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Entries in new jersey (20)

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.

Friday
Jul052013

CakeSpy Undercover: Simona's Bakery, Sea Girt NJ

When you walk into Simona's Bakery in Sea Girt, New Jersey, you could easily mistake it with an old-school Italian bakery that has been there for generations.

As a matter of fact, it's been there only about a year, give or take. But that old-school feel has a strong basis: it's the newest bakery from a family that has 4 generations of baking experience. Locals may recognize the style of the bakery as being similar to Delponte Bakery in Bradley Beach. But it's not a ripoff--it's their daughter!

In spite of the similar appearance, I felt as if there were subtle differences between the two bakeries. Some of the cookies by the pound were different, and the decoration on the cakes had a slightly different style. But like I said--subtle. 

I was pretty excited to see some different brownie varieties--plain, frosted, Cookies n Cream (Oreo, basically), walnut, and German Chocolate. I decided then and there that it was a brownie kind of day. I asked the employee "should I do plain frosted, or German Chocolate?". She looked at me like I clearly must have something wrong in the head. "You should get..." she said slowly, as if I might have trouble understanding, "the German Chocolate." 

Good lord, was she right! The chocolate explosion in my mouth. The sticky-sweet coconut brown sugar topping. The little dollop of chocolate on top. I felt happy chills while eating it, and it wasn't just the air conditioning in my mom's car. This was a good brownie. I wish I could tell you how it compared to the plain, but I don't care about the plain. I love the German Chocolate. 

SpyMom got an orange pecan biscotti, which she deemed "good". She didn't add much beyond that, but I did note that it disappeared in a rather rapid way. 

SpyDad got a walnut brownie, which similarly disappeared quickly but without much comment. 

Overall, I was impressed by my visit to Simona's. I wish I had gotten more photos for you to ogle, but you see I was on a mission to get--and eat--a brownie. So the one at the top will have to suffice. Go there. 

Simona's Bakery, 2201 Highway 35, Sea Girt; online here.

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. 

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.

Monday
Sep032012

Rock Out With Your Cupcake Out: Confections of a Rockstar, Asbury Park

Confections of a rockstar

Recently, me and SpyMom hit up Confections of a Rock$tar, a new bakery in Asbury Park, NJ. A rock n roll bakery is right at home in this town, which is famous for being the place that Bruce Springsteen made a name for himself, at clubs such as the Stone Pony. This town has inspired confections before: there is a bakery a few towns over called the Scone Pony (love it, don't you?). 

Confections of a rockstar

At Confections, they have really good cake. Like, we were impressed (we being me, SpyMom, and SpyDad - come on, this is like royalty visiting your bakery!). We got the "Greetings from Asbury Park" cupcake, which as a cinnamon cake with cinnamon infused frosting. Yum Yum Yum. Rich frosting, moist cake - a winner.

Confections of a rockstar

But what impressed me equally as much as the cake was some of the names for the baked goods, which were rock themed. Some were just given iconic names (like the aforementioned Asbury Park), some had clever puns such as "S'more than a Feeling", and "Macaroon 5" cookies. After a lengthy discussion, me and SpyMom decided that the Greetings from Asbury Park really ought to have been called Cinnamon Girl, after the Neil Young song.

Confections of a rockstar

Of course, this brought on a big conversation, and we'd like to present some ideas we had for future cupcake names and flavors. (And I'm kind of a pro--I once designed a whole baked good menu involving rock music puns. Rolling Scones, anyone?).

Confections of a rockstar

BonBon Jovi: Howsabout a cupcake stuffed with a truffle in honor of a NJ rock legend?

Chai Baby: Not "Cry Baby" - Chai Baby!

Cinnamon Girl: cinnamon cupcake, Neil Young would approve.

Bananarama: Make a delicious Hummingbird cake, and name it for the 80s group. 

Crosby, Stills, and Ganache: A chocolate feat of deliciousness inspired by Crosby, Stills and Nash.

Peter, Paul, and Berry: A berry cupcake (could also be used with "cherry").

Bruce Sprinklesteen: A sort of funfetti variation inspired by the Boss.

Love me Two Limes: A lime cake and lime buttercream with a Doors feel.

Purple Glaze: A blueberry or blackberry cupcake with a matching violet-hued glaze would be a delicious homage to the rock song Purple Haze.

Another Peach of My Heart: Janis Joplin wailing "Piece of My Heart"? Enjoy it with a peach cupcake.

Greetings from Asbury Pork: Everyone has a bacon cupcake now; why not call it by a clever name?

Red Velvet Underground: Andy Warhol would love to eat the cake named after his pet project band.

