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Cakewalk in Bruce Springsteen Country (Central NJ Shore)


Cupcakes in a row at Baker Boys in Ocean Grove, NJ
There exists, in a pocket of the central New Jersey Coast, an area that we'll refer to as "Bruce Springsteen Country"--an area which includes the namesake of his album "Greetings from Asbury Park", and stretches between Monmouth and Ocean Counties. And while everyone is fiercely proud of their hometown boy, there is so much more on offer here than just the possibility of a Boss sighting: it's also home to some of the most memorable black and white cookies, crumb cake and pastries we've ever tasted. On a recent visit, we sampled a number of the local bakeries; and while we didn't see Bruce along the way, we did spy (and taste) all sorts of other good things:
America's Cup Coffee Co.: This place looked pretty chain-y from the outside, but what an unexpectedly sweet surprise to find a beautiful display of alluring homemade biscotti. It was toasty, crunchy and satisfying. The coffee was just-OK, but the biscotti made our visit worthwhile. 633 Cookman Ave., Asbury Park; (732) 988-2000.

The Baker Boys: The New Jersey coast's answer to NYC's Billy's Bakery, their pastries stand alone, with a meltingly delicious apricot bar, moist cupcakes with jaunty peaks of frosting, and awesome cookies. Pastry chef Carol is pretty much our NJ idol. 69 Main Ave., Ocean Grove. Check out their brand-new location in Asbury Park's Convention Hall too! 69 Main Ave., Ocean Grove; (732) 361-8839. 
Bella Sogno: Make like Tony Soprano at this traditional Italian-style bakery in Bradley Beach, adjoining an espresso joint filled with an assortment of "Jersey" characters. The cookies are our pick here, from the buttery lemon twists to the "Chinese Cookie", whose name we've never quite understood but we love the taste. 600 Main Street., Bradley Beach; (732) 869-

Chez Cakespy: OK, so this isn't a bakery or even open to the public, but we couldn't resist sharing one of the true highlights of our trip, a three-tiered chocolate cake with pink buttercream frosting made by Cake Gumshoe Margie, which was unbelievably rich and perfect. The occasion was happy too: a 6-month wedding anniversary cake for Mr. and Mrs. Cakespy. Sigh. Cake Gumshoes Margie and Kenny's House, West Belmar.

Delicious Orchards: A bit off the shore path but worth the drive, Delicious Orchards is a gorgeous farm market featuring Apple Cider Donuts (available online) and great pies; though we hear their crumb cake leaves something to be desired. 36 State Rte. 34 So., Colts Neck; (732) 462-1989. Online at deliciousorchardsnj.com.

Dunkin' Donuts: They say that America Runs on Dunkin', and we don't know where this is more clearly illustrated than in New Jersey (anyone who's seen the line there at 8am will know). No, their donuts are not the best we've ever had, but there's just something about Dunkin' Donuts; being based on the West Coast, we'd be remiss if we didn't pay homage. Various locations; online at dunkindonuts.com.

Espresso Mio: They don't make it in house, but their crumb cake was gorgeous, with the perfect crumb-to-cake ratio (roughly two thirds crumb, one third cake) and a heavenly dusting of powdered sugar.
Their scones, which looked quite good, are made in-house. Bonus: their coffee stood up to Seattle-based Mr. and Mrs. Cakespy's standards too! 1005 1/2 Main St., Belmar; (732) 280-9001.

Freedman's Bakery: Walk right past the cakes and go for a black and white cookie here: they're perfect. The texture of the cookie and consistency of the frosting simply cannot be beat, in our book. Make like Jerry Seinfeld and see if you can get black and white in every bite. 803 Main St., Belmar; (732) 681-2334.
Hoffman's Ice Cream: This place rules the dairy arena with rich, flavorful homemade ice cream. We have a guilty place in our hearts for the bubblegum ice cream, which, if pressed to describe how it tastes, we would have to say "pink". 569 Church Street, Spring Lake; (732) 974-2253.

The Macaroon Shop: The Cakespy crew is split on this one: Head Spy Jessie likes their crumb cake; Cake Gumshoes Bridget and Kenny prefer the namesake macaroons; Cake Gumshoe Margie doesn't care for their goods at all. Mr. Cakespy just eats what we tell him to eat. See for yourself! 107 Main St., Avon-By-The-Sea; (732) 776-6363. Online at themacaroonshop.com.

Mueller's Bakery: Gorgeous cookies, and a wonderful neighborhood to walk around in during the summer. Their crumb cake and black and white cookies are our picks. 80 Bridge Ave., Bay Head; (732) 892-0442. Online at muellersbakery.com.

Pianconnes Deli and Bakery: Ogle at the cases upon cases of deli and bakery treats: butter cookies, Italian pastries, and cakes. Don't go in a rush though; service can be slow, and lines are often long. It's worth the wait. 804 Main St., Bradley Beach; (732) 775-4780.

What's For Dessert: The service can be gruff, but their cakes and pastries more than make up for it. Perfect shortbread cookies, cupcakes, and a gorgeous crumb cake all await you in a tantalizingly scented sanitary white bakery. 2407 State Rte. 71, Spring Lake Heights; (732) 974-3003.

