- It’s family-friendly, although some kids may be asking their parents what a “chocolate syringe” is. See photo #2 above.
- Although you can eat-in, you’re not paying for a waiter. You order at the counter, then they bring your goodies to you.
- There was a gap in the market for a dessert bar in Bethesda. Sure, there’s Georgetown Cupcake, Tout de Sweet, Fancy Cakes by Leslie, and various froyo options. But none of them offer a proper sit-down experience. No wonder Washingtonians (Bethesdans?) are lining up for $15 crepes and $8 milkshakes.
Archive for the 'MD desserts' Category
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Irish Inn at Glen Echo, which I’ve been meaning to try forever. But when my shepherd’s pie came out in its own tiny copper pot, meticulously prepared and perfectly seasoned, I figured this was more than a few notches above your usual pub fare.
That definitely held true for the banoffee pie. The way this dessert was presented was something you’d expect from a much fancier joint, not a place that serves up bangers and mash. This particular take on the traditional English dessert (a richer version of American banana cream pie) was deconstructed: an oozing pile of bananas, cookie crumble, and toffee generously layered on top of each other.
Without a true base crust to ground it, this banoffee “pie” felt overly rich. Almost like I was shoveling caramel sauce from the jar into my mouth. I would’ve liked more crunch to balance the softer textures. All said, though, we did clean the plate.
Free cupcakes are a dime a dozen in this town. But free French macarons? Not so easy to come by.
So tomorrow, head over to Tout De Sweet in Bethesda (a few doors down from Tastee Diner). For those of you in the Capitol Hill/Eastern Market area, the Sweet Lobby is giving out free macarons all day until 5 PM. Just mention that you’re celebrating Macaron Day to get your tiny treasure.
I didn’t realize this was an actual holiday, but I’m all for it. Parisian pastry chef Pierre Hermé started the tradition 7 years ago. Not only do you get a freebie, but participating businesses donate a portion of their Macaron Day proceeds to charity.
Why it’s a great idea:
1) Every pie you buy will provide a full day’s worth of meals for a kid or adult in DC, MD, or VA with a life-altering illness.
2) You need to buy Thanksgiving desserts anyway, and Whole Paycheck/Safeway/Giant doesn’t need any more of your money.
3) Their pies come from a family-owned bakery. They have no preservatives or any other ingredients you wouldn’t feed a pregnant woman.
JDang bites into the much-hyped-by-me almond croissant from Tout de Sweet (a bakery in the older section of downtown Bethesda, near Tastee Diner). She chews. Her chewing gradually slows as her dopamine levels surge.
“This might be the best thing ever,” she declares reverently.
Me: “It IS the best thing ever. See why I feel like I should kowtow whenever I see that pastry chef? Those hands are magic.”
JDang: “I love Bethesda!”
Me: “What? That’s like saying, ‘I love Northern Virginia.’”
As JDang left DC, I snuck another one into her lunch for the bus ride.
On the phone, a week later:
Me: “So how was that day-old almond croissant?”
JDang: “Sooo good.”
Me: “Even soggy?”
JDang: “Yeah, even soggy.”
Ms. Cake: “Aren’t you glad I forced it on you?”
JDang: “Yeah, I THOUGHT I didn’t want it, because we’d binged on sugar all weekend. But I got on the bus and realized I was wrong.”
There you have it. Quod erat demonstrandum. Tout de Sweet makes the best almond croissant ever. Try it and beg to differ.
Ms. Cake: “Well, I wouldn’t kick Sweet Lobby’s macarons out of bed.”
JDang: “I would! I’d kick them out!”
By way of explanation, JDang had arrived in DC on the HOTTEST G’DAMN DAY OF THE YEAR, yet that didn’t prevent her from schlepping down to Eastern Market to pick up some Sweet Lobby macarons (tagline: “The ultimate advocate for your sweet tooth”) for us to try. The best part is that she didn’t want them to melt, so she went straight back to the house to get them into the fridge ASAP. Now that kind of dedication, I admire.
While Sweet Lobby had some interesting flavors (Earl Grey, orange ginger, lavender), the quality was all over the map. Some were underbaked, resulting in a cookie-dough consistency; others were overbaked and crispy all the way through.* The exception being the passionfruit chocolate, which was awesomely delicious.
*Ideally the cookie part of a macaron should be crispy on the outside, chewy inside.
It’s normal for me to become obsessed with a new dessert find, only to get sick of it a few weeks later. However, I’m not expecting a more long-term fascination with the almond croissant from Tout De Sweet.
The pastry chef at this place is clearly a genius, because I’ve never tasted a croissant like this before. Yes, I recently sang the praises of the pastry selection at Praline, but I daresay that Tout De Sweet has eclipsed that level of deliciousness.
What makes this almond croissant so amazing? Let’s analyze.
- The texture. It’s crunchy on the outside, with tender pastry and gooey filling inside.
- Filling: The all-important almond filling isn’t heavy like marzipan, and lacks the gritty texture you sometimes encounter.
- Fresh-roasted almonds: They taste like something recently pulled from the oven, rather than prepackaged.
- Right amount of powdered sugar: It’s applied with a light hand. You don’t want to be choking on the sugar, or getting it up your nose.
- Mysterious crust: There’s a mysterious caramelized layer on top that adds extra flavor and texture. (Look closely at the photo, between the sliced almonds.)
If you have the slightest hankering for pastries, it’s worth schlepping to Bethesda–even if you’re allergic to yuppies–to try this. An added plus, the chef and his wife who run the shop are exceptionally nice people.