While searching for bakeries within walking distance of my office downtown, I stumbled upon Big Booty Bread Company, and of course, I was first struck by the playful name. But then I scrolled through the menu, and the Latin American-inspired pastries sounded too good to resist, particularly the namesake booty buns.
Escaping the harsh winds of New York and stepping into a cozy niche in Chelsea was the perfect conclusion to a long day at work, and I was immediately impressed by the relaxed atmosphere of the location, devoid of the pretentious attitude that some patisseries have. Dining alone that day, I definitely welcomed the calm. There was an expansive display cabinet and counter at the front of the store, while the back contained simple wooden tables, topped with flower vases. There were also some examples of apparel hanging on the wall, and I might have to return again just to purchase a shirt that reads, I <3 Big Booty.
I arrived with a very clear sense of what I was going to order (having already scoured the menu), but the packed display case made me pause because all of the fresh pastries and baked goods were so tempting. Beyond cupcakes and cookies, Big Booty also offers paleo and gluten-free options with a Latin American flavor, like a cheese bun or guava pocket. I probably could have ordered one of everything, but I decided to stick to my original order: one strawberry booty bun (a brioche bun stuffed with strawberries and topped with sugar) and a ham and cheese empanada with chimmichurri sauce, completed with a half tea, half lemonade.
The warm empanada melted in my mouth, and the sauce added that little bit of kick to put it over the top. The booty bun was the perfect complement, with a crunchy, sugar-coated exterior with a soft bread in the middle. I will definitely be returning to Big Booty Bread Company, so I can sample all of the booty bun flavors because one just wasn’t enough.
On a chilly Sunday afternoon, I decided to go with my friend, Victoria, to find and devour some delicious cupcakes. We took the 1 train down to 86th Street and walked to By the Way Bakery, a gluten and dairy free bakery with excellent Yelp reviews. Unfortunately, they did not have any cupcakes, even though there were photos of cupcakes on their Yelp page. So I decided to go to a nearby bakery famous for its delectable mini cupcakes: Baked by Melissa.
When I walked into the store (after longingly examining the Christmas trees for sale right outside the door), I noticed that the inside was very plain and modern. There were no tables or chairs, and the room itself was completely undecorated. It was like the Apple store of cupcake shops. But while the store itself was lacking in color, the cupcakes were certainly bright and fun to look at. Having had Baked by Melissa once before in my life, I knew the cupcakes would be little, but I forgot just how tiny they are. Each cupcake couldn’t have been more than an inch and a half in diameter. Furthermore, one cupcake costs $1, which is definitely not a bargain. I decided to buy six cupcakes for Victoria and me. The flavors we chose were cookie dough, chocolate chip pancake, cinnamon bun, mint cookie, sugar cookie cheesecake, and triple chocolate fudge.
The cookie dough cupcake is a yellow cake with cookie dough in the middle, chocolate frosting, and even more cookie dough on top. This cupcake had a wonderful texture; the cake and the cookie dough were very moist, and the chocolate chips added nice variation to the softness of the cupcake. In addition to having excellent texture, the cupcake had an intense and delicious cookie dough flavor, especially for such a tiny cupcake. Overall, they nailed this cupcake!
The chocolate chip pancake cupcake is a yellow pancake cake with chocolate chips throughout, topped with maple syrup frosting and even more chocolate chips. As a pancake aficionado, I was really intrigued by the idea of turning a pancake into a cupcake. I found that the cupcake did resemble a pancake, but it definitely didn’t taste identical to one, which was a slight disappointment (to be fair, it was an ambitious goal). The cupcake itself was quite sweet, perhaps even too sweet, but it still tasted good.
The cinnamon bun cupcake (part of their winter collection) is a cinnamon bun cake filled with vanilla glaze, topped with cinnamon frosting and a white chocolate drizzle. Unlike the pancake cupcake, this cupcake tasted exactly like the breakfast food it was trying to emulate. The soft cake, delicious glaze, and cinnamon frosting combined perfectly to mimic the experience of eating a cinnamon roll. My only wish is that the cupcake had a bit more cinnamon in it, as I love a strong cinnamon punch, but otherwise this beautiful cupcake was excellent.
The mint cookie cupcake is a mint cake with a fudge filling, mint cookies and cream frosting, mint cookie butter, and green drizzle on top. The first thing I observed about this cupcake is that it is a bold green color, which I thought was playful. Victoria and I thought the flavor of the cupcake was lacking in mint, but the cupcake was still satisfying and had a nice crunchy element.
