Archive for the 'MD desserts' Category


Pastries from Praline Bethesda, Part 1

Praline is the kind of place you make a habit of visiting, and are glad that more people haven’t discovered yet. This neighborhood bakery sits in a sleepy shopping center off of Sangamore Road. It’s flanked by a Chico’s and Edible Arrangements, if that gives you an idea of the target demographic.

The store is split into a downstairs bakery with an awesome selection of cookies, cakes, and pastries, in addition to savories like quiches and salads-to-go. Upstairs is a seated restaurant offering decent French fare that tends to be overpriced.

So stick with the bakery, and you’ll leave a happy camper. My new weekend routine now involves a pastry run to Praline, which Mr. x-sXe both thanks and curses me for, since there are very few things there that we don’t like.

I didn’t think it was possible to improve on pain au chocolat, but somehow Praline’s pistachio-chocolate croissant has one-upped the French classic. I heated this up in the toaster oven to crisp it up and liquefy the center, but it’s still quite good cold. If you’re looking for something a bit less sweet and decadent, the caramel pear pastry is a nice option—the caramel being more custard-like than sticky-sweet.

We had our pastries with this Café du Monde chicory coffee from an Asian supermarket (apparently it’s used to make Vietnamese coffee).

Make sure to go early or you’ll be disappointed–Praline usually sells out of pastries by early afternoon.

PS: More Praline pastry reviews coming this weekend.

PPS: We reviewed their cookies here and here.


Pie’s rib-stickin’ shoofly pie recipe in the Runcible Spoon

Need a vegan-friendly shoofly pie recipe? Wondering what the heck shoofly pie is? Find out in the beautiful new issue of The Runcible Spoon. Malaka and Claire have put together a bunch of seasonal recipes that’ll keep you warm like that cozy, pilled-up sweater you unearthed from the closet last week.

Click to read it in all its digital format glory.


Another cupcake with an identity crisis: Frosting’s Frenchie

Frosting is a bakery opened by a couple of newlyweds who gave up their 9-5 office jobs to follow their dreams (sound familiar?).  The bakery sits on the edge of the Giant, a 5-minute walk from Friendship Heights Metro. The couple who runs the place was recently interviewed on the local news, so I expected the shop to be buzzing. Not so. There was only one person ahead of me, and the early-morning weekday offerings were a bit scant (they don’t bring out the  full regalia of cupcakes until 10:30).

The dollop of frosting reminds me of Tintin's quiff.

I didn’t plan on getting the Frenchie cupcake, but the lady working the counter said it was one of her favorites. The cake base is definitely French toast-inspired. Seems the latest trend is cupcakes that are trying to be other things, like this pie-inspired cheddar-apple cupcake.

Anyway, the cake part of the Frenchie wasn’t sweet–it tasted a bit like cinnamon toast. This contrasts nicely with the maple buttercream icing (which I could’ve sworn was cream cheese, but either way, it was delicious).

Turns out cupcakes posing as French toast is actually a good thing.


Yogiberry Bethesda

Mr X-sXe and were strolling around downtown Bethesda when we spotted Yogiberry, a self-service yogurt place that’s decorated like a candy store on acid.

I’ve been skeptical about self-serve froyo ever since being underwhelmed by FroZenYo, but we decided to give it a go.

I was taken aback/impressed/baffled by the Asian-ness of the offerings. With flavors like taro root and toppings like rambutan, litchi, and longan (very similar white-fleshed Asian fruits, below), you’d think you were in Singapore or something.

Collectively, we tried the chocolate, original, pistachio, taro root, coconut, and green tea yogurt flavors. Our favorites were the original and green tea, which are worth going back for. Least favorite? The chocolate (too icy) and coconut (too sweet). Problem is the temptation to go overboard at these places. At 49 cents an ounce, our yogurts came out to $6+ apiece (!) And beware if you’re caught tasting or eating before you’ve paid: there’s a $10 on-the-spot fine, though we didn’t see any froyo police milling around.


This banana bread disappeared within 24 hours

Actually, it was more like 12 hours.

We’d picked it up at Whole Foods out of curiosity. I’d read about the guy who started Havana Banana in The Washington Post a while back (he’s based out of Laurel, MD), and had considered ordering it online, but never did.

It’s moist, packed with flavor, and sweet enough. Believe the claims on the website. Mr. X-sXe insists it’s not as good as mine, but I think he may be saying that to stay on my good side.

The day after we purchased it, I was looking forward to having another slice. But Mr. X-sXe, his mom, and her fiance had had their way with it. You know something’s good when it gets inhaled that fast.

