A Better Chocolate Babka

If you are looking to nosh on something, with your coffee, tea or seltzer, might I suggest a slice of babka?

Babka is a sweet loaf, similar to a light textured coffee cake.  Babka is made from a doubled and twisted length of yeast dough and is typically baked in a high loaf pan.  It starts with a rich, slow-rise dough made with lots of butter, real vanilla, fresh egg yolks, lemon zest, sugar and sea salt.  The dough is rolled around an almond frangipane (made from almonds, almond flour, more vanilla, butter, sugar and eggs), then brushed with dark chocolate and cinnamon sugar.  You can fill a babka with almost anything sweet: chocolate, jam, dulce de leche, homemade ganache, and Nutella to name a few.  The babka is usually scattered with brown sugar streusel.

This pastry is associated with Eastern European Jewish tradition.  The word “babka” is both Polish and Yiddish, deriving from “baba,” meaning grandmother.

Baking a babka requires commitment.  Babkas can take a day or more to make, which includes three and a half hours to bake, and six to twenty-four hours to rise.  Refrigerating the dough in between steps makes it easier to work with, and a longer proofing period gives the loaf a more complex flavor.  Proofing is the final rise of shaped bread dough before baking.

New York bakeries have joined the babka movement.  Bklyn Larder fills its babka with ganache, Sadelle’s creates a chocolate-cookie version and Breads Bakery presents a Nutella loaf.  Baz Bagel even bakes its babka into bread pudding.

Babka freezes very well, making for second servings, and another delicious snack or dessert.

To read more, please click here

 

Retail Spotlight – The Chocolate Room

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Reservations at the most romantic restaurants in the city fill up quickly in the weeks before Valentine’s day, but it’s important to remember that this holiday – thankfully placed in the middle of the coldest months, when we all need a little celebration – can really be celebrated with loved ones of all sorts. At The Chocolate Room in Brooklyn they know this well, and it’s equally possible to share the joy of a spicy hot cocoa with your sweetheart as it is a banana split with your 3-year-old niece or a chocolate stout with your best friend. In fact, you can do so any time of year and be greeted with the same recipe of warmth and decadence – although they’re particularly busy these first weeks of February.

Walking inside, guests often remark on the smell of chocolate coming from open kitchen – the first invitation to stay awhile and try as much as possible. This is matched with an equally chocolatey color scheme of dark brown and red. After the smell, the first thing most guests notice is the chocolate case – brightly lit and well stocked with confections. In the weeks before Valentine’s day, there is a staff member available just to help guests assemble custom chocolate boxes from their favorite truffles inside.

The retail side of operations might be front and center, but The Chocolate Room also wants to keep you out of the cold; they take no reservations but provide table service during both the day and evening. Each shop has bar seating where you can watch desserts being assembled, as well as small tables that are sometimes pushed together for children’s birthday parties, and other times pulled apart and candle-lit for intimate evenings. There are no savory items on the menu, but there is something for every sweet tooth – from overflowing brownie sundaes to elegant flourless chocolate cake. Each menu item also has a suggested wine or beer pairing on the menu, like dark chocolate stout from Brooklyn Brewery or a Graham’s tawny port.

The wine pairings and low evening lighting make one thing clear: this is a romantic spot, the perfect place to take your date post-dinner when you’re not ready for the night to end, but you don’t feel like heading to a noisy bar. But just like its namesake, The Chocolate Room strives to be universal, and very kid-friendly. There is no hard alcohol served, but there are plenty of child favorites and kid-sized scoops of homemade ice cream. Appealing to both families and couples is no easy task – but it does explain how The Chocolate Room keeps the hot cocoa flowing at all hours during these cold winter months.

Take Aways… It can be difficult to bridge the gap between daytime family fare and nighttime romance, but doing so means you can put a smile on twice as many guests faces. The Chocolate Room begins with a concept that appeals to everyone, and then carries it out with a range of menu options and a warm, relaxed atmosphere.
The Chocolate Room has two locations: 269 Court St, Brooklyn, NY 11231 and 51 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217.

