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Going nuts for coconuts
Southern treat is best-seller at Flowery Branch bakery
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The coconut cake at Flowery Branch’s Calliope Sweets is four layers of coconut-flavored cake, separated with creamy coconut filling. Coconut-flavored icing is spread all over the cake and then coconut shavings are applied liberally, creating a snowball-like look for the Southern favorite. - photo by Carly Sharec

Calliope Sweets

Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Wednesday  and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday; noon to 6 p.m. Friday; closed Sunday and Thursday

Location: 5511 Main St., Flowery Branch

Contact: 770-965-3333 or calliopesweets@calliopesweets.com

Calliope Sweets owner Patty Phillips prides herself on her Southern hospitality, her roots and her skills in the kitchen.

“I consider myself truly proud to be from Flowery Branch,” she said. “When I got here there was one flashing light ... it’s changed a lot. The city has just done an amazing job.”

Since opening on Main Street in November 2010, Phillips’ store has become a favorite among Flowery Branch patrons. But out of all the various sweet treats the store has to offer, one menu item outshines all other options.

“I’ve been making (coconut cake) since the day I opened the doors,” she said, pulling out three pans, each one filled with a golden, round cake. “I bake more of this than anything else here.”

The cake stays true to its namesake, involving layer upon layer of coconut. Every inch is packed with coconut to ensure customers taste the delicate flavor in each bite.

“A lot of places you go, it’s a vanilla cake and a coconut filling, but (this cake is) coconut all the way through,” Phillips said.

She begins the process by mixing and baking the layers of cake, an imperative step that takes several hours inside and outside of the oven.

Between the layers of cake, Phillips smoothes on a syrupy filling. The filling is a light, clear mixture with flakes of coconut tossed inside, seeping into the spongy layers of cake and illuminating the coconut flavor even more.

While composing the cake layer by layer, Phillips smiles thoughtfully at the progressing masterpiece.

“My mom used to be my taster,” she said, reaching for a large bowl of icing. “My mom passed away a couple of years ago, but when she was in her final stages and she had quit eating ... she whispered to me to come here ... and she told me she wanted a slice of coconut cake.”

Phillips smoothed more icing along the sides of the cake.

“It was the last thing she ate,” she said. “We just knew that was her way of telling us that it was OK.”

Like the rest of the cake’s components, the icing is infused with an abundance of coconut, achieving its creamy texture from a dollop or two of cream cheese.

Phillips said the coconut cake is undoubtedly the most popular among customers.

“I do it in some form or fashion probably at least four days a week,” she said.

While the coconut cake is most often sold in cake form, it can be made into cupcakes.

“I am just a few yards from the railroad tracks, so the one thing you’ll find here is that you’ll never have an even cake,” Phillips joked. But she believes it’s the flavors that keep people coming back.

“There are people who come through the door and I know exactly what they want ... we’ve got some really loyal customers.

“I’m real proud to say that I’m a part of the downtown community,” she continued. “Just like any family we all have our moments, but we all love one another and it’s a great place to call home.”

After icing the entire cake, Phillips grabbed handfuls of coconut flakes and sprinkled them on the top and sides until the entire surface was an elegant, fluffy white.

The coconut cake is offered at the bakery year-round, but Calliope Sweets also offers seasonal treats.

“For November we’ll do pumpkin cheesecakes ... and pumpkin bars,” Phillips said.

Calliope Sweets also supplies treats for several events each year, including weddings and baby showers parties.

After the holiday season concludes, the shop will gear up for Mardi Gras, a festive time of year in the city of New Orleans, which inspired the shop’s name and environment.

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