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Entries in santa fe (9)

Saturday
Apr202013

CakeSpy Undercover: Momo and Company, Santa Fe

Momo and Co

This is what a gluten-free cupcake looks like at Momo and Company in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This is a totally gluten-free and mostly vegan bakery near the Georgia O'Keeffe museum, downtown.

How did they get there? So glad you asked. Per their website,

What happens when you put together a native New Yorker with an affinity for baked goods (bordering on obsession) and a native New Mexican who has a passion for Boba tea?…you get Momo & Co! Leslie Thompson, founder of Momocakes Vegan, Gluten-Free Bakery and Carola Kieve, lover of all things Boba have teamed up to bring 100% Gluten-Free, (Mostly) Vegan goodies and the 1st ever All Natural Boba Tea Bar to Santa Fe, NM.  Initially our journey was a personal challenge to be more mindful of what was going into our food and beverages but along the way we’ve learned that many people need to eat allergen-free foods as a necessity .

While eating gluten-free may be a necessity to some, it need not equal suffering--for anyone. So it makes me so glad that places like Momo and Company exist, where gluten-free treats are available for those who can't eat gluten, but delicious for everyone.

By the way, this is what two gluten-free cupcakes look like at Momo. 

Momo and Co

On my recent visit with my friend Judi, we each got the breakfast sandwich (I know, not sweet) on gluten-free bread. Hey, the bread was pretty good and held together quite well (I've had trouble with gluten-free bread falling apart on me in the past). 

The cupcakes, made with a proprietary blend of flours (each of their baked goods has a slightly different mix to ensure the best flavor and texture), are among some of the better gluten-free / vegan varieties I've tried. The cake held together (once again, I have had trouble with that) and on the chocolate-chocolate cupcake, little studs of chocolate added extra delight. The frosting had a little bit of a "crust" on top, which I like--the only bad part is that it made it solid so if cutting the cupcake in half, the frosting comes off in a chunk. But this does not affect the flavor--just the visual. 

Cupcakes aren't the only sweet on the menu--they also have sticky buns with chocolate:

Momo and Co

as well as chocolate chip cookies, mexican wedding cake cookies, a waffle bar with plenty of sweet toppings...

and of course the savory / sandwich menu.

Momo and Co

Momo and Company, 229a Johnson Street, Santa Fe; online here.

Wednesday
Apr172013

Pastry Profiles: Chocolate Tart from Tree House Pastry, Santa Fe

Tree House Pastry

Tree House Pastry Shop and Café is not easy to find. It's in an unlikely spot--inside of a mall, across from an insurance agent. But it's worth seeking out, particularly for their chocolate tart. It's both vegan and gluten free, but don't be scared off when I say that, because there is nothing virtuous at all about the taste of this devilishly decadent tart. Does the secret lie in the crust, made of crushed candied walnuts? Or is it the dense, lusciously luxuriant slab of chocolate topping, which is so thick that it will coat your teeth? Or is it the secret addition of raspberries which add a little tart burst to all taht chocolatiness? Either way, after a few bites, you don't care so much about the ingredients as you do that it keeps on finding its way to your mouth.

Treehouse pastry

I wouldn't go quite so far as to tell you this tart alone is worth a trip to Santa Fe, but...I am saying that if you are in Santa Fe, this tart is worth seeking out. Or maybe it will make you strongly consider Santa Fe for your next vacation. 

Tree House Pastry Shop and Cafe, 163 Paseo de Peralta (inside of the DeVargas Center), Santa Fe, NM 87501; online here.
Monday
Apr012013

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe Bakery Roundup

There are a few things you should know about New Mexico. First off, it is part of the United States. The license plates helpfully point this out: “New Mexico, USA”. Second, it is one of the few states with an Official State Cookie (the biscochito—or is that bizcochito?). Third, it's a fantastic place to get fat, or, as I told one diner manager who looked at me funny when I ordered a sopaipilla and a slice of tres leches cake (no dinner to go with it, thankyouverymuch) a great place “to carb-o-load for a marathon you're never going to run.”

Here's where I've carb-o-loaded and sugar-rushed, and I think you should, too. 

