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Entries in new jersey (20)

Tuesday
Jun212011

Sweet Chill: CakeSpy Visits Hoffman's Ice Cream, New Jersey

Hoffman's Ice Cream in NJ is pretty famous. It's been featured on Man Versus Food and in numerous travel guides. The line is totally out the door all summer long.

But, you know, before it was on Man Vs. Food, it was where my grandma would take me and my sisters for a treat after going swimming by her house in Point Pleasant. Or where my soccer team would go to celebrate if we won a game (or drown our sorrows if we lost).

And recently a friend and myself visited Hoffman's to see if it tasted as good as I remembered.

Of course, my spytastes have become slightly more refined. During youth, my favored flavor was bubblegum (it was pink, with chiclets); but I decided to go for something more adult now that I am nearing thirty. Well, that is actually a lie: they did not have bubblegum on the day of my visit. I totally would have gotten it.

Our flavors of choice: a cup of cookie dough for me, a cup of chocolate peanut peanut butter for my companion, who got his in a cone, but it was soft, so they put it in a cup anyway and he kind of crumbled up the cone on top, like an ice cream cone crouton or something.

Happily, the ice cream was just as perfect as I remember. It's fairly simple stuff: the flavors are not extremely faceted or delicately balanced, but they are sweet, creamy, and delicious. As my companion said: “This is extremely good blue-collar ice cream.”

...and that is just fine with me.

Hoffman's Ice Cream, 3 locations; I favor the one in Spring Lake; find hours and information here.

Friday
Jan072011

Toast of the Town: French Toast from Who's On Third, Spring Lake, NJ

Submitted for your approval: French Toast, made using French Bread, from Who's On Third in Spring Lake, New Jersey.

Who's On Third is one of those establishments that straddles the middle ground between diner and casual restaurant (people from NJ will know what I mean). It's not fancy, but they have a pretty big menu, and offer pretty big portions. That's not for nothing.

But when it comes to French Toast, they have an intriguing entry on their menu. There is a particularly flowery description of their French Toast made using crusty French bread, dipped in egg batter, and served with syrup, butter, and confectioners' sugar.

And then, below that description, it notes that, if desired, the dish is also available with non-French bread. But really, it is written as sort of verbal sneer, like why would you ever do that?

Well, this spy crew will never know, because Danny ordered it the right way: made using French Bread. Served up in several buttery, battered-up, crispy-on-the-outside, custardy-on-the-inside coins of carbohydrate, this dish was a gorgeous gut-bumb and the perfect way to start a snowy New Jersey day.

Overall thoughts: worth trying if you're in Spring Lake, and a good warm-up to the delicious offerings down the street at Scone Pony.

Who's on Third, 1300 3rd Ave., Spring Lake, NJ.

Who's On Third on Urbanspoon

Wednesday
Oct142009

Raising the Bar: The Chocolate Linzer Bar from Baker Boys, Ocean Grove NJ

Chocolate Linzer Bar from Baker Boys, NJ
Technically, the Linzer Torte is a rich nut pastry filled with fine raspberry preserves, criss-crossed with more nut pastry. But really, it's so much more--it's a flavor concept. One that translates beautifully to other types of baked goods: consider the Linzer Cookie, or my favorite, the Linzer Bar.

And now, Baker Boys in New Jersey has taken the concept one step further into delicious territory with their Chocolate Linzer Bar.

This decadent bar starts with a sturdy, shortbread-y crust which is so full of butter that it would be a fantastic cookie all by itself. Then it's made even better with a topping of a thick slab of chocolate mixed with a perfectly tart-sweet smear of raspberry preserves dotted with seeds. Seal it off with even more shortbread-y goodness, in the form of craggy, golden-topped crumbs dotting the surface of the bar, and what have you got? You've got yourself an expanse of deliciousness, that's what. 

What exit? 100. Get yourself to New Jersey!
The Chocolate Linzer Bar from Baker Boys, 69 Main Avenue, Ocean Grove, NJ (a second location is in Asbury Park); online at thebakerboys.us. Call ahead for availability.

