While working as a card dealer in Las Vegas, Sjanna Sharbatz gambled on a new business with every intention of winning.
Since her chocolate-covered cake bites scored co-workers' approval more than a year ago at the Monte Carlo casino, Sharbatz took home the prize for "best use of chocolate in a baked good" at March's Oregon Chocolate Festival in Ashland. Less than six months later, her Cakery Kisses bakery opened in a new building on White City's Highway 62.
"I think it will bring a little bit of ... fun to this area," says customer Kenna Byrd, of Shady Cove, who stopped at the bakery for the first time last week.
"They're delicious," she adds. "I tasted all of them."
Sharbatz, 60, rolled out her "core four" flavors — chocolate nut-o-licious, triple-chocolate smoothie, lemon sunshine and cranberry-orange blossom — at the chocolate festival. To those, she added eight more, including three "seasonal" flavors — pumpkin snowball, pecan-pumpkin patch and peppermint-chocolate — that are new this month.
"They're perfectly balanced," says Sharbatz, who explains that her product isn't a cupcake or a cake pop, two novelties that have fueled a baking craze in recent years.
The idea "just came" to Sharbatz while she and her husband, Christopher, were driving home from a vacation and discussing the Food Network show "Cupcake Wars." If she were competing, Sharbatz said, she would make an entirely chocolate-covered morsel of cake. When the couple arrived at their Eagle Point home, she started experimenting with recipes for a rich, moist, almost brownielike center for the chocolate coating.
"I let three of my picky friends try them, and they loved them," she says.
Attesting that they would pay more than $2 for the 1-by-2-inch sweets, people also frequently said "You need to make lemon; you need to make lemon," says Sharbatz.
Other nonchocolate flavors include strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, banana-nut and peanut butter-grape. Cakery Kisses cost $2.25 apiece or $27 per dozen with various prices for gift-pack assortments.
After briefly moving back to her hometown of Las Vegas to earn some money when her business as a real-estate agent foundered, Sharbatz returned to the Rogue Valley to build Cakery Kisses, first from a commercially licensed kitchen at her home, then in a new retail space across from the Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center & Clinics. She credits her husband for not only building the bakery — with its honeydew-green and lavender color scheme — but for propelling her forward when she wanted to back out.
"He just kept encouraging me."
Located at 8336 Crater Lake Highway 62, Suite 104, Cakery Kisses is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Cakery Kisses also are sold at 10 area wineries, Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Britt Festivals. Call 541-538-0128 for special orders.
Reach Food Editor Sarah Lemon at 541-776-4487 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.