In a nutshell: It is impossible to go wrong with any of the cakes and other sweets at this East Village spot; plus, their long store hours let you pick up sweets for your sweet any time of day.
It’s funny how the most wonderful things in life often come about by accident. Such was the case with Black Hound New York, which drew me in on a brisk October morning with its stunning display of cakes in the window. I fell in love at first bite.
Black Hound New York has been perfecting the art of baking since it was founded in 1988. Black Hound’s cakes were first served in the original Barneys New York café; since then, the bakery has been delighting customers with its cakes, chocolates, cookies, and other treats, all prepared at their Brooklyn, NY, kitchen.
The name of the little bakery celebrates the pursuit of culinary perfection. When the masterminds behind Black Hound first started out, they strived to create the perfect French-style truffle in a tiny apartment kitchen. It took months to achieve the perfect orb of bittersweet Belgian chocolate infused with liqueur on the inside and dusted with cocoa powder on the outside. In a similar vein, hounds (as well as pigs) use their keen sense of smell in forests to forage relentlessly for the elusive mushroom variety of truffle. To celebrate its hometown, Black Hound later added “New York” to the name.
The bakery has all sorts of delightful sweet treats, but I never leave the store without a sample (swathed in parchment paper like a wrapped candy) and a mini three-inch cake in tow. The handcrafted works of art taste as fabulous as they look.
The Carrot was my first foray into Black Hound’s cake lineup. Three layers of carrot cake studded with raisins, walnuts, and freshly grated carrots are layered and finished with a subtle lemon cream cheese filling, with crushed walnuts on the sides to boot. The lemony brightness in the frosting brings a unique zesty twist to standard cream cheese frostings, nicely contrasting the cake’s inherent nuttiness. The raisins and walnuts mixed into the carrot batter add depth of flavor and rich textures. This carrot cake is easily my favorite in the city.
The Busy Bee is rather impressive underneath its clean white surface of marzipan. Three layers of chocolate butter cake, two layers of almond butter cake, two layers of bittersweet chocolate mousse, and one layer of marzipan make for one busy–and delicious–cake. A bonnet of marzipan and almond petal bees grace the top.
For those nutty about nuts, this is a cake right up your alley. The Praline involves three layers of hazelnut butter cake filled with crushed pralines, praline buttercream, and chocolate buttercream. The whole cake is finished with praline buttercream and crushed and candied pralines. The duality of crunch versus smoothness and nutty savoriness versus sweetness make this a joy for your palette.
With three layers of coconut butter cake layered with homemade lemon curd, toasted coconut, and white chocolate buttercream, a finish of white chocolate buttercream, and a complete coating of fresh coconut, the Coconut invites you to try a taste of the tropics. The pleasant citrusyness of lemon intertwined with the coconut butter cake once again comes through. Fragrant and moist, this cake is perfect for all coconut lovers.
Cloaks of mocha buttercream and bittersweet chocolate conceal layers of hazelnut butter cake and espresso mousse in the Hazelnut Espresso Mousse. Like sipping a nutty cup o’ joe in cake form, I wouldn’t mind eating this treat for breakfast.
The Harvest is a beautiful seasonal cake, with thin layers of gingerbread cake, poached apples, poached pears, and pastry cream. Spiced cream cheese and gingerbread cake crumbs envelop the strata, with a slice of dried pear as the finishing flourish. One bite evokes memories of the moment when once-green trees suddenly light up in flames of red, orange, and yellow; apple-picking in a fragrant orchard and pumpkin-picking at a farm’s idyllic patch; and the thrill of jumping into a pile of just-raked leaves.
Light and simple, the Chocolate Strawberry features three layers of chocolate butter cake filled with vanilla pastry cream, whipped cream, and fresh strawberries. Finished with white chocolate buttercream, chocolate cake crumbs, and red marzipan daisies on top, this cake blooms any time of year.
Another winner is the German Chocolate Cake (which I must have gobbled up before snapping a photo), composed of three layers of bittersweet chocolate butter cake, three layers of a German chocolate filling of coconut and pecans, a chocolate ganache finish, toasted coconut around the sides, and pecans on top.
While I’ve raved about their cakes, there are other wonderful treats that Black Hound has lying around:
The chocolate teacup with Bavarian cream and fresh berries sings a symphony for your taste buds. The refreshing fruit sparkles against the rich thick cream and decadent chocolate, a lovely interplay of flavors.
Like the truffles in the story behind its name, Black Hound is most definitely worth seeking out.
Black Hound New York
170 2nd Avenue
New York, NY