Archive for the ‘Desserts’ Category

Hood Famous Bakeshop

February 26, 2017

When you’re too much of a foodie to eat at the Cheesecake Factory but you still want that creamy, tangy goodness (and you’re willing to deal with parking in Ballard), check out Hood’s Famous Bakeshop. Instead of Snickers and Pumpkin flavors, you’ll fall in love with more interesting Filipino flavors like ube and guava. The shop itself is little more than a hole-in-the-wall, so choose your cakes (mini size and up) and go. I went all mini for a family dinner:

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The red top left is the white chocolate guava, the orange next to it is mango, the purple is the ube (purple yam), the green is coconut pandan (a green leaf used in southeast Asia for flavor), and the brown is Vietnamese coffee. The big hits were the coffee and the mango, but I preferred the ube which is what Hood is famous for. It doesn’t taste like yam – the flavor is pretty close to vanilla – but the ube gives the cake a lovely texture (the color ain’t bad either). If you’re throwing a summer dinner party for out-of-town guests (or, for that matter, a winter dinner party for Seattleites) these will be big hit. The ube cake is also sold at local grocery stores so there’s really no excuse for going to the Cheesecake Factory (unless, like me, you really like that Oreo Cheesecake!).

SLAB Sandwiches and Pie

April 14, 2016

The hours at SLAB make it difficult for a working girl such as myself to visit (they’re only open 10-3 weekdays) but I finally managed it and found it well-worth the effort. First of all, the sandwiches are creative, fresh, and carefully crafted. I quickly fell in love with he 12-hour brisket. The desserts were similarly gourmet, with the house special being the slab pies (thick, rectangular pie). I started with the salted chocolate chip cookie, which had a generous amount of chocolate and a proper salt-to-cookie ratio.

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The slab pie of the day was a creamy concoction involving bacon, and while it was unique, it was not as good as the cookie:

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However, their “s’mores” slab pie (offered daily) looked worth trying, as did the fruit slabs. Schedule permitting, I’ll be back!

Vif Cafe and Wine Bar

February 20, 2016

When I moved to Seattle from Virginia, one of the things I missed most was my local coffee shop, which was also a wine bar, wifi hotspot, bakery, lunch counter – in short, everything you’d need from morning to early evening. In Vif in Fremont I finally found a similar spot – good for working but also for catching up with a friend, delicious espresso if you want a buzz, nice wines by the class if you want a different kind of buzz, and both sweet and savory menu items. My old spot had antique pianos and couches, Vif has minimalist lines and a terrarium.

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I started out with a pastry that seemed to be a cross between a hot cross bun and a cinnamon roll, with a soft, bread-like interior and currants sprinkled throughout. They warmed it up for me and although I meant to save half for my friend, I quickly inhaled the entire roll. Delicate, not too sweet, and very fresh, it made the perfect breakfast.

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Next up was the peanut butter cookie, which I chose after careful consideration because I’m terribly picky about cookies. A peanut butter cookie should be short and crumbly but not overly crunchy, and it should be somewhat soft but never chewy. The peanut flavor should be pronounced. This one was on-point:

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My friend thought it should have been a touch saltier but I liked it just as it was. I also took home some of the pecan toffee candy they make and found it to be extremely addictive (the person at the counter warned me it was her version of crack). I’m glad I found Vif – now if they only had comfy couches and an antique piano…

 

Little Oddfellows

October 18, 2015

What used to be the Elliot Bay Bookstore is now Little Oddfellows (“Big” Oddfellows is next door) and it combines my two favorite things – books and desserts. There is a huge array of both – Elliot Bay is my favorite Seattle bookstore and Little Oddfellows is well on the way to becoming one of my favorite places for dessert (or avocado toast, if you’re into that). The pastries are creative (pop tarts!) and quality – it’s like your favorite French bakery but a little more quirky and with a more limited selection. And free wifi, books, bookish people… le sigh.

