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Entries in bakeries (274)

Monday
Sep082014

More Postcards from the Road: Summer 2014

New Glarus Bakery - Linzer Cookie bar

I already told you about the first part of my epic summer trip, which started as a 3 week trip to Puerto Rico (read more about that via this post and this post) but then turned into an almost 2-month epic adventure to here, there, and just about everywhere. I ate pastries and did yoga (balance!) in more than 10 US states, worked on my memoir idea, and continued writing awesome posts for Craftsy.

But I haven't told you everything. So hold on to your pastry boxes, because there's still a bit of the journey left to go! 

When I last left off, I had arrived in New Glarus, Wisconsin, for a wedding. In case you've never heard of it, New Glarus is "America's Little Switzerland", and it lives up to its name in the ye olde-iest of styles.

On the eve of our arrival, the hosts had baked the jumbles from my second book, The Secret Lives of Baked Goods: Sweet Stories & Recipes for America's Favorite Desserts. What a fantastic welcome! And the same evening (why not) me and my sweet one went to the New Glarus Inn, where we sampled a bunch of desserts, including German chocolate cake, a lemon and cream slice (that's the one to the far right) and a lemon custard. Nice, nice, nice.

New Glarus Inn

The next day was the wedding. Beforehand, I spent some time tooling around the town. I'm not a huge beer drinker, but can occasionally get excited about a hand-crafted variety. So I checked out the famous New Glarus Brewing Company, which houses unlikely yet delightful imported "faux ruins" on the grounds. It's weird but wonderful. There, I tried a sampler. Some of the beer was not to my liking, but I rather enjoyed a seasonal variety they had called "Moon Man"--a "grapefruit session ale". 

New Glarus Brewing Co

Later on, the wedding occurred, and it was lovely. You'll have to forgive me, because while typically I am the cake paparazzi at the wedding, I had forgotten my camera in the car and had no pockets in my cute dress. You'll have to trust me when I tell you it was a decidedly nice cake. 

I can, however, tell you that the next day, I did have my camera when I checked out the New Glarus Bakery. While there have been some changes in ownership and management over the years, this bakery has been running pretty much continuously since 1910.  

New Glarus Bakery

I simply loved this bakery! It definitely had euro leanings, but had plenty of American classics, too. I thought these Wisconsin-shaped cookies were just adorable: 

New Glarus Bakery

and was delighted by the presence of springerle, a dry cookie which is great with coffee or tea. New Glarus Bakery

butter cookies? Not here. Sandbissen, however? Yes, they've got those.New Glarus Bakery

Everything we got there was quite agreeable. My personal favorites were the "turtle cream filled", a kind of caramelly spice doughnut filled with "kreme" type filling (love the stuff, what can I say)...

New Glarus Bakery

the eclairs, on a light puff of pastry filled with a decadent chocolate piped ribbon and custard cream...New Glarus Bakery

and the linzer cookie bar. Just look at this thing. Broken but still so tasty. Also, while not pictured, their nut horns were quite well received.

New Glarus Bakery - Linzer Cookie bar

Not far from the bakery was a great coffee shop called Fat Cat Coffee Company, where they also made many of their sweets on site. That's where I purchased this coffee cake (note: NOT crumb cake) which was rich in spices, nuts, and thoughtfully and generously iced. To further make me love them, they offered to heat it up gently. Score!

Coffee cake from Fat Cat Coffee, New Glarus

Next up was a family trip to Wausau, Wisconsin...but on our way, we stopped at a place called "Cave of the Mounds". There, I learned finally, that the difference between stalactites and -mites can remembered thusly: "T" is for top, as in hanging from, and that's how you remember stalactites; stalagmites are simply the only direction left.

Oddly, Wausau kind of reminded me of the railroad towns along the Jersey shore...but in Wisconsin, people are just nicer. And the cheese is better.

In Wausau, I hit up a cute coffee shop called Allister Deacon, but none of the pastries "sang" to me. This must have been a sign, because as I walked around the neighborhood I happened upon this bakery: Kreger's Bakery, Wausau, WI

And was delighted to have found an old school bakery fully stocked with just about everything, with an emphasis on doughnuts. I also noticed something in Wisconsin: they like crescent-shaped cruller doughnuts. I saw them at more than one establishment. See them on the bottom shelf here, looking vaguely banana-like? Kreger's Bakery, Wausau, WI

They also had "donutzels".

