2010 Year in Review of NYC’s baked good offerings.

Another year has passed and with that comes the NYC dessert round up! This year was an especially busy year with lots of tasty treats to try and a root canal to cap off the year. Could it be from all the sweets? Nah.

Doughnut Plant

I became addicted (and I mean New Jack City type addicted) to the freshly made doughnuts here. And not only was I addicted, I managed to get other people into it also. The thing about Doughnut Plant is that they have both yeast and cake doughnuts. So if you like Krispy Kreme style get a yeast doughnut, if you like Dunkin Donuts then the cake is for you. Not only do they have staples--my favorite by far is the tres leches doughnut--but they also have seasonal doughnuts. This past summer they had a sunflower doughnut in both yeast and cake form. Also available was strawberry. Currently they have a Panettone doughnut as well as a Meyer lemon one.

As much as I love the yeast doughnuts for their fluffiness and delicacy, the cake ones are phenomenal. The carrot cake doughnut was the perfect texture and had all the wonderful elements of a carrot cake complete with nuts, raisins (not so great), and a cream cheese icing filling! Yes, they got filling in the doughnut and the doughnut is round with a hole in the middle. How do they do it?  I don't ask, I just gorge.

Baked by Melissa

BBM's specialty is mini (and I mean mini) cupcakes. These things are decadent and flavorful and have nice fillings and icings. How do they get fillings in something so tiny? Again, I don't ask, I just mangia.

The cake is moist and I like the variety of flavors that BBM offers. I've tried all their staples. But my favorites are the cookie dough with a cookie or blondie-ish brown sugar cake with cookie dough in the middle and chocolate icing and a dab of cookie dough on top, and the peanut butter cup which, as you guessed it, is a chocolate cake with peanut butter filling some chocolate icing and a dab of peanut butter on top.

Something new BBM initiated was the ability to create your own cupcake for online orders and a cupcake of the month. I tried their pumpkin cupcake (of course) and while I liked the cake it was too light and the cinnamon filling too dense making a mess of a tasty cupcake. Otherwise, I have no complaints about BBM. If you follow them on Facebook you can learn of new deals and participate in their annual golden ticket competition during the 31 days of December.

Billy's Bakery

My boss introduced me to Billy's Bakery when she went to get some items for a friend. I didn't realize there was a bakery that close to our office and had to see for myself.

Their cupcakes are tasty and moist and not too sugary. One cupcake I had, a plain vanilla with vanilla cream frosting, was a sore disappointment though. It was kind of dry and tasteless. But other cupcakes I've had--banana, pumpkin, carrot cake--did not disappoint. I also like their cookies at the cheap price of seventy-five cents, which may have gone up slightly. Their chocolate cake with chocolate icing is also a staple in our office for birthdays so I become very excited when I see a large chocolate cake and an empty box with Billy's teal label on it.


Babycakes isn't that far from Doughnut Plant so why not hit this place up? Babycakes is known for being a vegan-friendly bakery. And since I know more vegans or vegetarians who are lactose intolerant I figured I should see what the hype is about. Especially since this place has been featured in many NYC mags (TimeOut New York, NYTimes, etc.).

Well, I was slightly surprised and disappointed. I had the lemon spelt cupcake and the carrot cake cupcake. The lemon spelt was delicious and moist and lemony and sweet. I adored it. The texture didn't differ too much from your run-of-the-mill cupcake with eggs and butter and such so I was a happy camper. On the other end of the spectrum I detested the carrot cake cupcake. It had a strong clove or molasses taste that caused me to be unable to finish it. I loathe molasses with the very beings of my soul and was not keen on this taste.

I'd definitely go back and try more of their offerings, especially in regards to muffins and cookies to get a better sense of the variety they attain when making baked goods and to learn a few tricks of my own.

Amy's Bread

Amy's Bread is a hot spot for lunch time crowds. If you go during the lunch time rush (between 12-1:30) then expect a long line and to be rushed for an order. Know what you want and keep the line moving. I didn't partake in their sandwiches or soups, I spotted bars and cupcakes and was on a mission. I tried their lemon bar and coconut dream bar. The coconut dream bar was in fact a dream. It had chocolate and coconuts and brown sugar and bits of heaven as far as I'm concerned. I loved this bar and it was a large portion for the price.