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For breakfast I had the pop tart, lunch was the Oddfellows cookie, and for dinner I had the chocolate Nutella cake – a good day. Pictured above is the pop tart – nothing light the chewy, processed version I used to get from the grocery store as a (college) kid – although those are also good in their own way. This was light and flakey, like a pie crust made from croissant dough and filled with delicious (probably artisanal) fruit spread.

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The cookie also on point, and it reminded me of the “compost” cookie at Momofuku in NYC – a little of everything. It was large, fresh and nicely textured. The cake was a real hazelnutty treat with moist chocolate cake, ganache topping, and toasted hazelnuts on top. The ganache/hazelnut action at the top of the cake made for the best bites. I will be back sooner rather than later for more books and baked goods!

Nollie’s

February 22, 2015

South Lake Union is booming, and Nollie’s Cafe is taking full advantage of the breakfast and lunch market (amidst the plentiful construction). I stopped in on a recent Monday for some breakfast and coffee (it’s good) but I left with much more, as you can see from the picture below.

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That’s a peanut butter pie on the left. The three cookies on the right are chocolate, peanut butter, and hibiscus. The bar is a pecan fudge concoction. The highlights were the cookies, especially the hibiscus (not sure what hibiscus is supposed to taste like, but this was a darn good sugar cookie regardless. Also on my take-home menu were the “mini cinnamon buns” (the word mini always makes me feel less guilty about eating cinnamon buns, even if there are four of them…

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Heated up, these were perfectly gooey and soft. And although it looks like a lot of icing, it wasn’t overly sweet. I recommend eating one (or 4) with an espresso in the cute little dining nook:

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Service was friendly and the place was popular without being super crowded. You can tell they make everything from scratch, and the dessert selection was excellent (I made the mistake of choosing my goods before noticing there was a whole ‘nother display case around the corner). Stop in and get your cookies!

3.14

February 12, 2015

You don’t have to love math to enjoy 3.14, a bakery in White Center, but it does help if you like pie. Which I do. It was a bit of a drive from Cap Hill, but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the homey bakery. You’re not overwhelmed by the selection of baked goods, but there were plenty to choose from – and not just pie.

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The owner was friendly and patient, and it was nice to be the only hipster in sight.  I took my time and chose a couple cake balls, a blueberry muffin top, and a cherry mini-pie.

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The red velvet cake ball (bottom left) didn’t do it for me, but the chocolate peanut butter one was everything a cake ball should be – dense, moist, almost like a truffle. It had strong peanut flavors and the chocolate was rich. As for the muffin top (top of the picture), I had never seen such a thing! Who would just sell tops of muffins? After eating it, I see why it’s a thing. It’s like a mini cookie-cake for breakfast! It was fresh-tasting and not at all dry, even the next day. No bitter aftertaste either, just flour and blueberry goodness.

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The cherry pie was the winner. I don’t even love pie, especially cherry, but the owner recommended it. And I’m converted. I warmed it up two days later in the oven, and it tasted fresh, flaky, and buttery. The cherry filling wasn’t too sweet or too tart, and there was just the right ratio of filling to crust. This might be my new favorite pie. I just wish they were closer. 3.14, come to Cap Hill, or at least do some farmers markets!

Trove

December 20, 2014

Trove, a new “concept restaurant” on Cap Hill is unique and inventive, without being too gimmicky. It’s a four-part restaurant: noodle bar, beverage bar, BBQ restaurant, and ice cream parlor. I went to 3 out of 4 (skipping the noodles) and was pretty pleased but I’ll just focus on the dessert portion.

