You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Desserts’ category.
Do I want to blog about my Mom’s health, surgery? 12:48 AM Oct 10th
Can’t sleep tonight. Too many things. Mind is racing. 3:40 AM Oct 14th
Doctor just gave us the good news! First time I’ve seen my Dad cry in years. 12:28 PM Oct 14th
Just saw Mom in CICU 1:21 PM Oct 14th
Had lunch with Kirsten. So good seeing her again. Asks if I Twitter? 2:19 PM Oct 16th
Mom finally moved to her recovery room. Time for me to breathe again. 12:34 PM Oct 17th
Heading back to NYC, but will be back in another week. 12:28 AM Oct 20th
Auditions, auditions, auditions. If I have to play “Part Of Your World” one more time… 1:20 PM Oct 21st
Has it really been a month since my last blog entry? 2:43 PM Oct 22nd
Just “re-lived” the Bernstein “Mass” at Carnegie Hall. So proud of my friends. So moved by the music. 10:22 PM Oct 24th
Well, I guess DST is next weekend after all. 11:52 AM Oct 26th
Carnegie Hall: Pollini playing Beethoven, Schumann and Chopin. How classic(al). 2:34 PM Oct 26th
Hint #2: Last row of CH = leg room and behind-the-seat storage. 3:01 PM Oct 26th
Four encores! Including the G-minor Ballade! Grazie! 5:39 PM Oct 26th
Walking through Central Park.. Guess it has been a few weeks, there’s color on the trees and on the ground. 6:06 PM Oct 26th
Little girl, age 9 – “It smells like popcorn and horses.” 6:34 PM Oct 26th
Thank You, Matthew Weiner! -Can’t wait for Season 3! 10:55 PM Oct 26th
Pack-a-little, Post-a-little… Getting to head back down to Richmond for the week. 11:24 AM Oct 27th
The wheels on the bus keep going round and round. 100 miles to go. 8:37 PM Oct 27th
Being a ‘rent to the ‘rents today. 1:36 PM Oct 28th
Over at Steve’s right now taking a break from the parents. Soup’s On! 6:28 PM Oct 29th
Pumpkin & Coconut Brownie Ice Cream from Bev’s Ice Cream http://snipurl.com/4uzsi 8:07 PM Oct 30th
Happiness is a non-sold-out Bolt Bus. Two seats for the price of one. 7:31 PM Oct 31st
Off to MoMA for the last Member Preview Day of the new Miró exhibit. 2:06 PM Nov 1st
This exhibit keeps going and going and going… “Man and Woman in Front of a Pile of Excrement” 4:50 PM Nov 1st
Tracking a couple of friends in today’s marathon, and wondering how delayed the online results are. 11:58 AM Nov 2nd
Standing amid a sea of Silver, Blue, White and splashes of Orange! Inspiring!! 4:05 PM Nov 2nd
About to head out for some post-Marathon sushi with my brother and Maria. 5:58 PM Nov 2nd
Off to meet some friends for a morning-after-the-marathon breakfast. Could be interesting. 10:01 AM Nov 3rd
Times Square at 2:28pm EST – CNN Central http://snipurl.com/53wod 2:29 PM Nov 4th
Overwhelmed, but in a good way. The sense of Purpose and Hope was palpable in the midtown air (regardless of who you voted for). 6:14 PM Nov 4th
Just listening to the Cheering and Car Horns outside my apartment in Harlem!!!!!!!!!! 11:11 PM Nov 4th
OOPS! HA!!! ABC (in NYC at least) just interrupted their coverage for a Flomax commercial?!?!?!?!? 12:26 AM Nov 5th
Magnolia, Levain and Shake Shack all within seven blocks of each other… Is that a good or bad thing to know? 1:56 PM Nov 5th
At Lincoln Center about to experience Doctor Atomic.. And watching a lot of people trying to sell their tickets on the plaza… 7:30 PM Nov 5th
Intermission at The Met: People eating,drinking, chatting… leaving… 9:43 PM Nov 5th
Back at MoMA to catch the Kirchner once again before it closes… And the Van Gogh and Miró, of course 3:33 PM Nov 6th
Back at The Met tonight for the Berlioz. Technology and Art striving for their potential. I hope. 7:15 PM Nov 7th
Ah… The (Bittersweet) Hot Chocolate – with Marshmallow – from ‘wichcraft in Bryant Park http://snipurl.com/59hf1 3:52 PM Nov 9th