Whoo's Donuts

Donut Stop Believin'. Santa Fe is not, strictly speaking, a donut town. In fact, there's only one non-chain donut shop in town. But one is all they need, because clearly, Whoo's Donuts are the best. This is where you'd get flavors such as blue corn with strawberry-jalapeno glaze, white chocolate lemon pistachio (pictured above) or salted caramel. You'll pay for them—most doughnuts are $2 or more—but they are so. Freaking. Good. 

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Chocolate Smith

Time for Chocolate. If chocolate is more your speed, you're in luck. Check out the "Chocolate Trail of Santa Fe" for a self-guided tour, or just read on. I'd start right after visiting Whoo's Donuts and go next door to ChocolateSmith and get something sweet like a mendiant, some bark, or a truffle. It's owned by the same people who own Whoo's Donuts, and everything, from the salted caramel truffle to the spicy chocolate bark, is made with love and care and is completely tasty. 

Kakawa

Not too far away, Kakawa Chocolate House is also a fantastic spot for chocolate, most notably drinking chocolate. They actually create historically accurate drinking chocolates there, in case you've ever been curious what Aztec chocolate tasted like, or what flavor of cocoa Jefferson might have favored. Oh, they also make a nice array of sweets on site, such as this delightful (and large) lemon pistachio macaroon.

C.G. Higgins also does truffles and chocolates, including some unusual flavors.This is more like the old-fashioned confectionery shop in town, but with some more updated flavors. Intrigued by the blue cheese and cherries jubilee truffles, I stuck kind of safe and tried the himalayan sea salt. Sweet. Salty. Yum. They also have a respectable hot chocolate (though in my opinion, that's something you look for at Kakawa). Also, just FYI, you could get some Chile Pecan Brittle here, too.

At Todos Santos Fine Chocolates, you'll find silver, gold, and...chocolate? Believe it. This small-batch chocolatier is noted for making chocolates that resemble milagros, small charm-like offerings to saints in Hispanic folk culture. These are done with edible gold and silver leaf, though, making them tasty offerings to your mouth!

Finally, don't forget CocoPelli: It's off the beaten path, in a mall, but the chocolate is all made by hand. Nice choco-covered fruit and nuts and truffles...and they make cakes and pastries, too! A sweet spot.

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French Connection. For a small city, Santa Fe has a surprisingly large amount of French bakeries. Le yum!

Macarons, Clafoutis, Santa Fe

Probably the most famous is Clafoutis, which is always, always crowded. Go there for breakfast, brunch, or lunch for a delightful Croque Monsieur (i'd tell you to get something else, but that's what I've gotten every time and I can't bear to order differently). Or just go to the bakery case and get one of everything. They are somehow able to make macarons at the high altitude, which is a bit of a miracle, and they're good--so are the croissants, the Opera cake, et cetera.

Montmartre

The French Pastry Shop and Creperie makes crepes both sweet and savory, and they also have a counter case full of Frenchie stuff to go. On past expeditions here I have tried their delectable sables and their blissful Montmartre pastry.

Cafe Mamou, Santa fe

Chez Mamou is another French spot in town, and they boast a beautiful array of French pastries. You'll find single-serve mont blancs or almond paste stuffed chocolate cakes, as well as croissants, brioche, and tarts. According to one of the handsome French-speaking gentlemen who work there, however, the best of the bunch are the lemon and apricot tarts. I haven't tried those yet, but have tried the clafoutis, studded with dark cherries and marzipan, and a chocolate almond thing that I'm not 100% sure of the name, but know it was delightful.

Swiss Bakery, Santa Fe

The Swiss Bakery might not sound French, but, after all, aren't fancy French pastries referred to as Viennoiserie? So yeah, it's going to come off as French. The best item in the case, according to one of the employees, is the Napoleon. I would tend to agree, although I haven't tried everything there. Just look at that thing. This particular one was stuffed with strawberry and kiwi. I know that might not sound amazing, but it really was. 

Also equipped with French pastries is Le Chantilly, a cafe with bakery offerings such as croissants, eclairs, and Napoleons.

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Ice Cream and Frozen Treats After enjoying some of the local spicy and chile-rich dishes, you're probably going to need something cool. I hope someone will challenge this statement with proof of delicious ice cream around town, but as it stands...there really aren't any notable local ice cream shops. Taos Cow ice cream at the station At The Station coffee house, they have ice cream from Taos Cow; likewise at CocoPelli (mentioned above).

