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 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. (Update: we made molten cookie dough cupcakes!)
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?