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Entries in bakeries (274)

Thursday
Sep062012

Sweet Story: How the Kouing Aman became the Queen of Salt Lake City

Kouing Aman, Les Madeleines

CakeSpy Note: Believe it or not, there's a sweet spot in Salt Lake City where the delightful French treat known as Kouing Aman (pronounce it "queen ahmann" in your Frenchiest voice, please) reigns supreme. It's at a bakery called Les Madeleines, where pastry chef Romina Rasmussen's version has won fans far and wide (even Oprah is said to be a fan!). But how did this happen? Here's the story of How the Kouing Aman became the Queen, written by the Queen of Kouing Aman herself, bakery owner Romina!

I wish I could tell you a story of one of my adventures that took me to Brittany, France where I discovered this hidden gem of a pastry.

It’s not as exciting as that. I discovered the Kouing Aman (or kouign aman) in a trade magazine. I like to stay up on what’s going on in the industry and was intrigued by an article I happened upon. I didn’t even make it right away. I put it aside to make it when I had time. Eventually, I gently nudged a regular customer to order some so I would have to make time. She did, and nothing has ever been the same.

The instructions wouldn’t work at this altitude (in Salt Lake City), so I adjusted the ingredients and technique. It took several batches to get them just right, but not so many that I wanted to give up.

At first I added them to our rotation of special viennoiserie, just once a week. At that point we were still undiscovered, so I only made eight at a time. Just eight! No one knew what they were. No one could say it. I didn’t expect it to go well.

Kouing Aman, Les Madeleines

The first few weeks I sampled a few out and it was unanimous love at first bite. The third week I got “in trouble” with a guest for running out, as she had driven a long way. The following it was because I'd put them out on the wrong day of the week. I ended up adding another day.

By the sixth week I was making them every day and people were making excuses as to why they were eating them so often – you know sick friends in the hospital and other such tales. We quickly nicknamed them “crack” and cautioned guests about their waistlines if they ate 2-3 per day. I once saw it almost come to blows over the last one between two ladies.

No matter how many I made, they’d sell out. I started limiting them to six/day without advanced orders. But this only made everyone want them more. At this point I was making way more than eight/day.

Eventually The Food Network found us and featured the Kouing Aman on Road Tasted with the Neelys and The Best Thing I Ever Ate. We started shipping them, and now I can say they’ve made it to all 50 states. Being on The Food Network was a business changing endorsement that I am very grateful for.

Kouing

CakeSpy Note: May we pause for a moment to observe that the box says "by giving BUTTER, you give your HEART"...? LOVE it!

Eight years later, the Kouing Aman isn't such a secret. You can get them in a handful of bakeries (four in Salt Lake and counting) in several major cities. Most recently they’ve been featured in O The Oprah Magazine and were named Food & Wine's top pastry of 2012. They're destined to become a classic.

Pastry Chef Romina, making Kouing Aman, Les Madeleines

To purchase Kouing Aman or to plan a bakery visit to Salt Lake City yourself, visit the Les Madeleines website!

Tuesday
Sep042012

Sweet September: Trophy Cupcakes debuts the Bananas Foster Cupcake

OMG OMG OMG. It's an absolute bananarama at Trophy Cupcakes in Seattle, where they have a new flavor for September: Bananas Foster!

As they say in their newsletter:

Everybody loves Bananas Foster--from the decadent caramel to the yummy bananas down to the fancy flame finale!

We've turned this exotic dessert into a dreamy, delicious Trophy Cupcake. It all starts with a rich banan cake and a caramelicious Bananas foster filling. Then it's topped off with a mountain of toasted rum meringue and a crisp banana chip. 

It's pure Bananas Foster flavor, in handy cupcake form. 

Available every day in September at Trophy Cupcakes (I suggest calling first to ensure they still have stock, as the special flavors can sell out before the end of the day!); for locations, visit the Trophy Cupcakes website. 