Unfortunately, I was not as fond of the lemon bar. It was too tart for my taste and the crust was soggy. Too much lemon not enough bar to balance out the taste. But, for lemon bar standards I guess it suited most.

One Girl Cookies

I heard about One Girl Cookies from The New York Times. It was featured because of the rise in variety of whoopie pies. And don't you know once I read that they do a pumpkin whoopie pie year-round I was sold!

It was a quick trip to Brooklyn from my office and back and it was worth it. Their whoopie pie is moist and delicious and more pie than whoopie or whichever is which in the title. I'm not a huge icing fan so the fact that this had a thick moist and cakey cookie on either end and less icing was a big bonus for me. I loved it and found eating two within a 20 minute period was a bit much. These things are pretty big. A few friends have told me they had bad experiences at One Girl Cookies with a stale cookie, but I say try this place again. You won't be disappointed and make sure they give you the fresh made stuff in the back. No display cookies, new cookies.

Insomnia Cookies

Their claim to fame is that they deliver cookies late night to college campuses. So if you're an NYU student I really envy you right now. Cookies & late night, man that's a great idea.

I went there during their "happy hour" which is after the lunch time rush around 2pm to 6pm or so when you can get 3 cookies for $2.50. Since this was the case when I went I took advantage. I had a sugar cookie, peanut butter cookie, and white chocolate macadamia nut cookie. All were delicious and they serve them to you out of an oven or heater of sorts so you get cookies warm. Warm, I tell you!

I also got a brownie which was okay, it was more cakey than dense and pretty chocolatey. Since they're named for cookies I definitely say try that and get a bunch because eating a warm cookie is the best feeling in the world. Don't argue with me on this one, just don't.

Clinton Street Baking Company

While breakfast for dinner is nothing new the blueberry pancakes and scones and pretty much everything I've tried (chicken and waffles, biscuits, scrambled eggs, cheese grits) from Clinton Street have been amazing! Of course there's no beating the blueberry pancakes.

Some friends and I went one evening and shared a batch of the pancakes while also partaking in the special that Wednesday of chicken and waffles. I had just come from Book Expo with an aching back and don't you know the food from Clinton Street cheered me right up!

The pancakes are wonderfully fluffy with a unique taste from the method of how they're whipped to perfection. The blueberry compote and maple butter (more a syrupy texture than solid) combined make this the best pancake I have ever tasted. And I love me some IHOP but Clinton Street (muah!)

When dining in the evening they give away the day's scones that didn't sell in paper bags. So you get a treat to take home! I've tried the chocolate chip and berry scones which are wonderfully crisp on the outside and moist (not too moist) on the inside. Just as a scone should be. The buttermilk biscuit (your pre-dining treat) is a wonderful homemade biscuit that reminds me of the ones my aunt made when I was younger. It has the same consistency of the scone, which is perfect!

The service at Clinton Street is great and unfortunately when the sun is up this place is always packed. So I'd encourage you to go in the evening when it may be easier to get a table and plus, remember, free scones!

Dessert Club Chikalicious

After Ramen&Friends posted about Dessert Club having bread pudding I had to try it! I bought a friend a salted caramel cupcake which she said was very tasty.

Their customer service leaves something to be desired at the smaller location (they have a dessert bar directly across the street from them in the E. Village) but I liked the bread pudding okay. It wasn't sweet and reminded me of milk and the texture was on point but a bit more liquidy than solid.

For Anna's macaron crawl we stopped by there for macarons! I loved the salted caramel one it tasted exactly like it's name, so consider me sufficiently satisfied. I'll definitely stop by there to try those cupcakes though.


I have the Bubby's cookbook and was introduced to this place at Book Expo of America a few years back when they toyed with having a cookbook station that also provided samples from the recipe.

Well, I was in heavy pie mode this past summer and fall and just wanted pie. I had tried bites of two of Four and Twenty's molasses pie (hated) and lemon pie (didn't like either) so they aren't worth noting for 2010. I knew Bubby's was near my office and figured why not see what they have to offer.

