Indulge your ‘sweet’ side

Posted on 17 April 2013

News Writer

Satisfying a sweet tooth can be a challenge, especially if you are dieting, or have any other health issues that require you to limit your sugar intake.

At “The Sweet Spot,” the bright lime green shop on Planter Street, just off North Broad Street in Bainbridge, those situations have been taken into consideration. The shop specializes in miniature pastries and goodies, just big enough to warm your heart and tastebuds.

The business is owned and operated by the Sweet family: Sherrie, her husband Joe III and her aunt Beulah Handsford.

Sherrie Sweet has been a nutritionist with the Southwest Georgia Department of Health since 1995. The goodies are the creation of Beulah Handsford, the supervisor of the Bainbridge Middle School cafeteria, where she has worked for 32 years.

Sweet explained that eating healthy is all about portions.

“People don’t have to totally deny themselves of something good,” she said.

That is what makes the featured mini-treats big sellers in the shop. They are single-serving pies made of pecans, buttermilk, or sweet potatoes; peanut butter pretzel clusters, turtle clusters, strawberry crunches and mini-cakes, such as the four-tier chocolate or caramel cakes, just 3 to 4 inches in diameter.

Many of the recipes have been created by Miss Beulah, who can take a basic recipe and change it around to something special. Two of her specialties are the “Neiman Marcus” brownies (so-called because they are rich), and the cheesecake brownies. Those are special secret recipes she is not inclined to share.

In addition to the walk-in trade, The Sweet Spot does a large special order and catering business of cakes for weddings, birthdays and showers.

“During the holidays, starting with Thanksgiving, we do a lot of baking, making hundreds of cakes,” she said. “Then, comes January and things slow down as people are trying to lose weight. But then along comes Valentine’s Day, and things pick up again.”

If your tastes don’t lean toward the sugary side, there is a nice selection of gifts available, ranging from jewelry, purses, specialty teas, and personalized items. One corner of the shop is designated for baby gift items, such as stuffed animals, clothing, and baby shower gift baskets, which Sweet creates herself.

The building has long been in the Sweet family, where it was owned for 47 years by Joe’s uncle. After being closed for a number of years, Joe’s dad, Joe Sweet Jr., decided to reopen the barber shop.

The back of the building became available for other purposes. Since Sherrie had always wanted to open her own business and Beulah, who at one time owned “This and That Thrift Shop” in downtown Bainbridge, was eager to get back into the market place, they jumped in and opened The Sweet Spot in June 2006.

It has always been a joint effort of the three busy owners, all of whom have other occupations.

Joe III holds a doctorate in pharmacy and teaches physical science, chemistry, physics and biology at Bainbridge High School. On the weekends, he works in a barber shop.

In addition to keeping The Sweet Spot supplied, Miss Beulah, along with her sister-in-law Alice Stubbs, cooks the big meals served at First Presbyterian Church each Wednesday evening.

Everyone has their “job” to do at the shop. Sherrie explained that she is the “boss lady,” Aunt Beulah is “Chef Extraordinaire” and Joe is the marketing person, who helps determine new products and is in charge of maintenance. He is also a regular vendor, selling sweets in the Downtown First Saturday sales in Willis Park.

This year they are offering a huge 9-by-13-inch, heart shaped, chocolate chip cookie for those who want to “sweeten up their sweetie” on Valentine’s Day, and don’t care about the calories.

Try one of Miss Beulah’s recipes yourself this Valentine’s Day.

Pecan cream cheese squares

1 box yellow cake mix, 3 eggs, 1/2 cup butter, softened, 2 cups chopped pecans, 1 pkg. 8 oz. cream cheese, softened, 2-2/3 cups confectioner sugar.

In large bowl, beat the cake mix, 1 egg and butter until blended well. Mix in pecans. Press into a greased 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Set aside.

In a small bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and remaining 2 eggs until smooth. Pour over pecan mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees 45-55 minutes, or until brown. Cool. Cut into squares and store in refrigerator.

Best Chocolate Bars

1 box chocolate cake mix, 1 cup graham cracker crumbs, 1/2 cup peanut butter, 1 egg, 3 tablespoons half-and-half, 1- 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese softened, 1 jar (11-3/4 oz.) hot fudge ice cream topping, 1 pkg. (11-1/2 oz.) milk chocolate chips, 1 cup salted peanuts.

In a large bowl, mix crackers and cake mix. Cut in peanut butter until it looks crumbly.

In a small bowl whisk egg and cream together. Add to crumbly mix, blending just until moistened. Set aside 3/4 cup for topping.

Press remaining crumb mixture into greased 13 x 9 in. baking pan.

In large bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Beat in hot fudge sauce until smooth. Spread over the crust. Sprinkle with chocolate chips, peanuts and remaining crumb mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until set. Cool, cover and refrigerate about 4 hours. Then, cut into bars.

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

3 cups all purpose flour, 3 cups sugar, 3 sticks real butter, 1-8 oz. pkg. Cream Cheese, 6 eggs, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 1 tsp. lemon extract.

In a large bowl cream together butter, sugar and cream cheese until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg.

Slowly add flour and flavorings to mixture.

Pour into a greased and floured tube pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Cool completely before taking from pan.

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