They say that you cannot judge a book by its cover, but can you judge a cupcake by its frosting? Cupcake Cafe in New York offers what may well be the richest cupcake one can experience: the frosting is smooth and buttery and the cake itself is full and moist. The smaller versions of these beauties are themselves sufficient to satisfy your craving. What's even more impressive is the frosting, which are various colored flowers. They're so perfectly done that they look like works of art. In this case, this is a cupcake that's good enough not to eat.
Desserts Around the World
Paris has its macarons, and New York City its cupcakes. Many countries have their special desserts they love to share with their guests
Even after six years in Paris, I still find myself overwhelmed by the heaps of flaky pastries and dainty, multi-layer desserts that line bakery windows. These local joints on each block reel in passersby with the potent scent of butter and chocolate and the abiding hope of scoring a straight-from-the-oven baguette 'tradition', making it difficult to discern at first glance the mediocre shops from the stellar ones worth the visit.
As varied and enticing as the local pastry shops are, so too are the internationally celebrated hautes pâtisseries (but not all of them are created equal!). There's fiery debate over which shop has the best macarons - Ladurée or Pierre Hermé - but I think the sample must be made far larger. Café Pouchkine has been a sweets destination in Russia since 1999 with a particular focus on merging local and French influences. In Paris, the shop is situated on the...
You can't visit Granada without seeing the Alhambra and you can't leaveSpain without first having some churros con chocolate! This fried snack is delicious dipped in a whole cup of decadent chocolate--which is fine, because I'm pretty sure calories don't even count when you're traveling...
Best doughnuts ever! Really. The cultish doughnut shop in the city of Portland is a must-eat. Its really gained some fame over the past few years since appearing on TV so expect a 25-50 minute wait and make sure to bring others so you can all share each others creative doughnuts such as the Maple-Bacon or Oreo Peanut-Butter.
Any meal in the restaurant at Chateau Richeux is a culinary delight, but the real magic begins when they pull out the dessert cart.
Chef Olivier Roellinger feels that you should never stop being a kid and you can have whatever you want, as much as you want, as many times as you want from his fully loaded cart. The highlight being the millefeuille of the day made with vanilla from Madagascar, it will have you driving the three hours it takes to get there from Paris on a regular basis, or at least planning the trip!
While in Marrakech we took a four hour cooking class at a beautiful Riad just outside the old town center. The five of us spent the afternoon touring the spice markets, learning about traditional foods, and cooking a huge feast. My favorite part was dessert of course; Moroccan milk pastilla and mint tea! I will never forget the experience, or the recipes (probably the best $60 I ever spent)!
I've had countless creme brûlée's in France, but none like this one in the Michelangelo Hotel in Sandton, served over dry ice. It was perfect to keep the bottom custard and berries nice and cold to contrast with the torched top.
It often seems there are as many cupcake shops in NYC, as there are hipsters. Everyone has a favorite. Butter Lane on East 7th (and now in Park Slope also on Seventh) is one of mine. They don't have the most inventive flavors in the world, though they are creative. What I truly love is that I can choose my own cake and frosting, separately, and then put them together to form whatever cupcake my heart desires from all the available options. At Butter Lane, I'm never limited to what's already ready in the case. From cookie dough to peanut butter to raspberry frosting, the divine flavors of both their American and French-style buttercream icing always fulfills my craving. If you're particularly prone to sugar love, they even have icing shots separate from the delicious cupcakes. In summer, you can usually find them selling from a pop-up on the Highline. Any other time of year, be...
While in Turkey I enjoyed traditional desserts like Baklava, but I learned to eat them in an nontraditional way. Did you know there was baklava etiquette in Istanbul?
My friend Fatih took me to Karaköy Güllüoğlu – the famous baklava sweet shop in Karaköy. There you’ll find cases and cases of freshly made trays of baklava in different sizes and flavors to temp your sweet tooth. My personal favorite I quickly became addicted to was the chocolate baklava.
Fatih and I got an assortment of baklava and I was poised to dig in when he said, “Do you know there is a proper way to eat baklava that brings out the most flavor of the dessert?” I hesitated and was torn with simply shoving it into my mouth and trying to slow down and learn about this intriguing fact that he dangled out in front of me. The dangling worked – I chose to put my fork down and learn more.
He told me to place the bottom side...
Make sure to sample some hot drinking chocolate in Barcelona. I chose a mug from Cacao Sampaka, a gourmet chocolate shop where you'll find all sorts of delightful dessert concoctions. The rich, velvety drink is nothing like American hot chocolate. It's thick, a bit spicy, and not too sweet. Dunk churros or melindros, a spongy, cake-like cookie traditional to Catalonia.
If you guessed that to be an explosion of delicious sweetness in the form of Tiramisu, cloaked in milk chocolate, then you're right. No, it didn't come from a countryside baker in Italy, but rather aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train. Touristy as it may be, the Napa Valley Wine Train has a full-time chef and food staff that prepares all of their meals on board. This milk chocolate–covered Tiramisu was one of a couple desserts being offered on a recent weekday lunch ride and needless to say, there was nothing left when I was finished with it.
Pastry chef Dominique Ansel loves the classic croissant so much that he revived the lesser known Brittany pastry, the Kouign Amann, in his SoHo bakery.
The Kouign Amann is made out of a croissant-like dough with the addition of sugar. One bite and you feel the crackly crust and caramelized sugar that melts on your lips---you’re hooked, line and sinker, for life. There’s also a tender flaky core that just begs you to pair this sweet breakfast treat with a mug of coffee. The version in Dominique’s eponymous bakery is a little different than the traditional Breton cake, which is larger, and often served warm. It’s also heavier. Think of this version as the New Yorker’s best friend: light, airy and oh so sweet that stays well clear of saccharine. This is a delicious resurrection that won’t be going out of style anytime soon.
(Side note: also try the canneles, which have a hint of dark rum)....