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Archive for July, 2010

Bespoke chocolates strawberry Balsamic

When I reviewed Bond Street Chocolates I said that it reminded me of the NYC I grew up in because they only have one location vs. a whole chain of clones.  I also noted how hard it was to find Bond St. (not being on Bond Street and all).  Well, both of these comments apply to Bespoke as well.  The shop is located on “Extra Place” – on a dead end street, so it really has to be your destination  if you are ever going to try the place.  Finally, just like Bond Street, the staff at Bespoke is super friendly.  Even before I started snapping pictures and threatened to unleash the massive influence of the empire – they were super nice and willing to chat about their chocolates.

Bespoke chocolates pretzel covered sea salt caramel

The specialty of Bespoke is truffles, often with unusual and powerful flavors and unique textures.  The one non-truffle chocolate I tasted was the  hazelnut praline.  It had a great “roasted” flavor to go along with a rich dark chocolate.  I loved that it wasn’t sweet at all.  Imagine the flavor if you mixed Nutella and your favorite dark chocolate and then somehow put them in a toaster.

Single-Estate Colombian dark chocolate truffle

The strawberry balsamic truffle had a very understated strawberry flavor.  It was the opposite of a strawberry flavored Italian ice.  The balsamic reduced the sweetness even further.

Hazelnut Praline

The pretzel sea salt caramel truffle was my favorite.  The simple formula of salty and sweet with a great texture of pretzels simply can’t be beat.  The most successful mainstream example is the chocolate filled pretzel nuggets inside Ben and Jerry’s Chubby Hubby ice cream.  Except here the chocolate is handmade and the pretzels are still crunchy.   If you go to Bespoke you would be a fool not to get at least one of these.

Recommended: Pretzel sea salt covered caramel truffle, strawberry balsamic truffle, Single-Estate Colombian dark chocolate truffle and the hazelnut praline chocolate.

The Bespoke web site is here.  Make sure you check the map before you go!
The review of Bond Street Chocolates is here.

I try to create 95% of the content on DessertBuzz but sometimes another blog does such an impressive feature that I just have to do a post about it.  Serious Eats New York just put up the mother of all New York  cupcake reviews.  They reviewed dozens of the best cupcakes from over 47 bakeries.  The best part is their top 6 really hit the target in my humble opinion.  Some of the bakeries to make their top 12 include: Dessert Club Chickalicious which has always been one of my favorites, Spot, Baked,  Sweet Revenge and Kumquat Cupcakery.  Gramercy Tavern’s Nancy Olsen also did a review for New York Magazine a while back but it’s not nearly as comprehensive. (more…)

The gold Buddha is a specialty of Bond Street Chocolates

If you think a box of chocolates as a gift is “old school” or something your parents generation did, it’s time to get over that because New York has some great chocolate makers that specialize in small batches.  These shops offer about a dozen different types of ganaches and individual chocolates- but each one is usually very special.  One day back in June the DessertBuzz team visited a few of the best small shops in Manhattan, Bespoke Chocolates, Bond Street Chocolate and Kee Chocolatier.

Dark chocolate ganache - Bond Street Chocolates

You could easily miss Bond Street Chocolates  1) it’s not on Bond Street and 2) the tiny shop is below street level and very understated.   Understated but cool Bond Street  Chocolates reminds me of the New York City I grew up in.  Unfortunately it’s a part of a dying breed on New York Stores –  special one-of-a-kind shops with character that can’t be found anywhere else.  The staff is also super friendly and knowledgeable  about all their products.

Standard chocolate ganache

Bond Street has the best “standard” dark chocolate ganache I have had in a long time.  I consider the dark chocolate ganache to be the benchmark.  Why?  Because  before you can get fancy with elderberry root and roasted valencia peanuts you have to able to make the basics.  At least that’s what I think.

Most of the Bond Street chocolates, including the plain chocolate ganache, have an impossibly thin top layer of chocolate surrounding their soft or fluid-filled centers. I can’t imagine how difficult it is to accomplish this or how much time it took to perfect this technique – all I know is I like eating it.

Each piece of chocolate is really a little work of art and to drive home that point Bond Street sells beautiful gold dark chocolate Buddhas in two styles that will elicit an “oooh” from even the most jaded New Yorker.  I can’t think of a more perfect gift than one of these dark chocolate Buddhas.

