Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dessert Picks NYC: More than Just Cupcakes

A few weeks ago while my best friend from college was in town from London, it seemed natural to indulge in some tea time and sit back and enjoy some of the delicious dessert offerings that NYC has to offer. I know that thanks to Sex and the City, most people think cupcakes when they think of NYC, but thankfully there are so many more ways to indulge. Maybe this is NYC blasphemy but I'm a little tired of the cupcake culture and there are plenty of other desserts to be eaten. And NO! I do not mean a trip to places like tourist trap Serendipity 3 (great decor, high prices, very mediocre dessert) or Max Brenner (too gimmicky and not delicious enough).

Chikalicious (pre-fix $14)

My second time at this tiny dessert bar in the East Village. The lines can be pretty outrageous sometimes but once you're inside it's a perfectly serene experience. We stopped by at 7:30pm on a Sunday evening and were in within 10 minutes. The nice part is that they lock the screen door so the tiny place doesn't become overwhelmed and they absolutely don't rush you in any way. The portion size is tiny but just enough as the flavors often pack a multi-layered experience.

The pre-fixe set is begun by a palate cleansing Amuse of sorbet with chocolate jelly. Refreshing but very mild in it's flavor. It did not particularly win me over but it was not bad either.

For dessert I tried the Banana Salad and the Trifle with Gelato. In terms of both presentation and taste I would have to say the Banana Salad was a definite winner.

The petite fours are a strong finish to the whole experience. Adorable and perfectly delicious homemade marshmallow dipped in toasted coconut, buttery shortbread and tiny chocolate truffles that melt in your mouth.

La Bergamote (small cakes approx. $5-6)

I first stopped by this French Patisserie in Chelsea a while back on my hunt for the perfect Almond Croissant, unfortunately they had run out by the time I stopped by but I did have a great Pain de Chocolate. This was my first time sitting inside and on a rainy afternoon, it was perfectly quaint and adorable. The quality of the baked goods wass phenomenal and my friend told me that she thought that the quality was similar to that of Paris. Like a true French bakery though, you must buy and eat your baked goods in the same day for optimal flavor.

I tried the fruit tart, an almond meringue cake by the name of Success and a dense chocolate cake called Magellan. The fruit tart was delicious with the raspberries being super fresh, the custard very vanilla flavored and light and the crust flavorful and not soggy. The natural fruit flavor is allowed to shine.

Success never tasted so sweet, this dessert was light and not too sweet with the perfectly toasted almonds adding great texture and flavor.

Magellan was not my fave. There were subtle notes of Cinnamon and honey that added some complexity to the dish, but ultimately although interesting it did not entice me to eat more as the other 2 desserts did.

The Black Hound (small cakes approx $3.50-7.50)

I first tried the Black Hound Bakery at a friends birthday when she had picked up a Checker Cake for everyone to help her celebrate. The cake was not too sweet, rich in flavors and quite pretty to look at. I wasn't even in the mood for cake but I really enjoyed it so I kept it in the back of my mind to try the bakery out for myself one day.

The Black Hound is a slightly different experience as there is no seating, it's a bakery that is great for picking up a cake and bringing it home to enjoy for an occasion or just because. The bakery is well lit and the staff super friendly and very knowledgeable explaining the different flavors of each cake.

Actually the Pear Almond cake was the shop girl's pick as favorite and it may too now be mine. It was perhaps one of the most delicious cakes I have ever tried and I tried to let it sit out of refrigeration for a couple hours as recommended for optimal flavor. I wasn't expecting it but every part of the cake was delicious. Even the pear that I thought was decorative on top was slightly chewy but packed full of true pear flavor. Between 3 ultra thin layers of cake are nestled poached pears and bavarian cream with buttercream icing and freshly toasted almonds enveloping the whole cake. Fresh, light and not too sweet perfection.

I also tried the Chocolate Almond Snowball which was tasty and I quite enjoyed but wasn't the same love or complexity of the Pear cake. Or perhaps I enjoyed it less because I was quite dessert-ed out already?

Bonus points, they give samples of the Checker Cake to try where you pick up forks and napkins.

I recommend all three places but you def get the most bang for your buck and a quaint experience at La Bergamote but The Black Hound offers luscious moist cakes that are beautiful and delicious and can be shared with 2-3 people and is perfect for picking up for occasions.

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