Everyone needs a little “me” time. At the end of a hard day, there’s no better treat than a slice of cake, just like grandma used to make.
That’s what owner Dee Woods wants to provide at her dessert shop, : a place to catch your breath, relax for a minute, and eat a homemade dessert.
A large white sign with purple letters points the way to the brightly-lit shop, which opened a few months ago and is located on Bergen Street just west of Washington Avenue.
Take a look at the case and you’ll see old favorites and fun new flavors. One a particular day last week there was coconut cream pie, strawberry cheesecake, watermelon cupcakes, and Peach Schnapps cake. Behind the counter you’ll find Woods, smiling as she splits her time between baking in the back of the shop and serving customers in the front.
The first thing that Woods wants you to know is that D’s is not a bakery. It’s a dessert shop.
But what’s the difference?
“To me, a bakery mass produces. They have the big ten-pound mixers," Woods said. "I go smaller. I want it to be personal. When I bake a cake I’m baking it just for you."
For Woods, baking means family-- she learned to bake from her parents while growing up in East New York.
“I was a rotten kid," Woods explained how she learned her craft. "To keep me still my mother was like, ‘Help me bake the cake!’”
When her mother retired, the whole family moved down to Gainesville, Florida, where Woods opened up the first incarnation of D’s Just Desserts. Opening the Florida bakery gave her experience and helped her to expand her menu.
“When I opened up in Florida I only knew how to make five cakes, and I’d just move them around the case!” Woods laughed. “Now we’re up to 84 different varieties of cakes, pies, and cheesecakes.”
But after five good years in Florida, this Brooklynite was ready to come home.
“I am so not a Florida person! After five years I said, 'I think I want to do this in New York if I want to get to the next level,'” Woods explained.
Ending up in Prospect Heights wasn’t Woods’s first intention, but now she sees it as destiny.
“This place chose me,” she said.
After being jilted at the last minute by a Bed-Stuy landlord who decided he didn’t want to rent to a food service business, Woods saw her current space listed on Craigslist. When she visited with a , it wasn’t the bright, cheerful space it is today.
“It looked like a burnt out crack spot,” Woods described.
But with a little vision and a lot of love, D’s created its home. Woods said she serves everyone from new moms to medical professionals, and when school starts in September she’ll be ready for the return of the “Three o’clock brownie crew,” to whom she offers a discount. But she’s most excited to see the people who really need a pick-me-up.
“I see the people that I always wanted to do this for, people that come in saying, ‘Oh my gosh, I had a horrible day, I want something sweet.’ I always call that the ‘me time,' where people come in and they just take a few minutes for me,” said Woods.
One thing that sets this dessert joint apart from others is Woods’s willingness to work with customers to find them exactly what they want. Prospect Heights resident Johanna Thomsen asked if Woods was planning to have gluten-free items, and while it hadn’t been in her original plans, Woods was happy to do the research and developed her own gluten-free recipes. What makes her recipes special? Flavor!
“Just because they can’t have wheat doesn’t mean that they can’t have flavor. So whatever I did I went heavy with the flavor. If I did fruit, I did raspberries and I added key lime,” Woods said.
Thomsen was thrilled.
“From the very first bite, I was impressed. Gluten-free baking is really difficult, and Dee mastered in on the first try," Thomsen said. "Dee made my birthday cupcakes in two flavors, watermelon and red velvet. Both were heavenly! All of my guests had no clue that they were eating gluten-free treats, but everyone raved about how amazing they were.”
Woods doesn’t have gluten-free items in the case on a regular basis, but if customers have a special request, she’s happy to oblige. As for whole cake orders, depending on the level of difficulty, she might be able to whip something up for you in just a couple hours, since she bakes all day.
No matter what brings you in to D’s Just Desserts, Woods makes sure you leave happy.
“My job,” Woods said, “is to pair you with the perfect dessert.”
, 740 Bergen Street at Washington Ave. (347) 533-9466. The shop will be closed for summer vacation Aug. 14th and will reopen Sept. 1.