 

Monday
Oct122009

Beat of a Different Crumb: Colossal Crumb Cake from Ocean Grove Bake Shoppe, NJ

Colossal Crumb Cake
When it comes to crumb cake, the ratio which generally reigns in my homeland of New Jersey tends to be something along the lines of 70/30, crumb to cake. Unfortunately, this has basically ruined all other crumb cake for me: no matter how delicious or well-made it may be, if it isn't crumb heavy, I'm probably not going to approve.

So you can imagine my awe, wonder and delight when I came across the colossal crumb cake (yes, that's the official name) at the Ocean Grove Bake Shoppe.

Seriously, this crumb cake is off the hook, with a ratio of roughly 90/10, crumb to cake. One Cake Gumshoe aptly dubbed it "crumb on a cracker"; I call it a modern miracle. This work of crumb cake art has a delicious crispiness on the outside which gives way to a (surprisingly not tooth numbingly sweet) chewy interior; the brown sugar is delightfully balanced with a touch of salt, and the sliver of cake beneath the crumb adds a nice, buttery contrast to the slightly gritty sweetness.

I'm pretty sure they have other things at this bakery; maybe one day I will try them. But for now, I only have one colossal crush.

Colossal crumb cake from the Ocean Grove Bake Shoppe, 55 Main Avenue, Ocean Grove, NJ; online at oceangrovebakeshoppe.com.

Tuesday
Jan062009

Cakespy Undercover: Mr. Cupcakes in Clifton, NJ

Recently, Cake Gumshoe Steph made a delicious new bakery discovery: Mr. Cupcakes of Clifton, NJ. In a world overrun by cupcake bakeries, what sets Mr. Cupcake apart? After sampling a variety of their flavors, here's what she had to say about their cupcakes:

The french toast was my favorite....like a light cinnamony coffee cake with vanilla icing in flavor. I also loved the hot chocolate, red velvet, peanut butterful chocolate, apple krisp & snowball fight. I didn't try the oreo cheesecake or triple chocolate but others said they were insanely good. All of the cakes & were so moist & not heavy at all-some had "tall" fluffy frosting & others had icing that hardens a bit. If you have not been yet, you absolutely have to go next time you are in NJ.....it was crazy good.


Crazy good sounds like high praise to us--looks like New Jersey just got a little bit tastier! 

Mr. Cupcakes is located at 1216 Van Houten Ave., Clifton, NJ; you can find them online at mrcupcakes.com.

 

Sunday
Jun152008

Cakewalk Special: A Few More Sweet Spots by the Jersey Shore

Cannoli, Juanitos
Ah, the Jersey Shore. What's not to love? Bruce Springsteen. Kevin Smith. The rides and the boardwalk. Saltwater Taffy. And baked goods. Lots and lots of baked goods. Now, you may remember our Cakewalk in Bruce Springsteen Country from a while back. While that collection includes a bevy of baked good bliss in New Jersey, on our recent visit back we added a few new favorites to our roster; so without further ado, here are some more New Jersey bakeries to add to your to-do list next time you're in the Garden State:

Cakes, Caputo'sSwanlike Pastries, Caputo's, NJ
Caputo Italian Pastry Shop: Though it's been around for a long time, this venerable institution of sweet is relatively new to the Cakespy crew. Perched in an unlikely spot in a strip mall, they craft delicate Italian specialties like Sfogllatella (or "lobster tail"), American standards like crisp chocolate chip cookies and chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, as well as some of the most whimsical little pastries we've ever seen--as illustrated by their swanlike cream puffs, pictured above. 444 Ocean Boulevard North Long Branch, NJ 07740, (732) 222-3838.

Cupcakes from Sweet Cravings, Allenhurst'
Cravings Gourmet Desserts: Our own Cake Gumshoe Kelly recently moved to Allenhurst, and we're so glad that she did, because in getting to know her new neighborhood we also got to know Cravings, a cheerful sweetshop boasting some of the most delicious, dense, fudgy brownies we've come across in a long time, as well as some extremely gorgeous-lookin' cakes--cannoli cream cake topped with a glossy chocolate veneer, anyone? 310 Main St, Allenhurst, NJ 07711(732) 531-7122.

