Tag Archives: Sweets and the City

Cupcake cravings: Two Little Red Hens

You’ve heard them. The jaded, cynical, lost-all-sense-of-what-is-right-in-the-world foodies who scoff, “cupcakes are so last year,” and, “ugh, I’m so over cupcakes,” every time they pass by bakery windows filled with pastel swirls of buttercream.

From l-r: Brooklyn Blackout and Chocolate Peanut Butter. Coconut in the back.

Don’t do it. Don’t lose that sense of wonder that you get each time you bite into the perfect portable dessert, which, unlike full-sized cakes, give you the quintessential combination of frosting and cake in every bite.

It’s understandable; you probably went on a huge cupcake rampage back when you first discovered Magnolia, or Baked, or maybe even Crumbs. Perhaps you ate so many that you—quelle horreur—got sick of dessert.

Do you know what you need in your life now? Two Little Red Hens.

I hereby guarantee that the Brooklyn Blackout (delicate chocolate cake filled with rich chocolate pudding, topped off with a heap of thick fudge frosting.), the Peanut Butter (which tastes like the world’s largest Reese’s cup), or the Coconut (spongy angel food cake with fresh-from-the-beach coconut cream.), will make you believe in cupcakes again. Each is just the right size—more than a mouthful, but still small enough to hold comfortably without feeling you’re being dwarfed by a baked good.

And yes, there are hen decorations all over the place.

Sure, it’s a bit of a trek to the east side. But hey, it’s almost reading week. Hop on that crosstown bus at 84th, and venture into this miniscule, Americana and poultry themed bakery. There probably won’t be enough seating for you and your study group, but grab a few cupcakes (and a slice of the cheesecake–better than Eileen’s,and perhaps even Junior’s.) to go. Revel in the rebirth of your tastebuds.




An Indian Wonka factory in Jackson Heights

You might miss it if you’re walking at the typical New Yorker’s pace when you get off the subway stop at 74th street in Queens, but there it is, in between several shops dripping in diamonds and gold: Al Naimat.

From the window, I could only see a few glossy swirls of syrup soaked jalebis, but I was struck at the sheer plethora of colors and shapes when I walked in. It’s a little mind-boggling, but the shopkeepers completely understand and sympathize.

This gif pretty much sums it up:

After munching my way through pretty much half the case, I settled for a small box of sweets.

I decided to stick to the basics (Next time, I’ll be brave and get a few of the acid green ones.), and wound up with a couple of gulab jamun, a sort of fudge thing, and a few that tasted like variations upon crumbly condensed milk sweets.

I enjoyed them all, but the gulab jamun, fried balls of dough soaked in different syrups, were absolutely phenomenal. Light, sweet, and oddly refreshing, I ate three before sugar-induced jitters began to set in.

For such a small box, everything within packs such a large amount of flavor. I have a considerable sweet tooth, but I was quite unable to get through even half of it. But now that the box is empty, I’m feeling a sudden hankering for some more gulab jamun.

A quick stroll to Panaderia Las Americas

Most of the time, it’s easy to forget that there’s anything further uptown than Joe’s. This week, we ventured up to 136th street to visit a small Mexican bakery in Harlem.

It’s pretty cramped inside, with a glass counter taking up half of the room, and a few spindly tables crammed up against the other wall. Cheerful and bright, the choice of sweets are varied, from mainstays like slices of chocolate cake (Albeit adorned with lovely chocolate mice.) and doughnuts to traditional Mexican pastries and breads like empanadas and tres leches.


The ladies behind the counter are friendly and patient, but know very little English, so don’t be afraid to be adventurous when making your selections!


The Tres Leches, a popular Latin American dessert, here is simply phenomenal, a must have for anyone looking for a sugary nirvana. Kept in individual plastic containers, these delicate little squares of coffee filled spongecake are  swimming in condensed milk and topped with just the right amount of airy whipped cream.

Continue reading A quick stroll to Panaderia Las Americas

Sweets in the City: Fifth Avenue

Today’s second post is from one of our many new bloggers, Jenny.  In her Wednesday series, Sweets in the City, Jenny will explore cooking desserts as well as finding desserts in a variety of interesting neighborhoods.

For my sugary foray into the Upper East Side, I decided to get my camo on. Little black polka dot dress, red patent belt, matching shoes. Goodbye broke CU student, hello Blair Waldorf. After a morning at the Met, I sauntered down 5th avenue to Lady M Cake Boutique.  Lately, it seems that every other bakery is taking on the minimalistic theme as a contrast to the decadence that they serve up. Lady M’s layout—a narrow, almost claustrophobic white rectangular space— is divided into two parts: a sleek glass encased counter on one side, and simple tables and chairs lined up in a neat little line on the other.

The cakes, from strawberry shortcake to their famous crepe cakes, are lined up, greens and creams popping against the white like a Wayne Thiebaud painting.  Of course, I had to get a crepe cake. But green tea, original, or Marron (chestnut)? After getting briefly sidetracked by beautiful éclairs and an especially tasty looking Mont Blanc, I settled on chestnut.  Wedge of cake ($8.00) safely encased in a pristine white box, I went in search of my next target.

Next, Maison Du Chocolat. House of Chocolate. What self-respecting chocoholic would be able to resist this?

Continue reading Sweets in the City: Fifth Avenue