Well, I was pleasantly surprised at their peach crumble pie. I love fresh peaches and summer is the best time for them. The pie wasn't overly sweet but a crumble (crumb) topping is one of the best. I love dutch apple pies and so on and so forth so I was pleased with the delicate sweetness of fresh peaches in their own syrup and a lovely crust with a nice brown sugar crumble.

Red Hen Baking Company

Okay, so this place isn't in New York City but it is worth mentioning. Believe me. If you saw my August post on the grandiose maple bun then you know I hold a special place in my heart for Red Hen Baking Co. as I do for Vermont in general.

My post from August 2010 pretty much sums up my undying love for the maple bun. But there were other really good and healthy treats at Red Hen as well. I had a wonderful turkey sandwich with avocado mayo on wheat grain bread and an apple to boot! They have maple beer and carbonated drinks and fresh maple...everything! I would urge anyone going to or passing through Vermont to stop through Middlesex and visit this wonderful place of wonder and tastiness.

Just keep in mind if you want a maple bun to get there early.

Little Pie Company

In September BravoTV's new show Top Chef Just Desserts premiered and as part of the promotion they sponsored a Dessert Day throughout the U.S. For a New Yorker this was particularly pleasing because there are a vast amount of bakeries, in particularly in Manhattan.

The catch was that the bakeries were giving out samples for two hours (from 12pm-2pm). So, some co-workers and I made a trip around Tribeca. Little Pie Company was the last place we hit and I was introduced to their sour cream apple pie with walnut topping. Like the crumble topping at Bubby's it was amazing! Brown sugar type praline topping. Very delicious. And the sour cream adds to the apple filling.

When next I visited this place I tasted their sour cream apple coffee cake. Just as delicious! Except instead of pie crust you have buttery cake! Go to this place, run! They also offer to heat the goodies for you so you can have a nice warm piece of pie with your coffee, tea, or what-have-you.

Whole Foods

My husband was the one to introduce me to Whole Foods about five or six years ago. At the time the main one was in Columbus Circle and now there are probably at least a half dozen or more locations in NYC alone.

Whole Foods is a bit pricey but not the most expensive supermarket you'll find, trust me. You get great produce and nice healthy and vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free friendly goods and they have quite the culinary stations. I like their dinners and my husband salivates over their mac n' cheese. But something else to love beyond the salad bar and soups and such is their dessert bar. Yes, dessert bar.

I've always been a fan of their bread pudding, simple, moist and topped with caramel! Can't beat it. But in 2010 I was introduced to their pumpkin whoopie pie which did not disappoint. It's large and only $1.49! I never really care for the icing inside the whoopie pie, but the 'pie' aspect albeit the cookie was moist like a cake and I find I love most pumpkin treats that are more cakey than dense or bar-like. When I last went to Whole Foods they still had the pumpkin whoopie pie so I urge you to snatch one up before spring.

Melt Bakery

All hail deep-fried pie! Chef Julian Plyter has created a wonderful, wonderful thing. At the Grub Street Fair I was caught by the words 'deep fried pie' as my buddy LPink and I were making our way out of the festival.

They offered deep fried apple pie with cinnamon sugar and deep fried pumpkin pie with ginger sugar. Also available were their ice cream cookie sandwiches that have been featured in Time Out NY and such.

Melt doesn't have a storefront or much of an online presence at the moment but I loved what I tasted. I bought my husband the deep fried apple and enjoyed the deep fried pumpkin for myself. The pumpkin was made with wheat flour and had a nice crumbly and not too sweet crust. With the sugar sprinkled all over it you couldn't have too much. The pie was like an empanada with the filling inside, a triangle of dough! I loved it, the ginger sugar wasn't ginger heavy and I got to taste every element of this wonderful dessert. Mr. Plyter please get a store soon and try to come to Queens while you're at it. Thanks, Jenn!

Hot Blondies

From my post on the Grub Street Food Fair I was introduced to Hot Blondies. They don't have a store front in NYC either, but they are very well established online so order away!