At Zankel Hall tonight for Jeremy Denk playing Ives Concord & Beethoven Hammerklavier. Monster program! 7:13 PM Nov 11th
Bravo, Jeremy Denk! Bravo! 9:52 PM Nov 11th
I was looking for an excuse to be lazy today: Thank You, Rain. 1:26 PM Nov 13th
Coolness in progress at MoMA http://twitpic.com/lrk1 3:43 PM Nov 14th
I wonder if they’ll have the Basil Hot Chocolate in Bryant Park today… 1:34 PM Nov 16th
More cupcakes coming to midtown Bway & 53rd… (Magnolia recently opened in Rock Center) http://snipurl.com/5n42q 2:45 PM Nov 16th
Thank you, Mr. Carfizzi and Mr. & Mrs. (Grant) Murphy for a wonderful recital. http://snipurl.com/5nlok 6:27 PM Nov 16th
Well, I thought I got here early enough to get in line for the movie. Probably #100ish, and still 30 minutes till they open 7:54 PM Nov 16th
“Slumdog Millionaire” – SEE THIS MOVIE! Thank You, Danny Boyle 10:35 PM Nov 16th
Everyone seems to be seeing snow this morning except for me – and I like snow!?!? 9:31 AM Nov 18th
ReTweet: @BravoTopChef Get ready! Spike is back and so are his shenanigans. Make sure to follow our boy tomorrow during the show 2:12 AM Nov 19th
Best lunch deal in Chinatown – 5 dumplings for $1 http://twitpic.com/mqr2 4:39 PM Nov 19th
Warming up with a Café Mocha at Abraço http://twitpic.com/mr4z 5:35 PM Nov 19th
Hmmm… No line… very tempting… http://twitpic.com/mra7 5:55 PM Nov 19th
What I’m playing this afternoon.. http://twitpic.com/mxqr 5:14 PM Nov 20th
Dinner at El Toro Partido – Torta! http://twitpic.com/ne8e 4:54 PM Nov 22nd
O Christmas Tree Stand, O Christmas Tree Stand… (145th & Broadway) http://twitpic.com/nvns 9:15 PM Nov 24th
On the Acela down to DC for the holiday weekend http://twitpic.com/o4xg 7:13 AM Nov 26th
@BravoTopChef Thanks, Andrew! 11:02 PM Nov 26th
Eat Well. Stay Safe. Happy Thanksgiving! 11:31 AM Nov 27th
Horse-Drawn Carriage rides in Carytown this weekend http://twitpic.com/osvq 5:21 PM Nov 28th
Then down to Cafe Gutenberg for dessert http://twitpic.com/ouyl 9:05 PM Nov 28th
My dessert: Oatmeal Stout Chocolate Float http://twitpic.com/ouz6 Yes! Beer (stout) and Ice Cream (chocolate gelato) 9:08 PM Nov 28th
Back at Bev’s Ice Cream – http://twitpic.com/p3kx Chocolate Chai with… 7:30 PM Nov 29th
With a Cranberry chaser – http://twitpic.com/p3lk 7:31 PM Nov 29th
My parents’ church actually has TWO late seating breaks during the mass. 12:22 PM Nov 30th
Who knew that my parents liked Vietnamese food? http://twitpic.com/p928 12:49 PM Nov 30th
Anderson Cooper swimming against Michael Phelps on “60 Minutes” tonight. 7:44 PM Nov 30th
Back on the bus back to NYC. Thankfully no one got trampled once the driver opened the doors, but there was definitely a throng. 7:29 AM Dec 1st
Take a Moment to Remember – World AIDS Day 2008. 9:44 AM Dec 1st
Happiness is a D (or A) Train across the platform. 3:49 PM Dec 1st
Anyone else going to the World AIDS Day “Bacharach to the Future” Benefit at New World Stages tonight? http://tinyurl.com/5jrv2j 3:54 PM Dec 1st
Condee Rice playing Brahms? I knew she was a good pianist, but… The Quintet is a LOT of notes! http://tinyurl.com/5q96px about 16 hours ago
Just saw a cop tie an elderly man’s shoes – I love New York City! about 11 hours ago
It’s beginning to look a lot… http://twitpic.com/ps3q about 8 hours ago
I really should be asleep by now, but just came up with an idea for a new – and long overdue – blog entry. about two hours ago
Well, I guess I am going to finish this blog entry tonight, well, this morning. -Who needs sleep? 27 minutes ago
Done! Publish. less than 5 seconds ago
