The Monday Dessert Files: Abraço

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One of my favorite spots for baked goods in this city is not a bakery, but a little coffee shop on East 7th Street. I say "little" as if it were some sort of underground, undiscovered secret—but Abraço couldn't be any farther from that. I worship at the altar of Jamie McCormick's coffee; but the baked goods by Elizabeth Quijada have magic all their own.

Let's start with the Olive Oil Cake ($3) pictured above, my first love. Dense, immensely moist and verging on the savory.

More sweet-and-savory goodies, after the jump.

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The Cured Olive Cookie takes things a step further, embedding salty cured olives within the buttery, flaky confines of each long cookie. Serious Eater Tam can confirm the addictiveness of this semi-sweet cookie. A perfect pairing with their individually dripped coffee.

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Bread puddings are baked in loaf pans, and each one is more akin to a supremely moist slice of sweet bread than it is a tender, bread-soaked custard.

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Meringue cookies in rosewater and pistachio are swell, but I favor the golden salt-tinged shortbread cookies—crisp and crumbly, light and buttery. They come in pairs, bonded by sweet smothers of lemon curd.

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After the olive oil cake, Abraço's blue Carrot Cake is the best sweet in the shop. If you're lucky enough to pass by on a day it's available, don't leave without a piece. I came early one morning, just after the coffee shop's 8:00 am opening, and my lightly iced slice was still warm, with a crisp brown crust, and a moist, almost creamy interior with an even crumb. The only thing missing was walnuts, but even without, this loaf is a stunner.

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Pain Perdu sandwiches are scented with rosewater and filled with barely sweetened fresh ricotta. It's a plush handheld number, floral and delicate.

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Elizabeth;s way of finding just the right balance between fragrant and overpowering floral flavors, as evidenced by the pain perdu, carries over to her Lemon-Lavender cake. The loaf, bearing the same moist texture and dense, pound cake-like crumb of the olive oil loaf is a kissed with a sweet lemon glaze.

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I came in once on a Tuesday and spotted the Peach Cake, a comforting butter cake base topped with fresh peaches. A month ago that same cake came topped with fresh raspberries. And then I returned on Saturday and couldn't find the Peach Cake—but instead spotted slices of Peach Brioche! Part of the fun is in never knowing if it might be the last day a particular sweet will be featured.

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And if you've overdosed on sweets, there's an array of daily changing savory dishes. Fritattas are available from 8:00 am, and the small savory plates, including sandwiches, soups, and vegetables are featured from 12:00 pm on. Sandwiches use Sullivan Street Bakery bread, with plans in the works for making their own. But until then, I'm not complaining; I've never had a sandwich I wasn't head over heels for. Pictured above is braised leek and pureed cranberry bean number with a good streak of olive oil. Simple and full of flavor.

Abraço

86 East 7th Street, New York, NY 10003 (map)
212-388-9731
www.abraconyc.com

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