It's a sure bet that a city that takes its coffee so seriously would expect nothing less than perfection when it comes to its baked goods. Those high expectations have catapulted many of the city's most beloved confections to celebrity status, from the deli-staple black-and-white cookies that have made appearances on everything from Seinfeld to Sex and the City, to the cupcakes that once drew lines out the Magnolia Bakery door and around the block. Below, we've highlighted a few more can't-miss spots and signature sweets worthy of star-status in their own right.
Chelsea: Bite-Sized Decadence
Good things come in small packages and the miniature sweets at Three Tarts might give jewelry a run for its money. The bite-sized desserts are as fashionable as they are flavorful with options including colorful French macaroons, jewel-toned parfaits, and chocolate espresso ganache tarts garnished with edible silver leaf.
Midtown Center: Stylish Sweets from Singapore
The confectioners at this Japanese-style bakery specialize in "wagashi" sweets, which are high in plant protein and contain virtually no animal fats. Saccharine fillings made from red and white beans, sweet potatoes, and white peaches are folded into delicate cakes that could double as edible works of art.
West Village: Baked Goods and Brews
While there's no shortage of cupcake and vino pairings, this dessert and wine bar takes the concept a step further by also matching its artisanal cupcakes with more than 20 beers. Complementary couplings include a black & tan cupcake with Young's Double Chocolate Stout or a pumpkin spice cupcake with Kopparberg Pear Cider.
SoHo: Gourmet Donuts with a History
If there's a donut gene, baker Mark Isreal has it. The airy, yeast-based donuts that drew orders from the likes of Dean & Deluca trace their roots back nearly 100-years to Mark's grandfather Herman. Today at Doughnut Plant, they join ranks with Mark's own innovative cake and filled donuts, such as a chocolate "blackout" donut filled with house-made chocolate pudding, dipped in chocolate glaze, and sprinkled with chocolate cake crumbs.
East Village: Wine and Dine
An open layout allows guests to watch as chefs and sommeliers prepare miniature flights of desserts paired with complementary wines. Clients choose their main dessert from options such as mocha and hazelnut trifle or lemongrass panna cotta, with each dessert preceded by an amuse and followed by assorted petit fours.
Upper East Side: Cakes, Crepes, and Crepe-Cakes
This shop’s signature dish, the mille crepe, alternates airy crepes with flavored cream to create a 20-layered dessert that is both decadent and light. Available in flavors such as green tea, chocolate banana, and coconut, it’s just as drool-worthy as the bakery's apple gallettes, coffee mousse cakes, and chocolate gateaus.
Lower East Side: King of Biscuits
New York Magazine twice named Neil Kleinberg's blueberry pancakes the "best in the city", but it's his melt-in-your mouth buttermilk biscuits that led Martha Stewart to proclaim him "King ". While they provide a flaky foundation for melted cheddar and scrambled egg sandwiches, they're perhaps best appreciated with a simple dollop of house-made raspberry jam.
Williamsburg: Habit-Forming Pies, Cakes, and Cookies
Named by Bon Appetit as one of the most “exciting bakeries in the country,” this shop offers haute versions of classic desserts. Popular items include the shop's signature "crack pie", an addictive slab of buttery blondie-like indulgence and salty-sweet "compost cookies", which incorporate coffee, pretzels, potato chips, and butterscotch.
Lower East Side: The Health Conscious Cupcakerie
Wheat, white sugar, soy, and dairy are just a few of the things you won't find at Erin McKenna's vegan bakery. What you will find is a line-up of decadent cupcakes and other sweets made with wholesome ingredients including agave nectar and spelt. Who knew biting into red velvet cupcakes or double chocolate crumb cake with dark chocolate sauce could be good for you?
Red Hook: Gourmet Lunchbox Desserts
The duo behind Baked draw inspiration from their favorite childhood treats, adding quality ingredients and interesting mixes of flavors. Star players on the menu include peanut butter and jam bars, seasonally flavored whoopee pies, and rich, fudgy brownies that are a favorite of Oprah.