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Entries in cakespy undercover (112)

Monday
Jun032013

Sweet Surprise: Key Lime Pie from Zia Diner, Santa Fe

Key Lime Pie

Sometimes, you find sweet dessert finds where you least expect them. For instance, I would not have thought that Santa Fe, New Mexico, would be a great place to get an authentic slice of Key Lime Pie. Turns out, I was wrong, because they're selling the good stuff right at the Zia Diner, not far from the central downtown area. How delightful to be surprised like this!

As I entered the building to meet a friend, I was greeted by a case full of baked goods. I was informed by the hostess that their sweets are all made on site, and that they're all very, very good. I had a long and loving look at this cream puff: 

Cream Puff, Zia Diner

Before sitting down for some savory food. After dinner, though, you can bet your bottom dollar we were ready to see the dessert menu! When asked what was good, the waitress said that if there was any part of us that held love for key lime pie, we simply had to get theirs. "Is it made with real Key Limes?" I asked. Apparently, yes. She also told us that Floridians have a way of testing a pie to see if it's authentic from the get-go: they look at the color. Artificially tinted or regular-lime only impostors will not have the correct color, which is kind of a custardy yellow (not green!). She also told us that Floridians approved of this pie. But would a Spy?

Key Lime Pie

Yes! Oh my! This pie was very, very good. Shockingly tart on first bite, but subsiding as it warms in your mouth to an even, tart-sweet richness. Zingy citrus--this pie tastes like sunshine. A very nice texture, sort of like that of panna cotta--it didn't collapse when cut into, but wasn't stiff or too firm, either. Soft...yielding. 

I was very impressed by this Key Lime Pie, not only because it was delicious but that it was proof that sometimes, even a professional dessert detective can be pleasantly surprised by a sweet in the most unexpected place! 

If you're not in or near Santa Fe, however, you can enjoy the dessert gallery on their website (why doesn't every restaurant do that?).

Zia Diner, 326 South Guadalupe Street, Santa Fe NM; online here.

Saturday
Jun012013

Glazed and Infused, Chicago

Glazed and Infused

The best way to become dazed and confused? By sugar and carb-o-loading on all things Glazed & Infused. This is a new-ish boutique doughnut chain in Chicago, and it has a sweet story for me, personally. 

Way back, when I started CakeSpy.com, I started to connect myself to the bakery pulse of the USA. And one of my favorite bakery discoveries was Dozen Bake Shop, an adorable bakery chainlet in Pittsburgh. I even did an interview with then-owner, James Gray.

Well, this adorable fellow made quite an impression on me, and we kept in contact through the years, though we'd never met in person. Then, fast forward several years. James has sold his bakery in Pittsburgh and moved to Chicago, where he is the manager and a partner in a doughnut shop chainlet called Glazed and Infused. I happen to be visiting Chicago for my book tour. Finally, we get to meet!! We are adorable!!

Naturally, we had a chat over some doughnuts. So, since I believe that everything tastes better with a backstory, I'll tell you a bit about the shop's history first.

It's owned by a restaurant company called Francesca's, which owns several restaurants in Chicago and beyond. But this was the company's first foray into morning sweets. This made James a great fit for the company, as he has experience with pastry and sweets retail, which is, as he puts it mildly, "very different" than restaurants.

They've quickly grown to five locations, and on the date of our meeting, James was headed out to scout location #6. Spreading beyond Chicago is a definite possibility, with an idea of bringing high quality doughnuts to the masses in a friendly and accessible way. 

In Chicago, the doughnuts have a healthy and loving following. In chatting with a customer who works nearby, he said that Glazed and Infused is his little "treat for myself" for walking to work, you know, to balance out all that exercise. On Yelp, one customer says, "If you want to feel like you're licking the floor in heaven, go to Glazed and Infused!", giving it a very high star rating. I must admit, I don't know exactly what that means, but I like the sound of it.

