Nothing makes my day more than when I discover a new, great bakery, especially when it’s close to home. So was the case when I had a little bit of cheesecake heaven from Sweet Melissa Patisserie in Park Slope, Brooklyn. And better yet – the bakery also has its own cookbook – The Sweet Melissa Baking Book.
The funny thing about Sweet Melissa is that I have passed it a thousand times in the past couple of years. I have also gone inside a bunch of times but have not been inspired to get anything. Nothing ever jumped out of the case and said “buy me, buy me.” I think it may have been because I wasn’t immediately hit over the head row of cute cupcakes with colorful frosting as with most popular NYC bakeries. And then late last year while looking through cookbooks at Barnes and Noble I stumbled upon The Sweet Melissa Baking Book. The book is loaded with recipes but only a few pictures. And while I normally buy books based on the number and quality of pictures I couldn’t help but want to support a local Brooklyn baker – so I bought it. It also had so many recipes that I thought it was a great bang for my buck.
While running weekend errands, I walked into Sweet Melissa one Sunday afternoon determined to walk out of there with something. My options were for a more mature pallet – tarts, souffles, flavored cheesecakes and bread puddings. I chose a Mini Lemon Cheesecake. I took it home and my boyfriend and inhaled it. It was light and extremely creamy with just a hint of lemon in the background. The crust was like nothing I previously had and I later found out it was made out of cornmeal. My only regret after eating it was that I had not bought another! On a second trip I bought a piece of Sweet Almond Bread Pudding and that was equally as tasty. The pudding was moist (after warming it in the oven for a few minutes) without being mushy and the sliced almonds on top gave it great texture. I went back a third time and got their most popular dessert – Fallen Chocolate Souffle Cake. This cake is a chocolate lover’s dream come true. I’m not a chocolate lover, so this was my least favorite . But if you are – either hurry to the bakery and get yourself some or buy the book and make it at home. (Sorry that I don’t have pictures of any of these but I could barely wait to eat them once I brought them home).
In addition to baked confections, Sweet Melissa also has a menu serving light fare and what I’ve heard to be wonderful drinks. But one gripe that a lot of people have is that Sweet Melissa’s prices are a bit high. To those people all I have to say is that quality costs. Yes – my small piece of bread pudding was a bit overpriced at $6.50 but it was totally worth it (and I’ll leave it at that). I also always take out as seating and space inside is a bit limited. In warmer weather there is additional seating as there is a garden in the back.
You won’t find rows and rows of cupcakes at Sweet Melissa. But no matter what your favorite dessert is, I’m sure you WILL find an interesting and tasty version of it here.
My Chica Rating – 4 Estrellas (Stars)
Those of you who don’t live in New York or don’t want to venture out the Brooklyn can still get a taste of Sweet Melissa by trying some of the recipes in this great book . If you are a new baker, you will find the instructions very easy to follow. If you are more of a veteran, you’ll find nice twists to classics. No matter what you prefer, there is something in this book for everyone – cakes, brownies, cookies, puddings, tarts and much much more. The only downside of the book is that there are only eight photographs but don’t let that deter you. With such simply written recipes you won’t need a picture to guide you. I made the Sweet Almond Bread Pudding and it came out so incredible that it deserves it’s own post (coming soon) and tasted just like that I got at the bakery.
Although this book is a bit smaller than the average glossy cookbook I appreciated that it got right to the point. It would have been nice to have more pictures but I love that there’s no fluff here – just good solid recipes (and lots of them) great for all skill levels. Whether you want to try something classic like a black bottom brownie or one of Murphy’s interesting creations like Guinness (yes, the beer) Gingerbread, this book has something for everyone.