Sympathy for the Devil's Food Cake: Rolling Stones approved cake.

But I digress. The main point of this post was to tell you that A) Confections of a Rockstar is worth a visit, and B) to inform you of how clever me and SpyMom are. Having (I hope) proved both points, I will now leave you with one more picture:

Confections of a rockstar

Confections of a Rock$tar, 550 Cookman Avenue, Asbury Park NJ. Online here.

Sunday
Jul082012

Baked Good of the Day: Cannoli Cupcake, Del Ponte's Bakery, Bradley Beach, NJ

Cannoli cupcake

Truthfully, it's no visit home to my parents in New Jersey without a visit to Del Ponte's Bakery of Bradley Beach. This old-school Italian bakery has cookies by the pound, gorgeous cookies and cannoli, and all sorts of fancy pies and cakes.

They also offer fusion desserts, such as the Cannoli Cupcake, a cupcake with buttercream AND cannoli filling, topped with mini chocolate chips and crushed cannoli shell as garnish. Be warned: in my experience, the style of the cakes at Del Ponte tend toward slightly more dry (not because they're stale, just because it's more a style of cake meant to be paired with coffee), so definitely pair it with milk, tea, or coffee. Or do as my older sister did and just mainline the frosting and discard the rest (no, don't do that! It was just too sad to watch).

Cannoli cupcake: It's the most beautiful type of fusion dessert I can imagine. 

Del Ponte's Bakery, 600 Main Street, Bradley Beach NJ; online here.

Sunday
Jun032012

Baked Good of the Day: Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Cupcake, Sugarush, Red Bank NJ

Choco choco choco cupcake

Decisions, decisions. Do you need a cupcake...or, do you need to stuff your face with at least five types of chocolate?

How about both?

You can satisfy both of these desires in one compact form by way of this mega-chocolate cupcake at Sugarush (tagline: "a Sweet Experience") in Red Bank, NJ (also home of Jay and Silent Bob). They provide this magical service wherein they will mix and match their frosting and cake flavors to create a unique taste experience just for you, and on a recent trip, I chose to experience CHOCOLATE. 

I did this by doing the following:

 

  1. First, I chose the chocolate cake.
  2. I then asked them to fill it with chocolate (thanks!).
  3. Next, I requested that they top it with triple chocolate fudge frosting (thanks again!).
  4. And finally, when offered a drizzle of chocolate and chocolate chips on top...well, I think you can guess what I said.

 

The next step was basically chocolate awesome overload. You know how sometimes such a hit of chocolatey goodness will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and like taking a little nap and cuddling in the sunlight afterward? This was that sort of experience. Don't pretend you don't know what I mean.

And believe it or not, the entire thing only cost less than $4. I forget the exact amount, but it was very reasonable considering all of the bells and whistles I got. 

Experience this magic yourself: visit Sugarush in Red Bank at 37 E. Front Street, Red Bank, NJ. Online here.

 

Sunday
Mar042012

Seeking Sweetness: Daily Snapshot, Frog Cupcakes

CakeSpy Note: if you follow me on facebook or Twitter, you know that I love posting sweet pictures. Sometimes I post a daily feel-good photo on the site, for no particular reason other than to showcase these sweet little nothings, in hopes that they'll make you smile.

Today's feature: frog cupcakes from Belmar, New Jersey. These cupcakes are a tradition that crop up around the time of the town's annual St. Patrick's Day parade (which usually takes place in Belmar before March 17--don't ask me why). They are usually vanilla, with a dollop of pink frosting, topped with green fondant and decorated like frogs. When you take a bite of the head, it's pink inside. It's awful and awesome all at once.

Sunday
Feb122012

CakeSpy Undercover: Chocolate Chip Cookies from Cameo Cakes, Brielle NJ

Cameo Cakes Cookie

This is a chocolate chip cookie.

But.

This is not just any chocolate chip cookie.

This one has the extremely high status of being SpyMom's pick as "the best chocolate chip cookies on the Jersey Shore". And SpyMom (who is also a famous children's book illustrator, btw) knows her cookies. After all, I credit her as the one who taught me everything I know about sweets.

Cameo Cakes, Brielle

Now, I will confess: as a bona fide lover of soft and fat chocolate chip cookies, I was a bit dubious. These looked suspiciously flat and crispy. But one bite took away all my fears.

Crispy, yes, but extremely buttery and flavorful. They shatter in the mouth in a sort of caramelly-brown-sugary explosion, which is punctuated by deep, dark, rich chocolate nuggets. Somehow, I found my soft-cookie-loving-self loving this cookie, and wanting more. 

