In search of summer desserts in New York City

BySabrina Szteinbaum WABC logo
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
magnolia bakery lemon raspberry cheesecake
Magnolia's lemon raspberry cheesecake
Sabrina Szteinbaum-WABC

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Growing up in a Victorian home in suburban Elgin, Illinois, Bobbie Lloyd's mother used to send her and her siblings to the grapevine in the backyard to scope out perfectly ripe purple grapes for homemade jelly.

Now the chief baking officer and executive vice president of operations at Magnolia Bakery, Lloyd is the mastermind behind everything from hiring and training new bakers to developing innovative pastries.

This summer, New Yorkers with a sweet tooth can visit bakeries around the city to get their hands on a trendy summer dessert. While some bakeries will be offering fresh twists on typical treats, others will be keeping in classic.

"I try not to fall too much into dessert trends, but to look at something that's classic and make it the best way we can possibly make it so that it does take you back to childhood," she said.

Lloyd's goal is for people to bite into a Magnolia dessert and be reminded of the sweets their grandmother used to make, she said. "Classic done well" is the motto, and that will translate to fresh blueberries, strawberries and rhubarb for this summer's desserts.

Magnolia, which has five New York City locations and international storefronts in Moscow, Tokyo and Kuwait City, will be serving up "everything blueberry" from May to June, she said. This will include pies, muffins and an oatmeal cookie ice cream sandwich filled with vanilla ice cream swirled with blueberry.

As the seasons change, so do the fillings, Lloyd said. By August, Magnolia visitors will be able to taste the same individual hand-held pies they had in June, but with a peach filling.

Scones are another new product which will see seasonal flavor changes, she said. This summer will be the debut of a strawberry balsamic and blueberry lemon flavor.

Lloyd knows the scones are a hot item because the bakers make them each morning in batches of six, and they've needed to up the number of batches.

In addition to pies and scones, Magnolia launches new ice cream sandwich flavors every summer, which are developed based on their preexisting pastries, Lloyd said.

This season's new flavors will include a chocolate chunk cookie with caramel salted vanilla ice cream and a "PB&J" flavor, which is a peanut butter whoopie pie with peanut butter swirled ice cream and strawberry puree, she said.

Magnolia is not the only the only Manhattan bakery combining pastries and ice cream this summer. Ceci-Cela, located in Manhattan's Nolita (north of Little Italy) neighborhood, will roll out a similar concept next month.

Ceci-Cela's "les petites glaces gourmands" will combine ice creams and sorbets with pieces of the bakery's pastries, said Chef Laurent Dupal.

"What we try to do is use the product we are making all year long and be able to match it with ice cream," he said, joking that the flavor ideas came to him in his dreams.

One of Dupal's personal favorites is chocolate truffles mixed with hard vanilla meringue in coffee ice cream. That flavor is joined by others, including the well-known French "madeleine" cookie mixed into pistachio ice cream and a mango sorbet with lime juice and cayenne pepper.

Sandra Dupal, Ceci-Cela's store manager, said the inspiration for the mango flavor came to the chef while drinking a native margarita in Mexico, and that many of his flavor ideas are inspired by his travels.

Milk Bar is also playing with ice cream, adding three new soft-serve flavors to this summer's New York City ice cream scene. Karla Smith-Brown is on the Milk Bar's press team, and she said these flavors will include cinnamon-pineapple at their Midtown location, root beer float on the Upper West Side and in the East Village and pink lemonade at the Carroll Gardens, SoHo and Williamsburg locations.

In addition to these flavors, which will be available on April 29, Milk Bar will bring back their layered vanilla strawberry lemon cake complete with strawberry flavored jam and frosting, she said.

Grandaisy Bakery on the Upper West Side will bring a classic Italian table this summer, said marketing manager Romel Tovar. Their "big summer treat" will be "schiaccciata d'uva," a Tuscan bread topped with Champagne Grapes, anise, olive oil and a dash of sugar.

Grandaisy will incorporate seasonal ingredients found at the Union Square Greenmarket this summer, he said. This may include an apple cinnamon or blueberry turnover, depending upon what is fresh and flavorful.

What makes Grandaisy's breads and pastries unique is the attention to detail that comes with the "human touch," Tovar said.

"There's a certain amount of technology we have now," he said. "It's really more the tradition that everything is shaped by hand, we think that's really important - the human element."

Melissa Ben-Ishay, founder of Baked by Melissa, said hybrid desserts are slated to be popular this summer, as well as the bite-size desserts her shops are known for.

Baked by Melissa offers a cupcake topped with a French macaron, or "Cupcaron," which will be available through the end of June, she said. While Baked by Melissa has not yet released details regarding new summer flavors, Ben-Ishay said new product ideas can come to her anytime - from eating dinner to watching television and movies - she is inspired by it all.

"Our goal is to give you a delicious dessert experience packed with flavor, that makes you smile," she said.