Dominique Ansel Bakery & Cronuts

CRONUTS! So hot right now.

I am actually not a very big fan of croissants — weird, I know — so I didn’t initially jump on the Cronut (croissant-donut) craze. But ever since their debut in May, the obsession over Cronuts in the city just kept getting more and more intense. I couldn’t ignore them any longer.

Last Saturday, after completing a run in Manhattan during Summer Streets, I jogged over to the Domonique Ansel Bakery in Soho to check out the scene. I don’t know what I thought would happen. People line up outside the bakery for Cronuts as early as 5 am, seven days a week! I didn’t really expect to be able to buy a Cronut. I thought they’d be sold out by the late hour of 9:30 am, but I was surprised to see the long line to the bakery still going strong. I joined in the line (between two groups of tourists) and texted Travis to tell him that it might take a while.

We could have waited and I think we would have actually been able to buy our allotted two Cronuts before they sold out for the day, but after an hour in the line, Travis and I gave up and decided to just join the normal, non-Cronut (short) bakery line and order other delicious pastry creations. We bought a chocolate croissant, a DKA (my favorite), a cannelè, and Dominique Ansel’s other signature summer creation, the Frozen S’more.

The Frozen S’more was pretty awesome. It consisted of a chocolate covered cookie and vanilla ice cream wrapped in a marshmallow. Each S’more is toasted by hand while you watch. You can see my S’more getting fired (above) by one of Ansel’s hard working assistants. (Ansel is standing next to him prepping madeleines.) It was delicious, but very sweet. Perhaps a little too much sugar for breakfast, but I was thrilled to try it!

I left the bakery happy and satisfied, but a little bummed that I did not get to sample the famous Cronut… but do not despair! My fate is inextricably entwined with that of the Cronut!

Later in the day, I attended a lovely bridal shower for my beautiful bride-to-be friend, Sarah Yuen, and what did we have for dessert?? CRONUTS! Her amazing bridesmaids had ordered fifty of them a month ago for the event. What a surprise! The ladies at the shower (including me, of course) all went wild when they were presented. We all had to take photos and post about our good fortune on Facebook.

The Cronut flavor of the month is coconut and it was divine. The coconut flavor was not too strong, and you could taste lime in the light cream filling. The Cronuts are also rolled in cinnamon sugar and then topped with more icing. Definitely very sweet and rich! I could have been happy eating half, but when presented with a serendipitous Cronut, you must take advantage. I ate the whole thing. Yum!

So, are Cronuts worth the hype? Maybe. They are definitely delicious and impressive, but there are many places to get excellent donuts and croissants in the city… BUT I will say this: Dominique Ansel is LEGIT! The French pastry chef is at his bakery every day working and greeting the Cronut-crazed masses. It takes three days to make each trademarked Cronut and he does not skimp on quality or technique. He does not allow celebrities to cut the Cronut line and he even started a charity to spread the Cronut wealth. I will definitely revisit his bakery and watch for his future culinary inventions!

FYI: You can follow Domonique on Twitter to get the latest Cronut news.

Have you tried a Cronut? What did you think?

cupcake review: Little Cupcake Bakeshop

My sister-in-law, Chelsea, was in town visiting last week. We did many fun things (like shopping, the Tenement Museum, the Staten Island Ferry) but our favorite activities were trying out the city’s best sweets!

I had been passing by the cute store front and very hip neon sign of the new Nolita location of the Little Cupcake Bakeshop for months (it opened in October of last year) but I saved my visit for when Chelsea was here. On her first full day in the city, we headed straight there!

We visited on a Saturday afternoon and the shop was packed with a fashionable Soho crowd. My first impression was that the Little Cupcake Bakeshop is a near replica of Magnolia Bakery, complete with a pastel color scheme and an icing station in the front picture window, but I tried not to dwell on the comparison.

We bought three cupcakes: Chocolate with chocolate buttercream icing, a Chocolate Cloud with meringue icing, and the Princess, an almond cake with jam topping and both buttercream and meringue icing. I also got a Nutella Latte from the Illy espresso bar out of curiosity.

Travis, Chelsea, and I shared all three cupcakes and we all LOVED the icing! I love marshmallow-style icing and the meringue icing was very similar — nice and light and springy — but the chocolate buttercream icing was the favorite of the group. We could have eaten a bowl of it! Not too greasy or sugary, more fudge-y. Yum!

