Tera Johnson’s ice cream and gourmet sweet shop is a comfortable place where families can leave their cares at the door and share quality time over a delicious treat. Tucked away at the end of an unassuming shopping center on Reynolds Road at Bancroft, across from Red Wing Shoes and a stone’s throw from Schmucker’s, Sweet Experience specializes in gourmet candies, popcorn and other confections.
After working alongside the previous owners for 18 months, Johnson took over the shop in 2019. A heavy equipment operator by trade, Johnson has been a baker her entire life. Cheesecake in a jar is her signature dish.
Johnson has added flavored popcorns and her cheesecakes to the product mix. In a nod to the desserts Johnson’s mother used to make for the family every Sunday, the shop also features weekly “Sunday specials” with comfort foods such as fresh apple crisp.
Cheesecakes, chocolates and more
Served in individually-portioned jars, the cheesecakes, the most popular item at Sweet Experience, are available in a variety of flavors. The strawberry cheesecake ($6) is served in a sturdy glass jar labeled with a short list of simple ingredients. Topped with a dusting of graham cracker crumbs, the filling is rich, creamy and packed with fresh chunks of strawberry. When the spoon hits the bottom of the jar, the reward is a tasty layer of graham cracker crumbs to complement the cheesecake.
Surveying the options available in the glass counter display reveals molded chocolates and marshmallow kabobs dipped in chocolate, caramel and sprinkles; chocolate turtles with caramel and peanut butter; and a massive sweet treat that Johnson touts as the biggest buckeye in the city.
Sweet Experience also sells flavored popcorns, cotton candy and naturally gluten-free caramel apples in flavors such as cherry, cookies and cream, turtle, cheesecake, buckeye and Butterfinger. Everything is made in-house with the exception of the candied nuts.
The caramel popcorn line includes several unique varieties infused with alcohol, including Crown Royal whiskey and Hennessey brandy. Sweet Experience is a great place to pick up gifts for friends.
Ice cream treats
Sweet Experience serves Hersey’s and Chocolate Shoppe ice cream, with a selection that includes eight vegan varieties that Johnson said she introduced to accommodate customers who are lactose intolerant. Samples of the vegan strawberry banana and cookies and cream revealed few discernible differences from traditional ice cream.
The cotton candy flavored dairy ice cream is appealing to kids, as a single scoop in a cone ($3.50) and or in a milkshake ($5), piled high with whipped cream. Prices are reasonable, portions are generous. Sweet Experience’s close proximity to Toledo Botanical Garden makes it a great spot to stop in for a cold, tasty treat on your way to or from the park.