the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

The Top Ten New York Desserts, According to Me

Today, James Dobson of the Christian-oriented “Focus on the Family” will make a radio address attacking Barack Obama.  The AP was already given an advance copy of the speech.  In it, Dobson hammers Obama’s views of religion, and says the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee is trying to govern by the “lowest common denominator of morality,” and calls Obama’s views “a fruitcake interpretation of the Constitution.”

After reading about this fruitcake reference online, I immediately became hungry.  Even though I’m Jewish, I’ve always enjoyed fruitcake, especially around Christmastime.  I never understand why fruitcake gets such a bad rap.  And how did fruitcake ever get associated with gays?  Gays seem much more “cupcake” than “fruitcake,” except maybe for the guys who work out in West Hollywood, who are definitely “cheesecake.”

As you can see, it is 1:30 in the morning, and I am starving.  I know this is the City that Never Sleeps, but my part of Queens apparently goes to sleep at nine o’clock.   My mother has cookies and ice cream in the fridge, but her desserts are of the no fat, no sugar variety, which for some reason my mother thinks are “healthier.”  Sugar is bad.  Splenda — whatever the hell it is — good for ya.

Being hungry, I wrote this post, about my favorite New York desserts.

Most of these have actually NOTHING to do with New York, except in my imagination, or an association with my childhood.  But it’s my blog, so tough.   People just come here to read the comments, anyway.

In random order:

1)  The Linzer Tart

2)  Drake’s Funny Bones

3)  The Black and White Cookie

4)   The Jelly Donut

5)  The Fancy Cupcake

6) Cannoli

7)  The Nabisco Mallomar

8)  New York Cheesecake

9)  Hamentashen

10)  The Carvel Flying Saucer


  1. Christine

    Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but all of your favorite desserts are either phallic or vagina-ish.

    Can’t wait for Tootsie!

  2. Whit

    Came for the comments, stayed for dessert.

    Oh, and James Dobson can kiss my ass.

  3. 180/360

    Great! Now I’m craving something sweet. But not a fruitcake. Blech. I didn’t know anyone liked those! And I’m not talking about the people variety. 😉

  4. Sarah

    YUM. Especially the cheesecake.

  5. natalie

    it all sounds good to me. well…except the fruitcake. that i won’t make you share.

    and james dobson…i don’t even know what to say. i am fine with him thinking whatever he wants, but as a christian i sometimes wish people would be nicer in the way they share their opinions.

  6. TC

    Oh, the black-and-white cookie from the Greek diners in Queens…My dad and I used to split one when he’d take me out to lunch on his ‘visitation Sundays’–I ate the vanilla half, he ate the chocolate.

    And, oh, the Carvel flying saucer. We used to get them several times a week at the walk-up window at the big cone shaped Carvel on Union Turnpike. Though I personally preferred the pistachio/neon-green version.

    You’re making me ridiculously hungry.

  7. Neil

    Christine — I think desserts are either phallic or vagina-ish for a reason. That’s why you eat more of them when you aren’t getting any.

    TC — That’s the exact same Carvel that I went to! I’ll go see if it is still there.

  8. better safe than sorry

    i always thought men were called beefcake?
    i have no idea what #9 even is, looks like some sort of pastry with dark coloured goo in the middle???
    and it looks like somebody has taken a bite of icing off of the pink cupcake.
    personally, i’m a sucker for cheesecake, i like the one with chocolate and caramel.

  9. Devra Renner

    I had no idea Funny Bones were still available! For me, I would make one swap; The Rainbow Cookie for the Linzer Tart.

    As for Dobson, I will not be sharing dessert with him. Ever. Even if it is sundae on a Wednesday at Carvel and I get two of em.

  10. Neil

    Devra — I’m not sure they are still available either. I’ll go check.

    And you are absolutely right about the rainbow cookie. I thought of it, but didn’t know the name.


    Better Safe — #9 is a Jewish thing that is mostly served during the holiday of Purim, but you can get them all year round. The “hamen” in the hamentashen refers to the villain in the Queen Esther story. The pastry is pretty similar to ones you can get in other cultures. The exterior is hard and crumbly, but it is filled with jam. The most common one is prune, which may sound weird, but is very good. Here is Smitten’s recipe for it —

  11. sassy

    ok, I’ll admit it, I’m into fruitcake too, which we can’t get here in France. I’ve since become a slave to galette des rois, which we can get here during the month of January.

    You should try it. If you mail me a fruitcake at Christmas I might even send you one. Deal?

