So, I think it’s time we made something sweet, right? It’s a complete myth that gluten-free baking can only be done well by a professional. There are some things you can make with no flour at all like cookies, fudge brownies, and oatmeal bars. But what happens when all you want to do is have a nice fork-full of cake? All you need is to get a really good gluten-free flour blend. (A little tip: the more unknown the brand, the higher the likelihood that the flour blend will be better. Try to steer clear of the big brands trying to embrace the gluten-free craze.)
This recipe is not entirely mine. I was on a farm in Spain when I first tried it. One of my hosts made it to have with coffee, and I could not stop eating it. So, I obviously begged her for the recipe. The best part is, it’s incredibly simple! My addition to the recipe is the flavors, which can be altered to your liking as long as you stick to the basic recipe proportions.
The secret to making this cake is one thing: a personal-sized yogurt. Not only is the yogurt used in the recipe, but the container is your measurement tool for everything! Amazing, right?
1 Personal-Sized Yogurt (peach)
Gluten-Free Flour Blend (or regular flour for those who can tolerate wheat)
Preheat the oven to 350.
First, dump the contents of the yogurt in a bowl. Rinse out the container and dry it.
In a separate bowl, mix together 3 room-temperature eggs and 2 containers-full of sugar.
Then, add the yogurt and 1 container-full of olive oil. Mix together well.
Finally, stir in 3 containers-full of flour and 1 teaspoon of baking powder.
Now that you have your mixture, line a 9-inch circular pan with parchment paper. Pour your mixture into the lined pan and cook in the pre-heated oven for about 25 minutes (but check on it after 20 and do the toothpick test to see if its done.)
While it’s cooking, slice your peaches in thin crescents.
When it is done, let it cool. Then, spread the raspberry preserves generously over the top of the cake. Finally, layer the peaches on top. When you’re ready to serve, take the parchment paper off the cake and enjoy! Goes best with tea or coffee, and good friends or family.
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.
Everyone loves dessert, and luckily, Manhattan is home to numerous bakeries for all of us dessert lovers in the city. The problem is that it is almost impossible to find a good vegan bakery, even in Manhattan. I made it my mission to find a good vegan bakery and I found the Peacefood Cafe, which is both a vegan restaurant and vegan bakery.
The cafe is a nice, casual, and cozy spot to have a meal with a friend, while enjoying their many vegan options. It is definitely a stress-free atmosphere! It is located in the Upper West Side on Amsterdam and 82nd, so it isn’t too far from campus. They also have another location in the Village.
The bakery part of the restaurant had many vegan desserts, which all look like they must be made with diary products. Upon walking in, I even wondered if their desserts were actually vegan! In place of the dairy products normally found in these desserts, the Peacefood Cafe uses healthier options, such as avocados. Not only are these desserts vegan, but also many of them are even gluten free.
I had a chocolate chip cookie sandwich and a slice of the raw chocolate mousse pie. The chocolate chip cookie sandwich was two large cookies with chocolate inside, which made them stick together. Without the chocolate inside, the cookies were some of the best I have ever had. The chocolate inside was so rich in flavor that it made the cookies taste even better. The mousse pie was made with avocado, which made me a little nervous to try it, but it was amazing! The taste of the avocado was undetectable and if anything, it made the chocolate taste even richer in flavor. I will definitely be going back to the cafe to get both of these desserts again!
I also had a mango lassi while I was at the cafe, which I was a little nervous about because it is a yogurt-based drink. The mango lassi was pretty good considering it was vegan, but it wasn’t as good as the non-vegan ones I have had in the past. The yogurt used in the drink tasted like regular yogurt, but the lassi tasted too much like yogurt and did not have enough of a mango taste. Overall, it was good, but I think I will try a different drink next time.
I look forward to going back to the Peacefood Cafe to try more of their vegan options! I definitely would recommend this cafe to anyone looking for a nice to spot to eat and hang out with friends or anyone looking for a good take-out place. This cafe is great for both vegans and non-vegans, alike!
A brave dessert aficionado’s pursuit of all things fried, glazed, and sugary.
When you first move to New York, your first thought isn’t usually about food. It’s about finding an (reasonably priced) apartment, taking advantage of the cultural meccas, or visiting the famous sights before it becomes socially unacceptable to act like a tourist, and you’re too jaded with the frantic sight-seeing. You scope out a sufficient local café where you can become a regular, and drink black coffee like a grumpy New Yorker.