Monday
Sep032012

CakeSpy Undercover: Bearded Lady Food Co in Olympia, WA

Chocolate Sundae

CakeSpy note: this is a guest post from Dawn M. Quinn of veganmoxie.com and Roxanne Cooke of roxannecooke.com.

Bearded Lady sign

Bearded Lady Food Co. is a mostly vegan, gluten-free bakery in downtown Olympia that makes and sells cupcakes, cake, cheesecake, brownies, cookies, ice cream, cheese plates, and sundaes. Many items are vegan and/or gluten free, but there are non-vegan versions of many of their goodies, too. You can pop in during the day to buy bakery case goodies, or show up in the evening for a seated dessert. Who could say no to making dessert a sit-down event? Dawn of Vegan Moxie and Roxanne of Roxanne Cooke Photography spent a recent Saturday evening trying a few of Bearded Lady’s plated desserts, as well as a couple beverages. Here are their impressions!

Dawn: After reading/hearing great things about Bearded Lady from friends and other vegan types, I knew that I had to get in to try their in-house baked goods and treats soon. My first trip to the shop happened rather accidentally: a group of friends went to dinner in Olympia, and a friend of a friend suggested we check it out. An amazing suggestion, as everyone (and me being the only vegan) thoroughly enjoyed their treats of choice and I couldn’t get the ice cream sundae I’d enjoyed that night out of my head. Fast forward a few months, and my friend Roxanne asked if I was interested in heading back to Bearded Lady for a most delicious blogging assignment: reviewing the bakery’s sweet wares for Cakespy. Um, yes please!

Roxanne: After that first successful visit to Bearded Lady with Dawn and other friends, I just had to go back to try more. I’m always up for trying new things, especially when it comes to baked goods and ice cream. Bearded Lady Iced Coffee

Dawn: We came to Olympia from Tacoma on a warm summer’s afternoon, perfect for some sweet treats and cold beverages. I ordered an iced coffee, and was impressed by how decadent a normally simple beverage can be. Along with the accompanying soy milk I requested, the drink came with simple syrup that seemed to be dotted with vanilla bean flecks. I’d never seen anything like this before, and it added the perfect smooth and sweet flavor to the coffee that this traditional Americano, soy, no sweetener girl thoroughly enjoyed.

lemonade, bearded lady

Roxanne: I couldn’t pass up the lemon fizz drink, since it was a warm evening (shorts weather, for sure). It didn’t disappoint; in fact, it was better than lemonade, yet just as simple! It was sweet but not overly so, and super refreshing and flavorful. Like Dawn’s iced coffee, the lemon fizz contained specks of vanilla that intrigued me and added a hint of sweetness that took it to the next level. All in all, it was the perfect choice for a summer night.

Bearded Lady Sundae - Dawn

Dawn: Roxanne and I decided to order three desserts, again reaffirming the decadence of this outing, and my choices were the customizable “lil’ bit” sundae with vegan espresso-coriander ice cream, vegan chocolate mousse, toasted nuts, and vegan caramel sauce as my toppings, and a habanero sugar brownie. Roxanne had the espresso-coriander ice cream on our first visit, and I loved the flavor so much I knew I needed to try it again. The coriander flavor (something I generally don’t associate with sweets) really pops here, and the espresso isn’t overpowering, which allows the herb’s flavor to shine thorough. The addition of the mousse was a win this time around, as it was velvety smooth, boasted rich flavor and had a great texture. The caramel was great, no different in its appearance or taste from its non-vegan counterparts. Chocolate Sundae

Roxanne: My chocolate sundae consisted of vegan chocolate ice cream, vegan and gluten-free vanilla cake, fresh berries, and berry jam. There was a lot going on, but it meshed really well together. The rich chocolate ice cream was complemented by the fresh berries and berry jam. The vanilla cake was a bit dry, but it still went well with everything else. Overall, it was an extremely good combination I’d order again! Bearded Lady Habanero Brownie

Dawn: The habanero brownie stuck out to me in the bakery case because it sounded like an intriguingly rare combination: a super spicy twist on a traditional baked good. I took a couple of small bites and said, “This isn’t hot or spicy at all!” with a tinge of disappointment. I handed it over to Roxanne, who said “Whoa!” after taking her bite. After digging in a little deeper, I finally got it, too: pow! A peppery flavor hit like a kick in the mouth, in the very best way possible. The frosting was a bit hard, but that could be attributed to a few factors. The habanero sugar definitely added an element of surprise and bold flavor that made me opt for a brownie, a dessert option that normally doesn’t catch my eye. Well done, Bearded Lady. Well done.

