This past weekend, I took my team to NYC for a team-building getaway, centered around none other than… baked goods. What better way to have fun together than to parade through the streets of NYC, tasting our way from bakery to bakery?! Somehow, we fit 5 bakeries into only 24 hours and that includes sleeping and going out to dinner to ABC Kitchen.
A little background info. I hired Stephanie in the beginning of this year to help me with social media. Hilari joined the team in the summertime for additional social media support and random small projects. The two help me manage my business so I can have more free time being… you know, an actual human person. 🙂 Luckily they enjoy baking as much as I do, so this NYC trip was a win-win-win situation for the whole gang.
Our first stop was Levain Bakery in the Upper Westside. There is typically a long line, but luckily we only had to wait 25 minutes or so– and that was on a sunny Saturday afternoon! We were all pleasantly surprised. And hungry. The bakery itself is so teeny! Which proves that great things can come from even the smallest of places. It was go go go once we got inside. You better know what you want and order fast! We ordered 1 of each of their signature cookies while the gals got a few extra to take home. The signature cookies include:
- Chocolate Chip
- Oatmeal Raisin
- Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip
- Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip
I’m sure you’ve heard of Levain. They’re famous; an internet and real life sensation. They’re known for their softball-size super thick cookies and you can find many copycat recipes online. I’ve read that not many compare! Either way, this was my first time EVER trying one. The cookies are super crisp on the edges, which I loved. Warm and very underbaked in the centers; it was hard to hold them without them falling apart! Naturally, my favorite was the oatmeal raisin. That one wasn’t as gooey inside… and we ate it all so I didn’t snap a picture. Oops!
Off to City Cakes! An adorable bakery in Chelsea. They were decorating wedding cakes when we walked in and as we decided what to get, a bride + groom came in to place an order for their wedding. So cute!
Funnily enough, City Cakes is a custom cake bakery but they are also known for their half pound cookies. Yes, half pound cookies. We walked out with 3 lbs of cookies total! It was tricky to make a decision, but we ended up buying:
- Rich Chocolate Chip
- Triple Chocolate Spice
- Hearty Oatmeal Raisin (shocking)
- Signature Sugardoodle (like a snickerdoodle!)
- Red Velvet Cream Cheese Stuffed Cookie
- Ginger Spice
And a pumpkin spice cupcake to go!
The chocolate chip cookie was outstanding and probably one of the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever had. The center tasted like cookie dough, but wasn’t at all gooey. I don’t know how they do it! The oatmeal raisin was fabulous with both regular and golden raisins and the ginger spice was perfectly spiced. Basically, Christmas in round form. And I loved the white chocolate chunks in the triple chocolate spice! The cream cheese stuffed red velvet cookie could probably be the only item this bakery sells and they’d still be wildly successful. I’m not kidding. Whenever you go to NYC, that cream cheese stuffed red velvet cookie is all you’ll need. It tasted like an actual piece of red velvet cake… but the cookie was so dense. Not cakey at all. How do they do this!!
And now a photoshoot of City Cakes cookies because we were all obsessed.
We needed a walking break after all that sugar, but not long after we ventured to Milk Bar. Surely you’ve heard of it?! The owner, Christina Tosi, is an award-winning pastry chef who invented their signature items like the Crack Pie and Compost Cookies. Milk Bar opened a new store-front location in Nolita and we were pumped to go check it out!
I was losing light at this point, so I couldn’t shoot many pictures. We tried the crack pie, b’day truffles (my favorite of them all), and candy bar pie. We also got a little tin full of ingredients to make their famous compost cookies at home. I’ll give them a try and report back to you! The candy bar pie was full of texture. It has everything from chocolate and salty caramel to peanut butter nougat (!!!) and crunchy pretzels.
You have to try it!
We woke up early Sunday morning to head to Brooklyn. Can you believe this was my first time ever in Brooklyn? I’d never been there before and one morning surely isn’t enough. Must come back ASAP. We went to The Bagel Store, the home of the original rainbow bagel. You’ve seen this phenomenon right?
I know that looks like a lot, and it is, but the plain rainbow bagel is actually pretty cool. Above is the rainbow supreme, which is a child’s… and unicorn’s… dream come true! Funfetti cream cheese, extra sprinkles, edible fairy glitter, cotton candy. It’s just so much FUN! The bagel creator, aka bagel artist, is Scot Rossillo. He and Francine welcomed us in with open arms and were so excited to feed us as much as we could stomach. I had a bacon egg and cheese bagel sandwich, which is their best seller for breakfast. We each tasted the rainbow supreme you see above. And yes, it’s so good! They create custom colored bagels for all sorts of events and were excited to possibly do a collaboration with Sally’s Baking Addiction. So much fun!
They have dozens upon dozens of bagel flavors. We tried their pumpkin pie cream cheese and next time, I’m giving their cragels a try. Croissant bagels! What I loved most about this place is that it felt like you were right at home. Scot and Francine knew the customers by name, knew their orders, opened the doors, gave out stickers to little ones… it was just such a fun morning being around the excitement.