Gelato, Ecco Gelato, Santa Fe

There is, however, gelato. We'll start with Ecco Coffee and Gelato. A little more milky-icy than some other gelati I've tried, it's nonetheless fantastically flavored stuff. I got the stracciatella and pumpkin, which was serious pumpkin; a friend got the stracciatella with nutella. Yumsies.

Mangiamo Pronto, a casual Italian eatery, also has gelato which is quite good, and they are opening a gelateria next door to expand their currently small but very good offerings.

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Cookies, Cakes, n Pies: For the classic American treats, you have plenty of options too. 

Dream Cakes, Santa Fe

Dream Cakes Gourmet Cupcakes has a humble storefront but good gravy are these cupcakes good. Moist , butter-packed cake that makes you want to swoon. If they have it, please try the "Southern Belle". It's a rich pecan cake with cream cheese frosting--pictured above. You will not regret it.

Chocolate Maven, Santa Fe NM

The Chocolate Maven has it all, from cookies, cakes, and pies , to breads. They have a restaurant too, actually, but I've never gotten past the pastries. I've known and loved their Russian Teacake cookies and tarts, cupcakes, have ogled (but I will confess, not tried) their pies, and have truly enjoyed their croissants, which are crispy, light, buttery, and when filled (for instance, with almond paste), they are filled generously.

tres leches cake, cocopelli

CocoPelli, mentioned above, specializes in chocolate but they also bake their own cupcakes. And my oh my, was the Tres Leches Cupcake nom-worthy.

Dulce, Santa Fe

Dulce, in spite of the name, offers little dulce de leche and mainly, pretty standard American bakery fare. Not that this is a bad thing! Scones, cookies, a very nice Red Velvet cake.  

Sage Bakehouse

For carb-rich treats and wonderful breads, visit Sage Bakehouse. Dudes, dudettes, this place is pricey. But their bread is pretty amazing, and their cookies and pastries are made with love, care, good flour, and the taste reflects it. 

You'll also find some very tasty stuff at Treehouse Pastry and Cafe. It's in an unlikely spot—the mall, across from an abandoned allstate insurance agent, but damn, do they have a fine pastry case. The shortbread cookies were solid, and I hear the cupcakes are a great, but really, the highlight was the chocolate tart. It's both vegan and gluten free, but you don't suffer at all for its lack of ingredients. It has so much to offer flavorwise that you don't really care what's in it—it just tastes SO good. The secret may lie in the crust, which is made of crumbled crushed candied walnuts. It really reminded me of a sweet treat I love from Chaco Canyon raw and vegan cafe in Seattle.

Which leads nicely into more Vegan and / or Gluten Free options. 

Gluten Free Cinnamon Roll

If you're gluten free and/or vegan, Revolution Bakery has all the classics--cookies, cinnamon rolls, scones, and other tasty carbohydrates, but modified to be safe for your belly, heart and soul. 

Body Cafe also has a very nice array of house-baked (or, if you're raw, not-baked) vegan, gluten-free, or raw options for their sweets. Raw truffle, or vegan cheesecake? You'll find it here.

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Non-Bakeries that Have Good Stuff

When I'm in Santa Fe, I love Whole Foods. To be specific, though, I like the one on Cerillos Road, not the one on Cordova Road (I specify this because there are two Whole Foods markets like 2 blocks away from each other). I like them as a grocery store, but I also like the fact that their bakery often has a sort of “best of” selection from area shops. You'll see doughnuts from Whoo's, sweets from Sage Bakehouse and Chocolate Maven, and more. They also do a rather respectable job with their in-house baked goods, in particular their Chocolate Decadence cake, which is better than many restaurant versions I have tried!

A visit to the Farmer's Market is a highly good idea. It's on Tuesday and Saturday. Tuesday is smaller and slower but an easier pace, perfect to check out Cloud Cliff Bakery, ogle at pretty produce, buy some peppers which were being roasted while I watched, and buy this slice of prune-filled pie.

Pastelito Pastelito

 

It was made by a lady who just had two types—apricot and prune. The “pies” were rather flat, and reminded me of garibaldi biscuits. Apparently, these are sometimes called Pastelitos Indios and are common with Native American cookery.They also have a farmer's market “cafe” which had Whoos doughnuts and other goodies (some of them gluten free, since it's a big concern in Santa Fe).