When I moved to New York, my first thought was, “Where can I find the food?”, and more specifically, “Where are the doughnuts?” I love food in all forms, but I have a special place in my heart for desserts, especially doughnuts. They’re the queen of basic desserts: acceptably eaten at any time of day, easily manipulated to fit any palate or diet (think vegan, paleo, or gluten free), and perfectly portable.
Coming from Massachusetts, I am accustomed to two types of doughnuts.
The slightly stale, typically flavored doughnuts from Dunkin’ Donuts, which you can buy at the chain on every corner (there were seven in my town alone, and several more in the near vicinity).
The quintessential New England doughnut: the apple cider doughnut, best enjoyed hot out of the fryer and coated generously in sugar. This doughnut is a staple of apple picking and pumpkin patches; the constant companion of hayrides and cool fall mornings.
But I expected New York to be different, and I was right. This is the homeland for all foods ordinary and obscure. There’s representation from every culture and country, good, bad, and just plain ridiculous. And of course, in a city well known for it’s cozy cafes and excessive coffee consumption, I knew there would be a strong selection of coffee’s best friend, the doughnut.
I started my NYC doughnut journey with the pinnacle of doughnut bastardization, the cronut. For those of you who live under a rock, let me welcome you to the extreme of an already excessive dessert. French pastry chef Dominique Ansel developed his infamous cronut in 2013, and as the name suggests, it is the lovechild of a croissant and doughnut. But that’s barely scratching the surface.
What makes a cronut different than a simple fried croissant dough is the way the dough is handled. The dough is laminated, which is what causes the flaky croissant layers, and proofed, so the dough rises before it is fried. After the dough is fried in grapeseed oil, the cronut is rolled in flavored sugar, filled with ganache, and topped with a glaze and decoration. It is an extensive, laborious process, with high risk and low reward.
While all desserts are comforting, this may be the closest I come to making a comfort dessert. As the semester is coming to a close, and we finish our thesis and term papers, and gear up for finals, I can’t dream of a better dessert to snack on. Today, we are making pull-apart-cinnamon-balls (aka my version of monkey bread). I only warn you, this can get messy fast, so be careful, be cautious, and get ready for a caramel gooey cinnamon doughy treat.
1 package of pre-made biscuit dough (Grand or Pillsbury)
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ cup butter (½ of a stick)
½ cup of brown sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a square 9X9 inch pan, grease with butter or Pam
Using the biscuit dough, separate and roll into 16 small balls of dough, roughly 1 inch in diameter.
In a plastic gallon size bag, combine white sugar and cinnamon.
Place balls of dough in the plastic bag with sugar and coat dough until completely covered in sugar.
Line balls of dough in pan.
In a microwave safe bowl, melt butter and brown sugar in microwave for about 45 seconds.
Drizzle brown sugar over the bough balls.
Pop these bad boys into the oven for about 25 minutes or until they’re bubbling golden brown dough balls.
Take out the final product, and let them sit for 10 minutes.
On a plate or flat cookie sheet, flip over the dough balls.
Best consumed warm out of the oven! They keep up to 2-3 days but microwave them if they begin to get hard. Enjoy.
When we peel back the layers of a Twix candy bar, we find a delicious crumbly shortbread cookie, a layer of gooey caramel, and a chocolate coating. Twix is, hands down, the best candy bar in the world—and I will argue until the end of days with anyone who disagrees with this statement.
I hadn’t realized that this dessert is basically a Twix bar until a friend told me she felt as if she were eating a homemade *better version* of a Twix bar. It’s better because it isn’t made in a factory with chemicals, corn syrup and artificial flavor. This stuff is the real deal.
Just like every other recipe, the better the ingredients you put in, the better the outcome will be. In this recipe for example, you can use premade Kraft caramels or you can make homemade caramel. The results wont be drastically different, but taste will vary.
1 1/3 cups of Butter (just over 2 sticks)
¼ cup White Sugar
1 ¼ cup Flour
½ cup Brown Sugar
½ cup Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 ¼ cups Chocolate
You will be making 3 different layers for this dessert. Begin by preheating the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine 2/3 cup butter, white sugar, and flour in a medium size bowl. Mix together with an electric mixer or simply use your hands.
In a 9X9 pan, place parchment paper or grease with butter or Pam.
