Thursday, June 11, 2009

Quest for the Best: Eleni’s Review

Location: Chelsea Market, 75 9th Avenue, NY, NY

Website: Eleni’s

Price: Cupcakes are $2.50-$3.75 each

Atmosphere: Candyland come to life. The shop is small, but brightly lit and candy-colored, with all of Eleni’s delicious treats on display under glass. There is also a selection of bulk candy for sale, as well as pre-packaged sets of cupcakes, cookies, and brownies. There are a couple of small tables and chairs for enjoying a snack there, or there are several other seating options within Chelsea Market.

My Review: If you’ve ever been wandering around 9th Avenue down in Chelsea and came across a building that looks like it was designed by a drunken basket weaver, it’s actually the Chelsea Market. Originally a Nabisco cookie factory, the building has since been converted into an indoor marketplace that offers a variety of fresh produce, meats, baked goods, and other assorted treats, as well as housing businesses like the NYC Food Network headquarters on its upper floors. One of the Chelsea Market tenants is Eleni’s, a bakery that is the perfect stop for something sweet.

Eleni’s Chocolate Ganache cupcake is giving my old favorite, the Dragon Devil’s Food cupcake at Batch, a run for its money. It’s simply a chocolate cupcake, with vanilla buttercream filling, and topped with a chocolate ganache frosting. But the chocolate used is so rich and flavorful, it’s clear that Eleni’s only uses the best ingredients. And the amount of frosting used on these cupcakes is much more generous than at Batch, which is causing my old #1 cupcake pick to slowly be bumped down to second place.

Eleni’s Red Velvet cupcake was a bit of a letdown, since traditional buttercream frosting is used rather than cream cheese frosting, which is what most bakeries use since it compliments the somewhat odd flavor of red velvet cake best (is red velvet a sort of chocolate flavor? I’m still not sure how to describe it). The cake part was good; very moist and flavorful. But I definitely prefer my red velvet cake topped with a slightly tangy, slightly sweet, cream cheese frosting.

The Oreo Madness cupcake was a lot better, with its brownie cake base, topped with crumbly cookie bits and mini marshmallows (which get gooey and toasty in the baking process), followed by buttercream frosting and half of an Oreo cookie. Don’t even tell me the calorie count, because I don’t want to know. Also delicious in its simplicity is the Coconut cupcake, which is available as either a chocolate or vanilla cupcake, topped with vanilla buttercream frosting and coconut flakes, which tastes like a better version of a Hostess Sno Ball.

Bottom Line: Chelsea Market is a fun place to visit if you’re a foodie, and Eleni’s makes the trip all the more special. The cupcakes are available in a variety of flavors, all delicious (at least based on the ones I’ve sampled), and I have it on good authority from others that the brownies there are worth the price, too. And ever since my stop there, all I can think about is how long is a respectable time to wait before going back for another Chocolate Ganache cupcake? Probably at least a couple of days, right?

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