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Entries in pastry profiles (39)


Pastry Profiles: Chocolate-Filled Shortbread Cookie, Whole Foods Lower East Side NYC

So, shortbread is pretty great. But you know what's even MORE great?

Shortbread that looks like a pretty little pouf, and then when you bite into it, it's filled with chocolate ganache. Awesome! As my friend James said, "the only thing that could make it better would be if it were filled with Nutella."

This sweet and heavenly bite was scored at Whole Foods on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. It was made on-site at their bakery, and it cost 99 cents. And I will tell you the truth, I really only went in and bought it because I had to use the bathroom.

But I was unexpectedly rewarded! This sweet treat was easily filed under “crazy delicious” upon the first bite, when a geyser of ganache burst through the cookie and into my mouth. The buttery, lightly salty shortbread worked perfectly with the smooth chocolate; the humidity in the air on the day of my visit made the chocolate a little bit gooey, but that just meant this cookie needed to be eaten quickly and assertively. No problem.

I asked about the cookie, and they say it's available fairly regularly, and one employee said "it's pretty much the best thing here." So you know what to do... 

Whole Foods, 95 E. Houston Street, NYC. Online here.


Pastry Profiles: Oatmeal Fudge Brownie at Gill's Deli, Rutland VT

Gill's Deli in Rutland, VT, is famous for its sandwiches.

But, you know, they also have a nice little array of home-baked goodies too.

When I went to Gill's as a sandwich ambassador for Serious Eats (my title, not theirs) I was able to scope out the bakery case, too, and pick up some treats.

But the one I want to tell you about is the Oatmeal fudge brownie.

Sort of like a chocolate fudge bar cookie on the base, this baby was studded with a sweet, crunchy oat topping which added a nice, nutty flavor, as well as a satisfying heartiness to the bar. Not a fancy treat by any means, it was a nostalgic, lunchbox style treat that was charming to find among the sandwiches, and worth picking one up if you find yourself in the environs.

Gill's Deli, Rutland, VT. Online here.

Gill's Delicatessen on Urbanspoon


Love Letter to the Vanilla Kreme Donut at Dunkin' Donuts

Dear Vanilla Kreme Donut of Dunkin' Donuts,

You may have suspected this for some time, but I'd like to put it out there so it no longer tortures my soul from within:

I love you.

I love you, I love you, I love you. I have since the first time we met, on a serendipitous day in my third or fourth year, as a child growing up in suburban New Jersey. At that time, Dunkin' Donuts still allowed smoking, and was a popular hangout for recovering alcoholics, who could belly up to the donut bar at the location next to Foodtown on 18th Avenue, buy cigarettes at the vending machine conveniently located in the store, and drink unlimited coffee and eat donuts and talk about how long you'd all been sober and how deeply, extremely happy you all were.

I love how you're an elusive beast of a sweet treat: not every Dunkin' location has you. And even of the ones that do, not all versions are created equal. Some locations serve a version that looks like a jelly doughnut from the outside, but has a Kreme filling instead; some are served with a dollop of Kreme filling served on top, as a garnish; some have it coming out of the side, where the Kreme is piped in. Some versions have sprinkles. For the record, my ideal version is the one where the excess Kreme is piped out the side in a pretty pouf, with sprinkles.

I love how sometimes (oh, beautiful times!) when I purchase you, you are so full of Kreme filling that you weigh as much as a brick (the sweetest and best brick ever). Sometimes the Kreme filling is paltry, but I still love those times I have with you--just slightly less.

I love how your filling is called Kreme, not "Cream" or even "Creme". There is no illusion being made here that your filling is in any way healthy or good for me. And I appreciate that honesty.

I love how, when put in the freezer, the Kreme filling hardens into a sweet, hard (but not frozen) mass, and the experience of eating you, dear donut, can therefore be stretched out, sucking on the Kreme filling until it gently melts on my tongue.

I love how you make me a believer in yeast doughnuts, which are usually too airy and disappointing to me, but your Kreme filling adds the substantial aspect I seek in a sweet treat.

I love how you leave your mark upon me, leaving me looking like some sort of cocaine fiend after I've devoured you--and though you are a drug, the powder is far more benign, made of confectioners' sugar.

It is true: from time to time I have strayed. I have had a fling or two with Chocolate Kreme, but it cannot compare. There's just something about you, Vanilla Kreme, with that filling that tastes like the most wonderful donut filling adaptation of store bought birthday cake frosting, that I simply cannot quit.

