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Dessert Week

Whenever I travel I search for local dessert specialties and ask myself, “Where would I go if I lived here?” and “What is special and unique about this part of the world?” This past weekend I went to Tucson, Arizona and asked myself these same questions. In my search I found a few places that looked interesting, but nothing that I couldn’t find at home. When I arrived at my hotel I asked the concierge and she recommended a few standard bakeries, but again, it was nothing I wanted to investigate on such a short trip. I finally decided to forgo my search for a unique establishment and picked up a sample of prickly pear candy at the hotel. (Prickly pear juice is made from the fruit of a prickly pear cactus, found in all deserts of the American Southwest). The prickly pear candy was as much of a disappointment as the dessert establishments, and I left longing for a good New York chocolate shop.

We all know you could eat at a different restaurant in New York City every night for the rest of your life, but I am beginning to think the same applies to dessert. Since new and interesting places are opening all the time, I think it’s time to get serious and start documenting the places that have helped make New York City the dessert capital of the world. Don’t believe it’s the dessert capital? Just ask ABCNews, they seem to agree.

Now that I’m back home in this sweet city I will attempt to cover the best, most well known bakeries/chocolate shops/cafes (whatever form they may take) that every local, or tourist should be sure to visit while in New York City.

There are a few obvious choices that immediately jump to mind (Balthazar, Serendipty 3, etc.), but to make sure I cover the prime New York dessert institutions I consulted friends, colleagues and my two favorite New York City books – The Historic Shops and Restaurants of New York: A Guide to Century-Old Establishments in the City and New York’s 50 Best Places to Enjoy Dessert : A City and Company Guide . I narrowed down the options and listed possible places to visit below (I intentionally omitted a few places I had bad experiences with or are not particularly interesting). Like any tourist (or even local resident), I won’t have time to cover them all and will be forced to prioritize. My investigation will last one week, and I will cover one establishment per day. My final choices for where to spend my time and money will be revealed as the week unfolds, and will be influenced by your comments. Please let me know your favorites or if I have missed anything on the list.

At the end of the week I will recap and choose the “Best of” list for all people who ask themselves, like I did in Arizona, “Where should I go for dessert?” May the week of desserts commence!

New York City Dessert Establishments (in no particular order):

Balthazar Bakery
Payard Patisserie
Serendipity 3
Veniero’s Pasticceria and Caffe
Minamoto Kitchoan
Glaser’s Bake Shop
ChikaLicious Dessert Bar
Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory
The Chocolate Bar
Once Upon a Tart
Jacques Torres Chocolate (and Chocolate Haven)
Scharffen Berger
Cafe Lalo
Ruby et Violette
Magnolia Bakery
Buttercup Bakeshop
New York Takashimaya
Lady M Confections
Fat Witch
La Maison Du Chocolat
Eileen’s Special Cheesecake
Rice to Riches
The Little Pie Company
The City Bakery
Ciao Bella Gelato
Il Laboratorio del Gelato

Dessert Week – Day 1: Balthazar Bakery >


Jessica says on February 28th, 2005 at 8:50 pm:

Hi Kelli, I’ve been to Serendipity, Veniero’s, Scharffen Berger, Cafe Lalo, Magnolia, La Maison, Little Pie Co., and City Bakery. I agree that these are quintessential NY places. I used to be a fan of Serendipity and the frozen hot chocolate. But one time I went there, and the hostess wouldn’t even tell us (a party of two) how long the wait was, and they seated people that arrived after us. They only seated us after we re-inquired about the wait time. Then I had the blackout cake, and it was overly sweet. I vowed to never go there again. Of the places above, Little Pie and Veniero’s are my favorite. I also like Something Sweet (to-do-for truffle buttons!) in the East Village. I heard Ceci Cela was good, but haven’t tried it.

Mark says on February 28th, 2005 at 8:58 pm:

Hi there! Thanks for the list!! To repay you, here’s a joke:

A blonde calls her boyfriend and says, “Please come over here and help me. I have a killer jigsaw puzzle, and I can’t figure out how to get it started.”

Her boyfriend asks, “What is it supposed to be when it’s finished?” The blonde says, “According to the picture on the box, it’s a tiger.” Her boyfriend decides to go over and help with the puzzle. She lets him in and shows him where she has the puzzle spread all over the table.

He studies the pieces for a moment, then looks at the box,then turns to
her and says, “First of all, no matter what we do, we’re not going

be able to assemble these pieces into anything resembling a tiger.” He takes her hand and says, “Second, I want you to relax. Let’s have a nice cup of tea, and then …” he sighed, “…let’s put all these Frosted Flakes back in the box.

Robyn says on March 1st, 2005 at 12:54 am:

I like the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory (plus a bagillion bakeries in Chinatown but in a sense it doesn’t matter which one you go to) and although I didn’t really get to eat anything there, Sugar Sweet Sunshine bakery is very cute.

Kelli says on March 1st, 2005 at 9:08 am:

I knew there was more I should consider! Thanks for tips about Ceci Cela, Something Sweet, Sugar Sweet and all the rest. I agree about the Chinatown bakeries too (Andrew wrote about Fay Da earlier this month, but they’re all pretty good). Yesterday I hit up three of my favorites in Soho. Stay tuned for the reviews shortly. Thanks again for the comments.

debbie says on March 2nd, 2005 at 2:15 pm:

There’s also Billy’s Bakery on 9th Ave in the teens (or maybe low 20s). Another spinoff from Magnolia/Buttercup, but I actually like it better. Nothing tops City Bakery’s choc chips, though.

alizinha says on March 2nd, 2005 at 8:27 pm:

don’t waste your time with Rice to Riches. “flavored” rice pudding, feh. gimme old-fashioned rice pudding any day (and at half the prices that R-to-R charges). also, did you hear the owner was busted for a racketeering ring?

here’s where you should go instead: Sugar Sweet Sunshine on the LES. best cupcakes in NYC, and the owners are sweet, too.

Kelli says on March 3rd, 2005 at 1:09 am:

I heard about the R2R charges, how funny. I knew there must be a catch to an entire store dedicated to rice pudding. Thanks for the sugar sweet tip.

Martha says on March 3rd, 2005 at 8:01 am:

Ooooooh go to Takashimaya! Go to Takashimaya! I want to hear all about it, in disgusting, vivid detail. Mmm…Japanese sweets. (Actually, you might also go check out Minamoto Kitchoan as well. I cannot visit NYC without going there at least every other day, and making myself horribly ill on various forms of red bean paste. And right now? I’m drooling.)

Kelli says on March 3rd, 2005 at 11:06 am:

Takashimaya is the best! The packaging is beautiful. I tried to add a link to their site but I only found the Japanese version. I’ll see if I can get over to Rockafeller center this week (La Maison is there too :) ).

Keiichi Matsumura says on January 25th, 2008 at 4:59 pm:

Ceci Cela is wonderful, one of my favorite dessert spots…I also wanted to mention Bouley Bakery & Market on 120 W Broadway. Their lemon tarts are amazing, and they have other delicious French pastries & desserts. Thank you for the matcha shortbread recipe. I will try it out this weekend. I bought a small can of matcha powder at Mitsuwa a while back and have been looking for a recipe like this.

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Lovescool is the documentation of a journey to discover what sweet things are out there, why people love them so much, and perhaps what it takes to start something new.

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An interest, that turned into a blog, that turned into a career. Kelli Bernard is now the owner and baker of Amai Tea & Bake House.

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