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Entries in philadelphia (37)


Sweet of the Day: Butter Pecan Ice Cream in a Chocolate Cookie Cone, Miller's Twist, Philadelphia

Butter pecan in a chocolate cookie cone

I won't waste too much time with the details here, other than to tell you that after my supremely delicious experience with the pretzel cone at Miller's Twist, I made a return trip, this time to try their butter pecan ice cream in a chocolate wafer cookie cone.

Butter pecan in a chocolate cookie cone

And I just want to report that it was very, very good as well. And to reiterate that if you are in Philadelphia, you must visit Miller's Twist!


Sweet Discovery: A Magical Afternoon in Philadelphia

Image: Tartes facebook pageGuess what? I had a totally magical afternoon Philadelphia. Want to know more? OK.

First off, let's talk about Wedge + Fig. It is a cafe where they have sandwiches and salads and stuff, but even more importantly, they make all their own baked goods. Yeah! And their pastry chef is the former owner of Flying Monkey Patisserie.

I was taken there by my friend Julie, a Philadelphia resident who was eager to show off some of the sweet spots in town. I was more than happy to be shown around!

We shared a chocolate cream tart, which was that perfect balance of light and decadent which makes such a tart so delightful. Since you ask, yes, I did eat it simultaneously with a sandwich. I like to alternate bites of sweet and savory. Totally normal, right?

Looking around the adorable cafe, one of the first things I noticed was the artwork on the wall, by Mike Geno--an artist who shows at CakeSpy Shop! "I know this artist!" I said. It made me happy. I actually own one of his originals: a Thiebaudesque oil painting on wood panel of doughnuts having a conversation. It is a highly valued possession.

And then, a few minutes later, a fellow came in and started fussing around with the artwork on the wall. As it turned out, it was Mike Geno himself! And so, I got to meet an artist whose work I have long admired and who I have worked with, but our relationship had been long-distance til now. He was just as delightful as his artwork, and he talked about his thoughts on Flying Monkey Patisserie (you may know it as purveyor of the Pumpple, and also a maker of my grandma's new favorite treat, Philadelphia Butter Cake) with me. I love talking bakeries. 

After lunch, Julie and I walked down the street to the cutest bakery, possibly ever: Tartes. It's a little pink building with a walk-up bakery window, and it smells sort of like what I imagine heaven would smell like when you walk up to the window.


We got a lavender pound cake and some macaroons. When I asked the lady at the counter if they had any specialties, she said in a perfect deadpan, "The Tarts." Hey, was she getting smart with me or what?

But sticking to the important facts, the cookies and the cake were delicious, and I can't wait to make a return trip for one of their--wait for it--tarts.

Places mentioned: Wedge + Fig, Flying Monkey Patisserie, Tartes.


Sweet of the Day: Ice Cream in Pretzel Cones, Miller's Twist, Philadelphia

The best invention, possibly ever: ice cream in pretzel cones. Honestly, the combo is all WIN, no lose. 

I discovered this feat of awesomeness at Miller's Twist, a pretzel-hot-dog-ice-cream vendor in the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia. 

After being drawn in by the sign for Butter Brickle ice cream (a flavor you really don't see enough), I noticed that I could get a cake or wafer cone, like a jerk...

or, for a mere $1.25 more, I could get either a waffle, chocolate, cookie, or pretzel cone.

Pretzel Cone! No contest!

The sweet, creamy ice cream against the sturdy, salty-carby-crackery pretzel cone, was basically the best thing ever. It was a sweet and salty combo which called to mind the decadence of french fries and a shake, but was devoid of the greasy sogginess that can occur when you dip your fries. The pretzel cone stood the test of cone consumption time, not collapsing under the weight of the ice cream, and not leaking or getting soggy toward the end. 

Butter brickle in a pretzel cone was a very delicious combo, but to bravely test out another option for you, I returned the next day and got another pretzel cone, this time with peanut butter ripple ice cream.

It was also, I am happy to report, quite delicious. So, to review: if you are in Philadelphia, get yourself to Miller's Twist for a pretzel cone!

Find Miller's Twist on Facebook here.


Five Reasons Why CakeSpy Loves Bassett's Ice Cream

Bassetts, reading terminal market

In 1861, Lewis Dubois Bassett, a Quaker school teacher and farmer, began making ice cream in his Salem, NJ backyard using a mule-turned churn.