Kreger's Bakery, Wausau, WI

I picked up several doughnuts, including a crescent shaped one, which promptly broke in the bag but tasted just fine.

Kreger's Bakery, Wausau, WI

I also got a Cowboy cookie for about 55 cents (yes!). I couldn't resist, given my deep history with cowboy cookies.

Kreger's Bakery, Wausau, WI

It was an interesting cookie: cakier than I expected, but not in a bad way. The flavor was spot on. It was like eating oatmeal cake in cookie form, fortified with chocolate and nuts and stuff. 

Kreger's Bakery, Wausau, WI

The rest of the day was busy with family stuff, so that was the only bakery I got to visit in Wausau, but don't worry, because there was more sweetness ahead for me. Plus, I saw these guys on my walk back to the hotel.

Wausau

On the day of my birthday, my sweetie's brother and his wife gave me a new friend. Two, actually. New Friend

I was also given a birthday card with a unicorn. It was almost perfect, but I made it totally perfect with a few easy edits. Birthday card

After breakfast, we headed to the Wisconsin Dells to meet up with my friend Briana for my birthday (my birthday!). I made her and my sweetie go on a roller coaster with me (they were scared and sat in the middle; I sat in the front with a 10-year old), and play mini golf. Ice cream

We also got some ice cream from the mini-golf snack stand, which was from The Chocolate Shoppe in Madison. Seriously--so good. Creamy.

I got the "Fat Elvis" which was a delicious melange of Elvis-y flavors (no bacon): peanut butter, banana, chocolate. I loved this cone til the moment it was gone. My friend got a strawberry cheesecake flavor with chocolate bits. Seriously! 

Birthday ice cream

After our visit, we started driving back to Santa Fe. I was treated to this sunset on my 33rd birthday.Birthday sunset

To tell you the truth, our stops were minimal, although I was surprised and delighted at a Walgreens to see that they now have a private label version of Gooey Butter Cake! Maybe now it will become a Thing nationwide (it should be).

I did stop to do yoga in Lincoln, NE, because it was a good place to add to my list of 50 states of yoga (I'm up to about 20 now). We learned about a phenomenon known as the sticky bun, but I'll be honest: the ones they had left looked past their prime so I will try them next time I'm in NE!

Now, what I am going to tell you at this moment might be controversial, but here goes. In Colorado, I went to a dispensary and checked out marijuana edibles! There are some creative flavors out there. I'm saying no more, but it was interesting to see this world that is now legal in CO.

Marijuana edibles, Colorado

I told you that was all I was saying!

A huge unexpected highlight awaited in Colorado Springs. We were passing through on our way to Santa Fe, and since I'd never stopped there I wanted to visit a bakery. But which one? A quick google search revealed very quickly that the real only option was the one with the best name: Boonzaaijer's Dutch Bakery. To tell you the absolute truth after looking at that nutty name I didn't even register other bakeries as real options. (kidding! actually, a lot of the other bakeries looked good). Here's the bakery:

Boonzaaijer's Dutch Bakery, Colorado Springs

Boonzaaijers Dutch Bakery, Colorado Springs

My choice of bakery stops was a delicious success. I was advised by an employee that choosing anything with bavarian cream was a good decision, so I started with a Napoleon. I probably don't have to tell you it was good, because even in retrospect that seems pretty clear from the photo. It was seriously so good, though. 

Boonzaaijer's Dutch Bakery, Colorado Springs

We got a flourless chocolate cake, too. It was on the drier side than a decadence cake, but overall quite nice.

Boonzaaijers Dutch Bakery, Colorado Springs

Was there room for an almond filled cookie? Yes, of course. And it tasted like a marzipan pop-tart (aka, AWESOME). We also got a filled speculaas and an almond tart.

Boonzaaijers Dutch Bakery, Colorado Springs

We also got this thing. I'm not usually one for light as air desserts, but it seemed an exception could be made. 

Boonzaaijers Dutch Bakery, Colorado Springs

The bakery also had a Euro retail area featuring licorice both sweet and salty and several mixes and candy. Overall, a wonderful stop in Colorado Springs. I could not have been more charmed or sated. Go there.

