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?

In true show & tell form: "I am open for questions & comments"

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