Category Archives: Dessert

Dallas Affaires: Cakes to grow up, celebrate with

Dallas Affaires Cake Company

Wedding cakes are a specialty of Dallas Affaires; they look great, but they taste even better. (Photo by John Cain Photography)

When the smell of frosting fills a room, you know it’s fresh. And when that creamy, sweet frosting protects a delicate moist cake, you know you don’t want to share your piece.

This is how I felt as a toddler trying out the baked goods of Dallas Affaires Cake Company. Of course, at the time this Lakewood business was functioning out of one of the owner’s homes. Today, it stands on Abrams Road still serving and delivering my favorite cakes in this city.

So when it came to picking a bakery for my recent wedding, there was really no discussion on where we would go. But, my then-fiance, my parents and I went for a tasting anyway.

When I was a child, I remember going to tastings and having owner Sibby Barrett serve me entire pieces of cakes (and my mom claims I ate each one all by myself as a small – surely gluttonous – child).

Our consultation for the cakes consisted of matching up different flavors of frosting with the standard cake flavors.

Our consultation for the cakes consisted of matching up different flavors of frosting with the standard cake flavors.

For this tasting, wedding cake consultant  Margaret Gragg gave each of us two slices of cake, one chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and one white cake with vanilla frosting. Cups of various frosting flavors took over the center of the table. The best,  creative ones were the champagne frosting for a simple, sophisticated flavor, and the orange-cream, which lent a sweet creamsicle-like taste – the latter was a final option in our auditions. But I couldn’t resist the birthday cake of my childhood – that sweet, with a subtle hint of saltiness – the Italian cream frosting.

I have never in my life had better tasting frosting than that center filling that graces the layers of this cake. I’m not the kind of person who prefers to swipe the frosting off of a cupcake and eat the sweet topping by itself, but I could easily do it with this Italian cream frosting.

Despite all of my adoration for this perfect frosting, at the wedding, I actually ended up eating more of the groom’s cake, which was a standard chocolate cake – it boasts a richer, darker flavor – with chocolate frosting on the outside and a chocolate-amaretto frosting on the inside. Yes, chocolate-amaretto: now you can understand why I ate so much of it. It’s an almond-sweetness, but balanced out with the decadence around it in the cake.

And, of course, the team at Dallas Affaires makes pretty good looking cakes.

The bride's Italian cream cake (left) and the groom's chocolate-amaretto cake were an attraction for their smell and looks that night. (Photo by John Cain Photography)

The bride’s Italian cream cake (left) and the groom’s chocolate-amaretto cake were an attraction for their smell and looks that night. (Photo by John Cain Photography)

I was lucky enough to have these cakes at every birthday – Italian cream for me and my mom, and chocolate with chocolate-covered strawberries for my brother and dad – and it was even more exciting to have that cake for my wedding. Now, I need an excuse other than a life step to get my fork in a slice of that dessert.

The groom's cake was a rich chocolate-amaretto. (Photo by John Cain Photography_

The groom’s cake was a rich chocolate-amaretto. (Photo by John Cain Photography)

Dallas Affaires Cake Company
Location: 2307 Abrams Road in Dallas, 75214
Contact: 214-826-9409, info@dallasaffairescakeco.com
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday
Service: If you’re just going in to grab a cake ball, they’re friendly enough to get you in and out with a sweet treat. If you’re meeting for a wedding cake tasting – you’ll have fun, and they’ll make sure of it.
Ambiance: It’s a bakery – it’s cool, well lit and smells like frosting.
Payment information: All major credit cards accepted

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Village Baking Co: Aromas that rekindle childhood

Some of my earliest, fondest memories are of passing over U.S. Highway 75 on Mockingbird Lane in Dallas. The reason wasn’t the not-yet-existent Mockingbird Station or the La Madeleine that’s still there. It’s something much simpler.

The smell of baking bread is something that goes through your nose and fills your body with comfort – and it’s something you don’t want to let go.

