Originally published 02/22/14
A year and a half ago, I enjoyed a fabulous meal at 51 Lincoln, a restaurant in Newton Highlands, Massachusetts. As I exited the restaurant, I spotted the aptly-named Bread and Chocolate bakery/cafe across the street (unsurprisingly, since I was born with the gift of bakery radar). As luck would have it, Bread and Chocolate had already closed for the night, so I made a mental note to make the trek from Cambridge to Newton Highlands the next time I had a Saturday afternoon to spare. Apparently, that doesn’t happen often.
I never forget a promising pastry place (PPP), so when my weather app said sun and temperatures in the 40s, the stars aligned, and the midterm examination gods graced me with another week before crunch time, I said aloud, “Today is the day I will try Bread & Chocolate.” And try it I did.
When I walked in, I was surprised to find that the left half of the bakery was strictly for ordering to-go items, while the right half was reserved for sit-down service. I certainly didn’t ride the Green Line all the way to Newton Highlands to get a box of pastry and turn around, so I ordered several items from the pastry counter and then proceeded to take a seat and order from their sit-down menu. Carpe diem!
A myriad of pastries stood before me, and as usual, I was paralyzed with indecision. After a minute of frantic contemplation, I decided to go for the twice baked brioche, the brioche sticky bun, a caramel pistachio blondie, and a cinnamon sugar donut muffin. Later, I regretted the omission of one of their croissant-based items from my purchase, but I guess that just means I’ll have to go back!
Seconds before slicing – twice baked brioche
And then there were three: sticky bun, blondie, donut muffin
In an effort to uphold my street cred as an almond fanatic, I immediately went for a bite of the twice-baked brioche. This consisted of three layers: crunchy almonds, frangipane, and brioche. The bottom of the brioche was tougher than expected (after having trouble cutting it with a knife and with my teeth), but the overall flavor of the pastry was good. The frangipane was less intensely almond than I’m used to, and it tasted more like an almond-flavored vanilla cream. The sticky bun was made from the same brioche dough, only layered with cinnamon and topped with a brown sugar glaze and whole pecans. This combination of flavors and textures was absolutely addicting. The same goes for the donut muffin, which reminded me of my mom’s go-to homemade muffin recipe – only this one was coated in butter and rolled in a generous helping of cinnamon sugar. The caramel and pistachio blondie was probably my least favorite of these items. It tasted more like a spiced ginger molasses cookie than the buttery, caramel-laden confection the name promised.
Pièce de résistance – crème brûlée French toast special
Dessert encore – chocolate cupcake with chocolate buttercream
After sampling these à la carte pastries, I decided to try a bit of their French toast special, mixed fruit, and a chocolate cupcake (they are called Bread & Chocolate after all). The French toast was a showstopper for sure. It was made from slices of baguette coated with a brûléed sugar top, crushed candied pistachios, macerated raspberries, and vanilla custard. All of the flavors and textures worked well together, and the raspberries were perfectly sweetened. The mixed fruit included cantaloupe, grapes, blueberries, pineapple, and a lone half-strawberry for garnish. It was a nice addition to the insane amount of sugar and carbs that composed the rest of my breakfast. The chocolate cupcake with chocolate icing was a pleasant surprise, since looks are often deceiving when it comes to cupcakes. More times than I can count, I have purchased a well-decorated and undeniably enticing-looking cupcake, only to discover that the buttercream is laced with shortening and that the cake tastes like a mix. Without a doubt, Bread & Chocolate used high quality chocolate and butter in both the cake and the icing. I suspected this was the case as soon as I realized that the cupcake was refrigerated, since butter – unlike its cousin, shortening – does not stand up well to variable temperatures and humidity levels.
Overall, I enjoyed my long-delayed visit to Bread & Chocolate, and eagerly anticipate my next journey there, which hopefully will involve croissants, whoopie pies, and perhaps an egg sandwich!
La petite girafe [disclaimer: no giraffes were harmed in the making of this review]
Also, this giraffe was hanging out nearby. Probably a good sign.
Bread & Chocolate: http://www.breadnchocolate.com