  12. kapgar

    You’re making me hungry, you bastard! 😉

  13. anon

    Sassy, what are you planning on doing, just refusing the package so you ‘send’ him one in return? Nice.

  14. Fiesty Charlie

    Mallomars should be number one dude! It has been years since I had one.

    Damn you! I thought I was over the Mallomars love affair and you had to show a picture of my true love, who only seems to reside in NYC…. I need to go call my therapist! Thanks, thanks a whole freaking lot Neil!

  15. Neil

    I think you can get Mallomars nationwide by now.

    Interesting NY Times article about Mallomars. 70% sold in NY area.

  16. How sad is it that I’ve never had the majority of those? I think I’ve led a too sheltered life.

    Those Cannoli’s, though, look like they’d be the gay desserts.

  17. Neil

    Jennifer — Surely you’ve had a jelly donut and cheesecake?

    I see you’re going to SF for BlogHer. If I go, we have a date for cannolis at Stella Pastry in North Beach. It’s time you stepped out of that shell.

  18. Avitable

    Now I crave jelly doughnuts.

  19. Michele

    I licked the screen. Yum.

  20. *pixie*

    My stepdad makes the best cannolis. Now I’m craving one to go along with my coffee.

    Where’s my ricotta cheese & powdered sugar? Who am I kidding. I wouldn’t make them right now even if I had the ingredients.

  21. AnnieH

    “My gastronomic rapacity knows no satiety.”–Homer Simpson
    ummmmmmmmm, mallomars

  22. rhea

    I grew up on Carvel Flying Saucers! I don’t know if they even sell them up here in New England.

  23. ingrid

    ah the “widsom” of james dobson. he also said “Homosexuals are not monogamous. They want to destroy the institution of marriage. It will destroy marriage. It will destroy the Earth.”

    evil plots are afoot everywhere. here i thought global warming was going to destroy the earth. that or war, poverty, corruption, hatred and zealotry. who knew love making was so damaging.

    clearly he’s a man who never had a good cannoli.

  24. Finn

    We have Black and White cookies down here in the 6th borough now. And Carvel too. My favorite New York dessert is those butter cookies with chocolate chips on the top. Those we don’t have yet.

  25. Mrs Mogul

    NY cheesecake YUMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM That is my fave one I think!

  26. TRO

    1 and 6 look good . . . never had em.

  27. sizzle

    I want a funny bones! Why is it called that though? What a strange name for a food.

  28. Memarie Lane

    You’re lucky I made cookies yesterday or there’d be a bailiff knocking on your door right now with a court order to send me a sampler package immediately.

  29. Tuck

    So, my recollection is that Mallomars were seasonal. Anyway, I would have also considered – Apple Pie, Yodels (refrigerated of course), and warm chocolate souffle. Also, how quickly you abandoned (perhaps embarrassment? Shame?) your childhood staple of Hostess Sno-Balls.

  30. mp

    I didn’t know what #9 was…but the rest look yummy and now I want something sweet.

  31. Jill - GlossyVeneer

    I’m craving desserts now… and it’s 7:57 in the morning. Thanks Neil…

    I haven’t even heard of some of those, I love regional foods!

  32. Noelle

    There was some kind of chocolate bread that my boss always used to bring in on the Sabbath when she got back to remind us all that she wasn’t working that day. I don’t know the name, but it was always disappointing.

    Personally, I love me some black & whites.

  33. miguelina

    I LOVE Mallomars – they’re the only reason I don’t fall into a deep depression come fall.

    The B&W cookies/fancy cupcakes/cheesecake are definitely NY. But my mother-in-law will have you know that those Linzer cookies are 100% Austrian.
    The cannoli is better in Boston, in my opinion. And that jelly donut? It looks suspiciously like a Dunkin’ Donut.

  34. Shelly

    The Mallomar, hands down. Those Black and Whites look a bit sad. The chocolate isn’t dark enough. Greenberg’s makes the best.

  35. red lotus mama

    My husband was just in NY for the Yankees vs. Padres series. My one request for him to bring me home was Black and White Cookies. The good man brought me home 3 gigantic ones! They were a bit smooshed from being on his carry on, but they are delicious!

  36. margalit

    I knew I loved you before, but now that you have listed almost all of my favorite treats… you MUST dump Sophia right away and come away with me. We can eat Mallomars and Black and Whites and gaze out at the sea together.

