Category Archives: Bakeries

Pastry Chefs Vie for Top Honors in NYC Desserts Faceoff

Paco Torreblanca puts olive oil to use in lieu of butter. Photo: StarChefs.com.

How sweet it is. The winner of the The 3rd Annual StarChefs.com International Pastry Competition taking place now in New York will walk away with a $5,000 cash prize. But first, the 20 chefs vying for top honors in the annual pastry contest have to get through two elimination rounds in order to make it to the finals Oct. 2.

A host of pastry luminaries have been tapped to judge the flour faceoff. “Top Chef Just Desserts” star Johnny Iuzzini will lead a team that includes Alex StupakJeffrey SteingartenElizabeth FalknerStephane Treand, and Michael Laiskonis.

I’ll be live-tweeting the final round Oct. 2, which pits two pastry chefs against each other. Follow me at @Foodandthings.

Click here for daily updates.

Here’s a brief summary of each day’s events:

Pre-competition, September 29: Pastry training and prep for Round 1.

Round 1, September 30: Pre-dessert competition–20 chefs compete for 10 spots to advance to Round 2.

Round 2, October 1: Plated dessert competition–10 chefs compete for three finalist spots and prizes and advance to the final round.

Round 3, October 2: Finalists create three corresponding desserts, each showcasing a different technique–1 pastry chef wins the grand prize.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Georgetown Cupcakes that Ate New York

 

by Chef Renee Marton

I’m so over cupcakes, but at the urging of my friend Ming, I trekked to Soho to taste Georgetown Cupcake’s treats.

I may be sick of the sweet round morsels, but these cupcakes were very tasty. I sampled just two—vanilla with coconut butter cream frosting and chocolate banana with a chocolate frosting.

We checked out Georgetown Cupcake—decorated in what seems to be the de rigeur cupcake color scheme of pink and more pink—one early weeknight. We were the only customers in the place.

Both the vanilla and the chocolate banana, priced at  $2.75 apiece, were very tasty if a bit too sweet. They were moist and fluffy, with a generous swirl of frosting. Uniformly creamy and smooth, the frostings are made from butter cream and cream cheese. A little salt in the icings would have lent these cupcakes greater dimension.

After Ming took a bite, she declared that the cupcakes were topped with too much frosting. Some folks, of course, would say that there’s no such thing as too much frosting when it comes to cupcakes.

Georgetown Cupcake
111 Mercer Street (between Spring and Prince)
New York, NY

212 431 4504

Monday – Saturday

10am – 9pm

Sunday

10am – 7pm

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Ice Cream and Sweets for Easter

Photo: Three Tarts.

By Laura B. Weiss
Author of Ice Cream: A Global History 

It’s almost Easter which means it’s spring, which means it’s time for Easter-themed ice cream treats, and for sweets like chocolate bunnies.

What could be more Easter-like than Easter egg ice cream? To make them, you’ll need recipes for milk chocolate and white chocolate ice cream.

Milk Chocolate Ice Cream

White Chocolate Ice Cream

If you’re in New York, hop on over to Three Tart’s bakery to buy chocolate Easter bunnies and gorgeous spring petits fours. They can also be ordered online.

Happy Easter to all!

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Bike the Back Streets of Key West

Some say that Key West is a trashy tourist trap with a trail of tchotchke shops strung along Duval Street, the town’s main drag. Once you’ve snagged a neon-hued flamingo you can stop by one of the many bars for a drink.

In fact, many people come to this semitropical island at the southernmost tip of the US solely for the purpose of getting on a non-stop buzz. A river of booze flows through Duval day and night to accommodate the many boozers.

On the other hand, once you get off Duval Street, Key West projects a raffish beauty that’s one part southern Gothic, one part Carribean and one part counterculture, circa 1968.

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I like to ride my bike through the back streets, pedaling past the bougainvillea-draped Conch houses, some dating back to the 19th century. The locals seem caught in a time warp. Facial hair on men is big. Not ala Williamsburg. More a 60s Haight look. Lots of T-shirts with peace signs.

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During my bike ride the other day, I stopped at 4th of July ice cream parlor at 1110 White Street, part of the Mattheessen’s mini-chain, which also owns two scoop shops near Duval Street.

I’m a sucker for ice cream parlors, but this one disappoints. I sampled the Cuban Coffe and Butter Pecan ice creams. Both, I’m sorry to report, are pretty bland. So generic are these two flavors that it was tough to distinguish between them.

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At Old Town Bakery at 930 Eaton Street, the story is much the same. This time, it’s the OMG Brownie that’s lackluster. The pastry barely tastes of chocolate, even though the center of the brownie oozes a crater of molten ganache.

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Maybe the reason for this tropical scourge of blandness is that local purveyors are peddling to the tourist trade. Whatever the cause, don’t come to Key West for the ice cream and brownies. Not that you would anyway.

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The Best Rugelach and Croisaants: Two New Bakery/Cafes Open on the Upper East Side

Rugelach via flckr by by Soup Spoon Blog

Two new bakery/cafes have opened in the last several months on the Upper East Side. Le Moulin a Cafe, a French spot on York Avenue between 76th and 77th streets, serves up some of the best croissants I’ve eaten in the city. Plenty specializes in homey desserts like rugelach and crumb cake, along with cakes and cookies.

Le Moulin a Cafe

Forget all those leaden faux croissants on offer at your neighborhood bodega. Instead, head for Le Moulin a Cafe. The cozy spot opened over the summer when it started dishing up croissants that are as flaky and tender as any I’ve had in France.

The reason? Nicholas Lecuq, the co-owner, imports frozen dough from Brittany. Lecuq’s chef then bakes the dough in-house. Who would think pre-frozen croissants could turn out so well?

The weekday morning I stopped by, the place was hopping. Stroller moms who had dropped their kids at the Lycee Francais de New York across the street, flooded the cafe’s tables. Neighborhoods folks were stopping by too. And I’ll bet there’s more than a few NY Presbyterian docs–cholesterol be damned—who are sampling Le Moulin a Cafe’s offerings as well.

In addition to pastries, there’s a menu of quiche ($10), salads ($11-$12), and entrées (skirt steak with fries ($21) and the like, and wine is coming soon.

Plenty

If it’s old fashioned cakes and cookies you’re hankering for, Plenty is your spot. Arrayed in glass cases, the pastries are pretty much like grandma used to make—and there’s a reason for that. Jessica Weiss, the proprietor and a lapsed MBA, earned her chops baking alongside her grandmother Hannah, one hell of a baker judging by the fare at Plenty.

The crumb cake was light and moist with a buttery, tender topping.  Delicious but not for me.  For me, the chewier and doughier the cake, the better. The rugelach?  I wish that my grandma who’s ruglach were reliably uneatable, had taken some lessons from Hannah. Plenty’s were flaky and not too sweet, just about a perfect bite.

Along with these homey standards, Weiss also offers chocolate cake ($4.75), cinnamon sugar donut muffins ($1.75) and homemade Oreos ($2.50). There are whole cakes for $35-$40 that can also be ordered by the slice.

The place sports a few tables and you can purchase various coffees and teas to go with your pastry.

Le Moulin a Cafe
1439 York Ave
New York, NY
212  288 5088

Monday – 7 am – 9 pm
Tuesday-Thursday – 7 am – 10 pm
Friday – 7 am – 11 pm
Saturday – 8 am – 11 pm
Sunday – 8 am – 9 pm

Plenty
1457 Third Avenue (82nd Street)
New York, NY
212 628 2110

730 am to 730 pm 7 days/week

 

 

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