Boonzaaijers Dutch Bakery, Colorado Springs

Returning to Santa Fe, my sweetie surprised me with a belated yet still welcome birthday cake. Believe it or not, it's one of our favorites: the chocolate decadence cake from the local Whole Foods bakery. They do a very good job, and this one tasted especially sweet. 

Birthday cake

Now, I'm back in Santa Fe for a while, and I'm happy to be settled in one place for a bit. What I'm not quite ready for yet is fall--while I love a nice pumpkin latte or pastry, I'm still ready for summer to go on a bit longer. Ice cream and warm days for liiiiiiiiife!

Oh! I just realized I forgot to tell you, I was reunited with my favorite bike (it's been in storage for close to 2 years!) 

I want to ride my bicycle

Hope it's been a magical summer for you.

Happy summer, happy belated birthday to me, and thank you for sharing my summer adventure, sweeties!

Love, CakeSpy

Tuesday
Mar252014

Bali Diary: Seniman Coffee is Amazing

Seniman coffee, Bali

I really need to tell you about this experience I had in Bali. I mean, I've had a lot of experiences that have been great here, but one of my favorite things day to day has been the fact that they give you cookies with your lattes. It starts every day out right.

Of course, that was until now. Seniman Coffee has raised the bar, and I don't know if cookies will be enough anymore. Because they give you the thing pictured above with your coffee. Please, allow me to explain.

Seniman coffee, Bali

So, I go to Seniman Coffee, a popular spot with expats and a place that every person in Portland would probably faint from happiness if they saw it, and order a latte.

A few minutes later, a little tray is delivered to me with three separate segments. One contains a latte (duh). One contains a cup of water (nice touch). The third contains what looks like a cigar or thin, mini burrito. I'm intrigued.

Seniman coffee, Bali

What's this? I wonder.

Seniman coffee, Bali

I take a bite.

Seniman coffee, Bali

Holy crap! It's delicious! It's like a pancake, wrapped burrito style, and it contains a coconutty mixture. Oh my god! I love this thing. I actually had the willpower to put it back on its tray so that I could take a photo to show you all.

Seniman coffee, Bali

I grab the closest server. "What is this?" I ask.

As it turns out, it's a traditional sweet called jaje dadar, which is said to be frequently doled out with coffee (though this was the first I'd ever seen it).

It's simply a crepe-like pancake prettily wrapped around a mix of coconut and palm sugar. But it is so, so good. I want this experience to happen every time I order coffee. Also every time I visit an ATM. Actually, I would like someone to follow me around and dole these out at regular intervals.

Seniman coffee, Bali

It's a fantastic two-bite treat, and I am so delighted that I've had it. This is definitely the best coffee accessory sweet that has been delivered to me in Bali. 

Seniman coffee, Bali

Oh, and the latte was pretty good, too. The theme at Seniman is "Imagine you know what you are doing", and when I'm there, I don't imagine, I know--I'm eating something awesome.

Love from Bali,

CakeSpy

Mentioned: Seniman Coffee, Ubud. Online here.

 

Sunday
Feb232014

Sweet Find: Alchemy, Penestanan, Bali

Photo via Alchemy Bali

I have a confession to make: in Bali, I've been eating...

health food.

You heard me right, but I want to assure you that everything is OK. I haven't abandoned you. Because as it turns out, even health food can be naughty every now and again.

I'm talking raw desserts. They have no leavening, so they're usually nice and dense, often luxuriant with coconut oil as a key ingredient.

And--I know, you wouldn't expect this from me--fresh fruit is amazing here. Stay with me.

The establishment which has inspired my healthy kick is none other than Alchemy, a raw and vegan cafe in Penestanan, a neighboring area to the more famous Ubud. Seriously, everything here is so good.

Alchemy, bali

We'll start with their breakfast parfait bar, OK? You start by picking a type of yogurt or milk, and then get to add on five toppings (you can get more for an up-charge). Alchemy, bali

Choosing is difficult with a rainbow of fruits fresher than I've ever tasted, nuts, muesli, dried fruits, and--my favorite--the raw coconut whipped cream. I don't know how they make that stuff, but I don't care if it's vegan or gluten free or raw: I could eat it by the bucket. 

Alchemy, bali

So here's what you might get after you choose.

Alchemy, bali

Afternoons, they have a full menu and juice bar. Everything is made to order, and incredibly fresh - like, you can taste the trees the fruit came from, and the sweet air of Bali. 