Using your hands, squish the dough into the pan, compacting the dough into the corners and crevices of the pan.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
While waiting for the shortbread to bake, place the remaining butter, brown sugar, and sweetened condensed milk into a pot on the stove.
Let the mixture come to a boil for 4-5 minutes, then immediately take it off the heat.
Using a spoon, preferably wooden, stir the caramel for 3 minutes until it solidifies.
Pour the caramel over the shortbread. Do this right away. Do NOT allow time for the caramel to cool and get hard because it will become tough to spread over the shortbread.
In a separate bowl, melt chocolate in the microwave—30 seconds at a time. Do NOT burn the chocolate.
Once the chocolate is melted, pour it over the caramel and shortbread layers.
Place your creation into the refrigerator for about an hour. Cut into small squares, and enjoy!
I think it’s safe to say that chocolate and cookies always pair well together. In fact, it may not even be worth eating cookies without chocolate in the mix. But cream cheese too? I was hesitant when I heard that these Oreo truffles combined cheese with chocolate – however, I was very pleasantly surprised by the result. This combo cheesecake/cookie is a deliciously rich dessert that is easy to make and great to share with friends.
This is one of those desserts that’s just better made at home…and I’m not sure of any bakery in the city that makes them quite like this. If you are yearning for a chocolate dessert, but don’t have a ton of kitchen skills then try out this simple Oreo truffle recipe.
1 Box of Oreo Cookies
1 8oz package of Cream Cheese
1 package of Semisweet Chocolate Chips
2 tbsp. of Butter
1. In a food processor, or let’s be honest, in a plastic bag using your hands or a rolling pin, crush the Oreos until they form crumbs.
2. Pour crushed Oreos in a bowl and add the Cream Cheese. Using a spoon or fork, combine the cheese and Oreos until they form a dough-like solid texture.
3. Form the Oreo mixture into the small balls and place on a cookie sheet covered in wax or parchment paper. Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes to firm.
4. In a separate bowl, combine butter and chocolate chips. Heat in microwave in 30-second intervals until fully melted. Be careful not to burn the chocolate.
5. Take Oreo balls out of refrigerator. Dip each Oreo ball into the melted chocolate and place back onto parchment paper. Place in freezer for 1 hour.
6. If you wish, you can decorate the Oreo truffles with Oreo crumbs, white chocolate drizzle or anything else your creative mind can think up.
If you’re a foodie in New York, you’ve probably heard about the Mille Crepes Cake from Lady M. It was once ranked as one of top ten best cakes in America back in 2012. The hype around it never ceased since then.
Joining several other fancy sweets such as La Maison du Chocolat, Lady M has a location on 59th street in the basement of the Plaza Hotel. Both times I had Lady M, I was at the 59th street location, as it is easier to get to from campus compared to the original store, which is on Madison avenue and 78th. However, if you get a chance, I would suggest going to the original store as it has a seating area whereas the store at 59th street has more of an “express” feel.
That said, the food hall located in the basement of the Plaza is a hidden gem in the city and definitely worth checking out. The space is not small but feels extremely compact since there are at least 20 different eateries packed in it. Somehow, the space remains classy despite how busy it gets. The food hall has mostly dessert stores (chocolate, macarons, cakes, you name it) in the center, and quick bite lunch/dinner places (such as a crepe place, a pasta restaurant, and a ramen shop) on the side. The sheer number of choices offered here is overwhelming, especially since every store here competes with each other, trying to be the trendiest and most appealing. With the number of options available, the food hall could easily be a one-stop destination for someone looking for lunch, afternoon tea, and even a light dinner.
Lady M is the first thing you will see when you go down the escalator. It is a circular stand, and it will most likely be surrounded by a long line of customers. As you wait in line, you will get a chance to look at the choices – since the boutique make its cakes fresh everyday, what is in the counter is what you can order. The only exception is if you place orders for whole cakes ahead of time.
The food hall does not have seating area allocated for Lady M specifically, which can also be annoying. Many people here take the cake to go, and the server will wrap the cake up in a nice little white box. If you really want to sit down, you can keep going farther into the food hall, after you pass Luke’s Lobster, you will see escalators on the left. There are around 20 round tables in this area. But beware – since everyone in the food hall are snatching these seats, you may have to look around and wait a bit depending on the time of the day you are going.
Unsurprisingly, the Mille Crepes Cake is a top option for first-timers as well as returning customers. It is a cake stacked with 20 layers of thin crepes, in between which is whipped cream. You just can’t really go wrong with this combination, can you?