The sugar cookie cheesecake cupcake (part of their winter collection) is a vanilla cake with a cheesecake filling, topped with sugar cookie frosting, and red and green nonpareil brittle. This cupcake certainly looked festive, with the red and green decorations on top. The flavor itself was a bit strange: we came to the conclusion that it tasted like a sugar cookie, vanilla cupcake, and bread combined. But the texture of the cupcake was wonderfully creamy. Overall, it was a solid cupcake, albeit a little unusual.
Of course, I saved the chocolate cupcake for last. The triple chocolate fudge cupcake is a chocolate cake with a fudge filling, topped with chocolate frosting, and a chocolate cookie crumble. The moment I bit into this cupcake, I knew that I made the right decision to eat this one last. It was without a doubt one of the best bites of a cupcake I’ve ever had. It was rich, bitter, and decadent – everything a chocolate lover wants in a cupcake. In a small dose, it was absolutely incredible, though perhaps it would be too much if it were a normal sized cupcakes. This cupcake was the perfect finale to my cupcake-eating adventure.
Baked by Melissa has their baking down to a science. Each cupcake was moist and complex. My only complaint is that a few of their cupcakes – mainly the cinnamon bun cupcake and the mint cookie cupcake – could have used a bit more flavor, as a mini cupcake should be packed with flavor to make up for its diminutive size. Baked by Melissa is certainly one of the most expensive cupcake places I’ve been to, so don’t go there expecting to leave with a full stomach unless you have $20 to spend. But on those days where you need to treat yourself, you can’t go wrong with Baked by Melissa.
Nearest Location: 2325 Broadway, New York, NY
Hours: Monday through Thursday – 9am to 10pm, Friday – 9am to 11pm, Saturday – 10am to 11pm, Sunday – 10am to 10pm
Emerging from the 23rd Station on the 1 line, I found myself in an unfamiliar area of Manhattan, one currently dominated by scaffolding and construction. Yet amid all that, the twinkling window lights and cursive lettering advertising La Maison du Macaron stood out clearly, even from the opposite side of the street. Upon entering, my eye was immediately drawn to the macaron display case, showcasing at least 20 different flavors. This is the brightest rainbow of macarons that I have ever seen, from traditional flavors like chocolate and raspberry to more unique ones like apple cider and mango.
After taking in the abundance of macaron options, my gaze moved to the front of the store, decorated with lavender accents and elegant detailing. The quaint, delicate nature of the entrance and display cases is juxtaposed with the cozy sitting area in the back of the store, full of mismatched leather couches and wooden tables and accented by exposed brick walls. This fusion of styles creates a warm and inviting atmosphere, perfect for doing work, meeting with friends, or just relaxing with a macaron or a pastry.
Before eating my macarons, I wanted to try something slightly more substantial, so I decided on the friand, which is almost like a small tart of croissant dough, enclosing ham, melted cheese, and béchamel sauce. It is like a Croque Monsieur but with a light, buttery exterior that melts in your mouth. My lunch was presented to me on a silver tray, and I promptly devoured it within minutes.
After lunch, it was finally time for my favorite part of the afternoon: picking out and tasting macarons. Although there were many box sizes (in purple and gold), I opted for the less expensive option of a clear box for 6 macarons (still not cheap at $17). After much deliberation I selected: caramel flour du sel, almond, vanilla, raspberry, passionfruit, and pink champagne.
In terms of aesthetics, I loved the pink champagne macaron the most, with its hot pink interior and gold-dusted exterior. But in terms of flavor, my favorite would have to be the almond, which surprised me. Usually the more decadent flavors (like passionfruit or caramel) tend to be my favorites, but the subtle sweetness and smooth texture of the almond captured my attention this time around.
Next time I visit, I will definitely bring along a book or some work to do in order to extend my time in this cozy atmosphere – and to provide an excuse to eat more macarons.
I was walking through Central Park on a beautiful Friday morning when I started craving cupcakes. I opened my beloved Yelp app and searched for cupcake shops near me. The nearest shop was called Crumbs Bake Shop, located on the Upper East Side. It didn’t have spectacular reviews on Yelp, but I decided to give it a shot, so I headed over to Lexington Avenue to try some cupcakes.
When I arrived at the store, I was a bit disheartened. After going to Molly’s Cupcakes a few weeks before, I was expecting a warm, inviting environment. Crumbs Bake Shop had a couple tables set up, but it wasn’t the kind of place where you want to sit down and enjoy your cupcake. Nonetheless, they had a very impressive selection of cupcakes and baked goods in general. It was quite difficult for me to pick only two cupcakes from the vast array of culinary creations in the display case. In the end, I settled on two very different flavors: chocolate salted caramel and lemon lemon. I paid for my cupcakes and took them to go, deciding to eat them in my cozy dorm room.