Bearded Lady Food Co. 412 Franklin Street, Olympia, WA 360-943-6235 Serves bakery case goodies Friday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Evening sweet kitchen open Thursday-Sunday, 5 to 11 p.m. Online here.

Tuesday
Aug282012

CakeSpy Undercover: Federal Donuts, Philadelphia

Federal Donuts

Today, I went to a place called Federal Donuts. They specialize in the following things, listed in order of my interest:

1. Donuts

2. Coffee

3. Fried Chicken

Apparently they have awesome fried chicken. Maybe one day I will go back to try it, but I hear the lines are epic. But mostly, I wanted to try the donuts.  Let me tell you about my experience.

Federal Donuts

When I walked into the small space, I had a good feeling about the donuts when I saw this: Federal donuts

I trust donuts!

Dollars to donuts, it was an extremely pleasant visit. When I walked in, I asked the friendly counter girl "what is going on here?" and she explained that they had a variety of "fancy" donuts ($2 ea), and you could also order donuts to be fried to order for $1.25. Whaa? Awesome. So the ordering began, and before you know it here is what was in front of me:

Federal Donuts

Whew! Time to get to work. Here's one of the spiced "Appolonia" donuts. Federal Donuts

Here's the creamsicle "fancy" one. Federal Donuts

and here was the figgity fig fig. I think they called it "double fig" but clearly I have made my decision. Figgity fig fig!

Federal Donuts

But the basis of everything--the place from whence it all begins--is the plain donut. They are fried to order.Federal Donuts

They have an interesting, smooth finish. But once you take a bite, you can see why this place is so freaking popular. It's delicious. It tastes like hot, doughy goodness. It's simple, and in its simplicity, it is great. It's assertively, but not aggressively, greasy, and somehow manages to have a feathery texture. It's a good donut to begin with, but the fact that it was fried to order, just for you, makes the experience so much richer.

 Federal Donuts

Let's have another one of those, shall we?

The fancy donuts are also very good--flavorful, and I appreciated how the donuts themselves seemed a bit denser (I am a dense donut lover) and enjoyed the creative but not over the top flavor combos. But really, I think that the hot fresh donuts are the way to go. Or at least get one of each, so you can see it all for yourself. 

I got there pretty early, and it wasn't too crowded and they still had plenty of donuts. But I hear that they DO sell out, so try to hit them early or during off hours (I am thinking the weekend is probably pretty insane). And let me know if you try the chicken, but it might take me a while to move past these donuts to anything else!

Federal Donuts, 1219 S. 2nd Street, Philadelphia; online here. 

Thursday
Aug162012

CakeSpy Undercover: Lucille's Bakery, Richmond VA

Lucille's bakery, richmond VA

I want to tell you about a supremely enjoyable bakery experience I had in Richmond, VA, at a place called Lucille's Bakery.

Things started off in a good way when we learned that the employee working the counter when we went was originally from the tri-state area (just like me!). We bonded over NY pizza talk. 

And things got even better when we started talking cake. 

Lucille's is a full service bakery, with pastries and fancy tarts, a selection of homey treats such as cookies, brownies, and bars, and breads. 

We set ourselves to trying a variety of the goods. 

Lucille's bakery, richmond VA

First, the cupcake. This had to be devoured immediately, because I was worried about the frosting getting mashed. That would have broken my heart, so I ate it right away. The cake was good, but the frosting was great. It was rich with chocolate flavor, smooth, and extremely satisfying. 