You are looking at the pecan praline goodness, not some exotic fungi.


Cookies galore, Praline Bakery Bethesda

We can’t hit the Sleepy Safeway on Sangamore Rd. without visiting Praline. Their lemon drop cookies are the best (at 9 0’clock in photo).

At 3 o’clock is a lemon-glazed gingerbread, which lacked a ginger bite. We were also slightly disappointed with the French macaroons this time. They tasted like they’d been sitting in their glass jars too long. The outer cookie was hard and crumbly, with a skimpy amount of filling. (We tried the cassis and the pistachio.)


The problem with coconut cream pie

One of the desserts that we’ve always wanted to try is the Ritz Seafood coconut cream pie that was featured on Food Network. Mr. X-sXe and I have entertained the thought of driving to NJ for this pie, but in the meantime, we’re still hoping Ritz will offer it by mail-order someday. Read more here:

That’s why when we saw the coconut cream pie on the dessert tray at Fisherman’s Inn (Kent Island, MD) this weekend, we homed in on it.

While the pie was pretty good, we couldn’t help but analyze its deficiencies during the car ride home. The filling was basically just whipped cream and coconut–while it’s a tasty combination, it leaves you wanting for something more solid/substantial, i.e. a bottom layer of custard or pudding. Otherwise you feel like you’re shoveling too much air into your mouth (albeit delicious, creamy air).

Also, the crust could have used more salt to play off the sweetness of the coconut.

Our dining companions tried the brownie and cheesecake. The consensus was that if you have to choose one, go for the skillet brownie and ask for multiple spoons.


Best French macaroons in DC

Washingtonian magazine taste-tested them and here’s their top 4, from the May issue.

1. Adour, $22/dozen, 202-509-8000. At nearly $2/each, isn’t it weird that boutique cupcakes look like a deal in comparison?

2. Michel Patisserie, available at ACKC, 202-387-2626. Washingtonian recommends the chocolate and raspberry flavors. Pie V. Cake recommends the passionfruit (review here: $2 each.

3. Fancy Cakes by Leslie, 301-652-9390. These are $1.85 each and larger than your average quarter-sized macaroon.

4. Restaurant Eve, 703-706-0450. $8 for 6. They do a Guiness macaroon that’s actually supposed to be good.

Call in advance to order these babies from Adour.

If you can’t get a hold of those macaroons, or refuse to pay that kind of money for tiny French cookies, try Trader Joe’s macaroons at $4.99/dozen. Review here:


Salted plum drink from Pho Nam, Rockville

We had a hankering for pho yesterday, and there’s nothing better with a hot, steaming bowl of pho than a Vietnamese drink like this one. Although it looks like some kind of science experiment, don’t be afraid. That’s just a salted dried plum plunked into a sweet/sour/salty drink. Not salty enough to be off-putting, but just salty enough to bring out the sweetness.

As long as you’re not averse to sipping up floaty bits in your drink, you’ll probably dig it.

Pho Nam, (240) 632-9500

15942 Shady Grove Rd

Gaithersburg, MD 20877

Best DC desserts from Washingtonian magazine

Here are the results from their January 2010 issue, based on diners’ report cards.

  • Hazelnut souffle w/ orange granite and orange-ginger sorbet, Adour
  • Deconstructed carrot cake, Tosca
  • Chocolate tart w/ caramelized banana, Corduroy
  • Cider doughnuts, 1789
  • Chocolate-coconut candy bar, Bourbon Steak
  • Chocolate cream w/ hazelnut sherbet and cocoa nibs, Trummer’s on Main
  • Zeppole w/ zabaglione, Assaggi
  • Salted profiteroles, Vermilion
  • Warm chocolate cake, J&G Steakhouse
  • Trio of creme brulees, Charlie Palmer Steak
  • Crepe souffle, BLT Steak
  • Lemon chess pie, Vidalia*
  • Blueberry crumble, Source
  • Key lime pie, Ray’s the Classics*
  • Vanilla ice cream, 2 Amys
  • Apple Tarte Tatin, Restaurant Eve
  • Lingonberry linzer torte, Hook
  • Napoleon, Citronelle

Lingonberry linzer torte, Hook

*Pitifully, these are the only ones from the list that I’ve tried. I didn’t enjoy the lemon chess pie at Vidalia. My friends and I split it–we all had a bite and were like, meh. But the key lime pie at Ray’s is darn good. It’s got a homemade graham crust that stays crispy. I intended to save half of my slice for Mr X-sXe, but then thought better of it and gobbled the whole thing.