The world is well aware of the colossal mark Elvis Presley left on the music industry, but he hardly left the food industry untouched. Just ask the team at Delicatessen (54 Prince Street, 212-226-0211), where chef Michael Ferraro and pastry chef Shana Feldman created a "King's" Cheesecake in the rock icon's honor for their summer menu.
Oysters and Champagne, tacos and tequila, port and cheese -- when it comes to food and drink, some pairings are unbeatable. When Prohibition Bakery (9 Clinton Street, 646-596-8294) owners Leslie Feinberg and Brooke Siem opened doors to their Lower East Side brick and mortar in June of 2011, they added their own contribution to this list: cupcakes and booze. "Leslie and I never had a grand plan to open up a boozy cupcake shop," Siem explains. "We just started baking and drinking in my apartment to pass the time, and it grew organically from there."
Here, the duo chats about how the Cosmo started it all, whaand how they "respect the booze," and what they're pouring themselves mid-bake shift.More »
Consisting of just two ingredients, ganache has long been a sidecar component for desserts -- but at Hakkasan (311 West 43rd Street, 212-776-1818), pastry chef Rory Macdonald is giving it his undivided attention. Here, we chat with Macdonald about his kalamansi spin on the classic, how eucalyptus came into play, and how you, too, can definitely do this at home.
The Passion Fruit Semifreddo at The Wayfarer
As we edge our way into summer, consider the semifreddo. This dessert's name translates to "half frozen" in Italian, and it's a dish that's not too hot, nor too cold. Therefore, according to Wayfarer (101 West 57th Street, 212-691-0030) pastry chef Aleishe Baska, it's just right. "I love their versatility -- they can be fruit, nut, or chocolate-based," she explains. "I usually describe them as frozen mousse because it best captures their light and airy texture." Here, we gain more insight from Baska on the Goldilocks of desserts, in addition to how she puts her own spin on the classic.
The Chocolate Terrarium at Spot Dessert Bar
While we're trying our best to forget the haunting subzero wind chills of this winter, a chat with chef Ian Kittichai of the East Village's Spot Dessert Bar (13 St. Mark's Place, 212-677-5670) reminds us that there may have been one positive outcome of a polar vortex: inspiration.
The Monarch Room Baked Alaska at The Monarch Room
Considering the alternating 85 and 55 degree days New York's "sprummer" is currently offering, there may be no better dessert to indulge in than the Baked Alaska, a hot and cold layering of sponge cake, ice cream, and meringue that is as comforting as it is cooling. The dessert is thought to have originated in 1868, and much closer to home than the name suggests -- it's credited to Delmonico's in New York, where chef Charles Ranhofer wanted to recognize the newly acquired U.S. territory.
Photos by Lauren Volo The Musket Room's passionfruit pavlova with strawberries and cream
Pastry chef Becca Punch has worked in a range of top tier kitchens, from Boston's L'Espalier to Eleven Madison Park, but it was her grandma's kitchen that served as the initial training grounds for the Montana native. "During the holidays, all of the women -- my mom, aunts, and grandmothers -- would always be in the kitchen together cooking and baking," she explains. Those formative years led to pastry internships at the Tom Douglas Restaurant Group in Seattle and back east to L'Espalier, where she worked for three years before starting at Eleven Madison Park. Last month, she joined The Musket Room, where she creates poised and playful desserts in line with chef Matt Lambert's New Zealand-driven menu. Here, we chatted with Punch about the family dessert she puts in the mail, the kitchen technique she swears by, and the onsite garden she can't wait to dig into.
Reunions can be sweet, and Juni (12 East 31st Street, 212-995-8599) pastry chef Mina Pizarro would know. She worked with chef Shaun Hergatt for two years at Michelin starred SHO before the two teamed up again for last August's opening of Juni, where she plates technique-driven dishes that stop at nothing -- including the sporadic savory ingredient cameo -- to showcase the pinnacle of the present season. In between her pastry projects with Hergatt, curiosity about the West Coast took her to Northern California, where local cooking instructor Julie Logue Riordan showed her the value of simple, ingredient-focused dishes -- an experience that would counterbalance Pizarro's fine dining experience, which spans the kitchens of db Moderne and Per Se. Here, the communications-major-turned-chef reveals the super hot ingredient she's working with, her outlook on West Coast versus East Coast kitchen practices, and her secret weapons in the kitchen (hint: you have them, too).
The Chocolate and Plum dessert at Juni
It was during her time in an investment banking role helping startup companies launch when Batter & Cream (86 West 12th Street, 917-496-4947) founder Elizabeth Fife realized her own entrepreneurial ambitions. "I think that kind of planted the seed," she says. "I quit my job and I started baking, purely because I love to eat -- desserts in particular."
The idea for whoopie pies came in later, when Fife realized the pastry's potential for novelty in an already sugar-saturated city. "Cupcakes and cake pops were stalling," she recalls. "I thought, why not the whoopie pie? It's such a better version of the cupcake." After incessant experimentation and a successful trial run of a pumpkin spice and cream cheese combination at her boyfriend's birthday party, Fife opened up shop in the West Village last September. She sells 15 whoopies in regular and mini offerings, including a monthly rotating flavor (April's was Earl Grey Whiskey). Here, we chat with the banker-turned-baker about why old is new again, her minimalistic approach in the kitchen, and why cupcake enthusiasts should consider this throwback treat.More »