Sweet Treats: The Best of NYC Bakeries
by Julie Besonen, 12/18/2013
Amy's Bread photo by Will Steacy • Four & Twenty Blackbirds photo by Phil Kline
New Yorkers are blessed with excellent baked goods year-round, but at the holidays the best patisseries and pie shops are even more overstuffed due to shopping for parties, hostess gifts and houseguests. Is it worth trekking to Gowanus for a salted caramel apple pie at Four & Twenty Blackbirds? Oh yes. Arthur Avenue in the Bronx is another rewarding destination this time of year, offering exceptional cannoli, biscotti and olive bread from the old-school Italian Madonia Brothers Bakery. And you've got to throw carb caution to the wind when you come across a Momofuku Milk Bar (five City locations—plus a seasonal spot at the Union Square Holiday Market—and counting), currently featuring apple blondie pie and cornflake peppermint cookies in addition to its usual cuckoo temptations. More traditional bundles of joy are found at Levain Bakery in Harlem and on the Upper West Side, where fresh-baked chocolate-chip walnut cookies are sure to bring kisses from any recipient, with or without mistletoe. Amy's Bread, with locations in the Chelsea Market, Hell's Kitchen and the West Village, is in the spirit of things with candy-cane cashew-butter toffee and mini gingerbread bundt cake. Then there's vegan specialist BabyCakes on the Lower East Side, whose fudgy Christmas cake balls won't make you miss butter for a second. Candy cane crunch is the December mini-cupcake flavor at Baked by Melissa, which has around a dozen locations from SoHo to JFK Airport for easy pickup. If you like your cupcakes colossal, try the burgeoning Magnolia Bakery, which features red velvet with whipped vanilla icing. Or deck your table with dazzling dark-chocolate bûche de Noël (aka Christmas log) from the magnifique Maison Kayser, rapidly rising to four Manhattan locations for good reason. At the risk of undergoing a virtual sugar rush, check out our slideshow for more details on other cherished neighborhood institutions, plus a few of the newer bakers on the block.