The Canelé scene is looking pretty good in this city, and we've got yet another to add to our growing list: Dominique Ansel Bakery. The exterior is so dark it almost looks burnt. But no, it is just beautifully caramelized, sweet and deep with a light crunch. Inside, a complete contrast—custard-like and remarkably moist with the scent of vanilla. At $3 apiece, it's one of the pricier canelés in this city (most hover in the $2-$2.50 range), but it's also one of the largest. Look for these under a glass dome next to the register.
But don't stop there. There's much more you have to devour at this new Soho bakery from the ex-pastry chef of Daniel. Paris-New York is Dominique Ansel's revision of the classic Paris Brest. Little frosted peanuts dance along droplets of peanut-caramel cream over the choux pastry shell. In place of whipped cream, the traditional filling, here you'll find smooth dark chocolate cream with a center ring of that same peanut-caramel concoction.
Then there's The Bunny, a tidy carrot cake with vanilla bean cream cheese frosting. The frosting is piped in precise, thin lines, with speckles of vanilla beans. White chocolate for the bunny ears and a little pink cream cheese nose and tail. But the best park is the cake itself, moist with roughly grated carrots and mighty walnut chunks and sweet raisins. You'll catch a quick pass of ginger and nutmeg. I can only imagine how fragrant this would be warm from the oven.
DKA stands for "Dominique's Kouign Amman." Think of a croissant, caramelized, a little more sugar and a lot more butter. Golden and crisp on the outside, layers upon layer of flaky dough on this inside. This commands a hot cup of coffee on the side. It will be hard to return to anything less indulgent for breakfast after this.
And what is a French bakery without an Apple Tarte Tatin? His is classic and proper. Perhaps not a standout at this bakery, but certainly reliable with sweet apples piled high and pressed into a perfect circle.
One of the signature offerings here is Dominique's Gâteau Battu. Elegant and tall with golden fluted edges, this cake originates from Picardy. An entire cake is perfect for brunch parties, but if it's just yourself, a slice (pictured) will suffice. Take it home, toast and slather on the butter; jam if you want something more. To eat this brioche-like cake hot is heaven. The butter melts into every tiny, tiny pocket, the moist cake is loaded with egg yolks in the batter, and the crust is browned just right. Really, what more could you ask for?
Dominique Ansel Bakery
189 Spring Street, New York, NY 10012 (map)
About the author: Originally from Honolulu, Kathy YL Chan writes A Passion For Food, where she chronicles her eats and travels adventures between Hawai'i, New York and beyond. She firmly believes that there is always room for dessert.