NYC Bakery Tour Part 1

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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.

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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

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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?

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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.

And um, please don’t mind my PINK socks. I got a blister from all the walking the day before and had to wear socks with those boots. And of course I didn’t pack white or black socks… I packed hot pink socks.

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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!

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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!

Cookie DO NYC

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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?

128 Comments

  1. 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! 

  2. Magnolia Bakery Vanilla Frosting is picture and taste perfect! Their cake part is a little dry/dense for me but the frosting is fabulous. Love their spot in Greenwich Village. Cannot wait to try those places you visited. Ready for Sally’s version of those huge chocolate chip cookies, red velvet cookie and cookie dough. Holy Yum!

  3. That candy bar pie looks like the stuff that dreams are made of! *Swoon!* I had a Levain cookie last December and dream of it to this day.

  4. you must go to Ample Hills Creamery. Their icecream is to. die. for. And if you go to the one on Gansevoort St. (meatpacking/high line-which you should walk as well) go to the restaurant in The Whitney Museum(called Untitled ) for the cookies, you’ll thank me.

    Also, lots of yummy foods in the lower east side.

    Enjoy!

  5. Hi Sally! I love the modest changes to the website already! Fantastic pics of all that sugary goodness! Thank Heaven you have the option to walk everywhere in that City! I must admit that I’m a country gal and do not crave the excitement like most do to go to ‘any’ big city. I like my quiet, peaceful, no traffic style of life…sorry! 🙁 BUT I have been to NYC and have seen double digit numbers of Broadway Shows….last show was probably back in 2001. These pics are AMAZING and make my mouth water….nothing new when I look at your pics! Glad you all had a great time…and OMG that Cream Cheese Stuffed Red Velvet cookie..are you kidding me? We better see that in future recipes because you know we ALL want to bake them!

    1. I’m right there with you! All about country living but it is so nice to visit the fast-paced city life every now and then. You should go back for more broadway shows. One of the best parts of NYC!

  6. 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.

  7. Ok so I’ve never been but my sister’s sister-in-law and brother-in-law live in Manhattan and I made a copycat banana cream pie recipe for my sister’s bridal shower from Magnolia Bakery and right away her sister-in-law was like omg! I love that bakery! And supposedly, the banana cream pie recipe that floats around the internet really does taste just like it according to her! 🙂 She’s an event planner for a huge law firm and she said they order from there quite frequently!

  8. My kids all lived in NYC and we went often to visit. Now 2 of 3 are elsewhere and I hear #3 is planning to move in the spring…fewer trips for me in the future 🙁

    Milk & Cookies in West Village is fun–good cookies!
    Little Cupcake Bake Shop in Nolita–Beautiful cakes and delicious for the most part.

    Glad you had a great trip!

    1. We were about to go into Little Cupcake Bake Shop but ran out of time. I did walk by and it looked incredible. The smell alone!

  9. gahhhh so mad I don’t live there anymore because this made me 1-miss my fave bakeries 2-regret not trying the couple I hadn’t been to!

  10. I love this info packed post and it looks like you guys had such an amazing time. I am hoping to get to NYC sometime in the next year and would have had nooo idea where to try some amazing baked goodies from. I can’t wait to try some of those cookies, thanks soooo much for sharing this post Sally!!

  11. omg! my best friend and I wanted to a bakery tour. Would you mind posting the subways/streets/path you took? I’d love to visit the same bakeries!

    1. Hey Jessica! So we actually cabbed around a lot because these are all quite far from each other. We walked several blocks before getting cabs to at least get a little exercise though! But mostly cabbed it. So sorry I don’t have more information for ya! Next time we will map it out a little better for sure.

  12. I’m jealous!! Lol. Looks like fun. Love the little behind the scenes photo of you taking a photo in your hot pink socks.

  13. I’d love a recipe for the black and white cookies shown at the start of your email. I love those and they should be easy to make. Just need a recipe.

      1. Sally, I am living vicariously through your pictures. ♥ Cook’s Country has made a copycat recipe. I’m sure you will be able to tweak it somewhat. Can’t wait for your version.

        https://justbakedbyme.wordpress.com/2012/01/20/cooks-country-black-and-white-cookies/

  14. My mouth literally watered as I looked at those cookies! Ha!! They look amazing! Are you working on your own versions yet? I would not be surprised!! You MUST! Because I doubt I ever make it to NYC and we all need these cookies in our lives 😉

  15. Looked like so much fun Sally! My stomach was growling just looking at the pictures! I really look up to your blog, as a new blogger myself. Love the blog!

  16. Wow!! I’m so jealous and inspired! All I can say is OMG – taking awesome baked goods and applying your fantastic eye for photography = one amazing post. Thank you for writing this up!

  17. Omg this all looks fantastic. Looks like you have been on a bit of a freelance photography mission, which is awesome. can’t wait to see part 2 of this tour! (:

  18. Hi Sally! I loved your post and we have a girls trip to NYC this December and can’t wait to try these out! Any suggestions on places to stay while we are there? We don’t know where to make “home base!” Thanks!

