Saturday, October 3, 2009

Demel: A Touch of Vienna in the Heart of NYC

The other day my good friend Nick Malgieri and I went to Demel, the New York branch of the iconic Viennese pastry shop. The new shop is located among the retail stores at the Plaza Hotel, set alongside a soothing carp pond on the lower level. It is such an elegant setting, with luxurious banquettes, marble-topped cafe tables and glass display cases filled with beautifully decorated cakes and pastries. We sipped cappunccinos (or is it 'cappuccini'?), sampled many of the delicious classic Viennese cakes, and chatted with Jemal Edwards, the Executive Pastry Chef and one Dessert Professional magazine's Top Ten Pastry Chefs of 2009. Nick is writing an article on Demel for Dessert Professional, wanted to take some photos of the cake and shop, and I went along for the ride. Among the cakes we sampled was the famous Dobostorte, thin layers of vanilla biscuit sandwiched with chocolate buttercream and topped with triangles of caramel-coated shortbread. We also tasted the Fachertorte, layers of poppy seed paste, walnuts, apples and plums, all encased in short dough. The Viennese love their poppy seeds, and this cake is an example of an old-world classic. The Fragilite is a lovely pastry made with ultra-thin almond meringue which has been lightly soaked with rum and filled with a mixture of praline paste, chocolate and butter.

This is a dangerous little pastry--it's incredibly rich, yet seems so light. While Nick was snapping a photo, in fact, I ate the whole thing. (He muttered something about me being "greedy, greedy, greedy," but I just couldn't help myself. It's a dog-eat-dog world, after all.) My favorite cake, though, was undoubtedly the Dorrytorte, a flourless chocolate cake with a sunken center. The sunken part is filled with a light chocolate mousse, slightly mounded. So simple, yet so delicious. I might have to try this one at home. Demel also has an extensive selection of chocolates and confections, all exquisitely packaged by hand in Vienna. If you have a chance, stop by Demel for a piece of cake and a coffee. It's not inexpensive, but it's much cheaper than a flight to Austria. For more info, visit

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