The chocolate salted caramel cupcake looked pretty appealing. It was a chocolate cake with a caramel cream cheese frosting, topped with chocolate chips, a caramel drizzle, and a bit of sea salt. Sounds amazing, right? In truth, it just tasted okay. The chocolate cake wasn’t moist and decadent like I had hoped, and the frosting was quite dense. It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t anything special either. Much like the store itself, it lacked that homey and comforting feel. Overall, the cupcake was solid, but not exceptional in any way.
The lemon lemon cupcake was a cheerful yellow cupcake. There was no description of it at the store, but it appeared to be a lemon cake topped with a lemon frosting with yellow and white sprinkles and a little dollop of lemon jelly on the top. Personally, I found this one more enjoyable than the chocolate one, though it’s probably because I have very high chocolate standards. The lemon cupcake was pleasant to eat. It was a wonderful balance of sweetness and tartness, and although it tasted somewhat artificial, the cake itself was a nice consistency. I’ve certainly had better lemon cupcakes, but it was still a pretty good cupcake.
All in all, Crumbs Bake Shop was a bit of a let down, but it was not awful either. The cupcakes were not very expensive (cupcakes ranged from $2 to $3.50), and they were quite large considering the price. Additionally, Crumbs is a chain bakery, so there are many locations conveniently situated around the city (unfortunately, the one near Columbia is permanently closed). If you want a decent and fairly cheap cupcake, go ahead and give Crumbs a try!
As soon as I stepped into Georgia and Aliou’s Tiny Treats Café, I sensed an immediate difference from every other bakery I have visited in New York City. This bakery truly felt like a local neighborhood spot, with regulars entering in a steady stream, their names and orders already known by the staff. One woman confided in me before she left, “This is the only place I go to buy my bread. I don’t go anywhere else.” This approval from a dedicated customer only intensified my excitement to sample from Tiny Treats’ wide selection of items. The display case was packed full with an arrangement of gorgeous floral cupcakes, French pastries, whimsical smiley face cake pops, breads, and so much more.
When I first entered, I was immediately drawn to a brioche cinnamon roll, generously topped with icing. Choosing to pair the pastry with a latte, I sat at a table by the window, observing both the passers-by outside and the constant flow of entering customers. The cinnamon roll had just the right amount of cinnamon filling without being overly sweet (though I didn’t like it as much compared to the other items I bought later). I normally add a fair amount of cream and sugar to my coffees, but this latte only needed one sugar packet for me to find it delicious.
The eating area was a cozy space with warm red walls and small tables, but with added touches of elegance, like a chandelier and gilded frames. The atmosphere is best suited for an intimate breakfast/lunch date (due to the majority of two-person tables) or some alone time, a chance to catch up on reading emails or just relax.
After realizing I just couldn’t leave without trying one of the delicate and detailed desserts, I selected the Dacquoise, without really knowing what it was. I just knew that anything chocolate topped with toasted almonds was bound to be good, but my expectations were immediately surpassed after I took my first bite. The inside was filled with almond meringue and mocha buttercream, dotted with whole almonds, giving the pastry a different taste with every bite.
Yet again, I realized that it was now lunch time, and I couldn’t leave without selecting something from their additional menu of sandwiches and lunch dishes. For the low price of $7, I bought a quichette, filled with turkey, bacon, onions, and mozzarella, which came with a side salad. Though it looked small initially, the quichette turned out to be very filling, the perfect accompaniment to a day of resume editing.
Though Tiny Treats Café might not technically be in my neighborhood, I know that I will definitely be returning in the future, in the hopes of one day becoming a regular customer with a weekly bread order.
I’m a sucker for a good cupcake because it has all the wonderful aspects of a normal cake (the moist, fluffy cake and the smooth, creamy frosting) compacted into an adorable little pastry, which sometimes even has a bonus filling. There are so many varieties of cupcakes just in New York City, and I want to try as many of them as possible.
I started with Molly’s Cupcakes, located downtown near New York University. I learned about Molly’s from “Cupcake Wars,” a cupcake-baking competition that airs on Food Network. In one episode, Eileen Kerbel, a pastry chef at Molly’s Cupcakes in Chicago, won with her scrumptious cupcakes. After watching this episode, I knew that I had to see what made Molly’s Cupcakes so good. I took the 1 train down to Christopher Street and walked down Bleecker for about five minutes, at which point I was standing in front of a bright yellow storefront labeled “Molly’s Cupcakes.” I walked into a relatively spacious room, and my eyes were immediately drawn to the fun swing-like stools at the counter. The atmosphere was cheery and playful; there were even board games on the shelves, along with educational books.
