October 21-26, 2009 - I just came back from a trip to Boston and one of the things I like to do when I travel is check out the local bakeries and sample the local fare. I research ahead of time where I might like to go and they're based on a combination of recommendations from people I know, yelp, and sometimes cookbooks I have from those places. I end up eating a LOT of sweets - the pics above are just a sample of what I consumed in less than 5 days :).
The first picture is from Ye Olde Pepper Companie Candies in Salem, MA whose sign boasts that it's the oldest candy store in America, having done business since 1806. They've certainly been around long enough to get it right. The candy I bought included a caramel milk chocolate truffle, milk chocolate toffee and a cashew milk chocolate turtle (no surprise, I'm a big milk chocolate fan). Every single last one of them was divine. I also got a piece of fudge (not pictured) that was fabulous. Ye Old Pepper Companie can brag as much as it wants - it deserves every kudo. The truffle was a creamy well of soft caramel enrobed in smooth milk chocolate, the turtle was a wonderful combination of cashew nuts, caramel and chocolate, the fudge was just the right texture and richness without being overly rich or overpowering and the toffee was pretty good.
The second picture is from Rosie's Bakery - there are several of them in Boston and I went to the one in Cambridge. What I like about Rosie's is it's what I consider a homey bakery. Not too fussy or high end and seems to focus on basic comfort sweets. These types of places are a gem because you can usually find their stuff tastes good as opposed to a more high end place with a lot of beautiful looking desserts but aren't necessarily tasty. The plate holds an M&M cookie, a chocolate chip shortbread cookie and a piece of German Chocolate cake. I had the cake first (as breakfast :)) and it was good - moist, despite the fact that I had a corner piece (I generally prefer middles, not edges or corners for the moistness factor) and the coconut topping was excellent. Unlike most german chocolate cakes, this didn't contain nuts in the frosting but that didn't detract from the taste or texture of the cake. The weakest of the bunch was the chocolate chip shortbread cookie. It looked good but I didn't think the taste was anything special. I love shortbread but shortbread cookies, as opposed to the more traditional shortbread baked in pans and cut, sometimes aren't the same - this one had a dry, crumbly texture without the "snap" of good, crisp shortbread. The chocolate chips and nuts also interfered with the taste of the butter which is the point of having shortbread in the first place.
The bottom picture is from Finale's and is their Boston Cream Cake, a version of Boston Cream Pie. It's probably the prettiest dessert I had in Boston but I wouldn't say it was the best. We made beautiful desserts like this in culinary school so I know exactly how this was put together. It was gorgeous but I'd give it only a B for taste.