All three of us were a little disappointed by the cake. It was dry and the almond flavor of the Princess cake was overpowering. Thankfully, there was plenty of icing to balance out each bite.

As for presentation, the store was really beautiful and I liked the creativity of the Princess cake with its towering icing, but I can’t give a perfect score. The Magnolia Bakery influence feels too strong. It seems like the owners (brothers Massimo and Luigi LoBuglio) said, “Magnolia Bakery is popular. Let’s just re-create that.” Even the icing swirls seem to be in the Magnolia style. The cupcake trend has been around for so long now that I need to see true uniqueness in new shops in order to be blown away.

Overall, the cakes were delicious, but I think there is room for the Little Cupcake Bakeshop to distinguish itself by coming up with more unique cupcake creations and not relying on the general cupcake trend to bring in customers.

We really enjoyed our stop at the Little Cupcake Bakeshop and I am sure I will go back. The bakery also has giant, full-size cakes and other baked goods, like brownies and cookies, that I would love to try. And the full espresso bar makes it a great Soho shopping trip pit stop. (Although, I don’t know if I’d order the Nutella Latte again. It was interesting, but it had about 1/4 cup of real Nutella at the bottom!) I also plan to visit the orignal Little Cupcake Bakeshop location in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn… maybe I’ll run there!

Have you tried out the Little Cupcake Bakeshop? What did you think?

cupcake review: virtual edition!

Love cupcakes, but hate the calories? Me too, so I was tickled to discover a new (calorie-free) iPhone app all about cupcakes.

My real life cupcake love has been on the back-burner recently. I just haven’t been able to bring myself to eat mounds and mounds of cupcakes – weird, I know – but I think I got a little burnt out from doing my previous reviews. It is sad. Which is why virtual cupcakes are so appealing!

The app is called Cupcakes! It costs $.99, and even though I don’t usually spend money on apps, I thought this one was worth checking out. I’m glad I did!

The app allows you to create adorable, detailed, virtual cupcakes. You choose the cupcake liner, the batter, the frosting, and the toppings. Then, you bake them, add candles, and “eat” them. There are nearly infinite flavor and topping choices, and you can save your creations in your “refrigerator” or save them as images to share on the web (like the ones above). It may sound silly, but the app is a fun and creative way to occupy your time, like when you are on the subway. You don’t need wifi or a cell connection to play. It is a cute alternative to the same old iPhone games.

I like making cupcakes so much that I bought the Cupcakes! Holiday Edition app, too, and I am thinking about getting the Sundaes version.

(And no, I was not paid for this review, I just really like the app!)

cupcake review: Cupcake Stop Truck

I have an impromptu cupcake review for you today! On our walk home from my road race yesterday, Travis and I came across this truck in Park Slope. The truck was so cute with its pink and blue paint, like it was painted just for me!

I actually wasn’t feeling so great after the run and did not have an immediate desire to eat cupcakes – astonishing, I know – but I couldn’t let a surprise encounter with a cupcake truck pass me by!

Cupcake Stop cupcakes

We ordered four cupcakes to take home: S’more, Oreo Cookies and Cream, Boston Cream, and the Elvis – a peanut butter banana flavor. The flavor selection was actually quite impressive for a food truck, with about a dozen choices, but not quite as good as what a brick and mortar cupcake shop can offer. The presentation of the cupcakes was reasonably nice as well, with piped icing and some decorative toppings, like sprinkles and marshmallows. And since we were carrying them home, I was especially pleased that they offered cupcake travel boxes!

Cupcake Stop cupcake review rating

We waited until evening to dig in and taste test the Cupcake Stop cakes. I tried the S’more flavor first (of course!) and immediately loved the chocolate frosting. It was quite sweet, but very smooth. I also really enjoyed the marshmallow filling inside the cake, but I wished there had been more of it. I continued on and tasted all four flavors, but the S’more cupcake remained my favorite. The cake part of all of the cupcakes was a bit dry – especially in the Elvis – and they were all somewhat small and flat. The Cookies and Cream cupcake had real cookie pieces throughout the tasty icing and the cake, but other than that it was fairly boring. The Boston Cream cake had filling inside, but just barely – probably less than a teaspoon – disappointing.

Boston Cream cupcake

Overall, the cupcakes were fine. All of the flavors were good – not bad at all – but they just didn’t wow me and they weren’t as “special” as cupcakes from other bakeries, like Robicelli’s. I would visit the truck again if I had a super cupcake craving and it was nearby, but I wouldn’t search it out or make a special trip to the truck.

