Thursday, September 27, 2012

Spicy Cake from Sweet Melissa

Okay, so this cake, you may be wondering. What is it?

I don't know. My mother bought it from Sweet Melissa for her own birthday. I provided the candle. It was the least I could do.

Here is what I can tell you about this cake:

The top layer is a really excellent chocolate glaze frosting. I mean top-notch. The frosting made the cake, for me.

The cake layer is chocolate but has some sort of spices in it. Cardamom? Allspice? I definitely liked the spice, but, then, I like spices, as a rule, so I am biased. The prominence of the spice certainly undermined the intensity of the chocolate. And the texture of the cake was, well, fine, but not awesome. Could have been denser. Moister. Something more textural.

Then there was a layer of apricot, which I could do without. If there is one Rule of Chocolate that David and I agree on, it's this: leave out the fruit jelly and spreads. Is this a chocolate cake, or an apricot cake? Let's keep the focus.

The bottom layer was like a thin chocolate meringue. Lovely. Added a nice bit of crunch.

BOTTOM LINE: This was a cake with a lot going on. I would recommend it to people who like some spice and some fruit, some diversity of flavor, but not to seriously hardcore dense chocolate fans.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

One-Day Enforced Chocolate Hiatus

We are coming upon the only 24-hour period out of the entire year when neither of us eat any chocolate. At all. For an entire day. It's called "Yom Kippur."

We'll be back on the other side with a review of a chocolate cake from Sweet Melissa, a follow-up on that Scooter Bar from the weekend, and more to come.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Divine 85%

Last Friday I purchased a chocolate bar.  However, because I had just eaten a chocolate ice cream sandwich, I left it at work.  My co-worker Matt placed it on my desk this morning, and we each had a bite.  Okay, many bites.
the fact that i showed sufficient restraint to take this picture before tearing in is a miracle.
Before the massacre

"This is not too sweet for 65%!" I commented.  "Actually, it's 85%, and it's surprisingly sweet," Matt corrected me.  (He, being a Normal Person, meant this as a compliment.)

i don't know, maybe because what else would i buy?
How was I supposed to know it was 85%?
Over the weekend, I forgot that I make really good decisions when I buy chocolate.  This was no exception.  Quite a good bar, and such an easy eat that you might mistake it for 65%!  The taste is uncomplicated -- straight chocolatey.  My favorite flavor for chocolate to be.

Bottom Line: A solid choice for any occasion.


Fresco is a new gelateria in the East Village.  It opened maybe a month and a half ago, and I have been approximately twelve thousand times since discovering it a month ago.  (In fact, I was next door at Veselka with Leila's friend Emily, and she insisted we try out this new place.  I, not having heard anything about it, was confident I would not be impressed by yet another gelateria.  Emily and I dragged Leila back there less than a week later.  I would say that we dragged her by force, because we would have if necessary, but trying to convince Leila to eat gelato does not require much force.)

Fresco is a beautiful store.  It is furnished with benches made from reclaimed Coney Island wood.  And it is staffed by some of the nicest people I've encountered in all my abundant chocolate hunting.

coney island, without all the terrible things that constitute coney island

Fresco serves many flavors of gelato.  Many of those flavors are very good.  But we don't really care about that here.  Because there is only one flavor that matters.

the northwest quadrant, if you will.  or sixteenthrant.  sexdecant?  is there a word for this?  is this even something?
The top left will be our subject for discussion today.
The chocolate gelato at Fresco is certainly among the very best in New York City.  But even more impressively, it is probably the most unique totally different from any chocolate gelato I have ever tasted (since CMS, Fowler, and Strunk & White all seem to agree on this rule, I will comply, though the rule is complete nonsense -- thanks [but no thanks] to Josh, another impressive chocolate lover amongst us).  The gelato base is made with cocoa powder, and then the cold base is mixed with hot, melted chocolate.  If you've ever tasted iced hot chocolate (for example, at Chocolate Bar), you know that some very small bits of chocolate sort of separate out in the drink, making the texture somewhat inconsistent.  The same happens here, with astonishingly pleasing results.  The gelato develops a fascinating chew and a great chocolate taste.

In addition to gelato (and sorbet), Fresco has some decent chocolate chip, chocolate chocolate chip, and other sorts of cookies (not made in-house), croissants (from the excellent Ceci Cela), coffee, and more.  They used to have some pretty-good-but-not-quite-worth-the-money vegan cake-like things (including a chocolate one), but they sold out of them.  I think they said they would be reappearing.  But if you are reading this blog, you probably already know what to do here.

while perfectly good, this is not why you are here.

Bottom Line: Eat chocolate gelato at Fresco every day of your life.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Chocolate Bar

Yesterday David and I were in the West Village, so we stopped by the Chocolate Bar.
The Chocolate Bar has long been a favorite of mine for iced hot chocolates. They offer a variety of flavors (mint, spicy, etc.), but I like my iced hot chocolate straight. It's so refreshing, and it goes down smooth and way too fast. It's the perfect beverage for a hot day when you're thirsty from all your intense boutique shopping on Bleecker Street, but you're not hungry enough for actual dessert.
David had never before tried Chocolate Bar's iced hot chocolate, and he enjoyed it as much as I do. We almost fought over which one of us would get to slurp the last dregs of liquid out of the pits in the ice cubes.

We also tried a bittersweet Stencil bar, which was enjoyable, though over-sweetened for our tastes. The sweetness masked too much of the chocolate's intensity, we thought. Said David, "A good bar, if you're a person who's not serious about dark chocolate."

This, obviously, does not describe us.

And we tried Chocolate Bar's 65% cacao truffle, which was pretty on the outside and gooey on the inside. It was nothing to write home about and you don't need to go seeking it out, but certainly if you find yourself in possession of one, you should eat it.

We had a bite of the double chocolate ice cream, which seemed very promising, but it was decided by one of us (hint: not David) that ice cream in addition to an iced hot chocolate might be excessive.

Finally, we bought a Scooter Bar: "flourless chocolate cake with homemade marshmallow and caramel enrobed in dark chocolate." Seriously. The Scooter Bar is currently sitting on my desk, unopened. Due to my extreme self-restraint. Soon I will open it and report back. Stay tuned.

BOTTOM LINE: If you're feeling hot and sweaty, get an iced hot chocolate here and your sweat will evaporate. Or, at the very least, you won't notice it anymore, because you will be too focused on how to suck everything you can out of your cup.