    1. Hi Anne, we stayed in Midtown which seemed to be the perfect location. We walked a bunch, but mostly took cabs. I am not a pro on NYC in the slightest, but I would say Midtown for sure!

  19. Glad you enjoyed NYC! I am on the Upper West Side and the best cookies are actually just around the corner from Levain at Jacques Torres. Their chocolate is sublime and makes the cookie.

  20. Sally, it looks like you ladies had a marvelous trip! The photos you took look almost like 3D. You just want to reach right in and grab one of those cookies! The cookies from Levain Bakery and City Cakrs are simply remarkable!! They look so delicious too. I can see why you choose to go to The Bagel Shop. It looks very unique and very interesting indeed. However, I would have liked to have seen you replaced CookieDÕ with one of the best cookie bakery’s in NYC. I am surprised you missed it. It is called Schmakary’s. Their cookies are to die for. They have 65 different varieties and change their menu daily and Seasonally. It’s a really cool and fun place inside. I believe they have several locations and the one I am referring to not far from Time Square and 42 St. The theater patrons, show casts, etc. has really got the word out about these cookies. Then those new people start telling others and so on.  A show or story was done on TV about these cookies and Schmakary’s.  Now everyone that visits NYC has Schmakary’s done on their list as their first must visit when the go to NYC. 
    Here is a pic of one of their seasonal cookies They are using this year. I hope when I send it will show you the photo. If not, please copy and paste the link in your address bar. You won’t be disappointed.  I am also sending you Schmakary’s web link.  They also participate in the Seasonal annual Christmas Cookie Crawel, which I understand is a lot of fun in NYC.  I hope you look them up and read about them. They are right up there among the best of the best!! Ok below the photo link is Schmakary’s link.  Hope you ladies will be going back really soon!  It would be nice to get a Christmas cookie crawl in for you ladies. Great, great blog, trip and pics Sally!!!

    http://schmackarys.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Cookies-n-cream.png

    http://schmackarys.com/

    1. Only a couple readers suggested Schmackarys, so we didn’t stop there! But this is all the more reason to go again soon. I just checked out their menu and their “cereal killer” and oatmeal scotchie already has me booking my next trip. HAHA. Thank you so much for urging me to stop here next!

  21. Forgot to tell you the name of the cookie link I sent you from Schmakary’s is called Cookies and Scream. All of their cookies look fabulous! You should see their White Chocolate Cranberry Dream – OMG!!! Their BLOOD Red Velvet, Peanut Butter After Dark, their Monster Mash, Pick of The Patch. the Green Tea. These are just some of their seasonal ones too! Oh how I wished you went to Schmakary’s. 

  22. Oohhh, found two more photos from last year’s NYC  Christmas Cookie Crawl. The one on the left is called Dirty Peppermint which includes chocolate, peppermint and sea salt. The one on the right is called the Giant C an M&M studded cookie with sea salt. They also offered a gluten free Eggnog cookie. Their cookies sell for $2.75 each but they offer cookie flights, a great way to sample different varieties of their cookies.  Lol, do you kinda I’m kinda sold on this place.  I don’t bake as much as I use too. I am disabled now. My Christmas Cookies I now order from Schmakary’s and are worth every penny. My family and friends “hint, hint” me every year now as to what I can get them for Christmas, a gift box of cookies from Schmakary’s!

    https://static.mommypoppins.com/styles/image620x420/s3/picmonkey_collage_schmak.jpg?itok=cq_p7xkK

  23. My little sister and her husband are travelling in the USA at the moment so I just sent them your recommendations so they’ll know where to go for their sugar high while they are in NYC! There’s no better guide than a woman who really knows her cookies!

  24. More recommendations, all in Brooklyn…

    Baked (bakery in Red Hook.) Red Hook is a fantastic place to visit. It almost feels like it’s not part of NYC. If you go, be sure to visit Fairway Market and go to their cafe. It has the best view of Upper New York Bay and the Statue of Liberty.

    Mansoura on Kings Highway. Great middle eastern pastries.

    Four and Twenty Blackbirds

    Bien Cuit

    DuJour Bakery

    In response to your reader who asked how you can find the places you mentioned. She needs to put in her starting address and destination address into Google and it’ll give her the exact directions to get wherever she wants to go. It offers a couple of different options for public transportation, that is subway and bus, only subway, only bus.

  25. 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!

  26. 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❤️

  27. I think I was in Brooklyn the same day as you (visiting from California), but we didn’t make it to any bakeries that day, just Coney Island. While in Manhattan, I did go to Zabar’s on the Upper West Side to get a black & white cookie. It was very good. I didn’t have a chance to visit any other bakeries during my NYC trip, but I’ll save your recommendations for next time I go!

  28. Everything looks so delicious! My husband and I have been stuck trying to come up with an idea for our 10th anniversary, since I’m pregnant with my third child and we can no longer travel far. A NYC bakery tour sounds so perfect to me, and I can’t wait to plan it! Thank you so much for the inspiration!!

    1. Lauri, happy 10th anniversary and congrats on the upcoming addition to your family! I hope you make it to NYC…the half pound cookies from City Cakes are not to be missed!

  29. 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!

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