Editor's note: In "Fast Food International," Krista Garcia will take us around New York to the many international fast food chains that have landed in the five boroughs. She blogs at goodiesfirst.com.
Country of origin: Portugal
Locations worldwide: Lisbon, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Recife, Madrid
NYC locations: One in Nolita
Naming your business The Best Chocolate Cake in the World—or rather, O Melhor Bolo de Chocolate do Mundo, in its native tongue—is an open invitation for scrutiny. Can this Portuguese import that just opened in Nolita win the stomachs of cupcake-loving New Yorkers?
For one, chocolate cake is subjective; everyone has their own idea of what the chocolate cake of their dreams looks like. Me, I imagine deep brown devil's food, moist, springy and slathered with chocolate frosting—a classic cavity-inducing American layer cake.
When I learned that The Best Chocolate Cake in the World is flourless, the 1987 creation of chef Carlos Braz Lopes in Lisbon, I then pictured a dense, fudgy slab—the kind that always seems to come garnished with raspberries.
But The Best Chocolate Cake in the World, relying on Valrhona chocolate and available in two varieties—traditional, using 55% cocoa, and bittersweet, containing 70% cocoa—are neither springy nor fudgy. This confection is a totally different creature.
While the shiny ganache coating is rich, the crumbly chocolate meringue layers, interspersed with fluffy chocolate mousse, are very light. The texture is similar to a macaron and will likely be eaten just as fast as the small cookie. The flavor of the two styles of cake is similar, despite the 15% difference in cocoa; both are fairly sweet but not overpowering. One slice ($6.50) is satisfying, not cloying.
A glass of Port would be the ideal accompaniment. Instead, café patrons will have to settle for a glass of milk, or iced or hot chocolate made with more Valrhona or Counter Culture coffee.
Whether or not this is truly The Best Chocolate Cake in the World? Up for debate—it's all a matter of taste.