Village Baking Co. is on University Boulevard in between Central Expressway and Greenville Avenue, releasing the sweet smells of baking daily. (Credit: Facebook)

Village Baking Co. is on University Boulevard in between Central Expressway and Greenville Avenue, releasing the sweet smells of baking daily. (Credit: Facebook)

Of course, the Mrs. Baird’s bakery that was once on that southwest corner is long gone. But what still gives me that warm feeling on an afternoon drive is a local bakery that opened up on my route home not too long ago.

Village Baking Co. is, unfortunately, no real local secret. It isn’t terribly packed, but it surely is getting attention with the growing number of farmers markets its products are getting into. Step in the University Boulevard shop on a Saturday morning and you’re greeted with a smile from someone behind an island topped with baked goods, but you’ll be waiting a bit to order your sweet breakfast.

Village Baking Co. scones

The size, taste and soft density of the scones at Village Baking Co. make for a hearty breakfast (or afternoon snack). Photo by Taylor Adams

For that meal, the scone is a safe bet. Any flavor available that day is lively enough to keep you full for the morning. The cranberry scone has a subtle flavor that comes out in every bite of the bread that has a crunchy exterior and soft, dense inside. It’s delightful, warm, and sweetly satisfying.

Another expected option on this wooden table of baked assortments are croissants: plain, au chocolat, and ham and cheese. In my visits there, the ham and gruyere croissant was the most popular order by most people around me. I always go for the pain au chocolate. This one is fine, but doesn’t strike me as terribly fresh, even as it takes me to a sidewalk cafe in France or to any other scenario that evokes French delicacies.

Village Baking Co. croissants

The array of croissants will give you plenty of options. The chocolate is fine, but the plain will give you a bit more satisfaction. Photo by Taylor Adams

There’s a crisp exterior; the inside is soft and delicate, but it’s a bit dry, as is the tiny bar of chocolate that runs throughout it. I’ll go for a ham and cheese next time, but the plain croissant does come out in a manner that seems fresh – just as you would expect from the aroma that fills this space. It’s smooth on the inside, subtly sweet, and one just won’t be enough.

But it’s not all sweetness in this tiny bakery. Its breads are worth the carbohydrates, too. The white sandwich rolls couldn’t be softer: they’re simple, but the freshest you’re going to get around here.

I’ll surely try a baguette on my next visit. Sitting in a wicker basket nestled in the east-facing window, they look like perfection, and they sound like they must be fresh. On a recent visit, a customer asked for one of the tall baguettes – the woman behind the large island reached up for one – “Oh! Still hot!”

Really? I need to get myself one of those.

Village Baking Co.Village Baking Co.
Location: 5531 E. University Blvd. in Dallas, 75206
Contact: 214-265-1170, villagebakingco.comFacebook, Twitter and Instagram
Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily
Service: friendly and fast
Ambiance: naturally-lit and spacious inside, picnic tables full of breakfast-eaters outside
Payment information: major credit cards accepted

Want to catch them at a farmers market? It shouldn’t be too hard. This Saturday, you can find them at those for Coppell, McKinney, White Rock, Collin County, Saint Michaels, Rockwall, Frisco, Little Elm and Keller.

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Filed under American, Breakfast, Dessert

Great One comes close to fulfilling its cookie promise

Great One Cookie Company has its name for a reason: If you’re having an amazing, gooey cookie that’s simply great, just one is enough. And just as the website says, “Life is too short to eat an average cookie.”

For the most part, the store lives up to the name and motto.

Carefully packaged treats from Great One Cookie Company. (Photos by TAYLOR ADAMS)

Located next to the small wine shop on Monticello Avenue, this miniature bakery offers customers a slightly small, but worthy array of fresh baked cookies. The woman behind it all, Pam Denesuk, can be found in the kitchen behind a mixer.

That may be where she stays as another employee walks up to take your order. This isn’t the best place to take a friend for a sweet treat to catch up some afternoon. The lack of music coupled with a feeling of awkwardness makes you want to get out of there with your box or bag of cookies as quickly as possible. Luckily, you will be pretty satisfied once you bite into a cookie.

