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Entries in bakeries (274)

Saturday
Feb022013

CakeSpy Undercover: Cocopelli, Santa Fe NM

tres leches cake, cocopelli

It's the age-old story: CakeSpy will tell you about something sweet she got to eat. I don't know about you, but for me, this never gets old!

This time, I'm going to tell you about a place called Cocopelli in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It's by a megatron movie theater. Honestly, by sight alone, this shopping complex is not the type of place you'd expect to find unique, baked-on-premises sweets. But looks can be deceiving.

Image: Cocopelli

After viewing a movie at aforementioned megatron jumpoplex theater, a friend and I were walking in the parking lot when a gentleman wearing a chef's hat, apron, and carrying a tray of cupcakes approached us. "Red Velvet Cupcake?" he asked? Well, I think you know my response. I know you're not supposed to take candy from strangers, but cupcakes from strangers are OK, right?

The cupcake was rather impressive--the cream cheese frosting was perfectly tangy, the cake was nice and rich. I wanted more.

Cocopelli

The marketing gentleman was kind enough to suggest that we visit the bakery, and we did. Cocopelli

Since it was getting late-ish, the supplies had dwindled, but I was delighted by what they had. One of the bakers, who was on-site, told us that the owner was a chocolatier, and that she had bakers who did the other sweets. The main offerings you'll see upon entering are chocolates and cupcakes, but there are some other items available, including ice cream from Taos Cow. The baker we spoke to knew her stuff--she's a trained pastry chef, and brings some serious love to her cakes and cupcakes.

Cocopelli

After viewing all the choices, we settled on the Tres Leches cupcake, which looked so saturated with sweet dairy that it was coming out of its jacket. It weighted about a pound (I say this as a compliment). It was very good. The almost-wet cake was so dairylicious that it almost felt like eating cake and ice cream at the same time. The frosting was rich and smooth and probably not even necessary with a cake that rich, but oh so welcome. The spice on top provided a nice roundness to the extreme dairy overload.

Cocopelli

This was a good cupcake, and the chocolates we sampled were very nice, too. I think it's well worth a visit, and not just if you find yourself at the movies next door!

Cocopelli, 3482 Zafarano Drive, Santa Fe; online here.

Sunday
Jan272013

Cake Byte: New Sweets from Flour and Sun Bakery

Flour and Sun Bakery

You know that I don't like to be bossy. But. 

If you find yourself in need of some sweet treats for Valentine's Day, I suggest you hightail it to Flour & Sun Bakery in Pleasantville, NY. Or don't--they ship, too! You can have a parcel of sweetness sent to yourself or your sweetie. Details: they'll send it via USPS with a minimum order of 6 cookies (or 2 cookie necklaces). Shipping charges start at $5.50. For Valentine's day arrival, order by Feb. 8th.

Flour and Sun

I'm highly qualified to tell you all this as not only have I sampled their goods in person, but I recently received a sample parcel of their seasonal offerings.

It was very well wrapped, I must say. While they say that they are clear on the perils of shipping, saying "can't guarantee what happens to the packages once they leave our hands. If a package is greatly damaged, however, please contact us", this was not a worry for me--everything arrived in perfect condition.

So what was inside? 

Love Ewe, Flour and Sun

First up, the I Love Ewe Cookie ($4): Large sheep cookie iced with royal icing, packaged in a cello bag, tied with a festive ribbon and pretty Valentine's Day tag. Very sweet. 

Flour and Sun Flour and Sun

Next, Bee Mine Cookies ($5): Large beehive cookie iced with royal icing with two adorable fondant bees, packaged in a cello bag, tied with a festive ribbon and pretty Valentine's Day tag.

Flour and Sun Flour and Sun

Then, what a cute idea: a Cookie Heart Necklace ($5.50): 12 small heart cookies strung on a ribbon, packaged in a cello bag, tied with a festive ribbon and pretty Valentine's Day tag.

Flour and Sun Bakery

The parcel also included some items that weren't specifically part of the Valentine menu. A soft pink frosted Heart Cookie was probably my favorite thing out of the bunch, because A) it was pink, B) it had the most buttery-luscious frosting ever, and C) it reminded me of a sweet I love from Seattle, but much fancier. 