I walked over to the display of the cupcakes and was immediately overwhelmed. Every flavor looked good to me, making my decision extremely difficult. After much deliberation, I decided to try three cupcakes: pumpkin spice, cake batter, and chocolate decadence. I chose these three because they all seemed different, so I knew I would get a better idea of the range of flavors.
The first cupcake I tried was the pumpkin spice, with a creamy pumpkin mascarpone center and a sweet cream cheese frosting. I chose this cupcake because I love everything pumpkin (basic, I know) and I wanted to try it while it was in season. I had high expectations for this cupcake, and it did not disappoint; it was everything a pumpkin spice cupcake should be. It had a strong pumpkin taste that went well with the sweet frosting. It was quite large, but that just meant more pumpkin-y goodness. The only critique I have is that there was too much frosting for my taste. Overall, this cupcake was wonderful for this time of the year.
Next up was the cake batter. This cupcake had a vanilla confetti cake with a raw cake batter center, topped with vanilla buttercream and birthday sprinkles. Just looking at this cupcake made me happy; the frosting was an adorable light blue color, and the rainbow sprinkles were lovely in a childish way. Biting into this cupcake made me even happier. The gooey batter in the center was absolutely delicious, and it paired nicely with the light vanilla cake. It was fun, tasty, and nostalgic all at the same time.
Last but not least was the chocolate decadence. This cupcake was a chocolate cake with a chocolate mousse filling, topped with chocolate ganache and dark chocolate curls. I saved this cupcake for last because I expected it to be my favorite, given my love for chocolate. This was easily one of the best chocolate cupcakes I have ever had. It was moist, rich, and certainly decadent. The cupcake looked sophisticated and tasted even better. However, this cupcake is not for everyone. Only true chocolate lovers could handle this cupcake and its intense chocolate flavor.
I was very pleased with Molly’s cupcakes. The fun atmosphere combined with delicious cupcakes made for a really great experience. It’s not the place to go when you want a cheap cupcake in a convenient location. But if you’ve got some money to spend and want an outstanding cupcake adventure, Molly’s Cupcakes is worth the trip!
Location: 228 Bleecker Street, New York, NY
Hours: Monday – 12pm to 10pm, Tuesday through Thursday – 8am to 10pm, Friday and Saturday – 8am to 12am, Sunday – 9am to 10pm
My time spent trying and writing about bakeries around New York City has given me the chance to explore new areas and venture outside of Morningside Heights, so it is only fitting that my last blog post of the year is focused on a brand-new space in New York City: Turnstyle.
Dubbed “a Main Street underground,” Turnstyle is a market of sorts located underneath Columbus Circle, attached to the subway station. This modern thoroughfare is a blend of specialty shops and food options, from custom grilled cheeses to donuts to juice. However, I was on the hunt specifically for bakeries, and Bosie Patisserie caught my eye.
This location is a smaller version of the Bosie Tea Parlor, situated downtown just off Bleecker. With its vintage French posters, handwritten chalkboard menu, and weathered wood tables, the space offers a welcoming atmosphere, yet due to its location in Turnstyle, the focus is definitely more on finding something quick and delicious for those on the go. The display case offered a wide variety of colorful and eye-catching desserts, and although I did not try any of the macarons on this visit, I now know that I have the option to purchase high-quality macarons without ever having to go aboveground.
I finally decided upon the Ispahan (mostly because of how beautiful it looked), a unique dessert composed of two large macaron shells filled with rose buttercream, lychee, and fresh raspberries. At first, I was taken off guard by the lychee fruit tucked into the middle of the pastry, but its sweet, chewy texture offered a surprising departure from the basic rose flavor.
The opening of Turnstyle has just given me one more reason to love Columbus Circle, and I know that I will be back at Bosie Patisserie specifically to try both the macarons and the wide assortment of teas offered as well.
Pleasantly full from an earlier dinner of pasta and surrounded by a quiet murmur of Italian, I scoured the streets of Little Italy for my destination: Ferrara Bakery and Cafe. Night was setting in on this Tuesday evening, but then, all of a sudden, Ferrara emerged out of the darkness with a large, dazzling sign and a bold red awning. Everything about the exterior distinguished it from its surroundings, from the antique car replica balanced atop the awning to the light and laughter that emanated from within. It was even bigger than I expected, and I quickened my pace to get inside faster.