 

 

Maman Opens New Location in Tribeca

 

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On Monday, the French cafe Maman opened the doors to its newest branch on 211 West Broadway in TriBeCa. The new location is broken up into two rooms with a much larger total square footage than the SoHo original. The front room is lined with comfortable couches and ample room for enjoying  lunch or pastries, and the back room opens up into a full-service restaurant seating 40. Dinner service starts this week with specialties like scallop carpaccio, braised beef cheeks, and red tuna ceviche.

Maman in SoHo was opened last year by chef Armand Arnal, baker Elisa Marshall, and restaurateur Benjamin Sormonte. Since then it’s become a popular destination for both eating and Instagramming. The new space will likely become popular as well, particularly with parents and families. Marshall told the NYTimes that Maman TriBeCa would be “very kid-friendly,” and even has a stroller valet.

To read more, click here.

Photo via Eater.com

Padoca: Creative Bakery on the Upper East Side

Padoca BakeryTheir Success…“Padoca” is the Brazilian term of endearment for local bakeries.  Usually, these bakeries are fixtures of the community and run by familiar, friendly faces that know everyone in town.  Marina Halpern, who hails from Sao Paolo, owns New York’s Padoca Bakery, which opened at the end of June. The kitchen is in the hands of Rachel Binder, previously the pastry chef of Maialino, and from Israel originally.  TaraPaige Group worked with Marina and Rachel on conceptualizing, defining, and developing the business, and we couldn’t be more proud of what the duo is doing:

Pao de queijo—authentic Brazilian cheese bread puffs—are sold alongside sabich sandwiches—an UES favorite.  No cronuts here, but the bolo de coco is far superior—a traditional Brazilian cake with a hint of lemon and light and moist with coconut milk.  The drip and espresso are provided by Nobletree Coffee, which owns farms in Brazil and roasts in Red Hook, Brooklyn.  The made-in-house juices include pineapple-mint and an emerald bottle of kale, apple, and spinach, among others. It’s all good—seriously, all of it. The chicken empadinhas—think snack-size pot pie—haunts us. And with the cold weather coming around the corner, the bakery is starting to launch their soups. Thank goodness; having tasted those during recipe testing, we advise that you try them as soon as possible! The team has done a terrific job of balancing sweet and savory fare to provide something for everyone.

The space was previously a Wok n Roll Chinese restaurant, but you wouldn’t know it!  The bakery is now an inviting, comfortable setting with playful touches, much like the food. A beautiful set of windows overlook St. Catherine’s Park, and the walls and ceiling are clad with reclaimed wood. It’s hard not to feel at home in the space. The swing seat lights up children with excitement, and teapot pendant lamps add an accent of whimsy.  Whether just stopping in or looking to sip coffee with a friend, you’re going to be taken care of.

Take AwaysThe bakery-cafe segment in New York City is tough!  Between deli’s, bodegas, patisseries, and third-wave coffee shops, it takes more than muffins and iced coffee to survive.  That’s why it’s key to differentiate your brand by bringing something new to guests.  And that’s what Padoca Bakery has done.  Marina and Rachel have creatively integrated Brazilian, Israel, and American influences into a sweet, petite place at home on the UES with delicious treats and lunch fare priced affordably in a wonderful atmosphere.  We’re can’t wait to see Padoca grow into the community fixture it’s destined to be, and the type of place the Upper East Side so dearly needs.

Padoca Bakery: 359 E 68th St, New York, NY 10065 http://www.padocabakery.com

Forbes Magazine, Our client Padoca Bakery Featured

P1030246-1940x1455“It’s not an industry you get into because you want to make a lot of money. It’s really because you love it,” says Marina Halpern, owner of Padoca Bakery. While many other restaurant businesses are struggling to keep their businesses in New York City with its high rent, health department inspections and increased competition, Halperin persisted in opening a bakery-café on the Upper East Side. She believed their location would contribute to the community as a local gathering spot, for both residents and the many hospital workers in the area. Moreover, no one is doing specialty coffee in the neighborhood.