Saw Mill River Bar, Flour and Sun Saw Mill River Bar, Flour and Sun

It also included--joy!--a Saw Mill River Bar, which is a Flour & Sun original--a huge bar cookie comprised of layers of crackers, caramel & chocolate. Strange, say you? Delicious, say I. You've got to try one of these sweet and salty things. 

I asked owner Denise more about the bar, and she let me know "we started making Saw Mill River Bars about a year and half ago. They are our most popular bar cookie we have. It's club cracker, layer of homemade caramel and peanut butter chips, topped with chocolate and malden sea salt flakes. We also make a version with pretzels and toffee pieces. My baker suggested the name to be honest I can't remember why."

Who really cares though, when it tastes this good?

Pre-order your Valentine's Day cookie by February 8th by calling us at 914.495.3232. You can order just one or several of any of the options for pick up at the bakery. 

Flour & Sun Bakery, 19 Washington Avenue, Pleasantville, NY; online at flourandsunbakery.com

Saturday
Jan262013

CakeSpy Undercover: Revolution Bakery, Santa Fe NM

Gluten Free Cinnamon Roll

I'll be totally honest: sometimes, gluten-free baked goods just taste funny to me.

I know it's not their fault. They're made using a different type of flour--flours, in fact! It's not just a matter of swapping "all purpose" for "gluten-free". It's a little trickier than that. Most gluten-free baking is actually done with a mix of a few types of flour, to guarantee a good combination of flavor and texture.

And likewise, the taste doesn't always translate exactly. Some gluten-free flours will impart a more assertive flavor than white flour. That, I think, is what makes the goods kind of funny sometimes. Like, they taste too healthy or they have too crumbly a texture or something.

gluten free cinnamon roll

So when I taste a gluten-free baked good, do try to be aware of these things, that they will never taste exactly like their floury counterparts. 

But they still can be a thing of beauty in their own, gluten-free right. And an example of a bakery that has a good thing going on is Revolution Bakery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

At Revolution bakery, they have a big focus on bread as you walk into the cafe, but they also have a very nice selection of pastries and baked goods--they do cakes, too.

Keeping it simple, I chose a quinoa chocolate chip cookie (which was vegan, too) and a cinnamon roll. 

Gluten free cookie

The chocolate chip cookie was very nice. It was crispy around the edges but slightly softer inside. It crumbled lightly when bitten into, like a coarser sort of shortbread, and the flavor was slightly nutty and almost oat-y, which made it taste like a health cookie, sort of. I say "sort of" because it was assertively cookie-ish enough to not ever be confused with a granola bar. This is the type of healthy sweet I like: one that I can tell myself is virtuous, even if it really isn't.

Gluten free cinnamon roll

The cinnamon roll was likewise lightly nutty in flavor, which worked quite well with the yeastiness of the pastry. But what this treat is really all about is the cinnamon-sugar filling and frosting, which play together to create a symphony of sweet morning music tastes in your mouth. A very nicely done cinnamon roll. Had I tried this one not knowing it was gluten-free, I might believe that a hippie-ish sort had hid flax or something inside of the dough, but I wouldn't instantly proclaim it gluten-free just upon tasting it. It had a very nice texture, too.

Baked goods are a bit spendy at this spot, but a lot goes into making a gluten-free baked good, and I think they're worth seeking out. So if you find yourself in Santa Fe, hit them up! Just remember to go early in the day, because they can tend to sell out of some things later on.

Revolution Bakery, 1291 San Felipe Boulevard; online here.

Monday
Jan212013

CakeSpy Undercover: Cookie Confidential, Philadelphia

Cookie Stack

I'm now going to take a few minutes to tell you about a place called Cookie Confidential in Philadelphia. 

I was first alerted to the magic that is Cookie Confidential by CakeSpy reader--from Canada of all places!--who told me, in so many words, "dudette, they have Philly cheesesteak cookies. For reals! Go eat one!". Of course I was intrigued, and a visit to the website revealed a treasure trove of interesting treats.

Although the name "Cookie Confidential" might suggest a strong emphasis on cookies, it actually seems to be comprised of three main elements: cookies, cupcakes in a jar, and brittles. At the store, they complement it all with Franklin Fountain ice cream. 

But for now, we're going to focus on the cookies. 