In 1885 he began selling his wares at 5th and Market in Philadelphia; in 1893 he moved shop to the newly-opened Reading Terminal Market.

And the sweet, creamy stuff has been sold there ever since.

Fast forward to the modern-day. Bassetts now churns out ice cream which is sold all over the Philadelphia area and even beyond, but the heart and soul of the company remains at the Reading Terminal Market.

And here are 5 reasons why I love Bassett's:

1. Their ice cream is not fancy, but it is very good. It's proof that when you've got a good process and good ingredients, the product will shine; there isn't much that is gimmicky or trendy about this ice cream, and that's part of why I like it.

2. Gadzooks!  The flavor. What is it? As I learned from their website, 

Bassetts decadent chocolate ice cream with pieces of Brownie Points peanut butter brownies, chocolate chunks and a rich caramel swirl. Gadzooks Original was unveiled at WMMR's Spring Break '06.

3. They are steeped in sweet lore and adventure. Per their website, in 1935, Lewis Junior, who took over the business, "ships 10 quarts of ice cream, packed in dry ice, via freighter from New York through the Panama Canal to the American Embassy in Tokyo. The voyage takes several weeks but the ice cream arrives in perfect condition".

4. Details matter: their waste bin at the Reading Terminal Market is shaped like a big ice cream cone. 

5. Daily specials: on a recent visit, I had a double-header: one scoop of macadamia nut ice cream paired with one scoop of vanilla butterscotch. It was decadent, creamy, and completely dreamy. I loved every moment of that ice cream (pictured top).

Seek out your own reasons to love them; find Bassetts online here.


Sweet of the Day: Maple Pecan Doughnut from Beiler's Bakery, Reading Terminal Market

Maple pecan doughnut, Beiler's

From Wednesday through Saturday at the Reading Terminal Market, some very magical things can be obtained at Beiler's Bakery, one of the Amish vendors at the market.

At this fairyland of carbohydrate and butter, one can obtain sticky buns, cookies, shoofly pie, cakes, breads, whoopie pies, and more. 

But the most recent sweet treat I knew and loved by Beiler's was the Maple Pecan Doughnut.

Because I realize you probably don't have one in your mouth right this instant, let me tell you about eating it.

First off, it has a sweet maple frosting on top, which is dotted with toasty pecans with a maple drizzle. It makes for a sweet, candied pecan type of taste. 

Then, inside of the doughnut, there's a generous amount of sweet cream filling, which acts as a very nice complement to the maple on top. 

Doughnut from Beiler's

To temper the excessive sweetness, the yeast doughnut itself is not extremely sweet, acting as a carbohydratey jacket for all that sugary, creamy goodness.

This is an extremely enjoyable doughnut to eat; personally, I have found that filled doughnuts are the way to go at this stall, as they are baked off premises and the filling keeps the doughnuts moist, whereas non-filled doughnuts can tend toward slightly dry.

Beiler's Bakery, Reading Terminal Market; online here.


Cake Byte: Sweet New Paintings by Nancy Bea Miller in Philadelphia

Nancy Bea Miller's paintings are totally sweet, but not to eat.

Rendered in oil, they're nonetheless fat free to feast your eyes upon, and she's got a great new collection going up at the Artist's House Gallery in Philadelphia (the city that is also the home of the Pumpple).

If you're in the area, you simply must go to the artist reception tomorrow, May 6, 2011; if not, I am happy to give you a preview of what's on show:

...a beautiful doughnut:

...some not-sweet but still delightfully carby pretzels;


....more cupcakes...

...and yet more cupcakes.

That's right. Best! Show! Ever! Here are the details for the artist reception(s):

Friday, May 6th, 5-8:30 p.m, and then again Sunday, May 8, 1-4 p.m. at Artist's House Gallery, 57 North 2nd Street, Philadelphia; online at artistshouse.com. The show will remain up until May 29. Visit the artist's blog here.


It's All About The Cookie: Sweet Dreams Cookies from Baker Street Bread, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia

Only a professional Cake Gumshoe would walk into a place known for its bread and pass right by the heavenly carbohydratey display of loaves and go right for the cookies.

But oh, am I glad I did.