As I looked into the display case and noticed that the top shelf was quite noticeably empty, my heart sank. And then I started to laugh at myself. I had stopped into the newly re-located Madeleine Patisserie on 23rd Street; it had just moved two doors down from it’s original address. I discovered Madeleine Patisserie for myself about a year ago after reading a blurb about the then newly opened shop a few weeks earlier in The New York Times. I was just walking around during a lunch break… Oh, a bakery! Needless to say, I just had to check it out as soon as I noticed it’s blue awning and semi-subterranean storefront. Once I descended the small set of stars and entered the shop, my eyes were immediately drawn to the big display case. On the bottom shelves was a colorful and enticing selection of fruit tarts, but what my eyes and taste buds were focusing on were the trays of French macaroons on the top shelf. It was a veritable rainbow of colors and flavors – at least twenty different varieties. Although macarons seemed to be the specialty of the house, this bakery/cafe does sell some fine examples of their namesake madeleines. They also come in a variety of flavors, all of which seem to be perfectly concocted so that the natural muting qualities of butter don’t overwhelm the essences and flavorings that infuse those two- or three- (or one-) bite "little French cakes". The espresso-walnut one I sampled today was… Oh, where was I? Oh, yes – I was laughing at myself.
While I walking around Chelsea a few weeks ago, I had noticed that the original location of Madeleine Patisserie had shuttered. As I looked into the windows, I took in the the absence of the comfy chairs, the tables, the shelving and that display case. Thankfully, there was a sign taped to the door indicating that they were moving two doors down. Well, I walked two doors down and found no sign of a nouvelle Madeleine Patisserie. I walked two doors down the other way, no pastries there either. I guessed that they were still in the process of moving. Actually, I hoped that they were still in the process of moving. With the ever volatile real estate market in New York City, Chelsea could very well have been deprived of yet another source of baked indulgences.
Since I ended up with a longer than usual lunch break today, I decided to go on a follow-up stroll. I first came across the new occupants of 128 W. 23rd, an African Art Gallery from what I could tell. Then I shifted my gaze east, two doors down, and, happily, my hopes were not dashed. I noticed the familiar blue awning with it’s familiar lettering. I quickened my pace and found myself standing in front of their new storefront a few steps later. The new digs were a bit smaller, narrower than their previous location, and it appeared that the seating was reduced to a few perfunctory tables and chairs. I opened the door and entered with a bit of hesitancy. Would their offerings be reduced too?
I first encountered the baskets and trivets filled with baguettes, batards, croissants, pains au chocolat, financiers, and various other puff pastry creations; the small, individual jars of jams and jellies, and the white, pink, yellow and blue packets of sweeteners for your coffee and tea. A few feet away was the display case. My eyes quickly scanned the shelves. The familiar selection of impeccably assembled fruit tarts were on the bottom two shelves. On top of the case was a row of jars filled with today’s selection of madeleines (six flavors), meringues (plain and coconut), and generous rounds of gallette bretonne (French shortbread). When I started concentrating on the top shelf, at first I thought my eyes were deceiving me. All I saw was a span of mirrored steel. It was empty. Nothing. That’s when my heart sank. And that’s when I laughed at myself.
My heart sank because of a macaron! Rather the lack of a macaron. How foolish is that? How stupid? How third grade! How wonderful! But wait! It gets better!
