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Entries in cakespy undercover (112)

Monday
Jan062014

Oh My Tasty: Church of Cupcakes, Denver CO

Church of Cupcakes

I tell you, sometimes fact is stranger than fiction. And so here is a tale that involves not only delicious cupcakes, but my big burly dad, a tricycle, and maybe a little sweet gosel. Yep: here is the tale of how my big burly dad found himself fixing the cupcake trike at Church of Cupcakes in Denver.

I was in Denver, among other reasons, to visit the Craftsy HQ. I have written a number of scintillating articles on important subjects such as How to Make Nanaimo Bars and How to Make Crumb Cake and How to Make Butter at Home for these people, and I wanted to meet them. It was a great experience! Here I am with the editorial staff I usually work with. Cute, right?

My dad was with me in Denver, and since we were a little early for my appointment with Craftsy, we decided to get our cupcake on. Naturally, we headed over to Church of Cupcakes. Don't you already love them based on the name?

We knew we'd found the place when we saw this outside.

Church of Cupcakes

Well, technically I've already been here, but it had a different name the last time I went: Lovely Confections. That name was sweet, this one is cheeky. I love them regardless of the name. 

As we got there, we saw proprietress Porsche fiddling with the cupcake tricycle, their mobile cupcake delivery system.

Church of Cupcakes

Immediately, my manly-man dad stepped in to see what he could do.

Dad at Church of Cupcakes

My dad is a tinkerer. When we were little, he was a garbageman--wait, I think you're supposed to use the word sanitation worker now?--and he loved to collect...well, junk. But he'd turn the junk he collected into treasures, such as the coolest bikes ever, which he pieced together from a wheel found here, handlebars found there. Seriously, they were the coolest bikes on the block, as well as the next block over. 

While he tinkered, Porche met Porkchop the pug for the first time (she's long admired him on facebook), and I ogled the cupcakes. 

Cupcakes

Oh, what cupcakes. We picked up a box of four: vanilla-vanilla, pumpkin ("Oh my Gourd!"), chocolate-salted caramel, and honey. Not long after, me and daddio busted into the box. He had the salty caramel frosted chocolate; I had the lavender-infused cake with honey-lemon frosting. 

I should also pause to tell you how funny and cute everything is in Church of Cupcakes. Cute tees, glitter everywhere, funny puns. I am in love!

Church of Cupcakes

Tees Church of Cupcakes

Listen. I'll be straight up with you, and I would say the same to my dad: he's not what one might call a "mindful" taster. This puppy was gone in 2 bites.

But from his expression, and the fact that he said "that was very good" or something to that tone, it must have been great. The taste I was gifted was awesome: dark chocolate. Light, buttery sweetness. And yummy salt. Perfection.

Church of Cupcakes

And listen. The lavender-honey-lemon variety. Believe it or not, I had without thinking about it chosen the exact thing I had chosen last time. And it was still so, so good.

It had a soupcon of lavender, but it wasn't perfumey by any means. It was delicate. But gawd, was it buttery. The honey-lemon made it taste slightly fancy, but it still had the simple appeal of vanilla. It was a cupcake that made me smile. 

Church of cupcakes

The other two varieties were devoured by my sweetest guy (not Porkchop). He ate both in about 2 bites (so like my dad!) but proclaimed them beautifully done.

Here I am with the owner.

Church of Cupcakes

I think that if you are in Denver, you need to visit. It's sweet and cute there! Perfect.

Church of Cupcakes, 1489 Steele Street, Denver; online here.

Sunday
Jan052014

Beignet, Done That: Cafe du Monde, New Orleans

I'd love to keep you in suspense about what I ordered at Café du Monde in New Orleans, but if you've ever been there (and perhaps even if you haven't), you will already know the answer: beignets.

Beignets

Not only are they the only foodstuff on the menu, but they're also the dish, accompanied by cafe au lait, for which the establishment is famous.

Qu'est-ce c'est, le beignet?

These heavenly bits of fried dough are related to doughnuts, but they’re far Frenchier. In their purest form, they are simply fried rectangles or triangles of sweet dough that puff and become pillowy when fried. They are served with copious amounts of confectioners’ sugar. More adventurous bakers will offer different flavors and even filled varieties in New Orleans, but it's pretty straight-up at Café du Monde.