If you stop nearby the farmer's market, you'll see a restaurant nearby called The Junction. I didn't eat there but when I walked in to try to sneakily use their restroom, I looked at the menu and the hostess told me that their apple pie was--not joking--some of the best in town. She said that on her birthday, she craved that instead of cake. Well, I'll just say that I took note of that.

Cake from The Station

Also nearby the farmer's market is The Station, a coffee shop where they not only, as previously mentioned, have ice cream from Taos Creamery, but a beautiful array of pastries made on site. Pick up a slice of almond clementine cake? Don't mind if I do. I also enjoyed how they used coffee ice cubes in their iced drinks. Nice touch.

Not to confuse you, but the Santa Fe Baking Company is not actually a bakery--it's a cafe-restaurant. And, you know, a pretty good one. Their breakfast burrito, for instance, is beloved. But luckily they DO have their own selection of baked-on-site goods, including muffins, scones, brownies, cookies, et cetera. 

Bobcat Bite Chocolate Chip Cookie, Bobcat Bite

If you do travel all the way to Santa Fe, you must go to Bobcat Bite, a very famous burger place and beloved by locals and travelers. But save room for dessert, because they make their own cookies there!

Cafe Pasqual's, Holiday Pie Mania, Santa FE

Cafe Pasqual's is nationally famous, and with good reason: they offer some delicious eating at their restaurant. But you know what's great? Their desserts. They're house baked and Southwest influenced but also rooted in Americana. For instance, a chocolatey pecan nut pie, which combines pecans, native to the area, and a Kentucky classic? Yes please.

And OMG, the banana coconut cream pie from Jambo Cafe. This is a sort of African-Carribean fusion cuisine restaurant, and everything you eat is so freaking good. But save room for this pie. Please. 

Chocolate Cream Pie, Harry's Road House, Santa Fe

Harry's Road House is a popular people-pleasing spot, and they have a nice array of house-made desserts. Including chocolate cream pie, chocolate cake, and cookies and other sweets. 

Tesuque Village Market is not a bakery, but they do have some fantastic baked goods. Among the sweeter surprises? Sticky buns that would do a midwest potluck proud. 

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 Let's Carb-o-load for Breakfast 

Tecolote Cafe, Santa Fe

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If you're in Santa Fe, promise me you'll go to Tecolote Cafe at least once. Blue corn pinon pancakes will make your head spin with their awesome amazingness, and they offer a bakery basket or a tortilla with egg dishes. Go for the basket!

Tune Up Cafe

You'll need breakfast more than once while you're in Santa Fe, unless you're only staying for a few hours. Why not try the Tune Up Cafe? In addition to delicious pupusas and all sorts of tasty savory fare (including a popular breakfast side of fried bananas with cream), they also make all their own baked goods, so please, for me, try one of their wedding cake cookies. It will make you look like a cocoaine addict after you eat it, and it's apropos, because I suspect they are crack filled. They are really, really good. 

Pantry restaurant

The Pantry is a fantastic spot to get breakfast AND sweet treats. Their pancakes are light and fluffy and worth the visit; their sopaipillas are a fine specimen (see below). They also have their own proprietary tres leches cake, which is baked by an employee's wife. Yum!

El Tesoro, Santa Fe NM

OMG El Tesoro. Go for breakfast, stay for the muffins. LOOK AT THAT THING.

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An Unexpected Sweet Spot

Who knows what adventures await you after all of that delightful carb-o-loading? Here's what happened for me. All that breakfast worked up an appetite for a trip to the bookstore. Collected Works is a great bookstore, where they carry my book and Judi's and will probably carry my next book, too. They have a fantastic collection of cookbooks, and while reading about desserts from the area, I got intrigued by a writeup about the fantastic carrot cake at a place called Mission Cafe and Sweet Shop. I decided to walk over.

Well, it's been closed for three years, but it so happened that I walked by the Oldest House in the USA. No kidding! And guess what? They sell baked goods there! The caretaker, Evelyn, baked everything herself. Pick up a brownie, scone, and a couple of biscochitos? Well, OK.

Now, as Evelyn told me, when it comes to biscochitos everyone has their own variation and secret ingredient. She wouldn't tell me hers, but she assured me that she used the vital one: lard. When you make these cookies with butter, they are just not the same. Sorry! She also said that when she was young, biscochitos were most commonly baked in a sort of trefoil form. But today, she bakes hers as stars so that people can refer to them easily, and they won't break as quickly.

