2013 Year in Review of NYC’s Dessert Offerings (2 of 2)

Fairytale Brownies: Brownies sent via mail? Yeah, I'd be suspect too, especially individually packaged and mass distributed but these brownies were amazingly good and like getting some freshly made. Chewy not so much fudgy, chocolatey, and a variety of flavors in bite-sized morsels (to be consumed in a speedy manner) are a treat for those who receive them. An author sent a bunch of these minis to an editor at my office and after one I had to get a couple more, for posterity. I sampled the caramel which had a line of caramel in the middle and the walnut. These brownie bites literally melted in my mouth upon eating. I would purchase dozens of these for myself and friends, but mainly for myself. (Minis come in a variety of flavors such as chocolate chip, raspberry swirl, peanut butter, expresso, and cream cheese as well as others. They also sell blondies and cookies.)
Ivy Bakery: Another interviewed vendor. Daniellan was nice enough to answer questions right around her 13th anniversary celebration. The standout item are the butter gooies and this summer Daniellan had cinnamon butter gooies. In general the butter gooie is a bar with butter and buttermilk, add in some cinnamon and it has a nice taste that ramps it up a notch in terms of reminding you of cake or coffee cake to be more precise. On a savory note: the vegan items available at Ivy Bakery are fantastic! Daniellan's crust on the spinach & cheese quiche was superior to any I've had and certainly any I have made making it the standout part of that dish. And the vegan mac n' cheese?! Yes, vegan mac n' cheese has me a convert for something that delicious that doesn't quite remind you of old school baked mac n' cheese but something a bit tangier with some kick to it and the addition of soy meat, whoa on all levels.
Pain D'Avignon: Another Smorgasburg find! The bread pudding with creme anglaise. I was eyeing this and kept, purposely, walking by the booth. It looked like it was made in a gigantic loaf pan since it holds the shape of a long loaf of bread, yet, and yet, it had the perfect bread pudding consistency and holds up well outdoors. It was solid but moist like bread pudding should be, had chunks of apples in it that were a tad tart so guessing granny smiths. There was also a lemony zing from either juice or zest but not too heavy. A great creaminess to it and heavy stuff so it's filling as a meal in itself and the portions (for $4) were wonderful. Love it!
Trois Pommes PatisserieA co-worker shared another Cronut knockoff from this bakery in Brooklyn. Trois Pommes was filled with a creamy (kind of pudding-like) chocolate and had a harder shell and soft yet dense interior. This faux Cronut had more of a croissant flavor compared to the Crumbs doughnut flavored Crumbnut. Trois Pommes version was not very sweet which is why the chocolate ratcheted it up and the chocolate was in spades! Lots of it in the middle and between a couple layers. I prefer the Crumbs bavarian cream since it's sweeter but this is good for people who like less sweet items.
Tonnie's Minis: I like visiting the bakeries in and around Harlem and so had to make time to go to Tonnies. I purchased the sweet potato cupcake, which was adequate. Like Red Rooster the cream cheese icing was fabulous but there was a tad bit too much spice in the cupcake, perhaps too much clove? There was a slightly moist, crumbly texture which was okay but not amazing and the cupcake did contain bits of sweet potato. Perhaps their minis, not regular sized cupcakes, contain moisture better in the cake? A find cupcake but not the best NYC has to offer.
Chokolat: Again, a patisserie. However, this was a very disappointing experience for me. I got their brownie, which was huge for $2, but lackluster. What did it have? A chocolatey taste. It had the look of a dense brownie. But it did not have the goods of a good brownie. Texture makes huge difference when it comes to brownies and the texture was way too cakey for me which leads to a kind of dry tasting feel to the overall confection, meaning you need liquids to even get the darn thing down. There's another Chokolat a few blocks south of the one I got it from (closer to 125th Street) and perhaps that place makes it fresher so that I wouldn't get day-old goods.
Macaron Parlour: Like with Butter & Scotch I kinda went to town when Macaron Parlour popped up at Grub Street and Madison Square Eats last summer. And so the list goes:
  • The 'Elvis' (peanut butter & caramelized bananas) macaron. Amazing! They have yet to let me down in terms of the balance of flavors in their macarons and this one is just phenomenal with the exterior crisp to the cookie and internal softness and that interior to the sandwich of the French macaron that imbues the flavor desired. I tasted the bananas and peanut butter in this one for sure, which has come to define the late King.
  • The caramel apple was PHENOMENAL. (caps intended) This French macaron had sweet apples in the macaron so it was like an apple pie. I don't know how they do it but they really capture their flavors so that tastes natural. God, they're good.
  • The s'mores macaron had dark chocolate and marshmallow inside the filling with a brown sugar cookie and honey cookie sandwiched together. It was fine but not my fave because of flavor combo, not necessarily the execution. The brown sugar is somewhat intense in this one from the cookie.
  • The Giggity which also had marshmallow inside with chocolate but different taste from the s'more, again not a stand out for me.
  • The red velvet which I still and will presumably always love. That cream cheese filling and the cookie are just divine reminding me of a good red velvet. I should bring these to my grandma and hear her verdict on them.
