Going Nuts For Doughnuts!

doughnutplant

I don’t like donuts. I don’t know, maybe its because they can be cloyingly sweet at times, the powdered ones make such a mess or possibly because I feel like crap after I eat them. Nonetheless, I usually try to avoid them. However, the Doughnut Plant is the exception to the rule. They’re sophisticated bites with really out-of-the-box flavor combinations.

For my birthday, my friends created a food tour for me with all my favorite spots (including some new ones) and the DP was on the list. The best thing about my college friends is that we’re expert share-ers. So everyone in my party each tried a different flavor both from the cake side and the yeast side.

For the Yeast flavors – the Valrhona Chocolate, PB&J Square
Cake flavors – Tres Leches, Green Tea, Carrot Cake

My favorites were… the Tres Leches which was such an unexpected taste. This “three milks cake” was soft, buttery and had that nice milk-sweetness from the glaze. The Valrhona packed a punch in chocolate goodness and was super rich. And lastly, the PB&J Square… I mean, what’s not to love? Turning a classic childhood memory into a decadent dessert. And a donut nonetheless! Genius.

Yeah they’re a bit pricey. But can you really put a price on sugar-y happiness? (Wow, that was horrible.) But in all seriousness. Take all that change in your piggy bank, head to the DP and try something new…. Be adventurous. You won’t regret it, they’re the best in the area.

379 Grand St
New York, NY 10002
(212) 505-3700
doughnutplant.com

 

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Shake Shack Attack

Shake-Shack-New-York-007

I have been found guilty… of never trying Shake Shack until recently.
Seriously. Where have you been all my life?!

This SS is located right in the middle of Madison Square Park. The perfect place to grab a burger and a shake. Here’s some of my first impressions:
-They serve dog treats? Interesting!
-They give you the buzzers that you use in restaurants to know when your food is ready. Aka you can walk around the park and still get your food piping hot!
-Such cute to-go food containers.
-Reasonable prices? Sweet flavors? Heck yes.

I loved the organization of it. The staff was super friendly. One guy came around with free samples of the custard which was a nice surprise. Like many other places, I’ve heard so much hype… and this 100% matched it! I tried a vanilla shake which was fantastic… it brought me right back to my childhood — getting milkshakes right off the ice cream truck. The burgers are juicy and overflowing with LTO love which is what I (and hopefully everyone) look for in a burger. The fries are crisp, crunchy and pillow-y on the inside. Shall I go on? They also have a cute stand on the side of the kiosk where you can get free water, condiments, utensils/cutlery, etc. Super convenient. Super unhealthy. And SO WORTH IT.

shake-shack-shake-burger*Not to mention… not only was it beautiful weather at the time, but there was a jazz festival going on yesterday so I think that added to the overall ambiance/AMAZINGNESS that is SS. Smooth Jazz, Sweet Shakes and Sunny Weather…. first experience was a positive one! This is definitely my favorite location of all the shacks in Manhattan.

Madison Square Park
E 23rd St & Madison Ave
New York, NY 10010
(212) 889-6600
shakeshack.com

Well Done, Bien Cuit!

PC: Yelp

PC: Yelp

After visiting Bien Cuit, you’ll never look at pastries the same way again. Is it possible to love something without even trying it yet? That’s how I felt about this little bakery.

To preface this review, I have a short story…
As most of my family/friends know, I hardly ever watch TV. But when I do it’s usually a show about food of some sorts. This brings me to my next point: “Unique Sweets” featured Bien Cuit on one of their episodes and whenever I watch these shows, I make sure to make a mental note to visit ESPECIALLY when it’s close by. Just from the images and descriptions, I knew I had to visit. Their featured item was the elusive Chocolate Almond Croissant… double baked in brandy. I’m such a visual person and was immediately enticed when watching the show. More or less, I was sold.

