I was in NYC for a couple of days and I went on a cake binge! I decided I'd try several bakeshops whose recipes I've tried before to see how the published recipes stack up against the original product. Here's my observations:
1. Junior's Cheesecake - I like the recipe for the original cheesecake because when I make it it's creamy and soft. Maybe it's because I tend to underbake my cheesecakes a little. At Junior's NYC (I went to the one in Broadway), the original cheesecake had a similar flavor to the one I make but it's much more firm - almost a "stick to the roof of your mouth" feeling. I preferred my soft and creamy version. I had never bothered making their cake crust and I'm glad that i didn't cos it doesn't make a difference in the overall cake. I still prefer a graham crumb crust anyway. I did like their chocolate mousse cheesecake, the mousse part, not the cheesecake part. I think the cheesecakes were $6.50 a slice.
Other food we tried there: sandwiches - okay; matzo ball soup - not good; onion soup - okay; penne marinara with meatballs - not good, ribs - just okay, chicken wings - just okay.
Overall impression: good but not great
2. Magnolia Bakery - The shop smelled heavenly and the service was friendly. When I made their vanilla cupcakes and bc, I found the cake dry and the bc too sweet. Vanilla cupcakes ($2.50) from the store were exactly the same - dry and too sweet. The chocolate cupcakes ($2.50) were much better and my boys ate up all of those. The cupacake was moist and chocolatey and the bc smooth and chocolatey enough. ONe thing that surprised me: the book and the bakeshop claims they use all butter for their bc yet the bc was crusting. Anyone knows if an all butter bc really will crust?
Other items we tried: peanut butter heath bar blondies - good, not too sweet; brownies - not good, not chocolately and definitely way to sweet; banana pudding - v good, tastes exactly lijke the reicpe from the book
Verdict: Not worth the hype
3. Baked in Brooklyn - I was so excited to try their Baked Brownie ($2.50). Disappointingly it was nothing to rave about. I've had a lot more better brownies. It was just okay. A cross between fudgey and cakey. Good chocolate flavor but I found it too simple and one dimensional. the sweet and salty brownie wasn't salty at all and the spicy brownie was just okay but not zingy enough. I had never tried their recipes but I got their book and when I get back home I'll see how the recipes fare
Other itmes we tried: chocolate chip cookie ($2.15) - too much chocolate overpowers the cookie taste. I prefer to have a good balance between chocolate and cookie. From what I can tell though the cookies doesn't taste rich brown sugary. Kinda bland and not buttery. Maybe they use shortening in place of or to replace part of butter? Texture is crispy-chewy wich I like. Good but not great.
Rosemary Apricot bars ($2.50) - loved this. The rosemary flavor is genius. will definitely try at home.
Espresso cake ($4.50) - cake was dry and sweet. Not rich tasting. Loved the bc though. Smooth, creamy and not too sweet. I understand that they make a pudding base with milk and flour for their bc. definitely worth a try.
Assorted cookies and marshmallows - good but not memorable.
Overall: some items are worth the trip
4. Cakeman Raven's Red Velvet - when you enter the shop you'll see 3 refrigerated showcases filled with nothing but individually packed slices of red velvet cake. Choose between plain or with pecans on the frosting. both were $6.00 a slice. Service was surly but the cakes were divine. MMMMMMMMM! Of all the cakes we tried (over 2 days) this was the best. Moist, melt in your mouth, soft, fluffy, tangy red velvet goodness. And the frosting. MMMMMMMM! It was so smooth and creamy with none of the graininess of powdered sugar. How does he do that? does anyone else here make creamcheese bc that's soft as silk with no powdered sugar grains? What's the trick? The slices were enormous but we ate them all. Really good.
Verdict: He THE MAN! Very good.
Overall, despite the fact that some famous places did not live up to expecatations, I enjoyed the food trip. [code:1:ad0a206373] [/code:1:ad0a206373]
Edited for clarity
Yeah most of the "famous" places rarely live up to the hype... shame you didn't ask ahead of time (or if you did, I missed it lol) because those of us in the know could've given you some better though lesser-known type places to try. Magnolia is one of the MOST over-hyped places in all of NYC... glad that you had a fun trip overall though. And I agree, cakeman Raven is SOOOOOOOOOO good! lol
Magnolia is so over-hyped and has gone downhill over the last couple of years. You should have visited crumb's, much better!
Wow! Sounds like a fun trip! Thanks for the reviews.
Too bad you didn't stop in at the Chelsea Market, to Amy's Breads. Totally divine. The place is always packed with people, and the sandwiches are worth the wait in line.