My friend LPink and I shared a peanut butter chocolate chip blondie which blew my mind! The more peanut butter the better, I say! Bring it, Hot Blondies! But the blondie was moist with the chewy texture known to blondies/brownies and had the right amount of mini chocolate chips (bittersweet, I believe) and was a decent size to split between two people.

A couple days later I indulged in the classic blondie which was good, not overly sugary pretty plain in taste. When I make blondies the brown sugar taste usually jumps at you not too much but enough that you know you're eating a blondie. While the confection was good I'd say I enjoyed the peanut butter one more.

Hot Blondies also inspired me for my latest b-day theme 'Blondies vs. Brunettes (aka Brownies)' so I look forward to trying more of their treats online and also posting about my latest b-day challenge.

Wafels and Dinges

And Grub Street pops up again! I could not sing Wafles and Dinges praises enough. The owner is amazingly friendly and his offerings are tasty as heck.

A fresh belgian wafle with spekuloos and strawberries and what not. What more can I say that I didn't already say in October? Nothing? Well, there you go.

Make My Cake

Well, the holidays came and went and for Thanksgiving my mom purchased a boat load of sweets! She bought two pies (sweet potato and apple) and a red and white cake (red velvet one layer and butter cake for another) from Make My Cake.

This is a go-to spot for my mom and she often gets the pies and such from their. How the pies and cake handled a 15+ hour drive to South Carolina I will never know, but it did and they tasted good. The cake doesn't stay as well as you'd like so make sure to seal it up tight or eat it immediately. The red velvet isn't that heavy, it tastes like an overall butter cake. If you like red velvet I suggest continuing your search. For me, Grandma's red velvet was always the best!

As for pies I preferred the sweet potato. Apple pies I like with a crumb topping (as you may already know) so a basic dough top was 'eh.' It wasn't bad, just not as tasty a crust (not flaky or buttery) as I would've liked. But it definitely sufficed for the holidays.

We Take The Cake

Before Oprah, there was Food Network. Well not really, but before I knew Oprah claimed the key lime bundt from We Take The Cake as one of her favorite things I saw this place on Food Network's Road Tasted with the Deen Brothers.

I don't really order food online for the main fact that I am impatient and like my goods now. Plus, I wonder how fresh one can really keep baked goods as it travels all over the U.S. (I had ordered breads from Breadwinner after seeing a 'Papa Don't Peach' bread and others also featured on Road Tasted and was delighted by that though.)

So, I took a chance and in May I ordered the famous key lime bundt from We Take The Cake in Florida and waited a whole 3 days. (They automatically do 2-day shipping to make sure you get the cake at supreme freshness, plus I ordered on  a Sunday.) Wow, one of the longest waits of my life!

When I received my package it was labeled as precious cargo. I opened it to see a bundt cake vacuum sealed with a nice cup of icing tucked in the middle for me to nuke and slather on. As soon as I got home I tore that thing open and by God I was in heaven! The cake was as moist as if it just came out of the oven. I took chunk after chunk barely leaving any for my husband and others. The cake didn't need the icing, but it was a nice touch. And readers, that bundt--which wasn't extremely large, but fairly sized for a party of four I'd estimate--was gone within 2 days.

I don't dare order another one because I know I wouldn't be able to resist devouring the whole thing. And the fact that you pay to have it shipped means you worship it even more. It's not as though I can simply take the subway and head over to this magical place that makes amazing key lime bundts. Oh no, I have to order and wait patiently for this order to be confirmed, shipped, and delivered. Oprah you and I have something in common.

Another year gone, more goods devoured, and a new year to appreciate what we do have and reach some goals. How many bakeries will I pursue and successfully conquer this year? Who knows, but I'll keep on trucking. Now, for exercise.

2010 Wrap up! My year in baking. (Part 2)

The last half of 2010 proved incredibly hectic. While the first half of the year was quite mellow and slow going, the second half went full throttle! Driving lessons, writing conference, road test, moving, looking for apartments, moving, settling into new apartment, fellowship applications, writing groups galore, and baking. And now as this years comes to a close we get to do it all over again. Are you with me? And now for your baking pleasure... JULY

July tends to be one of the hottest months in summer, especially if you live in NYC. So you're probably thinking, Who the heck wants to bake? (thumbs pointed) This gal!

