With its pale pink walls, red-and-white linoleum floor and cases of tarts, truffles, cakes and pastries, Sweet Tartlette (445 E. Front St., Traverse City) feels as festive as a Valentine. Credit owner and pastry chef Sarah Steele for the tantalizing charm. Steele, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America’s Baking and Pastry Arts program, worked in restaurants and bakeries in Chicago before opening up shop in Traverse City, where besides baking up a beautiful storm, she teaches classes (schedule). Steele’s Sweet Tartlette creations embody her philosophy that desserts should be interesting—juxtapositions of textures, flavors and the five basic tastes.

Pick up a chocolate hazelnut caramel tart (pictured above!), with its sugary, salty, crunchy, chocolaty irresistibleness, and you’ll get what Sarah’s all about.

Can’t make it to the shop? Click for the delicious recipe and make it at home!

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Photo(s) by Dave Weidner