Cookie Confidential, Philadelphia

They have a large variety of flavors, starting with the classics: chocolate chip, sugar, snickerdoodle, peanut butter...but then, very quickly you'll progress into slightly less-expected flavors, such as chocolate chip bacon, "strawberry shortcake" ("A shortbread cookie is the base for this sweet and creamy treat. We add in fresh pureed strawberries & white chocolate chunks for a satisfying bite of summertime in you mouth, no matter what the weather outside!"), and Lemon cashew...

Cookie Confidential, Philadelphia

...and then the downright strange, including Philly Cheesesteak, which is described as "Dehydrated grass fed beef mingles with dehydrated red onions in our organic, cheesy, cheddar cookie topped off with a sweet tomato cream cheese. Try getting one of these from Mrs. Fields!"; Sriracha Mango, "The Rooster Has Landed. No that's not code, the Sriracha Mango cookie is here! Sweet, savory, spicy, spectacular! A little bit of Thai come to roost at Cookie Confidential."; and of course, who could forget the Peanut Butter Hot Dog, "Made initially as a custom order for some friends (thanks Ethan and Nate!), we loved this killer cookie so much it has been added to the line up. We take our traditional peanut buttercookie, splash in some balsamic vinegar and a touch of Philadelphia Bee Co's honey, then add in some chopped up, dehydrated, nitrate free hot dogs... next level intensity. "

We picked up a nice variety of flavors: chocolate chip, brown sugar peach, raspberry balsamic, lemon honey coriander, chocolate chip bacon, and chocolate coconut almond. Since they didn't have it on the day of the initial visit, I returned later for the Philly Cheesesteak (more on that below).

The cookies are not large, so I would suggest trying 2-3 flavors. They are fairly crisp, with a lighter slightly chewy texture in the center. They're quite buttery. In my opinion, you like the style of Tate's chocolate chip cookies, these will probably be right up your alley. 

Cookie Confidential, Philadelphia

The chocolate chip was nice, a rich and buttery version of the classic. Brown sugar peach was mellow and comforting, and begged to be paired with lemonade. 

Cookie Confidential, Philadelphia

Lemon honey coriander was intriguing, with a slightly spicy flavor that, had I not known what the flavor was, would have eluded me and made me continue eating out of curiosity.

Cookie Confidential, Philadelphia

Raspberry balsamic was probably my favorite flavor from the tasting, lightly abrasive from the balsamic but then smoothed around the edges by the sweetness of the berries. A refreshing and interesting cookie.

Cookie Confidential, Philadelphia

Chocolate-bacon was salty-sweet; a little bacon goes a long way, and I found myself craving a creamy counterpart--bet this one would have been really nice with ice cream.

Image: Phillymag.comBut I know the one you really want to hear about is the Philly Cheesesteak. I returned for this one because they didn't have it on the day of my first visit. Of course I didn't bring my camera, so to the left you'll see the picture from Philly Magazine.

Actually, I almost feel like this shouldn't be called a cookie--or perhaps it should be re-labeled "savory biscuit". Because when you eat it thinking "cookie", it's strange. It's salty and savory and feels like you want a bowl of tomato soup. But when I thought about it as "savory biscuit", and thought about how it might pair with a bowl of soup, it was actually quite a nice morsel, sort of like a crispy cheese puff with a soupçon of beef. Sort of like a cookie hors d'ouevre. 

So I guess it's all about the way you look at it. Looking at the cookie in that way made it enjoyable to me! 

Cookie Confidential, Philadelphia

Although I didn't try one of their cupcakes, I would like to give you a primer on what they do. Cupcakes come either single or double cake in reusable glass jelly jars (return your empty one to the shop for a free cookie!); the mini cupcakes are served in push pop form. As they put it, "Grab a spoon, and get ready for your new bad habit!". I like that.

Cookie Confidential, Philadelphia

Flavors include a rotating roster: Red Velvet, Maple Buttermilk, Maple Bacon Buttermilk, Chocolate Buttermilk, Chocolate Bacon Buttermilk, Vanilla Buttermilk, Strawberry Buttermilk, Neapolitan, Chocolate Covered Strawberry, Chocolate Jalapeno, Vanilla Raspberry, Chocolate Raspberry, Banana Split, Apple Chai, plus seasonals (ie Strawberry Limeade, Brown Sugar Peach, Coconut Key Lime, Ginger Snap, Pumpkin, Vanilla Peppermint, Chocolate Peppermint, etc). All available vegan EXCEPT bacon flavors.

