Black Hound New York
Pastry cream blended with whipped cream, fresh strawberries, and three layers of chocolate cake. Meet the Daisy Cake ($7.50) from Blackhound Bakery. The size suggests a rich celebration for one, with lavish use of Blackhound's excellent buttercream—positively decadent and smooth through and through. The cake itself can run on the dry side, but cream, in no less than three forms, plays the starring role.
Little Oven is best known for macarons, but it was the Cherry Blossom Gateau ($4.25) that stole my heart. A picture-perfect creation for one, the trio of soft hues representing pistachio, cherries, and a white chocolate mousse layered between the thinnest slices of sponge cake. At the top is cherry blossom liquer gelée with a single Japanese cherry blossom captured in the center. This Gateau tastes as it looks, the flavors delicate and soft. What a way to bring us out of the gloomy winter months.
At Cafe Kristall, the Topfentorte features a round of quark cheesecake mousse—remarkably creamy and light as air, almost bordering on savory. Slice down the middle to reveal a filling of tiny diced sweet poached pears. The quark takes center stage. At the base, moist vanilla biscuit, and then a sheet of white chocolate to bring the mousse full circle.
Little cakes at Patisserie Claude are perfect for one, a satisfyingly simple finish to a meal Lately, I've been favoring the Hazelnut Cake ($3.75) over the others. Here, thin disks of moist, meringue-like hazelnut cake are layered with buttery hazelnut cream, and then enrobed in crushed hazelnuts. Intense? No, it just looks the part. The cake is really a gentle one, best served cool, with a cup of hot coffee on the side.
François Chocolate Bar
At Butterfield Market, one of few pastry creations offered by François Chocolate Bar with no dark or milk chocolate is the Tout Vanilla ($6), pure white from top to bottom. The base is a buttery, crumbly sable breton, tucked under vanilla mascarpone cream and an extra moist bit of bourbon-vanilla pound cake. Then there's the Tahitian vanilla bavarois, simultaneously airy and creamy, equal parts art and food.
Butterfield Market: 1114 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10075 (map); 212-288-7800