Indulge Your Sweet Tooth in JC
This time of the year, my already overactive sweet tooth becomes insatiable. Maybe it has something to do with the cold – a desire to huddle in front of a warm fire grasping a steaming mug of hot cocoa with fresh whipped cream. Or some natural desire to bulk up and hibernate. Perhaps it’s the holiday season marked by endless cookies, gingerbread houses, peppermint chocolate candies. Or perhaps it’s effective marketing. Regardless, I’m constantly craving sweets and wanted to share some of my favorites. No matter what part of town you’re exploring, I’ve got you covered.
As a resident of Paulus Hook. I am no stranger to Buddy Who’s. They have phenomenal brunch. I’m talking chorizo guac eggs benedict, short rib hash, a killer breakfast burrito. But that’s not why you’re reading this article, is it? You came for the sweets. And they deliver! You can choose to have pancakes infused with your cereal of choice: Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cap’n Crunch, Fruity Pebbles, Trix, the list goes on. Then, they give you a drizzle of icing for the final cherry on top. Definitely an indulgence worth checking out.
If you live in Jersey City, you’ve probably gone to Torico. And I’m not knocking them one bit – their homemade ice cream is fabulous. But as a former Brooklyn resident, I feel the need to share with you Ample Hills Creamery in Paulus Hook. Their flavors are fun and playful, not to mention loaded with deliciousness. Some of my favorites are The Munchies (sweet & salty pretzel-infused ice cream with potato chips and M&M’s) and Snap, Mallow, Pop! (marshmallow ice cream with homemade rice krispies). Each location has a special flavor, and the one in Jersey is The Golden Door (cannoli ice cream with Irish dark chocolate whiskey cake and German streusel crumble).
For someone who can’t decide whether they want a drink or something they can chew on, bubble tea is a perfect happy medium. You have the cold, sweet liquid of your choice but beyond that, popping up sporadically through your extra wide straw are bubbles of tapioca (delicious, sweet black gummy balls) to chew on. Lots of people love the Ube-Mac (purple yam and young coconut, which makes this bright, perfect for Instagram magenta hue), but I personally love the honeydew smoothie flavor.
Cinnamon rolls dripping with icing. Decadent red velvet brownies. Flaky homemade pop tarts. Ricotta stuffed cake donuts drizzled with icing. Are you headed to JBs yet? Hell, I would even “settle” for the cake scraps – a parfait of cake crumbles mixed with a variety of toppings like Oreos, strawberries, and of course, frosting.
Red Ribbon Bakeshop, a bakery that originated in the Philippines in the 70s, has a location in Journal Square worth checking out. Their rich purple Ube Overload Cake and bright Mango Supreme Cakes instantly catch your eye from behind the glass. They also have individually portioned and packaged smaller versions if you aren’t looking to have your whole cake and eat it too.
I wake up every morning grateful that I was not born lactose intolerant. But for those of you avoiding dairy for any reasons, should go to the West Side and check out Crema. They have delicious vegan and dairy free ice cream and milkshakes to try in addition to their grass-fed ice cream. They also have some of the best coffee in Jersey City. Did I hear someone say affogato…?
You didn’t think I would leave out a classic Italian bakery from this list, right? Elio and Anna have been serving the West Side with their delicious breads and more importantly, scrumptious desserts since the 80s. Though they started out just making bread, they have expanded to a wide variety of muffins, pies and assortment of delicious Italian cookies.
Hopefully you’ve heard of this delightful pizza slice restaurant. If you haven’t, I promise you that it’s worth the trip and the minimum twenty minutes you’ll spend circling for a parking spot. I went here for a lowkey date night and was blown away by not only the pizza but the dessert. They don’t have a menu, just a chalkboard of “Not Pizza” items (the pizza you have to order based on the eye candy in front of you). Their poached pears with cinnamon gelato isn’t a permanent item, but if it’s there, make sure you order it! They are also making a special panettone, Italian Christmas Bread, for the season.
Guys. I love cookies. Is Cookie Monster an animal? If so, he’d definitely be my spirit animal. My friend and I explored all five boroughs in 2018, tasting and rating cookies to find the best chocolate chipper in New York City. So trust me when I tell you that the cookies at Bang are…well…banging. I’m personally a fan of the bourbon kitchen sink (which has toffee, pretzels, and obviously bourbon) or the sea salt chocolate chunk for a classic flavor. They’re currently in the Heights but are adding a second location downtown soon.
Not all sweet indulgences need to be loaded with butter! If you want a delicious, healthy and colorful snack, stop in at Sweetberry (on Newark Ave or in Newport Tower) where you can build a super fruit bowl from classic acai or something more unconventional like pitaya, coconut, or a green base. Then you top it off with fruit, granola, maybe a little honey or Nutella. They have premade combinations if creating one on your own seems like too much pressure. Or get all of that goodness blended into a smoothie.
The Kitchen Step is so much more than a great place for avocado toast. Did you know that they have insanely delicious spins on breakfast staples for sweet tooths like us? Enter the Nutella-swirl buttermilk pancake. This is no sad short stack; you get one giant, fluffy cake swirled brown from the Nutella. In case that’s not enough indulgence, there’s a berry compote on the side to add a little pizazz. Not in the mood for pancakes? Fine. Check out the French toast. Which isn’t toast, or even challah bread. No, it’s made from croissants. That’s right, they took notes from the cronut, layers of buttery flakiness topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit.
This list is just a sample size of the vast bakeries, brunch spots, and dessert options around town. On those cold winter nights, rather than binge the Great British Baking Show on Netflix and salivate in jealousy, maybe try this instead: bundle up, hop into your car or on a train, head over to one of these places with your best British accent, and become your own judge. Let’s hope nothing is “over proofed” or has a “soggy bottom!”