One of my other (small) complaints is that the company seems a little overly commercial – like it only exists to capitalize on the cupcake trend. But hey, I am writing a cupcake review on my blog, so I don’t have much room to criticize!

Cupcake Stop Truck in Park Slope was created by Lev Ekster, a recent law school grad, and the company has two store locations and multiple trucks in the NYC area. You can also order their cakes online and have them shipped anywhere in the US for free. They have a Twitter account that announces their truck locations, plus a Facebook page. One last cool fact about CupcakeStop: they donate any leftover cupcakes to City Harvest.

I enjoyed the entire truck experience and am glad I stumbled upon the truck. Have you found one of the trucks in the city and tried their cupcakes?

cupcake review: Washington DC edition


I mostly intended to review New York cupcake shops here on the blog since there are so many, but I can’t pass up the chance to visit bakeries in other locales… so today you get a special Washington DC edition of the cupcake review. On Monday, I visited Red Velvet Cupcakery near the Chinatown and Penn Quarter areas of DC with my two aunts, Dana & Amy.


Red Velvet Cupcakery is a locally owned shop which has recently started to open additional locations. They use “only the highest quality ingredients available on the world stage and believe in supporting the community that has supported us,” including local dairy. Dana had received a recommendation for the Cupcakery from a co-worker and it was easy to find after we arrived at the Chinatown Metro stop.

The Red Velvet Cupcakery has an adorable store front, but a very small interior. There is no seating in the shop and because they only offer one thing – cupcakes – the menu is simple with twelve different flavors to choose from. The bakery case was filled with pretty dome-topped cakes, so even with the limited selection we had a hard time deciding on flavors for our to-go order.


One of the other customers in line ahead of us said we had to try the Vanilla Bean flavor, so we did. We also added a Devil’s Food, a Key West, and a Cookies N’ Cream to our order. They looked so cute in their specially made carrying box! We carried them to dinner and then back to the hotel to enjoy later…


And did we ever enjoy them! They were amazing cupcakes. The cake was moist and flavorful and the icing was light and fluffy. I ate the full Key West flavor and it had just the right amount of lime in the cake without being tangy or sour. The white chocolate icing was the perfect complement to the citrus. Yum! My aunts enjoyed the chocolate cakes and both said the were delicious without being too rich. We split the Vanilla Bean cake three ways, and I am glad we did because it was unanimously our favorite. Thank goodness we listened to the other customer’s suggestion! The vanilla icing was perfect in texture and flavor, with flakes of vanilla bean throughout. Extremely delicious!

The Red Velvet Cupcakery earned a near perfect score on my cupcake rating. It lost a point on frosting because some of the flavors were not as strong as others. Vanilla bean was the best. It also lost one point from the “overall impression” category only because the shop was so small and the selection was limited compared to other cupcake shops. However, Red Velvet Cupcakes are excellent and should definitely be tried if you get the chance. I am so glad I had the opportunity to sample them!


Thanks for the fun day, Dana & Amy!! xoxo

cupcake review: Butter Lane Cupcakes


After my big race last Sunday, I determined that I had earned a trip to a new cupcake bakery. Travis and I headed over to the East Village to check out Butter Lane Cupcakes. Nearly all of the store fronts in the Village are picturesque, but Butter Lane is especially cute. The interior was just as charming with rows and rows of cupcakes just behind the counter.


Butter Lane specializes only in cupcakes and they use farm fresh, high quality ingredients. They call them “cupcakes for grownups.” They have over a dozen different frosting flavors that you can pair with one of their three cake flavors: vanilla, chocolate, or banana. (You can even order a frosting shot for $1!) It was difficult to decide what combinations to try, but we finally settled on the six cakes you see above: chocolate cake + raspberry frosting, chocolate cake + maple pecan frosting, chocolate + chocolate, vanilla cake + blueberry icing, banana cake + peanut butter icing, vanilla cake + caramel icing.


Butter Lane has received many rave reviews, so I had pretty high expectations. I fell in love with the cute shop and pretty cupcake presentation, but I just didn’t fall in love with the actual cupcakes. I wasn’t disappointed, but I guess I just wasn’t blown away.


