Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sweet treats in small packages...

Who doesn't love a little sweetness on Valentine's Day? Whatever your sugar-high seducer of choice is, you all know by now that I'm a big fan of indulging when it's worth it (read: pass right over that giant box of tasteless Russell Stover "chocolates", you could eat the whole box and still be left unsatisfied).
Every Valentine's Day I get asked "what's the best sweet or chocolate to dive into?" I could blab on about the stellar heart-health benefits of antioxidant-rich dark chocolate, but I've decided to deviate this year as I've got a few new favorites on my radar. Big surprise, they're teensy but insanely luscious. Lots of lovin' can come in any size.

Fine & Raw Chocolate - I discovered these little gems of raw cacoa sweetened with agave nectar at the Young Designer's Market in Nolita on Mulberry and Houston. Two ingredients, that's it. Pure 87% raw chocolate straight from Ecuador and blue agave nectar. The price is well worth it for the 2 little bonbons--absolute heaven in an adorable tiny printed box.

Nine Cakes - Mini Cupcakes - Betsy Thorleifson has struck gold with her mini cupcakes in every flavor combination possible. I love that a) they're MINI -- which means the perfect indulgent bite for the perfect amount of indulgent calories and that b) Betsy is huge on seasonality and plays up the flavors and fresh fruits of each season in her baked creations. The current Winter menu features flavors like Black Forest (dark chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream and kirsch (cherry-liqueur) drizzled with dark chocolate and Little Turtle (dark chocolate with caramel buttercream with salted pecans).

BabyCakes NYC - Ok, so their baked goods aren't distinctively "mini", but they are gluten and wheat-free for all of you with gluten and wheat intolerances/allergies...they're also vegan and actually taste phenomenal. BabyCakes founder Erin McKenna knows how to impress your taste much so she's been featured in Gourmet magazine, and on Martha Stewart and the Food Network among other media mentions. Cupcakes, banana bread, killer chocolate chip cookies, and cinnamon raisin cookies with vanilla filling to name just a few of the items on the mouthwatering menu. Check out Erin's new cookbook which is about to hit bookstores.

Eat your heart's to a happy & *healthy* Valentine's Day!
photo credits: BabyCakes NYC, Nine Cakes, Fine & Raw

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