I also got one of their house-made Granola Bars, which was really more like a Mazurka bar, in a good way. A nice, chewy, cookielike bar. I want another one right now.

Lucille's bakery, richmond VA

 I didn't get any of the tarts because I was traveling and I didn't think they would travel well...but aren't they pretty?

Macaroon from Lucille's in Richmond

The chocolate covered macaroon was a true fatty of a cookie patty--and I mean that in a complimentary way. While I love the look of chocolate dipped macaroons that are half-covered, half-exposed, tastewise, it's clear which side is more delicious. So I was very happy to see that this cookie had an all-over coating. And the taste was surprisingly sophisticated for this homespun sweet, not overly sweet.

Lucille's is a fantastic sweet shop in Richmond--the staff is friendly, the sweets are very good, and the prices are very reasonable. Go there!

Lucille's Bakery, 719 North Meadow Street, Richmond, VA. Find them online here.

Friday
Aug032012

Sweet House: Coolhaus Ice Cream Sandwiches

Coolhaus

Did you know that yesterday was National Ice Cream Sandwich Day? That's very good timing, because I am always a little late (hence the day after business), and who wouldn't want to make this day last a little longer? And it just so happens that I was just thinking that I wanted to tell you about my delicious experience with this very treat from Coolhaus, a mobile ice cream truck which operates in a few different cities.

Coolhaus is, well, pretty cool. They combine a love of sweets and architecture. Here's the 411 on them, from their website:

 


[1] Bauhaus, an influential modernist design movement of the 1920′s and 30′s. 

[2] Rem Koolhaas, the famous Dutch Architect and Theorist who challenged the mantra "Form follows function" 

[3] "Cool house," isn't that what you're eating – an ice cream sandwich deconstructed into a cookie roof and floor slab with ice cream walls?
Natasha and Freya started baking cookies and making ice cream in Freya's mom's kitchen in the Fall of 2008. They named the flavor combinations after architects and architectural movements they were inspired by and started experimenting with recipes and testing them on friends. It seemed like a fun art project with "farchitecture" in mind ie food + architecture. 

One day it occurred to Freya and Natasha that an ice cream truck would be a perfect way to disseminate their ice cream sandwiches (and architecture dialogue) around the city of LA. The truck would be a nod to the past tradition of the Good Humor man selling ice cream novelties around neighborhoods, but with a modern twist – not to mention the long-withstanding popularity of taco trucks around LA and the rapidly growing infatuation with "gourmet" food trucks. The timing seemed perfect, now all Freya and Natasha needed was a truck! 

They found a postal truck on Craigslist and were able to afford it with money they had saved from their other jobs. They prepared the truck and their product for their launch at Coachella Valley Music Festival in April of 2009 where the product was very well received – and when they came back to LA, they had generated a strong buzz and following. 

Today, they have a fleet of 4 trucks in LA, 2 trucks and 1 cart in NY, 2 trucks in Austin, 2 trucks in Miami, a newly launched storefront in Culver City, CA and even have their ice cream sandwiches at Southern California Whole Foods Markets. They hope to continue to expand to other cities nationally, and maybe even globally (doesn't hurt to dream, right?)!

 

Coolhaus

So when SpyMom and I walked by their truck in New York City, you must know that we pretty much HAD to stop for a sweet sandwich.

You build your own sandwich by choosing your cookies and then choosing the ice cream with which to fill it. SpyMom chose the double chocolate cookies with bananas foster ice cream; I got the potato chip skor cookies with bananas foster ice cream.

What can I say other than "Damn, that was a fine ice cream sandwich?". The salty-sweet cookies combined with the mellow-sweet banana ice cream with a caramelly taste finish was pretty much perfect. So perfect, in fact, that I may or may not have licked the napkin clean (they give you an edible wafer for a napkin - so it was totally normal for me to lick it). SpyMom said she thought my cookies tasted better, but she was still extremely pleased with her sweetwich as well.