Levain Bakery: What defines Levain? Big ass cookies, that's what. At first I thought I was staring at scones until I realized these were the cookies (at $4 a pop). I got my cookies right out the oven so the chocolate chip walnut cookie (trademark) was melty and gooey. Even the next day the crispy exterior was no force for the chewy interior of the cookie cooled down. Delicious and very filling. A nice splurge but nothing orgasmic in terms of pricing. I may still go to old reliable Insomnia which is cheaper and closer, but Levain is worth a look-see and a once-in-awhile splurge for that cookie.
Fruition ChocolateTheir toasted white chocolate and milk chocolate are delectable. Fruition even placed in the International Chocolate Awards for their white chocolate. Their confections melt in your mouth, without the granular texture of processed chocolate, and the white chocolate has a slight dulce de leche taste to it. Milk chocolate is just fan-freaking tastic. So good. And I have to thank Jackie for introducing me to Fruition at Chocabaret.
Bibingka-esk.comThis is a Filipino dessert and I wonder what type of flour is used because the texture reminded me of a financier, which is made with almond flour. It is a homegrown business and these are quite tasty with a good consistency. I tried the minis with coconut (such a great combo) and chocolate chips. The chocolate chips overwhelmed lots of the flavor so I'd suggest some of the more subtle ones without chocolate.
Thumbs Cookies: Another new business at Grub Street. I tried the thumbs pie (two cookies put together with frosting). These are cute size, small like your thumb hence the name, and is basically a sugar covered shortbread that has a nice, buttery flavor. The filling got lost in the rest of the cookie which may be a good thing but this is a homemade dessert that definitely has that taste to it.
Eric Kayser Artisan Boulanger: And we have, yet another patisserie people. This one opened up in midtown right across from Bryant Park and is in good company with Lady M, Pain Quotidien and other sweeteries. On a walk one morning I decided to stop in and try their financiers (plain, chocolate, and pistachio). The pistachio was my fave for the nice flavor, and usually I'm not digging pistachio but the melding of flavors here was good. Just like Financier's financier there's a good balance of sugar, almond flour, and butter in small, one bite quantities. It's a nice little nubbin' of a treat. The chocolate was too chocolatey and rich for me. I like my financiers with less flavors taking away from the butter. Their plain was fine but I kind of prefer Financier's plain because of the softer quality to the cake. In addition, because I can't just get one thing at a French bakery, I got a brioche de cannelle which has cinnamon and apple. The brioche de cannelle was quite tasty but should have more bread & apple filling than crumb topping. It's a nice dessert or even brunch time treat with the brioche, cinnamon, and apples working together like a lighter fritter with the crumb topping that isn't too sweet but sorta thick. Very small in size too for the $4 price tag but delectable nonetheless.
Hot Bread Kitchen: Many of these may not be desserts but they are baked and delicious and they need to be mentioned! As you saw in my Tour of HBK I was lucky to try their freshly baked bread and more and more and more! Since then I've been addicted to their stuff since venturing during my lunch hour downtown just to get some filled m'smen and pain de muertos and Nan-E-Barbari! Cause I need this bread with my tea, people. If you want a breakdown see my tour but good God also hit up their store in East Harlem or visit them at the green markets they're at during the week. And get yourself some filled m'smen (it has kale and butter!).
Vosges Haut ChocolateIf you like Godiva then Vosges may give it a run for the money. One of the fancier flavors at Vosges is the Milk Chocolate Bacon bar. Yup, bacon is all the rage these days. But a friend introduced me to Vosges because of my love for the combo of chocolate and peanut butter in their Organic Peanut Butter BonBon Bar (which is a big seller). Vosges is luxury chocolate and you definitely taste it as the back of the packaging of any bar encourages you to invoke all your senses to the sensuality of this particular (and somewhat pricey at $8-9/bar) chocolate. The PB BonBon lives up to the hype. In one weekend I had Reese's and then the BonBon and kept going back to the BonBon bar because it had a richer/deep milk chocolate (45% cacao) taste and the PB is within the bar itself, not a slather of PB in or atop the bar. Decadent, y'all! I also had the Bapchi's Caramel Toffee Bar which is good but I may not be the biggest toffee fan when it comes to my chocolate. And I also recently had the Barcelona Bar with hickory smoked almonds and sea salt and lordy I think this is a new fave. The crunch of the almonds with the tinge of smoke to it and the sea salt with this chocolate was dinner for me one night. A $9 chocolate bar dinner that I will not soon forget. Indulge on this, y'all. At least once if you can.
CrumbsWith many places in the U.S. let alone NYC going into the Cronut craze why wouldn't Crumbs through their dough in the ring? Theirs is named the Crumbnut and I would recommend the one with bavarian cream. The cream in particular had a nice vanilla-y taste to it. Even with the flaky layers added in the Crumbnut tasted more doughnut than croissant but still very tasty and soft once you chewed it. Though it's somewhat hard to cut. The plain Crumbnut with powdered sugar is good as well but the bavarian cream makes the other Crumbnut. The plain Crumbnut tasted a bit dry without the cream in comparison.