More about Cafe du Monde.

Beignets, cafe du monde

Perhaps the most famous beignet maker in town is this Café du Monde, which has been beignet-ing it since--believe it--1862. It is open 24 hours a day in the historic French Quarter and specializes in beignets and coffee laced with chicory. Are they the best in town? Locals have varying opinions, but it’s a singular and necessary experience in New Orleans. To be sitting "courtside" in the covered outdoor seating area and watching buskers, local vendors, and passers-by, and just generally seeing the world go by, is as evocative a New Orleans image as eating a croissant in Paris, or having tea in the UK.

Listen. Not that you asked me, but the 'Monde has several locations that you shouldn't bother with if your time is limited. The true experience is at the original location, on Decatur street, in the French Market.

How it works

Cafe du monde

Café du Monde runs a tight machine. You arrive, and you sit. Your napkin holder is also your menu. Of course you want beignets, but what to drink? Cafe au lait (do it)? Or just plain chicory coffee? They do other, fancier drinks, too, but don't bother. 

The beignets will arrive, three on a plate, with an almost comical amount of confectioners' sugar forming mountaintop peaks on top. The sugar partially dissolves into the fried pastries as you eat, but it is pretty much guaranteed that you will leave the establishment looking like you have a serious cocaine problem. You know, from what I have seen on TV. 

You may think to yourself that you won't finish the beignets, but you will. Because even if you've heard that there are better beignets in town, it is hard to beat this experience and they are quite good. If there are two of you, you might just order more. Just let it happen--you're in New Orleans, after all. It's a good place to let it all hang out, and everyone deserves a treat. 

Beignet, done that

Cafe du Monde, 800 Decatur Street, New Orleans. 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.

Monday
Oct142013

CakeSpy Undercover: The Vanilla Moose, Aztec NM

I need to tell you about the business that may just be my favorite soft serve ice cream joint on earth. 

Vanilla Moose, Aztec

And please know that this statement does not come lightly, as I was born and raised by the Jersey Shore, a soft serve mecca if ever there was one.

But in the most unexpected place--Aztec, New Mexico, in a region called "Four Corners" given its proximity to the spot where New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and Utah all meet--there is a most magical ice cream spot called The Vanilla Moose.

Here's what you'll see as you drive up. 

Vanilla Moose, Aztec

There are picnic tables leading up to the burger shack-style order window. You can drive through, too, but that's definitely not as much fun as walking up. 

Soft serve is what's on the menu here, vanilla and chocolate, and it's done right. It's creamy and smooth, with none of the "ew"-y grainy texture that can characterize lesser varieties of soft serve (and like I said, I know). But if a plain ol' cone is too boring for you, that's ok, because they have a number of different ways to dress it up, as you'll see on the menu. Vanilla Moose, Aztec

By the way, the menu boasts "spoiling dinners since 1983" and "as always, free doggie & baby cones". Seriously, don't you love them already?

Vanilla Moose, Aztec

There are floats, cones, shakes, and especially sundaes. Now, don't get me wrong, because we got a shake and it was most excellent--chocolate with almond syrup and almonds inside and on top of the shake, thankyouverymuch--

Vanilla Moose, Aztec

But. In my opinion, the true joy here is the sundaes. We sampled several, so I feel well qualified to tell you about it. They are served in several sizes, but I found the "junior" size to be just right. It's like a small ice cream, but when topped with a number of different textured and flavored additions and whipped cream and a cherry on top, it's the perfect amount. 

Some highlights? The brownie sundae was a study in balance, with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream playing beautifully off of the chocolate-rich brownies (made by owner Pam) and the rich fudge sauce. When it slightly began to melt and all of the flavors came together...perfection. Good with nuts, too. 

Vanilla Moose, Aztec

The peanut cluster sundae was ideal for this sweet-and-salty dessert lover. Creamy vanilla ice cream was coated with caramel and crunchy salty roasted peanuts, then (why not) it was all topped with hot fudge, whipped cream and a cherry. It was just indulgent enough, and the saltiness made each bite completely tantalizing, making you want more sweet, and then the taste of sweet made you want more salty. 