I knew SpyMom wouldn't lead me astray. 

But if you are simply not to be brought over to the crispy cookie camp, don't fret: Cameo Cakes has plenty of other good stuff. For instance butter cookies, festively decorated:

Cameo Cakes, NJ

...and crumb cake (one of my personal favorite foods):

Crumb cake, Cameo Cakes, Brielle NJ

...and all manner of other pastries, cookies, and bread-type things. They do wedding cakes too!

Basically, whether you look to the cookie or not, you'll probably find something you like at this charming Brielle, NJ bakery.

Cameo Cakes, 406 Union Avenue, Brielle, NJ; online here.

Monday
Nov072011

Batter Chatter: Interview with Julie Winer of Splurge Bakery, Millburn NJ

Splurge: verb. Definitions:

1. to indulge oneself in some luxury or pleasure, especially acostly one: They splurged on a trip to Europe.
2. to show off.

Well, I'd gladly engage in all of the above when it comes to baked goods, especially when they're as sweet and cute as the ones at Splurge Bakery in Millburn, NJ. But what's the bigger story behind the bakery? So glad you asked. And to answer, why don't I share this sweet q+a I shared with owner Julie Winer:

Splurge...please, tell me how you decided on your delicious bakery name. When we first came up with the idea for Splurge Bakery, we envisioned a place where you could come and really enjoy fresh-baked treats made from the finest ingredients.  It would be a great way to literally treat yourself and your family and your co-workers to something delicious; to really indulge in something and forget about your worries for a little bit.  Splurge just seemed a great way to represent that feeling!

You offer custom photo cookies. Do cookies taste better with loved ones' faces on them? Of course!  Everything tastes better when you're thinking about someone you love!  Our photo cookies are such a great item for 1st birthday parties, landmark anniversaries, weddings, and more - people just adore our homemade shortbread cookies, and topping them off with a photo of a friend or relative (or even a business card) is just an added bonus!

You have an event called "Whoopie Pie Weekend". Sounds like the best weekend ever, what happens during it? It is the best weekend ever! During Splurge Bakery's Whoopie Pie Weekend, we set up a Whoopie Pie bar where you can make your own Whoopie Pies, mix and match different cake tops and bottoms, and fill with delicious creamy icing.  We also have all of our unique Whoopie Pies available for sale, including traditional ones as well as Red Velvet, S'mores, German Chocolate, and – believe it or not — Pina Colada.  We'll be hosting our next Whoopie Pie weekend in January 2012, and we can't wait!S'mores whoopie pie

What cupcake flavor excites you most now that fall is in full swing? We're so excited about our new Caramel Apple Cupcakes for the fall.  They're made with our delicious spice cake, homemade caramel, and fresh apples.  They are the perfect cupcake for fall and apple season.

Tell me the truth. What kind of magic powers will I develop after I eat your Apple Magic Bar, which is made of everything that is delicious: Chopped pecans, butterscotch, coconut, apples and semi-sweet chocolate? Well, I wish I could tell you that you’ll be able to wave your fairy wand and grant 7 layers of rainbows and sunshine on everyone you meet!  But, I can say that you’ll just be really super happy and you’ll have a magic smile on your face when you’re done eating one.

I feel like rugelach is often an overlooked cookie, so I was happy to see it on your menu. Can you say a few words about why it ought to be loved? I love rugelach!  It’s just such a delicious cookie with lots of tradition built in to its flaky goodness.  We actually hand roll, fill with our home-made apricot or raspberry mixture, and then cut each rugelach, unlike many mass-produced varieties you see today.

What is the ideal frosting-to-cake ratio on a cupcake, in your opinion? In my opinion, a perfect cupcake will be 2/3 cake and 1/3 frosting, but I respect everyone’s own feelings about this. I know it’s a very personal preference!

When you have a day off from baking, what do you like to do? I don’t ever have a day off from baking, but if I did I’d go to New York City and see a Broadway show and go out for a nice dinner, maybe go to a museum if there was enough time!

What kind of treat do you crave on YOUR birthday? For my birthday this year, I had our own Luscious Lemon Cake with lemon curd, but next time I’ll have our cheesecake, which is amazing, if I don’t say so myself! 

What's next for Splurge? What’s next for all of us at Splurge is lots of birthday parties for kids of all ages in our prep kitchen, many corporate gift orders for the holidays, and tons of yummy treats, cakes, and pies for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Chanukah.  We’re also hosting a fundraiser on November 18th for the landmark St. Stephen’s Church down the street from us here in Millburn, New Jersey which was badly damaged by Hurricane Irene. 

For more, visit the Splurge Bakery website.

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