Gayle’s Chocolates: A Detroit-Area Treasure

Friday, January 21st, 2011 | chocolatiers, Travel | 1 Comment

My mom’s the best.  Several years ago, she sent me back to Brooklyn with a humble-looking bar of something called “Gayle’s Chocolates.”  She always sends me home with so many wonderful sweets, that I didn’t think anything of it other than “Yay, chocolate.”  We’ve got some of the best chocolate in the world here in NYC: Jacques Torres, La Maison du Chocolate, and L.A. Burdick, to name but a few.  So when I finally opened my little dark chocolate bar of Gayle’s and took a bite, imagine my surprise when it turned out to be… not just good, but absolutely exquisite.  Smooth, sweet, and decadent, it was the perfect chocolate.  How could I have made light of my mom’s taste?

On my next trip (and subsequent visits) back to Motown, my mom took me on a Gayle’s pilgrimage.  The maroon-colored store is a soda-shoppe/café/lounge mix with lots of chocolate molds of shoes in clear handbags decorating the walls.  It’s so darn cozy and inviting, I would like to move in.  Observe:

Accustomed to Jacques Torres’s insanely good chocolate chip cookies, I had to see if Gayle could pick up the gauntlet– turns out she can.  That cookie was almost just as good– it was maybe just a tad too salty.  But it had the same soft butteriness and the same actual layers of chocolate.  In fact, the chocolate layer was so pronounced, the top and bottom of the cookie actually separated at one point.  Extreme!

One confection I’ve never seen before: the Cakeless Fruit Cake, containing “All the good stuff without the bad!!!”  This chocolate-covered treat must have been created using a sweet little bundt pan and is indeed fruit cake-like, with dried apricots, pears, cherries, plums, peaches, nectarines, brandied cherries, and pecans, all sitting atop a soft gingerbread cookie.  Of course, the candy makers couldn’t resist putting a huge dollop of chocolate ganache in the center.  My head spin-eth.

A word on the shape of their chocolate bars, which aren’t the usual large, thin rectangle model.  They are, instead, reminiscent of gold bars in their thickness.  While I respect their attempt to be different from the likes of Hershey’s, there’s a reason to keep your bars thin: you have to be able to easily break off pieces.  With Gayle’s, you’re either forced to chomp down on the bar yourself, all but guaranteeing that you gobble the whole thing up by yourself, or share it with someone who doesn’t mind your copious amounts of mouth-watering-induced slobber – OR – you have to harness the power of a thousand suns and try to break it yourself, perhaps wedging it against a hardwood floor or jabbing at it with the back of a hammer, and just about suffering an exploded brain or broken hand in the process.  Gayle’s: please change this.  Are you trying to force me to buy one of your soft truffles instead?  Because I will.  So help me God I will.

Even if you’ve got no plans to head over to Royal Oak, MI any time soon to check out the Detroit Zoo, fear not: you can order Gayle’s online, and there are several locations at Detroit Metro Airport, so you can grab some to sustain you on your flight to Osaka.

Gayle’s Chocolates
417 S. Washington
Royal Oak, MI  48067
Also at DTW

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William Greenberg Desserts: UES Fanciness

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010 | bakeries | 2 Comments

It was after work, I had an annoying errand to run on the Upper East Side, and my blood sugar was low.  Under the best of times, it is difficult for me to pass a bakery without checking it out.  But in my state, I caught a glimpse of a decent-looking cookie in a window out of the corner of my eye, and I fell upon the place like a vampire at a hemophiliacs convention.  

The place was William Greenberg Desserts.  I was delighted to discover that this was a Jewish specialty bakery, vending such delights as hamantaschen, black and white cookies, and rugelach.  Still dreadfully missing the hamantaschen from Gertel’s, an amazing Jewish bakery that closed up shop on the LES a few years ago, I figured I’d try three varieties here: cherry, apricot, and poppy seed.  Now, at most bakeries, when you buy some cookies, they just throw them into a white paper bag, you pay a couple of bucks, and off you go.  But, I guess since I was on the UES, they had to go the fancy box and store sticker route.  I got a bad feeling that the $10 bill I had ready would maybe not quite be enough.  The final bill for three cookies was $10.50 — yeesh.  And, since I really needed one to eat immediately, the whole box and sticker sitch wasn’t good.  I managed to wrestle out the cherry one and was surprised by how soft it was.  It was so soft, in fact, that its own weight on either side of my fingers made it crack in half, and almost $1.75-worth of precious merchandise nearly fell to the ground!  But my lightning quick dessert-saving reflexes kicked in, and my cookie escaped a wretched fate.  A passerby who must have witnessed my fumble called out, “Wow!  You really dodged a bullet with that one!”  That’s true, dude, I really did.

So, the cherry hamantasch was a-ite.  Kinda “cherry pie filling,” if you know what I mean.  And its cookie portion was actually the only really soft one– the other two were the more traditional (?) “short,” or buttery-crusty kind.  The apricot one was very sour and sort of acrid-tasting.  But the poppy seed was quite good– a nice balance of sweet and bitter.  I’ll probably give WGD another try if I’m in the area.  I think I did the world a disservice by not trying the black and white cookie, so that will have to be remedied.

William Greenberg Desserts
1100 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10028-0327

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