Alchemy, bali

But most importantly, they have a generous case of raw desserts. They are all delightfully dense. This makes me happy, especially when the dessert in question is a smoothly luxuriant chocolate mousse cake or a cacao truffle or even a spirulina slice which looks surprisingly like a Nanaimo bar. 

Here are just a few (photos from their website). All of these desserts are raw.

It's all good, too. The only problem is that they don't do espresso here and gosh that would be nice with these sweet treats. Guess we'll have to leave that to Kué up the street--more on that later. 

And--how cute is this--if you get something small to go, they will wrap it in a banana leaf. It's a good reminder: OMG! You're in Bali! Awesome!

Alchemy, bali

If you don't think you'll be making it to Bali anytime soon, they do have a number of recipes on their site!

Alchemy, Penestanan, Bali. Online here.

Monday
Dec302013

CakeSpy Undercover: Angelo Brocato, New Orleans

IMAG6104

It's probably about time that I tell you about my trip to Angelo Brocato in New Orleans. It's been there since 1905, so it's about time you made it over. 

Listen, I forget how I learned about this place. Probably on a website, or in a guide book. That is to say--it's not an unknown place. But I am here to tell you that when you read about it on a website or a guide book, you must listen to what the people say. You must go to Angelo Brocato in New Orleans.

It's a little out there. It's not on Bourbon Street, it's not in the Garden District. But it's worth a jaunt. 

When you get there, you'll see this sign outside. Don't you love it already?

Angelo Brocato

When you go inside, you'll be greeted by a big bakery case, and next to it, a big gelato case. And then, there are chilled desserts.

Brocato

Bakery case Gelato

What will you choose? I'll tell you what we chose. Maybe that will give you some ideas.

We'll start with the cassata.

Cassata

Let's make that two.

Two cassata

If you've never heard of the stuff, Cassata is a traditional Sicilian treat. It starts with sponge cake which is drenched in liqueur, then layered with a cannoli-esque cream then sealed in with marzipan and candied fruit. I don't know if that tells you how delicious it is, though. It's rich and surprisingly not over-sweet, delicate yet substantial. The one at Angelo Brocato is wonderful, and full of almond-y flavor which works beautifully with the cream. This marzipan was so good I wanted to marry it. 

But...as great as the cassata is, it's even better with gelato.

Cassata with gelato

On to the ricotta cheesecake.

Ricotta cheesecake

It's just gently sweet, crumbly and somewhat dry--not in a bad way, but you definitely want some coffee or tea with this guy.

Next up was a "Greek cap", basically a puff pastry stuffed with almond cream. It tasted like the best part of an almond croissant, all condensed into a little hockey puck shape.

Greek Cap

Are you still hungry? I'm still hungry. How about some chocolate and hazelnut gelato? Gelato

It's so smooth and creamy--I think this is my favorite gelato since Capogiro in Philadelphia.

So, basically, to summarize. Before:

All of it

AFTER:

Finished

And it was such a joy to do it. Please, let me urge you strongly to visit Angelo Brocato--as soon as humanly possible. It's old school, it's quality, it's a joy. I hope they do it for a hundred years more and longer.

Angelo Brocato, 214 N. Carrolton Street, New Orleans. Online here.

Monday
Oct212013

CakeSpy Undercover: Bread, Durango CO

Bread, Durango CO

When I recently went to Durango, Colorado, the first thing I did was ask about bakeries. And based on the popular opinion of the locals, the place to go was Bread

So...I went to Bread. And I am so glad I did. I liked them from the get-go, when I spied this outside:

Bread, Durango CO

I mean seriously, isn't that a great idea? Love it.

BREAD

I liked it even better, though, once I went inside. I have a theory that bakeries tend to be one of two styles: either a bread bakery, or a cake bakery. Bread bakeries tend shine when it comes to, well, bread, but also carbohydratey pastries, especially with laminated dough. So croissants, cinnamon rolls, morning buns...that kind of thing. Whereas cake bakeries tend to specialize in cupcakes, cookies, delicately crumbed pastries and sweets. 

Bread is, as you might have guessed, a bread bakery. And a good one at that. After all, the outdoorsy atmosphere of Durango definitely calls for some high-energy carbs.

