Sweet Treats in Manhattan

by Zoe Baker-Peng

As Spring approaches and we all slowly emerge from our caves of hibernation and midterms, you might want to celebrate this sweet feeling with a little taste of something equally sweet! In this city of multitudinous culinary delights, the choices are innumerable but here are some suggestions to get your taste buds watering and your feet walking.

Marshmellow pizza from Max Brenner

Max Brenner
841 Broadway (between 13th and 14th Street) • (646) 467-8803 • mid-range to expensive prices

This is a chocolate lover’s paradise. Max Brenner, the self-termed “bald man,” has created a dessert menu designed to fulfill the cravings of any sweet tooth, with choices ranging from the classic chocolate fondue to the creative marshmallow pizza. Choose between waffles, crepes, sundaes, five different chocolate fondues, and several hot chocolate variations and enjoy the buzzing atmosphere of this popular location. The restaurant also offers a full (non-chocolate) menu with breakfast, lunch and dinner choices. It is recommended to make a reservation to avoid a long wait.

From Wafels and Dinges food truck… 
Yes, please.

Wafels and Dinges
Various locations (check their website or Twitter) • low prices

These wafels (note the special spelling) are a delicious on-the-go sweet treat; they’re kind of like a sweet heaven in a cardboard tray. Choose between the liège (soft and chewy) and the brussels (light and crispy) wafel and pick your dinges (the toppings). For just $7 you can have a WMD (Wafel of Massive Deliciousness) which is a wafel with unlimited dinges. Be sure to try their famous ‘spekuloos’ spread which is like the sweet gingerbread equivalent to Nutella. A wafelcart occasionally visits Morningside Heights on Monday evenings but always check their twitter. [Soon to open a shop in the East Village!]

1796 Broadway (212-974-3444) or 233 Bleecker Street (212-206-1738) • expensive prices

What better way to get ready for spring then to test out some of the best gelato in New York City? Grom is an Italian gelateria, originally from Turin, which opened its doors in NYC in 2007. Since then, Grom has delighted New Yorkers with its wonderfully smooth and natural gelato and sorbets. Don’t be put off by the description – egg cream, corn biscuits, Columbian chocolate – of their specialty, Crema di Grom, as it truly is one of their best flavors while the cioccolato fondente is every chocolate lover’s dream. Grom always has seasonal flavors which make use of in-season fruits and there is, additionally, always a new flavor of the month. This March (2013), try the seasonal pera (pear) and mela (apple) sorbets and the flavor of the month: canella e noci pecan (cinnamon English cream with pecan toasted walnuts).

Sometimes you don’t even have to
go that far from home.

Artopolis Espresso
1090 Amsterdam Avenue (between 113th and 114th streets) • (212) 666-3744 • mid-range prices

Come to Artopolis to try their sweet crêpes which are not just presented beautifully but taste as good as they look. Choose from usual fillings – Nutella, seasonal berries, sugar and lemon – or the more unusual toppings, such as nutella crumbled ginger bread. If you’re not in the mood for a sit-down sweet, visit their bakery for a delectable selection of small cakes and pastries.

I’ll have one all of those.

Levain Bakery
167 West 74th St (212-874-6080) • 2167 Frederick Douglass Blvd (646-455-0952) • mid-range prices

Levain Bakery is famed for its large, gooey cookies which numerous reviews call some of the best cookies in the city. Choose between four different cookie flavors – their signature chocolate chip walnut, the chewy oatmeal raisin, the rich dark chocolate chocolate chip, and the interesting dark chocolate peanut butter chip – or numerous other sweet bakery treats. Levain’s cookies combine that wonderful mix of a soft middle and a crunchy outside and their generous size makes it worth the $4.

Cheesecake. ‘Nuff said.

West 45th St (between Broadway and 8th Ave) • (212) 302-2000 • mid-range prices

You come to Junior’s to eat cheesecake. Touted as making the ‘Most Fabulous Cheesecake,’ Junior’s offers an impressive list of different flavors, including its famous No. 1 Original, carrot cake cheesecake, chocolate mousse cheesecake and red velvet cheesecake. For those of you who aren’t huge cheesecake fans don’t be afraid to try the devil’s food cheesecake which combines chocolate cake and cheesecake and is a personal favorite! Eat your cheesecake in the buzzing restaurant which is packed when theatre-goers spill out of shows or take it and sit in Times Square. The original store is in Brooklyn (check website for address) but this location is wickedly convenient for that late night dessert on your way back uptown after a night out (open until 1am Friday and Saturday). Beware – cheesecake slices here are very generous!

Magnolia Bakery

Among NYC’s most adorable places.

Various locations including 200 Columbus Ave (212-724-8101) • mid-range prices

Famously featured on Sex and the City, Magnolia Bakery is known for its decadent cupcakes which are light and fluffy and topped with possibly the sweetest, creamiest icing around. The choice of flavors is excitingly overwhelming with usual favorites such as red velvet or chocolate or more curious options such as the hummingbird (banana, pineapple and pecan) or the peanut butter and jelly. Magnolia is also famous for its banana pudding which is often cited by customers as one of the best they have ever eaten.

Oh, hey there raspberry macaroon… 
come here often?

864 Madison Avenue • (646) 558-3157 • expensive prices

If you’re looking for a classy delicacy and a touch of Europe in your day, hasten down to Ladurée. With shops in over 20 countries, this French pâtisserie is renowned worldwide for its luxurious macarons (not to be confused with macaroons). Ladurée claims to have invented ‘le macaron’ and has certainly perfected the art of this sweet delight. Its macarons have the ideal crisp exterior with the moist, smooth filling which simply melts in your mouth. At $2.70 (plus tax) per macaron, these tiny morsels are an expensive treat but wholly worth it. There is a wide variety of flavors including chocolate, raspberry, pistachio or salted caramel. Be sure to appreciate the quaint décor which is retained in every Ladurée store, no matter the country. Beware of very long lines on the weekend.

Can’t beat classics.

Dylan’s Candy Bar
1011 Third Ave (at 60th St) • 646-735-0078 • varied prices

Existing as every dentist’s nightmare (or perhaps dream when the invoice gets paid), and every kid’s candy paradise, Dylan’s Candy Bar offers an impressive selection of sweets, chocolates, and store paraphernalia. Return to your childhood (and your parents’ childhood) by browsing the nostalgic candy selection and find out what your favorite celebrity pick n’ mixed when he/she visited. Indulge your inner child by filling a candy bag or hopping up and down the stairs filled with gummies. If all that sugar rushes to your head, check out the upstairs Candy Café which offers dessert pizzas, sundaes, and sweet filled sandwiches.

Zoe Baker-Peng is a first-year at Barnard and a staff writer for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Images courtesy of Sweet and CrumblyomgFoodie, PHUDE-nyc, Artopolis, The Traveling Spoon, Luuux, Alicia Tastes Life, A Life Worth Eating, and Rates To Go.