Michelle Barger loves to feed people sweet treats.  For years, Barger worked full-time at a high-pressure job, but in her spare time she would unwind by crafting craveable baked treats for family and friends. Now Barger has turned her passion for baking into a booming business with Artisanal Cravings.

“In my previous life I was running healthcare facilities and got very burnt out after doing it for over twenty years,” Barger says. “I left that job, but I decided I needed something else to do. I can’t just do nothing all day.”

What she decided to do was throw herself into baking. She spent months testing recipes, baking and posting pictures of her delectable desserts online. Artisanal Cravings officially opened in September of 2023 and has quickly become a local favorite.

Photography by Wyatt Kostygan

While Barger can bake all kinds of mouthwatering morsels, filled cupcakes are her specialty. If you enjoy tropical treats, you’ll love her Pina Colada Cupcakes. The batter is packed with pineapple, coconut and rum. Once baked, the cupcakes are filled with white chocolate coconut ganache and topped with coconut frosting. In the mood for something more decadent? Her Chocolate Chili Cupcake features moist, black chocolate cake that has been laced with chili powder and cayenne. Those cupcakes are filled with spicy chocolate ganache and topped with a sweet and spicy frosting. 

“I’m big on flavors and taste and not doing anything that’s just ordinary,” Barger says. “I do everything from scratch. I make my own preserves from scratch, my extracts from scratch. Everything is 100% me-made,” Barger says. Barger is enthusiastic about taking on custom orders and works closely with clients to make sure they get the flavors they’re looking for. Recently she created a luscious Cannoli Cake with layers of moist yellow cake filled with sweet ricotta cheese and topped with mascarpone buttercream and rich chocolate ganache. She also has keto and gluten-free options for people with special dietary needs.

Photography by Wyatt Kostygan

Artisanal Carvings doesn’t have a storefront yet, but you can find Barger at The Market on Dearborn in Englewood on Thursdays and Saturdays from 9am to 2pm. What Barger loves most about her business is the constant opportunity to flex her creativity, so she doesn’t have a set menu at the farmer’s market. To see this week’s menu, you can visit the Artisanal cravings Facebook page.