Bien Cuit, meaning “well done” is certainly appropriate. All of the desserts here are carefully crafted down to the very last bite. Upon arrival, the storefront is simple/minimalist and reflects the rustic nature of the inside. Although its spacious, there isn’t much seating to go around. I was there on a mission. My friend was cooking me dinner that night and I can never go empty-handed. So I asked the girl at the counter for suggestions (she was very helpful) and I ended up deciding on three pastries:

-Huckleberry Danish with Yuzu Curd, Huckleberry Jam: Flaky, tart and very flavorful. Those berries certainly packed a punch. This was my wildcard if you will. It’s hard to describe if you haven’t had this fruit before, so take a chance on it. It’s good.

-Apple Cardamom Danish with Pureed Apple and Cardamom Strudel: Second favorite of the night. I’m a HUGE fan of apple desserts so this was a win-win. The unique pairing of flavors certainly works.

-(The true star of Bien Cuit) Chocolate Almond Croissant/Twice-baked with Brandy: If you have to pick an item, CHOOSE THIS. You can thank me later. It’s everything a croissant should be — flaky, soft, buttery, nutty (from the almond paste)… you get the idea. And the fact that its baked in brandy? Say no more. It’s a true showstopper.

Bien Cuit-Assortment

Yes, Bien Cuit may be a tad bit on the pricier side. But I can guarantee the quality is there within every single bite. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

120 Smith St
Brooklyn, NY 11201

(718) 852-0200

biencuit.com

Off To Molly’s We Go!

PC: Yelp

PC: Yelp

Disclaimer: I take my cupcakes very seriously. I’m by all means no expert, but then again my taste buds don’t lie. And with that being said, YOU SHOULD GO TO MOLLYS.

Despite the fact that this place is freakin’ adorable, they produce some really sweet treats. With the combination of those swing seats and the childhood decorations, Molly’s truly transports people of all ages back to the good ol’ times.

I came here with a food tour group and out of all the places listed on the tour description, this was one of the spots I was looking most forward to. I was told that what makes this establishment unique is that they were one of the few places to come up with the “interactive/customized” approach. Here you can pick a cake base, a frosting, a cake filling and even some toppings if that tickles your fancy. Their daily selections vary so make sure to ask at the counter. I truly wanted to sample everything in the bakery, it was tempting.* As for my cupcake: moist, buttery, held the frosting magnificently, dense enough and with the perfect note of sweetness. They also even have a sprinkle station if the cuteness factor hasn’t reached its limit yet.

They also have ice cream, cookies, pies and more but they’re best known for their cupcakes. I also saw that with every purchase donations are made to help schools in the community. Fun fact, am I right?

Overall, I’d have to give that coveted gold star we always wanted as a kid to Molly’s. They offer a fun, engaging, bright environment…. the workers are friendly and let’s be honest… who doesn’t love cupcakes?**

______________________________­______
*I didn’t wanna be THAT person on tour.
**If that person is you, I’d like to meet you. I’ll change your mind, I promise!

 

228 Bleecker St
New York, NY 10014

 

(212) 414-2253

mollyscupcakes.com

Sweet, Sweet Levian

PC: Yelp

PC: Yelp

Oh, my childhood.

I have very vivid memories of coming home from school to the sweet, sweet smell of freshly baked cookies coming right out of the oven. I remember running up the stairs, so excited that I almost didn’t want to wait for them to cool. There’s something about your olfactory nerves — it can trigger the most vivid moments. Levain did just that.

This place has been on my “to-try” list for practically forever. I don’t make it to the UWS often, but since I was seeing a show at Beacon Theatre, naturally I had to go! From what I heard, there’s always a line… the inside is tiny… and it’s 100% worth it. At $4 a cookie, it’s not cheap but you’re paying for the king of all that is cookies.* From looking at the small selection, the obvious choice was the Chocolate Chip Walnut. Decent size, very pillow-y looking and that smell was heavenly. I just hoped it would taste as good.

One word: PERFECTION.
The best moment is when you take that first bite. Cookies have a serious power over people** and immediately transport them to their happy place. It’s a beautiful thing, really. Slightly crunchy on the outside but OOEY-GOOEY almost half-baked goodness on the inside. There is some serious magic going on in that kitchen.*** We were lucky enough to get a uber-fresh batch out of the oven. I was so surprised my cookie was strong enough to hold together. My experience there was everything that I thought it would be.