With a hopeful suspicion that the macarons were being kept in the back somewhere, I asked Maria if they had any today. She informed me that they did not have any today, but would, hopefully, have some by next week. It turned out that they had just completed the move this past Sunday, and today (Tuesday) was only the second day they were re-opened for business. Of course, hearing "Yes, we have no macarons today," and that it would be at least another week before the top shelf of that display case would be filled again did nothing to raise my spirits. I believe I even frowned. And then I giggled.
Yes, there are more serious, more adult sources of disappointment – and joy! – but as I immediately assessed my reaction, I could not help but laugh at my own folly. I’ve always known that I love food, but was it really possible for me to miss food? I guess so. And at what point in my life had a craving become an object of my affection?
Since I was not able to enjoy a cassis or lemon-chocolate or lilac macaron today – and since I was not going to walk out of there empty-handed – I decided to sample a trio of today’s selection of madeleines: Chocolate, Espresso-Walnut and Rose. Maria placed them in a small white paper bag, rang up my order at the register, and I headed back out on to 23rd Street. It wasn’t too long before I opened the bag, stuck my hand in and selected the Espresso-Walnut one. As I took that first bite, in my mind’s eye I could see that simply satisfied smile coming over my face; and I knew that if a camera was on me, it would capture the glint in my eye, the slight filling out of my cheeks, and my buttery-crumb-coated goofy grin. If I had happened to be walking with a friend, I would have immediately broken off a small bit for him to sample, or least have exclaimed, "This is really good! You should definitely try one the next time you go there!" But since I was walking by myself, I did not have to make that decision.
Next up was the Chocolate one which gently and sufficiently satisfied my daily chocolate quotient. Finally, the Rose. Many times, floral flavored and scented sweets can end up leaving me feel like I’ve just consumed a bit of furniture polish, dishwashing detergent or a votive candle instead of a lilac pastille, an orange blossom gelée or geranium sorbet. I had not tried a Rose one before, but, frankly, I was in the mood to be slightly adventurous today. I sniffed it before I placed it in my mouth. It smelled like a Rose. I then took a bite of it. It tasted like a Rose. Well, at least what I imagine what it would be like to bite into a long-stemmed American Beauty. Again, that goofy, can-it-really-be-this-good? smile came across my face, and, again I fully suspected someone to come up to me and capture my expression on camera. There just had to be some sort of documentation of my glee!
I looked at the remaining half, and was sort of taken aback by the very pronounced pink-red color of the cake. It wasn’t exactly unnatural, just unexpected. I nibbled slowly at what was left of that combination of butter, flour, sugar, rosewater(?) and a few drops of food coloring. I wanted to make it last as long as possible; at least until I had returned to the studio for the second half of my day. By the time I had reached the lobby of the building, I had indeed finished the madeleine. I had consumed all three of them during the course of my walk down 23rd Street, up Seventh Avenue, and back across 26th Street. As I entered the lobby, I became aware of the chill in my fingers. It was a bit colder today than I had thought, and I had not included my gloves as part of my outerwear selection for the day. Even though the end of meteorological Winter just a few days away, I had already experienced a harbinger of Spring. In fact, I had just tasted it.
I ended up back at Madeleine Patisserie after my afternoon session of auditions had finished. Alas, still no macarons gracing that top shelf of the display case – Hope springs eternal! – and it looked like they had done a pretty brisk business since my last visit a few hours earlier. There were just a few plain croissants left in the baskets behind the counter, and the display next to the register was a fraction of what was there during my first visit of the day. I also noticed a sign taped to a curtain that lined what I thought was the back wall of the new space: "Seating Area Coming Soon". For today’s final selections, I chose a coconut meringue and two chocolate chip financiers the size of a truffle (or a chocolate covered cherry, whichever you prefer). Since I had ordered two of them, I first sampled the financier. Again, I was smiling uncontrollably as I took that first bite. A true perfect bite of the usual baker’s staples with the addition of ground almonds and a sprinkling of semi-sweet chocolate chips. Then came the coconut meringue – all crunch, sugar, air and toasted coconut. I imagined that this is what coconut-flavored cotton candy would taste like if it had a hard candy shell. Once I had finished the meringue, there was no sense in saving the remaining financier for later. And by that time, I had managed to walk all the way up to 44th Street where I proceeded underground to hop on the A Train for the rest of my trip home. As I wondered if my fellow riders had any idea why I smiling so much, I made sure to check the front of my coat for any traces of meringue dust and cake crumbs.
