Khao Nom – Desserts

Instagram Post 7/17/2018

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Khao Nom has been the prime destination for Thai desserts since it opened in October 2017. Located at 76-20 Woodside Ave, Elmhurst, just around the corner from its sister Khao Kang the amazing Thai steamtable restaurant, they offer an impressive array of sweets and not-so-sweets that are certain to tempt you, particularly after a fiery Thai meal at either venue.

The Pandan Tart Cake was crowned with merengue and was as delicious as it was beautiful. Incidentally, pandan (screwpine in English and green in color) is one of those magical flavors that has a knack for combining synergistically with other ingredients and is a welcome addition to many Southeast Asian desserts. (For example, pandan and coconut love each other just as chocolate and nuts do.)

Egg Yolk Cake, aka Foy Thong Cake (foy = thread; thong = gold), features the popular sweetened egg yolk strands that figure into many Thai desserts. The tower was anchored with pandan cake and whipped cream.
 
 

Champion Bakery – Carrot Cake

Instagram Post 7/14/2018

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Since 1977, Champion Bakery has been known for fresh baked Jamaican cakes, pastries, patties, and breads with names like Alligator Bread, Duck Bread, Mongoose Bread, Pinch Bread and Hardo Bread. This Carrot Cake cuts like a pie, crumbles like a cookie, and eats like a cake, but that crispy edge is the real prize. So good that I barely had enough left to bring home to top with Great Nut ice cream!

Champion Bakery is located at 3978 White Plains Road near East 225th Street, Bronx.
 
 

Tulcingo Bakery

Instagram Post 7/10/2018

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One of my favorite destinations when I’m craving Mexican carbs is Tulcingo Bakery at 103-02 Roosevelt Ave in Corona, Queens. Named for the municipality in Puebla, Mexico 🇲🇽, it’s a triple threat: a market featuring the freshest ingredients for your cocina Mexicana, the go-to place for amazing carnitas, barbacoa (goat), tamales, and atoles on the weekends, and of course, an extensive panadería, the focus of today’s post.

Literally dozens of kinds of Mexican cookies, sweet breads, layer cakes and loaf cakes, and holiday and traditional breads, not to mention fruit tarts, gelatin desserts, puddings, and more are on display; just grab a tray and a pair of tongs, and let your corazón be your guide. According to Wikipedia, it’s estimated that there are between 500 and 2,000 types of breads and baked goods currently produced in Mexico. Each is distinct: the treats shown here are soft or flaky, sugary or fruity, crispy or filled with custard or cheese and the list goes on from there as you’ll see when you visit this cornucopia of confections for yourself. The perfect leisurely breakfast is one of these beauties and a cup of Café de Olla. Or better still, Mexican hot chocolate!
 
 

Republic of Booza

Instagram Post 7/9/2018

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Booza (بوظة), an ice cream that hails from the Levant and Egypt, is known for two qualities, its stretchy consistency and its ability to resist melting. The elasticity comes from mastic, the resin that makes Turkish Delight delightfully chewy, and its prowess in fending off the consequences of Middle Eastern heat stems from sahlab (aka salep), a thickener that’s also used in beverages and puddings.

The stylish Republic of Booza offers seventeen flavors in three categories: classic (like vanilla, chocolate and strawberry), global (like horchata, red miso and mango-tajín) and “experimental” (like salted Oreo, Sichuan white chocolate and saffron peppercorn). Always eager to explore the roots of an ethnic dish before venturing into a more fanciful rendition, I chose Original Qashta, subtitled “candied cream”. (And I coyly chose “roots” here because sahlab is made from ground orchid tubers.) I was familiar with the word qashta from my Bay Ridge, Brooklyn ethnojunkets where it appears as ashta (colloquially) or kashta (more formally) and refers to the Middle Eastern clotted cream spiked with rose water or orange blossom water that suffuses many desserts of the region. My second selection was pistachio, simply because it seemed like an appropriate option given the territory. Because there’s no overrun (air that’s a component of most commercial ice creams), booza is remarkably creamy. Both flavors were delicious and the texture was a cool experience.

Since July is National Ice Cream Month, I’ll be writing a featured post about ethnic ice cream here on ethnojunkie.com in which I’ll attempt to run the global gamut of frozen, creamy treats. For now, I highly recommend your making the journey to Republic of Booza at 76 North 4th St in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (no passport required), especially in this heat. Suffice it to say that this may be the most unusual ice cream you’ve ever tasted…and that isn’t a stretch!
 
 

Malaysian Kueh

Instagram Post 6/27/2018

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Three views of the same item from the grab ‘n’ go prepared food section near the register at Little House Café, 90-19 Corona Ave in Elmhurst, Queens. I assumed this would be the sweet Malaysian kueh (or kuih) that I had enjoyed elsewhere, in this case a pandan (green) and palm sugar (brown) rice flour/tapioca flour dense “custard”, but I was pleasantly surprised by the salty component of the pandan layer in contrast to the sweetness of the palm sugar layer.