PC: Yelp

PC: Yelp

I don’t know if you’re the type to travel for food. But if you had to pick a place, THIS IS IT. You bet I’ll be back. No doubt about it.
_______________________________
*Levain=Heisenberg of cookies.
**Instant smiles/positive mood. Cookies should be the solution to all our problems.
***I bet you there’s Keebler elves working in the wayy, wayy back of that tiny store. Wouldn’t be surprised.

167 W 74th St
New York, NY 10023

b/t Columbus Ave & Amsterdam Ave inUpper West Side

(212) 874-6080

levainbakery.com

What A Sweet Treat.

Logo-Butter Lane

Photo Credit: Yelp

What does one do on a beautiful Saturday night with a bunch of your closest friends? Cupcake tour of course!* For my birthday I created a mini college reunion/celebration of my birth kinda weekend. Seeing as I am a big cupcake enthusiast, I had to hit up a few places on a night like this. We headed down to the Village and stepped into the lovely store Butter Lane. (It’s been on my “cupcake bucket list” for a while.)

It was later in the night so there wasn’t a big selection but still enough to choose from. We each had different flavors — hey that’s strategy right there.** My friends having to make it as obvious as possible (which I love) made me wear a “Birthday Princess” plastic tiara. The super friendly worker explained what flavors were being offered and that since it’s my birthday I could have my cupcake for FREE! Here’s the catch: I had to take a picture with the cupcake and it would be put on their Instagram. COUNT ME IN!

Honey Cupcake-Butter Lane

Photo Credit: Butter Lane

One Cupcake: $3.25
Cupcake on your birthday: FREE
Pic on their Instagram/website: Priceless.

Honey Cinnamon (vanilla): Superb. The frosting was just the right touch of sweet and with a backdrop of spice.
Maple Pecan (banana): Nutty, yet had the sweetness of the syrup. Reminded me of pancakes, but better.
Coconut (chocolate): Mounds bar anyone? Toasted coconut and chocolate is a match made in heaven.

Me

That birthday/cupcake/instagram pic!

I think it’s really interesting they not only have vanilla and chocolate as a base, but banana. Unique and smart thinking… it was super moist. TIP: Check in with Yelp for a free frosting shot. I had a great experience at Butter Lane and will most definitely be back. Thank you to the girl who helped make my birthday extra special and for the scrumptious (and not overly sweet) cakes.

______________________________­__________________________
* Well okay, maybe not all friends do this. But mine do. We decided to keep our drunken debauchery to a hiatus and actually remember our nightly festivities.
** This way, we can taste a multitude of flavors and plus… sharing is caring am I right?

123 E 7th St
New York, NY 10009

b/t Avenue A & 1st Ave in East Village

(212) 677-2880

butterlane.com

Chewy Double Chocolate Cookies

 

Image

Who doesn’t enjoy a warm chewy chocolate cookie? I know that during college I always needed a sweet treat to kick my energy level up a bit. I think this is a pretty simple recipe packed with rich chocolate good-ness. The cookie is moist, tender and those extra bits of chocolate just melt in your mouth.

Chewy Double Chocolate Cookies

Yield: 40 cookies

Ingredients:

2 1/4 sticks of unsalted butter softened

1 cup white sugar

1 cup light brown sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

3/4 cups of unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups of chocolate chunks/chips (any flavor you prefer)

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Add butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla extract (one at a time) until well incorporated.

In a seperate bowl, add flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt together. With the hand mixer on low, slowly incorporate the dry ingredients to the wet, scraping the sides of the bowl if needed. (To make sure nothing gets left behind.) The cookie batter may be a bit thick. Take the chocolate and cut it into chunks and add to the batter. Drop cookie mix onto the baking sheet (tablespoon size).

Bake 10-12 minutes. Or until cookies have puffed up a bit and look done. Cool for 5 minutes and then transfer to cooling rack.