The Creativity and Adaptability of The Dessert Stand Sisters by Samantha Meddaugh

Brooke Smith and her twin sister, Britney Turk, are co-owners of The Dessert Stand in Westminster, Colorado. For ten years, the duo has been creating cakes and cupcakes that feature various homemade mousses or fruit fillings, topped with a thick layer of whipped buttercream frosting in complimentary flavors, and decorated in fun designs for weddings, events, parties, and everyday celebrations .

“Our biggest key to success is adaptation,” Brook told me when I interviewed them in their large open-spaced bakery that often smells like Christmas cookies baking in the oven. She added that they share “a love of hard work, dedication and putting everything we have into making it work.” All indispensable qualities in small-business owners.

Indeed, Britney and Brooke are not strangers to entrepreneurship. Eighteen years ago, the sisters and their mom started what became a successful web design business. Both women played parts in getting the business going from the ground up, each holding different positions. Britney, born four minutes before Brooke, worked as the typesetter I wasn’t sure what a typesetter was, so I asked her, and she kindly explained: “Someone who makes the words of a document look as good as the design.” Little did she know that her work as a typesetter would serve her well in the future as someone who would decorate cakes with delicious and lovely lettering. Likewise, Brooke’s keen eye for graphics as the web designer has continued to serve her well in decorating their beautiful and rustic wedding and specialty cakes.

When the recession hit over a decade ago, their business was adversely impacted and they had to cut back on its marketing side to keep thriving. So, the sisters put their heads together and came up with a solution. By combining their passion with a solid knowledge of baking, they set out to create a concept that would provide the extra income they needed.

Baking came naturally to Britney and Brooke, as they descended from a long line of women who were quite adept in the kitchen. The sisters leaned into the heritage their grandmothers and mother had seeded in them and transitioned easily from computer screens and deskwork to aprons and mixing bowls, , although Brooke and their mom still run their web design business on the side.

In the beginning they had no home base location, so they rented commissary kitchens in Westminster and Longmont and started out selling baked goods at local craft and holiday shows. Their cupcakes, cupcake cutie packs which are four different flavored mini cupcakes, and cherry winks, the delectable mini cream cheese shortbread cookies with a maraschino cherry in the center were well-received, and sales were good. For five years, they continued with the business model of renting out workspace and watched as their catering orders and profits steadily increased. They decided then to venture into cupcake kiosks at Park Meadows, Cherry Creek and Flatirons malls while continuing to do shows on weekends.

Britney mused about a memorably disastrous moment when “Drew (Brooke’s husband) and I dropped about a hundred cupcakes trying to stock our kiosk in the middle of winter.” Luckily, some cupcakes survived and were able to be stocked and sold.

The Dessert Stand signature cupcakes, featured in this photo are Italian Wedding Cake, Blackberry Bubbly, I Love You Cherry Much and German Chocolate.

Three years later, Brooke and Britney hung up the kiosk concept in exchange for a trendy food truck, which allowed them to expand their offerings. They upgraded their menu to add new varieties of cupcakes, whoopie pies, Krispy treats, and cupcake push pops. Short and Sweet, their food truck was wildly successful. Demand exploded so greatly, that within two years, in 2015, they were able to build their first retail location in Westminster.

This past March, they were able to expand again into a newly renovated 4,400 square foot space. Besides selling their usual variety treats of cupcakes, cookies, brownies, crispy treats, cheesecakes and pies, Chocolate Shoppe ice cream from Wisconsin has been added to the menu. I had a sample of the Blue Moon, and it brought back childhood memories of walking with my grandpa to the ice cream shop and ordering a scoop of the flavorful concoction. The pale light blue ice cream has a fruity taste, but a better description would be what the Chocolate Shoppe characterizes as “the milk leftover from eating a bowl of Froot Loops.” I absolutely agree.

With the monumental success of The Dessert Stand, in 2018 Britney and Brooke decided to buy out the Waffle Cake Company. Starting as a dough that takes four hours to make then baked to a golden-brown perfection on irons imported from Belgium, these specialty cakes are not your run-of-the-mill waffles. Soon after the addition, in-store orders started going through the roof, and the traveling waffle cake food truck was being booked steadily for events. Among the most popular waffle cake toppings are banana Nutella, strawberry cheesecake and dirt cake. If your taste buds like a generous serving of homemade whipped cream with crushed Oreos and gummy worms, they will have died and gone to Heaven by indulging in the dirt cake waffle cake. I’ve tried the waffle cakes with honey butter and peanut butter, and words don’t do them justice. You must try one for yourself.

