The new year is in full swing and so my bakery reviews of local confections is due as well. I have to say in looking it over I hadn't ventured to as many places. Maybe I was eating "healthier" or maybe I was baking at home more. But that doesn't mean that sweets weren't had and I wouldn't take the time to tell you the good, bad, and the unfortunate.
Ivy Bakery - Formally a storefront in SoHo Daniellan now offers her wonderful desserts in Brooklyn at Root Hill Cafe.
Highlights: Everything gooie! The red velvet gooie has a blood red color and good texture just like a bar. The butter gooie is still my fave of the batch. The green tea pie is quite good as Daniellan's crusts are fantastically flaky and tasty. Dunno if she uses high-class butter or lard but whatever it is keep doing it Daniellan!
Dominique Ansel - I tried Ansel's stuff before the whole rat debacle happened. So I feel somewhat comfortable noting what I did enjoy.
Highlights: The magic souffle. The orange in the brioche "shell" had a nice tang but the chocolate mousse inside is the star of the show. The mousse was wet like an undercooked bread pudding it holds semi-firm and is dense and delicious and not too chocolatey or dark chocolate flavored. However it's pretty costly (and small) at $7. Also finally tried the Cronut (Milk & Honey edition)! The FauxNuts have NOTHING on this one. Perfect consistency with the interior being very much like a nice chewy croissant and the exterior perfectly fried like a doughnut so it has a nice crunch. And the cream inside was tasty, sweet, and drizzly through the flaky layers. The inside of the cream was a bit oily so it ran, but it was good. However, I dunno if this is wait in line for hours good.
Red Rooster - Marcus Samuelsson's restaurant was a place I visited on several occasions this year for restaurant week and press dinners. Usually the desserts do not blow me away, however...
Highlights: ... the sweet potato filled doughnuts were perfection. Screw munchkins, get these light and lightly sugared tasty rounds coupled with a nice frothy sweet potato cream that oozes out when squishing your doughnut so it fills your mouth with tastiness. A sweet cream was served as a dollop on the side.
Silk Cakes - Ever since Silk Cakes opened up in Forest Hills (not far from my place in Queens) I have made a point to go on walks with a friend just to stop by their bakery and reward myself post-walk with milk cakes and/or cupcakes!
Highlights: Yuzu cake (kind of citrusy with lemony/limey) with green tea buttercream and green tea truffle in the middle. The cake was solid texture, nice subtle green tea flavors in the truffle and frosting. And the frosting was perfect, super smooth, best when room temperature (not when cold) and is like velvety perfection but filling (hence the name Silk Cakes). Can I say it again? I LOVE the frosting. I also tried the chocolate cupcake with semi-sweet chocolate truffle inside and green tea icing on top. I am addicted to this icing. So good and smooth.
Another addiction? Their milk cakes! The cinnamon milk cake which was reminiscent of a cinnamon roll. It's on the light and airy inside with the right amount of a sweet brown sugar/cinnamon swirl. Much better than a dense Cinnabon roll I tell you. By years end I had tried ALL the milk cakes from the cinnamon to banana, to green tea w/ blueberries and adore them all fantastic with tea. And again, a nice post-walk treat for yourself.
Trois Pommes - This patisserie is now closed.
Lowlights: A friend said she enjoyed their red velvet twinkie and it was fine. It had a solidred velvet balance and taste and the filling is nice, not too much could actually use more on the chocolate/red velvet side since there's so much cake and is light in cream cheese taste.
Cafe Glechik - The owners have Ukranian ancestry and displayed some of their hometown food at Village Voice's annual Choice Eats event last year.
Highlights: I pretty much repeatedly passed this booth for their Napoleon Cake. It was one of those eyes are bigger than your stomach scenarios. I wish I could've eaten more of that massive phyllo & vanilla cream layered goodness. Light, yet filling. Sweet yet not overwhelming. Fantastic.
Hill Country BBQ - I go for the brisket and the green bean casserole but Hill Country is known for their award-winning desserts.