We took our six cupcakes home and only ate two on the first day. It took Travis and I three days to finish them all. The cupcakes definitely deserve the full 5 rating for presentation, not only for the cute shop, but also for the unique garnishes on each of the cakes. For example, the vanilla caramel cake had popcorn on top. Cute! The actual cake was the most disappointing part of the Butter Lane experience. Even on the day of purchase, the cake was very dry and crumbled apart when we tried to cut it. The chocolate cake was the most dry, then the vanilla, then the banana. I wish we had purchased more banana cakes because it was our favorite of the cake flavors. The frosting was good, but it seemed a bit too sugary and dense to me. However, the wide range of unique frosting flavors earns Butter Lane a high frosting rating. I liked the chocolate icing the best – we should have ordered all banana cakes with chocolate icing!


My overall impression of the Butter Lane cupcakes was not as high as I was anticipating… which makes me think that I should give the bakery a second chance in the near future. They also have a space next door to the bakery where you can go to learn frosting techniques and frost your own cupcakes. I think I will try that out next time!

cupcake review: Robicelli’s Cupcakes


One of my favorite food stops in Park Slope, Brooklyn is Blue Apron Foods. It is a little gourmet grocery store that has a wonderful selection of fine meats and cheeses and other fancy foodie goods. Travis and I mostly go there for their amazing sandwiches, and every once in a while we also pick up a cupcake, or two.


The cupcakes are not baked at Blue Apron, but are delivered by two Brooklyn bakeries: Baked and Robicelli’s. Baked has a cafe location in Red Hook that I would love to visit for a future tasting, so for this installment of my cupcake review I chose to focus on Robicelli’s Cupcakes.

I purchased the following flavors:

THE BLUTH– Chocolate banana cake studded with chocolate chips and walnuts, topped with chocolate buttercream, chocolate ganache and roasted walnuts.

PECAN FRENCH TOAST– Maple custard soaked cinnamon cake with maple cinnamon buttercream and candied pecans.

CHOCOLATE GRASSHOPPER– Mint chocolate-chocolate chip cake with mint buttercream and ground chocolate.


My intention with these cupcake reviews was to be quite strict with my ratings, but that is difficult when there are so many amazing cupcakes in New York City! Robicelli’s Cupcakes have received my second perfect cupcake score (the last one was for Crumbs), and it is well deserved. Travis and I both loved all three flavors.

First, I was impressed by the extremely unique and inventive flavor selections at Blue Apron and the lovely cupcake garnishes, like nuts and drizzled chocolate. But the nice presentation is barely worth noting compared to the amazing taste and texture of these cupcakes! All three were perfect and extremely light and airy. They icing was exactly how I like it best, very light with a nearly whipped consistency. The cake was moist, yet fluffy. The gourmet flavors were decadent, but they were not too rich, and I think that is what makes Robicelli’s cupcakes so special. You can taste all of the distinct flavors, like the maple and cinnamon in the Pecan French toast, but nothing is too sweet or too intense. Often, mint flavored desserts can be overpowering and far too minty, but this Chocolate Grasshopper cupcake had just the perfect taste of mint combined with delicious chocolate. Travis and I finished all three excellent cupcakes easily!

Even though I gave Crumbs Bake Shop a perfect score, Robicelli’s cupcakes are better. Their smaller size and more unique, but reserved flavors made them easier to enjoy than Crumb’s giant size cakes. I will definitely be stopping by Blue Apron Foods in the near future to try more of the flavors! (Check out the Robicelli’s website to read about all the available flavors and to find the other locations where you can find their cupcakes.)


nyc cupcake review: Crumbs Bake Shop


New York City is back on my good side! On Sunday, Travis and I went for a late (really late, like 4 pm) brunch at Penelope Cafe in Murray Hill. (It was very delicious, by the way. I highly recommend it.) Afterward, I thought I should do my blogger duty and pick up some more cupcakes to objectively review for my loyal “NYC Cupcake Review” followers. ha!

Travis and I stopped by the small Crumbs Bake Shop near Union Square and picked up a chocolate coconut and a “Half-baked” cupcake to review. Crumbs is a relatively new bakery that was started in 2003 by a former attorney and now has over a dozen locations, both in New York and LA.

This was not my first taste of Crumbs cupcakes. Travis and I have picked them up at least twice in the past and I also always manage to have one at the museum cafe when I visit the Met. I don’t remember all of the flavors I have tried, but I know that caramel apple, blackout, brownie, vanilla coconut, and carrot are on the list. In the past, I claimed that Crumbs is my favorite cupcake shop in NY, and this review definitely reinforces that!