Looking at the variety of doughnuts available, your head might start to spin. They're prettily arranged, and the flavors are mostly standard fare but with a little twist--think, a bismarck doughnut stuffed with locally made blueberry jam, or instead of bavarian cream doughnut, a Creme Brulee Doughnut.

I, of course, got hooked up with a whole box of them. YEAH!  

Glazed and Infused

What you've got in this picture is (from top left, going clockwise) an old-fashioned glazed, coffee glazed, creme brulee, "Bar Snack", Bismark featuring blueberries, and chocolate toffee (featuring Terry's Toffee, made in Chicago!). 

Glazed and Infused

Curious about that "bar snack" doughnut? Well, it includes basically all of the little junk foodie snacks you might find in little bowls at a bar--pretzels, peanuts, chips, and then some M&M's (why not?). It makes for a salty-sweet guilty pleasure of a treat. 

To start my doughnut eating quest immediately, though, I went for the Banana Cream Cheese, which is composed of banana cake with cream cheese frosting, salted caramel drizzle & candied walnuts. It sounded a lot like Hummingbird Cake, so I was totally in!

Glazed and Infused

Yum, dudes! The nicely banana-scented cake was soft and gooey owing to that caramelly glaze, definitely easier to eat with a fork. The cream cheese frosting was decadent and smooth and lightly tangy, and those crunchy walnuts added the perfect texture contrast. 

This doughnut made me a very happy spy. See?

Glazed and Infused

Overall, I was very impressed with the doughnuts. What is a fairly large operation already has managed to maintain great quality in their doughnuts, and I love that they've tweaked the classics just enough to make them special, but not so much that they are too weird or inaccessible to please a crowd.

So, there you have it. If you're in Chicago, I highly suggest you give Glazed & Infused a try!

Glazed & Infused, multiple locations; find them, and more info, at goglazed.com.

Sunday
May262013

Sweet Discovery: The Shazaam Cookie, Nature's Corner, Spring Lake NJ

I'm going to tell you the truth, here. Had I read the sign carefully, I might not have went for this cookie. After all, it is advertised as being "high fiber" and boasts its content of rice protein powder to satisfy appetite. Those selling points make the cookie sound suspiciously like health food.

It does make sense, of course--they are sold at a health food store in New Jersey. They're called the "Shazaam Cookie" and they're baked on site at Spring Lake Heights' Nature's Corner store (where health nuts and stoners from my neck of the woods have bought their hippie food since I was in high school). They're chock-full of whole grains, organic hemp seeds, organic rice protein powder, and organic coconut oil. As I learned on their website, the cookies "also have flavorless vegetable fiber to help regulate your digestive system. Yummy chocolate chips add just the right amount of sweetness."

Perhaps they sense that they might lose some people with this description, so they finish "Of course,  These cookies are fantastically popular, and we love making them fresh in store daily. Stop in today and give them a try!"

Now. I am going to tell you that even if health food scares you, you really must give this cookie a try. Because somehow, the little elves at Nature's Corner manage to make a healthy treat that is a seriously delectable sweet. It is soft and lightly crumbly--not like it will crumble apart, but like it will yield in your mouth. But then little pop-crunches from the hemp seeds. Nice texture. And then you get the chocolate chips, little bursts of deep chocolate flavor surrounded by a nutty, grain-y flavor that is a wonderful complement. They sort of remind me of the Urban Legend cookies from my new book, but like, their healthier cousin.

I found this cookie a wonderul surprise, and was so delighted to learn that they are baked on site. I can most certainly see how they've begun to garner a cult following, and they can certainly count me as one of their fans from now until forever. 

Nature's Corner,  2407 Route 71, Spring Lake Heights, NJ; online here. 

Friday
May172013

CakeSpy Undercover: Blue Star Donuts, Portland OR

Blue Star Donuts

On my book tour's first leg (don't worry, there are more dates), I found myself in Portland, OR--a delightful city for foodies if ever there was one.

There were plenty of delicious new spots, both brick and mortar and of the food truck variety, that I wanted to try. With limited time and obligations filling my time, it was tough to make it to many, but--and I was assured by more than one person--you've gotta go to Blue Star Donuts.

