My love for dessert took on a new life after I moved to New York and passed bakery after bakery while walking down the street. I started going on mini dessert tours almost accidentally since it was so easy to stop in several good places within a few blocks of each other. I love comparing desserts and seeing differences in style between bakeries, and wanted to try this same type of tour in my hometown of Los Angeles. While back home this past weekend, I recruited my mom and nine year old cousin, Christopher, to test out a few bakeries that had been recommended to me by locals and fellow bakers.
Our first stop was at Pastries by Edie, a small bakery in Canoga Park (better known as “The Valley”) that seems to be a favorite with celebrities. Their walls are lined with pictures of everyone from Michael Jackson to Heather Locklear, and they have long served famous restaurants and hotels around the area. Located in a less than desirable part of town (which is being cleaned up), the store is nicely set back from the street by a large patio area filled with plants and wrought iron tables. The interior of the shop has faux windows and planters lining dark blue walls, and you feel like you’ve left the valley and been transported to a country cottage.
While the atmosphere isn’t my style, I was impressed by the selection of pastries and gelato available. Most of their pastries are available in bite sized portions (including the Swedish Princess Cake that looked delicious), so you can have an assortment of small desserts or just test out a small piece before ordering a larger version for an event. The incredibly nice counter person told us that their Tiramisu is very popular, but we decided to go with the Trio Mousse, which includes layers of white, milk and dark chocolate mousse and the Caramel Apple Mousse which has layers of cream, apples, caramel and crepe. Each were only $1.50 and were very good, but I might stick with delivery from this bakery since there aren’t many other reasons to hang out in this part of town.
After visiting Edie’s, my mom and I picked Christopher up from school at 3:00pm and headed to West Los Angeles where most of the bakeries on my list were located. This was our biggest mistake of the day. Any local knows that the traffic is next to impossible on the 405 freeway on Friday afternoons (or any afternoon for that matter.) We hit bumber-to-bumper traffic and I seriously questioned my sanity for trying to attempt a dessert tour in a city where everything is so far apart you have to drive. Luckily for me my mom is as dedicated (or crazy) as I am about finding great desserts, and she was willing to carry on. The traffic limited the amount of places we were able to get to, but we did manage to visit three places in West LA that were all worth the drive.
Our next stop was in Beverly Hills (yes, 90210) at Sprinkles, a bakery that specializes in trendy flavored cupcakes like Chai Latte and Ginger Lemon. Flavors vary daily, but standards like Vanilla and Dark Chocolate are always available. They also have cupcakes made specially for dogs, and they carry the Cup-a-Cake container to take your purchase home safely with you.
With its modern, minimalist decor and high prices ($3.25/cupcake) this store reminded me of something that would fit perfectly in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Despite the New York feel, there was no mistaking you were in LA and not NYC since you could see palm trees and Rodeo Drive right outside the front door. We ultimately decided to buy the Pumpkin and Dark Chocolate cupcake along with the special carob cupcake for Christopher’s dog Maggie. We were impressed by the Pumpkin cupcake but felt the chocolate frosting was better at Bea’s Bakery and other bakeries we had been to before. Sprinkles is a fun, modern bakery that fits well in Beverly Hills, but we wonder how long it can stay in business selling cupcakes alone.
The next stop, K Chocolatier, was the highlight of the day. We found it accidentally after Christopher pointed out a chocolate shop he saw across the street from Sprinkles. Christopher clearly has an eye for excellent chocolate since this was no average chocolate store. It turns out that K Chocolatier is made by Diane Krön, the same owner of a chain of high-end chocolate shops in New York in the 1970s called Krön Chocolatier. Diane says she prefers to keep a low profile these days and is content with her small store that can barely hold 5 people.
Krön Chocolatier, and now K Chocolatier, has a history of serving famous celebrities like Andy Warhol and Jacqueline Kennedy, but what impressed me most about this shop was how willing Diane was to help out a few average strangers that walked through her door. She has large boxes of K Bears (little crispy teddy bear shapes covered in milk, dark and white chocolate) and K Truffles (dark chocolate with whipped centers) on the counter, and gives out as many samples as you can eat. She also has a line of K Sensual Herbal Chocolates that use over 15 herbs to enhance certain “experiences,” but those were kept safely behind the counter and out of the reach of children.
She’s happy to show you the beautiful flower boxes and cute little bags that her candy comes in, and will answer any questions without pressure to buy. I would love to come back and buy one of the flower boxes filled with truffles, but at a price of $125, that will have to wait for a very special occasion.
With traffic building and an hour drive back home ahead of us, we were only able to make it to one more bakery. Just down the street from Sprinkles and K Chocolatier we found a small bakery called Clementine. Unlike the previous bakeries we visited, Clementine serves breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea which includes a collection of sandwiches, scones and “dainty sweets” ($18.95/person.) After filling up on cupcakes and chocolates we decided to buy a variety of breakfast items to take home for the next morning. We picked the Strawberry Scone, Sunshine Corn Cake, Banana Walnut Bread and Blueberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake Muffin.
Christopher also picked out a package of homemade coffee flavored marshmallows ($6/pack.) While light and fluffy, both Christopher and I thought the coffee flavor was a little unusual in this context. Our favorite pick from the bakery was the Sunshine Corn Cake, and if I went back again I’d also like to try the Moravian Sugar Bread which looked delicious.
Los Angeles has many great places for dessert, but I would recommend focusing on just one place and avoiding the hassle of driving between different locations. Next time I go back I hope to try Jin Patisserie and Boule, each on separate days. One final note about going on a dessert tour in Los Angeles; be prepared to feel full, very full. Nobody walks in LA, even after eating cupcakes and marshmallows.
Pastries by Edie
21608 Sherman Way
Canoga Park, CA 91303
9636 Little Santa Monica Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
9606 Little Santa Monica Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
1751 Ensley Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90024