I had actually stumbled upon Ferrara online while researching another article that I was writing for the Barnard Bulletin. Ferrara first opened in 1892 as a small neighborhood cafe that quickly earned praise for the freshness and quality of its products. The bakery is now in its fifth generation of family ownership and still going strong after over 120 years of business.
Once entering, you have the option to either choose bakery items to go or sit down at one of the many tables. Deciding to make a night out of it, we sat down and were greeted by a very large, varied menu offering everything from specialty pastries to gelato flavors.
Faced with so many options, I decided to go with the trio of miniatures in order to try more of a variety. I chose the chocolate cannoli, Dacquoise, and raspberry tart in order to balance out my love for both chocolate and berries.
The raspberry tart was a classic combination of a creamy base topped with fresh raspberries and powdered sugar, all contained within a tart. The chocolate cannoli satisfied my desire for a “quintessential Italian dessert” with a thick layer of dark chocolate encasing the shell. The most unique dessert that I chose was the specialty pastry Dacquoise, a bittersweet chocolate purse filled with praline and gianduia cream. The beautifully crafted chocolate exterior gave way to a mousse-like interior with a rich flavor. If I didn’t have to get back to campus to finish work, I would have stayed much longer in the friendly atmosphere of Ferrara and ordered a coffee too. As if I needed more motivation to return, Ferrara also offers brunch, so I will be venturing downtown much more often.
In the midst of midterms, it seems like I am always overwhelmed and constantly counting the days till the warmth of spring break. So when I was figuring out which bakery to try this week, I expected to just make a quick stop and hurry back to campus for some more studying. But when I entered Mille-feuille Bakery, something made me want to stop and stay for a while. Maybe it was the friendly smiles that greeted me as soon as I entered or the hip New York City atmosphere infused with the charm of a French patisserie. Or perhaps the bright and colorful display cases full of macarons, pastries, croissants, sandwiches, and so much more. Whatever the reason, I quickly shed my heavy winter coat and claimed a seat with a prime view of the desserts.
Like always, I was immediately drawn to the seasonal fruit tart, a dense and flavorful cake topped with raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries. Of course, I had to purchase some macarons to go, and the classic flavors of raspberry, dark chocolate, and salted caramel shone through in these hand-made treats. The flavor that really stood out to me, however, was the rose macaron. Although it seems like a strange flavor, the faint sweetness and scent of rose does not overwhelm the macaron, but rather, gives it a softer and more unique flavor.
However, possibly the best moment of my visit to Mille-feuille occurred when I was given a free baguette. I still have no idea what I did to obtain said baguette, but I happily accepted it without question and enjoyed it later in my dorm room.
With these sweets in front of me, I let the soft guitar music with French vocals lull me into a much-needed moment of relaxation that I had not had in a very long time. Although the space is relatively small with the atmosphere of a cozy neighborhood bakery, there is still plenty of space for me to return, this time with my backpack full of homework. Because everyone knows that Environmental Science reading is much easier when accompanied by a macaron.
With the cold winter months quickly approaching, now is the time to soak up the mild weather and take advantage of the spots that are easily accessible from campus. After a long day full of classes and other commitments, I find myself in need of a way to unwind, without paying subway fares or venturing too far away from Barnard. A walk to the local Silver Moon Bakery & Cafe, located on 105th and Broadway, provides an opportunity to explore the neighborhood (and the exercise to use as an excuse for buying many pastries).
The blue awning and outdoor seating of the bakery provides an inviting welcome to the space, and you feel right at home before you even step inside. Once I walked in, the excitement of being in a new bakery hit me once again. I immediately walked straight to the pastry display case, to drool over the wide variety of pies, cakes, and pastries, with everything from apple pie to chocolate mousse and blueberry ginger muffins. I was so focused on choosing the perfect dessert that it took me a few minutes to see the shelves piled high with breads of every shape and size.
From baguettes to boules to rolls, Silver Moon Bakery handcrafts all of its breads, ensuring freshness and variety. Though I knew an entire loaf of bread was a strange item to take back to my dorm room (Editor’s note: is it, though? ), the appeal of the sourdough boule convinced me that it was worthwhile. A feeling of contentment spread over me as I left the bakery, now armed with a berry tart and my very own sliced loaf of bread. Paired with a hazelnut spread I bought later, the bread was the perfect combination of a crunchy outer crust and a chewy inside and just what I needed to get through the rest of my homework.