Well, as it happened my first evening in Portland, my better half dinnered on a delicious Little Big Burger, a small burger joint with low prices but plenty of style. Tasty burgers, too. Guess what? Blue Star Donuts is owned by the same people! So even before going, I knew that they were probably going to be well made and served in a stylish setting (but then again, everyone in Portland is either a chef or graphic designer, so it's sort of a given). 

Well, once I got there, I knew I was going to like it from the moment I saw this sign: 

Keep Calm and Eat Donuts

I was also amused by this:

Blue Star Donuts

As you walk in, they have the donuts displayed prettily so you can see what each style looks like. Blue Star Donuts Blue Star Donuts

And when you order, they take your name. Why? Because they glaze each donut to ORDER, so it might take a minute or two! We got an old fashioned cake glazed, a yeast glazed, and a yeast donut topped with dulce de leche and hazelnut.

Here I am with a donut. If I look a little windblown, it's because I don't always let things like brushing my hair slow me down, preferring to head directly to the donut shop upon waking.Blue Star Donuts

Wow! Let's start by talking about the yeast doughnuts. They're so light and airy...almost briochelike in their lightness. They have a very good flavor. They have a very good texture. You'll never want to eat a Krispy Kreme again!

That brioche-like thing, btw, was in fact confirmed when I looked at their facebook page, which says this:

Our donuts are made from a classic brioche recipe that originated in the south of France. The dough is made from scratch every day: we start with a certified sustainable bread flour from Shepherds Grain, add Cage Free eggs from Stiebrs Farms, mix in whole milk from Sunshine Dairy, and then fold in a European-style butter from Larsen’s Creamery. All the fruits that go into our fillings and glazes are organic, and we only cook our donuts in rice oil. Our donuts are made fresh through out the day - selections change daily and sell out quickly!

Dulce de leche hazelnut donut, Blue Star Donuts Dulce de leche hazelnut donut, Blue Star Donuts

The dulce de leche hazelnut was VERY sticky, owing to the fact that it was so freshly glazed. This was a bit distracting, and perhaps it would have benefitted by waiting a few minutes before consumption, you know, to let it "set". But who does that? Who can wait with something like this within arm's reach? On to the old fashioneds. Both regular (yeast) and cake.

Blue Star Donuts

Once again, that dazzling briochelike dough. What a fine donut!

Blue Star Donuts Blue Star Donuts

and the old-fashioned cake for last.

Blue Star Donut

A dense dough, sort of like that of a sour cream coffee cake or something. A crisp edge. Very good--but not as dazzling as the other two. But nonetheless a pure pleasure to eat.

Blue Star Donuts

Blue Star Donuts--just donut! You won't regret it.

Blue Star Donuts, 1237 SW Washington Street, Portland OR; online here.

Wednesday
Apr242013

CakeSpy Undercover: Huckleberry Cafe, Santa Monica

Multigrain bar, Huckleberry, Santa Monica

I love me a good cafe. And in Santa Monica, California, you'll find plenty of nice ones. Airy, sunny, often with outdoor seating. You can smell the ocean in the air if the wind is right. 

My new favorite is a bit in-land, but what they lack in the scent of sea air, they make up for in the smell of sweet carbohydrates. It's called Huckleberry Cafe. It's owned by a couple--half of which earned their baking chops at San Francisco's famed Tartine Bakery.

Huckleberry, Santa Monica

I had read about Huckleberry on websites and in magazines over the past few years, so I was delighted to finally have a chance to visit while spending a few days in Santa Monica. 

The website told me that "Everything served at Huckleberry is made on site using the best quality ingredients, including organic flour, Vahlrona chocolate and farmer’s market produce. The menu changes regularly with the seasons and on the baker’s whims."

Huckleberry, Santa Monica

So, I'll tell you what I had, but I can't guarantee it will be there when you go. 