Bread, Durango CO

Listen, they have a lot of great things at Bread. We tried the brownies, which are huge and decadent and come in different flavors on different days (pecan, hazelnut, cherry, and walnut were some that we saw, and they typically have a gluten-free variety, too), the chocolate cookies, and the bread. Each thing was clearly made with care and precision, and I was impressed by the overall quality.

Bread, Durango CO

But the true siren call for me at this bakery is something called the Pecan Roll. 

Bread, Durango CO

It's sort of like a morning bun, I suppose. But if I were pressed to describe it, I'd say equal parts croissant and pecan sticky bun...with a soupcon of pecan pie filling thrown in.

This is the type of pastry that makes you pause between bites, look side to side at anyone nearby who will listen, and say in a slightly choked-with-emotion voice, "this is so good". It really is. The marriage of a perfectly flaky dough (flaky enough to shatter in your mouth, but not so flaky as to shatter in your hand) holding in a bountiful butter flavor which explodes in your mouth is a thing of beauty. But it gets even more beautiful--gorgeous!--when you add a caramelized pecan mixture. 

Bread, Durango CO

Seriously. It will make you want to sing. Or at least buy six more to stockpile at home.

Bread is a very sweet bakery, with a friendly staff and an incredible carbohydratey aroma. I think that if you find yourself in Durango, you will adore it as much as I did.

Bread, 42 County Road 250, Durango CO; online here.

Tuesday
Oct082013

CakeSpy Undercover: DoCo, Farmingdale NJ

Doco, Farmingdale

The other day I was in a clothing store in Red Bank, New Jersey. While I was browsing some accessories, I heard two girls in dressing rooms next to one another talking.

"Have you been to the new doughnut shop in Farmingdale?" one asked the other.

I moved closer to the dressing rooms, so I could hear.

"It's really good, they make them to order," she continued.

It's not creepy that I stood outside of someone's dressing room to hear this, right?

Well, rather than identify myself as a creepy stalk-listener, I headed right to the internet on my smart phone to find out more. Turns out, in an unlikely corner of New Jersey, there is in fact a new donut shop: DoCo is its name (it is a cool way of shortening "Donuts" and "Coffee"--sort of like SoHo, but with doughnuts). It should not surprise you that I was there less than 24 hours later.

DOCO

It took me a few minutes to figure out how DoCo worked, since when you walk in there are no doughnuts on display. It's just boxes and a menu that you see. 

Doco, Farmingdale

So how you do it is you can either choose one of their menu concoctions, or you can choose a glaze and any toppings you like, and they'll make the doughnut to order. And as for doughnuts, you can either do a "regular" -- a dense, cake doughnut--or a "kronut" as they call them...their riff on the famous NYC "cronut" croissant-doughnut hybrid. On the day I went, they also had beignets.

Doco, farmingdaleDoco, farmingdale Doco, farmingdale

Going for variety, I got a regular doughnut with apple pie toppings, a "kronut" with cannoli cream topping, and a doughnut with maple topping and bacon. 

What a happy moment.

Doco, Farmingdale

The apple pie doughnut was a regular cake doughnut round, topped with a spicy apple pie filling type topping and a big ol'crown of whipped cream. Freshly fried, the doughnut was a nice base for the moist toppings, and held its shape. The filling didn't have that "from a can" taste, which was nice. A very pleasant fall doughnut. 

Doco, Farmingdale

I'll tell the truth, I didn't get a chance to try the maple bacon! But judging how quickly SpyDad scarfed it down, I am going to say it was operation: success. Same doughnut base as the apple pie doughnut.

Doco, Farmingdale

I think the real star of the show, though, was the kronut. It practically oozed with the fry oil that was retained in the flaky folds of dough, which gave me an inkling that I should be feeling guilty eating such a decadent treat...but I didn't.

The addition of the cannoli cream is simply genius. It has that slight tangy bite that, as I never realized til a few days ago, gives a doughnut dimension. Seriously. Try it if you ever have the chance.

Doco, Farmingdale

Overall, the doughnuts managed to be hearty, healthy servings, with some evident creativity, but zero fussiness. The total bill for three doughnuts was less than $5, which I think is fantastic. 

It may take a few minutes to learn how things work at DoCo when you visit, but it's worth taking the time to figure it out.

DoCo Donut and Coffee Company, 5015 Route 33 and 34, Farmingdale, NJ. On Facebook.

