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