Highlights: A friend shared some banana pudding and chocolate nut pudding. When having the pudding you must have it with the cookies that goes with them. The chocolate comes with chocolate wafers and the banana with Nilla wafers. If you're a fan of banana then the banana chunks in the pudding will be nice and creamy. However, this has to be eaten relatively quickly as the banana tends to lose water and this makes the overall pudding consistency a bit less solid so that you'll be dealing with chunky bits versus watery surroundings. The chocolate was HEAVY but delicious with the nuts, milk chocolate pudding and the cookies inside. Would recommend sharing the chocolate, the banana I could eat alone.
Old Fashioned Doughnuts - While their storefront has closed down this place popped up at the LIC and/or Astoria Fleas over the summer.
Highlights: Joining in on the FauxNut craze OFD's version was the Cream Croughnut. To me it was one of the better fake Cronuts I have had. It's more croissant like on the interior and is baked not fried. It's not dry like the Crumbnut and not too hard yet sweet unlike Trois Pommes version. It is quite soft and there's a lot of cream so it can get messy with the powdered sugar on top. But a very good find if you don't want something fried.
Sweet Muse - This is a new pop up available for purchase online. They specialize in brownies and I got to partake at LIC Flea last summer.
Highlights: I tried their cashew and caramel fudge brownie. It's a large brownie and the caramel had hardened but was still gooey and worked well with the overall brownie. You know I am all about the texture for brownies/blondies and this one had that dense quality I enjoy. Owner Laura Siner offers a wide range of flavors to choose from. There are also inspirational messages packed with the brownie in a mini ziplock.
Two Little Red Hens - This place may be known for their pies but their cupcakes are also very, very good.
Highlights: The chocolate and peanut butter cupcake, chocolate cake that was perfectly moist reminding me of a homemade Duncan Hines texture with peanut butter inside as filling and a fantastically smooth and creamy icing of chocolate and PB swirl.
That is not to be out shined by the pumpkin spice cupcake with pumpkin apricot spice frosting. Wonderful! Red Hens cupcakes can give Sugar Sweet Sunshine a run for the money in terms of the quality of the cake. The frosting was nice, not too thick or buttercream like and I like the added sweetness alternative from the apricot in the spice frosting. Well done. Large size, wish they had a more "regular sized cupcake." But very good.
Kicky's Kitchen - Is the cupcake dead? Not in NYC apparently. New pop up I tried at Madison Square Eats last summer.
Highlights: The pina colada caketail (cupcake with alcohol). Kicky's thing is making cupcakes out of cocktails! And this entails a cake with pineapple and coconut liquer (and some shredded coconut), and buttercream with a rum floater. It is not heavily alcoholic and you'll enjoy the tropical taste. It was fluffy and a reasonable sized cupcake. The cake itself was springy and the buttercream thick and sweet. I tried a taste of the car bomb (had chocolate stout in the cake) which tasted way more alcoholic than the pina colada.
Macaron Parlour - This place is one of my favorite bakeries and makes the best range of French macarons that I've had as far as I'm concerned. But I am open for others trying to persuade me otherwise.
Highlights: I retasted the Giggity macaron, which is a chocolate macaron with chocolate, caramel and peanut filling. Kinda reminiscent of a Snickers in macaron form. Fan-tastic. But would I expect anything less from Macaron Parlour? I think not.
Molly's Cupcakes & Milk & Cookies Bakery - See my May 26th cupcake crawl post for info on these. They were by far the best things on the crawl.
Chloe Doughy - While this isn't a bakery Chloe Doughy does warrant noting. I won a sample of this dough from the NYC Bake Sale raffle. Basically you sign up for Chloe Doughy and get two doughs (one new flavor for the month and the staple of chocolate chip). I'd recommend this as a cool gift to someone who enjoys baking. Like moi!
Highlights: The chocolate chip was divine. While the process of making it is reminiscent of Duncan Hines it is also distinct in the taste, quality of chocolate, and the fantastic smell. It's a standard chocolate chip that stands out as well and the dough held up well after 2 weeks in the fridge.
