Two days before Christmas, I joined a meetup hosted by PLACES NYC and enjoyed a holiday lights, desserts, and hot chocolate crawl through lower Manhattan. It included the Chinatown, Little Italy, and Soho neighborhoods, about an hour from my home in Inwood via the A subway. The timing was perfect to indulge and admire the city's twinkling streets. With a new year upon us, you may be scrambling to make last-minute plans to ring in 2018. Why not design your own desserts crawl for family or friends? Here are highlights from the meetup that could serve as your sweet inspiration.
Hot Chocolate Surprise
A delicious dessert is all the better when the not-so-secret ingredient is a dash of whimsy. That's what you'll find at Dominique Ansel Bakery at Soho, where the hot chocolate "blossoms" and milk shots are served in chocolate chip cookie cups.
Sweet Spot of Asian Bakeries
While I like sweet things, I prefer desserts with restraint slightly more. Asian bakeries are experts at balancing the sweet and savory sides of their pastries. At Fay Da Bakery in Chinatown, some tasty options are the coconut raisin bread and taro buns.
While my Mom's cheesecake will always be my favorite, I still like to try variations at other places. At Eileen's Special Cheesecake in Soho, the flavors range from classic (lemon) to "exotic and enticing" (mint chocolate chip) to spiked with "scrumptious spirits" (Bailey's Irish coffee).
DIY Desserts Crawl
For more ideas, below is the list of all the places that we attempted to try on the desserts crawl. Thanks to the legwork already done by the great PLACES NYC meetup organizer, I was able to pull this information and order it to show the diverse dessert options at your disposal in New York City.
Fay Da Bakery (83 Mott St.)
Taipan Bakery (194 Canal St.)
Brigadeiro (156 Sullivan St.)
Eileen's Special Cheesecake (17 Cleveland Place)
Milk and Cookies Bakery (19 Commerce St.)
Baked by Melissa (63 Spring St.)
Georgetown Cupcake (111 Mercer St.)
Molly's Cupcakes (228 Bleecker St.)
Birdbath (160 Prince St.)
Hot Chocolate Places
Balthazar (80 Spring St.)
Dominque Ansel (189 Spring St.)
Jacques Torres (327 Lafayette St.)
Maman (239 Centre St.)
MarieBelle (484 Broome St.)
Vosges (132 Spring St.)
Caffe Palermo (148 Mulberry St.)
Ferrara Bakery and Cafe (195 Grand St.)
Pasticceria Rocco (243 Bleecker St.)
Rice Pudding Place
Rice to Riches (37 Spring St.)
Milk Bar (246 Mott St.)
Sweets By Chloe (185 Bleecker St.)