One of my first orders of business when I moved to New York was to find the perfect pastry. Following my taste buds, I spent my free time trying to find new bakeries and new baked goods, from doughnuts to croissants, cookies to cupcakes. I couldn’t get enough, and I started to explore the city thanks to that sweet tooth. So here are a few pastries that need to be enjoyed.
#1) Dominique Kouign Amann (DKA) at Dominique Ansel Bakery, SoHo
Sad you never got a cronut? Or maybe you really didn’t get into that craze? Either way, the Dominique Ansel Bakery is a must-stop for any pastry lover. You can easily get carried away ordering Madeleines, frozen s’mores, or macarons, but what you really need is one of their signature Dominique Kouign Amanns, or DKA for short.
I’m not sure how I can prepare you for the flaky, tender pastry with the caramelized crunch on top. I wasn’t. I stupidly took a bite in mid-conversation, and when I did, everything just stopped. I had to take a moment and just stare at it because I was so confused and angry at how delicious that single bite was. My mind just couldn’t wrap around it.
What it is exactly is difficult to describe. It’s similar to a croissant but dense. It isn’t heavy. It isn’t overtly sweet, but it has caramelized sugar. You just need to try it because the pastry just speaks for itself.
#2) Macarons at Ladurée, Upper East Side
The thing about macarons is that you can pretty much inhale the small pastry in two bites, and it’s hard not to with the offerings from Ladurée. The shop is part of a long history and lineage. Originally from Paris, there are several of these boutiques found in big cities, and it’s a must for any pastry lover.
Creating these beautiful pastel pastries is an expert job. You need to have the right temperature, timing, and balance of ingredients to make the right crispy, slightly gummy texture of the wafers. I speak from experience because my sister and I once tried to bake our own, and despite our baking precision, for every good macaron we had, we had three cracked ones.
Many bakeries over the city provide their own macarons, but it’s hard to match the perfection and flavors that is Ladurée.
#3) Doughnuts at Dough, Brooklyn
One shining, wonderful Sunday, a friend of mine suggested a doughnut tour of Brooklyn. We spent the morning hitting up doughnut joints, sampling the wares, and describing the flavors to one another while licking our fingers and guzzling coffee and milk.
Unanimously, we agreed that our last stop, Dough, was unbelievably delicious and the hands down favorite. We enjoyed a toasted coconut, which was just divine, hitting that perfect note between cakey and airy. It wasn’t super sweet either. The joint had plenty of flavors to choose from too, from mixed berry and mango to lemon poppy seed, and I watched, transfixed as carts of doughnuts were brought outside to cool.
#4) The Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcake at the Little Cupcake Bakeshop, Nolita
On one of my first days in New York, I got lost, something that happened often and admittedly still does. I kept retracing my path through streets over and over, trying my best to not be flustered, when I saw the sign for cupcakes. Immediately, I decided to wallow in my bad sense of direction with something delicious and sweet. What I walked into was a truly adorable bakery with a large glass case of cakes and a white and black tiled floor. Plus, the desserts here are gluten-free.
I ordered a peanut butter and jelly cupcake. Being lost and, albeit, a bit homesick, the traditional quality of a regular-sized cupcake, rather than those super-sized ones some bakeries are starting to favor, and the homemade frosting made me feel a smidge better.
The cupcake wasn’t extremely sugary or loaded frosting. The cake itself crumbled and had to be eaten with a fork, but it was deliciously light. For me, at that moment, it was a sign that I wasn’t lost. I just needed a break. I needed sustenance, by which I mean a cupcake.
So are there any other pastry fans out there with suggestions from their own travels? Which New York City bakeries are your favorites?
By Georgette Eva