They’re shown flanked by eggy almond wafers, crunchy but not crispy, and a satisfying textural contrast to the kueh.

These folks definitely have their own spin on Malaysian food – and I like it!
 
 

Dakwa

Instagram Post 6/26/2018

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I may have a found new favorite West African sweet snack: Dakwa. A popular treat in Ghana 🇬🇭 and Togo 🇹🇬, it goes by spellings and names that run the alphabetical gamut from Adaakwa to Zowè. Fortunately, I had only to travel to New Harlem Halal Meat on 2142 Frederick Douglass Blvd at 116th St in Manhattan to spot these treasures tucked away in a large plastic jar perched on the cashier’s counter (see second photo).

Made from ground roasted corn flour and peanuts, spiked with cloves, ginger, chili powder, sugar and a little salt, tightly compressed into 2½ inch balls with a measure of peanut oil to stick it together, its texture is similar to Middle Eastern halvah, perhaps a little stiffer. The balls come tightly bound in plastic wrap; the first photo shows one broken apart for closer examination, but mainly for easier eating. 😉

Sweet, spicy, salty, zowie!
 
 

Pakhlava

Instagram Post 6/24/2018

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If you’re someone who likes the sweet chopped walnut essence of baklava (like me) but doesn’t appreciate a beehive full of honey with every bite (also like me), check out the pastry they call Pakhlava at Georgian Deli & Bakery, 2270 86th Street in Gravesend near the border of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. It’s layered like baklava but the dough is richer, more substantial, and sour cream based as opposed to the gossamer phyllo leaves you might expect from the name; the sweetness comes from dried fruit instead of honey. To me, the names are more similar than the pastries themselves.

Second photo reveals even more layers of lusciousness.
 
 

Lucky Pickle Dumpling Co.

Instagram Post 6/18/2018

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Yes, Lucky Pickle Dumpling Co. at 513 Amsterdam Ave in Manhattan has dumplings and noodles too, but the attraction for us was the soft serve ice cream available in two flavors, matcha and pickle; of course we went for the pickle since that’s their claim to fame. Perusing my mental catalog of pickle families, I was hard pressed at first to identify its tribe other than cucumber-based. Sour pickle? Not even close. Kosher dill? Nope, no garlic (thank goodness). Then I finally hit upon it: bread and butter pickles! The sweetest in the clan and always welcome at the table. I mean, how else could you get down to the bottom of that cup and not wonder if it would have made a good sundae with a little pastrami topping?

(Remember when a craving for pickles and ice cream was considered a litmus test for pregnancy?)
 
 

Qada

Instagram Post 6/11/2018

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Somewhere between a cookie and a pastry, Qada, one of my favorite treats, is always rewarding, especially with a cup of tea. This one came from Georgian Deli & Bakery, 2270 86th Street in Gravesend near the border of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, where they execute a particularly appealing version of this Georgian delight.

Qada (pronounce the Q like a K but in the back of your throat – uvular as opposed to velar for you linguistics aficionados) can be found in two forms, savory or sweet like this one with raisins. The dough is cut, rolled, and glazed with a shiny egg wash then baked to GBD* perfection. Dense, soft, a little crumbly, sweet but not cloying, buttery but not unctuous, it was the perfect culmination of that day’s quest for something to satisfy my sweet tooth.

Second photo: what it looked like during the few seconds after I bought it and before I cut into it.

*Golden Brown and Delicious
 
 

New Flushing Bakery

Instagram Post 6/2/2018

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Chinese Egg Custard Tarts (dan tat, 蛋挞) are ubiquitous in Chinatown, on display in just about every Chinese bakery case and riding on dim sum trolleys threading their way through restaurants at lunchtime. They found their way to China and Hong Kong decades ago by way of Portuguese pastéis de nata and English custard tarts and are available these days in a wide variety of styles: the basic (plain bright yellow surface), brûléed (Portuguese influence), egg white, coconut, green tea, even strawberry, almond, papaya, and the list goes on. Some time ago, there was a bakery on Mott Street that touted dozens of flavors; alas, they’ve since closed, but it appears that New Flushing Bakery has taken up their mantle.

Here’s a sample of their wares: clockwise from upper right, Strawberry Milk Custard, Lemon Egg Custard, Mango Egg Custard (with tapioca balls), and Purple Potato Custard.

Cutaway views reveal purple potato lurking within one and a strawberry layer at the bottom of another.

New Flushing Bakery is located at 135-45 Roosevelt Ave, Flushing, Queens.