And I never want to quit you, dear donut. Ours is a forever kind of love. And even though I live in Seattle, where we do not have Dunkin' Donuts, I promise to visit you whenever I return to Dunkin' Donuts country.

Love, CakeSpy

For a Dunkin' Donuts location close to you, visit dunkindonuts.com.


Sweet Sandwich: Bavarian Waffle from The Danish Bakery, Leavenworth WA

Oh, hi. Let's talk about something I got to eat recently. It was called "Bavarian Waffle".

A Bavarian Waffle is probably not what you'd think it would be simply judging by the name. It's not at all like a Belgian Waffle, for instance. It's not necessarily like a stroopwafel (Dutch syrup waffle) either, although that's more of a start.

Picture a stroopwafel--now shape it like a demi-baguette. Now, add a second slice of this stretched-out stroopwafel-y thing, and sandwich both crispy discs with a thick Bavarian cream and berry preserves. The crispy waffle-y bits were perfect with the cream in the middle; the strawberry was a nice touch, if anything it could have been a little less syrupy, but overall decidedly enjoyable.

Of course, if mystery waffles that look like baguette sandwiches aren't your thing, you could go for one of these figure-8 shaped "cherry custard" pastries (just power past the unfortunate typestyle choice):

...or a burnt cream danish, cinnamon crisp (like a large, flat cinnamon roll) or some Kringle. Or a pretzel, which are one of their signature items, judging by the carbohydrates that line the entryway and even the light fixtures.

Danish Bakery, 731 Front Street, Leavenworth. Read more here.

Danish Bakery on Urbanspoon


Best Friands Forever: The Chocolate Friand at Tartine, San Francisco

Visiting Tartine is kind of like a Mandatory Activity for any lover of baked goods while visiting San Francisco. I'm not positive, but I'm pretty sure, that the Pastry Gods will smite you with thunderbolts of artificial sweetener if you don't.

Let me tell you. I've been there before. I've tried the Morning Buns. I've sampled the gougeres, the eclairs, the meringues. But on this visit, I went for some smaller treats: a coconut macaroon and the Friand.

I shared the macaroon (so giving!) but the Friand was all mine. And it was a good Friand to me.

A friand, in case you were wondering, is sort of like a Financier, the sponge cakey almond cookie that I think is slightly better than the madeleine.

But this one was especially special—it was served in a little candy cup not unlike peanut butter cups, and the cakey cookie was chocolate-flavored...and, like most of the good things in life, it was topped with a nice dollop of chocolate ganache.

Now. It is worth noting that a Friand is also someone who is "cultured, having good taste"...so clearly, this Friand was well matched with me.

Find your own Best Friand, or something else delicious, at Tartine, 600 Guerrero Street, San Francisco. Online here.


Triple Sweet: Triple Berry Oat Bar from Sultan Bakery, WA

If you've read this site more than, oh, once, you probably know that I have a deep distrust of fruit in my dessert (it really does kind of dip a toe into "health food" territory). 

But in the case of the Triple Berry Bar from Sultan Bakery (the most beautiful sight along Highway 2 in Washington), the berries make for a triple threat of awesome.

Tart, sweet, but definitely berry-like, the suspiciously healthy fruit filling (which is also sort of a lie, because I suspect the "triple berry" was made up of marionberry, blueberry, and rhubarb--which I don't think is a berry) is not dumbed down by sugar but allowed to shine in the middle--but don't despair, because there is plenty of sugar on both the top and bottom to cancel out the lack of (added) sugar in the middle. A buttery cookie base acts as the anchor for this sweet treat, and the top contains a brownsugaroatbutter topping--spaces deleted because I want you to know how it tasted--and when it all comes together, it makes for some sort of "tastes like early summer" sort of magic. The middle is natural, but the top and bottom of the bar, baked with the natural bounty, make it...well, supernatural.

Buy some of this bliss for yourself at Sultan Bakery (also the home of delicious doughnuts), 711 W. Stevens Ave., Sultan; it's also fairly similar to the Mazurka Bar, the odyssey to the root of which and a recipe for which you can read about here.

Sultan Bakery on Urbanspoon


Biscuit Time: Peels, NYC

Photo: Peels NYCIt's always biscuit time in this spy's eyes.

