Once upon a time, the simple pleasures of a warm chocolate truffle, or even a gooey brownie, served with a side of cool vanilla ice-cream was a soul-satisfying treat. If you liked to eat well, caramel custard at good old Wengers in Connaught Place, or the India International Centre dining hall, was fancy enough. A spoonful of sweet caramel sinking through the layer of the mild, delicate vanilla custard, eased the day.
Not anymore. Today, Delhiites are developing a taste for fancy orange creme bruleés enrobed in chocolate. The humble truffle seems to have lost out to the Viennese chocolate mousse cake and chocolate tapas, and even the rich, creamy cheesecakes are now layered with peanut butter, banana and caramel, instead of the usual blue-berry and lemon toppings. While many of the city's five-star bakeries have been doing fluffy mousses, delicate opera slices and assorted tarts to perfection, a clutch of high-end dessert parlours and pastry shops in tony neighbourhoods are coming up with exotic sweet treats to cater to our discerning tastes.
(Saumya Khandelwal/HT Photo)
These dessert boutiques may has their savoury pies, quichés and fresh bread on the side, but the real star is the dessert counter with its melt-in-the-mouth cakes, the crisp, buttery biscuits, the fruit tarts, the silken custards, and a vast array of macaroons. The dessert is no longer just the end-of-the-meal event, it's the treat that may replace the meal itself, or, at least overshadow it.
A word of caution: A trip to these pastry shops is not for those who are counting their pennies, or calories - a single piece could set you back by `300, and seriously affect your calorie count for the day.
But if you are a dessert connoisseur, those are small setbacks in the quest for a sugar high. Or else, enjoy the pleasures of the simple brownie warmed up with a dollop of vanilla ice-cream. It will never go out of style.
THE CHOCOLATE FANTASY
(Tribhuvan Sharma/HT Photo)
Chocolate has a special appeal when had cold. But when had hot, the effect can be quite unusual. Chocolateria San Churro, a dessert café accommodates both these tastes in a single dish. Its cold platters include chocolate tapas, a selection of churros (fried-dough pastry stick) and Spanish chocolate served with a pot of melted couverture chocolate and chocolate ice-cream, and five varieties of Spanish hot chocolate.
Where: M block Main market, Greater Kailash 2; Call 46597619
Price: Rs 800 (for two)
Do try: Azteca (classic Spanish hot chocolate with cinnamon and chilli) and Berry Bizcocho (picture above), a rich cake topped with mangoes and lashings of chilled custard and melted chocolate.
WHIPPING UP A SWEET TREAT
Whipped is a fun place to hang out if you are looking at a dessert outing. It is gaining popularity as the go-to place for cakes. They also have a range of cheesecakes to choose from, besides cakes-in-a-jar. While the red velvet cheesecake is quite commendable, the matcha green tea cheesecake, an acquired taste, is passable.
Where: E-556, Greater Kailash 2 and Defence Colony main market.
Price range: Cupcakes Rs 200 onwards, cakes Rs 1,400 onwards
Do try: The Belgian chocolate cake. For a summer birthday, the ice cream cakes are a better option over the usual fondant variety.
LA DOLCE VITA IN NEW DELHI
Dolce Amante offers a wide range of cheese cakes, mousse, tea cakes, tarts and puddings, macaroons, meringues, biscotti, and chocolates. There is also a selection of breads, and a small section of sandwiches and savouries such as vegetable puff and quiches, but the focus is firmly on the desserts.
Where: G-43, Green Park, R-216 GK I, and J- 2/6, BK Dutt Market, Rajouri Garden.
Price range: Desserts start at Rs 75 and go up to over Rs 1,000
S Burmaula/HT Photo
Do try: The Red Velvet Cake and the layered Push-up Pop Cakes.
THE CHEESECAKE FACTORY
At the Big Chill Cakery, you are struck by one of the most existential dilemmas of life: should you try the Dreamy Viennese Chocolate Cake today, or go for the Strawberry Mascarpone Cheesecake instead? But surely, one mustn't miss the velvety goodness of the Gooey Chocolate Cake either! When you finally do settle for the Raspberry Chocolate Creamcheese Brownie, you know this is only a pause, a rich, satisfying interlude. Next time, the Banoffee Whoopie Pie will be set against the Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie. Tough choices indeed.
Where: Main Khan Market
Price range: Approx Rs 300 per piece
Do try: The Banana Caramel Cake and the Raspberry Chocolate Cream cheese Brownie.