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Brooklyn Bites: Valentine’s Day treats

The Brooklyn Paper
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Abu’s Homestyle Bakery

1184 Fulton St. at Bedford Avenue, (718) 230-1115, www.abusbakery.com (AmEx, MC, Visa) Pastries, cakes and pies: $1-$25.

Find yourself in a sweets-lover’s heaven when you enter this small bakery. Owner Idris Conry has been providing Brooklyn with dozens of assorted homemade pastries, cakes and pies for the last six years, and even ships them nationwide. The signature item, bean pie, never stops pleasing, says Conry’s son, manager Idris Braithwaite. For the bean pie, navy beans are used as part of the custard filling, which is topped with a thin layer of cinnamon and butter. An African-American delicacy created as an alternative to apple pie or sweet potato pie, Braithwaite calls the bakery’s bean pie “the jazz of dessert culture.” The bakery also gives “a different spin” to carrot cake and German chocolate cake, and makes wedding cakes and personalized photo cakes. For larger orders, delivery is available for a $10 fee. Open Monday through Friday, from 8 am to 10 pm; Saturdays, from 10 am to 10 pm; and Sundays, from 10 am to 5 pm.

The Chocolate Room

86 Fifth Ave. at St. Marks Place, (718) 783-2900, www.thechocolateroombrooklyn.com (MC, Visa) Desserts: $5-$13; chocolates: $40 per pound.

On February 14, what better way to celebrate the year’s sweetest day than bringing your loved one to a world of chocolate goodness? Husband-and-wife team Jon Payson and Naomi Josepher operate this chocolate boutique and dessert emporium, which opened in January 2005. This year they’re offering a special three course Valentine’s Day menu: For $28 a piece, diners can reserve a spot for one of the three seatings; at 7 pm, 8:30 pm or 10 pm to enjoy a chocolate Linzer Cookie, a double dipped strawberry passion fruit panna cotta and “s’more lovin’,” consisting of a graham cracker heart, with molten chocolate marshmallow sauce topped with caramel ice cream. Dessert wine will also be included.

Baked

359 Van Brunt St. at Wolcott Street, (718) 222-0345, www.bakednyc.com, (AmEx, MC, Visa) Cakes: $4 a slice; 8- to 12-inch cakes: $33–$70.

Open since January, this sleek little bakery-cafe serves cakes inspired by recipes found in vintage cookbooks, but with less sugar, says Renato Poliafito, who co-owns Baked with Matt Lewis and Rafi Avramovitz. Specialties include the “Red Hook Red Hot,” a red velvet cake topped with cinnamon buttercream and Red Hot candies and the “Sweet and Salty,” a chocolate cake with salty caramel and caramel chocolate ganache that’s topped with sea salt. This Valentine’s Day, Baked suggests that costumers choose between the “Lil’ Angel Cake,” a coconut cake with raspberry filling covered by vanilla coconut buttercream, for the “sweeties,” and the “Lil’ Devil Cake,” a chocolate cake with raspberry filled topped with chocolate ganache, for the “naughtier” ones.

Mona Lisa Bakery & Restaurant

1476 86th St. at 15th Avenue, (718) 837-9053, www.monalisabakery.com, (AmEx, Disc, MC, Visa) Entrees: $8.95–$11.50.

Mona Lisa has been making handmade breads, cookies, cakes and pastries for over three generations; the traditional Italian breads like the prosciutto-laced “lard” bread are baked in a coal-fired oven. Owned by Steven Camastra, Mona Lisa has everything from their chocolate-covered cannoli (a sumptuous twist on the traditional cannoli — they’re hand-dipped in dark chocolate from Switzerland) to their Amaretto cookies (made with an imported almond paste and delicate Amaretto liqueur). The interior of Mona Lisa, with its marble-top tables, full bar, gelatos and sorbets will make you think you’re in a cafe in Rome. Mona Lisa even makes their own wedding cakes, and they ship their baked goods nationwide. They will be open on Valentine’s Day from 8am to 12am.

Jacques Torres Chocolate

66 Water St. at Main Street, (718) 875-9772, www.mrchocolate.com (AmEx, MC, Visa) Assorted chocolates: $48 for 50 pieces.