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Sopaipilla Nirvana

To the uninitiated, a sopaipilla is a pillowy piece of fried dough. It's not technically dessert. It's a fried bread, but it's not a doughnut. It's neutral (or should be), and is served with honey. It's used as a side, to sop up soups, stews, or sauces, and it's just delicious. It's typically served as a side dish in New Mexican cuisine. Occasionally it's an automatic side, but often you have to order. They don't break the bank, though—the most expensive ones I came across were $2 for a basket of 2. Though not a comprehensive list, because there are so many restaurants that offer them, here are some that I've known and loved in Santa Fe.

Horseman's Haven Horseman's Haven

First up, Horseman's Haven. What an oddball spot. It's in a gas station and kind of looks forbidding from the outside, like a place where bar brawls break out. But inside it's not a dive bar, but instead a family friendly restaurant. And every day at three pm, they start up their fryers to make sopaipillas. Now, it's odd that they only start making them at three. Why? I asked the waiter. It was 2:58 and I had time—there were no exceptions to the rule, apparently. He didn't know. “that's just how it's done here” was the basic response. The sopaipilla here was fresh. A little greasy. With a nice thread of honey served on top, it was a pleasing side to a meal. It definitely made me hungry for more.

Tia Sophia

The next sopaipilla stop was Tia Sophia's, where the sopaipillas are one of the specialties. Theirs was wonderful: soft but chewy, chewy but not tough. It was like biting into a cloud. If clouds were made of fried dough that you could pour honey on and eat.

Sopaipilla from the Pantry

Time to continue carb-o-loading, so off to The Pantry Restaurant I went. Here, I tried their sopaipilla, which was very yeasty and slightly sweet. Very different from the other ones I'd tried so far, lighter and less evident that it was fried, but very good. 

Maria's

I was starting to feel a serious sopaipilla jones by this point, so hit up a place called Maria's with my friend Judi, who is a famous author and also has a passion for pastry. In fact, we met in a case involving a pastry. The sopaipillas at Maria's were respectable, but (in my opinion) slightly inferior to the ones at Tia Sophia's. I enjoyed the crispiness of this variety, however.  BTW, Maria's specializes in Margaritas. I tried Judi's, but in general margaritas are a one or two sip type of drink for me. Better (for me) was the Margarita cheesecake. We tried that, along with the kahlua cheesecake. It was muy delicious. 

Tortilla Flats Sopaipilla

When it was time for more sopaipillas, I hit up Tortilla Flats, where they make a yeasted sopaipilla. Nice and lightly crispy, this one was airy on the inside. They only begin frying at 11 am. The manager informed me that this is because the quality is superior when they have ample time to rise, and “we are not making them in the middle of the night!”.

Finally (for now), I have also wholeheartedly enjoyed the sopaipillas on offer at Gabriel's, a restaurant famous for making guacamole tableside. Their sopaipilla was like a delicious pillow, more substantial than some others but perfect for sopping up honey and sauces. I loved it. 

Whew!

Now. I can't say I have been to every single place in Santa Fe, but I firmly believe I've visited a lot of the good ones. And if this writeup doesn't make you hungry for some sweet Southwest adventure, I don't know what's gonna give you an appetite!

Saturday
Mar162013

Pastry Profiles: the Montmartre from The French Pastry Shop and Creperie, Santa Fe

Montmartre

Now here's a pastry that makes me want to start singing "Isn't she lovely?". 

Beautiful red strawberries standing proudly at attention, gleaming under an apricot glaze. Thick whipped cream. Spongey cake. A rich layer of pastry cream. More cake to keep it all in place. That, my friends, is the Montmartre, a totally sweet pastry named after a Parisian neighborhood which I scored at The French Pastry Shop and Creperie in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

How did I choose this pastry above all the others in their delectably filled cases? Easy: I asked the employee working the counter what the very best thing was in the case. He kind of blushed, said of course everything was good, but that his personal favorite was this bad boy. And so I went with it.

I wasn't disappointed. The Montmartre was kind of like strawberry shortcake's more glamorous French cousin, with a little more sophistication and je ne sais quoi. But when it came down to it, the strawberries n cream was down-home delicious, to the very last bite. 

A sweet find indeed! 

The French Pastry Shop & Creperie, 100 E. San Francisco Street, Santa Fe NM; online here.

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.