Huckleberry, Santa Monica

First, the maple bacon biscuit. I am a biscuit lover, and this one was a fine specimen. Sort of like a hybrid between biscuit and scone, texture-wise, with a mellow sweetness from the maple. Yum. But then it was punctuated by salty spots of bacon. This was no "bacon just for attention" type of sweet. It was really effing good. 

Next up was the multigrain oat bar with a cherry filling. This was different, I was told, because it usually has blueberries. Whatever. This cherry thing was freaking good. Tart cherries against a backdrop of oaty buttery cookielike goodness, then topped with brown sugary crumble. Don't be fooled by the word "grain" and the presence of fruit--this is not health food. No way, man. It's tasty-town.

Multigrain bar, Huckleberry, Santa Monica

The bakery case is STOCKED, though. You'll find shortbread cookies, croissants, cakes (cornmeal blueberry? YES!), layer cakes, scones, biscuits, and then in the cold case, trifles and salted caramel bars and other tasty stuff. 

Huckleberry, Santa Monica

Huckleberry is mos' def a new favorite of mine. It's a fantastic place to spend time and eat. I hope you'll visit next time you find yourself in sunny Santa Monica! Also go visit my sister. You might find her around the new Doc Martens store! She does all of the retail planning for them, so feel free to be effusive about their fantastic displays.

Huckleberry Cafe, 1014 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica; online here.

 


Thursday
Mar212013

Sweet Indeed: Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

Some days are, well, just days. 

But then other days, a 14-pound box of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams lands on your doorstep, carefully packed in dry ice.

That, my friends, is a magical kind of day. And it was my day recently, when I was sent such a parcel from the purveyors of prime-time ice cream themselves--you know, so I could try some of their spring flavors.

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

I could tell you how good this ice cream is. I could tell you how creamy, how rich, how luxuriant it feels in your mouth. I could tell you how it's worth whatever ridiculous price it might cost in the store ($12 per pint in some areas, I hear!), just so that you can taste a sweet piece of this nirvana.

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

But, you know, a picture is worth a thousand words, so I'll sum it up simply by saying this is how Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams taste:

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

It gave you a pretty good idea, right? So, how about we now illustratively discuss each of the various flavors in the parcel: Banana Cajeta, Savannah Buttermint, "Roxbury" Road, and Double Toasted Coconut.

First, just so you know what banana cajeta is:

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

And here's how it tastes:

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

And next, Savannah Buttermint:

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

and now, the Roxbury Road, which is like a tricked-out Rocky Road: Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

and finally, the Double Toasted Coconut, which is like a pure shot of coconut to the heart: Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

Final thoughts? Yeah, something like this:

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

Want more? Visit the Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams website.

Tuesday
Mar192013

Pastry Pilgrimage: Pie Town, New Mexico

Pie Town, New Mexico

A Pie-lgrimage: Road trip to Pie Town, New Mexico.

In the game of life, we all have journeys to take, and pilgrimages to make. And as a seeker of sweetness, I prefer to make mine dessert related. So it should be no surprise to you that it's been a longtime dream of mine to visit Pie Town, New Mexico. Yes, friends, this is a place that actually exists. And this spot in the desert's name was in fact inspired by the classic American dessert.

As the lore goes

There are several versions of the story of the founding of the town and how we came to be called Pie Town. There may be some discrepancy in dates but these are the basic facts of our story.

In 1922 a veteran of WW-I by the name of Clyde Norman filed a 40-acre mining claim for gold and silver along the route of US-60 and a trail set aside to drive cattle to a railhead 60 miles to the east. Although US-60 bills itself as the Nation's first coast-to-coast highway, when Clyde Norman settled here the cattle driveway was the more important route. Norman’s mining claim was not very successful so he opened a small store to supplement his income. He sold gasoline, kerosene and pies made from dried fruit. Some stories say he made the pies, some say that his teenaged niece did. At any rate the pies were a hit with the cowboys on the cattle drives who went out of their way to stop at "Pie Town."

