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The Quest: tbt* seeks out unique flavors, sensations and products in Tampa Bay

Stressed from holiday baking? Just order dessert

We're in the heat of the holiday season, so we know you're going to be putting in overtime in your kitchen for the next few weeks.

But if you're looking to ease up your workload, we suggest you order dessert. We found some great Tampa Bay bakeries whipping up delicious cakes, pies and candy confections that'll make you wonder why you ever fussed with dessert in the first place.

Toffee To Go in Tampa was just named one of Oprah's Favorite Things in the December issue of O Magazine. Lisa and Jim Schalk are taking the adage "quality, not quantity" to heart, offering three different toffee flavors. But you don't need any more choices when the toffee's this good.

"Right now we're making over 900 pounds a day, sometimes up to 1,000," said Jim Schalk. "We just use pretty much butter and sugar, and we've got a few other special ingredients, but mostly butter and sugar."

Lisa Schalk offered two tips for customers: "Order online," she said. And "don't worry about our store hours. If the light's on, knock on the door or call us, we're here."

Wright's Gourmet House in Tampa is known for its cakes, monster sandwiches and pecan pie. Its flaky crust and sweet, custardy filling is among the best around. They even ship their cakes and baked goods all across the country, so if you're looking for a way to impress your family with a Tampa Bay delicacy, this is a great way to do it.

The Pie Factory in Largo sells thousands of pies around the holidays, particularly fruit ones like apple and cherry. The storefront and cafe also has a reputation for tasty flavors like peanut butter swirl, key lime and pumpkin.

And while few Floridians need to be reminded about Village Inn (the Dow Sherwood Corp. opened the first Village Inn in Tampa more than 50 years ago), consider stopping in there to grab one of their award-winning apple, strawberry rhubarb or coconut cream pies. You can order them from the website, or stop into one of a handful of Tampa Bay locations to get yours topped with fresh whipped cream.

— To check out a video of Michelle and Katie's quest for great holiday desserts in Tampa Bay, see

The Pie Factory

12777 Walsingham Road, Largo. (727) 593-1884,

Toffee To Go

3251 W Bay to Bay Blvd., Tampa. (813) 831-6247,

Village Inn

Locations across Tampa Bay; see

Wright's Gourmet House

1200 S Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. (813) 253-3838,

Stressed from holiday baking? Just order dessert 12/05/13 [Last modified: Thursday, December 5, 2013 11:01am]
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