One day I was at home and had a bunch of left over ingredients and wanted to use my fantastic oven as much as possible before we moved so I started looking around for a simple recipe I could make on a Sunday afternoon. Low and behold I found oaty pecan cookies via Cakes and Bakes. Since I didn't have pecans I substituted with chocolate chips and bam I had a delicious and fiber-filled cookie! It stayed chewy for several days when properly contained and I was a happy camper. 'Nuff said.


For a friend's birthday, pre-wedding, I decided to make her one of my favorite cookies. This cookie is a copycat recipe for the Momofuku Milk Bar's cornflake marshmallow cookie. The reasoning for me adapting this was because when I had visited Milk Bar earlier in the month they didn't have my favorite cookie. Like any fan I was truly disheartened and kinda peeved. I wrote to Milk Bar and inquired why they replaced the awesome cornflake marshmallow cookie with the lame confetti cookie and if I could look forward to my fave cookie again. The enthusiastic message said the cookie would indeed be back, so all I had to do was be patient. Instead of patience I took to the net and found a copycat recipe. Yay cookie fans.

Marshmallows, cornflakes, choco chips, oh my!

I accidentally messed up the recipe slightly by using regular salt rather than kosher which made the cookies a bit saltier than intended but not so much so that they killed the sugar taste and all those tasty accoutrement such as cornflakes, marshmallows, chocolate chips and such. It was good, but not great. I am happy to say that I visited Milk Bar in August and was pleasantly surprised and sated to find the cornflake marshmallow cookie back in it's rightful place. Take that confetti!


And with August brought some last minute baking before I went on vacation, took my road test, and moved. All in a month! Craziness I tell you.

Again, this was me using up items I had so I made a maple marshmallow blondie. Yes!

The taste is there! Believe me.

While the look of it wasn't what I wanted the taste was there. Maple was light from the maple sugar, but people loved it nonetheless. It had more a cake texture than a dense or chewy texture, but in my office taste is what matters not looks so it was gone by early afternoon. Success!


September took a toll on my psyche, wallet, and back so I was happy to get back into my form of therapy: baking! And I had to try out our new oven in our new apartment. Brand spanking new digital oven, thank-you-very-much.

Anywho, first up was banoffee pie! On an episode of 5 Ingredient Fix I saw host Claire Robinson make a banoffee pie. I love toffee and bananas and it looked quite easy when she did it. (Five ingredients after all!) So I got my ingredients and set up a Friday night for boiling sweetened condensed milk and making pie!

Banoffee Pie aka Banoffee Mess. Messy indeed.

The recipe was quite easy to make, but because I didn't let the boiled can of condensed milk fully cool it was more gooey (liquidy gooey) than stiff gooey. The taste was there, believe me. Sweetened condensed milk can do no wrong, but it made slicing the pie quite runny rather than stiff. The toffee is so strong you don't notice the lack of sugar in the whipped cream (beaten heavy cream and that's it). I'll try again when I have more time in the day or try Paula Deen's method of baking the liquid in a pan rather than boiling the can for several (read: four) hours.

The next goody is a repeat from last year, but I made it with real pumpkin that an editor from my job gave me from his farm. Real pumpkin! Real pumpkin is quite liquidy and light in color compared to the canned stuff. So you have to drain thoroughly. It also smells like tea, intriguing.


So I made these delicious pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. They looked less pumpkin like, i.e. less orange, but the taste was there! Something to be said for natural.


Since it's officially fall and all we have more pumpkin! Yes, pumpkin. There were cans on sale at Whole Foods for 99 cents so how could I resist? That's right, I couldn't.

Sandra Lee had a recipe for pumpkin-maple bread pudding I'd been dying to try since I got her Semi-homemade cookbook numero tres. I love bread pudding. Whenever I see it on a menu I must try it and if done properly I can't get enough of the stuff.

Pumpkin AND Bread Pudding, you say? Fantabulous!