The sandwiches are kind of spendy - our total for two was over $10 when combined - but for the experience and the novelty of finding this cool business right on the street we were walking down, and for the deliciousness of the sweets we purchased, I'd day that it is certainly worth it for a special treat. You deserve it!

Find out more about Coolhaus, including where you can find them, on their website. 

Monday
Jul232012

7 Things You Didn't Know About Sarabeth's Kitchen

sarabethlinzer

If you've ever spent time in New York City and have an interest in food, chances are you've at least heard of Sarabeth's Kitchen. Today, it's a mini-chain of restaurants, but it all started out as a homemade jam-making operation. It's true! And while today they offer brunch, lunch, tea, dinner, and a highly respectable cookie, cake, tart, and overall stellar dessert collection the preserves are still one of their most-requested items. Yep: preserves. Jam.

Sarabeth's

It's a really fascinating and sweet story behind this company, and while I was collecting information for a guest recipe post from Sarabeth Levine, she was kind enough to also share this fun "fact list" about herself and the company. I'm really just copying and pasting it, because it's interesting enough on its own to read! Here goes--seven things you didn't know about Sarabeth's Kitchen!

Rugelach, Sarabeth's

1. Yes, There Really Is a Sarabeth

After more than 30 years, acclaimed pastry chef, award-winning jam maker, well-known restaurateur and celebrated cookbook author Sarabeth Levine remains just as passionate and dedicated to her craft as she was on day one. Why? She attributes it all to a simple feeling: “I love it. Not just my job, but the joy it brings to so many people.” And, of course, her early-learned notion that, “You don’t have to have a fancy kitchen to make incredible food.  Sarabeth is the driving force behind the mile-high success and stellar reputation of the hugely successful brand that bears her name – one that has become synonymous with superior tasting food made with high-quality ingredients and a special touch that often seems difficult to put into words. “The touchstone of her success is the personal care and attention Levine puts into her home-cooked foods” (New York Magazine). This self-taught “Goddess of Bakedom” trusts her palate emphatically – if Sarabeth doesn’t like it, well then it’s simply not going to be served. Constantly buzzing around her kitchens to ensure every aspect of the brand and business is just right, Sarabeth often pauses to pay tribute to where it all began and to the dedicated employees many of whom have been with her for over 20 years. 

Sarabeth's

 

2. Made From Scratch

A true American success story, Sarabeth was the second of five children raised between New York and Florida. She graduated from C.W. Post with a degree in sociology and soon married and had two children, later divorcing but not before learning copious baking skills from her mother-in-law. Sarabeth held a variety of jobs from a nursery school teacher to a dental assistant and bathing suit designer. In 1981, she met Bill Levine, a contractor working on a new cafe that needed a special touch. Little did he know that Sarabeth had just the trick. She had never forgotten a treasured family recipe for orange-apricot marmalade that was kept secret by ‘Grandmère’, (her Aunt Ruth’s mother-in-law) a French Jewish woman also named Sara. Sarabeth recalls grandmère making clandestine batches in the basement, and the recipe was revealed to her by Aunt Ruth long after her death. That very special recipe is what Sarabeth prepared daily for Bill’s cafe, making it from their apartment kitchen and serving it proudly to rave reviews. That, of course, was only the beginning.

 

Sarabeth's

 

 
3. “Spreading Joy and Marmalade”

This apropos title of a New York Times feature story says it all. Sarabeth’s perfect renditions of classic baking benefit from her never-ending search for perfection and bring satisfaction to all those who indulge. In 1996, Sarabeth was honored with the prestigious James Beard Award for Pastry Chef of the Year – a meaningful recognition of all her hard work and true love of the art. The business had taken off and knew no boundaries, expanding consistently with one achievement after the next. Now, Sarabeth’s Kitchen (www.sarabeth.com) consists of a mail-order business, retail products, nine restaurants, a 15,000-square-foot jam factory, a state-of-the-art bakery, and a best-selling cookbook. To think it all began with a marmalade now described as being “in a class by itself…a wonderful rendition of what we should expect from jam” (Food & Wine) and “the one I reach for first” (Oprah).

