I am one of those people who associates cake with occasions: birthdays, weddings, office parties. I am not one of those people who simply eats cake because it’s a Sunday night and why not? However, I have been trying to adopt more of a, “You can become anything you set your heart on,” mentality this year, so if I want to become a cake-anytime person, then, dammit, that’s what I’ll strive to be.
So when I was on the Upper West Side on a Sunday evening, in need of a pick-me-up after sitting through three hours of Lincoln, I thought, “I can be that person! The person who eats cake whenever she wants.” So I marched myself over to Sugar and Plumm, Pichet Ong’s vaunted new bistro/bakery, for the very first time and bought myself a slice of cake.
When superfluously buying oneself cake, moderation should not play a role in the decision-making process. As I suspected (and hoped), the cakes on offer at Sugar and Plumm were decidedly excessive. But which to choose? If all decisions were so difficult, whole nations would crumble due to indecisiveness and neglect.
Eventually, after much deliberation, I chose the chocolate caramel cake.
So why the chocolate caramel cake? If you look carefully, you see thin layers of chocolate cake sandwiched between a caramel Bavarian cream. The Bavarian keeps things light in what would otherwise be a gut-bomb of a cake, and just because you’re going decadent doesn’t mean you need to feel ill afterward. Caramel buttercream rounds things out on the top and sides (which are covered in various forms of cake crumbs, chocolate and caramel crunch balls, and flakes of fleur de sel).
The cake itself is moist with a fine crumb and a bitter, barely sweet chocolate taste, and the caramel cream is toasty but, again, not overly sweet, a nice, thoughtful touch. The chocolate and caramel crunch balls on the top add the necessary texture, and the delicately applied (but potent) fleur de sel enhances the pure caramel note. This cake could have been saccharine and buttery; instead it was restrained with clearly defined, elemental flavors.
I split this with N. because I feared it would be too much for one person to consume, but I was very wrong. This slice is perfectly portioned for one person. In fact, someone who was entirely driven, wholly focused on consuming cake – a person with more stamina than I – could probably tuck away another.
Which gives me all the more reason to go back for seconds.