In 1924 Harmon L. Craig bought a half-interest in Pie Town from Norman for "one dollar of good and lawful money and other good and valuable consideration." A few years later Craig bought out Norman and became Pie Town's leading citizen. He owned the mercantile store, a Chevron service station and garage, a café and a pinto bean warehouse. Most of the families that settled in Pie Town came from Texas and Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl and established homesteads. The bean warehouse provided local homesteaders a way to market their crops. Mr. Craig helped these families struggling though the Depression by selling land below market value, and by making loans with no collateral and no interest.

When it came time to establish a Post Office for the town the Postmaster General thought Pie Town was not an appropriate name, but the local citizens insisted that it was the only acceptable name.

In 1940 Farm Security Administration photographer Russell Lee took an extensive set of photographs of Pie Town, including some using the new Kodachrome color film. Those photographs are in the National Archives.

Today's residents still have the sense of community and self-sufficiency that sustained the earlier settlers. We enjoy a unique tranquility in one of the few places in the United States where you can still see the Milky Way.

Of course, as the owner of the Good Pie Cafe put it more directly, “we call it Pie Town because it's about 3.14 miles from nowhere.” 

Here I am!

And well, that's true. It's about a 3.5 hour drive from Santa Fe, or a 2.5 hour drive from Albuquerque. Either way, it's a long trip for a town that boasts a main street area of about 2 blocks, and only a small handful of businesses, two of which are pie-centric. 

Good Pie Cafe, Pie Town, NMGood Pie Cafe, Pie Town, NM

One friend asked me “did you really drive all that way for just a slice of pie?”.

My response was, “No. I drove that distance for three slices of pie.” 

But to one on a pastry pilgrimage, that's quite enough. And it's also true that this town has played muse to more than me: there's a book called Pie Town which was so popular that a sequel was written, too. Even without that, though, I was delighted to head down there—on Pie Day, no less, 3/14. 

Good Pie Cafe, Pie Town, NM Good Pie Cafe, Pie Town, NM

After driving a long-long way, our first stop was the Good Pie Cafe. At this cafe they serve a simple diner menu, but Pie is the real focus. They'll offer several types each day, and most likely their famous New Mexican Apple Pie will be on the menu. 

The atmosphere is eclectic and funky, kind of like visiting your uncle who's living off the grid or something. But with pie. It's cozy and quirky.

Good Pie Cafe, Pie Town, NM

We ordered the New Mexican apple pie and the chocolate pie. Good Pie Cafe, Pie Town, NM

It was evident from the get-go that these are not necessarily fancy pies. But the love with which they are crafted is clear, and for me, that made the experience. The apple pie was an interesting flavor—the light sweetness of the apples was nicely paired with toasty pinon, and then—surprise!--a little kick from the green chile.

Good Pie Cafe, Pie Town, NM Good Pie Cafe, Pie Town, NM

It made for a fascinating flavor, and I could definitely see this as a breakfast treat, not so much a sweet at all. Especially with that nice, sturdy and very carb-y crust. That's my type of crust, by the way. I don't like it when pie crust shatters on you. The chocolate pie had a nice flavor, but I wished it had a big fat dollop of whipped cream on top.

Good Pie Cafe, Pie Town, NM

Still, the experience of eating pie in this weird little spot in Pie Town made it all worthwhile.

Good Pie Cafe Good Pie Cafe, Pie Town, NM

While we were there, we were given stickers as a token of the owner's appreciation of our patronage on Pie Day. We were also told to come back on 6/28, which locals call “Double Pie Day” on which you are welcomed to eat double the pie. What a great day!

Pie-o-neer Cafe, Pie Town, NM

Down the road, you'll find the Pie-O-Neer Cafe. Don't go there on Thursday, or Monday, or Tuesday, or Wednesday, as they are closed—but luckily, it was Pie Day on the Thursday we went, so they were open as an exception.

Pie-o-neer Cafe, Pie Town, NM

It being pie day and all, the selection was somewhat picked-over by the time we got there—apparently, there had been a big run from students from a nearby college. But there was enough for us to enjoy a slice of coconut cream pie with a nice meringue topping. 