 
4. Home, Sweet Home

Sarabeth’s myriad products provide a sweet treat to any home and are perfect whether buying a little something for yourself or a decidedly tasty gift for anyone, anytime. With a reputation as the finest fruit spreads and jams in the gourmet industry, Sarabeth's "Legendary Spreadable Fruit” now comes in 14 unique and flavorful varieties. Less sweet and lower in calories per serving than ordinary preserves, each batch contains hand-cut fruit to avoid bruising and preserve natural flavor and texture. It’s then watched carefully as it slowly simmers in small batches to thicken and reach its peak of flavor.  Sarabeth is also well known for her treasure trove of fresh pies, pastries, cakes, cookies, bread, brownies, tarts, muffins and desserts made daily at the bakery. And, whether it’s her decadent hot chocolate or her creamy tomato soup, the opportunities to enjoy Sarabeth’s creations are endless.  Products are available through the popular mail order business and at more than 5,000 locations worldwide: retail stores including Williams-Sonoma, Sur la Table and supermarkets including Kings, Whole Foods, Fairway, Zabars and Food Emporium, and Mandarin Oriental and Trump International hotels.

Sarabeth's

5. Around the Table With Sarabeth

A venture that began in 1981 when Sarabeth and Bill grew out of their at-home business and opened a tiny bakery-kitchen on New York’s Upper West Side with just a few tables and chairs has spawned into a successful group of popular restaurants that have earned a warm spot in the hearts of native New Yorkers, out of town visitors and tourists from all over the world. In an average year, this “undisputed Breakfast Queen of New York” (New York Magazine) welcomes more than one million customers into her current locations including: four standalone restaurants in New York City: Upper East Side (opened 1983), Upper West Side (opened 1986), Central Park South (opened 2005) and the largest of all and only to house a full cocktail bar in Tribeca (opened 2011); one restaurant in Key West, Fla. (opened 2005); and four additional locations within Lord & Taylor department stores in New York (Manhattan, Scarsdale, Garden City and Manhasset). Lauded by national media and recommended in countless travel guides, these sought-after restaurants serve up breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner seven days a week with Sarabeth’s fresh and wholesome recipes at reasonable prices. Sarabeth also operates a wholesale/retail bakery and café (opened 1998) in New York City’s must-visit food haven, Chelsea Market – the location where all her New York restaurants’ baked goods are carefully crafted as onlookers stare yearningly with eyes wide and stomachs growling.

6. Sarabeth’s Secrets Revealed

In October 2010, Sarabeth came out from behind the baker’s rack to finally reveal the coveted recipes for more than 100 of her signature classics in her first book, Sarabeth's Bakery: From My Hands to Yours (Rizzoli, $39.95). Heralded as one of the “Best Culinary Books of 2010” (The New York Times), this 320-page “must-have tome” (Ladies’ Home Journal) features 11 chapters: Morning Pastries; Muffins & More; Beautiful Breads; Everyday Cake; Party Cakes and Company; Pies & Tarts; Plain and Fancy Cookies; Spoon Desserts; Frozen Desserts; Spreadable Fruits; and Frostings, Fillings & Sweet Sauces. The book also includes step-by-step photographs of classic pastry techniques, Sarabeth’s tips to stocking the perfect pastry pantry, her must-have tools of the trade, and exquisite photography to give the home baker creative serving suggestions.