Ah, yes, the Food!
One of the highlights of the most recent SETC Convention in Chattanooga, Tennesee, was discovering the rotating cake display at the City Cafe Diner. Getting to Chattanooga the day before the auditions started was filled with various travel woes (delayed flights, missing pilots, and non-existent hotel reservations), so I felt that I was more than qualified and justified to treat myself to something sweet after I had finally gotten myself settled into my hotel room. Besides, I needed something to snack on while I was watching "American Idol" that night.
I had been to Chattanooga once before when the SETC Convention was held there in 2004, but I had not ventured into the City Cafe Diner which is the house restaurant for the Days Inn by the convention center. I had thought about splurging on some room service that first night, but after thinking about it, I realized that I was not in the mood for dinner, just dessert. So, I headed out of my hotel, and across the street. I figured the Diner was bound to have some desserts, but little did I know that they would have quite the selection of cakes spinning around in a case by the front register. Sadly, I did not take a picture of that diabetes-inducing display, but there were at least twelve different cakes available each night, in addition to a selection of pies, tarts, Greek pastries and cookies. I decided to stick to the cakes.
For that first night’s indulgence, I took a chance on their Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Cake.
It was a tall slice of alternating layers of chocolate cake and chocolate-peanut-butter frosting topped off with a miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. It was good, not great. Strangely enough, I thought the cake and frosting were not sweet enough, and both the chocolate and peanut butter flavors were somewhat muted. I only ate half of the slice, if that. The cake itself had a great texture and crumb, but, overall, tasted sort of bland to me. Maybe I should have tried the Butterfinger Cake instead? -Although, the almost-glowing neon-looking orange-brown coating of crushed Butterfinger bars kept me from exploring that option any further.
Well, after my first day of auditions – just under 280 people, I was definitely allowed to treat myself to another sweet indulgence that night. So, I headed back to the City Cafe Diner, and checked out my other options. I had noticed that they had just put something new in the display case. "That’s our Baklava Cheesecake. One slice and you’ll go into a sugar coma!" was the answer I got after I had pointed to the cinder-block slab of a dessert that was sitting in the bottom of the case. Sure! Cut me a slice to go! -And maybe a sugar coma would not be that bad a thing after watching the "American Idol" results show and "Lost" that night?
Once I was back in my hotel, I discovered that the Baklava Cheesecake was more of a layered affair. The core of it was a plain cheesecake that was sandwiched between two thin layers of Carrot Cake, and the top and the bottom were composed of inch-thick layers of baklava (phyllo dough, walnuts, butter and honey-syrup). Sadly, it ended up being too much of the sum of its parts. I questioned the Carrot Cake layers at first, but then realized that they were probable there to shield the crunchy, flaky layers of phyllo dough from the moisture of the cheesecake layer. However, the baklava portion of the dessert had not been protected from the moisture of the display case, and the flakiness of the phyllo dough ended up having a bit of a chew to it. The cheesecake center was decent, but could have probably benefited from a few less minutes in the oven initially. And just like the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Cake from the night before, the whole concoction seemed somewhat on the not-so-sweet side, however, I’m guessing that whatever sugars were in the various components of the dessert may have cancelled each other out. The Baklava Cheesecake was not a total waste of $4.95 (yes, all the cakes were just $4.95 a slice!), but I think it would have worked better if it were assembled á la minute rather than giving all the layers time to meld. I finished maybe a third of it, so, alas, no sugar coma.
Day Two of the auditions came and went, and since I had managed to have quite a nice lunch at the Tallan Cellar restaurant (a good ole "meat & three") that day, I decided all I needed to eat during that "American Idol"-free night was another slice of cake. I decided to pick something basic: Caramel Cake.
No problem with this slice of cake not being sweet enough! Slathered between the layers of amazingly fresh and vanilla-infused layers of Yellow Cake were generous heapings of Caramel Buttercream. Caramel Cake is one of many Southern Classic Desserts, and this rendition was most certainly insuring that Classic status. Yes, my teeth did ache a little bit as I took my first bite, but they were supposed to! The Caramel Buttercream and Yellow Cake layers complemented each other perfectly, and, yes, the dessert was most definitely rich, but it was not at all heavy. I ate half of it. Then ate the other half about a half hour later. I had to pace myself.