But even so, biscuit time is more satisfying at some locales than others, and my most recent sweet spot is Peels in NYC.

Tipped off to this awesome from Serious Eats staffers Erin and Leandra, I knew that I had to visit after hearing tales of their dense and delicious buttermilk specimen.

And happily, it lived up to the hype.

As promised , the biscuits were substantial yet flaky, and completely buttery and heavenly.

Not sweet themselves, they can be dressed up in whatever way you'd like, going savory (creamed collards, eggs, and ham, anyone?) or sweet, with a simple coating of preserves and butter.

And I daresay that this is the type of carbohydrate versatility that we could all use in our lives.

Peels, 325 Bowery, NYC. Online here.


Pastry Profiles: The Majestic Bar from Corina Bakery, Tacoma WA

Riddle me this. What's a Majestic Bar?

No, it's not a bar at which they serve grandiose alcoholic beverages (though, come to think about it, such an establishment wouldn't be so bad, would it be?).

No, the Majestic Bar, at least at the lovely and amazing Corina Bakery in Tacoma, WA, was described like this to me:

"Like a magic cookie bar but with frosting & MORE chocolate chips." 

I know--like poetry, right? Of course, if you're not familiar with the Magic Cookie Bar (also called Hello Dolly Bars and 7 Layer Bars, and other names), let me give you a primer. This decadent bar cookie starts out with a graham cracker base upon which several layers of deliciousness are piled, including but not limited to sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, coconut, and nuts. They are rich and delicious. They also make a great pie, with the ingredients distributed slightly differently.

But when you make the upgrade to the Majestic Bar, you're on decadence overload, in the best way possible.

To sum it up: If you are what you eat, you might just become the Monopoly Man by the time you finish this big bar of awesome.

Of course, Corina also has a very worthy case full of other stuff, like this:

The Majestic Bar, available at Corina Bakery, 510 6th Avenue, Tacoma WA; online here.

Corina Bakery on Urbanspoon


Pastry Profiles: Crumb Board at Keane's Bakery, Pleasantville NY

I'd like to introduce you to the most delicious board I've ever tasted: Crumb Board from Keane's Bakery in Pleasantville, New York.

When I walked into this place the baker probably thought I was kind of crazy, because I asked him to repeat himself when he told me the name of this sweet manna about 10 times. Crumble? Crumbold? No...Crumb Board.

Which begs the question...what is Crumb Board? 

Basically, it's crumb cake, but take away the cake and add the "board" - pie crust's thinner, flakier cousin. As a devoted lover of crumb cake, I will admit that the deepest part of my love for this treat is the crumb (as evidenced by my behemoth crumb cake recipe), so swapping out the cake for a crispy, buttery layer of crust was just fine for me.

The crust added a nice crunch to the crumb, and a deliciously buttery flavor. In fact, it made me wonder why more crumb isn't served atop crust in the world. It made me want to make an apple crumble pie but leave out the apples.

But most of all, it made me glad I had stopped at Keane's, which I hope I will get to visit again.

Keane's Bakery, 57 Wheeler Avenue, Pleasantville, NY.

Keanes Pleasantville Bakery on Urbanspoon


Sweet and Salty: the Chocolate Hazelnut Pretzel Stick from Ralf's in Bellingham

What happens when you cross baguette, pretzel, and chocolate ganache?

A triple threat of awesome, that's right: the sweet, salty, and carbohydratey masterpiece which is simply called the "Chocolate Pretzel Stick" at Ralf's Bavarian Bakery in Bellingham.

This small retail bakery specializes in pretzels of the Bavarian persuasion, some of which are twisted traditionally, some of which are served as "sticks" (more like demi-baguettes), many of which are served with classic pretzel complements: salami, mustard, cheese...and, on the sweet end of the spectrum, a specimen with a rich, beautiful heaping of chocolate hazelnut ganache (sounds like Nutella to me).

This is probably the most pleasurable dessert-sandwich I've enjoyed in some time, with a perfect pretzel: with a little bit of resistance on the chewy exterior giving way to a soft, yeasty interior which was perfectly matched by the contrasting chocolate-nut filling, which worked beautifully with the salty, carbohydratey mass. Oh, and yes, that is a burger wallet in the background. That would be mine.

So awesome. So delicious. Drive to Bellingham right now.

Ralf's Bavarian Bakery, Bellingham, WA; online here.

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