Sarabeth's

 
7. The Icing on the Cake

Sarabeth has taught countless classes while also frequently participating in charitable events for organizations such as Share, Share Our Strength, Careers for Culinary Arts, City Harvest and Citymeals-on-Wheels. But, there’s more to Sarabeth then just jams and pies. With her appropriately titled blog, Goddess of Bakedom (www.goddessofbakedom.com), fans gain an inside look into her creative and delicious world. She can often be found carefully rummaging through vintage culinary tools at antique shops and yard sales searching out the perfect items to add to her collection, the largest of which is an ever-growing family of nostalgic cookie jars each with a distinct personality and backstory. Sarabeth strives to maintain what she calls a work-peace balance, off-setting her long days at the bakery with hobbies like gardening, knitting and golf. She and Bill have four children and 12 grandchildren between them, and they enjoy spending time together whether at their Upper West Side apartment or quaint home in Water Mill, N.Y. Sarabeth’s favorite meal of the day? Breakfast, naturally. A center-cut slice of fresh sourdough boule with a generous portion of cream cheese and a huge pile of her marmalade, eaten longingly with eyes closed and memories of a childhood recipe that changed her life.

Want more? Find the guest recipe for Chocolate Chubbies cookies here, and learn more about Sarabeth's Kitchen here.

Tuesday
Jul102012

Pastry Profiles: Scoopcake from The Sweet Spot, New Milford, CT

Sweet Spot

Not so long ago, I spent some time at a place called The Sweet Spot in New Milford, Connecticut. Now, I'd been to the area before: my college roommate's family lived in nearby Danbury. But until this visit, all I ever wanted to do in the area was visit dairy superstore Stew Leonard, where they boasted several flavors of soft-serve. 

So I had never been to The Sweet Spot before. But I was so glad to have a chance to visit.

Sweet Spot

I even got something savory: an egg and cheese on their house-made wheat bread. This bread was very good.Sweet spot

But don't worry, I saved my appetite for the main event: the sweet stuff. But where to start? After all, they have cupcakes. Cupcakes that resemble my Cuppie character! See picture at the top of the post. But they also have cookies. And ice cream. Sweet Spot

How to decide? So I didn't, because I noticed that they also have something called a Scoopcake. What is that, you ask? They conveniently laid out the anatomy of a scoopcake. Basically, it's a hollowed-out cupcake filled with something sweet, topped with ice cream and sprinkles. YES!

Sweet Spot

I made use of this construction by choosing a vanilla cupcake, which was then filled with caramel, topped with cookie dough ice cream, and (of course) topped with rainbow sprinkles. Hooray! So I ended up getting cookies, cake, and ice cream...all at once.

Sweet Spot, New Milford CT

It looked from the top like just a regular ice cream scoop, so I wish they would have put it into a clear cup (at least so I could have given you a better indication of what lies beneath), but you're just going to have to trust me on it: this is an amazing cupcake concoction. 

I mean. A moist, buttery cupcake. Silky-sticky-thick caramel filling. Cookie dough ice cream, which is two parts amazing. And rainbow sprinkles. This is like heaven on a plate (or in this case, in a dish). 

There is some very good stuff going on at The Sweet Spot, and if you find yourself in the New Milford environs, I highly suggest it. 

60 Railroad Street, New Milford, CT; online here.

Sunday
Jul012012

Baked Good of the Day: Boston Cream Cupcake, Molly's Cupcakes, Chicago

Boston Cream Cupcake, Molly's Cupcakes

Sometimes, you just need a cupcake. 

Yesterday, I found myself in such a situation. I was taking a long walk in Chicago following my introduction to the Verizon Wireless Savvy Gourmets program, in which basically they gave me and a bit over a baker's dozen more foodie writer types a free device (the Android "Xyboard" in this case--since it was gifted to me, they've asked me to say “Disclosure: I am participating in the Verizon Wireless Midwest Savvy Gourmets program and have been provided with a wireless device and six months of service in exchange for my honest opinions about the product.”) to test out with our various writing/blog activities. Having tested out the device, I had already found it to be very nice for updating my website while traveling--not as cumbersome as a laptop, but with more functionality than my phone. This made me happy. 