Vanilla Moose, Aztec

During a week-long stay in the area, we went four times. The owner, Pam, who took over the business from her mother, and her employee were both just stellar, dealing with simultaneous drive-through and walk-up customers with ease, speed, and friendliness. On a visit when there was no line, Pam came 'round the counter and sat with us and talked about New Mexico, spirituality, cross-country moves, and of course, her role as one who brings sweetness to many lives. She's a pretty cool lady. Tell her I said hi if you go. 

And, speaking of which, yes, I do think you should go. Aztec is an interesting little town, with Native American ruins which are fascinating to tour, and it's just a stone's throw from uber-cute Durango, Colorado. It's worth a visit if you find yourself in that part of the world.

Vanilla Moose, Aztec

But please, make sure you visit The Vanilla Moose. I'll warn you, they're closing in about 2 weeks (a little before Halloween) for the season, but they'll be back in the spring, and the spring after that, and it's my sincere hope that they are there forever. Because we need places like this to make us pause from being so busy in our everyday lives, and savor some sweetness just for a few minutes.

OH! And remember how I told you they do free doggie cones? Guess who we brought on one of our visits...

Vanilla Moose, Aztec

Yeah, this happened. Porkchop loves The Vanilla Moose, too! Wonder what emotions he felt while eating his cone.

 

Vanilla Moose, Aztec

The Vanilla Moose, 1721 West Aztec Boulevard, Aztec NM 87401. On Facebook.

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.

 

Thursday
Sep122013

Carb Lover's Delight: Golden Crown Panaderia, Albuquerque

Golden Crown Panaderia

When I tell you about Golden Crown Panaderia in Albuquerque, it's probably going to sound strange. 

You see, from the best I can tell, they have four specialties there: 

1. Empanadas

2. Biscochitos

3. Bread

4. Pizza

Golden Crown PanaderiaGolden Crown Panaderia

Yep. Empanadas and biscochitos, okay. Bread...all right. The pizza is a little bit of a curveball. And yes, in case you're wondering, they do have other stuff--like mexican wedding cake cookies and a variety of other pastries. Here's there menu so you can ogle. But we zeroed in on the stuff that we were told was the best.

Golden Crown Panaderia

Now, I don't know about you, but I might not have high hopes for, say, the pizza at such an establishment. But the most incredible thing is that they do all of four things things amazingly well. 

But since this is a dessert and baked goods site, I am going to assure you that the pizza is well worth a try and start talking about the sweets now, ok?

Biscochito, Golden Crown

First, the biscochitos. We were extremely delighted when, upon entering the bakery, the employee just gave us each a biscochito. If you've never tried one, they're a flaky, almost pie crust-esque spiced cookie, often made with lard, which is the official State cookie of New Mexico. Their biscochitos were perfect. Golden Crown Panaderia

They simply crumbled into a sweet, melty oblivion in your mouth, and the lightly crunchy dusting of sugar and spice was gentle, not overpowering, letting the flavor of the rich but slight cookie shine. 

Now, I should tell you for future reference that if you ever buy biscochitos, you must eat them immediately. It's not that they won't keep, but they will crumble. I have purchased biscochitos before and taken a short walk with them and somehow they've turned into a pile of crumbs. Be warned.

Next up were the empanadas. We got apricot and cherry. They have a number of flavors, though--raspberry, apple, lemon, et cetera. Nothing crazy, but a nice variety of flavor options.

Golden Crown Panaderia

The fillings were OK. Like, serviceable. But sort of along the lines of one of those TastyKake hand pies. Fancier of course, but still of that ilk. The apricot tasted better than the cherry, we thought. But either way, the fillings are really just an excuse to have something to wrap the crust around.

Golden Crown Panaderia

But dudes, dudettes, the crust. The crust was similar to the texture of the biscochitos, making me wonder if it was a biscochito crust or perhaps just a lightly doctored biscochito dough altered for a sturdier texture. Golden Crown PanaderiaLike the cookies, they were dusted with sugar and spice. The crust was perfect. It was flaky, lightly nutty (perhaps owing to the spice?) and like the biscochitos, just melted in your mouth. This is the type of crust you're willing to travel for. 

Golden Crown Panaderia

Get yourself to the Golden Crown. I think you'll enjoy their crust quite a bit, be it on an empanada or a pizza.

Golden Crown Panaderia, 1103 Mountain Road, Albuquerque NM. Online 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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