They also have "Beer Cakes" which are made with various types of beer, and jars of brittle for sale. 

Cookie Confidential, Philadelphia

Overall, this is a fun and adventurous little spot to visit, and naturally I loved the undercover/spy vibe. The only warning I give is don't think you're going to have cookies for breakfast: they open at noon!

Cookie Confidential, 517 S. 5th Street, Philadelphia; online here.

Sunday
Jan202013

Ask CakeSpy: Bakeries in Philadelphia?

CUPCAKE from Philly Cupcake

Dear CakeSpy,

I live in Seattle and have been a blog follower since you started.  My daughter just moved to Philadelphia and I am visiting her in two weeks.  Please you suggest some bakery "musts", cupcakes included, for us to visit.

Coast to Coast Sweets-Chaser

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Dear Coast to Coast,

First, let me commend you on your fantastic choice in website reading. CakeSpy rules! And so nice to hear from a reader who lives in the city I lived during many of the CakeSpy Years--Seattle--and is soon to visit the city I currently in which I currently reside, Philadelphia. 

Now, I don't like to give blanket suggestions, and if you were a buddy calling me on the phone, I would probably follow up with "well, where are you staying?" so that I could personalize my suggestions based on places you could reasonably get to. But assuming you're staying in the Center City area, and probably not staying too long, let me say that if you were MY guest, I'd probably take you to these places. 

Even if you were only here for 2 hours, I would make sure to take you to the Reading Terminal Market. Preferably between Wednesday and Saturday, because on those magical days, the Amish vendors are present. The Reading Terminal market is Philadelphia's equivalent to the Pike Place Market, but it's housed in the former terminus of the Reading Terminal Railroad. There are foods aplenty to enjoy there, but since we are talking dessert, I'd focus on showing you:

Bassets Ice Cream, which has been doing it since 1861 and doing it well.

Pretzel cone

Miller's Twist, where they also have ice cream and can serve it to you in a Pretzel cone.

Philadelphia butter cake

Flying Monkey Patisserie, where I would insist you get the butter cake. If you're brave, go for the pumpple.

Beiler's Bakery, an Amish bakery where they wrap baked goods in plastic wrap like supermarket meat for some reason, but golly-me do I enjoy the Snickerdoodle Whoopie Pies. I would whizz right by the classic whoopies and go straight for the snickerdoodle. If you've never tried Shoofly pie, this wouldn't be a bad place to do it.

If you're there in the 4 o'clock hour or so, I'd take you to Famous Fourth Street Cookies, where at the end of the day the cookies are a dollar each. That is a steal, but other times of day they charge by the pound so you can be adding up a hefty bill.

Metropolitan bakery

If we had even more time, I'd take you by Termini Brothers Bakery for a cannoli and to Metropolitan Bakery for just about anything. Oh, and across from Metropolitan Bakery is a chocolate/candy counter where you can try a Wilbur Bud, which some say was the inspiration for the Hershey's Kiss.

Next, I'd once again ask what part of town you're going to be staying in. If you're staying in Old City, I vote that you simply must go to:

Franklin Fountain, an old timey ice cream spot and the next-door candy store, Shane Confectionery.

Tartes, AKA The cutest petite pink bakery ever; a walk-up window only, but very nice cookies and tarts.

Tiffany's Bakery, Philadelphia

Tiffany's Bakery, which is a great bakery in an unlikely location--a mall food court.

Wedge + Fig, for a fantastic grilled cheese and a cheese tart for dessert!

Gelato from Capogiro, Philadelphia

If you're further up, number-wise, in the street numbers in Center City (12th Street and up), I say that you simply must visit:

Brown Betty Dessert Boutique: They have a mini-location here, because you're probably not going to find yourself in the neighborhood where their main location is. Try the sweet potato cake!

Cake and the Beanstalk, for a homey and casual bakery spot owned by a dude who knows his baking--he was a pastry chef in a number of fancy restaurants before opening this cute place, which has the catch phrase "Fee fi fo YUM"! Though not a bakery, pop into Garces Trading Co. across the street too.

Chocolate Bouchon, Garces Trading Co

Capogiro Gelato: DO IT! One of my absolute favorites.

DiBruno Brothers, which is a gourmet food store but has a lot of sweet treats from various good bakeries in the city, and a case which is nom-worthy to gaze upon.