Pie-o-neer Cafe, Pie Town, NM

Interestingly, I don't think I have ever tasted coconut cream pie with a meringue top like this before. I found it highly satisfactory. The coconut custard was very dreamy, and the pie crust a flakier variety than down the street. It worked very well together.

Pies Open

 Moreover, I felt that the pies were perhaps more sophisticated at Pie-O-Neer and the atmosphere still quirky but a little bit more grandma's house style.

Pie-o-neer Cafe, Pie Town, NM

Pie-o-neer Cafe, Pie Town, NM

So yes, I drove 7 hours (3.5 hours each way) for some pie. Was it the best pie I've ever had? No. But I call to mind a passage in the classic Donuts: An American Passion in which John T. Edge refers to the act of eating beignets at the famous Cafe Du Monde as being a "rite of passage". While they're not the only friteur in town, he says, there's something to having the experience of eating them there and taking part in that ritual. 

So, that having been said, for the experience of enjoying pie in pie town, what I ate couldn't have been better. 

Pie Town, 3.14 Miles from Nowhere. Places to go while you're there: Good Pie Cafe, Pie-O-Neer Cafe, and don't miss the Windmill Museum

Tuesday
Mar122013

CakeSpy Undercover: Springtime at What's For Dessert, Spring Lake Heights NJ

Hot Cross Bun from Whats for Dessert, Spring Lake Heights

I feel as though I would be remiss if I did not tell you that this is a most wonderful time of year to visit What's For Dessert, a bakery in Spring Lake Heights, New Jersey.

Why at this time of year, you ask? Well, because of their stellar springtime offerings. I feel very qualified to tell you about them, because I grew up with this bakery. Although it has changed locations since my youth, their offerings have remained just as I remember.

Frog Cupcakes, Whats for Dessert, Spring Lake Heights NJ

First up, the Frog Cupcakes. A Jersey Shore (and, if I'm honest, mid-atlantic) phenomenon, theirs are especially cute. You can read more about the frog cupcake here, but rest assured, this is where SpyFamily buys theirs.

Next up, the hot cross buns. Only available on the weekends, and only at this time of year, these brioche-like buns, studded with raisins and x-marks-the-spotted with thick icing, these are an ideal treat with tea: lightly sweet, and so good with butter. Simple but perfect.

Hot Cross Bun from Whats for Dessert, Spring Lake Heights

Now. These are the primary reasons why you must go to this bakery right now. But there are plenty of reasons to go at other times of the year, too. For one, they have highly respectable old-fashioned doughnuts. 

Donut, What's for Dessert, Spring Lake Heights

And nice, golden, spongy cupcakes with a generous piping of frosting. Note that these are more old-school bakery style than fancy cupcakery style, but you're not necessarily looking at a fussy cupcake here. 

Cupcakes at What's For Dessert, Spring Lake Heights NJ

Though not pictured, What's for Dessert also makes a very fine crumb cake, with fat pearls of brown sugar crumb perched atop a buttery cake base, and very nice sugar cookies, which they'll decorate according to season.

Everything is super-affordable in the bakery (lots of things under a dollar!), too. I should tell you it's not a place to hang out--no seating, inside or out--but overall, we're here for the sweets, not comfy seats and wi-fi, right? I think that What's for Dessert is a charming little spot, and I think you will, too!

What's for Dessert, 1901 Highway 71, Spring Lake Heights, NJ. On Facebook.

Sunday
Mar102013

CakeSpy Undercover: Banana-Coconut Cream Pie, Jambo Cafe, Santa Fe

Dessert, jambo cafe, santa fe

Totally sweet! This week will bring 3/14, otherwise known as "the other pie day". But rather than get involved in an argument over whether 1/23 (the day the American Pie Council deems National Pie Day) or 3/14 is the true Pie Day, I'd rather spend this valuable online word real estate to tell you about the best pie I've eaten recently: the Banana-Coconut Cream Pie from Jambo Cafe in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Now. A little briefing on Jambo Cafe. Their menu merges aspects of Jamaican, African, and Middle Eastern cuisine, and every single thing is delicious. While not dessert, their cinnamon-sugar dusted plantains as an appetizer are a great lightly sweet beginning, and it will definitely set the tone for a meal that must end with dessert.

