Photo by Deb Lindsey

Red Velvet Bundt Cake at Nothing Bundt Cakes

Verelyn Gibbs Watson, who independently owns and operates two locations of the Las Vegas-founded franchise Nothing Bundt Cakes (Gaithersburg and Bethesda), calls their red velvet Bundt cake “the chocolate cake for people who think they don’t like chocolate” because they have snuck a little bit of cocoa powder and a handful of mini chocolate chips into its reddened vanilla-based batter. Buttery cream cheese frosting is piped onto the ultramoist cake in a starburst pattern so the icing-to-cake ratio is just right. (8-inch cake: $28; 10-inch: $38)

Nothing Bundt Cakes, 8209 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda, 240-297-1976; 12133 Darnestown Road, Gaithersburg, 240-224-7440; see website for additional locations;

Photo by Deb Lindsey

Apricot Almond Tart at Praline Bakery & Bistro

This 7-by-7-inch square of super-flaky puff pastry made with European butter (which has a higher butterfat content than American butter), slathered with frangipane (almond cream), topped with overlapping halves of bright orange poached apricots, and glazed with apricot jam takes a lot of time and care to make, and the work pays off in every bite. Extra brownie points to the dinner guest who shows up with one of these in hand. ($32)

Praline Bakery & Bistro, 4611-O Sangamore Road, Bethesda, 301-229-8180,

Photo by Deb Lindsey

Mango Mousse Cake at Passion Bakery Café

The European training that brothers and Passion Bakery Café owners Huber and Melvin Mendoza received early in their baking careers is evident in the technique involved in their resplendent mango mousse cake. First, they line the bottom half of the inside of a springform cake pan with half-moon slices of raspberry jam-filled jelly roll and the top half with a thin layer of mango mousse. Once the mousse sets, they fill the cake-and-mousse-lined pan with layers of sponge cake and mango mousse, topping the cake with mango glaze and glazed fresh fruit, such as mango slices, grapes and strawberries. (6-inch cake: $24; 8-inch: $36)

Passion Bakery Café, 2277 Bel Pre Road, Suite 205 (Plaza Del Mercado), Silver Spring, 301-460-0600; 816 Olney Sandy Spring Road, Sandy Spring, 301-570-4583;

Photo by Deb Lindsey

Matcha Red Bean Towel Crepe Cake at Kyoto Matcha

The desserts at this international chain are visually stunning and often cunning, like the matcha towel cake. To make it, a very large, ultrathin crepe, green from matcha tea powder, is spread with matcha whipped cream and dotted with red adzuki beans. Then the crepe is carefully folded and formed like a burrito to resemble a rolled-up towel. It’s topped with matcha powder, then wrapped with a strip of brown paper in the center and tied with a jute bow. Tip: Eat it on-site or get it home fast so the cream doesn’t deflate. ($12)

Kyoto Matcha, 33 Maryland Ave., Unit A, Rockville, 301-417-4856; 967 Rose Ave. (Pike & Rose), North Bethesda,

Photo by Deb Lindsey

Blueberry Cheesecake Cupcake at Lilly Magilly’s

At Lilly Magilly’s in Gaithersburg, baker and co-owner Kristen Kendell makes everything from scratch and changes the offerings daily. Her blueberry cheesecake cupcake makes frequent appearances in late spring and early summer. The batter is white cake flavored with clear blueberry extract and chopped fresh blueberries. The toppings are cream cheese icing, blueberry buttercream frosting, graham cracker crumble and fresh blueberries. ($3.75 each; six for $19.50; 12 for $39)

Lilly Magilly’s, 220 Boardwalk Place (rio), Gaithersburg, 301-208-2828,

Photo by Deb Lindsey

Ube Pie at Gwenie’s Pastries

Ube (purple yam), a staple of Filipino cooking, has a creamy texture, a subtle sweetness and a vibrant deep purple color when cooked, which makes it a favorite ingredient in desserts. For her ube pie, Gwenie’s Pastries owner Stella Fernandez makes ube halaya (ube jam) by slowly cooking peeled, boiled and grated ube with sugar, condensed milk and evaporated milk. The cooled mixture, smooth and creamy, is spread into a graham cracker crust and topped with lavender-hued rosettes of whipped cream blended with ube extract. (9-inch pie: $38)

Gwenie’s Pastries, 12113 Nebel St., Rockville, 301-770-4647,