While they’ve been posting on Facebook that Great One Cookie would have cookies with candy bars, such as Kit Kats, in their cookies, none were on the four cake stands where they were displayed last week. Don’t worry, you can order those candy-bar cookies if you’re really craving them. They did, however, have more than enough to calm down your sweet tooth.
The standard chocolate chip cookie has the perfect combination of dark and milk chocolate, as every chocolate chip cookie should (but many fail and choose to go one or the other). What you can tell about this cookie, and every other one here, is that it has a homemade quality to it. Everything is simple and clear tasting. It was a bit battery, as were most of the other cookies–but that may be her personal taste. Who doesn’t like a little cookie batter?

This would be the absolute perfect cookie if it were warm (which none of them were after they were placed into a white paper bag).

The oatmeal-raisin cookie (from left, clockwise) chocolate chip cookie, chocolate-pecan cookie and the white chocolate-cranberry cookie.

There’s a white chocolate cranberry cookiewith a perfectly-almost-too-much-sugar sweetness that is also a bit undercooked. The white chocolate doesn’t stay in chips when this cookie is cooked. Even when the cookie is room temperature, the chocolate isn’t a variation of crispy texture, but a gooey sweetness intermixed in the batter.  The macadamia nuts, however, give it a crunch that takes this to another level, and it’s worth ordering over the chocolate chip. It is a bit salty, though.

The oatmeal-raisin cookie was the one that was cooked through. With its mound shape, it looked more like a decadent dog treat rather than a cookie. It was also inconsistent–as though it were mixed with a wooden spoon instead of a Kitchen Aid mixer–pockets of sugar or flour surprise you.

The next cookie is one that caught me off-guard as my favorite, but it makes sense that salty and sweet could come together in one dessert of a cookie. The chocolate-pecan cookie is a chocolate chip cookie that isn’t over salted, but perfectly complemented with a salty pecan. It’s cooked thoroughly, and dark chocolate is melted through.

This little cookie shop is in an odd spot, but one that dishes out enough sweetness to have you look for it.

A dessert-filled bag from Great One Cookie Company.

Great One Cookie Company

Hours: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday
Price: $
Ambiance: This is really a place where you pick up your order and go, not sit and absorb the ambiance.
Payment information: Major credit cards accepted
Alcohol: None served

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Sweet, green ending further improves meal at Asian Mint

There aren’t a ton of places to get fabulous Chinese food in town. If you go north of Dallas, your chances increase. But in the city limits, there are places that serve decent dishes–one of them being Asian Mint.
The food here is fine. The menu has the popular Asian-fusion approach. My one visit there had me ordering the Mongolian beef stir-fry, which was well-seasoned and made for a desirable bite when mixed with rice. The overall meal was savory, but the cheap-tasting meat kept it from being near perfect. But for a meal that came out in less than 10 minutes, it definitely has me wanting to return.
What inspired this blog post wasn’t the one acceptable meal I had, but the part that followed.

The green tea ice cream cake at Asian Mint simply tastes better than it looks. (Photo by TAYLOR ADAMS)

The green tea ice cream cake doesn’t sound as appetizing as it really is. In fact, when the green block is placed on the table, your hesitation might continue. Starting at the top of the tower, your fork goes through a tangy whipped cream, followed by a layer of dense cake, green tea ice cream and more cake. Bite after you bite, you start to like it. The whipped cream and ice cream are cool and refreshing, lightening the dense sponge cake that seems to have been soaked in tea.
One out of the four at our table tried his best to down it and failed. The rest of us started to dig in after getting used to it in three bites. The dessert is simply something different, something that is much needed in breaking up the cycle of frozen yogurt places we all can get into.
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Price: $$
Ambiance: Modern, white, clean decor–the evening can get packed and noisy
Attire: Casual
Payment information: Major credit cards accepted
Alcohol: Full bar

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Filed under Asian, Dessert

A big slice of sweetness found at Cretia’s

When’s the last time you had a big slice of cake? That slice that when it’s cut, you say, “Oh, wait, no, that’s way too big,” but you take the plate bearing the heavy piece anyway.

