There’s no doubt about it — birthdays look a little better, corner-bending lines are more forgivable, and lengthy weddings are worthy of a “’til last call” attendance because of that beloved baked good: cake. There’s endless room for innovation with this sweet staple: It can be a single sheet or five layers, shaped into cups or balls, and served on plates or sticks. And while there is an abundance of classic oven options to choose from, chefs across the city are still finding ways to boost their batter game with their own plays on last course layers. In honor of National Cake Day, we present five sweet slices in New York.
Birthday Cake Sundae, Cookshop, 156 Tenth Avenue You need no reason to blow out candles at Cookshop, where the birthday cake sundae is pastry chef Amanda Cook’s answer to the best of both birthday dessert worlds. The happy hybrid fills a sundae glass to the brim with cake batter ice cream, chunks of chocolate shelling, mini meringue kisses and confetti cake cubes — the entire thing is topped, of course, with a candle.
Chocolate Cake “Manhattan,” Sorella, 95 Allen Street Northern Italy may have shaped the savory side of the menu at Sorella, but local inspiration is revealed in dessert form with the chocolate cake “Manhattan.” When paired with cherry vermouth sorbet, a decadent slice of rich chocolate cake with whiskey nougat and cherry jam showcases pastry chef Michelle Catarata’s thoughtfully balanced approach while giving a whole new meaning to the after-dinner cocktail. [
Carrot Cake Madeleines, Arlington Club, 1032 Lexington Avenue The madeleine gets a modern day makeover at Upper East Side’s Arlington Club, where chef Laurent Tourondel makes the shell-shaped sweets out of carrot cake instead of traditional, whole-egg genoise. For added complexity, he brushes the still-warm madeleines with a dark rum-laced butterscotch sauce before a dusting of powdered sugar and orange zest, then serves them alongside extra butterscotch sauce for dipping purposes.
Pumpkin “Pie” Cake, Ilili, 236 Fifth Avenue Pumpkin pie is taken up a notch — and an inch or two — at Flatiron’s Ilili, where pastry chef Matthew O’Haver fills a spongy pumpkin “pie” cake with rich chocolate ganache. The pumpkin-packed serving is mirrored on the plate by a scoop of cinnamon labne ice cream, which sits atop a party of autumnal components: apple chutney, candied pepitas, cider caramel, and spiced marzipan.
“Tofu” Cheesecake, Morimoto, 88 Tenth Avenue Tofu has never tasted better than at Morimoto NYC, where Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto integrates American and Japanese influences in desserts like the “tofu” cheesecake, a visually-beguiling riff on bean curd that he makes with fresh soy milk and cream cheese. Playful plating continues with a soy sauce-mimicry of coffee-infused maple syrup, which sits alongside scoops of green tea and maple ice cream, red bean foam, house-made mochi, and fresh berries.