Crumbs cupcakes are large – about the size of a large muffin – and they come with tons of frosting and fun toppings. The bakery case reminds me of a gelato shop because of all the goodies you find stuck in the mounded frosting. The flavor selection is amazing and overwhelming, and they always have a
“cupcake of the month” that they are featuring. It is hard for me to choose anything other than the chocolate flavors, but every time that I do I am pleasantly surprised. Of course, for this review I went with chocolate!

Both of the flavors we chose were perfectly moist, with light, sweet icing. The chocolate coconut cupcake was simple with chocolate cake, vanilla buttercream frosting, and coconut sprinkled on top. The “Half-Baked” flavor consisted of chocolate cake with a vanilla buttercream filling (yum!), chocolate and cookie dough flavored frostings, and brownie and cookie pieces crumbled on top. So decadent and so delicious!


I tried to avoid giving Crumbs a perfect score, but couldn’t. Everything about the cupcakes was perfect, from the store presentation and the flavor selection to the texture and taste of the cakes. Even the take-out containers are terrific, with separate holders for each cake to keep them from toppling over. The only downside that some people may find is the large size and corresponding price. Each cupcake is $4.50, but they are definitely worth it and are easily large enough for two people to share. Travis and I ate our two cupcakes for dinner and we had a hard time finishing them between the two of us. (Luckily, Travis stepped up and ate the last bits, and he wanted me to add that he thinks these cupcakes are “fantastic.”)

I cannot recommend Crumbs cupcakes highly enough! They are the best cupcakes I have had so far in New York. Yum, yum, yum!


cupcake review: Trois Pommes Patisserie


For my second official NYC Cupcake Review I went to my local, neighborhood bakery, Trois Pommes Patisserie. Trois Pommes is a tiny, but very cute and cozy place on 5th Ave here in Park Slope, Brooklyn. I love this bakery for its breakfast items and its good taste in coffee (Stumptown from Portland), but there are always cupcakes in the bakery case, too.


For this review, I bought four cupcakes (vanilla and chocolate cakes, with both vanilla and chocolate frosting) and I had Travis help me out with the tasting. You can tell that these cupcakes are made with high quality ingredients. You could see the vanilla bean specs in the vanilla frosting and taste the creamy butter. Unfortunately, the frosting was way too dense for me, as I prefer it to be light and fluffy. I liked the chocolate frosting more than the vanilla, but both ended up being too rich to finish. The cake, however, was very flavorful and not too sweet. My only complaint with the cake was that it was slightly dry.


Overall, these cupcakes were not my favorite… the frosting was too rich and dense, and the presentation (no sprinkles!) and flavor selection were lacking compared to more cupcake-centered bakeries. BUT, that does not mean that my love for Trois Pommes Patisserie has been diminished. I will continue to visit regularly for their muffins, coffee cake, and whoopie pies!


cupcake review: Sugar Sweet Sunshine

This post is the first in my new series of NYC Cupcake Reviews. Since reviews require taste-testing, I hope to publish many more honest and objective cupcake reviews in the near future. Check back often!


Pictured above are the six cupcakes I bought at Sugar Sweet Sunshine Bakery, which is located in the Lower East Side on Rivington Street. I loved the name of the bakery when I found it online and was super-excited to visit. I was a little bit let down by the exterior of the shop when I arrived, but the inside was cozy and the woman behind the counter was exceptionally friendly and patient as I picked out all of my different flavors. I purchased a variety, including chocolate-peppermint, pumpkin, vanilla, chocolate, lemon, and red velvet. It took Travis and I a couple of days to finish all of the flavors, and the last ones were a bit dry by the time we got to them – they were definitely best on the day of purchase. The pumpkin flavor was our very favorite. The cake was moist and the cream cheese icing was very good. Sadly, Travis found an egg shell in his cake, which sort of hurt his overall impression. The peppermint-chocolate was our second favorite flavor, but the cake was not as moist – even on the first day. The vanilla and chocolate cakes were topped with chocolate-almond frosting, which was overpowering, and the red velvet cake’s icing was way too buttery.


The cupcakes looked sweet in the bakery case (below), but they did not travel well. Overall, I would describe these cakes as a little above average, and would recommend trying one if you visit Sugar Sweet Sunshine Bakery and plan to sit and eat it there. One of the best things about these cupcakes is that they are only $1.50 a piece. Next time I go, I will make sure to order their seasonal or special flavor.