JuanitosCookies, Juanitos
Juanito's: Owner Juanito Torres came from Mexico to the states in the 80's, and his heritage shows in offerings like mantecado and mexican wedding cakes--but clearly New Jersey culture has made an impact, because sweet treats popular in NJ bakeries like cannoli (pictured at top) and cheesecake also make an appearance. And where Juanito's is concerned, when cultures cross paths, deliciousness is sure to follow. 159 Monmouth Street, Red Bank, NJ 07704 

Piece O CakeIt was a farce! There was no cake inside!
Piece O'Cake: Unfortunately for us, it was more like Piece O'Heartbreak. When we see a pink house on the side of the road with a big sign that says "Piece O'Cake" with an arrow pointing to come hither, the Cakespies will go a-knockin'. Walking in, the most amazing sugary aroma enveloped the air--alas, this is a special-order bakery only, with no sweet treats for the mere walk-in, forethought-lacking mortals. Le sigh.

Pastries, Sickles Market, NJCupcakes, Sickles Market, NJ
Sickles Market: An eclectic market in a style somewhat similar to Delicious Orchards; while their selection of baked goods was not enormous, it was solid, including a mix of items from outside vendors and items baked on site, including cupcakes, cookies, cream puffs and eclairs. However, when it comes to cider donuts, our hearts still belong to Delicious Orchards. Harrison Avenue, Little Silver NJ 07739(732) 741-9563; online at sicklesmarket.com 


 

Tuesday
Jan012008

Cakewalk in Bruce Springsteen Country (Central NJ Shore)

 

Cupcakes in a row at Baker Boys in Ocean Grove, NJ
There exists, in a pocket of the central New Jersey Coast, an area that we'll refer to as "Bruce Springsteen Country"--an area which includes the namesake of his album "Greetings from Asbury Park", and stretches between Monmouth and Ocean Counties. And while everyone is fiercely proud of their hometown boy, there is so much more on offer here than just the possibility of a Boss sighting: it's also home to some of the most memorable black and white cookies, crumb cake and pastries we've ever tasted. On a recent visit, we sampled a number of the local bakeries; and while we didn't see Bruce along the way, we did spy (and taste) all sorts of other good things:
America's Cup Coffee Co.: This place looked pretty chain-y from the outside, but what an unexpectedly sweet surprise to find a beautiful display of alluring homemade biscotti. It was toasty, crunchy and satisfying. The coffee was just-OK, but the biscotti made our visit worthwhile. 633 Cookman Ave., Asbury Park; (732) 988-2000.

The Baker Boys: The New Jersey coast's answer to NYC's Billy's Bakery, their pastries stand alone, with a meltingly delicious apricot bar, moist cupcakes with jaunty peaks of frosting, and awesome cookies. Pastry chef Carol is pretty much our NJ idol. 69 Main Ave., Ocean Grove. Check out their brand-new location in Asbury Park's Convention Hall too! 69 Main Ave., Ocean Grove; (732) 361-8839. 
Bella Sogno: Make like Tony Soprano at this traditional Italian-style bakery in Bradley Beach, adjoining an espresso joint filled with an assortment of "Jersey" characters. The cookies are our pick here, from the buttery lemon twists to the "Chinese Cookie", whose name we've never quite understood but we love the taste. 600 Main Street., Bradley Beach; (732) 869-
0700.

Chez Cakespy: OK, so this isn't a bakery or even open to the public, but we couldn't resist sharing one of the true highlights of our trip, a three-tiered chocolate cake with pink buttercream frosting made by Cake Gumshoe Margie, which was unbelievably rich and perfect. The occasion was happy too: a 6-month wedding anniversary cake for Mr. and Mrs. Cakespy. Sigh. Cake Gumshoes Margie and Kenny's House, West Belmar.

Delicious Orchards: A bit off the shore path but worth the drive, Delicious Orchards is a gorgeous farm market featuring Apple Cider Donuts (available online) and great pies; though we hear their crumb cake leaves something to be desired. 36 State Rte. 34 So., Colts Neck; (732) 462-1989. Online at deliciousorchardsnj.com.