The third and final day of auditions came to a close, which also meant that the convention was also ending that night. Of course, I had to celebrate that night with another piece of cake! So, it was back to the City Cafe Diner for my final visit and my final selection of the trip. There was a gentleman in front of me who was inquiring about the various cakes; he, too, was getting a slice to go. The manager was answering all his questions, but then referred him to a young woman who had come out of the kitchen bearing a few just-made creations. She was affectionately called "The Cake Guru". She explained what all the various layers were in the Chocolate Chip Cannoli Cake. She showed him the California Cheesecake with it’s it’s layers of plain Cheesecake and Angel Food Cake, and fresh fruit topping. Then there was the Key Lime Pie she had just made that afternoon. The Devil’s Food Cake, the Red Velvet Cake, the Oreo Cake, the Checkerboard Chocolate Mousse Cake with it’s alternating blocks of White and Dark Chocolate Gooey-ness. After he had walked away with a slice of the Strawberry Mousse Cake, I then turned to the Cake Guru and explained my situation, "It’s my last night in town. I’ve come here every night for the past three nights, and I really want to have a great piece of cake tonight. What should I have?" Without any hesitation, she proclaimed, "The Sampler Cake."
Do Not Look In The Window! Do Not Drool On The Glass!
Over the past couple of months, the area around 72nd Street & Broadway has become a Dieter’s Temptation Island. Anyone planning on sticking to their New Year’s Resolution to cut out "The White" (sugar, flour and shortening) is strongly advised to keep walking past some of the new store fronts that have opened in this portion of the Upper West Side. However, if you do wish to test your resolve and/or carb-butterfat-consumption limit, have I got a Walking Tour for you!
The recent opening of Magnolia Bakery’s UWS branch seems to have signaled some sort of truce in the Cupcake Wars of years past. Or not. In any case, having Magnolia so close to one of it’s many offspring, Buttercup Bakery, means that UWS-ers no longer have to head down to Bleecker Street in order to get their originally-fueled-by-"Sex & The City" sugar fix.
This CupCake & Cookie & Chocolate (oh, yes, there’s Chocolate too!) Walk starts at Magnolia Bakery’s new location. The remaining stops may be taken in order as you zig-zag up and over to 72nd, up Amsterdam, and then over to Broadway, or you may wish to circle a block two between gobs of buttercream. Of course, whether you choose to stop-in and consume or not is totally up to you. And possibly your cardiologist.
You can start this CC&C&C Walk at 72nd Street at Broadway (1/2/3 trains) or at Central Park West (B/C). Either way, you can get a nice warm-up walk on your way to Magnolia Bakery. After your CC&C&C Walk is completed – and mind you, you don’t have to complete this all in one day – it’s probably best to walk back down Broadway to Columbus Circle to catch your train at 59th Street. (Just be sure not stop by Bouchon Bakery on the third floor of the Time-Warner Center.)
Magnolia Bakery – 200 Columbus Ave. (at 69th St.)
Buttercup Bake Shop – 141 W. 72nd St. (between Amsterdam & Columbus)
Grandaisy Bakery – 176 W. 72nd St. (Amsterdam & Columbus)
Jacques Torres Chocolate – 285 Amsterdam Ave. (73rd & 74th)
Levain Bakery – 167 W. 74th St. (Amsterdam & Columbus) – COOKIES!
Crumbs – 321 1/2 Amsterdam Avenue (75th & 76th)
Grom – 2165 Broadway (76th & 77th) – Gelato (and Hot Chocolate).
Beard Papa Cream Puffs – 2167 Broadway (76th & 77th)
If you would like to pick up a bottle of something red to counteract the effects of all that buttercream, I recommend stopping into Pour (Amsterdam at 75th). If you time your trek right, you might end up stopping by during one of their daily wine-tastings. And sometimes they even serve hor d’oeuvres. Salty ones.
Part of one of Levain’s Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies