Dessertbuzz | The best chocolate cake in the world: actually, no.


The best chocolate cake in the world: actually, no.

22 Jun 2010, Posted by Niko in Financier patisserie, Francois Chocolate Bar, The best chocolate cake in the world

The best chocolate cake in the world?

Editor’s note: DessertBuzz dispatched their top team to Spring St. for opening weekend of The World’s Best Chocolate Cake to see if it could live up to it’s name.  And in an effort to offer as many informed opinions as possible this will be a “team” review, with a special guest writing the main copy and my comments in brackets.

Anyone claiming, let alone branding their store , “The Best Chocolate Cake in the World.” is inviting assessment.  Maybe even criticism.  It’s hard to imagine something, anything, being the ‘Best Chocolate Cake in the World”; with all the various tastes, preferences, options, moods and moments in life, how could anything be so?  The truth is that it can’t, and to assess or criticize “The Best Chocolate Cake in the World” using this standard seems not only unfair but misplaced.  [Misplaced or not, we’re going to criticize if criticism is warranted.  This is New York City and people want to know if they should drop $6.50 on this thing].

The 70% version

Let start with the good:

The store is tasteful and considered – ‘styled’ – and perhaps a bit self conscious.  The staff is nice, if a bit overwhelmed by the small footprint.  The clientele, curious and expectant  [the customers were tourists and recent transplants – basically the same people who line up for the Magnolia Bakery].  The cake, in two varieties, 55% cocoa, semi sweet ‘traditional’ and 70% cocoa bittersweet can only be visually differentiated by the fact that the ‘traditional’ slightly shinier and maybe a bit lighter in color [They both looked identical to me. I bet if we distracted the servers and switched the cakes like the drinking contest episode of Gilligan’s Island they wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.]

Both cakes are nice looking and inviting; chocolate ganache overflowing and dripping over layers of flaky meringue. In between the layers of meringue is a mousse that is darker and soft.- I was salivating at the sight of them.    Maybe this thing has potential after all?

The real deal from Payard also $6.50

There is an oft used british phrase I love (and is frequently misquoted in the US), “The proof of the pudding is in the tasting.”.  The Proof of the Best Chocolate Cake in the World must be in the tasting.  The truth is, that of all the senses, smell, vision and touch the taste was the least impressive. [Yes.] Now – it was not ‘terrible’ by any stretch of the imagination.  It was not a dessert I would even think to criticize all that much – perhaps only to say that it was too sweet for me. [It was mad sweet, so, so  sweet, I think they accidentally put twice the amount of sugar intended in this cake] But when the claim is that it is the ‘Best Chocolate Cake in the World” more needs to be said than that is it a ‘pretty good cake that is too sweet for me’.

Financier chocolate mousse cake

The concept is beautiful; a multi-layered cake using meringue to give body, texture and ‘crunch to two otherwise stunning confections: mousse and ganache.  No flour.  Low butter.  Cocoa featured.  Varying textures.  Rustic look.  Chewy and velvety at the same time.  Great design, great theory.   However, in practice, while the textures work perfectly, the meringue is very very sweet and overpowers the chocolate in both cocoa concentrations – so both the 55% and the 70% succumb to the [massively, shockingly sweet] sugar of the meringue.

Moreover, while I LOVE that the cake is not overwhelmed with the taste of butter, the cocoa lacks some delivery from fat (the best way to get the flavor to linger) and so while there is a good initial chocolate taste, the sugar supplants it and then the flavor disappears leaving only a sugar craving and sweetness. Great texture, sweet flavor.  I was missing much of the chocolate in the chocolate cake. [There was no dark chocolate flavor in the 70%, none, zippo.] With so many good chocolate cakes in the city to choose from – the warm chocolate cake at Gotham, the layer cake at The Strip House, all of Payard’s various and stunning chocolate cakes [Amen!] the Pepsi cake at Relish,  (to name a few), there are so many choices for so many moods and so many tastes.  “The Best Chocolate Cake in the World” certainly is not what it claims to be.  What it is in the end is a good cake.  A sweet, beautifully textured cake with a faint chocolate flavor in a nice setting.  And it looks great.

The bittersweet has a 70 percent cacao content, the regular, 55 percent, and both cost  $6.50.

The World’s best chocolate cake is located at 55a Spring Street (East of Lafayette), (212) 343-2253.

The Fork In the Road gave them the full-on takedown treatment “ a matter of fact, it sucks”.

  • Manggy

    Holy crap, that was meant to be dark chocolate?? I thought it was milk chocolate! I went 30 minutes past their birth, and the line was growing quickly. I couldn’t bring myself to turn away people in the queue who asked my opinion as I polished it off. It’s okay. I can really taste the sugar, though. I’d still prefer Devil’s Food Cake from Tartine a million-fold.

  • Manggy

    By the way, I think I was for a brief moment looking for you so I could say hi – I was pretty positive you’d be there!

  • Niko

    @manggy – lol, yeah dark chocolate! I was there Sat afternoon and the line wasn’t too bad 2-3 people. The thing is, like magnolia, the people sitting in the store eating the cake thought it was very good. They have a great shtick.

  • Seby

    I had the bittersweet and it was grainy. Cloyingly sweet and not worth the title. I give the place six months.

  • Niko

    Seby, thanks for the comment. Yes, it will be interesting to see how long they last – there certainly have been other “teflon” dessert places that seem to draw tourists etc…

  • Dina

    great review. i don’t like my chocolate cake to be sweet, so not sure i would try this. and yes, “best” of anything is subjective, especially when talking about chocolate!

  • Niko

    Dina, Yes, this was one sweet cake! I mean, I hesitate to tell people any dessert is not worth trying at all – but if you KNOW you don’t like things too sweet then, yes, avoid this. 🙂

  • Denise

    An excellent review, well written.

    Can any meringue-y cake claim to be the best in the world?

    The best choc cake I’ve ever had was in Budapest but unfortunately I don’t know the name of the place where I had it.

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