Willy Wonka’s got nothing on Jacques Torres, the former executive pastry chef of the four-star Le Cirque 2000 in Manhattan. In his DUMBO factory, Torres produces more than 35 different varieties of chocolates filled with a variety of exotically flavored ganache — a mixture of chocolate, cream and flavorings. And for Valentine’s Day Jaques is really going all out. Stop by any time and pick up any of Torres’s new and inventive amorous indulgences, including the Mini-Heart Assortment, a truffle box with seven round chocolate truffles, or the Cherry Popper, pieces of dried cherry enrobed in dark chocolate ganache. But Torres won’t stop there, his Jaques Torres Body Butter, made from a caramel sauce, is back due to popular demand. Despite a high-tech approach, Torres runs a hands-on operation — from heating the chocolate to the perfect temperature to packaging the fresh, preservative-free finished product; you can watch the chocolates being made while relaxing in the small European-style cafe in the front of the shop. The cafe serves coffee, tea, and Torres’s trademark wicked hot chocolate. Open Monday through Saturday, from 9 am to 7 pm, and Sundays, from 10 am to 6 pm.

Cake Man Raven

708 Fulton St. at Fort Greene Place, (718) 797-2598, www.cakemanraven.com (AmEx, DC, Disc, MC, Visa) Cakes: $25–$180.

Raven Patrick De’Sean Dennis III, a.k.a. “Cake Man Raven,” learned to bake in his grandma’s kitchen in South Carolina when he was knee-high to a grasshopper. It’s a skill that has served him well. His Southern red velvet cake has melted in the mouths of celebrities as old-school as Lena Horne and Cab Calloway and as new as Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake. The Cake Man also dabbles in cookies, pastries and pies. His wedding cakes are gorgeous, too; and he can do seemingly anything with fondant. Just ask. Open daily. On Valentine’s Day, Cake Man Raven will offer “sweets for your sweetheart,” heart shaped yellow, red velvet or chocolate cakes, spanning from 6 to 12 inches in size and going from $35 to $80. Chocolate dipped fruit pieces will also be served for $1.25 each. Pickup times for Tuesday February 13th and Wednesday February 14th are from 2 pm to 10 pm.

Little Cupcake Bakeshop

9102 Third Avenue at 91 St., (718) 680-4465, (AmEx, MC, Visa) Cupcakes: $1.50–$4.00.

This cute cupcake shop, which seats about 20 people, opened in July of 2005. This Valentine’s Day, owner Luigi Lobuglio will be delving into a romantic theme, serving red cupcakes topped with cupid and heart-shaped sprinkles, heart-shaped cakes and cookies with amorous messages scrawled on them. Regular menu items will also be available; Brooklyn black out cake, “an all time favorite” according to Lobuglio, is made from dark chocolate with ganache filling and covered by 2 types of chocolate butter. Another popular item is the Red Velvet cake, a traditional southern cake with cocoa and cream cheese icing that is completely red inside. The new Nutella Cappuccino as well as their traditional Caramel Vanilla Cappuccino and hot chocolate will be served to wash down the goodies.

Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies

204 Van Dyke St. at Ferris Street, (718) 858-5333, (Disc, MC, Visa) Pies: $4–$20.

Miami native Steve Tarpin began making Key Lime pies in his Red Hook home in 1995. Four years later, he had relocated to a bakery — he needed the extra space to meet the demand for his sweet and tangy confections. The perpetually packed shop, located on the ground floor of a Civil War-era warehouse on the Red Hook waterfront, uses only fresh-squeezed juice, which Tarpin says makes all the difference. Steve’s menu is limited; they offer their namesake pies and a few other treats including “Swingles” — frozen, chocolate-dipped slices of pie on a stick. In the warmer months, you can grab a pie and sit by the water, making believe you’re spending summer in the Keys.

Williams Candy

1318 Surf Ave. between West 15th Street and Stillwell Avenue, (718) 372-0302 (Cash only) Candy: $1–$3.

It is just as you would picture it: a quaint, old-fashioned candy shop, crammed with pink puffs of cotton candy, gooey caramel-coated apples and sugary bins of sweets. The selection of sweet confections at this 75-year-old establishment is enough to make your teeth rot just by looking at it. Pick up a box of Coney Island saltwater taffy or gorge yourself on three different kinds of candy apples: jelly, caramel or chocolate. Children will be delighted by the whimsical display of cartoon character lollipops. Owned by the Clam Stop proprietors, the wholesale and retail candy store is sure to appease even the most resilient sweet-tooth with over 30 different kinds of sweets and an abundance of amusement park treats. Open daily.

Updated 4:27 pm, July 9, 2018
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