BEST NYC Sweets, 6 Bakeries in 4 Days

BEST NYC Sweets, 6 Bakeries in 4 Days

While visiting NYC (for the first time ever) last week, I checked out a list of bakeries. In all, hubby & I visited 6 bakeries and tasted 15 cookies, 3 macaroons, 2 scones, one muffin, 7 cupcakes, 1 slab cake and a bowl of banana pudding. Now that’s a list of sweets!! (It was only there 3½ days people — isn’t that criminal?!)

I know I have already said it several times, but I feel practically defensive of such eating choices – so I’ll say it again:

I did walk 42 miles to get to each bakery, haha! But two pesky pounds have declared themselves as my souvenir from the trip. #worthit

Magnolia was our first bakery to visit. We visited the Upper West Side location — and as you can see:

It’s a magnificent sight to behold!

It was hard to limit myself to just a few things — but knowing there were 6 more bakeries on my list, I settled on these four (and one treat to go).

  • key lime icebox cake
  • vanilla vanilla cupcake
  • traditional chocolate chip cookie
  • salted caramel chocolate chip cookie 

I chose the  key lime icebox cake because it was the last slice in the case – and I thought that had to be a good indicator of it’s deliciousness.

But it was so sweet and had such an underwhelming sourness to balance the sugar  – that I was immediately disappointed. I’ll be honest – I wondered if something was wrong with me. I usually don’t get turned off by things being too sweet. But Hubby agreed – too sweet, no lime. Into the trash it went.

Next up, the cupcake. I could tell from the first bite exactly why these cupcakes have made Magnolia so well known. It really was a perfect cupcake. Very professional. Is that a weird descriptor? Well, perfection of the cupcake made it prettier to look at. With the first bite, I thought, this isn’t a crave-able cupcake. The “crumb”/texture of the cupcake is very fine. So much so that isn’t that moist and the buttercream was heavy on the butter.

Now — I know that these things are the textbook pastry school, culinary benchmarks a talented baker strives to accomplish. I guess, this Okie Girl isn’t a professional cupcake lover. Into the trash it went. (to be fair, we only took a bite or two of almost everything — then it all went into the trash. Except for a few treats that we couldn’t let go of… so get ready!)

The chocolate chip cookie – it was not bad by any means. But don’t even waste your $$. It was an everyday cookie – one step up from Homeland.

Okay – are you thinking I am Oscar the Grouch? Well, the salted caramel cookie is where it’s at. I saved it, thanks to the cello wrap and shared it with the kiddos when I got home. It was so good – and the pockets of chewy caramel. Winner winner – let’s have cookies for dinner. So good – get ready for a copycat version coming soon!

And one more treat from Magnolia: Banana Pudding! That, my friends is what makes a stop at Magnolia “worth it”. We took a cup to go and enjoyed it after a long day of running all over NYC. It was so, so good. The perfect amount of bananas, cookies and pudding. The bananas were the perfect ripeness, the cookies had soaked into the pudding just right, mostly creamy with a slight crunch in the center and the pudding was perfection. This recipe reminded me of my momma’s banana pudding. Just a few tweaks to mom’s recipe and I can see I would be giving Magnolia Bakery a run for their money. Get ready for banana pudding  in a jar at Farm Girl Fair 2017!

Check out that line! (It took about 25 minutes to get in.)

Next stop, Levain. Three cookies were available in the cookie case at Levain Bakery – so I got one of each!

Chocolate chocolate chip, chocolate peanut butter chip & the original Levain cookie: chocolate chip with walnuts. These bad boys are monstrous. I mean wow, they are (to quote Blind Side) “wide in the butt and massive in the thighs” … or at least will leave anyone who eats them in that condition. Crazy good. Moist, dense but not cakey, perfectly full of chips. It was obvious that the ingredients were simple and of the highest quality.

If you’re a cookie freak, this is the cookie for you.

My fave was surprisingly the chocolate peanut butter chip. I am not even a peanut butter fan, but the PB chips offset the richness of the chocolate perfectly and added that bit of extra saltiness — killer good. The chocolate chocolate chip cookies were also fantastic. And I was so happy to see that they were so similar to my  favorite triple chocolate cookie recipe.

Schmackary’s was our next stop.

Known for their unique and yummy cookie flavors – this bakery it a great place to visit if you want to extend your evening out ((for cheap)) while visiting NYC.

