In conjunction with Phase One of the NYC-Chicago Pizza Slice crawl I was able to incorporate Phase One of the "Basic Dessert Crawl" also.
We start on a rainy Monday-Monday in Little Italy...and the "first was best" today...
1) Balthazar, 80 Spring at Mulberry. Checked the Bouillangerie next door for a plain slice of the Hound-Recommended "chocolate cake". The baker says they only have whole cakes at the moment but suggests that Balthazar Cafe has a "chocolate cake with ganache of something" so go next door to check it out...
The standard chocolate cake dessert at Balthazar is a 3-chocolate affair with: 1) foundation of a very airy and fluffy "dark chocolate brownie" with a generous surrounding of milkchocolate sauce topped with WHITE chocolate ice cream and mint sprig....
This is just FABULOUS CHOCOLATE STUFF. Maybe not the single best chocolate dessert I ever had but WAAAAAAAy above average and in the top tier. It's served warm and is just an incredible match with any coffee or espresso. Each flavor is very delicate, not overpowering. The chocolate cake a subdued bitter-sweet with a very NON-CLOYING white chocolate ice cream which had just a "hint" of the white chocolate.
The key here is the COMBINATION TASTE of these ingredients...it is sublime to the max. And then ADD Coffee to this ???/ WOW. Split this cake with someone over a couple cups of coffee in this very pleasant french impressionist era-appointed high ceilinged cafe and you'll have one of those "it doesn't get much better than this" moments. For max sensation, chowdown a fork-full of the 3 mixed chocolate elements and a sliver of the mint. With a mild splash of that coffee.....this is a benchmark dessert.
The waiter told me the cake was baked either on premises or at their New Jersey baking facility...that it is a "house product" and not an O.E.M. on a 3rd-party bakery.
Let's face it, a great chocolate treat deserves 3 or 4 paragraphs, they are so rare....Now we slog back into the rain and the alternating pizza slices and desserts...
2) Black Hound Bakery, 2nd Ave. near 10th. (1 block north of 2nd Ave Deli, same side of street)... An impressive artisanal bakery storefront with many offerings. Was informed that their "signature" chocolate cake was a by-order item only. So tried an individual slice of "Triple CHocolate Mousee" cake. Tasted side-by-side with a cake from Ceci-Cela Bakery below. The Black Hound slice(a round) had one layer each of dark, milk, and white chocolate mousse. The tase was medium-intense sweetness, much more pronounced in contrast to Balthazar's subtle flavoring.
Good with coffee. Nothing not to like but no real cravings to have another slice.
3) Ceci-Cela Bakery......Spring Street E. of Mulberry. Tried the chocolate layer cake. Very bittersweet (w/ emphasis on bitter). An annoying amount of cocoa powder dusting. I didn't particularly like it with coffee but, hey, it's chocolate. Least favorite of the three sampled on this phase of crawl.
See also: 1) Manhattan Dessert Crawls for Cannoli and Sfogatelle 2) NYC CHeesecake Crawl phase 1 3) NYC Pizza Crawl
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