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Ok, so maybe it’s a little gimmicky. The ice cream section of the restaurant group is themed like an ice cream truck. You can get the parfaits from their walk-up window, or order it for dessert in the restaurant. It being winter, I did the latter. The menu offers two versions of each parfait: a classic take and a Korean fusion take (the restaurant overall is Korean-fusion). For example, you can get a “new school” Snickers parfait: black sesame cake, miso caramel, and candied peanuts. I went with the “old school” Snickers, pictured on the left:

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My friend got the root beer float parfait (new-school style). I ended up wishing I had tried the more innovative new-school version because mine was a little bland. I liked it, but I think Frozen Custard does it better. I’ll be back to try the new-school options when it warms up!

The London Plane

October 23, 2014

The London Plane, a new hip mercantile/bar/bakery/breakfast spot in Pioneer Square, took me back to the days when I used to haunt places like Balducci’s and Dean and Deluca in New York.  It’s clearly upscale, but not pretentious or trying too hard. A bright, clean, and spacious interior holds a restaurant, deli, flower stand, and bakery. I went for the latter, having no need for Dahlias at this time.

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Behind the bakery counter were all kind of goodies. The prices weren’t cheap, but from what I could tell just by looking, they were fair. I liked the variety – there were tarts, croissants, cookies, bars, buns… I settled on some cookies and the cinnamon roll, which they heated up for me. I headed down the street to Umbria to eat it because it seems one of the only things The London Plane doesn’t provide is espresso.

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Any annoyance I felt at not getting my much needed macchiato was offset with my first bite of this beauty. I liked that it wasn’t giant sized, not to mention dry, undercooked, too sweet, or not sweet enough (all common problems). That is, I loved it. Loved the pecans, the texture of the dough, the amount of goo… well done. Next up, the cookies:

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The top ones are chocolate hazelnut, to the right are chocolate chips, and on the left are Mexican Wedding Cookies. All three types were delectable and my friends were happy with the crystals of salt sprinkled on top of the first two types (I found the salt topping a little much but loved the cookies nevertheless). My favorite was the Mexican Wedding Cookies, I usually enjoy these and they aren’t easy to find. These were light without feeling insubstantial, and with just the right amount of sugar. If I worked around Pioneer Square this place would be dangerous… but they need to get with the espresso program ASAP!

Sweet and Fresh Bakery

August 30, 2014

When Mon Hei Bakery in the International District burned down, I had to start looking for a replacement spot to get my cocktail bun fix. I decided to try Sweet & Fresh Bakery, which has been around for years but is somewhat off the beaten path. It’s a pretty typical Chinese bakery, and is simple and unassuming in both atmosphere and food.

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I ordered the coconut bun (I didn’t see cocktail buns) and the egg custard. The coconut bun was fine; sweet and light dough with the typical sweetened coconut filling. The custard was was really impressed me. It was definitely eggy, which was strange to my taste buds, but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed that taste and texture in a dessert.

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The syrup (hidden at the bottom of the dish) helped sweeten the pudding without overdoing the job. Overall, I’d say well done Sweet & Fresh… but I still pine for my Mon Hei cocktail bun.

Pear

July 21, 2014

Pear Deli, IMO, is one of the most underrated lunch spots in Pike Place Market, but the nice thing about this is it’s rarely overly crowded. One of my favorite sandwiches, the grilled cheese with pear, is made fresh here while you wait, and while you wait, you might as well… eat dessert! Especially when there are amazing pear tarts with a perfect pastry/cake texture:

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This was seriously one of the best pastries I’ve eaten in Seattle, and if you follow this blog, you know I eat a lot of pastries. In the name of research, I also grabbed a whoopee pie (for those who don’t know the joys of this Northeastern American dessert, it’s a pair of soft cakey cookies with sweet whipped cream in the middle).

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The cookies were velvety and soft, and solidly cocoa in flavor. The cream was fresh, homemake, and with just the right amount of sweetness. The picture also doesn’t do it justice in size – this thing was the size of a hamburger. Overall, these were the best desserts I’ve had in a while, and were among the best you’ll find at the Market (and maybe even Seattle). Next time you’re at Pike Place, don’t pass Pear by without giving it a try!