  37. mary

    I hesitated reading this post after I saw your tweet. I knew it was going to make me hungry.
    The fancy cupcake…. I made the boyfriend trek about 4 miles past tons of bakeries with fancy cupcakes so we could live out my inner-Carrie a la SATC at Magnolia Bakery and those sons of bitches were dry. I was so disappointed. I was taken off dessert duty for a full 6 months after that.

  38. margalit

    Oh, I agree with Miquelina (what a shock!). The cannoli are MUCH better in Boston. Mikes… oh my gawd, you could die for their cannoli.

  39. Neil

    Miguelina and Margalit — Yes, Linzer tarts are Austrian, home of the second best pastries, after Hungary. And I can tell you a secret, off the record — the photo of those cannolis I stole from google and they are from a famous bakery… in Boston.

    Mary — I included the cupcakes because I now associate them with New York, but these were not really around when I was a kid, and frankly, I would rather eat a Mallomar than a cupcake from Magnolia Bakery.

  40. Neil

    Also, just to be multi-ethnic, I do enjoy Chinese pastries, especially with red bean fillings — and Latin flan. I just associate them more with SF, LA, and Miami.

  41. Neil

    Oh, and Tuck — I could never forget Hostess Sno-balls —

    — but those have always been nationwide.

    Other things I should have mentioned: Entenmann’s cakes, which were once local.

  42. miguelina

    Ha ha! I knew it! I’ll send you my mom’s flan recipe to reward your honesty.


  43. pia

    I love black & white cookies conceptually. I would kill for a poppy hommentashin, and Venerio’s has the best cannolli’s. So does the Patsy’s chain

    I don’t eat food with sugar or processed flour but I’m in town for a special occasion Will get canolli’s from Venerio’s for the party–thanks for the reminder

    Don’t like the Magnolia Bakery either. Too hyped There’s a cupcake bakery on Amsterdam off 75th that’s excellent

  44. Kristabella

    My only trip to NYC, I got the black and white cookie. Because I wanted to be like Jerry Seinfeld and hold up the cookie and say “Look to the cookie, Elaine. Look to the cookie!” And then I had one bite and I realized, it is better to look at than eat. I was unimpressed.

  45. Jody

    Mallomars are seasonal because the chocolate separates when baking in very hot weather. But the best Mallomars are the ones you get when they comes straight off the baking line. How do I know? My roommate worked for the Philly Nabisco bakery and I got a plant tour when they let you actually go on the cooking floor. OMG, YUMMY in the tummy!

    I’m must be weird but I don’t see the attraction of the black and white cookie. Hamantashen homemade is so much better than store bought.

    Ok, I love desserts.

  46. stepping over the junk

    THE-JELLY-DONUT is my most favorite-est thing in the whole wide world. When you comin’ my way? I dont have psycho boyfriend now so i can meet you for a cuppa coffee heh heh heh (and a jelly donut)

  47. anymommy

    Damn you, now I’m craving cupcakes. I already ate my weight in M&Ms today. I want the one front left, with the sprinkles and the chocolate goo in the center.

  48. Anonymous City Girl

    cannelles from my fave bakery in the reading terminal market, fresh handmade gelato from the shop up the street, and cakes from the sweet shop in chinatown are my sweet treats of choice.

  49. sarie

    DUDE! Mallomars!!!! Black and White Cookies!!!!! Hamantaschen!!!!! Funny bones.?!?!?!?!?!?!

    OMG I’m craving them ALL now. Damn you!!!!! God I haven’t seen a Mallomar in years. *salavating*

  50. Neil

    I went to an Italian restaurant last night and had some cheesecake. One down, nine to go.

  51. Jeannette

    Youre really pandering to your target audience here.

  52. Neil

    Jeannette — Think of this as a blogging lesson. A successful blogger writes posts about sex, Lindsay Lohan, and fattening desserts.

  53. Lara

    Mmmmm dessert. But I woudl like a scoop of vanilla ice cream instead, please.

  54. Neil

    Vanilla is my favorite ice cream, too. Or pistachio.

  55. ali

    carnegie deli cheesecake. HEAVEN.

  56. Nichelle

    I heard that the best time to get Mallomars is in March!

  57. Neil

    Nichelle — That’s odd. I wonder why. You mean mallomars are still seasonal?

  58. Rosa

    Rainbow cookies, my favorite, I love them!

  59. Fantasy Writer Guy

    was gonna say something funny about cupcakes but it’s probably already been said somewhere in the previous 58 comments and I’m not about to read 58 comments to find out for sure. Ee-gads. Why do I have so much crap in my shirt pocket?

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