Saturday
Feb022013

CakeSpy Undercover: Cocopelli, Santa Fe NM

tres leches cake, cocopelli

It's the age-old story: CakeSpy will tell you about something sweet she got to eat. I don't know about you, but for me, this never gets old!

This time, I'm going to tell you about a place called Cocopelli in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It's by a megatron movie theater. Honestly, by sight alone, this shopping complex is not the type of place you'd expect to find unique, baked-on-premises sweets. But looks can be deceiving.

Image: Cocopelli

After viewing a movie at aforementioned megatron jumpoplex theater, a friend and I were walking in the parking lot when a gentleman wearing a chef's hat, apron, and carrying a tray of cupcakes approached us. "Red Velvet Cupcake?" he asked? Well, I think you know my response. I know you're not supposed to take candy from strangers, but cupcakes from strangers are OK, right?

The cupcake was rather impressive--the cream cheese frosting was perfectly tangy, the cake was nice and rich. I wanted more.

Cocopelli

The marketing gentleman was kind enough to suggest that we visit the bakery, and we did. Cocopelli

Since it was getting late-ish, the supplies had dwindled, but I was delighted by what they had. One of the bakers, who was on-site, told us that the owner was a chocolatier, and that she had bakers who did the other sweets. The main offerings you'll see upon entering are chocolates and cupcakes, but there are some other items available, including ice cream from Taos Cow. The baker we spoke to knew her stuff--she's a trained pastry chef, and brings some serious love to her cakes and cupcakes.

Cocopelli

After viewing all the choices, we settled on the Tres Leches cupcake, which looked so saturated with sweet dairy that it was coming out of its jacket. It weighted about a pound (I say this as a compliment). It was very good. The almost-wet cake was so dairylicious that it almost felt like eating cake and ice cream at the same time. The frosting was rich and smooth and probably not even necessary with a cake that rich, but oh so welcome. The spice on top provided a nice roundness to the extreme dairy overload.

Cocopelli

This was a good cupcake, and the chocolates we sampled were very nice, too. I think it's well worth a visit, and not just if you find yourself at the movies next door!

Cocopelli, 3482 Zafarano Drive, Santa Fe; online here.

Saturday
Jan262013

CakeSpy Undercover: Revolution Bakery, Santa Fe NM

Gluten Free Cinnamon Roll

I'll be totally honest: sometimes, gluten-free baked goods just taste funny to me.

I know it's not their fault. They're made using a different type of flour--flours, in fact! It's not just a matter of swapping "all purpose" for "gluten-free". It's a little trickier than that. Most gluten-free baking is actually done with a mix of a few types of flour, to guarantee a good combination of flavor and texture.

And likewise, the taste doesn't always translate exactly. Some gluten-free flours will impart a more assertive flavor than white flour. That, I think, is what makes the goods kind of funny sometimes. Like, they taste too healthy or they have too crumbly a texture or something.

gluten free cinnamon roll

So when I taste a gluten-free baked good, do try to be aware of these things, that they will never taste exactly like their floury counterparts. 

But they still can be a thing of beauty in their own, gluten-free right. And an example of a bakery that has a good thing going on is Revolution Bakery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

At Revolution bakery, they have a big focus on bread as you walk into the cafe, but they also have a very nice selection of pastries and baked goods--they do cakes, too.

Keeping it simple, I chose a quinoa chocolate chip cookie (which was vegan, too) and a cinnamon roll. 

Gluten free cookie

The chocolate chip cookie was very nice. It was crispy around the edges but slightly softer inside. It crumbled lightly when bitten into, like a coarser sort of shortbread, and the flavor was slightly nutty and almost oat-y, which made it taste like a health cookie, sort of. I say "sort of" because it was assertively cookie-ish enough to not ever be confused with a granola bar. This is the type of healthy sweet I like: one that I can tell myself is virtuous, even if it really isn't.

Gluten free cinnamon roll

The cinnamon roll was likewise lightly nutty in flavor, which worked quite well with the yeastiness of the pastry. But what this treat is really all about is the cinnamon-sugar filling and frosting, which play together to create a symphony of sweet morning music tastes in your mouth. A very nicely done cinnamon roll. Had I tried this one not knowing it was gluten-free, I might believe that a hippie-ish sort had hid flax or something inside of the dough, but I wouldn't instantly proclaim it gluten-free just upon tasting it. It had a very nice texture, too.