A slice of the white cake at Cretia’s. (Photo by TAYLOR ADAMS)

You can get a delicate, or decadent, cupcake in many places in Dallas, but to get a good slice of a homemade cake, you have to go to Oak Cliff to Cretia’s. You can easily make a good day of it: Lockhart Smokehouse is on the same block as the local bakery.

The blackberry pie at Cretia’s. (Photo by TAYLOR ADAMS)

The glass cases still have plenty for the cupcake fans, but they welcome more baked good lovers with pies and cakes. Before the store moved across Bishop Street to its current location, I tried out a slice of blackberry pie. A moist and flakeless crust surrounded a dense slice, stiff with blackberry preserves and jelly. The tart, seedy bites proved to be a perfect dessert to a summer night. But the slices of cake were calling, too.

The frosting of the cakes are soft and sweet, providing an indulgent protection for the moist cake inside of it. While acceptable, the red velvet is nothing better than most options. The wedding cake is one of the best slices–not overwhelming with flavor of course, but giving you a bite of smooth, white cake marrying its sweet, white frosting. A chocolate cake with white frosting may be tempting: It’s beautiful and fine, but not worth your dollars or its calories compared to others.

Strawberry cake, while not at the top of most people’s minds, is worth getting every time–in a cake slice or cupcake. Similar to the others, the smooth, moist frosting gives you a bite you know is worth whatever amount of butter is in it. And the strawberry taste is incredible without the fulfilling frosting. Resist your urge to scrape it off, and you have a meal all to itself in the dessert.

The cases have plates of large cupcakes, too. (Photo by TAYLOR ADAMS)

Cookies are also in the cases here, and you can easily take them to go if you made the wise choice to have cake already (or if you had a beef rib at Lockhart’s prior to your visit).

Your experience of the staff can vary depending on the person behind your counter, with some being perfection and others displaying their unfamiliarity with the food. Some people working there know their information on Cretia’s cake. They start telling you what kind of cake it is before your arm fully extends to point to it; they tell you why exactly the wedding cake is just barely a better option than the chocolate cake; they know the exact timing to pull a slice from the cake onto your plate in one piece. Others there try with smiles on their faces, but don’t succeed as well. They can’t tell you if the red velvet cake’s frosting has cream cheese or not; they can’t say, without a long pause, what their favorite cakes are; your “slice” of cake comes out in a lump with a dollop of scooped up, leftover frosting on top of it.

No matter which service you get on a day, it will still be from a friendly face, and at the very least, and, more importantly, your slice of cake is decadent and more enjoyable than the selections at a particularly famous cupcake shop.

A slice from the chocolate cake with white frosting at Cretia’s. (Photo by TAYLOR ADAMS)

Cretia’s
Location: 500 N. Bishop Ave., 75208, 214-941-0082
Hours: Monday and Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.
Price: $
Ambiance:  Small space–enough for a big line to order dessert, not a lot for people to stay and eat
Attire: Casual
Payment Information: Major credit cards accepted
Alcohol: None served

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Dallas food trucks to pull up to Stonewall Jackson Elementary Saturday

Ten of Dallas’ food trucks will park their wheels at Stonewall Jackson Elementary Saturday for lunch. They won’t take over the school’s field because it’s nice parking space, but because some of the school’s parents had the idea to raise money for the Stonewall Gardens.

Katie Brown (left) and Jeanne Ferguson organized the Food Truck Field Day at Stonewall Jackson Elementary March 31. Photo by TAYLOR ADAMS

Katie Brown and Jeanne Ferguson, both parents of Stonewall students, had the idea among a group trying to pick out a fundraiser. Going with the rising food truck trend in Dallas, they, and food truck owners, are expecting a good turnout for the event. Many of the people who operate the participating food trucks said that having such a gathering at a school is new–in Dallas, at least.

Read the whole story that ran in neighborsgo.