This recipe called for cinnamon raisin bread but I just used Cinnabon cinnamon bread and adding maple sugar (1/4 cup) in addition to the maple syrup. This is not an overly sweet dish. I think the maple sugar helped and had I not added any it could have been too light or a bit bland. You use pumpkin spices and canned pumpkin and it tastes just like pumpkin pie filling. Yes, I'm serious. A large bowl of warm pumpkin pie filling. Delicious and best served warm, though, I had no complaints when it was eaten cold either.


This is usually marathon baking month. Parties, gifts, and so forth are when baked goodies are in high demand. Expect several posts of sugary goodness.

First up was my first foray making donuts. Over the Thanksgiving holiday my husband and I saw a friend on Big Daddy's House make lemon donuts. Since I love lemon and I love donuts it was a no-brainer. We have a small deep fryer that my husband purchased years ago and it was going to come in handy.

Lemony donut goodness!

Well, the dough took a bit of time to knead and get at the right texture so that took some time. My husband is more patient when it comes to this stuff so I had to find my happy place as I kneaded and added flour and kneaded and added flour and rolled and kneaded and so on. Finally, getting the right texture for frying I used our biscuit cutters to make donut holes rather than full on donuts.

Well, after the first few tries we got fried donuts with doughy centers. Since the recipe didn't specify how long to fry (mainly until they got golden brown) we had to hypothesize and figure it out since we weren't using the same shape as the show. The taste was good after we got them fully fried and we enjoyed them the next day with powdered sugar on top. Light lemony taste that is more emphasized eating them the next day rather than newly fried.

The plan was to take these to a friend's party, but I decided to keep these for myself and bake something else. Great for brunch!

On to some light and fluffy cookies! From Cookies to Die For I made melt in your mouth sugar cookies. True to their title these babies are light. This is because you use egg yolk and more sugar than flour. The texture of the dough is grainy from all the sugar and they bake up light and fall in the middle after being taken out of the oven. They bake really quick so you have to keep an eye on them and they have air pockets to show how light they are. When eating out of the oven they're a bit chewy but become more crunchy and will crumble in your mouth, so make sure to have a napkin ready.


Next up is my own creation. Something I am quite proud of and plan on making for cookie competitions next year. Behold, the maple butterscotch cookie!


Using my remaining maple sugar from Vermont and butterscotch chips I made a cookie that is buttery, mapley, and good-y. I got rave reviews from co-workers on this one. The maple is intense but not overpowering. When I opened the tupperware to present these babies the maple wafted at you. These are good and I'm not just saying that because I made them. I mean I pay people to flatter me on the regular. If you're in NYC next year look me up and I'll make sure to provide you some samples.

And just when I thought all my baking was done for the year I realized I wanted to use up some mascarpone cheese I had left over. And since I paid $5 for a tub you know I was aiming to use everything.

On Christmas eve I scanned recipes and found one from my trusty FoodNetwork buddy Giada DeLaurentiis: blueberry mascarpone cheese turnovers! Looked easy enough.

Giada and I are BFFs, for reals.

So, you mix lemon zest & juice, sugar, and blueberries into mascarpone cheese as a filling. Get some pie crust (or make it your choice) and cut out circles. Add filling inside of circles and pinch shut and you have yourself a dessert empanada! Again, we pulled out the trusty deep fryer and made these babies. The good thing is you just have to bake 'em long enough for the outer crust to get crispy which only takes a minute or so. Let cool for ten minutes and then enjoy. These were amazing! Light and tasty with my two favorite components lemon and blueberries! We indulged and forced ourselves to eat more the next day. Upon reheating these in the oven more grease was released (yay!) but much of the mascarpone filling seeped into the dough (no!). Luckily we had more filling and dipped the turnovers into this. But, apparently this is a treat best eaten the day of making. So I wouldn't advise making too far ahead of time if you plan on serving people. You may miss out on the best part!

In the midst of all my baking was enjoying a lot of other people's baking, bakeries, Dessert Day this past September (thanks Top Chef Just Desserts!), and eating lots of goods sent for the holidays from vendors and such. (Toffee popcorn became an addiction as did truffles.)

Here's to another year of baking and many more! Now let's look forward to entering 2011 with resolutions we may forget about come February and lots of other goodies to create and ingest. Heck, I'm making a list already.