The Good Batch
The Good Batch began as a humble vendor at Brooklyn Flea, hawking caramel-flecked stroopwafels and ice-cream sandwiches. Now, it’s morphed into a bricks-and-mortar store in Clinton Hill that touts vegan and gluten-free treats for the health-conscious crowd, along with muffins, scones, coffee, cookies and cupcakes. During the warmer months, you’d be remiss not to try the famed ice-cream sandwiches. The Goodwich is the most popular: vanilla ice cream bookended by two oaty chocolate-chunk cookies, and speckled with sea salt and fudge.
Little Cupcake Bakeshop
When it comes to sweets, the pinkified Little Cupcake Bakeshop knows what it’s doing, showcasing traditional American desserts with a hearty dose of nostalgia. There are colorful cupcakes crowned with swirled pillows of frosting, delicious “cake cups” (the Brooklyn Blackout is the most popular) cloaked in frosting, cookies, hand-held pucks of cheesecake, ice cream topped with hunks of cake, old-fashioned icebox cakes and pies.
Almondine churns out crisp baguettes, hazelnut-raisin loaves, cookies, macarons and cakes, but the real star is the almond croissant: a golden-brown shell filled with almond pastry cream. Grab a couple of croissants and settle down to eat them at Empire Fulton Ferry Park, a riverside park just opposite the bakery.
Jacques Torres Chocolate
When creating his wealth of cocoa confections, Jacques Torres prides himself on using all-natural ingredients. The original branch of this chocolate shop wows customers year-round with New York City-themed chocolate boxes, gooey chocolate-chip cookies and chocolate bars in flavors such as Heavenly Hazelnut and Brûlée Crunch.
Since the 1950s, Junior’s has been a Brooklyn institution. While its cheesecake can now be ordered online or enjoyed as a pre-theater snack in Times Square, it’s best savored in its old-world Brooklyn digs. The original cheesecake is certainly Junior’s most famous, but these days it’s known to infuse and crown the slices with a slew of toppings: apple crumb, chocolate mousse, red velvet and carrot cake.
Given its cotton-candy-pink walls and black-and-white checkered floors, Petee’s Cafe feels like a dressed-up, modern-day version of a luncheonette – one in which perfect pie prevails. Buttery lattices shroud Maine blueberry pies, and plump whipped-cream clouds are piped atop vanilla pudding and banana slices. While the baking isn’t done on the premises – the flagship location is on Delancey Street in Manhattan – everything is baked that morning and can be warmed up on request.
The doughnuts at Dough are a far cry from your run-of-the-mill fried rings. They are towering rounds about the size of your face, cloaked in shimmering glazes. At the Brooklyn location, the handmade yeast and cake doughnuts are guided through a small-batch process, fried and dipped on site. The offerings change daily, but popular flavors include hot-pink hibiscus, salted-chocolate-caramel and blood orange.
Ovenly was born out of founders Agatha Kulaga and Erin Patinkin’s love of fusing sweet and savory together. Contrasting flavors merge in blueberry-cornflake muffins, pistachio-agave cookies and currant-rosemary scones, to forge a mix of traditional and avant-garde desserts. Much of what you’ll find in the case is gluten-free, while the famed salted-chocolate-chip cookie is secretly vegan.
Peter Pan Donut and Pastry Shop
Real estate in Greenpoint may be split between Polish restaurants and brand-new high-rise buildings, but one doughnut shop has remained stuck in time for more than six decades: Peter Pan Donut and Pastry Shop. This mid-20th-century luncheonette still boasts its retro charm – chrome stools, a lunch counter, waitresses in teal smocks – and the main lure, of course, is its old-school doughnuts. These nostalgic rounds are only a little more than a dollar, so stack up on a few; crispy crullers, jelly, sour cream and glazed are the biggest sellers.
Four and Twenty Blackbirds
The sisters behind Four and Twenty Blackbirds first started rolling pie dough as kids in South Dakota. After deeming that Gowanus was in dire need of a neighborhood coffee shop, the duo launched a bakery specializing in artisanal pies. Perched on a quiet segment of Third Avenue, this quaint shop is usually peppered with pie lovers feasting on a slice of their beloved Salty Honey (honey custard flecked with sea salt). Other flavors include peach streusel, coffee custard, matcha custard and bittersweet chocolate pecan.
Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain
What was once a 1920s apothecary is now Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain. It’s been restored to resemble an old-school soda shop, complete with red-topped stools and a counter that’s home to whirring milkshakes. For dessert, check out the decadent, over-the-top sundaes, which come in a slew of flavors, such as More is S’more (red velvet cake crowned with chocolate, vanilla and coffee ice cream, Nutella and marshmallow fluff). If that’s too much, help yourself to simple ice-cream sandwiches, floats and milkshakes, all made with Adirondack Creamery ice cream.
Butter and Scotch
Female-owned Butter & Scotch functions as both a bar and a bakery. Sweets and drinks collide here, each informing the other. Treats include slices of bourbon-ginger-pecan pie and rainbow-sprinkle-bedazzled birthday cake, along with cookies, brownies and build-your-own sundaes. On the alcohol side, choose from a sampling of boozed-up milkshakes and floats studded with Blue Marble ice cream. There are plenty of cocktails, too, usually sporting a theme; in the past, there’s been feminist-influenced drinks like Smash the Patriarchy (tequila, chile liqueur, honey, lemon and sage).
Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies
At the very edge of Red Hook is Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies, a venerable dessert destination – especially for anyone obsessed with key limes. The menu has been narrowed down to a handful of options: pies, tarts and the Swingle. The tarts are wonderfully delicate, showcasing key lime simply through the vehicle of butter and graham crackers. Help yourself to one (or two) of the mini-tarts, then snag at least one Swingle: a mini-tart dunked in quick-hardening dark chocolate and held up only by a popsicle stick poking out of the bottom.
Oddfellows Ice Cream Co.
Ice cream at Oddfellows is delightfully odd. You won’t stumble across your classic chocolate or strawberry here; instead, you’ll discover funky scoops of chorizo caramel swirl, cinnamon raisin toast and foie gras. All of the flavors are made in the Williamsburg location, where you can see the ice-cream wizards working away through a glass window.
The Chocolate Room
The Chocolate Room isn’t Willy Wonka’s factory, but it’s about as close as you’re going to get. As the name suggests, everything is chocolate here: from sundaes to cookies to shakes and even a chocolate stout beer. Warm up on an icy day with a cup of dark hot chocolate crowned with a cloud of whipped cream, or settle into the house specialty: chocolate fondue. The rich melted chocolate is kept warm by a small candle and is ready to be mopped up by house-made marshmallows, macaroons, graham crackers, strawberries and bananas.
Although Bien Cuit has made a name for its dark bread, the Boerum Hill bakery also serves plenty of viennoiseries (think brandy-soaked almond croissants, cinnamon-sugar roules and apple-cardamom danishes), along with plenty of desserts. Opt for something small like a salted-chocolate buckwheat cookie, or go for something larger and more decadent, like the chocolate-mousse cake, a chocolate lover’s dream: white-, milk- and dark-chocolate mousse infused with brown-butter caramel.
Milk Bar Williamsburg
Founded by a James Beard award-winning pastry chef; featured on Netflix’s Chef’s Table; touted as one of the most exciting bakeries in the US by Bon Appétit. Milk Bar has received so much international fanfare and, yet, a single bite of their handmade cookies, gooey-buttery pies, or layered cakes is all that’s needed to believe the hype. A tin of compost cookies or a box of bite-sized red velvet cake truffles will turn into crumbs before they even make it home.
Although taiyaki literally translates to “fried fish”, Taiyaki NYC is actually a red herring. This Japanese dessert shop is home to legendary fish-shaped ice-cream cones. Each soft-serve ice-cream flavour is served in a taiyaki waffle cone that’s filled with red bean paste or custard, and topped with mini mochi rice cakes, wafer sticks, unicorn horns and sprinkles.
Fortunato Brothers wants you to have your cake and eat it too – with a side of gelato, cannolis, eclairs and cream puffs. Satisfying a sweet tooth has never been so easy, yet so difficult when choosing from their menu. A black forest cake with cherry filling? A banana split with bacio, nocciola, and stracciatella gelato? A box of fruit tarts, chocolate-covered strawberries and zuppetta? We’ll take it all to go, please!
Nick Dauk contributed additional reporting to this article.
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