Federal Donuts

Federal Donuts, for donuts fried to order, and a tasty new location in the center city area!

Philly Cupcake Company, for very good cupcakes in a nice variety of flavors.

Scoop DeVille, for custom-made soft-serve including the mix-ins of your choice.

Swiss Haus Bakery, for some nice pastries and cakes.

You might not wander southward, but if you do, I also suggest:

isgro cannoli

Isgro Pasticceria, for a pricey but fun Italian bakery experience--try a cannoli!

Morning Glory Diner, for their delicious biscuits (not necessarily sweet but I will suggest it).

Other bakeries that I think are great but might not be geographically convenient: Belle CakeryBredenbeck's, Little Baby's Ice Cream, and Whipped Bake Shop!

There are a ton more bakeries, of course. I do not mean at all for this to be a comprehensive list. But, the ones listed above are very easily visited alongside with the Liberty Bell and all of the popular Philadelphia attractions, so they're the ones I am going to suggest for your first visit! Feel free to check out the Philadelphia tag to see more bakeries I've visited, of course.

Irish Potato Candy

Oh! And a regional specialty you'll see around at this time of year in Philadelphia: Irish Potatoes!

Enjoy! 

Love,

CakeSpy

 

Monday
Jan142013

Pastry Profiles: Muffins at Linda's Seabreeze Cafe, Santa Cruz CA

Butterscotch Muffin, Linda's Seabreeze Cafe, Santa Cruz

Normally, there is not much ado about muffins for me. I mostly consider them ugly, inferior and worst of all unfrosted cupcakes.

But every now and again, I am impressed. When I recently got breakast at a place called Linda's Seabreeze Cafe in Santa Cruz (also called "Linda's" by locals, I observed), I was offered either toast or a homemade muffin with my omelette. Well, a homemade muffin certainly sounded more interesting than toast, so I ordered one to see what it was all about.

Apparently they have a different flavor every day; on the day of my visit, it was butterscotch. A good start.

Now, I have to tell you, that in spite of my not-so-great photos, this was a truly fantastic muffin. It was served piping hot, and gently steamed when I cut it in half. The butter melted as I spread it, such was the warmth. 

Butterscotch Muffin, Linda's Seabreeze Cafe, Santa Cruz

Like a quick bread studded with butterscotch and topped with a delectable streusel topping, this muffin was completely satisfying, and, true to my instinct, much more interesting than toast. In fact, it was absolutely delicious, sweet and just a touch salty on the streusel topping--an addictive and highly enjoyable flavor combination. Mostly consisting of top with a little tiny bottom, it had an ideal ratio of "stuff on the top" to sort of disinteresting bottom.

Final word: if you go to this beachside cafe, you've gotta get the muffins.

Seabreeze Cafe, 542 Seabright Avenue, Santa Cruz CA; online here. 

Sunday
Jan062013

Pastry Profiles: Almond Croissant, La Boulange, San Francisco

La Boulange

I wouldn't go so far as to say I'm an expert on almond croissants.

But as someone who has eaten many almond croissants in life (it's kind of my job, you know), I have sampled enough to know what works and what doesn't. 

And the version from La Boulange in San Francisco works.

In case you don't know the establishment, La Boulange is a small bakery-cafe chain in the San Francisco area. Well, it was a small chain. Until it was purchased by Starbucks last year for $100 million. 

Yes: One Hundred Million Dollars. Pardon my pun, but that's a lot of dough.

I have been a big fan of La Boulange since before the takeover--one of their locations is just a few blocks away from SpySis's apartment. So far, not much has changed following the purchase. The pastry offerings seem the same, and that is a good thing, because in my opinion, they are exquisite. Especially the almond croissant. I mean...look at this.

Almond Croissant, La Boulange

Almond croissant is possibly the cleverest and most delicious use of day-old croissants, wherein you split the buttery treat, coat the inside with almond paste, and re-bake. At La Boulange, they not only use a nearly obscene amount of almond paste inside of the croissant, but use more on top, which not only makes it almond-y heaven but also acts as "glue" to hold on an armadillo-like coating of almond slices.

Those almonds on top crisply crunch when you bite into the treat, giving way to a soft, pillowy interior, gooey with almond paste, and then another light crunch when you reach the toasty bottom of the croissant. 