Also, I got the black and white cookie pictured above from The Bagel Store! They come in from another bakery… and I will find out which one ASAP and update this blog post so you know. It was unbelievable. I brought one home with me too.
Last stop… back to Manhattan for CookieDŌ! This was a must-stop, recommended by many many readers. It’s all the rage! Kristen, the owner, opened her shop just for us. CookieDŌ is basically that… safe-to-eat cookie dough. You can buy it in personal tubs (umm OMG) that are perfect for sharing. She’s expanded the menu to fit dozens of flavors. Everything in the shop was polka dotted, sprinkled, and/or pink. I immediately felt at home.
Some questions we had:
How is it safe to eat? They use pasteurized egg substitute and heat-treated flour.
Can you bake it into cookies? If, for some reason, someone doesn’t want cookie dough!?! YES! The baked cookies are incredible too!
What about gluten free or vegan? Both options available!
Kristen says they get orders upon orders for holidays and events and they continue to work on new flavor developments. We tasted the signature chocolate chip, salty & sweet (with salted caramel and dark chocolate!), confetti, pumpkin spice, gimme s’more, and chocolate chocolate. My favorite was the salty & sweet. I took home several mini tubs of the sugar cookie flavor too.
We hope to collaborate in the future. Because, well, duh!
We each left with about 5 bags of baked goods and are still on a sugar high. But it was all so worth it! The gals and I are already brainstorming when we can visit again (that will be part 2!) because there were so many bakeries we didn’t get to visit. And I need another cream cheese stuffed red velvet cookie in my life ASAP.
Q: What are you favorite bakeries in NYC?
Reader Comments & Reviews
I was introduced to your site while searching for an authentic Black & White Cookie recipe. I followed your recipe and, other than one small adjustment, the cookies turned out perfect. I separated the icing and added the cocoa powder but the icing in both bowls was a little too thick. I added an extra tsp of milk to each bowl and the consistency was PERFECT. They were a huge hit!
I love your site
Petrossian for almond croissant!
The second I saw the title of this post I just knew I would see Levain Bakery on it, haha! And I remember the days when there was no line- crazy how things change!
For bagels you HAVE to go to Brooklyn Bagel in Manhattan or Queens (ironically not in Brooklyn). They have the most incredible cream cheeses and everything bagels I’ve ever had.
City Bakery by Union Square is amazing as well – best hot chocolate and homemade marshmallows!
As a Native New Yorker now living in China and a die hard Sally fan, this post was bitter sweet!
How I miss some of these bakeries so much! Just seeing pics of the pavement made me ache for home. Those black and white cookies have been around since childhood- good and cheap. Brooklyn, Queens!- The city- It’s all fantastic!
You have to go have baklava at Velseka… and… and… Oh God! Everywhere. No place like it. I am glad it gave you joy!
That red velvet cookie… Oh my God… do you have any recipes?
-Dying in Nanjing
CookieDo is on my list of places to visit. I live in NJ and love exploring new bakeries, restaurants, and bars in NYC!
Great choices! Next time, I would definitely recommend Breads Bakery near Union Square. They have the most amazing Chcolate babka. I also love the jelly donuts at Orwasher’s. It’s an old school bakery with awesome breads but the donuts are fantastic-they fill them right in front of you! And finally-ChickaLicious is one of my all time favorite places. Everything is out of this world, but do not miss their ice cream eclair.
Ah I love this post! Especially since I used to live in the city and have been to some of the older bakeries you visited 🙂 Every time I go back to visit, I basically eat enough to last me a week. Glad you all had a great time!
Levain has always been on my bucket list, but you made the others sound so tempting I feel like I should add the whole post to my list! I’ve made some milk bar recipes- family favs for Sure! Especially the funfetti birthday cake❤️
Sally, you are such a fun person! You have the best posts, and this one is one of “fun-est”!! Thanks for taking me to one of my favorite cities! Continued blessings!
What an awesome idea for a business trip! All those bakeries and you can claim your expenses on your income tax!! You are one smart cookie — I wish I was part of your team.
OMGeeee Sally! —I dream of Levain cookies to this day and wish it didn’t cost so much to ship to Seattle. All of the goodies you tried sound so goood! I’m looking forward to making your new creations after your trip of inspiration! Sounds like you all had a great time!
Loved this post! What a great trip. I love Dominique Ansel Bakery. Skip the long line for the Cronut (good, but not earth-shattering, IMHO) and get the Kouign Aman. It’s a very homely looking little pastry, but it will knock your sox off! Also, Bouchon Bakery is excellent. They have a home-made Nutter Butter, and also “Faux-reos” that are fabulous!
I work 4 very short blocks away from Cookie Do, and it’s so dangerously delicious that I have to avoid walking by there all the time! It’s just so good!
I’ve also been to Levain, City Cakes, and Milk Bar. I can’t wait to check out ABC Kitchen!
My mouth is literally watering! I am dying to try a Rainbow Bagel! And CookieDO needs to be in my life pronto! I’m thinking about ordering some online! MMMM MMMM GOOD!
We are planning a trip to NYC soon so now I know exactly where I need to go. Thanks 🙂