You must get dessert here, because other than their baklava, which is made by an outside vendor, it's all baked in-house. I was pretty excited to try more of their sweets, as I had already tried their rum pecan pie at an event.

When I recently went there, I ordered the Banana-Coconut Cream Pie, and my dining companion got the Flourless Chocolate Cake. When they both arrived, we were so excited. We each took a respective bite of our own desserts, then politely offered each other a bite.

Flourless chocolate cake, Jambo Cafe, Santa Fe

After taking a bite of that flourless chocolate cake, I smiled and whispered in my companion's ear, "Mine's better". 

There was nothing wrong with the cake, of course. But the banana-coconut cream pie was just so good. Since I know my low-light photos don't quite do it justice, I'll tell you about it from the bottom up. 

Dessert, jambo cafe, santa fe

First up, a nice, sturdy crust. It wasn't soggy under the weight of all the custardy stuff. It was nice and crispy and had just slightly absorbed the flavors of the pie filling, making for a delightful cookie-esque backdrop.Jambo Cafe, Santa Fe NM

Next, the filling. Oh, the filling! If you imagine the best version of a rich, thick banana cream pudding (you know, the kind with real bananas), you're on the right track...but now, add an extra element of delight by putting in some coconut. Got the idea? This pie is just that: a mashup of the tastiest banana cream pudding and coconut cream pie you've ever tasted. 

But don't stop there. Top it with freshly made whipped cream and then dust it with cocoa and cinnamon sugar. Isn't your mouth happy just imagining this?

If you don't like banana, or you don't like coconut, please, for the love of all things tasty, just click away from this page now. But if you do love these flavors, then please, consider taking a road trip or airplane right, right this very minute, to try some of this pie. I don't think you'll regret it. 

Jambo Cafe, 2011 Cerillos Road, Santa Fe NM; online here.

Sunday
Feb242013

CakeSpy Undercover: Nook Bakery and Cafe, Philadelphia 

Apple custard bar, nook bakery, philadelphia

There it is, hidden in plain sight in the middle of a busy city block: Nook Bakery. 

I say hidden not because it really is, but because somehow I had walked by roughly a zillion times without ever actively noticing that it said "Bakery" on the door. I thought it was just a coffee shop! No offense to coffee shops, of course, but for me, bakeries hold higher interest. 

Nook Bakery, Philadelphia

But you can bet your bottom dollar that on the day I had my glasses prescription updated and finally noticed the word bakery, I went right in to buy something. 

Nook bakery, philadelphia

They have a very nice bakery display, including cupcakes, brownies, cookies, and bars. I hope nobody minds, but I snagged a few photos from their Yelp page to give you a better idea, because I only had my phone camera. Here are some of the things you might see there. 

Nook Bakery, Philadelphia Nook Bakery, Philadelphia

After much debate, I settled on a brownie and an apple custard bar.

Nook Bakery, Philadelphia

Mostly, I am going to talk about the apple custard bar, though, because that was my favorite. Apple custard bar, nook bakery, philadelphia

What seemed a pie like pastry molded into a Napoleon shaped brick, this apple custard bar had a sturdy bottom shortbread-y layer and a sturdy brown sugar crumb topping, but the inside was all gooey yum. The custard was smooth and played oh so nicely with the light spice of the apples, which permeated all parts with a sweetness that was most welcome to this mouth.

I would definitely need another. 

Apple custard bar, nook bakery, philadelphia

I will certainly be visiting Nook again, and I have my sights set on more bar cookies and the delicious looking cupcakes (one of which is pictured above, courtesy the Nook Yelp page).

Nook Bakery and Cafe, 15 South 20th Street, Philadelphia; online here.

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