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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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

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

Billy’s Bakery

cupcakes-billys

PC: Yelp

shelf-billys

 

Billy’s is like Magnolia’s little brother. The pesky brother that you have a love/hate relationship with. Hate because of all the calories you will be inhaling the moment you leave that door. LOVE because why? It’s delicious and delectable.

This small shop has a lot of character. And I mean small. Big groups, beware! It’s got that clean, classic look. Kinda retro style. Chalkboard menus are always a win in my book. The sweet, sweet sugary air is also an enticing factor. I came later on in the night so there wasn’t as large of a selection if I came during the daytime. But still we have a nice variety to choose from. My friend and I ended up splitting their homemade chocolate chip cookies and butterscotch ginger cookies. They were wonderful. My type of cookie is one that you can break into without crumbs flying everywhere. A cookie that holds on its own and has some height. Billy’s cookies are just that! As for their cupcakes, ($3!) I tried one of my favorites… carrot cake and red velvet! The cake had a great kick of spice. It was moist and had the texture from the walnuts and raisins. Yum. And the red velvet… the cream cheese icing was spectacular.

I am such a sucker for desserts, so Billy’s was a great unexpected find. Thank you Yelp for bringing me to the cutest little shop. There’s gonna be sibling rivalry with Magnolia’s! Family intervention anyone?

184 9th Ave
New York, NY 10011

 

b/t 21st St & 22nd St in Chelsea

(212) 647-9956

billysbakerynyc.com

Chewy Double Chocolate Cookies

 

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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.