Editor's note: I don't know how things work at your office, but in the late afternoon, our collective sweet tooth starts acting up at Serious Eats HQ. Enter Sugar Rush. Every afternoon, we'll point you to some sweet something—so you can rush out and get your fix. Today, you'll have to make do satisfying your virtual sweet tooth, as Brooklyn Flea is open only on Sundays. Until the weekend, you can use this post as a guide to your Brooklyn Flea visit. —Zach
Perhaps the only thing in the world that delights me more than a bakery, is, many bakeries clustered together. Enter the Brooklyn Flea Market, a weekly Sunday event featuring dozens of local vendors with plenty to offer: bikes, jewelry, vintage clothing, antiques—anything you could imagine. The vendor list sounded fascinating, but the only thing that caught my attention was a category most properly titled, "Tasty Treats." Edible treats? At the Flea Market? With a list of three particular bakeries in mind, I made it top priority to visit the Market the following Sunday.
At Salvatore Brooklyn Ricotta they were selling fresh ricotta by the pound, the luxuriously thick and creamy cheese a tempting siren. As to not to be lured by the possibility of consuming pounds of ricotta for lunch, I dived straight for the filled-to-order cannoli ($3/piece). I wasn't sure what to expect, though honestly did not anticipate biting into doubtlessly the most delicious cannoli my tongue has ever welcomed. A perfect three bites in length, the crispy powdered sugar dusted shell shattered into a expertly piped mass of ricotta tangled with sharps hints of lemon, marsala and little chocolate bits. The first bite left me in awe, the second clamoring for more, and the third and final, in utter bliss. Nothing wrong, and everything right, so very right, be it the visual contrast between the yellow zest and chocolate speckled ricotta tucked in golden brown fried pastry, or the sweet flavor combustion rewarded by silky light mouthfuls alongside the sharp crackling shell.
One stand over at Whimsy & Spice we tasted an espresso brownie with dulce de leche, a decidedly fudgy creation with a crackly sweet surface. It was luscious indeed—deep and dark, espresso coming through strong with pockets of golden dulce de leche melted into every bite.
The rose water & black pepper thumbprints come in sets of eight bite-sized cookies. The delicate shortbread texture left an odd powdery aftertaste, perhaps the victim of excess cornstarch, while the black pepper element remained undetectable. A fragrant spot of brightly colored rose water jam was a welcome twist on the classic treat, and the only saving grace of the cookies.
More memorable were chocolate chili cashew biscotti, a mini ten-pack of the extra crunchy breed, cashew studded with a double dose of chocolate in the form of cocoa powder and dark chocolate chips. Ground guajillo peppers account for the spice factor that dashes in as a mild tail, a soft hinted memory. Note that aside from brownies, the sweets (including various shortbread cookies and marshmallows in caramel and chocolate) are sold in prepackaged sets—perfect if intended as a gift, not so perfect if you wanted just one of each or a few to taste.
Kumquat Cupcakery makes life simple, offering one product—mini cupcakes—in three flavors that change with each week. At dollar a piece for a single bite, there's no reason to not try them all.
The red velvet with a light cream cheese frosting was the best of the set, a moist cocoa creation dyed bold red. A single bite moist throughout with a fine cupcake to frosting balance. The black & white featured a chocolatey bite with both chocolate and vanilla frosting. Apricot & poppy seed was the most innovative, though unfortunately also the least enjoyed. The dry poppy seed and apricot studded vanilla cake with orange zested cream cheese frosting featured an odd combo with overkill of flavors, leaving one in a mass of sweet confusion. Kumquat Cupcakery makes decent cupcakes, if not pedestrian. They're worth enjoying on a weekend stroll at the market, but not a special visit. Salvatore Brooklyn's Cannoli though, is a completely different (and very delicious) story...
Other sweets vendors at the Market include Brown Bag Industries and Nunu Chocolates with an assortment of ganache in notable flavors such as jasmine, earl grey, and brandy. Keep your eye out on this market—with sunny months approaching and already an impressive share of pastries (for a flea market nonetheless!), Brooklyn Flea is bound to become a sweet tooth destination.
Brooklyn Flea Market
176 Lafayette Ave, Brooklyn 11238 (map) Open Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.