As I looked at the tantalizing desserts and stood amidst the urban wild, cabin decor of Baked bakery, I began to think that the long trip to Red Hook, Brooklyn would become the first of many. It was extremely difficult to narrow down the menu, especially after reading reviews here and flipping through their delicious cookbook. Finally my friend and I decided to order two cupcakes, a whoopie pie, two brownies, and apricot rosemary bar to go. Yes, it was kind of a beastly thing for two girls to do, but in our defense, we did not finish everything, it took us an hour and three transfers to get there, and we spent a fair amount of time working our way through. Excuses, excuses, I know.
We started off with the sweet and salty cupcake. It was definitely a winner for me. The chocolate cake had a upper crust like a brownie and the inner workings of a molten chocolate cake. Inside was a soft, almost melted chocolate filling that worked well with the mouse-like, airy frosting. Despite the layers of chocolate, it was a very delicate cupcake that gave a hint of salty caramel. In contrast to my opinion, my friend found the cupcake boring and cliche. I agree with the cliche, but the speckles of salt really saved it from being boring for me.
We were both disappointed by the red velvet cupcake. It was like a muffin, thick and dense. The frosting was too sweet and overall the cupcake just didn’t work for us. I couldn’t really detect any hints of cinnamon, except the one that came from the cute red hot accent on top. The taste was not memorable but the texture was, unfortunately. There were a number of conflicting reviews, one said that that their red velvet was too dry and another said that it was too moist. I guess our cupcake fell on a moist day.
The strawberry whoopie pie also fell a little flat for me. It tasted artificial, like this Korean snack food. I might just have to resign to the fact that I don’t like whoopie pies. I’ve never found one that I liked. The whole dessert is just bland in texture. The soft, moist, cakey bread and the soft, moist, creamy filling just doesn’t provide enough contrast for me. Baked’s whoopie pie may be the best in the city, I’m just not the person you should ask.
The brownies were quite nice. The sweet and salty one had the texture of a really rich, creamy brownie but was surprisingly not overly sweet. In general, all the goods at Baked were not, which I find very applaudable. I actually prefer that. Somehow the saltiness in the brownie did not shine as much as in the cupcake. Is it possible for salt to lose it’s saltiness through high heat? If so, this is the case here. The baked brownie was quite the opposite in texture. It was crunchy, crumbly, and nutty throughout. There were hints of coconut and sweet caramelized sugar in each bite. It was much more intense and substantial than the sweet and salty brownie. If brownies ever became a breakfast food, this one should be it.
Sadly, I don’t have a picture of the apricot rosemary bar. I brought it home for my sister who likes fruity, jam filled desserts. It looked and felt like a crumb bar. It had a shortbread bottom, a sweet and sticky filling, and then a nice crumbly top. All the elements were there along with a slight, bitter but pleasant hint of rosemary.
Overall, my friend and I were unfazed by Baked. “New frontiers in baking” is their catchphrase but somehow their sweets didn’t push the envelope enough. It just wasn’t as memorable as I thought it would be and what everyone made it to be. It may have been all the hype, the fancy cookbook, and trendy Urban Outfitters look, but in any case we we didn’t think it was that unique. If it were closer to the city I would definitely want to try a handful of other desserts like the pistachio surprise cake or the grasshopper brownie bar, but I’m not sure if I’ll be heading to Red Hook any time soon. Maybe the next time I go to Ikea, I’ll make the effort to drop by again.