The lemon lavendar seemed to dry out a bit after two weeks and this may be because it's more a shortbread type cookie. Instructions say to add sparkling sugar and whipped lemon icing. The dough is fragrant like sorbet and the lemon in the cookie is quite light which is why the lemon icing may be necessary for taste. And to me the subtlety of the shortbread alone was enough to have me wanting more.
Sprinkles - You may know them as the place where you can get cupcakes via ATM. They have branched out form California to the fancy areas of Manhattan.
Highlights: Had the mini lemon cupcake with lemon icing and an unnecessary candy disk on top of the cupcake. The lemon flavor comes through mainly in the whipped icing, nice and frothy, and is subtle in the cake itself but definitely there. I'd get again, but a bit pricey for the mini size at $2. Would prefer it to be $1.50 at most, but then again I was in the UES.
La Toulousaine - I don't have a lot in terms of bakeries in Morningside Heights. I had stumbled upon this place and decided, what the heck?
Lowlights: I tried the pistachio and regular "madeleine's." (Notice the quotes.) They were massive and taste less like a traditional madeleine than a kind of pound cake in madeleine form. Mind you madeleine's are buttery cake but this was not the same. The pistachio was not that pistachio. Not bad but not like the formal madeleine. This is definitely not your typical patisserie. For that I'd suggest going elsewhere.
Le Maison du Macaron - I've been here before and being in the Chelsea area they don't only have French macarons but many freshly made goodies available every day.
Highlights: The key Lime Pie macaron definitely has the essence of key lime pie down. Key lime in the filling, green cookie with graham cracker crumble sprinkled on it. Good stuff. Had it twice.
Vendome Macaron Bar - I'll admit to being a bit biased because the second time I went to their booth (or tent) at Smorgasburg the vendor got a bit testy. Could've been the heat but still...customer service.
Highlights/Lowlights: Their Reese's peanut butter macaron does taste like a Reese's peanut butter cup. Win! The claim to fame for Vendome is dying their macarons and the orange cookie captures the peanut butter and the chocolate ganache filling is tasty. I later had the salted caramel (light blue cookie) good but this one was not memorable. Their nutella macaron was okay as well. I had to freeze it after it was melting so may not have gotten the best of it as the nutella overwhelmed in the chilled/hardened filling.
Treat House - This place is known for varied rice krispy treats. And that's pretty much it.
Lowlights: For me a rice krispy treat is pretty darn simple to make. Add some more bits into it and it may not be spectacular but fine. I had a chocolate pretzel rice krispy treat that was very chocolatey with a chocolate frosting and flavorless pretzel. Chocolate chips were included in the rice krispy and it was aight. I also had the salted caramel which was fine but I'm also a rice krispy purist. And for $2 each they are small for what you get (and could easily make at home) but service is nice and they keep well.
Levain Bakery - This is the big a** cookie place. Cookies the size of your head I tell you!
Highlights: On a splurge I got the pumpkin loaf, deliciously cinnamony, moist. The perfect quality for bread with a nice crisp crust. I am also quite happy because they gave me the "butt" of the loaf so I got a hefty piece. :-)
Kitchenette Uptown - I used to go here more since it's near my job but the lack of scones in the morning (they make 6 a day) and the increasing prices for watered down cider have me going less and less.
Lowlights: Their cakes and desserts are said to be made fresh everyday. I had their red velvet cupcake and I am sorry to say people that it is not true red velvet! While it's a moist cake with creamy icing (that is also not cream cheese). The red velvet has no chocolate flavor, is closer to pink than red in color. So save your pennies if you have a red velvet fix and get something else. Now their big-as-your-hand cookies, namely PB was very good.
Epicerie Boulud - The director of my company brought two pies in from this fancy place. That means she loves us.
Highlights/Lowlights: The chocolate pecan pie was dense, super sweet, and very good. It's definitely a sinful and good dessert. The dark chocolate is so rich and wonderful...
The apple crumb pie however was dry. If you want some good apple crumb I suggest Little Pie Company's sour cream apple. Boulud's apple crumbs were a bit on the dry side and apple inside is fine and cinnamony but nothing overly special.