Wednesday
Sep182013

CakeSpy Undercover: No Regrets Bakery, Alvord TX

No Regrets Bakery

Last week I found myself driving along a long stretch of highway in Texas, several hours between here and there.

And then, unexpectedly, I see a sign along the highway: "Bakery ahead". Did I really see that? Yes, I did, because there's another one: "bakery ahead" with a little arrow pointing to the left.

You can bet your bottom silver dollar pancake we pulled over at the next turn signal.

What we found, quite unexpectedly, was a gluten-free, no-refined-sugar bakery, smack dab in the middle of Texas. No Regrets Bakery is the name.

No Regrets Bakery

"No offense", I said to one of the owners, Casey Harris, "but you're kind of out of the gluten-free belt."

She was kind enough to laugh at this, acknowledging that it was certainly the truth, but that their trailblazing had been rewarded: this was their first anniversary, and they'd gained a cult status with locals and those not-so-local. Turns out that just because this type of bakery isn't common in Texas doesn't mean that there isn't a demand. 

No Regrets Bakery

So, No Regrets Bakery has come along to fill it. But why start an oasis of gluten free, non refined sugar, low glycemic index baked goods? As the owners say, 

"This bakery is our way of paying it forward, our blood sugar came back high twice and that was enough to scare both of us. We changed our lifestyle and diet, lost a lot of weight (60lbs and 40lbs) and our blood sugar stabilized at low normal. My husband never stopped craving sugar so I started manipulating recipes to replace the refined sugars and then started removing wheat flours to remove the simple sugars, replacing with gluten-free flours to make a baked good with higher protein and more complex carbohydrates. I started as a cottage industry out of my home and then received a call that a restaurant wanted to carry my products and No Regrets was launched with the location on HWY 287 in Alvord, TX."

No Regrets Bakery

I realize that the idea of a gluten-free, "paleo-friendly" Hostess style cupcake might frighten my sugar-loving friends. Or that the idea of a birthday cake made with coconut flour might sound downright strange. Or that the idea of homemade protein-rich bars full of flax and berries might just sound like hippie food that isn't worth your time.

No Regrets Bakery

Listen, I don't really care how they do it, because the most important thing here is that what they make at No Regrets Bakery tastes good. 

Here's the raw/vegan cherry vanilla bar, filled with dried cherries, dried cranberries, flaxmeal and vanilla stevia. 

No Regrets bakery

It was actually a very good bar. Homemade versus store bought, when it comes to granola type bars, makes a big difference. This one had a really nice tartness from the cranberries, too. I approve.

Fruit bar, No Regrets Bakery

We also got a "Chocolate Pecan Bar", made with cocoa powder, toasted pecans, dates and dried cranberries. It tasted like a Lara Bar, but better. 

No Regrets Bakery

We also got one of the "power balls", with almonds, almond extract, unsweetened coconut, maca and agave. It was a decadent and tasty little morsel. 

No Regrets Bakery

And they were giving out slices of birthday cake because of the aforementioned anniversary! This cake did not taste like deprivation at all. The chocolate masked any coconuttiness from the coconut flour, but it definitely tasted lightly nutty in a good way. The frosting, which is agave-sweetened, didn't have a weird or artificial taste, which pleased me. I can deal with a cake like this, if this is what gluten-free cake can be.

We also picked up a doggie cookie for Porkchop the pug. I don't think he cared that it was corn and wheat free--he just ate the thing. 

Overall, this was a magical stop in Texas. Hit them up if you find yourself on highway 287! Or, help them out with their fundraising goals to open a second location in the Dallas metro area

No Regrets Bakery, 8879 Highway 287 North, Alvord, TX. Online here.

Monday
Sep162013

CakeSpy Undercover: The Buttermilk Drop Cafe, New Orleans

Buttermilk Drop Cafe, New Orleans

I first heard about the Buttermilk Drop in a New York Times article, gloriously entitled "A City Drenched in Sugar". I had known that New Orleans was a city famed for its sweets, but I don't think I really knew until I read this article. Not only King cake waited for me in the Big Easy, but doberge cake and snowballs and doughnuts, too.

Actually, a particular type of doughnut called the Buttermilk Drop.