There is a Starbucks a block away from Padoca, but Padoca Bakery successfully differentiates themselves as a specialty café by incorporating Brazilian themes. Padoca’s décor is hip and whimsical. The light fixtures are made from porcelain coffee pots, they have colorful chairs along with their popular swing chair that hangs from the ceiling. Moreover, the wooden tables and ceilings exacerbate the Brazilian vibes. Customers can buy pre-packaged salads and sandwiches, coffee from FAL Coffee, and their popular Brazilian-pastries. A popular choice is a Brazilian pastry called pal de quiet, which is essentially a fluffy cheese bread.

Marina Halpern moved from Saõ Paolo to New York City five years ago. She was involved in the entertainment industry, but in her free time took cake decorating classes at the French Culinary Institute in New York. Halpern says “I fell in love with it.” She then cultivated her skills in the food industry as she continued her studies, earned a professional certificate, interned as a pastry cook at The Dutch restaurant and worked at Tony Jean George’s The Mark. Halpern then finally decided that she wanted to open her own bakery. “When I decided to open he bakery, i realized New York has so much foot traffic and a great mix of cultures that would be perfect for the concept.” Marina’s plan is to grow slowly and steadily by eventually opening a few more stores, adding street kiosks in Carl Schurz Park and with her recent launch of catering services she hopes to achieve even greater success with Padoca.

To read more, click here.

Openings: Dominique Ansel Kitchen

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 11.23.31 AMTomorrow, the much-anticipated Dominique Ansel Kitchen will open its doors to the West Village. The Cronut king has taken the industry by storm developing hybrid desserts and he plans to take things to the next level with his newest endeavor. Dominique Ansel Kitchen will be the first of its kind bringing bakery retail together with restaurant service. According to their newly launched website 70% of the menu will be made to order.

Dominique Ansel names time as an ingredient, placing importance on the care and process that goes into each pastry. The bakery vows to offer the “best and most genuine versions of pastries…at the perfect time for you to eat it”. Menu speculation includes chocolate mousse, baba au rhum, beignets, mille-feuille and very buttery lemon tarts that are all prepared a la minute with a one to two minute prep time. Additionally, the bakery will offer savory options including garlic bread croissants and béchamel filled squid ink toasts.

Ansel announced earlier this month that 26-year-old Karys Logue would be his Executive Chef overseeing both Dominique Ansel Kitchen as well as the original Dominique Ansel Bakery. Logue first crossed paths with Ansel when they worked together at Daniel and since she has perfected her skills as sous chef at Café Boulud as well as executive pastry chef at Sepia and Tessa.

Dominique Ansel Kitchen, 137 Seventh Avenue South (10th Street), 212-242-5111, dominiqueanselkitchen.com

Tartine Bakery New York Bound

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San Francisco’s most beloved bakery, Tartine, has announced that it will be joining forces with another San Fran favorite, Blue Bottle Coffee. Opened in 2002 by Chad Robertson, Tartine Bakery is highly renowned for their artisanal baked goods and their cult following. Blue Bottle Coffee, also celebrating its thirteenth year, was founded in Oakland, California by James Freeman and is best known for their extensive brewing guides and focus on single-origin beans.

Robinson will become CEO of the bakery which will now be a part of Blue Bottle. Blue Bottle founder and CEO James Freeman has been friends with Robinson for 10 years, but their alliance is only a recent and spontaneous development reports Inside Scoop. Tartine’s restaurant, Bar Tartine, will remain independent as it will be sold to chefs Nick Balla and Cortney Burns.

With the merger, the famed San Francisco bakery will be introduced to New York as well as Los Angeles by the end of the year. Previously, Tartine had previously announced their plans for an expansion that would bring them overseas to Japan, where Blue Bottle recently opened their first Tokyo based venture. This fall will also bring the debut of the bakery’s first ice cream shop, Tartine Cookies and Cream, which will open in the Heath Ceramics building in the Mission District. Blue Bottle currently has 19 locations throughout California, Manhattan, Brooklyn and Japan. In 2012 Blue Bottle made the news when it raised $19.6 million from investors and in 2014 they raised an additional $25.75 million.

To read more from the New York Times, click here

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