Have you ever ambled around your town thinking, "My god, I could really go for a fresh crème brûlée right now; if only there were a conveniently located truck selling high-end desserts for reasonable prices. If only."
Whether or not this thought has crossed your mind, you willdevelop a craving for crème brûlée when you come across the welcoming window of the Dessert Truck at 8th Street and University Place in New York's Greenwich Village. Not in the mood for crème brûlée? How about chocolate bread pudding or molten chocolate cake, just two of the six options on the truck's dessert menu? Thanks to the truck's founders, pastry chef Jerome Chang (formerly the pastry sous chef at Le Cirque) and Columbia business school student Chris Chen, your blood sugar will be less at risk for dipping to a suboptimal level.
Two weeks ago three of my friends—Rebecca, Kathy, and John—joined Ed Levine and me on a gorge-fest at the Dessert Truck. You're damn right we ordered all six of the desserts, along with the homemade hot chocolate and the chocolate bark. I don't suggest trying this on your own unless you can wrangle together a group of five or (preferably) more; by the end of our feast we had five overchocolated stomachs and were left with more dessert remnants than I would've predicted. (It psychologically pains me to let desserts go uneaten, but I figured the physical pain of eating them would've been worse.)
Here are our reviews of all the desserts to improve your Dessert Truck experience.
Gianduja Pot de Crème with Hazelnut Brittle
Like pudding on steroids, or a slightly lighter form of ganache, the chocolate hazelnut pot de creme was my favorite dessert of the bunch. Everything tasted balanced; the sweetness, chocolate and hazelnut mixed together perfectly in the smooth, thick, creamy custard and the hazelnut brittle added just the nutty, earthy flavor to this super-rich concoction.
Chris Chen was nice enough to share this recipe with us so you can make it at home. Check out the Dessert Truck's recipe for gianduja pot de crème.
We didn't think the bomboloni were blow-your-mind awesome, but no one could be opposed to cinnamon and sugar-dusted balls of deep-fried brioche filled with vanilla pastry cream (think cream-filled donuts). They were just a little boring. Maybe they would've been better if they had been warmer.
Slow-Baked Apples & Cinnamon
Light, buttery, delicious puff pastry topped with cinnamony caramelized baked apple, topped with tart cranberries and streusel, topped with whipped cream; it's like autumn in a cup. Ed loved this one.
Molten Chocolate Cake
Breaking through the crust of the molten chocolate cake topped with roasted pistachios and sea salt released its center of liquid ganache goo. So much warm, melty, pudding-esque goo, only just contained by its cakey shell like magma trying to burst through the earth's crust, except less violent and life-threatening. The cake is described as having a touch of olive oil, but all I tasted was the chocolate. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Chocolate Bread Pudding
You can order the chocolate bread pudding topped with either vanilla crème anglaise (pictured above) or bacon crème anglaise. The bacon flavor is very subtle. Very subtle. Like, "I can't really taste it," subtle. Ed, however, begged to differ; he thought the bacon added a lovely porky touch to the bread pudding without overwhelming the whole thing. The bread pudding had that comforting combination of warm and gooey, but if you really want warm and gooey you should go for the molten chocolate cake.
Vanilla Crème Brûlée
My second favorite dessert (and Kathy's first favorite) was the vanilla crème brûlée. The freshly burnt sugar crust cracked to reveal the small tub of rich, super smooth vanilla custard. Strangely, all the Madagascan vanilla beans sunk to the bottom. We ended up scraping up every last vanilla bean-laden dreg.
Homemade Hot Chocolate
While the description for the hot chocolate made with Valrhona and Guittard chocolate sounded promising, everyone found it too sweet. Then again, we drank it after stuffing ourselves on all the other desserts; this stomach coating-thick, molten chocolate bar drink could hit the spot if you're in an especially chocolate and sugar-hungry mood or need to induce a chocolate coma. The menu suggests saving the leftovers as pudding for the next day, if that's any indication of how thick this stuff is.
Dark Chocolate Bark
I was so full that I forgot to try the chocolate bark. [hangs head in shame] The dark chocolate bar is made of tamari almonds covered in Guittard chocolate. Ed says that he wished the dessert truck guys would replace the tamari with some sea-salt; "Chocolate and sea salt taste better than chocolate and tamari."
Tour of the Dessert Truck
There isn't much to look at inside the bowels of the dessert-bearing truck—the desserts are made in a separate kitchen—but it's definitely more exciting than an ordinary truck devoid of sugary goodness. Here's a peek behind the truck's counter:
It's a bit of a tight fit. I wouldn't throw a party in here.
What do we have here? Dessert incubators?
The desserts think they're safe. But not for long...
Gotta keep things clean in the washing area.
Many thanks to our sugar coma purveyors, Chris Chen and Craig Lee Thomas!