The crepes are paper-thin, making the whole cake light despite the fact that it has 20 layers stacked up. It seems like the closer to the center, the more proportion of whipped cream you get. I personally like the texture of crepe better than that of creme, so I enjoyed the outside edge of the slice the most, as I could get more the taste of the crepe.
What is extremely unique about the Mille Crepes cake is how much it resembles a creme-brulee, since the top layer has a caramelized sugar taste. If you like creme-brulee, you will definitely like this original cake from Lady M.
Another type I tried is their Green Tea crepe cake. Which has the exact same form as the traditional crepe cake, but just with green tea powder. And this option is recommended for any Matcha/Green tea lover, as the green tea taste is quite strong.
Lady M is famous for its crepe cake, but it is also innovative and offers a few other types of cakes. Another signature cake that they almost always have available is Checkers cake, which is a combination of chocolate and vanilla sponge cake, arranged in checkers pattern. Depending on the day, they offer other options such as Mocha mousse cake, flourless chocolate cake, and creative cakes such as one called “Mimosa” – which is stacked with plump vanilla cake sponges, giving it an interesting appearance, but it apparently has nothing to do with the drink Mimosa. (bummer.)
For one piece (which is not very big and can easily be finished), a Mille Crepes costs 8 dollars. Even though it is a little more expensive than I hope, it is still in the affordable price range and definitely something worth checking off your to-do-list in New York.
Lady M Cake Boutique
1 W 58th St, New York, NY
For more posts from the Worth the Hype? series by Shirley,
Spring break came and went and while everyone was waiting for Spring to spring, I decided to go to Brazil, and what a trip it was! I was in Rio de Janeiro for about a week, and spent a night in Buzios, a beautiful seaside town three hours from Rio.
One of the great things about Rio was the incredibly diverse and inexpensive variety of street food that was offered. From churros to popcorn (yes, popcorn) to other stuff with unknown names, Rio was a gastronomic delight.
On my first night in Rio, I saw many small pushcarts that were set up around a town square. I had just indulged in a rather heavy dinner of the carnivorous variety and was looking for something sweet to balance out the intense saltiness of the meal. Unlike the churros in the U.S. that come with a cup of chocolate sauce, the churros in Rio had the sauce inside the churro. You could get either chocolate or caramel, and obviously I chose to get both. Upon ordering, the man would stick the churro into a contraption and pull on a lever, dispensing oodles of chocolate and caramel sauce into the churro, so that when you bite into it, the sauce oozes out into your mouth.
Later we decided to pop into a bakery in Lapa, the nightlife district of Rio. People go to Lapa for the clubs, the samba, and the dubious roadside stalls serving up caiparinha, the national cocktail of Brazil. I thought I needed something sweet (again) and got myself these cakes that were sitting in a display in the bakery. Few people I met in Rio spoke English well enough for me to ask them to describe the food to me, and I had absolutely no ability to converse in Portuguese myself. What transpired was a rather intense session of pointing and gesticulating – and I eventually got three desserts to share with my travel companions. The first I guess was an egg custard tart, similar to the Portuguese egg tarts that I get back home in Singapore. The other was similar to a creme caramel that are a staple in mid-price French eateries, which I felt was just a little too sweet even for my sweet tooth. My favorite was a yellow cake with a crunchy brown bottom. I have no idea what it actually was; but I guessed it was a sort of tapioca cake with lots of brown sugar at the bottom. It was extremely tasty, although it was impossible to gorge on because it is quite heavy.
One of my favorite dishes was from a stall at a market near Ipanema Beach. The market is there every Sunday and is a place for local artists to showcase and sell their unique creations. What I got was an amazing sandwich of doughy fried bread, some sort of lentil mash, okra stew and shrimp with its shell on. It was a wonderful combination of some pretty funky flavors with crispy bread and fresh shrimp. The best part was that it was less than 3 US dollars!
I had many other interesting dishes in Rio and I wish I could feature them all. What I can say about Rio is, go there and try whatever you can find on the streets. There are fantastic flavors and intriguing dishes and nothing is really too strange or too out there. Brazilian food is not the most elegant and can be a little heavy, but it is an absolute delight. Brazilians, and Cariocas (people from Rio) especially, love to have a good time without too much fuss, and that is reflected in the food of this city.