Veniero’s Pastry Shop in the East Village has been serving Italian-American confections since 1894. Linger at the display cases and choose from the tempting array of pastries, cookies and cakes, such as cannoli (below), diamond baci, millefoglia and whipped New York-style miniature cheesecake in chocolate cups. Then, have a seat in the cafe, under the lovely stained-glass ceiling and enjoy it with a cappuccino or latte.
It might be easy to find cupcakes in New York City, but it’s not so easy to find them as big and rich as those served at Cupcake Market, with its casual quaint tea parlour setting, and retro American and French tunes lilting in the background. At this East Village cafe and bakery, take a seat in front of the big picture window, tuck into the decadent, thickly frosted cupcakes or the pretzel-chocolate-chip and S’Mores cookies and watch the colourful parade of locals strolling by.
This sweet slip of a bakery and cafe in the West Village is known for creations such as its signature Mah-Ze-Dahr bar, comprising an oat base topped with toasted pecans, chocolate chips and salted caramel. The bakery’s dark chocolate explosion cookie has a soft, dense filling and a delightfully crunchy exterior, combining the textures of both a brownie and a cookie. Plump brioche doughnuts are filled with vanilla pastry cream and topped with sugar mixed with ground Madagascar vanilla beans.
Hitting all the hotspots in Brooklyn can be exhausting. Luckily, One Girl Cookies has you covered, with delectably sugary refuelling options. Stop in for One Girl’s Whoopie pie, a round sandwich-style cross between a cake and a cookie with sweet cream cheese filling (also served as a gelato sandwich), or for one of the cupcakes with signature spiky buttercream frosting. One Girl is conveniently located in Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill, DUMBO and Industry City/Sunset Park neighbourhoods.
An enticing buttery aroma lures visitors to this SoHo standout, and the queue of customers stretching to the back of the bakery is testament to its popularity, which owes much to its creative, ever-expanding selection of treats. Chef-owner Dominique Ansel’s immensely popular cronut pastry (below) has been described as a croissant-doughnut hybrid. Each cronut is rolled in sugar, filled with cream, topped with glaze, and made fresh daily, with a new flavour every month, such as Valrhona chocolate champagne or pear honey cream cheese. The Tahitian vanilla ice cream at the centre of Ansel’s frozen S’More is coated with chocolate enrobed in an all-honey marshmallow, then torched and speared on a smoked willow branch. The bakery’s blossoming hot chocolate hides a marshmallow flower enveloped within a thin layer of chocolate. When it’s placed into a cup of the hot chocolate, it melts and causes the flower to bloom, revealing a chocolate bonbon surprise inside.
6. Empire Cake
Classic American snack cakes such as Twinkies and Snowballs have amassed legions of devoted followers across the globe, but in New York City, Empire Cake in Chelsea, near the Meatpacking District, deliciously ups the snack cake ante, creating modern gourmet versions in the style of the popular classics. The treats are made daily, by hand, using high-quality ingredients, such as Belgian chocolate and whole vanilla beans. Choose from such sweet temptations as a red velvet snack cake dipped in white chocolate with a cream cheese filling; a Brooklyn blackout chocolate snack cake enrobed in bittersweet chocolate with a chocolate pudding filling; or a pink coconut-covered and coconut cream-filled dome-shaped snack cake.
At Billy’s Bakery, visitors can enjoy iconic desserts from the American South, such as banana cream pie, yellow daisy cake and pecan pie, in a bright, retro setting. Be sure to try a slice of Billy’s Crowd Pleaser cake (below) – alternating layers of chocolate and vanilla cake slathered with rich chocolate and vanilla buttercream frosting. Or try one of the moist, springy cupcakes, like the vanilla blackberry frosted with a lime buttercream, or a slice of the thick, rich peanut butter chocolate pie. Billy’s bakeries are in Chelsea TriBeCa, the Plaza Food Hall and Canal Street Market.
Doughnut Plant’s owner Mark Isreal is descended from a long line of bakers and started Doughnut Plant with his grandfather’s cherished doughnut recipe. The massive doughnuts are made by hand daily, using all-natural ingredients and fresh fruit glazes. Isreal’s inventive additions to the family legacy include the crème brûlée doughnut, filled with a house-made vanilla custard and torched to caramelise the sugar topping for a satisfying burnt sugar crunch. Some of the most-clamoured-for items are the tres leches cake doughnut and the coconut cream-filled square doughnut. You can find Doughnut Plant in New York City’s Chelsea and Lower East Side, as well as in Brooklyn and Queens. Doughnut Plant has opened in Tokyo and Seoul as well.
9. Chikalicious Dessert Bar and Chikalicious Dessert Club
Owner and pastry chef Chika Tillman founded Chikalicious Dessert Bar as a place for those who wanted to make delicious desserts the focus, rather than the coda of the meal. Multi-course dessert service can include such enticing selections as a main course of fromage blanc island cheese cake, served with an amuse bouche of Concorde grape sorbet with panna cotta, and petits fours of coconut marshmallow, apple pudding cake and cinnamon truffle, paired with Oremus Tokaji 2000.
Just across the street, Dessert Club Chikalicious is the spot for desserts that can be eaten on site or taken out, without waiting for a seat at Dessert Bar. Some of Dessert Club’s most popular confections include the dough’ssant, with flavours such as salted caramel and Teuscher chocolate, and the churro cone (below). Chikalicious’ new Nutty Professor churro cone is rimmed with brown sugar pecan, lined with Nutella and filled with vanilla ice cream. Chikalicious also pleases palates worldwide, with locations in Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo, Bangkok and Dubai.
10. Levain Bakery
Levain Bakery is known for baked goods such as its enormous six-ounce cookies that are delightfully soft and gooey in the middle and crunchy on the outside. Sink your teeth into a dark-chocolate chocolate chip cookie or a sweet walnut sticky bun at one of four Levain locations: two on the Upper West Side, one in Harlem and a fourth in the Hamptons.
– TEXT BY EVA LEONARD
PHOTOS: SUPPLIED, INSTAGRAM, CUPCAKE MARKET FACEBOOK, DOMINIQUE ANSEL BAKERY FACEBOOK
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.