Baked goods are a bit spendy at this spot, but a lot goes into making a gluten-free baked good, and I think they're worth seeking out. So if you find yourself in Santa Fe, hit them up! Just remember to go early in the day, because they can tend to sell out of some things later on.

Revolution Bakery, 1291 San Felipe Boulevard; online here.

Wednesday
Jan092013

Pastry Profiles: Carrot Muffin, El Tesoro Cafe, Santa Fe NM

El Tesoro, Santa Fe NM

I've never known a muffin like this before.

I met this muffin at a place called El Tesoro, which is located in the Sanbusco Market Center in the Guadalupe District of Santa Fe. Per the Sanbusco Center website, "This treasure, as the name El Tesoro implies, has been serving food to Santa Feans for the past ten years.  Breakfast and lunch are served daily.  The menus are a beautiful blend of New Mexican, Central American and American entrees; it is a local’s favorite for fresh guacamole, great green chile, pupusas, salvadorean tamales, salads and salmon tacos.  The food is prepared fresh daily with items made to order."

Now, a New Mexican-Central American eatery wouldn't be the place I'd expect to find a top-tier muffin...or to have a muffin on the menu at all...but that's just what they have here.

It's a carrot zucchini muffin you see in the picture above, and while the taste is just fantastic--spicy, lightly sweet, very moist--what is really intriguing about this muffin is the texture.

El Tesoro, Santa Fe NM

It's soft and cakey on the inside, but has a firm yet silky-smooth crust on the exterior. It's almost like the exterior of a popover. It makes you want to keep eating just for another bite of that perfect texture. How on earth did they do it? I would love to know!

But mostly, I'd like to eat another, and soon!

El Tesoro, 500 Montezuma Avenue, at the Sanbusco Center; online here.

Sunday
Nov252012

Southern Belle Cupcake from Dream Cakes Gourmet Cupcakes, Santa Fe

Dream Cakes, Santa Fe

Sometimes, a cupcake makes you want to purr. 

This is an experience I had recently (as in, there are probably still cake crumbs on my shirt) at a place called Dream Cakes Cupcakes in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

The retail space is small, tucked in a mall just off of the city's Plaza (downtown area). It is somewhat unassuming when you walk in, and the prices are somewhat hefty--$4.50 per cupcake. 

But the cupcakes are serious fatties--I don't like sharing cupcakes (at all) but here's one that I'd consider cutting in half and saving part 2 for later (sort of like...sharing with my future self). Because it's not quite 2 times the size of a regular cupcake, but 1.6 times the size of a regular cupcake. 

This picture (from their facebook page) may not portray the size, but it will show you the unusual square-ish shape they have.

Here's the menu.

Menu, Dream Cakes

The menu is pretty immense, about 50 flavors, but only certain ones are available daily. Generally, those will include their two bestsellers, the Chocolate-chocolate cupcake (I forget the name) and the "Armadillo"--the red velvet. I wanted to get the "Santa Fe" - a cornbread cupcake with green chile topped with a honey buttercream--but alas they were out for the day. The friendly man behind the register removed that flavor from the daily menu after he realized this cupcake was not in attendance.

He did give me a frosting shooter to soothe my broken heart.

So I went for my second choice--the "Southern Belle", a pecan cupcake with praline filling topped with cream cheese frosting. 

Looking into the Chinese takeout-style container (filled with cupcake!) this is what I saw. The man behind the counter (one of the owners) commented that he thought it was the prettiest of their cupcakes, and I agree that it was quite a looker. I didn't want to shut the lid for fear of disrupting the frosting.

Dream Cakes, Santa Fe

I dug in to the container, using a fork. 

And after one bite, I wanted to go back and demand that they stop stuffing their cupcakes with crack, because that's just illegal.

Dream Cakes, Santa Fe

OK, so the cupcakes are not stuffed with crack. But this one had an unmistakably buttery, rich vanilla birthday cake-y flavor, studded with delicious, sweet-salty praline gobs. It was good enough based on these merits, but add the cream cheese frosting and you have a combo that can make CakeSpy swoon.

I'll confess: based on the tiny interior and the prices and location, I had been slightly wary about this place as a tourist trap. But now that I have been, I must say that I am very impressed, and I am looking forward to going back and trying at least a baker's dozen more flavors.

66 E. San Francisco Street, Santa Fe NM; find out more info here.

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