I'd like to introduce you, friends, to the Sweet Dreams Cookie from Philadelphia's Baker Street Bread. It's fairly standard cookie fare at first glance, but one bite tells you why this cookie has been elevated from mere chocolate chip to "sweet dreams" status. It's comprised of the usual suspects, upon first taste: buttery cookie base. Chocolate chips. Nuts. And then...cinnamon. A simple addition, but one that adds so much to the end result, and makes you look forward to each following bite until the cookie is gone.

It's one smart and well-spiced cookie.

Sweet Dreams Cookies, Baker Street Bread, 8009 Germantown Ave., Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia.

Baker Street Bread on Urbanspoon


Toast of the Town: French Toast from Ants Pants Cafe, Philadelphia

Guess what? We recently visited Philadelphia, and when it came time for AM sweetness, we hit up the place with the coolest name we came across: Ants Pants Cafe.

And as it turns out, this establishment has an interesting story too:

After many years working in cafe’s around Philadelphia, it took a few years immersed in Sydney’s cafe culture to cement the desire to offer a similar experience in a seemingly untapped market in Philly. Childhood friends Liz Fleming and Nancy Silverman both with experience working at some of Philadelphia’s finest, were determined to set out on their own to offer locals in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood an experience that was long overdue.

And Danny's order? French Toast, naturellement.

Ants Pants Cafe's specimen was especially lovely: Creme Brulee Battered French Toast, served with sour cream sauce and syrup ($1 extra to upgrade to maple syrup, which was strongly recommended...but it makes one wonder, why offer the other stuff?).

But. About that toast. Served in fat triangles, it was gorgeously crispy on the outside, caramelized with a sugary coating, and the sour cream sauce was an unusual but welcome tangy accompaniment, rounding out the richness of the eggy bread with...well, more richness. Add maple syrup to the mix, and you have sweet and rich awesome overload--but, you know, in a lick-the-plate-clean kind of way.

A delicious adventure on South Street, indeed.

Ants Pants Cafe, 2212 South Street, Philadelphia; online at antspantscafe.com.

Ants Pants Cafe on Urbanspoon


My, My, My Delilah: Banana Nilla Wafer Pudding from Delilah's, Philadelphia

On our recent trip to Philadelphia, emerging at 30th Street Station after an epic journey from the Jersey shore, both Mr. Spy and myself were unified in one singular feeling: HUNGER.

So when we spied Delilah's (OMG! As seen on Throwdown with Bobby Flay!), we were some very happy cake gumshoes.

But we passed right by the famous mac and cheese (next time!) and went for the sweet jugular: the banana nilla wafer pudding. Now, anyone who has ever eaten banana nilla wafer pudding knows what an ambrosial foodstuff it truly is. And at Delilah's, we were treated to a particularly fine example: it was simply full of bananas ("I think this has a whole banana in it!" was Mr. Spy's reaction) smothered in creamy custard with a smattering of nilla wafers, and the flavors had reached a point of perfect fusion, making each bite a deliciously creamy dream.

I'm not saying that you should skip a first course, because with a menu full of fried chicken, mac and cheese, and barbecue, there's plenty to keep you fat and happy--but I am saying don't get so full that you have no room for dessert.

Delilah's, Philadelphia; for locations and information, click here.

Delilah's at the Terminal on Urbanspoon


Get Sconed: Strawberry Jam Filled Scone, The Night Kitchen Bakery, Philadelphia

Next time you're in Philadelphia, I have a suggestion. Get sconed.

You heard me. Get good and sconed, and do it at the Night Kitchen Bakery in Chestnut Hill.

This is no ordinary scone. A bit denser than typical coffee-shop varieties, this one comes closer to pie crust consistency than to that of cake, in the best way possible. Because well, sometimes dense, flavorful, buttery carbs are necessary to really get the morning going.

When served with a generous dollop of strawberry jam,as was the one we obtained on a recent visit, it makes for a sort of acceptable-to-eat-in-the-morning strawberry shortcake variation.

Of course, if you hit up Night Kitchen at other hours, the scones are still delicious at any hour, but they also have a bevy of other delicious-lookin' offerings, including chocolate chess tarts:

as well as a full menu with cakes, cookies, pies, and more.

The Night Kitchen Bakery, 7725 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia; online at nightkitchenbakery.com.

Night Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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