocolate Avocado Mousse - India Palace's Gulab Jamun - Melt's "Violet Beauregarde" Waffle - Brevan's Patisserie's "Brendan" - Winslow's Home's Chocolate Cake with Espresso Meringue - La Patisserie Chouquette's Eclair - Black Bear Bakery's Raspberry Oat Bar - Gelateria's London Fog Gelato - 4 Seasons Bakery's German Cheesecake - Libertine's "Candy Bar" - Cleveland-Heath's Old Fashioned Cherry Pie - Schlafly Tap Room and Bottleworks' Sticky Toffee Pudding
We're always looking for some sweet ideas. E-mail the author at email@example.com.