We tried 6 in all – including

  • Lucky Charms
  • Cookies n’ Cream
  • Maple Bacon
  • Sweet Corn
  • Funfetti 
  • Chocolate Chip

All of these cookies were tasty. It was a pleasant pick-me-up after a heavy Chinatown meal. Surprisingly, my fave was the Sweet Corn cookie. Chewy, moist and bits of sweet corn added a sweet and salty crunch. Copycat coming soon on this one for sure.

Hubby and I had a bite and then wrapped them up for home. The kids LOVED the Cookies n’ Cream and Lucky Charms cookies. Interestingly, the Lucky Charms flavor was very noticeable – definitely a sure-fire crowd pleaser for kids.

The Maple Bacon received mixed reviews. I liked the salty/sweet combination but Shep was immediately displeased. He thought it was a trick cookie – “Baked Beans” and actually was irritated that I offered it to him in the first place. Nothing that another bite of Lucky Charms can’t fix…

Bouchon was a stop I made alone. And I failed in the photo department. WHAT?!

So these photos are from the Yountville Bouchon – at Christmas. Boo.

I tried the pistachio, strawberry and chocolate macaroons. This must be their spring macaroon collection – because all of my favorites from Yountville in December – were gone. I must be a total macaroon snob – but raspberry and gingerbread are my faves and even after trying these flavors, I am unwavering in that opinion.

So go in the fall and winter and get raspberry and gingerbread. SO GOOD.

Next, I tried their sandwich cookie that’s an elevated Oreo called the TKO Cookie. (I thought TKO stood for “Total Knock Out” – but apparently it’s “Thomas Keller Oreo”) 

I snagged this photo from HERE — because I never managed to take my own photos

I will say it looks delicious, but the filling was under-sweetened whipped cream and the chocolate wafers were bitter, bitter chocolate. Very perfectly French I am sure but in need a little more of American flavor flair.

Sarabeth’s was a pop in visit while we were visiting Chelsea Market.

The English muffin is so beautiful, and really a signature confection. We dined at Central Park Sarabeth’s for brunch several mornings. The eggs Benedict were fantastic and the muffin, so light and airy!

Sarabeth’s traditional scone is so good, just the right amount of sweet and the texture is really perfect. No hockey puck scones here. The fresh-whipped butter and homemade jam was icing on the cake.


Now let’s talk Sarabeth cookies: the raspberry coconut macaroon and this fudge crinkle cookie. I loved them both – they were very, very good.  The macaroon was perfect sweet and then the tartness of the fresh raspberries – put it over the top. Another for the must duplicate file for sure.

The fudge crinkle was the prefect mix between a brownie, a cookie and fudge. A few walnuts sprinkled about added a perfect crunch to the cookie. 

Okay – I saved my favorite for last! Two Little Red Hens on the Upper East Side.

Monday is cupcake day – so that’s what we got. However, I was told the scones were amazing – Tuesday is a scone day, but I was headed home. Thankfully, Hubby (who was still in NYC working) took a nice, long walk and picked up a few pear ginger scones for later in the week.  The scones were such a perfect texture, light and moist, just the right amount of sweet. And the bits of fresh pear were so yummy. The fresh ginger was a little to powerful for my liking but I liked the flavor combination!

But WOW. The cupcakes!! I was s happy that they had minis of all their flavors!

I loved these cupcakes. Moist, just the right texture — frostings were so perfect.

The vanilla Swiss buttercream was just right, not too sweet, not too buttery – light and delicious.

Of all the treats I tasted ((which clearly was a lot!)), this Brooklyn Blackout cupcake was my absolute fave. The surprise center of creamy fudge, the moist dark chocolate cake and the perfectly smooth and creamy milk chocolate fudge frosting.. HEAVEN. Hubby was lucky to get a little taste.

You can tell, we really loved them all:

Even at 8:30 pm they were still bringing our freshly made cupcakes! It’s an all times of day stop for sure.

  • carrot cake w/ cream cheese frosting
  • peanut butter chocolate (I didn’t try this one – just not a fan of PB)
  • yellow with fudge
  • marbled
  • chocolate with Swiss buttercream
  • Brooklyn Blackout

Really a perfect bite after walking through Central Park, up to the Upper East side and back. It’s a must on your next NYC visit!

Whew! That was a lot of treats. I’ve pretty much met my quota until the next trip. Where are your favorite sweet stops in NYC?