So is the cause worth going to the event? The garden is funded by donations and support of the community, plus, there’s a good lineup for lunch. Here’s who’s driving to East Dallas for the event.

The Butcher’s Son–Serving up Johnsonville sausage in every gourmet way they can think of
Cajun Tailgators–Cajun deliciousness on wheels
Dos Paisanos–This truck has both Salvadorian and Mexican cuisine
Easy Slider–It’s hard to believe there was a time before mobile sliders
Enticed Shaved Ice–The high tomorrow is 85 degrees: perfect for a gourmet snow cone
Gennarino’s–Three brothers from Naples run this Neopolitan-style friggitoria
Nammi Truck–Preparing Vietnamese favorites, banh mi
Ruthie’s Rolling Cafe–Get a grilled cheese any way you want it
Ssham BBQ–Korean barbecue tacos? Yes, please.
Trailercakes–Two trends collide with cupcakes and a food truck

Want to go?
Stop by Stonewall Jackson Elementary, 5828 E. Mockingbird Lane, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday. Trucks are planned to be on the field behind the school. Admission is $5 and food is purchased separately from vendors.

Easy Slider is one truck coming to the food truck field day that benefits Stonewall Gardens. Photo by TAYLOR ADAMS

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Filed under American, Dessert, Events, Food Trucks, Italian, Latin American, Salvadoran, Sandwiches, Vietnamese

Prego satisfies, after all

Most Dallas residents should stay indoors on the weekend of the Texas-OU football game.  Wherever one does venture out that weekend, there’s a good chance you’ll be welcomed by a host who is tired of greeting for the hundredth time that evening and a small table with a frazzled waitress.

My experience at Prego Pasta House this particular weekend of 2010 had me avoiding the restaurant for 13 months. After a delayed waitress brought two incorrect bottles of wine, our table had a plate of soggy crab claws before I had seafood linguine that had me questioning my health.

However, after passing the restaurant’s doors so many times on Upper Greenville, we decided we’d stop in again. The beginning was acceptable. A fairly friendly greeter (who appears to be an owner) walked us to a table — the same one as the previous visit — and we had the same waitress walk up to us.

We did get the correct bottle of wine, with the same wait as the crowded evening before. However, the food made the dinner an experience that we will definitely repeat.

Crab claws at Prego Pasta House

The crab claws are supposedly famous, and this time, the butter-soaked claws were of a tender consistency, with a simple lemon-butter sauce. Soon after the plate was empty, there were adequate leftovers on the plate for dipping bread.

The chicken Marsala was delicious, though, the taste was a bit of a surprise. The Marsala wine sauce came off a bit more like stroganoff, extremely heavy in the taste of mushrooms and creamier than some attempts at Marsala. Nonetheless, the slices of mushrooms and small cutlets of chicken tossed in the indecisive sauce was a plate worth ordering again.

Chicken Marsala at Prego Pasta House

The chicken came with an unnecessary side of spaghetti with marinara sauce, though. While the plain marinara was just fine, had they had the spaghetti under the chicken, mushrooms and Marsala sauce, the plate could have been near perfection.

The menu has 10 items under its “desserts” heading, a list that appears impressive. Though my next trip will absolutely involve ordering a cannoli, we went for the seemingly safe tiramisu.

Tiramisu at Prego Pasta House

The long slice laid flat on its side with a blob of whipped cream topping its soaked sponge cake. Not a traditional presentation, but the fork dove in just as easily.

The cream, mascarpone and cinnamon creation was one of the best I’ve ever had.  The cinnamon complemented its fellow ingredients, avoiding disguising them like so many other tiramisu recipes do.

Like many restaurants, Prego can have an off night, but get through the doors on a good one, and the food is worth your risk.

Prego Pasta House
Location: 4930  Greenville Ave., 75206, 214-363-9204
Hours: Monday – Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.; Saturday, 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.; Sunday, 12 to 11 p.m.
Price: $$ (entrees $8.95 to $21.95)
Ambiance:  Intimate
Attire: Casual
Payment Information: Major credit cards accepted
Alcohol: Full bar

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