As I learned from this site, the buttermilk drop is a doughnut unique to New Orleans which gained fame at the now defunct but still beloved McKenzie's Pastry Shoppe. It is, on the surface, not an incredibly unique treat. It looks like a doughnut hole, but it's bigger. But not quite as big as a full-sized doughnut. But one taste will tell you that this is a very special doughnutty morsel. Rich in buttermilk, yes, which gives them a perfect delicate crumb yet substantial texture, which is gorgeously and generously coated in a thick glaze. 

I can understand why New Orleans would simply not stand for this doughnut disappearing.

Today, from what I gather, you can get buttermilk drops at two places: Tastee's, which apparently purchased the rights to a number of McKenzie's recipes, and The Buttermilk Drop Cafe

I recently tried them at The Buttermilk Drop Cafe, an establishment with an interesting story. Owner Dwight Henry first gained fame as a maker of sweet treats, then gained local celebrity status when he put incredible effort into helping re-open businesses in his Seventh Ward neighborhood following Hurricane Katrina.

Buttermilk Drop Cafe, New Orleans

And then, he was "discovered" when the movie Beasts of the Southern Wild was filming in his neighborhood, and ended up being featured in the movie. So basically now, in addition to being famous for making doughnuts, he's being featured in New York Times Magazine style shoots

Well, I will tell you, I was intrigued.

Buttermilk Drop Cafe, New Orleans

So when you walk into The Buttermilk Drop Cafe, I was greeted by an odd sight. A large room with ample seating space...but no seating. A menu that seemed to invite sitting and staying a spell...but nowhere to sit and stay. Cool artwork on the wall and even ceiling. 

Buttermilk Drop Cafe, New Orleans

A large case greeted us, but only a portion of it was filled. All of what filled it looked good though: DOUGHNUTS. Glazed and cake, vanilla and chocolate, in rounds and braids... Buttermilk Drop Cafe, New Orleans

and, of course, the famed buttermilk drops.

Buttermilk Drop Cafe, New Orleans

From behind a small glass window, a friendly girl took our order. It was alarmingly affordable. The doughnuts and buttermilk drops were all well under a dollar each, which was refreshing. 

Buttermilk Drop Cafe, New Orleans

We got a few buttermilk, a few chocolate, and of course several buttermilk drops.Buttermilk Drop Cafe, New Orleans

The doughnuts were very, very good. Light in texture, with a solid buttermilk flavor, and most importantly, drenched in a highly delicious glaze.Buttermilk Drop Cafe, New Orleans

But the real star was the buttermilk drops. Was it the power of suggestion, that I was ready to love these best because I had heard so much about them? Perhaps. But d-a-m-n were they fine doughnuts.

The texture of the buttermilk drop is perfect. Like I said before, it's a delicate crumb, but a substantial doughnut in nature. I love the size, too. It's more serious than a mere doughnut hole, but not quite a full size doughnut. It is the perfect snacking size. And the glaze was so liberally applied that it kind of fused into the drop's crust...oh, heaven.

Buttermilk Drop Cafe, New Orleans

So what am I saying here? Get yourself to the Buttermilk Drop Cafe. I was impressed by how "real" the place has remained even following its fame. Weird about the seating, but you can deal. This is an experience that must be lived by doughnut lovers.

The Buttermilk Drop Cafe, 1781 N. Dorgenois Street, New Orleans. Online here.

 

Sunday
Jul072013

Sweet Discovery: Isabella's Cookie Company

Cookies, Isabella's Cookie Company

Do you ever look at a cookie long and hard, say "I'm gonna eat you" in a sort of cowboy-gangsta drawl, and then imagine it screaming when you bite into it? 

No, neither do I. Especially not when eating this Red Velvet Cookie from Isabella's Cookie Company.

Cookies, Isabella's Cookie Company

Wait, what was I talking about? Oh yes, cookies. Namely, the ones in the box of samples I recently received from the aforementioned Isabella's, a boutique cookie company based in Redondo Beach, California (am I the only one who hears Patti Smith saying "gone-gone"?), with availability mostly in the Southern California area (at stores such as Whole Foods) but available for purchase online, too. I was pretty psyched to receive them, because they seem like a cool company. And they offer all of these flavors! Dazzling, no?

Isabella's

In my sample box, there were three flavors: Red Velvet, Ginger, and "The Limey".