Inside The Dessert Stand you'll find an assortment of sweet treats: cupcakes, cakes, ice cream, waffle cakes, pies and more!

Aside from the tireless work of concocting and designing utter perfection in the form of baked goods, the Dessert Stand sisters make their bakery stand out by giving their custom cupcakes quirky names such as Pucker Up, Nutty Professor, Racy Redhead and Breakfast in Bed. I had to ask how the unique and creative names came about.

“We are just naturally creative people,” Brooke commented. “Nutty Professor sounds way more interesting than Coconut Almond. Racy Redhead is named after our sister who is a redhead. Why have a lemon cupcake when you can have a Pucker Up? It makes them more memorable.” Brooke’s right about that. The more whimsical the name, the more memorable the cupcake. Although I admit my favorite is the less flashy-sounding Birthday Cake–vanilla cake with vanilla frosting. Simple yet delectable.

With a revolving staff, there’s bound to be an occasional disaster. “Once, a three-tier cake fell apart on our way to deliver to a wedding at Brittany Hill,” Britney began.

In full twin mode, Brooke jumped in to recount the rest of the story: how just two hours before the wedding reception, the cake fell apart. “It was a Star Wars cake, and an intern had filled the layers too full, so it was a cake slip and slide.”

I wondered how they remedied the situation and asked Brooke to elaborate.

“Thankfully, the cake was half covered in black fondant, (an edible frosting with a Play-Doh consistency) so we were able to hide the destruction and make it look like a black hole.”

What could have been a catastrophe was averted. Their years of expertise paid off in making the wedding cake look out of this world for a couple’s special day.

What supersedes the disastrous moments are the fun and memorable ones. Brooke recalls the time some food truck friends ordered ten cakes for their own wedding. “It was the best wedding cake table ever!”

This beautiful, classic wedding cake is adorned with crisp white buttercream and gorgeously hand-placed lavender florals.

Wedding season is without a doubt their busiest time of year. May through October, the lights are on at The Dessert Stand up to eighteen hours a day with the hustle and bustle of staff finishing up the final touches on cakes and various other desserts. Cake boxes and refrigerators are filled with delicious creations awaiting pick up or delivery the next day. Although stress levels are high because complete focus and perfection is imperative, you’ll still find laughter and camaraderie among the staff.

Wedding cake tastings are abundant all year round. Engaged couples choose up to eight flavors to sample for their special day. To fill up the off-season, November through April, the shop offers baking classes every Saturday for novice through advanced bakers. Classes run for two hours and at the end, the bakers get to take home their sweet new treat. You can’t go wrong with that deal.

At the end of the day, what gives Britney and Brooke motivation to continue making their scrumptious desserts?

“I feel like every accomplishment is our biggest. Every order that is done right. Every wedding that we’re a part of. Every smile we put on someone’s face,” Britney explains then continues, “Having high standards for our products and being a part of people’s special moments make everything worth it!” Brooke wholeheartedly agrees. By continuing to make smart decisions and grow with the trends in the industry, The Dessert Stand will surely be around for decades.

If they don’t have what you’re craving, just ask and they most likely can create it for you. If you’re in a hurry, stop in for a quick grab-and-go, or if you have time to bathe in the afternoon sun, sit in front and gaze out through the large picturesque windows. Whatever your cravings are telling you to eat, you won’t be disappointed. As the bakery’s slogan goes, their desserts are “Fun on a fork!”

Exterior photo of The Dessert Stand at 8393 Church Ranch Blvd. Exterior sign and window decals designed by Master Print & Web Design (the company Brooke still owns with her mom).

 

  • Visit The Dessert Stand in person at their new location at: 8393 Church Ranch Boulevard, Westminster, Colorado 80021.
  • Or visit them virtually at TheDessertStand.com or on Facebook or Twitter to learn about their latest events and promotions.

—About the Author—

Samantha Meddaugh is a former commercial baker. As a hobby, she loves to bake and experiment in creating her own desserts. She lives in Colorado. Also published with Aromatica Poetica are “A Blind Baker’s Perspective” and “Jack’s and Steamers, A neighborhood restaurant giving people with disabilities the chance they deserve.”