Wish You Were Here: Half souvenir shop, half cafe, this is an absolute treasure, with cookies like you wish your mama made, beautiful brownies, and creatively flavored homemade truffles in flavors like mango-habanero and peanut butter and jelly. 612 Cookman Ave., Asbury Park; (732) 774-1601.

Got any other hot NJ tips? Email us!


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Reader Comments (30)

Happy 6 mos anniversary!! So exciting. Congrats to you and Margie on that amazing confection!


January 1 | Unregistered CommenterEB

Happy Anniversary! These places look great... funny how Jersey always seems so far away, though.


January 1 | Unregistered Commenterredactedrecipes

Well you hit all the highlights!

I am sad to tell you though that Hoffman's Donuts in Pt. Pleasant went out of business 2 summers ago. The building is vacant. It was a very sad day. We keep hoping they will reopen but no luck.

January 1 | Unregistered Commentera.

No way! That is so depressing. I took it off, we had to put it on even though we hadn't been in a while, but that is too much to bear!!

January 1 | Unregistered CommenterCakespy

Great tour of Jersey. I really hope the Boss has set foot in this Dunkin'.

January 1 | Unregistered Commenterblognut

i need some cake and cookies NOW!!!...blessings, rebecca

January 1 | Unregistered CommenterCre8Tiva

Happy 6 months, sweetheart. Maybe we'll make it 6 more...

January 1 | Unregistered CommenterMr. Cakespy

Looks like fun!

wow, what a trip!! so many delectable sweets!! I especially love that you indulged in the quintessential black & white cookie at Freedman's Bakery (very NYC/Seinfeld! haha).

happy belated new year!!

January 2 | Unregistered CommenterVeggieGirl

It is depressing and we haven't found a suitable replacement!

January 2 | Unregistered Commentera.

The black and white cookie looks just too good to be true! I'm totally drooling ...

January 2 | Unregistered CommenterAnne-Marie

What a CUTE blog! Thanks for visiting bribe me with a muffin. Saw Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World on your profile - looks like such a cool book! Excited to check that out.

January 2 | Unregistered CommenterGenevieve

How fun - I'd love to go on a road trip or something just to sample sweet treats! Have a sugar coma yet?! Hehe.

January 2 | Unregistered CommenterRuby Red Vegan

Happy anniversary! What a tasty way to celebrate!

January 2 | Unregistered CommenterRural Vegan

Happy 6 months! I really want to go on a cake adventure like that now.

January 2 | Unregistered Commentereatme_delicious

Thanks for visiting. The Nanaimo bars are terrific. Glad to meet someone else that digs Victoria!

January 2 | Unregistered CommenterAsthmagirl

just dropping by to greet you happy new year!! wishing you the best of this year and more delicious and sweet goodies conconted on your kitchen :-)

January 3 | Unregistered CommenterDhanggit

by the way, i love this cakewalk post..i will try this surely next time i'll travel in US i'll put NWJersey on my iti :-)

January 3 | Unregistered CommenterDhanggit

Happy new Year! Love that opening pic of those sweet little cupcakes. When are you coming to NYC- we can go for a vegan cakewalk?

January 3 | Unregistered Commentervko

I'm SURE I'll love Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World... I just don't know what to make first!

holy pants, the cake your mom made looks so amazing!

January 3 | Unregistered CommenterAllison

EB: Thanks! Let's hope for at least 6 more months. OK, and a while after.

Ann: So close, but so far--I know what you mean.

Blognut: Seriously, I bet he goes every day.

Cre8tiva...We resolve to eat more cookies in 2008! And more cake!

Mr. Cakespy: Whatever.

Melisser: it sure was fun!

Veggiegirl: So true...the black and white cookie is just so classic / east coast!

a.: Yes, I can't think of anyplace that comes close!

Anne-Marie: That means we're doing our job!

Genevieve: Yes, it's a great book--got it as a wedding gift and haven't looked back! It rules.

Ruby Red Vegan: We're way beyond sugar coma here.

Rural Vegan: Thanks! We resolve to eat more cake and celebrate even more this year!

Eat Me, Delicious: Next time you're in Seattle...

Asthmagirl: Go nanaimo bars! PCC in Seattle has good ones from Empress Desserts...

dhangitt: Happy new year to you too, and we'd love to go on a cake adventure with you!

VKO: I'd love to go on a vegan nyc cakewalk!

Chocolatecoveredvegan: Let us know which you do make first!

Allison: Oh, it was. It was even better for breakfast the next day. Sigh...

January 3 | Unregistered CommenterCakespy

I always think of Jerry Seinfeld when I see a black and white cookie! :):)

January 4 | Unregistered Commentersher

wow. what a beautiful selection of tasty treats!

January 5 | Unregistered CommenterJerri

This is life's perfection! My all time favorite fourth grader using all of her wonderful writing and art talents, as well as her highly cultivated taste buds embarking on a wonderful career that uses all of these talents. (Did Mrs. Cakespy ever think that I chose her Mom to be my class mother because of her superb cupcake culinary skills?) To top it off she makes her whole sweet tooth journey close to home and entices her readers by referencing "the Boss"! Be still the heart of this old, retired teacher who happens to love cake and Bruce Springsteen!
XO Mrs. H

January 7 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous
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