Just looking at the pictures make me want to cry, just a little, because I don't have one right now to eat.

La Boulange

But I'll always have my memories. And hopefully, following the Starbucks takeover, not one thing changes about this recipe.

La Boulange, various locations in the SF Bay area; find one online here.

Thursday
Jan032013

CakeSpy Undercover: Dominique Ansel, NYC

Dominique Ansel, NYC

The photo above documents the beginning of a supremely sweet massacre that happened not so long ago at Dominique Ansel in SoHo in New York City.

It's a very sweet spot in the world, being run by a fellow of the same name who earned his chops acting as Executive Pastry Chef for Restaurant Daniel under celebrity chef Daniel Boulud. As I learned from the Ansel website, "During his six year tenure at Daniel, the restaurant won its first 3-star Michelin rating, a 4-star New York Times review, and James Beard’s Outstanding Restaurant of the Year Award in 2010." He's also been called one of the top ten pastry chefs in America.

Dominique Ansel, NYC

But back to the sweets. A mere few minutes before the massacre, me and my friend Erin were surveying the pastry case. We looked at all sorts of fancy Frenchy treats, such as:

Dominique Ansel, NYC

and these...

 Dominique Ansel

and these.

 Dominique Ansel

I mean, seriously. How does one choose from such a bounty of amazing sweetness? 

On my last visit, I had sampled the "DKA" - Dominique Ansel Kouign Amman. As you probably know, I am a very large fan of the strangely-named treat known as Kouign Amman. I've sampled it in Seattle and Paris and Salt Lake City. And I've enjoyed each variation. This was a fine one indeed--I'd say that next to the one I had in Paris, it was one of the best. 

Dominique Ansel

But on this trip, Erin chose the rosewater religieuse. Look at this thing. 

Dominique Ansel, NYC

Delicate choux pastry filled with vanilla-flecked cream and gently rose-scented icing. It tasted as pretty as it looks. 

It's one of those things that is a pleasure to devour. 

Dominique Ansel, NYC

But I will tell you the truth, possibly even better than the pastry was the fact that one of the employees RECOGNIZED ME! She told me she loved this site. I must tell you, the fact that I had gone in to buy a pastry and unexpectedly ended up feeling like a celebrity was sure a nice treat. It made me smile for the rest of the day!

Dominique Ansel, 189 Spring Street, New York City; online here.

Wednesday
Jan022013

CakeSpy Undercover: Saratori's di Tully, Albuquerque NM

Saratori's, Albuquerque

When you think of an old-school Italian bakery, you probably think...New York. Boston. Providence. New Jersey. Or at least I do. I don't have actual evidence, but I feel like there is probably a higher concentration of such bakeries in the Northeast. 

Albuquerque, New Mexico probably wouldn't even cross my mind in pondering old-fashioned Italian bakeries.

But as it turns out, such a place does exist--a bakery called Saratori's di Tully

Saratori's

It's next-door to Tully's, an Italian specialty market that made me feel like I was in Philadelphia or New Jersey for a few moments--big, fat sandwiches at the deli counter, homemade ravioli both in the deli department and freezer, and more types of pasta than you can count. A great place, but you'll have to trust me on that. I'm here to talk about the sweets.

Saratori's di Tully, I hear, is named after two girls in the family--Sara and Tori. If that is true, I hope that both girls are extremely proud to have this establishment bear their names, because it's chock full of  tasty stuff.

They make their cannoli to order, I should tell you that first. Although I have not tried one of these heavenly treats for myself, I have it on very good authority that they're good stuff.

Saratori's, Albuquerque

I started with the "Spruzzare Biscotto", which was nice and tender and almond-y--a perfect cookie bite. The texture was very nice--slightly dry, but not like dry-out-yer-mouth. It would have been even better with an espresso, I think!

Saratori's, Albuquerque

Next up was a fennel biscotto, which was lightly licorice-y (but not offensive to licorice haters) and not extremely sweet but more like a nice tea cookie. See the fennel seed? It added a nice little burst of flavor at irregular intervals. Sometimes it is nice to have your cookies challenge you a little, you know?

Saratori's, Albuquerque

Finally, the "Nonna's Lemon Drop" cookie. It's a general rule that I hold that if it's named after Grandma, it's probably gonna be good. For me, this cookie led to several moments of nostalgia--not for my upbringing, but for the cookies I used to buy at Rocco's Pastry on Bleecker Street when I lived in New York City. If you've been there, you know what an excellent experience it is. Here's the cookie.