Dunkin' Donuts: They say that America Runs on Dunkin', and we don't know where this is more clearly illustrated than in New Jersey (anyone who's seen the line there at 8am will know). No, their donuts are not the best we've ever had, but there's just something about Dunkin' Donuts; being based on the West Coast, we'd be remiss if we didn't pay homage. Various locations; online at dunkindonuts.com.

Espresso Mio: They don't make it in house, but their crumb cake was gorgeous, with the perfect crumb-to-cake ratio (roughly two thirds crumb, one third cake) and a heavenly dusting of powdered sugar.
Their scones, which looked quite good, are made in-house. Bonus: their coffee stood up to Seattle-based Mr. and Mrs. Cakespy's standards too! 1005 1/2 Main St., Belmar; (732) 280-9001.


Freedman's Bakery: Walk right past the cakes and go for a black and white cookie here: they're perfect. The texture of the cookie and consistency of the frosting simply cannot be beat, in our book. Make like Jerry Seinfeld and see if you can get black and white in every bite. 803 Main St., Belmar; (732) 681-2334.
Hoffman's Ice Cream: This place rules the dairy arena with rich, flavorful homemade ice cream. We have a guilty place in our hearts for the bubblegum ice cream, which, if pressed to describe how it tastes, we would have to say "pink". 569 Church Street, Spring Lake; (732) 974-2253.

The Macaroon Shop: The Cakespy crew is split on this one: Head Spy Jessie likes their crumb cake; Cake Gumshoes Bridget and Kenny prefer the namesake macaroons; Cake Gumshoe Margie doesn't care for their goods at all. Mr. Cakespy just eats what we tell him to eat. See for yourself! 107 Main St., Avon-By-The-Sea; (732) 776-6363. Online at themacaroonshop.com.

Mueller's Bakery: Gorgeous cookies, and a wonderful neighborhood to walk around in during the summer. Their crumb cake and black and white cookies are our picks. 80 Bridge Ave., Bay Head; (732) 892-0442. Online at muellersbakery.com.

Pianconnes Deli and Bakery: Ogle at the cases upon cases of deli and bakery treats: butter cookies, Italian pastries, and cakes. Don't go in a rush though; service can be slow, and lines are often long. It's worth the wait. 804 Main St., Bradley Beach; (732) 775-4780.

What's For Dessert: The service can be gruff, but their cakes and pastries more than make up for it. Perfect shortbread cookies, cupcakes, and a gorgeous crumb cake all await you in a tantalizingly scented sanitary white bakery. 2407 State Rte. 71, Spring Lake Heights; (732) 974-3003.

Wish You Were Here: Half souvenir shop, half cafe, this is an absolute treasure, with cookies like you wish your mama made, beautiful brownies, and creatively flavored homemade truffles in flavors like mango-habanero and peanut butter and jelly. 612 Cookman Ave., Asbury Park; (732) 774-1601.

Got any other hot NJ tips? Email us!

 

Monday
Dec032007

Up, Up and Away!: Upcakes by Dixie Picnic

What goes up, must come down. True, but not always pretty: ruined pancakes, botched face lifts and Britney Spears' careers come to mind.

However, at Cakespy we've spied something that's just as sweet on the flipside: Upcakes by Dixie Picnic, a Southern NJ-based bakery. What exactly is an Upcake? Well, according to their website, it was an invention prompted when a young family member would only eat the frosting off of cupcakes and then discard the rest; such a waste! The solution? Frosting the sides in addition to the top, duh. A win-win situation; no cake wasted, and no more poor cake-to-frosting ratio. As might be expected, they have become a bit of a legend in the area.

And now, with thanks to a custom-designed shipping box, they are able to ship these frosting-laden treats (in flavors like lemon buttercream, red velvet or pistachio in addition to the requisite chocolate and vanilla) anywhere in the inland US! Overnight shipping is the only option for most places, but within the Mid-Atlantic region and parts of the Northeast, they'll ship via ground.

We'd say that everything's coming up cake.

Dixie Picnic is located at 819 8th St., Ocean City, NJ; orders can be placed via telephone (609) 399-1999 or online at dixiepicnic.com.

