New York’s Sweet Pages & Pastry Chefs

28 Nov
New York Dessert Chefs Cookbook, Eat Life FCI
In 2008 I decided to follow the trend setters and go local. But I didn’t need to frequent my local greenmarkets or demand that my butternut squash come from upstate. Instead, I wandered into my favorite neighborhood bakeries and happened across a plethora of new dessert cookbooks, all conveniently birthed in New York. A locavore’s cookbook fantasy.

The Sweeter Side of Amy’s Bread Amy Scherber and Toy Kim Dupree
What started as a 650 square foot space in, a then quite seedy, Hell’s Kitchen, Amy’s Bread expanded into 1,300 square feet and three locations providing New York with freshly baked breads and sumptuous sweets. The Sweeter Side of Amy’s Bread, released this past October, focuses owner Amy Scherber’s and longtime co-worker Toy Kim Dupree’s attention on the bakery’s sweet side – a delectable array of scones, cookies, cakes and bars. Scattered among decadently nostalgic recipes like “Kitchen Sink Cookies” and “Monkey Cake” are the stories of customers and employees of Amy’s Bread. These stories reinforce the neighborly feel permeating both the cookbook and the shops themselves, including 103-year-old Frances Reheld, known for her love of “Definitely Devil’s Food Cake” and David Chaffin, the bakery’s “resident chocolate chip cookie fanatic.” Tips and techniques are included with many of the recipes and provide an accessible comfort level to even the most involved of sweets. Additionally, all the recipes are given in grams, ounces, and volume measurements allowing the home baker a choice to use a kitchen scale or not. A beautiful cookbook full of color photographs, luscious treats and a homespun feel, The Sweeter Side of Amy’s Bread is a certified bread winner.

  • Hell’s Kitchen: 672 Ninth Avenue New York, NY 10036
  • Chelsea Market: 75 Ninth Avenue New York, NY 10011
  • The Village: 250 Bleecker Street New York, NY 10014

Baked: New Frontiers in Baking Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito
Baked, the four-year-old Brooklyn sweetheart known for tooth-achingly hip desserts, offers over 80 recipes and 40 mouthwatering photographs in its new cookbook, Baked: New Frontiers in Baking. Authors and owners, Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, transport their signature Sweet and Salty Cake, a intense mix of dark chocolate, salty caramel and fleur de sel, straight from Red Hook into your kitchen. Also included are recipes for Root Beer Bundt Cake, Almond Green Tea Cupcakes and Vanilla Bean Caramel Apples. While not a cookbook geared for beginners to baking (many of the recipes are involved) the, sometimes cheeky, tips and tricks in the “baked notes” help ease the difficulty.
359 Van Brunt Street
Brooklyn, New York 11231

The Sweet Melissa Baking Book: Recipes from the Beloved Bakery for Everyone’s Favorite Treats, by Melissa Murphy
Another Brooklyn bakery, Sweet Melissa Patisserie, located only 20 blocks away from Baked, came out with this bee-speckled charmer in March 2008. Although the fact that Murphy is an FCI alum should be enough to buy the book – the recipes do it justice with tempting, honey-laden sweets like “Bee Sting Donuts,” Murphy’s baked answer to the traditional fried donut filled with pastry cream and dipped in honey caramel, along with the addictive Chestnut Honey Madeleines made with one of my all-time favorite ingredients: hazelnut flour; they would make Proust proud. The book contains over 100 recipes in its six sections, includes a variety of “pro tips” for the novice baker and easy step-by-step directions. The cookbook is an amalgamation of Murphy’s French pastry training and homespun sweets, following her goal “…to make everyone’s favorite desserts better than they’ve had them before.”
Carroll Gardens: 276 Court Street Brooklyn, NY 11231
Park Slope: 175 Seventh Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11215

Dessert Fourplay, by Johnny Iuzzini and Roy Finamore
Honerable mention, though outside the bakery realm, is Dessert Fourplay (“Sweet Quartets from a Four Star Pastry Chef”), just released by rockstar chef Johnny Iuzzini of Jean Georges. Johnny successfully brings his signature “fourplay” of desserts to the reader using creative pairings and inventive methods. In the book, like in his kitchen, he plays his quartets off each other, cool with hot, crunchy with creamy, sweet with spicy, and the expected with the unexpected (chocolate-chipotle soup with milk chocolate and coconut foam, yum!). While the recipes are a little more difficult and involved, this book is great for the adventurous and innovative home chef or even for the pros who may need inspiration.
Visit Jean Georges at 1 Central Park West in Manhattan

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