So I was brainstorming the other ways in which this device might improve my life when I realized, "I am hungry". This happens sometimes. But lo and behold, there was Molly's Cupcakes! I haven't been to Molly's in ages, and thought it would be a great moment to try them out again. After all, a lot has happened since my last personal visit to this cute-as-a-button Chicago cupcakery and since my friend Ryan's visit. They've opened a new location in New York, for one; several of the flavor offerings were new (to me) on my visit, too.

Molly's Cupcakes, chicago

Sashaying past the cookie dough and cake batter varieties, I settled on the Boston Cream Cupcake, a vanilla cupcake filled with custard and topped with a beautifully piped chocolate ganache.

Molly's cupcakes, chicago

The cupcake weighed in at $4.11, which felt slightly like a slap in the face (somehow that post-tax 11 cents above the four dollar mark just seemed a little excessive), but I really, really wanted this cupcake, so I proceeded. 

As weighty as the cost was, the cupcake was, as well. It was a solid little brick of cream-filled magic, a respectable buttery vanilla cake beautifully complemented by a turn-your-teeth-chocolatey rich ganache (oh please why can't you just hook me up to a vat of it and inject it?) and a vanilla bean-flecked custard that made me want to coo with happiness when I got my first bite with all of the flavors combined.

Molly's cupcakes, chicago

Sometimes it's nice to revisit bakeries from our past, and this one rewarded me with deliciousness. Though the cupcake was pricey, ultimately I have no regrets. And were I to go back in time, I'd do it all over again.

Molly's Cupcakes, locations in Chicago and New York; online here.

 

Thursday
Jun142012

Well Bread: Bantam Bread Company, Connecticut

bantam bread co

Not so very long ago, I went to a bakery which goes by the name Bantam Bread Company.

With a name like that, you might figure that they specialize in bread. Well, you'd be right. But they just as ably make and offer a delicious array of sweet stuff. 

Included on the roster? Fruit crostadas. Biscuits. Crumb cake. Shortbread. Cheesecake. Teacakes. And more.

The delicious fruit crostadas look something like this when bitten into:

Morning pastry

Oh, that's right. The crumb cake is pretty fantastic, too. It's buttery, brown sugary, and delicious. Only problem? There should be more crumb. Like, this much.

Crumb cake

But one of the true standouts, in my opinion, was the Peach Brulee. It was sort of like a creme brulee tart, but with peaches too. Although the peaches might sound like they make a delicious dessert into health food, really, it's not that way at all. It's peaches n creamy and very decadent. A very pleasant dessert, indeed!

Peach brulee

And, you know what, since I'm always a sucker for a great story, I found the story of how this bakery came to be rather fascinating. Here it is, from their site:

In the summer of 1995 Niles Golovin and Susie Uruburu attended the Fancy Food Show in New York City. Niles, a chef in NYC for many years was restless to do something on his own. He found bread baking to be fascinating. 

At the show Niles spoke with an old friend from NYC who owned one of the most successful wholesale bakeries in New York about his thoughts of opening an artisan bakery. He said “The time is right if you want to do it, do it now”. 

On the way back to Litchfield, with visions of beautiful golden brown loaves in his head, Niles and Susie stopped at a popular fruit/vegetable stand on Mt. Tom Pond. Niles asked, “If I can find a place to bake at night, could we test market bread at your stand”? The owner happily agreed. 

Next stop was a pizza shop in Litchfield where he baked after hours on Friday and Saturday nights. “Niles’ Bread” was born. 

The next weekend Susie packed the fresh baked loaves in the old Volvo wagon, set up a card table at the farm stand and sold out in two hours. After a busy summer Niles spent a month of Sundays at an organic bakery in the Berkshires honing his craft and learning from a bread “guru”. 

The following summer a location was found in the basement of an old house on Route 202 in Bantam. Stone and brick walls with windows overlooking the Bantam River made the bakery look like a step back in time to a French boulangerie. 

Through word of mouth and a stunning review in the Waterbury Republican (three weeks after opening) The Bantam Bread Company arrived.

How sweet! So. If you're in Bantam, go to this place.

853 Bantam Road, Bantam, CT 06750; Online here.

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