What I liked first, before even sampling any of them, was the nice size and satisfying weight of the cookies. They were small-ish, but a good size to enjoy two (not too huge that one is more than enough, but not so tiny that you need like six). They had a satisfying heft, and I had a feeling they'd make a good snacking cookie.

Here's a picture of the Limey from the website. Inspired by Key Lime pie, this cookie has a strong lime presence, but also has bits of handmade graham crackers, white chocolate chips, and --brand new -- they just "added sweet lime-infused vanilla drizzle to make your lips go smack!". It's a tasty cookie, and I like the creative cookie take on a classic pie. 

The other two varieties, it turned out, were both vegan--the V-Ging, a molasses ginger cookie with a vanilla drizzle, and their newest addition, the Vegan Red Velvet cookie. They teamed up with another business, The Buttermilk Truck to create this treat, which "combines the heavenly flavor of their red velvet pancake but topped with a sweet vanilla drizzle."

Cookies, Isabella's Cookie Company

I'll tell you the truth. I am probably not the most qualified to review the Ginger cookies, because...I do not like ginger cookies. They're like, a second or third choice cookie flavor for me. But an associate who is a fan says that they were moist and chewy and just this side of underbaked...in a good way.

I do, however, feel qualified to tell you about the Red Velvet variety. 

Like, yum. There's a nice little cocoa scent to them, and a really nice texture. Moist. Slightly crisped (but not crispy) on the edges. Chewy. Dense in the center, like they are approaching cookie dough, but they have most definitely been baked. An interesting, almost buttermilk type flavor, but gee whiz, they're vegan! I have no idea what they put in them, but this is a very good cookie. Were I to taste it blindfolded, I might not say "Red Velvet" right away if asked to guess the flavor. But I would say it was good. Not too sweet, actually. A hint of cocoa, a lot of nice, dense, slightly soured (in that buttermilk way--good thing) flavor. A nice hit of sugar from the glaze. A perfect cookie with milk. 

Overall, I will tell you this--I was impressed. Since I received the samples gratis (I love my life), I didn't know how much they cost when I received them. But I looked it up--$6.50 for a bag of 10. I vote "worth it". 

A sweet cookie find indeed!

Isabella's Cookies--find them online (including a store locator) here.

Saturday
Jul062013

CakeSpy Undercover: Sugar Bakery and Sweet Shop Cupcake Truck, Connecticut

Sugar Cupcake Truck, CT

I'd like to tell you the truth: I suspect that I receive more pictures of desserts that people have eaten than the average bear. People are sending me dessert pictures all the time. Usually, though, they don't do things that would satisfy my spy curiosity, such as include what the dessert is or where they ate it. They just send a picture.

But a few days ago, when a few of my friends were at a Zombies concert in Connecticut and saw a cupcake truck, not only did they send me a photo of the partially eaten cupcake...but they included tasting notes and more information about the truck, too. It has a cute story, so I thought I would share it with you, dear readers.

The truck is the mobile outpost of East Haven's Sugar Bakery & Sweet Shop, a bakery which has been around since 2004. It's run by a mother-daughter team, Carol Vollono and Brenda DePonte. According to their website,  Brenda had been living in New York City studying fashion merchandising and marketing, and missed her family, but even more importantly, she missed how they connected over dessert. While visiting home, mom and daughter were having a sesh discussing their dreams and future plans, and somehow dessert came up. Inspired by the dessert boom in the city and wanting to take advantage of mom's baking skills, they decided to give commercial baking a go, putting a new twist on classic recipes. Apparently, "The collaboration of the two minds was epic. Sugar Bakery was born!"

I think that's cute. But cuter still? The goods.

They're delivered in this adorable truck. Wouldn't you be happy to see this at a concert? 

Sugar Cupcake Truck, CT

And wouldn't you be even happier, when you approached, to see this menu? Sugar Cupcake Truck, CT

Well, they must be good if they've been on TV, right?

Sugar Cupcake Truck, CT

Definitely time to give it a try. My buddies chose the "Big Blue", a blueberry cupcake with blueberry mousse filling and...you guessed it, blueberry buttercream. Here's a before shot.

Sugar Cupcake Truck, CT

As reported, this was a very good cupcake, not to mention healthy "account of the blueberries". That definitely fits into my world view of sweets! 

Sugar Bakery and Sweet Shop, 422-424 Main Street, East Haven, CT, with a roving truck, too. Find them online here.

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