 Saratori's, Albuquerque

Very, very good stuff. And a charming and sweet staff.

Saratori's, Albuquerque

For a taste of the East Coast in the middle of Albuquerque...dudes and dudettes, you've got to go to Saratori's!

Saratori's di Tully, 1425 San Mateo Blvd, Albuquerque; more info here.

Wednesday
Dec192012

CakeSpy Undercover: Icing on the Cake, Los Gatos CA

Icing on the Cake, Los Gatos

Here's the situation. You're driving from San Francisco to Santa Cruz, CA, and you've gotten stuck in traffic and are starting to get SERIOUSLY hungry along the way. Do you wait til Santa Cruz and risk binge-eating all the artisan ice cream and bakeries in town because you're so hungry?

No. You pause, pull your car over in Los Gatos ("the cats"!), and stop your sweet self at Icing on the Cake.

Icing on the Cake, Los Gatos

Not only is Icing on the Cake a fantastic name for a bakery, it's also a fantastic bakery. It had crossed my radar several years ago when the staff was smart and savvy enough to begin stocking my products for their small retail area. Obviously, this meant that they were smart and wonderful people. True appreciators of sweetness.

Icing on the Cake, Los Gatos

But I had never actually tasted the sweets in person until I found myself in the situation detailed above. 

When I got to the bakery, I introduced myself and had a short chat with Lynn, of whom I asked a big question: "what should I take with me?". 

This led to a brief consultation about what my sweets preferences were. Well, I said, I tend to like buttery, rich things--not so much fruit stuff--and I would probably veer more toward caramel, peanut butter, etc, rather than chocolate (I love chocolate, but I like it as a component, not as the whole story, in general). 

Icing on the cake, los gatos

"Oh," she said wisely, "you're one of those people who only eats beige things."

Now, I will confess, this took me aback for a moment. I love color! Rainbows! Unicorns! Pink frosting!

But then, the more I thought about it, the more I realized she was right. I prefer blondies to brownies; I love shortbread, all the better if topped or sandwiched with caramel; one of my favorite-favorite foods, in the world, crumb cake, is really just several shades of beige.

So it's true: I'm a beige lover!

So I loaded up with a few beige-y treats: 

Icing on the Cake, Los Gatos

First, the softie Salted Caramel cookie ("Salted Caramel Moon"). If you like soft sugar cookies, this will be a real treat for you: a soft, rich, lightly crumbly cookie, but instead of the sugary-sweet frosting, this has a caramelly kick with a salty aftertaste. It works wonderfully with the cookie base; it's a little different, but not crazy--like, I could share this with my grandma, whereas she'd say "say WHAT?" to salted licorice flavored baked goods. 

Icing on the Cake, Los Gatos

Next up, the gingernsap. This one is crispy, which is usually not what I crave in a cookie (softie for life!) but this one was quite nice. It had quite a spicy zip--as Lynn advised, pair this one with tea and it will give you a little heat for a cold afternoon. Nice. 

Icing on the Cake, Los Gatos

Next up: the brown sugar shortbread cookies. Shortbread is one of those things that is so simple, but has the potential to be so exquisite, and at Icing on the Cake, it falls into the latter territory. The small additions of brown sugar and crunchy sugar around the sides of the cookies make a big difference, and take them from "good" to "great" shortbread territory. Very worth a try.

Icing on the Cake, Los Gatos

The most colorful treat--or at least the one with the most different tones--was their seven layer bar. This is probably one of my favorite treats in the world (well, aside from super-beige crumb cake) and theirs was a fine specimen. Crunchy and buttery on the bottom crust layer, soft and gooey in the midsection, so decadent and rich that you'd lose yourself in that sticky sea of delicious coconut if it weren't for the punctuations of crunchy nut and pockets of rich chocolate morsels. Please, promise me you'll get one when you visit. 

Of course, Icing on the Cake has a ton more: cupcakes, layer cakes, bars and quick breads and cookies of all sorts--the bakery case is very well appointed and tempting. 

Final word: GO TO THIS PLACE. I promise you won't regret it.

Icing on the Cake, 50 W. Main Street, Los Gatos, CA; online here.

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