Aside from their great standard chocolate ganache,  I also recommend their Tequila Herradura Ganache and Haitian rum chocolates.  The dry tequila which is devoid of any sweetness matches up perfectly with the dark chocolate.  The tequila ganache is quite unusual in that you can really taste the tequila. I would even say you actually experience the tequila.  If you had 6 of these (something I might do) you would catch a nice buzz.

Passionfruit Caramel

The Haitian Rum has a similar sensibility to the Tequila except that rum is a much sweeter alcohol so the overall “sweet factor” of the piece is increased.  Which of the two you prefer will depend on your fondness for said sweet factor.   If you like rum you should try one of these anyway, even if you think it will be too sweet as none of the Bond St. chocolates were too sweet.

The other member of team DessertBuzz really liked the Passionfruit caramel ganache as well.  I think I liked it too but recused myself from judgement since on this day I had already consumed 3 rounds of chocolates, two slices of the World’s Best Chocolate Cake and some macarons and could not be counted on to judge anything sweet for at least another 4 hours.

The square shaped tequila Herradura chocolate

Recommended: Dark Chocolate Ganache, Tequila Herradura, Haitian rum, and Passionfruit caramel

Bond Street Chocolate is located at 64 East 4th Street.

Their web site is here.

Posted by Niko on July 8th, 2010


Bouchon coming to Rockerfeller Center says Flo Fab

Bouchon coming to Rockerfeller Center says Flo Fab

As usual,  it looks like Midtown Lunch  is more on top of important NYC dessert news than DessertBuzz (hey, we don’t do news unless it’s imprtant like this!).  The New York Times reports that DessertBuzz favorite Bouchon bakery, will be taking over the Dean and Deluca space at  1 Rockefeller Plaza (48th Street).  The new Bouchon will have 45 outdoor tables and all pastires will be made in-house.  Start putting aside extra $ for those best-in-class pastries. 

Thomas Keller's killer cookies

For now, you still have to go to the Time Warner center to get your Bouchon fix.

Whenever I ‘m in Zabar’s or  Westside Market I’m always amazed at all the new brands of cookies, scones and other baked goods  from small regional companies.  The problem is they all kind of blend together and it’s hard for the sweet consumer to figure out which one will be the next Tate‘s (makers of very good chocolate chip cookies and based in South Hampton NY).  I guess that’s really why DessertBuzz is here.  To be your guide.  To take one “for the team”.

One of my favorite small local brands is the Sara Snacker Company.  You could easily miss their little clear boxes of cookies and that would be a shame because these guys really get it.  They didn’t come in and try to unseat established products by trying, for example, to make the best classic chocolate chip cookie.  Instead, they launched all kinds of unique new cookie flavors that sound really gimicky at first but are actually really delicious and novel.

Their whole line of cookies is excellent but their best flavors are the “T.W.ookie”and “Chipen’etzel” which hit the salty-sweet thing perfectly and the new “Lemonade” cookie which has exceptional lemon flavor.  The Chipen’tezel also comes in a dark chocolate dipped version which is really good.

The Chipen’etzels, like the name suggests, combine potato chips and pretzels inside a nicely baked cookie.  The “T.W. ookie” (stands for the “world’s best..) is a thin oatmeal cookie with white chocolate chips, which I am not usually a big fan of, but they added a bit of coarse salt and it just makes these things into a truly excellent cookie.

The  Lemonade cookie is also very good.  It has an outstanding lemon flavor in the frosting and cookie itself – I actually can’t think of a  lemon flavor on or in a cookie that’s as nice.  This kind of strong flavor usually only comes in jelly or filling-based products (like a Linzer torte).

The Vanilla shake cookies are also good but a bit sweet for my tastes although some may like the unique frosting which is hard, like dots candy from back in the day that comes on that paper.

I haven’t tried any of their non-cookie products such as the hand-dipped Twinkie’s or Devil dogs – so if any reader has any feedbeack please shoot me an email.

Recommended: Chipen’etzel (especially dark chocolate dipped) , T.W. ookie and Lemonade cookies.

The Sara Snacker website and a listing of New York City locations is here.

Johnny Iuzzini new Top Chef: Just desserts head honcho eating Michelle's Gluten-free trio

Usually, DessertBuzz just reviews desserts and sweets in restaurants and bakeries in New York City – but since one of our own will be head judge on Top Chef: Just Desserts I had to let everyone know.  Watch the video below as Johnny enjoys Michelle Tamapakis’s gluten-free trio.   Via Eater.