Cakespy Note: It was rather difficult to resist the temptation to call this post "Up Yours, Cupcakes!", but as you can see we took the high road.

Thursday
Nov012007

Things That Make You Go Hum: The Hummingbird Cake of Baker Boys and More

Hummingbird cake. Perhaps the easiest way to describe it is like carrot cake, but instead of carrots, it has banana and tiny bits of pineapple and nuts. Originally from the Deep South, the origin of the name is a bit of a mystery; some say that it's because it's so good it makes you "hum with happiness".

However, we prefer another explanation, that its sweetness causes people to hover around it, like hummingbirds around sweet nectar. Indeed, this is exactly what happened when we first encountered the Hummingbird cake at Baker Boys of Ocean Grove, NJ, a bakery opened earlier this year by the charming Russell Lewis (who cites Billy's Bakery and the Buttercup Bakeshop as inspirations). With dense, moist, subtly spiced banana cake layers and thick, buttery frosting, it was one of those cake slices that is pretty much impossible to stop eating until it's gone--and that will leave you aching for more. We've heard that crack has this effect too, but we digress.

And while the store employee told us that Red Velvet was the most popular flavor, we at Cakespy believe that another cake is going to cause a stir--er, make that a hum, once word gets around.

The Baker Boys is located at 69 Main Ave., Ocean Grove, NJ. 

Cakespy Note: Not in NJ? We feel your pain, so we tried out a Hummingbird cake recipe ourselves, from Whole Foods (we've generally been happy with their recipes). We opted to make it into cupcakes instead; here's the recipe, with a picture of our results.

Hummingbird Cake (from the Whole Foods Website)
  • 3 cups all-purpose, unbleached organic white flour
  • 1 3/4 cups organic evaporated cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 large organic eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened organic applesauce
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple with its own juice, (do not drain)
  • 2 cups toasted pecans, chopped
  • 2 cups organic bananas, chopped (about 4 medium)

  • Glaze
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, (use organic if available)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3–4 tablespoons organic low fat milk

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Lightly spray or oil a 9x13-inch baking dish and set aside.

Combine flour with sugar, salt, soda, and cinnamon in a large bowl. In a separate medium bowl, beat the eggs with the applesauce, oil, vanilla, and pineapple until well combined. Add this egg mixture to the dry ingredients, incorporating all ingredients well. Add the pecans and bananas, mixing well, until all ingredients are combined. Spoon the batter into prepared baking dish. Bake the cake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until done when tested in the center with a toothpick. Allow the cake to cool completely.

Make the glaze by combining the powdered sugar with the cinnamon in a medium bowl. Add the vanilla and the milk, stirring with a wire whisk. The glaze should spread easily. Pour the glaze over the cake and using a rubber spatula, spread evenly across the entire top of the cake. As the glaze sets it hardens a bit.

Sunday
Oct212007

Sweet Loafing: Cinnamon Bread by the Holland American Bakery

Breakfast time is like a masquerade ball for baked goods; many of the best morning-desserts hide under unassuming and vaguely healthy-sounding names. Take granola--actually oatmeal cookies in cereal form. And muffins? Not always, but frequently, they're cupcakes without frosting. But certainly the closest to our hearts is Holland American Bakery's cinnamon "bread", which is certainly a close cousin to cake.

This cinnamon bread was actually the discovery of one of our spies' ex boyfriends: his family would stockpile loaves whenever passing by this gem of a bakery in Northern New Jersey, which has quietly been serving up Dutch-style treats since the 1950s. The relationship didn't work out, but sometimes you have to take the sour with the sweet, right? And how sweet this bread is: with gooey pockets of buttery cinnamon and a dense, cakey texture, it's pure heaven toasted with a pat of butter, and we daresay that it wouldn't taste bad with an icing glaze or bit of cake frosting either.

Now this is the kind of love that lasts.

Cakespy Note: The Holland American Bakery is based in NJ, but non Garden Staters rejoice: they will ship anywhere in the US. And--get this--it's only $3.10 per generous loaf.

Available at Holland American Bakery, 246 Rte. 23, Sussex, NJ; also available online at hollandamericanbakery.com.

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