Monday, February 2, 2015

My Sweet NYC Experiences

Eleanor and I on top of the Empire State Building.

Okay, I admit it. I eat a lot when I travel because in addition to seeing new things, I want to taste new things, especially sweet things.

My recent trip to New York with my family was lots of fun and I tasted quite a few sweet treats that I won't forget and am just going to have to try to recreate.

It was nice having my husband and daughter with me so that together we could taste a lot without over-indulging. Each day, we'd splurge on a sweet treat and split it three ways, enjoying it slowly together and then taking turns rating it and giving it a thorough review. There's no doubt about it, we take our sweets very seriously, but doing it this way is also lots of fun and gets us interacting.

In order, here is my list of the best sweets we tried:

Cereal Milk Soft Serve from Momofuku Milk Bar

Cereal Milk Soft Serve
Hands down, my favorite was Cereal Milk Soft Serve from Momofuku Milk Bar which has multiple locations throughout the city. The company has trademarked the process of making Cereal Milk so darn it, I don't know if I'll ever be able to taste it anywhere else.

Cereal Milk is lightly sweet with a hint of a cereal taste just like the milk in the bottom of your cereal bowl. I'm pretty sure the cereal they use to make it is cornflakes but that wasn't divulged. You can buy Cereal Milk and Pretzel Milk in a bottle to drink straight up or you can have the Cereal Milk Soft Serve and that's what I went absolutely bonkers for. It's sooo good! It's not too sweet and the best part is you get to eat it with a wooden spoon which in my opinion always makes a frozen treat taste better.

Corn Cookie from Momofuku Milk Bar

We noticed that just about every patron at Momofuku Milk Bar ordered a Corn Cookie and that's why we had to try one too.
My next favorite treat also came from Momofuku Milk Bar and that was the Corn Cookie and unlike Cereal Milk, the recipe can be found online and in the cookbook "Momofuku Milk Bar" by Christina Tosi. The Corn Cookie was, like the Cereal Milk Soft Serve, sweetened just right.

The best way for me to describe the Corn Cookie is to say it's dense, chewy, very corny and satisfying. It's a simple looking cookie with complex flavors and unlike any cookie I've ever tasted. There is one conundrum about Tosi's recipe though, it calls for freeze-dried corn powder which I can only imagine is hard to find if you don't live in NYC.  Momofuku Milk Bar sells it at its locations.

Rosemary Olive Oil Macaron from Macaron Parlor

Macarons from Macaron Parlor. Clockwise from top left: Rosemary Olive Oil, Party Time, Earl Gray and Corn — I'm thinking corn might be the next hot dessert flavor!
Then there was the Rosemary Olive Oil Macaron from Macaron Parlor. It wasn't a savory macaron but a sweet one filled with a rosemary scented olive oil ganache. It was different but divine. My husband and daughter's faces just lit up after one taste because they didn't know what to expect and were very pleasantly surprised. This is one I'm going to have to recreate for sure.

Banana Caramel Macaron from Financier

A giant Banana Caramel Macaron from Financier.

Another top-notch macaron we tasted came from Financier which lucky for us had a shop just a few blocks from where we were staying. Their macarons got my attention right away because of their size, they are at least 3.5 inches in diameter, and as a macaron baker this impressed me because they were still cooked evenly with a perfect texture — crunchy on the outside and dense and chewy on the inside. The larger the macaron, the more difficult it is to get the texture right and I have no idea how they did it.  Our choice at Financier was a Banana Caramel Macaron which fortunately was made with real bananas and not artificial flavoring. It was delicious.

Flourless Chocolate Cake from Magnolia Bakery

Flourless Chocolate Cake from Magnolia Bakery
A final treat that I have to mention is the Flourless Chocolate Cake from Magnolia Bakery. It was soft, light, dense and chewy all at once and very very chocolaty. "Um, now this is good," declared Eleanor, my chocoholic daughter, after her first bite.  One $4 cake, split three ways, was completely satisfying and now I know why the clerk at the shop said "Now that's a good choice" when I said I was buying one dessert to share.

Other food related highlights from our trip:
My husband kindly helped us navigate our way via Subway to N.Y. Cake at 56 West 22nd Street. It was worth seeing but I have to say I found it overwhelming and overpriced. The space is tight due to the jam packed shelves and there weren't any deals — just a large selection. I saw some Valentine cupcake liners that I liked but they were $25 for 500 — yikes! that's .20 each. Even with shipping, the deals are better online. Well, now I know.

While walking in the West Village I saw this magnificant bakery with a crazy long line and people pressed up to the large picture window outside just watching and taking pictures. I was immediately intrigued and snapped this picture from the outside through the window. The really strange part is that there was no signage indicating the name of the bakery. What was this place?!

Then I saw there was something on the boxes they were packing and snapped a pic and had my eagle-eyed daughter read it. It said Aux Merveilleux de Fred. So I researched it online and found that it's a French pastry shop owned by Frederic Vaucamps and famous for it's one-of-a-kind light meringue and cream coated Merveilleux Cakes and soft brioches that the shop calls Cramiques. The NYC shop is the first outside of Europe and just opened this year on January 9th. After learning this I wish I had waited in line for a taste but it was fun playing investigator and I'm going to have to make a bee-line for it the next time I visit NYC.

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