Strangely, Jennifer Kelly’s dream matches mine: to have unfettered access to ethereal, beautiful, creative desserts.
So earlier this year when Kelly, an Olathe resident and product of a childhood drenched in wedding cakes her mother baked, had the opportunity to actualize her fantasy, she grabbed it.
The result is The Dessertery, an intimate restaurant tucked into a Shawnee strip center that morning to night serves sweet treats worthy of a scene in a Willy Wonka prequel.
As far as my dream scenario, I’m always on the prowl for quality desserts worth the calorie intake. One recent Saturday, I decided to indulge my sweet tooth and trekked to Woodsonia West Shopping Center in Shawnee to pay The Dessertery an early morning visit.
Reason number one I like Kelly’s business philosophy: dessert is an all-day food. Even breakfast.
Kelly dubs her restaurant as “local artisan sweetness.” No need to put that claim to the test—she uses lots of KC-made products to elevate her dishes and desserts even more.
Brushing aside the dim memory of my mom preaching leftover birthday cake was no kind of healthy breakfast fuel for a teenager, I perused The Dessertery’s menu, a mouthwatering array of $5.99 morning dishes like Kelly’s riff on a New Orleans beignet (hers are a custard-based donut sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with a thick chocolate dipping sauce and candied bacon); fluffy pain perdu made from Ibis Bakery’s heavenly brioche and topped with orange cream cheese; and waffles draped in savory sausage gravy.
Fruit parfaits come dressed for breakfast layered with seasonal Chantilly crema ($5.99) and luscious chocolate waffles topped with berries and drizzled with chocolate sauce round out five reasons to get out of bed any day of the week (except Monday, when The Dessertery is closed). Affogato coffee and affogato gourmet hot chocolate, both made with house-churned ice cream, wash down breakfast quite nicely ($5.49).
On the flip side of the breakfast menu, which includes espresso drinks and French press made with Kansas City’s Broadway Café and Roasting Company ($1.99 - 4.29), is a treasure trove of sugary desserts. Three of Kelly’s bestsellers have great family backstories, which she’ll gladly share while you’re finishing every last morsel: Chocolate Euphoria ($7.99), Blackberry Wine Cake and Chess Cake ($6.99).
Creampuffs are a specialty at The Dessertery, too—choose from several fillings, including seasonal flavors such as key lime, chocolate strawberry, German chocolate and more ($6.99). Seasonal flavors also rotate, and right now pumpkin cheesecake and apple-pear spice creampuffs are available through Dec. 31.
Although not a classically trained chef, Kelly knows her way around a mixer and pastry bag, taking cues from her mother. She grew up loving to surprise her family with concoctions from her Easy Bake Oven and later, as an adult, developed a palate for desserts worth their price tag.
“Several years ago I started a notebook with ideas for a restaurant, just scribbling things or tearing pictures out of magazines,” Kelly said. “Fun, interesting flavors. Recipes that inspired me.”
One recipe that caught Kelly’s fancy was the iconic Barbara’s Champagne Cake from a baker in Windsor Heights, Iowa, a suburb of Des Moines. Kelly’s sister bought one as a surprise for her 18th birthday. It was love at first bite.
“Melted in my mouth,” Kelly said, her eyes closed, recalling the decadent dessert. “Rich and light.”
Kelly recreated the Champagne cake for The Dessertery ($6.99)—adding her signature touch of a frilly piped pastel pink flower on top with purple sprinkles. The entire confection looks like a pretty party favor, cradled in a satiny ribbon of white chocolate.
Surprisingly, Kelly’s most memorable dessert was simple: Grand Marnier and fresh whipped cream over raspberries, served in a champagne tulip glass, The Sycamore Inn in Rancho Cucamonga.
“A dessert doesn’t have to complex to make an impression,” Kelly said, taking a cue from the memory when she created her Crema Chantilly Parfait for breakfast. “It needs to be appealing and well-executed. Sometimes simple is best.”
As I polished off my plate of beignets, the pain perdu and several forkfuls of Champagne cake, I made silent apologies to my mother. But really, dessert for breakfast once in a while is allowed, right?
Location: 5428 Roberts Ave., Woodsonia West Shopping Center, Shawnee
Hours: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesday-Thursday; 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday; 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday.
Lunch is Served: Gourmet sandwiches by Chef Casey Sullivan every Wednesday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. ($8 - 10)
Seasonal Goodies: Mini pies (coconut cream, triple cherry and apple-pear spice) $4.99; pumpkin cake with pumpkin spice filling, penuche frosting, pepita brittle and warm fruit compote ($7.99)
To Go: All of The Dessertery’s individual cakes and larger sizes are available for carry out; call ahead to inquire or for special orders.
Don’t Miss: Contemporary harp music on third Saturday of month from 2 - 4 p.m. with a tea tasting and desserts.